|Vol. 2 No. 6||
(Vol. 2 No. 6) December 2003, is published and © 2003 by Earl Kemp. All rights reserved.
|THIS ISSUE OF eI is dedicated
to Frances Hamling and Richard Yerxa. It is also for Ajay Budrys, Harlan Ellison, and
Frank Robinson and it is in memory of Bruce Elliott, Larry Shaw, and Edward Yerxa. Dear
friends one and all, tested, tried, and found true. Thanks for that extra mile.
In the exclusive science fiction cosmos, this issue of eI is in memory of KIM Campbell, Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Beryl Mercer, and Harry Clement Stubbs.
My article "Dirty Old Men" is incorporated herein by reference, and appears in Marty Cantor's No Award 14, that is also available at eFanzines.com .
As always, everything in this issue of eI beneath my byline is part of my in-progress rough-draft memoirs. As such, I would appreciate any corrections, revisions, extensions, anecdotes, photographs, jpegs, or what have you sent to me at email@example.com and thank you in advance for all your help.
Bill Burns continues to be The Man around here. If it wasn't for him, nothing would get done. He inspires activity. He deserves some really great rewards. It is a privilege and a pleasure to have him working with me to make eI whatever it is. And also, Dave Locke continues as eI Grand Quote Master. You will find his assembled words of wisdom separating the articles throughout this issue of eI.
Other than Bill Burns and Dave Locke, these are the people who made this issue of eI possible: Robert Bonfils, Bruce Brenner, Howard DeVore, Darrell Doxmire, Bruce Glassner, William Hamling, Hugh Hefner, Gil LaMont, Robert Lichtman, Frank Robinson, Francine Schieskopf, Rayonelle Sieben, Robert Silverberg, Mary Southworth, Robert Speray, David Stevens, Bob Tucker, Richard Yerxa, Chris Wallace, and Ted White.
Special thanks to my workmates Bruce Glassner, Francine Schieskopf, Rayonelle Sieben, and David Stevens for making their loose copies and bound volumes of Rogue plus their photographs and memories available for this issue of eI.
ARTWORK: This issue of eI features recycled artwork by William Rotsler and Steve Stiles.
Return to sender, address unknown
By Earl Kemp
We get letters. Some parts of some of them are printable. Your letter of comment is most wanted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail to P.O. Box 6642, Kingman, AZ 86402-6642 and thank you.
Just to prove it, this is the official Letter Column of eI, and following are a few quotes from a few of those letters concerning the last issue of eI. All this in an effort to get you to write letters of comment to eI so you can look for them when they appear here.
Sunday September 28, 2003
Spend quite sometime yesterday, more today, at Earl's eI
sites, having managed to enjoy eI-1 through eI-4, leading me to wonder where I was
while everyone else was having all that good a time "rolling the weed" and
"partying up a storm" all up and down the western seaboard and into Mexico.
Then, I remembered where I was and figured, oh, well, I guess I wasn't having all that bad
a time on my own. Still...
Monday October 13
Your account of your prison and post-prison experiences in the new issue is unbearably poignant stuff. I knew (or could guess at) the general outlines of the story, of course, but the details are somber and chilling indeed.
The Sidney material is poignant too, for a different reason.
Thursday October 16, 2003
Visitors to this newsgroup [Kurt Vonnegut] may be interested in checking out the new (October) issue of Earl Kemp's online fanzine. The issue is dedicated to Vonnegut (along with another person), and there is much of interest. Never mind that selections from Dave L's Vonnegut quote file are liberally sprinkled throughout, or that an essay of mine appears within it. There are more interesting items there for Vonnegut die-hards, including a fairly hard-to-find interview from a 1984 issue of Science Fiction Review, and a handful of obscure entries by Vonnegut to fanzines from the late 1950s and early 1960s. You can find it all and more here:
Tuesday October 21, 2003
Highly recommended to Vonnegut fans. The Vonnegut section of the issue is a great delight, and that very much includes Andre's article (and I think his goal, as stated in his article, is a most worthy one).
For those interested in just the Vonnegut section, or who at least want to start with that, do a CTRL+F on "of jokes" (without the quote marks) and you'll go right to it. But I do recommend taking a look at the Sidney Coleman section, as well as the rest of this issue of eI.
The editor, Earl Kemp, is an old hand at the fanzine game, and has a
Hugo Award for Best Fanzine to prove it. Earl was chairman of the 1962 Chicago Worldcon,
my first convention and attended when I was but a teenager, just to show you how old he
is... All issues of his
Friday October 31, 2003
Have you learned much about the stories behind these books?
Yes, I've learned a lot, especially from a gentleman named Earl
Kemp. His pieces on the publishing industry are fascinating, and his website features
pieces by and about some of the original authors and artists. Tell him Ryan sent ya:
Friday November 14, 2003
Who killed science fiction? We all did. We wished for acceptance
from society, and we got it, big time. Now, it's everywhere, still laughed and sneered at
by some, but there's so much of it on television and the movie screen. There's plenty of
it in book form, too, but that's not enough to get people actually reading; the millions
of SF consumers have to be active to do that. They prefer to be passive consumers and sit
have it fed to them through their eyes. Who are the true SF consumers? Those who are
active, those who would not only consume it, but also create it, promote it and discuss
it. Maybe it should be that we killed the quality of SF. The simplest of SF makes billions
from us in movies and TV sales, with the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek, just to name a
couple. (Enjoyable, perhaps, but not the most complex fare. Turn your mind off, and wade
into it.) The best of SF remains in book form, unwanted and unloved, especially at $10 a
paperback and $40 a hardcover.
Wednesday November 19, 2003
[Referring to eI7, the William Knoles/"Clyde
Allison" special issue.] Interesting article on Clyde Allison/Bill Knoles,
incidentally. Never met him myself, and I never read any of the books, so have no idea how
good he may have been. Awful ending, though. But I can't help thinking his pen name must
have come from the notorious gunfighter Clyde Allison, whose epitaph reads "He never
killed a man who didn't need killing" - I quote from memory, but that's close,
anyway. I'm sure if you Google Clyde Allison you'll find more than you need to know on the
subject. . .
Monday November 24, 2003
[On my 74th birthday I received this email from Ray Bradbury about his birthday. I couldn't resist snipping this bit for you. -Earl Kemp]
I want to thank you for the birthday greeting you sent me when the Society celebrated my birthday I shared with my friends a dream I have:
Some night one hundred years from now, there'll be a boy on Mars
reading late at night, with a flashlight under the covers, and he'll look out at the
Martian landscape - which will be bleak, rocky and red, and not very romantic. I hope he
will be reading my book, The Martian Chronicles.
Sunday December 14, 2003
While tracking down Rogue material on the Internet, I found the official documentation of the denial of the second-class mailing permit for Rogue, which extensively describes the magazine's content. It's a fascinating and scary look at what was thought to be obscene in the 1950s - things which today appear in mainstream magazines without any concern. It's worth reading to get a feel for the times in which Rogue was first published: H.E. Docket No. 4/202: Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation.
A second document records the appeal by Greenleaf against the
denial, which they won: H.E.
Docket No. 4/202 Decision.
Fear and Loathing in Evanston*
By Earl Kemp
When the pulp publishing giant Ziff-Davis moved from Chicago to New York, they left behind a huge void in the employment market. Magazine men and pulp people who were just ordinary working stiffs really had to scrounge around for buttwork just to keep going for a little while longer.
Fortunately, George von Rosen had lots of cheap, sleazy buttwork for the truly needy. And William Hamling certainly fits that description so, in 1952, he hired on at Publisher's Development Corporation as an editor.
Among the numerous magazines there were Modern Sunbathing & Hygiene, filled with airbrushed photographs of nude people, and a pin-up/adventure magazine for men called Modern Man. It wasn't long before Hamling and von Rosen's promotion director, Hugh Hefner, got around to talking about improving on some of those magazines.
The story has it that Hefner was already one step ahead of Hamling with his ideas, and considerably more commercial with them. Nevertheless, they became friends and continued their bullshitting about doing a real man's magazine like it should be done.
That was the year I first met Hamling, 1952. I was 22 years old and just about as dumb as they come, but if I knew one thing, I knew that I was addicted to pulp magazines and because Hamling was the closest thing I had to feed that addiction, I began visiting him. I would do everything within reason to promote invitations to go to Evanston. I loved nothing better than sitting there inside Hamling's basement of his house on Fowler Avenue between his and Frances' matching desks and breathing in the excitement.
This place was hallowed ground, decorated in grandeur, for me. Cover paintings from old Amazings and Fantastic Adventures hung on the walls, my favorite by far being a glorious Tarzan cover by J. Allen St. John.
This is the place where they, working side by side, had been producing Imagination since October 1950. Two years two desks one basement . There were manuscripts and books and magazines by the piles; everything to amuse a naïve young science fiction fan and secret lecher without a doubt.
The very same basement where Hef sat with Bill and dreamed up things like black and white or the improbably expensive for 1952 four color? What should it be? How much would the customer pay?
And, at the same time, in and out between my ins and outs were the Hamling family's friends the Hefner family. I just kept missing them by days, minutes even. One never knows how close they are to real world-moving events while they are ongoing. Only in retrospect can we think, My God, that could have been me .
The two families were quite close by that time, and frequently visited each other, the children all playing together including Christie and Richard. The adults just sat around that basement talking endlessly about men's magazines and to what audience should they be directed. Slick? Pulp?
Then their plans moved on to something a bit closer to reality. There, inside the Hamling kitchen, on the countertops and on the table, they actually laid out dummies of that ideal men's magazine. And they did it together.
Most of this is told in memory fragments from Richard Yerxa, who was there at the time and remembers first-hand parts of it with much delight. Some of those Hefner/Hamling family events are described in Richard's "Some Notes In Search of an Article," elsewhere in this issue of eI.
But something happened to bring all of that to a quick and permanent halt. My curiosity drives me to find the answer to that riddle. What happened between Hugh Hefner and William Hamling to call a halt to their mutual plans and to separate them firmly forever?
Because I have known Hamling for a very long time, and worked closely with him, I have heard many tales about the two of them together but I have never heard a satisfactory explanation for what had to be the worst divorce in publishing history. I'm sure that, after a fashion, the two belong together permanently.
One year later, in 1953, as a solo and unidentified effort, Hugh Hefner's Playboy V1#1 appeared without a date late in the year [November]. It was an almost immediate success with that wonderful calendar photo of Marilyn Monroe being reused to its best advantage. I clearly remember getting my hands on my first copy of it and admiring the guts of the people who put it together, whoever they were.
There are stories, like the one Gay Talese tells in Thy Neighbor's Wife, about how the two of them remained friends and would meet occasionally for lunch, and the improbable story of how Hefner encouraged Hamling to copy his act and produce a competing magazine.
Hamling has also been quoted as saying that he ran cartoons by Hefner in Imagination. I have never been able to confirm that nor have any been credited to Hefner in the magazine.
It wasn't easy running Imagination at home in his free time and working at von Rosen's for food and essentials, but the Hamlings kept doing it somehow, and they did it together while trying to find a way to make some real money for a change.
Some of the things they tried, like [Mollylube] recontainering lubricating oil and trying to sell it through mail order just didn't offer any real promise for the future. It was time to make the big leap or get off the pot.
In fear and trepidation, they began working on what would become Rogue.
Frances came up with the last of LeRoy Yerxa's legacy to get the doors open. They really had to work hard then, there in the basement at their dual desks, to bring it off.
Finally, two years to the date of Playboy's birth, in November 1955, Rogue V1#1 made its bushy tailed debut.
Rogue began much as Imagination had before it, there in the Hamling basement on Fowler Avenue in Evanston. Bill and Frances sat side by side and worked on it together, business as usual.
The initial cover price on the magazine was 35 cents and it remained that way until January 1960 when it was raised to 50 cents. In just one more year, the cover price was raised to 60 cents and remained at that figure for the rest of the life of the Greenleaf magazine.
Looking for data concerning Rogue on the Internet is wasted time. There is practically no information of any sort relating to the magazine.
By contrast, you can find Playboy information all over the place without even trying.
There is no Rogue website. There are no Rogue tribute sites, no avid collectors, no one, apparently, who gives a damn about it at all. I could not locate a single person with copies of the magazine from its earliest days, who would even communicate with me about it.
For that reason, the data portion of the Rogue material in eI11 is very sparsely documented and there are huge gaps where no data at all exists. Much of the reconstructed material here is speculation built upon those sparse details.
In 1958, business is so good changes begin happening. It is clear that Imagination is no longer needed so, in October, it is discontinued to devote full time to Rogue. Time passes and everything changes by bits and giant steps. Rogue is doing nicely and looks promising and a little money comes rolling in. The Hamlings get a brand new house in Highland Park, a step up from Evanston, and Rogue gets an office of its own.
I do buttwork cleaning out the Evanston basement office in exchange for all the artwork, manuscripts, and other sellable material for the University of Chicago SF Club. And a mighty loot it was that financed most of our efforts to capture the 1962 World Science Fiction Convention.
While in the process of cleaning out that basement, in my presence, Hamling gave the St. John Tarzan painting right off the wall to Mark Reinsberg. It had been the single thing in that office that I most lusted after, and it really hurt seeing it go in that casual fashion.
It hurt even more, later, when the nostalgia book store where Reinsberg sold his book review book copies (they saved them all for me) called me up and asked if I wanted to buy the St. John painting that Reinsberg had brought directly to them to sell right off Hamling's office wall. I wanted that painting very much, but could not pay the price they wanted for it, whatever the price was at the time. I obviously still want that painting these many years later.
Because money was again a little tight, Frances worked the night shift at the new Rogue office there in the Graphics Arts Building at Sherman and Dempster in Evanston. When everyone else was gone, she would come in and do not only editorial, but janitorial duties as well anything to stretch the budget a little further.
In 1959, Harlan Ellison, along with his new wife Charlotte, moved to Evanston where Harlan was employed by William Hamling at Rogue.
He quickly became established in an apartment in Evanston early in the year, and became a fixture at local hangout coffee houses and freethinking establishments like No Exit and The Hut. Young people from Northwestern University seemed to gravitate to him and especially to his apartment. Even then, after only years of practice, Harlan put on a pretty good show.
On June 13, 1959, I had a party for Robert Bloch at my house in Chicago. I wrote of this in "Have Typewriter, Will Whore For Food" in eI2. Harlan was one of the guests at the party. I am reprinting Bob Tucker's quote about meeting Harlan there, a photograph of the occasion, and the photo caption from that article because they really belong here as well.
"Is that you,
Harlan?" I asked through the haze.
Harlan Ellison has been reticent to write of his career in Evanston. However, in "Let's Pretend," Introduction to White Wolf's Edgeworks 2, dated August 1996, Harlan Ellison says, "it was not until 1960, when I'd been mustered out an was living in Evanston ." He missed the date by only one year.
I've never told this one before, Harlan says, and goes on to tell the sordid tale.
"Sort of did it with my left hand while editing Rogue magazine with Frank Robinson. It was a line of 'erotic' novels called Nightstand Books, and in one year the line made this guy, my boss, over a million bucks. So then I split ."
Harlan makes sure never to name William Hamling. Instead he uses a number of substitutes to indicate who he was.
"Let me count the ways ."
In May 2003, Ellison would again return to the same subject in a letter on harlanellison.com:
"I never wrote any real pornography. Closest thing to it was the creation of Nightstand Books back in 1961. [The correct year was 1959.] I plotted out hundreds of the books for Scott Meredith clients of the time the hidebound stick-up-the-ass '50s in which Playboy and Rogue were causes celebres ."
"Hundreds of books?" When hundreds of books? What year?
Only months after the birth of Nightstand Books, at two titles per month, Harlan quit and returned to New York. When did he have time to plot those "hundreds of books?"
In a letter dated July 19, 1961, from Scott Meredith to Thomas P. Ramirez, Joe Elder, writing as "Meredith," said this:
"Today we got a letter from your editor. It seems his publisher-boss came up with an idea for a book he'd like to include in his line, and he wants you to do it. I quote the editor, as follows:
"'WAY OF TWO WANTONS two sisters, fifteen years old but blossoming, are in an orphan home. One gets sold to a supposedly nice couple who are in reality the open end of a white slave racket. The sisters, closer than Siamese twins, vow they will find each other. The second sister runs away. The novel should be set up with alternate chapters devoted to each sister. Trace one sister as she goes through the vilest pits of the white slave outlets, finally winding up in a cat house on the Embarcadero, or some red light district equally distasteful. Trace the runaway sister as she gets a job, gets kept, branches out as a hundred buck a night call girl. In last two chapters the call girl, now dripping with mink and diamonds, gets taken (for a lark) by her perverted companion of the evening to a whore house, where he will lay a dirty, filthy, diseased tramp, while the expensive chick watches and gets warm. Of course he winds up with the other sister. In the end, after a shocking scene of emotional involvement (after the expensive sister has taken part in a three-way sex orgy with her sister and the boy friend), the monied sister realizes who the lowdown whore is, and they clasp arms, wandering off into the sunset, vowing they will sew up their organs and not give it away again until they've found the right, decent man. There must be some logical method devised so that the two sisters cross paths more sensationally. Calvano should figure some way to make this story cohesive, but logical.'
"The plot is described in rather frivolous language, but it just reflects the editor, who's a light-hearted young so-and-so; the book, of course, will be a serious one ."
The result of the "light-hearted young so-and-so's letter was NB1600 Passion Pit, by John Dexter.
" the stories are so awful, and the writing so juvenile, and the 'sex' so mild for something that is little better than bottom filler for a birdcage ." is how Ellison described his Sex Gang in May 2003.
It was the third book [NB1503] Harlan placed into production for Nightstand Books. It was published in November 1959.
By early 1960, Harlan turned his back on the operation and returned to New York.
In Evanston, somehow production continued uninterrupted in Ellison's absence. A total of 31 books were produced that entire year, or 2.6 books per month. Now for just a moment, before ignoring the claim again, recall that Ellison "plotted hundreds" of those books.
Perhaps William and Frances Hamling edited many of those books, and the editors at Rogue could have easily been commanded to work on them secretly, but every 31 of them appeared more or less right on schedule. One thing is known for sure and that is that those books were edited. In those days, the editor's first job was to make sure that every book was pristinely clean and antiseptically virginal.
Ellison wrote that Hamling "came and found me and I needed the bread, so I agreed to come back to Evanston ."
They haggled a bit over the price, the apparent set-up of the job, and agreed to start a line of clean paperbacks, including the writings of Harlan Ellison, that became known as Regency Books.
In 1960, Harlan Ellison, along with his new wife Billie, moved to Evanston where Harlan was employed by William Hamling at Rogue.
He quickly became established in an apartment in Evanston late that year, and went back to work editing Nightstand Books and doing an initial set-up for Regency.
"I spent two days a week on the line of what we called 'stiffeners,' and we were publishing six or eight titles a month by that time, which I edited single handedly, proofing, getting covers, writing up the plots for most of them, doing every phase of the production and editorial regime in a tiny, one-room office, with the name Blake Pharmaceutical on the door."
That's 1960 31 books 2.6 books per month. What a heavy workload.
By 1961, when I was hired on at Blake Pharmaceutical and while Ellison was still there, we were working in a 4-room office suite in the Graphics Arts Building and there was no name on the door.
They were known as "smut" or, more aptly, "beat-off books." Our printer, a publisher of children's books, knew them as "hoar" books and we liked that one around the office. My British friends called them "wankers" and we also liked that one for the suave, Continental approach. I never heard anyone refer to them as "stiffeners."
There was lots of that fear and loathing going on at that very point in time, but I was such an outsider I didn't know any of it was happening to begin with. Ajay had just done a dirty and blabbed to Hamling about Ellison's secret plans to desert him yet again and Hamling was in the process of dumping Ellison before he could score another major blow. Ajay was moving right into Harlan's job as boss of the book division at Greenleaf.
It was Ajay who began hiring his own staff to cover for the workload that was exploding month by month. First he hired Rayonelle Sieben, and then, at long last glory hallelujah little old me. I got to watch lots of the last-effort bitch fighting but didn't understand any of it. I got to pick up on tons of Ajay's personal paranoia and a healthy load of Hamling's to boot.
I wrote about some of this, especially the manuscript part, in "With Fists Full Of Fantasies," in Mimosa 27. There were two particularly nice illustrations done for that article by Steve Stiles and, because both of them are very appropriate to right here, right now, I'm going to reuse both of them.
1961, as I said, was the explosion year. While only 31 books had been produced in 1960, production had jumped to 80 titles in 1961, or 6.6 books per month. Still no "hundreds of books" plotted, in case there's a scorekeeper out there.
And, 1961 was the debut of Regency Books of controversy .
While Harlan Ellison was plotting those hundreds of books and doing all the work that needs to be done around a publishing company single handedly, he said, " five days a week I worked on my passion, Regency Books. That was the line that published Robert Bloch's Firebug, B. Traven's short stories , my own Memos From Purgatory and Gentleman Junkie and several dozen other kickass books ."
Twelve Regency titles were published in 1961, but Ellison was long gone before the end of that year. [See Ted White's "Two Editors" elsewhere in this issue of eI.]
Meanwhile, from the front office, Rogue was doing nicely also. They were planning to go monthly by the first of the year and were plotting a big time professional advertising scoring push.
1962 was a banner year around Greenleaf and Company. Lots of things were happening that involved everyone of them.
Much to my delight, Bruce Glassner was hired to fill the fourth editor office at Blake. Ajay did the interviewing and the hiring. Bruce fit right in and went to work immediately, cleaning up those dirty novels.
Personally, I was just getting hit with a blast from Hell by way of D. Bruce Berry's A Trip to Hell that was published in an attempt to harm and humiliate me as chairman of the 1962 World Science Fiction Convention. It didn't work, but for a while it sure shook up me, Hamling, Ellison, and a bunch of other people. See "Harl 'n Neverland," by D. Bruce Berry, elsewhere in this issue of eI.
Rogue was chugging right along as a monthly at 82 pages and selling for 60 cents a copy.
In the back office suite, the Blake crew produced 130 titles or 10.9 books per month. They were selling extremely well and there was a constant demand for more, more, I can't get enough of the wonderful stuff .
In Houston, Texas, in July 1966, several of these novels were on trial along with significant defendants. I wrote of that trial in "Beauty and the Beast Otra Vez" in eI4. One of those significant defendants was Richard S. Shaver, formerly of Wisconsin and Lemuria, but a resident of Summit, Arkansas, at the time of the trial.
Under oath, while being questioned by the prosecution, Richard S. Shaver testified that he was "president" of "Hamling's Freedom Publishing Company." Freedom had been identified as the predecessor to Blake Pharmaceutical. This would be the office that Harlan Ellison described as "a tiny, one-room office, with the name Blake Pharmaceutical on the door."
Shaver further testified that he did not know anything about the books and had nothing to do with the company, and that he was paid regularly by check from Corinth. Corinth was the 1965 California replacement for Blake Pharmaceutical.
That Shaver was paid by Corinth check was to become a significant problem for me in the near future that would have far-reaching affect on things to come.
1963 was the year of the major upheavals.
Whenever Billy, Jr. would visit the office with his father, damage and dismay followed closely in his wake. [Francine Schieskopf talks of this in "Midnight Readers on the Nightstand" elsewhere in this issue of eI.] One of the Rogue staffers, anonymously, named Billy "The Devil's Child." It was apt; it worked in either direction.
And it was a situation that would never improve. Over time, the Devil's Child took much more than his due. By the time he was 18, in San Diego, it took three company lawyers working full time to keep him "free." Billy's monthly "phantom payroll" draw from the company where he didn't work was many times my salary. Things to consider for the future .
Rogue lost its distributor and had to arrange for another, Kable, to take over in midyear and handle the magazine from then on.
Ajay Budrys left for his dream job at Playboy Press, taking Rayonelle Sieben along with him. And, to make matters even worse, Frank Robinson stole Bruce Glassner and had him transferred to the Rogue staff.
Francine Schieskopf was hired to fill Rayonelle's receptionist/editor desk, much to my delight. Eddie Yerxa occupied the fourth office for a while, but he wasn't ever able to do any work but we were fully staffed. Sure we were !
Larry Shaw was brought in briefly to replace Budrys as paperback boss, but it didn't work out right so he was in turn replaced by everyone's old friend and drinking buddy from Rogue, Bruce Elliott.
Lunches at The Dark Place had already become legendary because of Ajay, who would take us there.
The Dark Place was a bar on the Chicago side of Howard Street, the borderline separating Evanston from Chicago. One side of the street was Evanston, a dry town. The bars facing it did a healthy business, especially among upwardly mobile junior executive wannabes. They featured a plate lunch of the day, always quite good and ready to eat, and the fastest bartender in the county.
Ajay's favorite was vodka gimlets, and he had all of us drinking them for a while.
It took Bruce Elliott to bring drinking as a participant sport out into the open for real. It was nothing to have a three-hour, three-martini lunch and take extras back to the office with us in paper cartons to go. I know I was really out of it for the rest of the day following one of those frequent lunches. It was almost all I could do just to sit there and sip at my extra cocktail of the day, whatever was in style. Editing was impossible .
The high-priced advertising getting crew wasn't getting any and dark clouds were looming over Hamling's horizon.
On the personal side, Hamling had already committed to himself a move to California, and that move would take everything he had along with him, deserting Evanston completely. He quietly began setting up Reed Enterprises, Inc., in San Diego, to be his sole distributor so he would no longer have to deal with people like All State, Kable, etc.
He found a house he couldn't resist, in Palm Springs, and bought it. That was really the beginning of the end.
He decided that he needed his car there so he told Eddie Yerxa to drive it to California for him. Eddie, who was living with Hamling's Receptionist/Secretary Annie Darden at the time didn't want to go without Annie. Annie, who was married to Severin Darden, ex of Second City and currently of Hollywood, wanted to go with Eddie.
However, before they could leave, Hamling insisted that Annie do a major advertising job for him that consisted of typing a large number of identical letters except for the name of the addressees. Annie wanted to do a form letter personalized fill-in thing but Hamling would have none of it. It was a last-gasp desperate effort to score some advertising and he wanted perfect individual letters typed for each recipient on his mailing list.
With his adamant instructions at hand, Annie patiently sat down and typed every one of those letters individually. She took them in for Hamling to sign, which he did, and then she dutifully mailed them. All just before she and Eddie took off in Hamling's car for the Golden State.
Around the office we were trying to figure out how many miles per ounce they would get on their weed consumption, and if there would really be a visible trail of smoke originating from inside the car all the way across the country.
Within just a matter of days, Annie's revenge on Hamling for forcing her to type all of those individual letters came embarrassingly home to humiliate him.
In every one of those important advertising client letters, in every instance where Annie was to type the name of the magazine, she had typed "Rouge."
As I said earlier, 1963 was going to hell in a hurry.
Finally, Hamling tired of Bruce Elliott's heavy drinking and sent him packing back to New York. Frank Robinson was moved into the top editor position at Rogue and I became boss of the paperback division. Plus, at the same time, Hamling called a halt to the expensive advertising search and fired the whole advertising staff.
Then, in November, John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In the office, everything stopped. There were days when we just couldn't get going with anything remotely like work. We brought in television sets and just sat there all day long, watching the horror of it all unfolding like a weird movie of some sort.
While all of this advertising push had been going on, there were 19 staff members producing 12 issues of Rogue a year one issue a month.
While all of this advertising push had been going on, there were 4 staff members producing 140+ paperbacks a year or 11.7 books per month. One of those 4 was always a useless, nonworking "excess" employee.
It was clear to everyone where Greenleaf's money was coming from and clearer to everyone where it was being spent, only that was a big secret that not one of them would ever recognize, much less acknowledge.
Plans were immediately made to drop Rogue's output to bimonthly starting with 1964 a staff of 12 producing six magazines a year contrasted with a staff of 4 producing 11.7 books per month from Blake.
Is McCauley Burning ?
Harold W. McCauley was one great cover artist, and the pride of the Chicago advertising and publishing community as well. In those gloriously repressive 1960s, he really had a brush for turning out tantalizing but obviously chaste vixens. Personally, he even looked great, as a great man should, big and friendly with lots of white flowing hair. I was fortunate enough to meet him in the 1950s, and worked with him well into the 1960s.
For years McCauley had painted wondrous covers for Ziff-Davis pulp magazines like Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures scenes that set visions of forever running inside millions of young heads all over the world. Then, after the pulps faded away, McCauley found a new market with an old friend.
William Hamling and McCauley had worked together at Ziff-Davis, and then on Hamling's science fiction magazines Imagination and Imaginative Tales, and every one of his cover paintings was a real stunner.
Only Hamling had something a little different up his sleeve this time, salacious looking "clean" books with beautiful babes with big breasts adorning their covers. McCauley really had a way with beautiful babes with big breasts anyway, so he went right to work, turning cover paintings out two to four a month, and setting a whole new style of paperback covers at the same time flat primary color backgrounds with central figures in sharp focus.
There were many people who felt that the paperbacks sporting McCauley covers should not exist at all, and very many law enforcement types trying their damnedest to cash in on the fad personally while the books were selling. Newspaper reporters doing serious in-depth research kept knocking on our door. They just kept coming and coming, looking, demanding, and taking .
At times, paranoia and obvious clues could send some of us into stark panic mode. We never knew when it would happen or what direction it would come from, but most of us who worked at The Porno Factory were more or less poised on the verge of instant flight at all times.
As a part of routine work production, those wonderful McCauley cover paintings were returned from the printer and stored in a secret warehouse as dead storage. There were other things there, too, like used manuscripts, etc.
Then, whenever times would be the darkest, and doom literally only moments away from battering down the front door, and paranoia would take over completely.
One of those times came in late 1963, when William Hamling, my boss, instructed me to "go empty the storeroom."
That was secret code talk for spy stuff. We knew they were watching, listening, waiting, for only they knew what, so we really had to take precautions to do most normal, routine things.
That secret storeroom was about two blocks behind the office in the basement of an apartment building. Getting there unseen was always the problem, but there were ways of misleading, doubling back, approaching from the wrong direction, that seemed to work.
There was a huge furnace in that apartment building basement, conveniently close to the secret storeroom. My real instructions, spelled out to me in advance without the code words, were to destroy all those McCauley paintings stacked up there, and the manuscripts the evidence of our unspecified crimes. There was to be no evidence left in case the Feds discovered the secret storehouse with all the incriminating evidence of of we were never quite sure of what.
One thing for sure, when Hamling said burn the suckers up, he meant burn the suckers up. They were all painted on heavy artboard, and all uniform in size. They were like big pieces of firewood. I would stand there by the hour, it seemed, with the furnace door standing open and the secret storeroom standing open, taking armloads of those paintings, as many as I could carry, and slowly tossing them one by one into that white-hot cauldron. The heat from the open door caused perspiration to flow down my face.
There were literally hundreds of those paintings, all stored up from over three years of production publishing several titles a month each month, and burning them was one of the saddest things I have ever had to do. I would look at each one, admiringly, one last time, before tossing it right into the flames and watching it still, crinkling and twisting and flaring up for one last brief moment of rapturous glory.
They never found that secret storeroom. It's easy to speculate what could have happened to those paintings, otherwise, except for idiotic acts of fate and mankind all coming together at the very exact wrong point in time and place.
I still mourn for them after all these years .
By 1964 Hamling's California plans were shaping up nicely. Reed Enterprises was up and running and began distributing his books. Hamling began preliminary efforts to move Blake to California and started trying to talk me into moving along with him. These were heady days of much commuting back and forth from Chicago to San Diego, and visiting the best of whatever there was to offer including unlimited visions of a glorious tomorrows .
By 1965 everything was all set. I would move to San Diego and, from scratch, set up a major publishing company, and operate it for Hamling. We decided on the name Greenleaf Classics and began work, in Evanston, on the first of those books Candy, by Maxwell Kenyon. Dick Thompson, art director of Rogue, did the cover design as a command duty.
It was a wonderful time just then, working on Candy. The book invigorated all of us at The Porno Factory. When we first got a copy of it in the office, we took a time out and then took turns reading it aloud to each other until we finished it. The excitement in the air, the promise of a truly free future was palpable you could feel it like gossamer strands of etherealness.
We doubled our production schedule in the office, trying to edit enough books ahead of time to allow for setting up the new office. Frannie and I, with the help of Mary Stanko, working free-lance at home, we finally had enough manuscripts edited to keep the assembly line flowing while setting up in San Diego.
Dick Thompson and I became rather good friends in those days. After I moved to California and while Rogue was still operating from Evanston, he came to visit me. We went to Disneyland together, without children, and had an unforgettable time.
Over time, many of the Rogue crew visited me where I lived in El Cajon, just outside of San Diego.
At last the time schedule said it was time for me to go to California and to begin closing down the Regency offices. As a last gesture, Hamling gave us the office furniture that we had been using there, if we wanted it, and we did.
I used my office desk to very good advantage several years later, in San Diego.
When Ed Hayes, Shirley Wright, and I resigned from Hamling's companies and went on our own, that desk moved out of my study into the editor's office at Surrey House, Inc. Then, later, when I left there I left the desk behind for my good buddy Pete Dixon, Hamling's boss editor, to move into as if it had been a plan all along .
I remember having very mixed feelings about leaving Chicago forever. It had been such a wonderful home to me, bringing me great rewards and even greater people to associate with, especially through science fiction fandom. I was going on ahead of my family by one month. This would give me time to find a house for us to live in, arrange to buy it, and have it ready by the time my family arrived three days ahead of the moving van.
David Stevens drove me to O'Hare Airport in his little Morgan for that final trip. A great friend to the end and beyond. He also came to visit me in California, while he was working for Playboy, and we went to Tijuana and did all the usual. Some good-byes are sadder than others.
For a brief period Hamling tried to commute from California to Evanston, to keep Rogue running, but it became unproductive. By late 1965 the word was out to the staff members to find another job in a hurry, and they did, one by one, leave for greener pastures.
Finally, before the end of the year, Rogue was "sold" as a property and the magazine, under Greenleaf's ownership, ceased with the December 1965 issue.
Only that wasn't quite the case. The February/March 1966 issue, V11#1, was published by Douglas Publishing Company, Inc., 7046 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California but it was definitely an issue prepared by the Greenleaf Rogue staff. For that reason I am carrying it within the Greenleaf Rogue listing for reference only.
As a Greenleaf publication, Rogue had a lifespan of exactly ten years. After Greenleaf, as a Douglas publication, Rogue continued for an additional 15 years.
- - -
Science Fiction and the Men's Magazines*
By Frank M. Robinson
I am not sure that all of you here know exactly what a man's magazine is. The definition is really very simple; a man's magazine is a magazine with photographs of half-nude ladies in it. In our society, of course, the same definition does not hold for women's magazines.
Before I go into my speech I would like to point out that Rogue published an all fantasy issue, dated August, to commemorate this convention .for those of you who may have missed that issue and would like a copy I have a limited supply up here. After the speech you may quickly run up, grab a copy of Rogue, and run back to your seats . In consideration that this is a science fiction convention, all the copies are free.
I would like to be able to address the people here as if all of you were writers, that is, as if all of you were potential contributors. Perhaps a goodly number of you here in the hall are. I have a request to make. I keep making this in personal letters to writers about once a month. Rogue magazine has virtually no fiction inventory. I need short stories. I know there are a number of really fine writers in the hall and at the convention here. I wish to God that you would send me some stories. This applies to Ted Sturgeon, it applies to Bob Bloch; practically anyone you may have seen here and it even applies, I hope, to undiscovered talent.
A long time ago, shortly after the Second World War, science fiction became popular. It became popular not only in the form of pulp magazines and pocket books, it became somewhat popular in the slick magazines.
The Saturday Evening Post, for example, printed a series of Heinlein stories. Bob also appeared in other magazines, such as Argosy and, I believe, the Kiwanis magazine.
The brief popularity of science fiction in the slick magazines died shortly thereafter, not to be revived in slick format until the advent of Playboy, back in 1953.
The reason I asked if I could speak frankly before is because it is a little known fact, and one probably not to be appreciated, that for at least a short time, Playboy was reprinting from Bill Hamling's Imagination - some excellent stories, I might add. Since then I have often wished it could have been the other way around.
I should mention something about the personnel of the men's magazines so that you will understand something of the popularity of science fiction in this particular field. In both Playboy and Rogue, going over back-issues this morning, I discovered that there really were an astounding number of science fiction stories in those magazines. The answer is really very simple: Ray Russell is something of a science fiction writer and also a science fiction fan. He is not, perhaps, as dyed-in-the-wool as some of you, and maybe it is just as well. When he started as editor of Playboy, his outlook at the field was remarkably broad, and it allowed a number of writers to do things in Playboy that perhaps they might not have done in other magazines .
I must say that the type of science fiction we print is not exactly what you are going to find in Analog, Galaxy, or some of the more straight science fiction magazines. In general, I would say, the men's magazines print three different types of science fiction.
There is the somewhat, if you will pardon the expression, risqué sort of science fiction. A good deal of this has been done in Playboy. We printed some ourselves. One of them was a story by Tom Scortia, "The Ice-Box Blonde." About the blonde you could buy in the supermarket who was conveniently in deep freeze. Purchase her, take her home, defrost her, and that's it for an evening of entertainment. I believer Charlie Beaumont also wrote some stories verging on the fantastic in one way or another, one of which was titled, "You Can't Have Them All." This, I think, would quality as a fantasy story. The fellow finally decided on the particular type of girl that appealed to him, managed to codify it and go up to the local IBM computer and determined that there were exactly 565 girls in the United States that fit his qualifications. The idea, of course, was to track them down thereafter, which he did.
Another example of the somewhat risqué science fiction story has been done by Richard Matheson. Two stories of his were enormously popular. One was "The Splendid Source." I don't know how many of you are familiar with the story, it's rather light fantasy I'm sure that at one time or another somebody told a, what shall I say, an off-color story, a risqué story; the only kind you really laugh at. Matheson's idea for "The Splendid Source" was just where the devil do these stories come from. I timed one. I was out on the West Coast some months ago when I heard a new one. I think it took exactly three weeks for it to travel from the West Coast to Chicago - I having kept my own big mouth shut. Shortly thereafter I got a letter from Alfred Bester in New York and bester said, "Oh, by the way, have you heard the one, etc., etc." So it had made it to New York by that time. This is really an ingenious idea and Matheson did an excellent job of it. The punch in the story is that there is an establishment out on the West Coast where famous writers devote their leisure hours to making up these funny stories.
Another story that some of you may remember is Richard Matheson's "A Swirl of Strumpets," which dealt with a vastly improved call girl system. I will leave it to you to look it up.
The other story is Tony Boucher's. Tony wrote an excellent story for Playboy (July 1956) which would also fall under that category. It was called "Nellthu," and was one of Tony's very popular small demon stories. The hero is visiting his mistress who is really a remarkable woman. She is excellent in everything she does, which includes more than the usual after-dark gymnastics. She has been a poet, an author, a musician, etc. She has never failed at anything. In addition to this, of course, she is ravishingly beautiful. It occurs to the hero that for one person to have all these characteristics and/or qualifications is slightly unusual and, when you stop to consider it, out of this world. The butler comes in and the hero, in a flash of inspiration, says, "You're a demon, aren't you?"
The butler, nonchalantly, says, "Yes, sir." Our hero says, "Well, how did this all happen, the usual three wishes?" And the butler says, "Yes, sir." The butler, of course, is Nellthu. "The girl wished to be beautiful so I made her the most beautiful 100-year-old woman that there was. She wished to be wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice; that is nothing, so that is what I gave her. I gave her nothing. Of course, she had one last wish, and that was that she wished me to fall permanently and unselfishly in love with her which, of course, I did." Our hero looks at Nellthu and says, "How lucky for me that she said unselfishly." "Yes, sir," says the butler.
To leave that type of story, fascinating thought it is, we have the more or less straight science fiction story. That is, a science fiction story that could appear elsewhere, and some of the stories that Playboy printed actually did appear elsewhere.
One was "The Sound of Thunder," by Ray Bradbury. This is a straight time-travel story in which the hero can go on a safari back in time and kill himself a brontosaurus or what have you. He is warned that he is not to disturb anything back in time, not so much as a leaf, an ant, nor a small gnat-which would probably be quite big back then. But if he as much as steps on a small gnat, in the passage of years he may completely destroy the species, as well as to throw the whole ecological balance off. Our hero panics upon seeing his two brontosauri, goes off the beaten path, and crushes a butterfly. The sad result is that when he does come back the world had indeed changed drastically and rather tragically for him.
Another story which is almost a combination of the first two types is "Love Incorporated," by Bob Sheckley (September 1956 Playboy). It is about Albert Simon, an alien, who looks for love and adventure on Earth. He first finds it, at least a variation of it, in a shooting gallery where the owner of the gallery says, "Kill yourself a woman, son. Here, we'll give you a submachine gun and you can kill all you want." He of course, declines, and goes further up the street to Love Incorporated. Here the idea is that he really can purchase honest to God love. Sheckley makes a convincing scene of this except that Simon only has her for 24 hours. Turning bitter against the whole scene, on the way back down the street he stops in at the shooting gallery.
Perhaps you are not familiar with some of the stories that have appeared in Rogue. I wrote out a short list and tried to sum up once again exactly what we are looking for. Some of the stories that have appeared in Rogue have been anthologized. I'm sure that Bob Bloch used Rogue as a plant for half of his stories that appeared on the Hitchcock program and elsewhere on television. His "The Gloating Place' was one. Charley Beaumont's "The Howling Man" was another.
These are more or less simple fantasies, they cannot be classified as real science fiction. We have printed cannibalism stories which could rate as fantasy if you avoid the newspapers. One of them was "My Summer Vacation," by Borden Hill, a popular novelist. It is told as if it were done by a small boy who is required to write up a paper for his teacher on what he had done the summer before. He remarks how his father, his mother, his uncle, and he had gone off on a vacation trip to Wisconsin. Prior to going they had picked up a small boy in the slums to give him companionship.
The writer and his family did not eat meat, but the other boy was fed rather well - until the day they are to return to the city - then he becomes the piece de resistance himself.
We have had several stories which almost reflect what I would call modern psychological trends. For instance, the person who is 30 years old and, while shaving one morning, for the first time in his life, starts to wonder, "Who am I, who am I really?" Having been a conformist all his life it really may be that he does not know.
One such story on this order was "All of Us Are Dying," by George Clayton Johnson. In this there is a character with interchangeable personalities who is so plastic in his emotional make-up that he can be mistaken by anybody for practically anyone else that they may happen to know.
Another one, and an excellent story I believer, that Judy Merrill anthologized, was "The Handler," by Damon Knight. The scene is a cocktail party after a television show. The star of the show appears and is quite literally the life of the party. He is witty-he is the source from whom all blessings flow. Everybody at the party wants to touch the great man, and to hear a word of praise. You see him come in and say, "Boy this is a great, swinging affair here, a great party. Let's everybody live it up, let's start the music."
Halfway through the party the great man stops for a moment and says, "Now everybody, I'd like you to meet my handler." The party comes to a complete halt. The great man's back swings open and out falls a small, balding, nondescript fellow in a brown singlet. The very mild-mannered fellow says, "Geez everybody, that was really a great show, wasn't it?" People start to sidle away from him and say, "Yeah, yeah, it was a great show, good."
He goes over to a girl who had been getting very affectionate before and says, "Mavis, about tonight, you know, maybe after the show?" Mavis says, "Forget it, Fred, forget it, you know that I was just joking." The party starts to die down and the people start to leave by ones and twos. Finally the guy at the piano says, "Hey, Fred, why don't you get back inside." Fred looks around at the party and finally says, "Yes, I guess I better."
He crawls back inside and suddenly the great man comes to life again. "Let's swing, fellows. You know, let's have a little music here, sound, you know." People come back from the door and the party starts to go again. The great man is back on stage.
This is one of my own favorite stories. I felt that it had a good deal to say about people in general.
Another example was written by Charles Beaumont, it was called "Gentlemen, Be Seated." This one I recommended to Judy Merrill. The story takes place sometime in the future when humor has, literally, died.
Of course, it is increasingly unpopular to make any kind of a joke about people's race or religion. We make up for it in the form of sick jokes. One of the more classic examples is the current Heller Keller gag making the rounds. It goes, "Did you hear about the accident that happened to Helen Keller?" "No, I didn't." "Well, she tried to read a waffle iron."
Another example: "Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the show?" etc. This, in itself, could kill humor, I'll admit.
Anyway, in this future time, humor is dead. Nobody laughs at anything. The protagonist is called into his boss' office one day, and his boss says, "Look, I was watching you the other day and I happened to be walking outside the building and I slipped and fell. I noticed a peculiar expression on your face." The guy, who really hates his boss, denies everything. He says, "No, boss, I really felt very sad about it." The boss says, "Okay," lights a cigar, and the cigar explodes in his face.
Our hero struggles to control a smile and his boss says, "See, I caught you doing it again. You were going to laugh, weren't you?" Our hero denies it and says, "Certainly not, it was a tragic accident." The boss says, "Well, I'll tell you what, why don't we go out to dinner tonight. I have a place I'd like to take you."
They go out to dinner, and later they go to No Man's Land on the edge of town. And the boss says, "I'm taking you to a private meeting, I do not want you to see where we go." So he is blindfolded.
The meeting is a meeting of the SPOL, The Society for the Preservation of Laughter. When they get there the guard at the door asks, "Why does the chicken cross the road?" This is the password. The fellow says, "Why, to get to the other side, of course." "Okay, come on in." So they go in.
His guide for the evening is a Mr. Bones. They go through to the library and there are a number of people drinking at the bar. They examine the bookshelves, etc., the collection of bound volumes of humor; Joe Miller, all of that jazz. They watch a stage show and drink some more. Soon people start to tell jokes, to laugh, to have a good time. They watch a stage show in which various people imitate the famous comedians of the past: Charlie Chaplin; Joe Penner, the fellow who used to say, "Anybody wanna buy a duck?"' the Laurel and Hardy movies; etc.
The guy really can't stand the strain, and finally screams, "Turn it off, turn it off!" At that precise moment a hand reaches inside his mind and literally does turn it off.
He thinks it over that night and goes to work the next morning. He goes immediately into his boss, and says, "Anybody wanna buy a duck, I'll give you a goose instead. See, that's a joke."
His boss says, "I don't know what you're talking about." And the guy says, "The meeting The SPOL." His boss denies everything, saying, "I haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about." And the guy says, "I failed, didn't I?" And his boss says, "You're fired and don't bother telling anybody about this - they won't believe you."
The last paragraph in the story has our hero wandering out again to the edge of the city, looking and looking for the SPOL. He cannot find it, but some nights, when the air is really very still, somewhere far away he thinks he can hear the sound of laughter. And it is a lovely sound.
Another story, one that has a little more kick to it, was written by George Bamber. It was called "Between the Elephant and the Stuffed Giraffe." Now, in science fiction, we like to say that our stories enable us to discuss things that we probably can't talk about in other media. We can discuss race problems in the form of science fiction stories and get away with it.
George Bamber did just that in "Between the Elephant and the Stuffed Giraffe." It opens with a colored zookeeper. He is colored by perhaps 5, 10, or 3-1/2 percent. He is having trouble with one exhibit: the last genuine, 100 percent, all-white Caucasian found in the ruins of Berlin. He has a heart condition so the keeper really has to take very good care of him.
The buzzer rings one night in the keeper's office-it is the prize exhibit. So he goes out there and the prize exhibit wants to play checkers. The keeper says, "Gee, it's past my quitting time." He says, "Oh no, you know I have a bad heart condition. You realize that you are going to have to do what I tell you to do. Otherwise I will up and die on you, and then where will you be?" So the keeper sits down and plays checkers with him.
Finally the exhibit says, "Now I want to play the game." The keeper says, "You really don't want to play the game." And the man says, "Look, I want to play the game." So the keeper says, "Well, all right."
So he gives the guy a whip. The game is "Tote That Barge, Lift That Bale." As he bends to it the keeper thinks that someday this man will die; finally taking his place-someplace between the elephant and the stuffed giraffe.
That is about all I have to say. Except that I think this will give you an idea of the type of fantasy and science fiction that the men's magazines really want, and which, quite frankly, I think the magazine field in itself could use .
[At this point there is a mad rush toward the podium. The audience quickly grabs off the 50 free copies of the special fantasy issue of Rogue. There is much noise and confusion and more than a little haggling over who got to what copy of the magazine first. In the rush, the platform, the tables, and the microphones are pushed around in various directions. A short pause in the proceedings is necessary in order to rearrange the tables and microphones before (continuing) .]
EARL KEMP: Frank, we certainly want to thank you for causing a riot.
- - -
HE's A Jolly, Good Fellow
By Earl Kemp
I find Harlan amusing. (Well, we all find Harlan amusing, along with a lot of other things, I imagine, from time to time.) And I didn't say it first, Bill Rotsler did, dated 21 May 86 in Masque. Harlan, of course, is Ellison the one and only..
I agree with the statement and I second it and find it convenient to use it as mine for now.
Just for the record, I've known Ellison for over half a century. He and I have exchanged the proper amount of "fuck you"s during those years along with an occasional "thank you" as well. We both known from where we speak.
That's why I feel like it's my task to try to fill in a few of the pieces of The Puzzle. The only problem is, this puzzle only has good pieces. These are the things that are most often ignored in the rush of accepting the latest outrageous Harlan fable as Godwrit truth the good things that make the people who have known him long and well continue to admit that they not only know him but begrudgingly actually admit to liking him as well.
I am one. I've said it often that there is much to admire about Ellison and that I like him even though I know him.
Bill Rotsler was another who also thought well of Ellison and frequently called him friend.
We were so young and dumb way back in the 1950s, and so ambitious and stuffed to the very gills with potential and aspirations. In Evanston we found another life style besides the commonality of science fiction fandom and fanzine production and hard work and sleaze by the kiloscoopful. There were parties and lunches and rants and tempers flaring that make mundane commonplace cardboard cutouts of us all.
In 1959 I had a Psycho party that was really just an excuse for a weekend running, mobile party that involved a quick 100-mile drive to Milwaukee with Bob and Fern Tucker and back to Chicago bringing Robert Bloch with us. At Bloch's request, Harlan and Charlotte Ellison were invited to the booze and blowout at my house recognizing the sale of Psycho to Alfred Hitchcock.
There were also a number of hard-working Chicago BNFs of the decade in attendance.
Harlan was magnificent, as if he could be any less. He entertained all of us and kept us holding our sides in pain. He signed books until his hand hurt from all the exercise. And that wasn't all the next day Harlan continued the party for Bloch, giving him a grand tour of the Rogue offices and a meeting with his old friend, Ellison's new boss, William Hamling.
At the time Harlan was working on Rogue while being set-up to front Hamling's paperback division that was already well underway. Good buddy Robert Silverberg's Love Addict, by Don Elliott (Nightstand Book 1501), appeared in October, and Harlan's Sex Gang, by Paul Merchant (NB1503), in November.
As in all true fairy tales, there came a time when I lost the joust and was condemned to a term of incarceration in U.S. Federal Detention Center, Terminal Island, Long Beach California. During this side step from real time, doing things to fill time was mandatory whether or not any thing of value resulted there from. Like classes. There were all kinds of classes taught every day in classrooms throughout the prison facility by people who knew little or nothing about the subjects they were attempting to teach. That's because they were all convicts and part of occupying their time was to have them pretend to be teachers teaching a bunch of people who were pretending to be students. The Feds have this whole thing figured out, they think .
Day in and day out between smoking joints and snorting lines .
One class was called "Creative Writing" and was taught by a long-forgotten name. As an aside to this class, the teacher tried to bring in guest "lecturers" as often as possible. He had people like stand-up comic John Beyner coming in frequently, and Stacy Keach, etc. I enjoyed this class very much and did everything I could to help make it interesting and rewarding.
I knew that Harlan Ellison was living nearby in the greater Los Angeles metroplex, and I had his address, so I wrote him. I asked Harlan to come to Terminal Island to visit me as a prisoner there but I wanted him to do it through the front door. I arranged for him to come visit me as a guest lecturer for the creative writing class.
Harlan not only readily accepted my invitation, but also put it on a fast-track schedule. He turned up, as prearranged, for the creative writing class and amazed and entertained everyone for nearly two hours as only Harlan can, at his very best, on-stage and shifted into high gear.
Harlan didn't have to do any of that for me, that's what made it special.
That's why it is my all-time favorite Harlan Ellison story going out of his way to be nice to me and to a bunch of neverwouldbe writers just because he could and did and became remembered for.
[ASIDE: In an incredible piece of irony, shortly after typing this, I found myself rereading a letter from Sarah Jane Moore, who we all knew as "Sally" in the slammer. She, you might remember, was convicted of taking a shot at Gerald Ford; she was also a staff member on the T.I.News when I edited the prison paper, and she was also a member of that creative writing class. Her letter is dated 4-25-76 and, among other things, Sally said, "All I'm saying, Earl, is that we operate on different planes. My friends (comrades) and I are in a deadly serious war against this government and they with us. My friends are being killed and chased yours are visiting the creative writing class." (Boldface added for emphasis.) And that was a direct reference to Harlan's recent visit.]
Many years and many traumas later, I happened to be attending a San Diego ComicCon where Ellison, among other notables, was signing books, etc., for admiring fans. I did not know that he was to be there and it had been at least a decade since we had last seen each other while I was in prison. I was with my son Terry at the time, and we sat in chairs a bit off side to the signing lines.
From that position I could observe Harlan at work, the way he treated his fans standing in line waiting to meet him, the laughter and occasional frowns that greeted some of them. We sat there for quite some time before Ellison spotted me, and made a point of acknowledging my presence and asking me to wait "Someone I used to know lifetimes ago ."
Harlan is far less "on" as the audience diminishes. As the hall grows dim and the numbers shrink, he becomes more person and less commodity. And I didn't make that one up either; it's Bill Rotsler again, from 31 Mar 86 Masque. And Rotsler was right, and I am right. And it is worth the wait to find the person inside and to try to ignore the commodity.
William Rotsler liked Harlan Ellison. That's a known fact. All alone that's enough for me.
Something beyond my control keeps forcing me to return to Rotsler's works again and again striving to have them make even more sense today than they did when they were first created. In particular I have been re-recognizing Rotsler's I's as I's for my ezine eI. Along the way many other topics have come forcefully to my attention and not the least of them is Rotsler's admiration of and appreciation for Harlan Ellison.
The pages of sixteen issues of Rotsler's posthumous fanzine Masque are filled with Ellison praise as viewed through Bill Rotsler's very selective eyes. And there is not one single negative Ellison anecdote contained in all those issues. There are vague references to "those 'Ten Nights Down a Rathole' that Harlan Ellison had umpteen years ago" to his most current companion and many mundane things between.
"In March 1984 Rotsler was moving from one residence to another. Writing of this on 26 Mar 84 he said, "I have a bit over two weeks before I can move in. I called Harlan, since I knew he had a guest room and was more or less used to guests. 'I have a big favor to ask,' I said. 'If I can do it, you've got it,' he said briskly. Now that's a friend.
"Actually, he has three guests now, so I won't bother him, but he insisted I call him back if I couldn't find a place, that they'd 'do something.' Well, part of being a friend is not fucking up the lives of your friends any more than you absolutely must ."
7 May 84 " drove past Dangerous Visions and saw there was a party. Turns out it was their 3rd Anniversary David Gerrold, Steve Barnes, Harlan (oops) H*A*R*L*A*N, Charlie Lippincott were there ."
20 May 84 "I was over at Harlan's the other day - shooting him and Marty for their book jacket - and he has the most glamorous set up. Yet when I used his ancient manual to write an instruction to the photo lab, I couldn't find anything without a lot of searching - pen, tape, etc. Maybe he has people who come in and 'do' windows and trivialities ."
Conreport 1984 "Came back in Monday night, running late, and had Ed drop me off at Harlan's. They had just all gone to dinner, leaving behind a confused and embarrassed Cathy Novak, who I had invited along.
"We caught up to Harlan and a girl friend [and numerous others and went to the Dining Car restaurant]. It was a fun dinner and Len got stuck with what I think was a $500 tab. I didn't know we were going fancy or I'd not invited a guest; I got the impression from Julie we were gathering at Harlan's and deciding.
"Anyway, on the way back Harlan's car died. And lived. And died. After several deaths we piled eight people in a small car and went to Ellisonland. Later Len and I went back and picked up Harlan...and everyone played pool at HE's house until late ."
7 Nov 84 "LASFS had its 50th Anniversary dinner the other night. Harlan was the speaker, and although he didn't have a 'subject' he was great, as always, just rambling on, bouncing off questions and memories like a pool ball ."
16 Sep 85 "Harlan called today to berate me for never calling him. I got a quote from him, though: 'Working in television is like working in the (Egyptian) House of the Dead.'"
26 Dec 85 "On Christmas Eve Harlan had in a number of people who 'had no place to go,' or Harlan's Orphans. Everyone brought something - on orders I brought four quarts of sherbet and about four tablespoons were used to cleanse the palate .
"I saw Harlan's latest secret room. I gave him a book wrapped in Betty Boop paper, which he loved and took five minutes to carefully remove the tape, saving the paper His new secret room is mainly another book storage space but with those one-aisle, many shelf movable stacks thingys ."
19 Apr 86 "Got all excited about getting in on the upcoming Harlan roast. I'm planning to do a slide show, as I told him the other day, if I can get them to let me (and provide a screen)."
21 May 86 "I find Harlan amusing. (Well, we all find Harlan amusing, along with a lot of other things, I imagine, from time to time.) Today, he set up a conference call to pick up a book HE had originally given me and now wants back for some reason ."
8 Jun 86 "I was very impressed, I must admit, when I got the flyer on Harlan's roast being up there with Silverberg or David Gerrold is nothing new nor Bob Bloch and Ray Bradbury... But heading the list is Robin Williams.
"I bet every guy on that list thought two things; (1) God, don't let them put me on after Robin Williams, and (2) William Who? I've decided to do well I must not try to compete in the Straight Insult like the others will do. Therefore I'm giving one of my slide shows on the history of H.E., his family, his 'My Sister-the-Cunt,' writing habits, etc ."
16 Jun 86 "Harlan called yesterday and among other things he wants me to do the slide show He cautioned me not to pull punches, to be as dirty and lowdown as possible and never worry that I might hurt his feelings or anything. It had never occurred to me it should be any other way."
17 Jun 86 "I love Harlan and the way he does things. He doesn't want to go to Westercon 'not even for your birthday' so he's giving me a party at his place instead, a small chili party."
30 Jun 86 "Left that one early to go to a birthday party Harlan E*L*L*I*S*O*N gave for me. Actually he just discharged a lot of social obligations in one night and called it my party, but there was a cake which was really a lemon pie, and twice they sang that goddamn song."
13 Jul 86 "Well, last night was the Harlan Ellison Roast. I got to the LA Press Club early, spent some time getting the 35mm projector set up - finding outlets (old building, few outlets), getting a mike strung to me in the back, finding a table and a chair on the table to get the projector high enough, etc
"The place was crowded all kinds of people were there - fans, pros, movie folk, etc
"Then Came The Time. I was first. Digby Diehl read a slanderous statement by Harlan as my intro and I did my slide show. It seemed to be well received - I remember waiting for laughs before moving on
"Everyone was pretty funny. Even the lawyer
"Then finally it was Robin Williams' turn and he was very, very funny. I kind of felt sorry, since several of the speakers had made mention out of people really coming just to see Robin Williams. They were all probably right, but I felt for RW: 'Be funny, goddamnit.'
" Then it was Harlan's turn and he lay waste those around him and some who had put the whole thing on. He even got into a bit of heavy repartee (read 'shouting') with RW and held his own. That's pretty good, considering RW is probably the premiere comic of the day ."
The above quotes were selected from the many that grace the pages of William Rotsler's Masque as dated journal entries, and they were all selected from a span of three years, from 1984 through 1986.
Harlan and I have shared a number of good friends in common across the last five decades, and both of us have lost an equal number of good ones along the way. One of those old friends, and a person I suspect Harlan rarely thinks of, stood solidly with Harlan and me on the edge of the Rogue/Nightstand/Regency precipice. Richard Yerxa has two Good Harlan anecdotes to share and both of them are from the last half of 1959:
Good Harlan: I remember the first time I "hung out" with Harlan. I don't remember how it came about but I had spent some time at his apartment in Evanston and he got his first credit card in the mail. He was jazzed and we lit out for Wieboldt's fancy new department store with three or four floors and escalators! Harlan bought and bought. We'd start at the top and work down and when we got to the exit Harlan would stop and wonder aloud what he had forgotten, what else he needed, what else he could possibly need or want-and we'd dive back in for another orgy of spending.
Another time I hung with him he decided we had to go down to a TV
studio, the "Marty Faye Show," maybe. We arrived at the studio and Harlan
bullshitted his way onto the set and walked right onto the show in progress with no
invitation-walked right on camera and started rapping. What balls that fellow had! He
whipped out a copy of Rogue and held it in front of the camera
. I never was much of
a fan of his writing but I was quite taken by his craziness.
In Masque, William Rotsler frequently mentions another mutual friend, Gil LaMont, and usually in connection with Harlan. I asked Gil if he would share a Good Harlan memory with us. He offered two:
Good Harlan 1: Watching the news with Harlan one night, he was appalled at the situation of a woman whose neighbors stole her electricity. They'd run a cable from her meter box up through the window of the apartment above. Although it wasn't her fault, the utility company didn't care, and they were demanding the $500 (!) owed. Although he really couldn't afford it, Harlan contacted the television station and paid the bill, on the condition that he remain anonymous.
Good Harlan 2: My world had fallen apart by the end of 1983.
I'd been doing a little proofreading for Harlan, but when I showed up on his doorstep the
first day of 1984 with a shaved head and desperation in my eyes, he quickly suggested I
move into the "grotto" (the secret bedroom concealed behind a hidden door). I
did so gladly. For the next ten months he fed me, kept that roof over my head, and helped
me regain my assuredness as an editor. (Together we issued 6 books from his office.)
Having Harlan on one's side is a major asset, and we remain close friends.
I asked if anyone on MemoryHole wanted to get into the "Good Harlan" mood, and received two significant responses from old Detroit fans who, like myself, knew Harlan as the noisy kid with too much promise and a heavy need to shake off the dust of Shaker Heights, Ohio.
This is what they had to say:
A time to live and a Time to Die: My wife Sybil was sick for
a long time, during fall l999 she saw the doctor and he told the family that he did not
expect her to live more than another six months; she kept going down, developed a leg
infection and then gangrene. They had to amputate one of her legs and after that she was
confined to bed. The time was getting close.
Karol said, "Harlan, do you mean Harlan Ellison?"
Sybil said, "Of course I mean Harlan Ellison," and went
silent again. Sybil hadn't seen Harlan since St Louiscon in 1969, but her thoughts were on
I said," Of course it is, Harlan, that's why I called
I have known Harlan Ellison for nearly 50 years. I have seen his private side - and his public side. They are so different that I used to think he had a split personality. I used to kid him that he was running around in verbal raincoat when he wrote. Flipping it open and shouting, "LOOK! LOOK!" Just to see if he would get a reaction out of the readers. Yet there were times when what he wrote was reality.
He taught me how to write, and what to see in a world that was full of wondrous things. He gave me books that I never would have read, and music that I never would have heard otherwise.
If he is your friend, there is nothing he wouldn't do to help you if you needed help... Yet I flinch at the many times I have seen fans try to tear him down just to get a reaction.
I remember the college student in an audience who asked what Dachu
was, and Harlan was ready to go after the fool. I remember the time he told a reporter off
during the Manly Wade Wellman benefit auction.....
And others as well remembered a Good Harlan:
Good Harlan: Like the hand-carved desk at a Worldcon artshow
auction, for which Harlan
Good Harlan: Never met the guy, but fifty years ago he was a
good guy to me when he shipped me a pile of paper backs in exchange for a few copies of a
British comic he wanted for his collection. His gift far outweighed what I sent him.
Though, probably now if he still has them, their value will be far in excess of the books.
By Ted White
Frank Robinson is, without question, the best editor I ever worked with. I've worked with a number of other good editors in my career, but Frank was the best.
In 1960 Harlan Ellison moved back to New York City in early spring from a stint in Chicago/Evanston, and stayed with my wife Sylvia and me for a couple of months before getting his own place just up the block (on Christopher St., in the Village).
Around late June or July he got his own place. I introduced him to Billie early that fall, and sometime in October or November they got married and moved back to Evanston to start up Regency Books.
Harlan left Evanston about a year later, coming briefly back to NYC with Billie, with whom he was breaking up. From there they drove out to California to go their separate ways. That was in late 1961.
While he was staying with us, we left him in charge of our apartment when we drove up to Newport for the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival, which I was covering as an editor at Metronome and a columnist for Tom Wilson's Jazz Guide. George Wein (who ran the Festival) was ticked at Metronome's editor, Bill Coss, and refused me press credentials for the Festival, even with Bob Perlongo, the Assistant Editor, standing at my side, vouching for me (he'd ridden up with us). So we turned instead to the "rump" festival being held a mile away at the Cliff Walk Manor, and being run by Charles Mingus.
The afternoon was a weird circus of kids cruising in cars, throwing beer bottles at pedestrians, and occasionally mooning us. That evening, while listening to Ornette Coleman at the Cliff Walk Manor (an outdoor concert with a respectable audience), my eyes began to sting, and I realized that we were being tear-gassed - the tear gas drifting from what turned out to be a riot at the main festival.
Around midnight, after the Cliff Walk Manor concert had ended, Sylvia and I got in our car and left to drive up to Boston where we could stay with friends, since the hotels in Newport were totally booked. On our way out of Newport we encountered roadblocks: we could leave, but no one was being allowed in.
Once in Boston, I called Harlan at our apartment to tell him what had happened. "Oh, man," he exclaimed. "This would make a great article for Rogue!"
So when I got back, at Harlan's urging, I wrote "Riot At Newport," for Rogue. Harlan wrote the first line ("It was a syncopated Sodom and Gomorra") and I wrote the rest - a rather turgid piece.
Harlan "presold" the piece to Frank Robinson, who was then Rogue's editor, but I had qualms about it. It was a bit of a fraud, since I hadn't actually been at the Newport Jazz Festival when the riot occurred and most of what I knew about it I'd gleaned from newspaper accounts and what my friends (like Perlongo) told me about it afterward. I felt uncomfortable writing the piece and it simply wasn't very good.
But when it was published, it actually was good. I read it with amazement. Frank had cleaned the piece up and all but completely rewritten it, as nearly as I could see. (In fact, the piece was subsequently touted to Rogue's other writers as a model of the kind of piece the magazine wanted.) And this in the days before word-processors, when it took real work to do that kind of extensive revision. I studied what had been done to my piece, and when I got the assignment to write up "the Washington Square folksinger riot" (published as "Balladeers & Billy Clubs"), I turned in a piece which required no revision at all.
Sylvia and I took a train out to Emporia, Kansas, for Christmas with her folks that year. On the return, we took advantage of a train-change in Chicago to spend the night in Evanston with Harlan and his new wife, Billie, who had moved there only a month before. And Harlan took us to the Rogue offices where I at last met Frank Robinson.
I thanked Frank profusely for what he'd done to turn my Newport piece into a readable article. He grinned modestly and said, "Hell, Ted, they were all your words. I just rearranged them a little."
He could have rejected the piece, and maybe should have. He could have kicked it back for a total rewrite. Instead he did the job himself and declined credit for it. That told me a lot about Frank as both an editor and as a human being. What he did to that piece taught me a lot - and it paid handsomely (for the times) as well. I've maintained my respect for Frank as an editor and as a human being ever since.
I met Bruce less than a year later, on my return trip from the Seattle Worldcon of 1961. Once again, Sylvia and I (plus Andy Main, who was riding with us in our car) stopped off in Evanston to spend the night with Harlan and Billie.
By now I was a virtual "regular" in Rogue and my picture had been published on its contributors' page. I'd done three articles and a couple shorter pieces for the magazine. (My third piece was my first jazz piece, about newcomers on the sax, John Handy and Eric Dolphy, both of whom were friends of mine.) It was a good gig and I had more article proposals in the pipeline.
But when we went over to the Rogue offices, I was in for a profound shock. Frank greeted me with pleasure, but he introduced Bruce to me as "the new editor," and Bruce refused my offer of a handshake and told me, all but leering at me, "We don't need you at Rogue. If we want a piece on jazz, we'll get Nat Hentoff." (Hentoff was one of three of the top names in jazz writing at the time, the other two being Leonard Feather and Ralph Gleason. I knew Nat and both liked and admired him; he was very kind to me when I was a neo-critic in the jazz field.) Bruce Elliott brushed me off like an annoying housefly, dismissing me immediately. He made me feel like a little kid among the big guys.
I knew something of who he was. I'd read a "novel" of his in Startling Stories, and I knew he'd ghosted some of the Shadow novels in the mid-'40s. A few years later my buddy, Dave Van Arnam, got the job of ghosting that Startling "novel" (which ran maybe 35,000 or 40,000 words) into a full-length 60,000-word book. He complained about it a lot.
So I had been prepared to like or be impressed by the man when I met him. Instead I felt like he'd stepped on me and was scraping me off his shoe, like a dog turd. It made for an unpleasant interlude in an otherwise nice day.
Years later I was told that Bruce was a serious alcoholic, given to making messes for others to clean up-in essence he was his own dog turd. But that didn't help me. Frank had made me welcome in Rogue magazine. Bruce made me unwelcome. I never did another thing for that magazine.
Harl 'n Neverland*
By D. Bruce Berry
1958: Near the end of the year I began receiving a series of disturbing letters. They were all written by D. Bruce Berry, a science fiction fan that I knew only casually, and they were bouncing all off the walls. They were sort of Fatal Attractionish, a little jilted lover, and a whole lot "Why don't you give me the things you give your friends?"
Beyond that, there was something frighteningly threatening about all of them, not only to me but to my wife and children as well. They just kept coming, and getting more irrational because, they said, I was not replying to any of them.
Then the letters took a drastic turn for the worst, they began turning up in other people's mailboxes besides mine. My friends were getting them too, people like William Hamling, Harlan Ellison, and others, and each one of them would hand those letters over to me at the first opportunity along with expressions like, "Can't you do something to stop this nut from sending this kind of crap to me?"
1959: The poison-pen letters continue to science fiction fans and professionals not only in Chicago but elsewhere, and those letters were also passed along to me instantly with notes saying, "Handle this!"
Around the house, things were getting real weird and everyone was constantly upset, not knowing what to expect from a clearly mentally impaired person who was frightening and capable of doing almost anything.
For the first time in my life I hired a lawyer to protect me from the evilness that was ongoing. Marvin Mindes, Chicago fan lawyer, Committee member of ChiCon III, came to my rescue at appropriately discounted fan courtesy rates.
By June, things were moving rather rapidly in the legal system and Berry was brought to court to stand trial for disturbing the peace. Most of the letters were in evidence and the judge spent some time going through them and asking questions of everyone concerned. Finally he announced, "The letters are clearly life threatening to Mr. Kemp and his family." He directed that Berry be taken in for mental observation with reports made back to him.
Eventually it was the opinion of the examining doctors that Berry needed some treatment and further confinement and he was directed to a state mental facility for that term. He was discharged from that facility in August 1960.
1962: Two years later, with the menacing Berry incident submerged but not forgotten, and without a word about him from anyone, I acquired a second "devoted fan."
At the Midwestcon in Cincinnati that June, Robert Jennings and his wife, both squeaky clean and dressed like Cleavers, attached themselves to me and my wife. We couldn't avoid them; every direction we turned in, they headed us off. They dominated our time with endless bright smiling questions about how I felt about this or that.
None of it made any sense to me, but in actuality he was "feeling me out" for himself, trying to decide if I was really worthy of the bombshell he was sitting on and faunching to ejaculate momentarily. In the end, he decided that I really was an unworthy who needed to be exposed for my deviousness, and he ran with his gut feeling and preconceived first impression of me.
In July A Trip to Hell was produced and mailed. The timing was a deliberate attempt to embarrass and humiliate me, as chairman, of the upcoming WSFC ChiCon III.
In August it struck the science fiction community with a noticeable bang.
Only it wasn't the bang Jennings, Berry, and others were expecting.
The days of Bill Hamling's science fiction magazines were almost over. Distribution was getting to be a problem. None of the distributors then in existence would deliver to small towns as in the past. This was ruining the pulps as wide distribution was absolutely necessary to their continued existence.
One day, Bill said to me, "I'm changing the theme of my magazines, Bruce. I'm going to start printing the 'adult' science fiction."
"How come?" I asked. I was shocked at the possibility of the collapse of this last of the really imaginative science fiction magazines.
Bill shrugged and gave a short laugh, "I'm just not making any profit off these mags of mine. I can't get them into the small towns any more, so I have to aim at the big cities on their own terms. It looks as if 'adult' science fiction is here to stay, and I can't keep carrying these magazines at a loss. The only reason I have been able to keep them going this long is that Rogue is selling good."
I was dubious about the "whole" thing. "Well, you're the editor. But I don't think that the 'adult' mags will be around long. They have just about run their course."
"Well, I'll just have to take the chance, Bruce," Bill answered. "If this doesn't work, I'll just have to suspend publication."
I had to resign myself to it. "Okay, Bill. But I don't think they will last more than three issues if you change over."
Bill threw up his hands, "Gosh, Bruce, I like the old stuff as much as you do! But it just isn't paying." He picked up an envelope from the desk. "Anyway I've got a manuscript I want you to illustrate." He handed the envelope to me. "Read it over and let me know what you think of it."
I took the manuscript home and read it that night. I had never read anything so sickening in my life as that story. The writing was good enough, but the story was completely debased. There was neither hope nor glory in it. It looked as though the author had dug up all the dirty ideas he or anyone else had ever had and thrown them on the paper. The story was "Way of an Assassin," and was written by someone named Harlan Ellison. I called Bill the next morning and told him he would have to get someone else to illustrate it. It was just too dirty for me to touch
The changeover to "adult" science fiction was as short lived as I had predicted .
The Labor Day weekend was cool and windy, not unusual for Chicago at that date . I had done quite a bit of artwork one evening About eleven o'clock I stopped working and had a couple of beers go down to the store and get some more. It was about one o'clock in the morning, but I never get to bed very early and I was still wide awake Anyway, I went down and picked up a six-pack of beer.
On my way back to the apartment house, I noticed a car parked in the center of the street a man standing between two parked cars. As I got closer, I noticed him fumbling with his sleeve. When I came near him, he suddenly stepped up onto the sidewalk.
"Hold it, mister," he said, "Hold it right there." He was pointing the sleeve at me and I could see the barrel of a gun sticking out of it . The man was only about five foot six, but the gun more than made up for his small size. So I stopped. I was hoping he would come closer, but he did not and there was no way I could reach him without risking a shot. He stayed about six feet away at all times. I noticed that he was very nervous, as though this was the first holdup he had ever pulled. That scared me as nothing else would. A nervous man with a gun is extremely dangerous; almost anything can make him pull the trigger. "Turn around," the gunman ordered. I did as I was told.
I heard the doors of the parked car opening and heard the sound of running feet. A little guy came running around from the other side of the car and came up to the sidewalk. Another taller man ran from the driver's side of the car and stopped on the sidewalk about 20 feet from me. He was facing me and the light from the front of the apartment house fell on his face. "Good God!" I thought. "It's Earl Kemp!" There was no doubt about it!! But then I remembered, Kemp was in Los Angeles at the convention [Southgate in '58-E.K.]. Still, it gave me a shock.
The man with the gun said, "Put up your hands." I did as directed.
Then the little man who had come from the car said, "Put them behind your head." I did this also.
The man with the gun had another thought, "Put your hands down, " he said. If no other good came of this, at least I was getting some exercise. Well, they seemed to be in agreement that I looked prettier with my hands down and the little guy began going through my pockets.
"Hurry it up, Bob," said the man with the gun.
Bob said, "Okay," then as if he had been practicing he added, "Harl." Bob went through my pockets with the deftness of an old pro. Finally he had my billfold and anything else he could find.
The man with the gun pointed to a passageway between two apartment houses. "Start running down that alley there. Keep moving and don't look back."
One night Kemp showed me a photo of Harlan Ellison in a copy of Rogue. He knew I did not like Ellison because of his stories. Kemp asked me if I had seen Ellison on television the night before. I said I had not and asked how he looked.
I was delivering some illustrations to Men's Digest, and got into a bull session with Paul Neimark, the editor. I always stuck around for a few minutes to bat the breeze. Paul had told me that his company was starting a paperback line and wanted me to do most of the covers.
"Oh, by the way," Paul said, as I was getting ready to leave, "Harlan Ellison dropped in to see me today."
"Ellison!" I was surprised, "I thought he was in New York."
"Bill Hamling offered him a job as associate editor," explained Paul. "And he has agreed to write some stories for me."
"You know I won't illustrate his stuff," I reminded him.
"Yeah, I know," said Paul, "but there are plenty of other stories .
Harlan Ellison was in town and I wanted to see what he looked like. I had not paid much attention to the photo Earl Kemp had showed me a while before. I picked up the copy of Rogue the photo was in and opened it to the right page. It took a few moments for it to register; then I noticed something familiar about the face. Reaching into my desk, I pulled out the sketch I had made of the holdup man the night of the crime. The photo and the sketch matched.
Things were beginning to fall into place. Harlan Ellison was in town . Now I remembered that Kemp had said he had returned from the Los Angeles convention three days early. That was Kemp the night of the holdup! The holdup man had answered to the name of Harl. I had never heard such a name till the night of the crime, but it was obviously an abbreviation of Harlan! Kemp had told me he did not know Ellison and he had lied .
Then I remembered what the maid had said the day of the burglary. Two young men had been seen leaving the building. I cut out the picture of Ellison and took it downstairs to show to the desk clerk, who had also seen the men. She identified it as one of the men.
It was June 1959 One night, when I got home from work, the desk clerk had a message for me.
"Mr. Berry, a couple of policemen were here. They were asking for you."
"Tell them to come on up to my apartment. I'll be waiting for them."
I went up to my apartment and waited. About an hour later the desk clerk phoned to say that the police were on the way up. There was a knock at the door and I opened it. Two policemen were standing there.
"Are you Bruce Berry?" one of them asked.
I said, "Yes."
"I have a warrant for your arrest. You will have to come with us to the station ."
As for Harlan Ellison, I'm reasonably certain now that he had nothing to do with the crime. I believe that he was as much a victim of Kemp as I was. Several months after my release, I read a press report that Ellison had been arrested for possession of a revolver in New York after his apartment had been searched for narcotics as the result of an anonymous tip to the police. I remembered Kemp's statement, "I understand [Harlan] is on dope." There is also the fact that Ellison spent three days trying to find Kemp to talk him out of the case. Added to this, the mention of the name "Harl" at the time of the holdup was obviously a rehearsed affair. I have learned, since the crime, that a burglar named Morrison was working in the area at the time. His photographs show that he is almost an identical twin of Ellison. In view of the frame that Kemp built around me, it is not too impossible to consider that he was also gunning for Ellison.
1962: The science fiction community judged and passed sentences on D. Bruce Berry and Robert Jennings, declaring them pariahs to be shunned. I could not have thought of such an appropriate response to their libelous actions directed not only at me but at Harlan Ellison as well.
Many well-known science fiction fans, such as the example quoted from Yandro by Buck Coulson above, voiced their own anger over the incident in print.
Not for a moment did I feel embarrassed or humiliated. Jennings, Berry, et.al. had struck out.
1968: In San Diego I received a letter from one of the literary agents that routinely sold manuscripts to us. In his letter he asked permission for one of those sleaze book writers whose creations I had been buying to have direct contact with me at the writer's request. The writer's name was D. Bruce Berry.
I declined the offer and told the agent that I'd never buy another
word from him if another question regarding Berry surfaced from anywhere. I learned that
one the first time around.
*Excerpted from A Trip to Hell by D. Bruce Berry, published by Robert Jennings, July 1962. Special thanks to Robert Lichtman for doing the basic research for this article.
RB101 Firebug, by Robert Bloch. Cover design by the
RB102 Gentleman Junkie, by Harlan Ellison. Cover design by
the Dillons Since we are talking Harlan Ellison
there is really no reason to engage in any further advocacy. I am either preaching to the
converted or spitting into the wind. There is no middle ground with Ellison. Consequently
the point here is to be informative. Gentleman Junkie is a collection of dark
stories dealing more with the real world than you usually find in Ellison's more famous
works of speculative fiction. These are stories about racial prejudice, drug addiction,
juvenile delinquency, anti-Semitism, alienation, violence, and other fun topics.
Consequently, these are tales best consumed one at a time, because to sit down and read
this book cover to cover would be a bit much for most souls.
RB103 Mr. Ballerina, by Ronn Marvin. Cover design by the Dillons
RB104 The Brain Buyers, by James Sagebiel. Cover design by the Dillons
RB105 Divide the Night, by Donald Honig. Cover design by Ron Bradford
RB106 Memos From Purgatory, by Harlan Ellison. Cover
design by the Dillons
RB107 The Man Nobody Knows, by B. Traven. Cover design by
On Mexican Government
immigration documents dating to the 1930's, Traven claimed to have entered Mexico for the
first time at Ciudad Juarez in 1914. After arriving in Mexico, Traven spent in his new
home country for the bulk of his remaining years. He settled first in the oil town of
Tampico, writing letters to German publishers, and publishing stories under the name B.
RB108 The Torment of the Kids, by Hal Ellson. Cover design
by Richard Frooman
RB109 Weed, by Clarence Cooper, Jr. Cover design by W.A.
RB110 Some Will Not Die, by Algis Budrys. Cover design by
RB111 What Mad Oracle, by Thomas N. Scortia. Cover design
by W.A. Smith
RB112 The Man in the Water, by Robert Sheckley. Cover
design by Mel Pekarsky
RB113 The Eleventh Commandment, by Lester Del Rey. Cover
design by the Dillons
RB114 Panic!, by David Alexander. Cover design by Mel Pekarsky
RB115 The Crooked Cops, by W.T. Brannon. Cover design by Ron Bradford
RB116 The Dark Messenger, by Clarence Cooper. Cover design
by Richard A. Thompson
RB117 Muscle on Broadway, by Paul B. Weston. Cover design by Will Gallagher
RB118 Fire and the Night, by Philip Jose Farmer. Cover
design by the Dillons
RB301 Philosopher of Evil, by Walter Drummond. Cover
design by Ron Bradford
RB302 The Pangs of Love, edited by Chandler Brossard. Cover design by Ron Bradford
RB303 The Hills of Creation, by Neil Elliot Blum. Cover
design by Ron Bradford
RB304 A Hammer in the City, by Paul B. Weston. Cover design by Richard A. Thompson
RB305 Bloody Grass, by Hobe Gilmore. Cover design by Will Gallagher
RB306 White Man Go!, by Harry Roskolenko. Cover design by Richard A. Thompson
RB307 In the Line of Fire, by Jackson M. Bowling. Cover design by W.A. Smith
RB308 Crimes & Chaos, by Avram Davidson. Cover design
by Ron Bradford
I would also recommend
Avram Davidson's Crimes & Chaos [see quote] from Regency
. I bought the
book because it was by Avram and because it contained a needed addition to my disaster
collection: an account of the Henry Clay disaster. But the book contains much much
more, all in the lovely Davidson style. The Great Yonkers Beer Hose Mystery alone is worth
the 50 cents to me
easily the laugh of the month.
RB309 You Will Never Be the Same, by Cordwainer Smith.
Cover design by Ron Bradford
[On the Trufen discussion group, Charles Freudenthal brought up the subject of Cordwainer Smith and China. Michael Lowrey and rich brown, among others, joined in. rich brown's postings were so informative that I snipped them for inclusion here. -Earl Kemp]
Van Vogt and, to a greater extent, Cordwainer Smith (Paul Myron Linebarger) were unique and as a result no one (to the best of my knowledge) has ever tried to imitate or improve on what they did .
tapped strongly into myth - not
always our past or present myths, but myths of a far future. Which is to say: Several of
his better stories are told as if providing the historical background for what has become
myth at that time ("The Ballad of the Lost C'mell" and "The Dead Lady of
Clown Town" being two of my favorites in this regard).
"I would be happier if I didn't know [Smith] was a friend of
Chiang Kai Shek (if true)."
Linebarger was known in diplomatic circles as "The China
Man" - for many years, beginning in WWII in which he filled a position only he was
qualified to hold, he was, with the military and State Department, >the< authority
on the Chinese, both as a people and as a society. At one point, from what I've read about
him, he reportedly said that he felt his greatest accomplishment came during the Korean
conflict, when he was instrumental in formulating a policy which encouraged Chinese
soldiers to surrender by shouting the Chinese words of "Peace" and
"Freedom." This let many of them surrender without losing face and probably
saved thousands of both Chinese and American lives.
From John J. Pierce's introduction to The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith:
"...It was [Sun Yat-sen] who gave him his Chinese name Lin Bah Loh, or "Forest of Incandescent Bliss. ... In time ... Linebarger became the confidant of Chiang Kai-shek, and, like his father, wrote about China. Still later, he was in demand at the Department of Asiatic Politics at Johns Hopkins University, where he shared his own expertise with members of the diplomatic corps."
Fred Pohl tells the story of how he was going through the Baltic
countries, acting as a sort of ambassador representing American science fiction to the sf
communities there, and he had a U.S. diplomat assigned to help him who was polite but made
it clear that he couldn't imagine anything more boring or pointless than showing someone
who wrote That Crazy Buck Rogers Stuff around. Until Pohl happened to mention Linebarger
being one of the field's most respected authors under the name of Cordwainer Smith.
"But... But...," the diplomat sputtered, "he was ... my teacher!"
RB310 Damn It!, by William E. Miles. Cover design by Ron
RB311 The Gilded Witch, by Jack Webb. Cover design by
RB312 Women of the Swastika, by Hal Vetter. Cover design
by George Suyeoka
RB313 Black!, by Clarence L. Cooper, Jr. Cover typeset, no
RB314 Truman and the Pendergasts, by Frank Mason. Cover
design by George Suyeoka
Of all the books I worked
on at Regency, I remember Truman and the Pendergasts the most. That was because of
all the extra work and problems we had because of the plagiarized manuscript. We had
already spent the time to edit the book and do all the prep on it when it went bust. Then
we had to scrounge for more time to replace it. I even remember flying to St. Louis with
Ajay on a promotional tour for the book. He had special business cards printed with my
name and "Promotion Director" on them.
RB315 Queen Street, by Matthew Gant. Cover design by the
RB316 Hack Number 777, by Terry Martin. Cover design by
RB317 The Rabble Rousers, by Eric Frank Russell. Cover
design by George Suyeoka
I remember working on The
Rabble Rousers while I was at Regency. I really liked Mack Reynolds from working with
him at Rogue.
RB318 How to Spend Money, by Walter Drummond. Cover design
by Martin Rose
RB319 KKK, by Ben Haas. Cover design by Martin Rose
RB320 Hollywood R.I.P., by I.G. Edmonds. Cover no credit
RB321 The Expatriates, by Mack Reynolds. Cover design by
RB322 The Grifters, by Jim Thompson. Cover design by
RB323 Fighting Men, USA, by James Warner Bellah. Cover design by George Suyeoka
RB324 No Law But Their Own, by Joseph Millard. Cover design by Ron Bradford
ROGUE MAGAZINE, EVANSTON ILL - FEB 9 TO BILL HAMLING. URGENT. DEAR BILL: IGNORE LAST TELEGRAM. - LENNY BRUCE
Dear Bill: (March 15)
I cancelled the call I had to you because I felt it was too close to
our deadline to make any demands. Incidentally, I particularly liked Alfred Bester [who
wrote a column about Broadway] Hentof is always good, and Harlan's thing was a gas.
What is it with your quote beautiful girls unquote? I've seen fags
swinger-looking than your center chick. Where is it you get these Woolworth waitresses?
Dear Bill: (March 20)
Sure I like the magazine, it's only that I see so many beautiful
dolls around that it amazes me that you pick the ones you do. But anyone who would let
that elderly woman pose as a Miami U. coed has an adventuresome spirit. I'll give you
- - -
I can't be of any help to you with this. Your memory about those
things is much better than mine.
The case that really threw open the flood gates came in 1967. It was Redrup v. New York. Robert Redrup was a Times Square newsstand clerk who sold two pulp sex novels, Lust Pool and Shame Agent to plainclothes police. He was tried and convicted in 1965. The books were published by William Hamling, and he paid Redrup's legal bills to the Supreme Court.
According to de Grazia, Hamling firmly believed that he was not
selling - as was said about his books - "commercialized obscenity," nor would he
admit to "titillating the prurient interests of people with a weakness for such
expression." Hamling felt his books were giving people who would never have the
skills to read and enjoy Ulysses or Fanny Hill or Naked Lunch what
Yes, we certainly walked the Yard together and Much More over the long and now-distant years. Many good. Some dismal. All interesting. Yet few recorded.
Perhaps I too will one day set the long record straight. On Much and then some, but what the Hell, I don't really care, else I'd already have squandered more than a ream of good rag bond. So be it.
Have fun with your recollect but I guarantee your reminisce will only reflect a pale history-as you now see it. I know-even Gay Talese refused to pen the facts or indeed even cover the years as I gratuitously outlined them for him over a three week live-and-learn session for his ignominious tome.
Ah, well, why don't you let the past be passed and realize that nobody really cares anyway. Personally I see my role as having been highly noteworthy both as a living being and as a citizen but so what ?
As dear olde Ed Murrow once intoned: "Goodnight, and Good
Bill Hamling and I were never close friends. We worked together at Publisher's Development Corporation in 1952 - the year before I started Playboy.
He launched a knock-off of Playboy called Rogue and he once made an unwelcome pass at my estranged wife, but I never really had any ongoing connection with him other than that.
If there are other stories out there floating around, I'm not aware
of them. I'm sorry I can't be of more help.
Eventually Hamling was convicted. Oddly enough, he was convicted
over issues arising from his republication of an official US government document, namely
the report of the Presidential Commission on Pornography. Hamling's edition was, of
I ended up as an editor on Hamling's Rogue magazine. Like Playboy,
it published an ungodly amount of science fiction related material, including Fred Pohl's
award winning "Day Million." Editors (at one time or another) at Greenleaf
Publishing - the parent company - included Harlan Ellison, A.J. Budrys, Larry Shaw, Bruce
Elliot (responsible for some of the later Shadow novels - or was it Doc Savage?), and
myself. Columnists included Bob Bloch, Alfred Bester, and Lenny Bruce. No other men's
magazine - or science fiction, for that matter - had that much editorial talent in depth.
Moving right along - we tried but Rogue never could compete with Playboy and
was eventually sold.
Gave Hamling full exposure, both professionally and pictorially, in
"Science Fiction of the 20th Century."
Hamling had seen the handwriting on the wall a few years before and entered the "sophisticated men's magazine" market. Hugh Hefner, who had launched Playboy in 1953, got Hamling an interview with his distributor. (Hefner and Hamling had once worked together at the same publishing house and even went to each other's parties.) Originally, the plan had been to push a magazine similar to Stag or Male or any of the other hairy-chested men's magazines. The tentative title was Caravan, but when the distributor heard it he asked sarcastically, "What's it going to be about, camels?"
Hamling then suggested Rogue and thus was born another clone
of Playboy - but with some important differences. At one time, Hamling had been a
major science fiction fan with the result that Rogue specialized in offbeat
fiction, had former science fiction fans working as editors, and fiction and columns by
science fiction writers Robert Bloch, Alfred Bester, Mack Reynolds, Fred Pohl, Arthur C.
Clarke, J.G. Ballard, Fritz Leiber, Robert Silverberg, Etc.
I never had much in the way of dealings with Rogue - sold
them some fiction, a few articles later on when Harlan was there, and that was about it.
The only anecdote I have involves Harlan, who when traveling around to worldcons would
pick the fanciest restaurant in town, tell them he was the editor of Rogue, and ask
for "professional courtesy." Sometimes this got him a free meal, sometimes a lot
of trouble. One time that we got trouble was when I was with him in Pittsburgh and
"professional courtesy" turned out to be a free bottle of wine for a group of
twelve (I think Sidney Coleman was with us then.) The rest of the check was payable. We
all skedaddled. The waiter chased us several blocks to say that we had to pay. Harlan gave
him his business card, the meal was billed to Rogue, and Hamling hit the roof.
Hamling's boss was George von Rosen; and one of the first employees to befriend Hamling was von Rosen's young promotion director, Hugh Hefner and he had already decided to soon quit von Rosen's firm and risk a magazine of his own invention. When Hefner described to Hamling the type of magazine hoping to entice Hamling as an investor. [Hamling declined.]
Years later the two men met for lunch Hamling could not help but berate his own caution in having failed to buy the Playboy stock, which was now soaring Hefner suggested that Hamling should also start a girlie magazine .
As a result, in November 1955, Hamling produced the first
issue of a magazine called Rogue
Memories, what memories?
Memories of Rogue are a lost cause. I sold two or three stories to Frank when he was editor, and he rewrote the ending to one of them. In addition, I tried to sell him an idea for a full page cartoon (along with a rough draft} but he said Hamling would not go for it.
And that's all that happened between me and Rogue.
in the mid-'50s [William Hamling] started Rogue, an imitation Playboy. Hefner had offered him a significant stake (maybe 50%) in Playboy at the time of its startup, but Hamling turned it down - and kicked himself for it for years thereafter. Rogue was an attempt to make up for that mistake.
Hamling began publishing Nightstand books - soft-core porn novels -
around 1960. The series was created by Harlan Ellison and Bob Silverberg and virtually all
its books were fed to it through the Scott Meredith Literary Agency via black boxes
(normal submissions were in gray boxes) and a Grand Central Station post office box
Harlan wrote the blurbs, earning around $50 for each book he blurbed, work which followed
him to New York when he moved back in 1960
Some Notes In Search of an Article*
By Richard Yerxa
The early years relative to Rogue well, I'll begin collecting remembrances and ordering thoughts
If my recollections serve me (and you must keep in mind my tender years in those times), it was the breakup of the American News Co. and its "near monopoly" which set in motion the scramble to find avenues of distribution and brought about the ferment which resulted in Esquire dropping the Petty girls and other such risqué features. Hef and Bill got to talking about the potential offered by Esquire's abandonment of controversial sex content, and the opportunity it presented.
As best I can recall, it was Hef who got the idea rolling and then Bill came on line. They brainstormed in our basement for some time and deadlocked on the issue of whether a 50-cent slick or a 35-cent pulp would be the right path. They sort of flipped a coin and Bill thought he got the best of it with the 35-cent pulp.
That may have proved to be true had he more talent and had Marilyn Monroe's photos not become available as gatefold material for the first Playboy. Playboy galloped, Rogue limped. I don't know how much time passed between the release dates of the two magazines. It seems to me that Rogue was in the works by the time the first Playboy hit the market, but my memory is clouded on the issue. I've heard Bill talking about those days with various people and the stories changed from time to time.
Thoughts about the choice of the "wolf" colophon and its early rendering tickle at the fuzzy edges of my memory-that and other memories will have to come in their own time - I will bring the issue up in my mind regularly to see if things will begin to open up. I was more interested, in those days, in how high a tree I could climb. I do remember that Playboy was laid out first and that some of that layout work was done on our kitchen table in the Evanston house.
What I wonder about is why they were not "in it" together. They worked up the idea together but at some point decided to go separate paths. Maybe that was the plan from the beginning but maybe it was disagreements that split them. I remember that the two families spent time together for a while then we stopped seeing them. Then "they" stopped being a "couple" and Hef was a bachelor . (January 15, 2003)
I'm sure mother knows what went bad between Bill and Hef.
The first tire I ever changed on a car was on some "fancy" car Hef had and which developed a flat while he and the family were visiting us. Hef sort of went bad himself it seemed to me. His wife ["Millie"] was, I thought, a great woman but he dumped her. The last time I saw him he was sitting at the bar at Kelly's and looking like the loneliest man in the world. Mom and Bill went to his office one time and Hef left the door to his bedroom open so they could see the lush Bunny he had stashed in there. I forgot her name but Mom would remember. The gal told them, in a private moment, that Hef was a "looker," not a "performer." (February 9, 2003)
While I was in the Marine Corps, Ray Kirk built up Allstate News and started distributing Rogue. He distributed Les Aday's line of [Fabian Books] paperbacks as well. He got after Bill to get another line of paperbacks going . (February 9, 2003)
Regards Rogue I was so young and wrapped up in my own "thing." Also Bill was such an ogre that we usually stayed away from him and thus from many things happening in our own home. Of course I remember Hef and family because we could relate as family. (Also, he had a "neat" car!) I remember a big "thing" about choosing the magazine name but have forgotten the details. I remember some of the layout work, etc. But, afraid I can't be very helpful to you just now things can change . (March 19, 2003)
- - -
Those Were the Days, My Friend
By Rayonelle Sieben
I took some photos of the Graphic Arts building on Sherman as it looks in November 2003. The building where it all began way back when. The building looks totally different now, except for possibly the south elevation with the old fire escape. The photos are pretty light, and we couldn't get far enough back to really get a good view (due to the el tracks).
Now...as I've said before, my memories of the Regency era are very vague, so I'm going to simply send you random snippets of the things I've remembered, and if they're at all helpful, good.
o I think I started working at Regency in the spring/early summer of 1961. I'd met Ajay Budrys and Mike Chmielewski at the No Exit and after chatting with them on a few evenings, Ajay asked me if I'd be interested in exploring work possibilities at the publishing company for which he was an editor. I said yes...I was desperate to get out of Washington National Insurance Company. (I'd given my notice once, then the company I was going to work for went belly-up; I withdrew my notice, then two weeks later again gave my two weeks notice and went to Regency. Those weeks between first giving notice and leaving were hellish!) So he brought a couple of galley proofs to the No Exit one evening, asked me to read them, asked if I found them offensive, and if not would I be interested in working for Regency. I did, I didn't, and I was. I worked there until sometime in 1963--probably spring or early summer.
o I had no contact with Harlan Ellison at all. I remember seeing him a couple of times at The Hut, but never at The Shop.
o I really don't have memories of Bill Hamling with the exception of a party at his house in Highland Park. And all I really remember about that was that Bill Mackle was pretty sloshed and drove me home and damn near got us both killed coming off the Edens Expressway too fast. So, here we go:
o Ajay poured M&Ms into my typewriter once when we were all fooling around and teasing each other. Even though we turned the typewriter upside down and shook it like crazy, we couldn't get them all out, and had to call the repair guy who regaled us with stories of unlikely things he'd removed from typewriters.
o You "guys" used to go down to Howard Street for "business" lunches at The Dark Place, and you'd get me take-out screwdrivers and bring them back to the office for me.
o During editing sessions, someone or the other would begin calling out "Oh, Oh, Oh, Yes, Yes, Yes, Harder, Faster, Deeper," and we'd all crack up.
o I remember the day Bruce Glassner stabbed my cactus. He'd been threatening to do it, but when he actually grabbed my letter opened (MY letter opener!!!) and did the deed, I was shocked. The letter opener stayed in the poor, dead cactus for several days.
o I remember Ajay passing on the message from Hamling that his wife had gone to Marshall Field's to buy a wedding present for Dick and me, and was flabbergasted to find I wasn't registered. So, Dick and I dutifully went to Field's, picked out a pretty expensive pattern of Dansk stainless, and registered. The Hamlings gave us 8 place settings, and I was unbelievably impressed with their largesse. They weren't even invited to the wedding, you see.
o The Sandusky - at the printing plant - emergency editing trip. I remember you, Earl, were smoking Commodore cigarettes at the time, and the smell of a freshly lit Commodore was great. So I switched to Commodores for a while. I remember being very amused that the print shop that printed our porno, also printed Sunday School lessons and coloring books. I was the only one who had a room with a vibrating bed in that Sandusky motel (at least that's what you all told me), and I recall you all volunteered to show me how it worked (like I couldn't read the instructions!).
o I recall Ajay fussing and fussing over the coral color for the edging color for our Regency books. He had a set of pastels, and kept mixing colors and sending them off to the printer.
o Then there was the stringer from the Chicago Sun-Times who tried to make his reputation by exposing us. I remember watching him walk down the hallway toward our offices, and thinking, "Here comes trouble." Oddly enough, I remembered his name for years and years, and now it eludes me. He wanted to know what kind of drugs Blake Pharmaceuticals was manufacturing. His probing, and the way Ajay reacted, and my worry about it all, gave me a three-day, nonstop migraine - one of the worst I've had, and I've spent a lifetime having migraines.
o I remember driving to Milwaukee [a 200-mile roundtrip] "for coffee" to mail the galley proofs (I believe this was during the period when we were antsy and anxious because of the Sun-Times, and didn't want anything traceable to anywhere near Chicago).
o I also remember actually proofing and editing the legit books. And the publishers party at the pizza joint for "Cab 777". And doing first reads on manuscripts - some of which weren't bad (I recall a ms. titled "Truk" set in Israel).
o Then there was the Halloween costume party that you and Dave Stevens hosted. Ajay as a an elegant werewolf, Frank Robinson was "Hugh Hefner" wearing an anti-obscenity sandwich board, Dick Sieben as Gollum, me in a medieval pushup bra. Wish I could find those photos!
o I remember Larry Shaw seemed such a wet blanket sort of guy, but I guess he must have been okay. We crossed at Regency for only a short time - maybe three months?
o When Ajay went to Playboy Press (the book division was being
started up), he made
Were you all protecting me back then? Was I kept from knowing a lot of things that were gong on down the hall? I get the feeling I was really out of it, but I also realize I was in the throes of being in love with Hans, then being in love with Dick, getting married, etc., etc., etc. I had other things on my mind.
Fran is clearly correct in her assessment that Rogue was Clean and Regency Dirty. I sure felt that! I think I was actually in the Rogue offices once. I sure didn't feel like we were invited to be there any time and that we were colleagues. I don't remember Eddie Yerxa from Rogue at all (though my gut tells me I knew he "worked" there). I remember him only from The Hut. Same with Harlan. And The Dark Place.
That's it, Earl. If anything else comes to mind I'll send it along,
but I doubt this will be much aid in the areas you're looking for help. Bruce had
mentioned working out of my living room for a while. I only vaguely remember that. I guess
what it really comes down to is that I remember this time as lots of fun with the
exception of the tension of waiting to be arrested. Probably very different from how
others remember Regency Books, Rogue, and Blake
It will be interesting to read the real story and find out what I missed in my naïveté!
Where are they now?
The last I heard of Mike Chmielewski was that he was a doorman at the Belmont Hotel in Chicago. But that was 25 or more years ago. Just thought I'd throw that in.
When I die I would like to be born again as me.
"This Ain't No Drug Store "
By Bruce Glassner
Jeez. Earl. All of a sudden, I'm back in touch with so many old friends and comrades...have also wondered what you've been doing, individually and collectively. I have been getting fragmentary bits of information from Frank Robinson over the years, of course all filtered through his glass darkly.
Let me say this out front...assuming even a small portion of Frank's lurid portrayal of your lifestyle in Southern California is true, you are my idol. Your professional trials and tribulations, as well as your largely unheralded commercial success, is also impressive. I read a good chunk of eI last night...was amazed to discover for the first time the richness of the context I fell into at Regency/Rogue, and how things evolved within the organization after I left.
It also put me in touch with how little I knew and how little I perceived at the time...as well as how little I remember. Now, I can call up only small snapshots, isolated incidents that for one reason or another got stuck in my mental Kodak camera. The raw facts: I was 19, just escaped from electrical engineering hell at IIT, and got hired by some wonderfully weird people to edit softcore porn. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I was working with real writers and real editors in a real publishing company...and I was like a deer in the headlights. I had escaped my working class roots and had become part of the intelligentsia and, My God!, the literati. It was all dazzling and wonderful. And it was mostly about sex. And it was vaguely anti-establishment, perhaps even illegal...which, of course, made it even more exciting and wonderful. And I didn't know squat. Particularly about sex.
I spent about a year "in the backroom" with Ajay Budrys, you, and Raye. I remember mostly my little office, the eternal quest for ways to describe fucking without anyone actually putting anything INTO anywhere, the occasional banishment to work in Raye's living room while the "heat" was on and/or anticipated. But for me, it was mostly about editing Tony Calvano into something resembling prose, and eventually having a chance to write stand-in columns and moonlighting the monthly paste-up at Rogue for FMR. It never occurred to me that the FBI was a potential threat. If anyone was going to bust us, it would most likely be a bunch of Evanston cops, a Catholic priest, and a band of blue-haired ladies from the Women's Christian Temperance League world headquarters, just up the street. No big deal.
I clearly remember my underlying belief that repression of sexuality was inherently stupid... and had created the pent-up demand for the low-quality sexual experiences we were producing. I understood that it was a game that both we and The Authorities continually and consensually played with each other, each for their own reasons, neither having any particular connection to the issues of morality and/or The U.S. Constitution. It was about politics and profit. My own view (no doubt influenced by my Jewish heritage) was that Earth is populated by monstrously large and incredibly stupid beasts...and we, as individuals, are mice. The Beasts frequently stampede and our principal job is to avoid getting squished.
In retrospect, I think we were the first Children of The Media - the first generations to have our hearts and minds shaped by real time film/TV/radio information about the world...and finding it contradicted the dogma, mythologies, and outright lies that dominated our American society. Some of us spoke out (an incredible act of courage that has, historically, generally resulted in crucifixion). Most of us simply opted out...kept a low profile, and did pretty much whatever we wanted.
I moved over to Rogue fulltime after the palace coup of 1963 or so. Bruce Elliott was canned, and Art Johns and his crew of ad sales sleazoids were out. Frank Robinson was Ed-in-Chief. Bill Mackle was Managing Ed. Mike Chemielewski ran something called the subscription department out of a storefront (and apparently a rolling stash of semi-trailers). Dave Stevens and I were Assistant Eds...and later both made Associate Eds. Hamling had a psychotic aversion to paying salaries...so FMR was buying articles from me under a couple of by-lines (Robert Courtney, Mike Williams).
Also in 1963, at one point, Hamling and Francis were in a
panic...they only had $30,000
David Stevens and I rented an apartment in Old Town, near Sedgwick and North. David bought a Morgan sports car (and a deerstalker hat), I bought David's red Alfa roadster, and we merrily raced up and down the Outer Drive every morning and evening. We soon discovered that the other three apartments in the unit were occupied by rotating shifts of incredibly drunken and lascivious United Airlines stewardesses.
I was primarily balling a lovely Jewish girl who I eventually married with appropriate Jewish splendor in a downtown hotel. David was dating a mysterious and beautiful lady, Stanka, who was spirited out of one of Chicago's Middle European enclaves (pursued, we imagined, by her father and brothers firing pistols from the runningboards of a black Ziv sedan).
In short, life was good. It was WONDERFUL It was daring and dangerous. I had become a professional writer. Our main occupation was finding the sexiest stuff in the world and publishing it. We were going to parties at the Playboy Mansion. I was getting laid. It was more than I had ever dared to dream of, way, way more.
One day, probably in 1965, FMR quietly let us know that we should begin looking around for something to do. The paperback book division had already relocated in San Diego, California and the magazine would be sold. Not good news. Playboy was the only major consumer publication coming out of Chicago...and it was a nightmare. Hef was at the height of his addiction to uppers/downers, the Playboy staff had gone psychotic behind it, Bill Mackle and Ajay had already gone there and been assassinated...no thanks. I wasn't interested in either New York or LA. What to do?
Then a neighbor (a sales guy for CBS-TV) suggested I talk to a small ad agency that was looking for a writer. I scoffed, of course. Eventually, I went and got the job...primarily because I had done some pieces on auto sport and had foolishly bought an old Maserati. Stewart-Warner auto and boat instruments were a major client. They offered me twice the salary of my Rogue editorship and secret freelancing, combined. And they apologized that it was so little. They also thought writing a headline and a couple hundred words of body copy per week constituted a major achievement (my daily production of in-house copy at Rogue was 2-3,000 words, plus another 2,000 of freelance at night). I had found my ultimate scam.
So I did that for the next 15 years or so. Writing ad campaigns for McCann-Erickson and BBDO in San Francisco, writing and shooting big-time TV commercials in Burbank, writing and producing some musical jingles with incredible studio musicians in Hollywood and Nashville, having a hell of a lot of fun and making a small amount of money. Also winning five CLIOs. I'm pretty good at it. By then, living in a lovely old Victorian country house in a redwood/fern forest in Mill Valley, hanging around The Fillmore and jumping naked into Sierra hot springs as a weekend hippy, doing a small amount of recreational substances and a whole heap of kinky sex.
I also took several extended leaves from advertising to freelance magazine pieces. Three years in advertising (until my bank account was full and my head was empty)...then three years off freelancing (bank empty, head full). I think it was during one of these periods I traded my Mill Valley cottage for a villa in Guadalajara for a month (via a Chicago attorney, an old associate of Becky Davidson-Winkless). That's when Bonna and I showed up to visit you at your house in Ajijic on Lake Chapala. I have a very clear image of eating and talking in an open-air courtyard (which had recently been despoiled by a St. Bernard after a feast of ripe mangos). I also remember visiting you at your San Diego place with FMR...but am unclear on the timing. (Some day we'll have to talk about THAT one).
Ultimately, the Big Karmic Wheel swung around. I was between McCann and BBDO, and running my own little ad shop in The Ferry Building...and these dweeby guys start wandering in from Berkeley and Palo Alto with green slabs of fiberglass. Turned out to be the earliest people in the personal computer biz...then mostly a solder-gun-freak hobby. I got involved and have spent the last 15 years doing high tech (and most recently, biotech) advertising. Which is virtually non-existent now...nothing happening in Silicon Valley until next year sometime.
So our brief time and lovely little band of rebels served me very well. Launched a long, pleasurable and intermittently profitable career as a writer/producer...and provided me with a wonderfully diverse education in deviant sexual behavior which has been my primary recreation and satisfaction ever since. I've been married twice and had several long, lust-lock relationships with excellent women who, for a decade or so apiece, equaled (and in some cases, far exceeded) me in kinkiness.
I'm a scuba diver. I spent much of my disposable time and income cruising a BMW sport-touring cycle around the breathtaking California coast and mountains. I've got most of my health and very little of my hair. I still play 6- and 12-string guitar (badly). It's been a long, incredibly wonderful, bizarrely lucky ride...
Now, unexpectedly and improbably, I'm about to turn 61. You're right...whoda thunk it? I've certainly given God and The Government both opportunity and motive to punch me outta here. Didn't happen. Now I've got to deal with it. It's probably time for me to stop being pissed off about how it oughta be and start dealing with how it is. I'll probably wait until MediCare covers the cost of the therapy.
BTW: Most of my Regency/Rogue samples and much of my early ad work were destroyed in a basement flood (while I was off making SE Asia safe for Standard Oil in 1998.
Where are they now?
Bill and Nancy Mackle...have wondered about him (and lasciviously, about them). Heard Bill was writing for an ad agency. Suspected that Nancy and Bill had a seriously D/S relationship, Nancy definitely top). Don't expect that Bill has survived...he was already sweating heavily with the exertion of reaching middle age.
Patti-Patricia O'Brien--the Receptionist ("We're with the FBI. Is this Blake Pharmaceutical?" Patti, without missing a keystroke, "This look like a fucking drug store to you?") No clue where she is today...but suspect she was topping Bill Hamling at the time.
BTW: I worked for Bill Hamling for about three years in all...don't
recollect him EVER speaking to me. I was just fine with that...but have no Uncle Bunky
stories to contribute. There was an urban legend about someone, possibly Jim Sagabiel,
grabbing Harlan Ellison by his shirtfront and hanging him on a coathook in one of the
cubicles. But I apparently showed up too late for some of the more colorful
characters...and had only heard of, but never met, about 5% of the vast cast of pornbiz
and science fiction characters you mention.
I was hired at Regency by Ajay Budrys in the summer of 1962, probably July or August (known date...I left IIT in May or June '62). Ajay was top dog, you were #2, Raye was in place, I was the new kid. Mike Chmielewski ran the subscription op in a storefront around the corner. That was the entire Regency cast that remained intact for about one year, until I moved to the Rogue staff (mid-year 1963, guestimate). Harlan Ellison was nowhere to be seen in the company, Regency or Rogue (unless in an office somewhere else)...lots of HE stories but no HE.
Within 6 months, I began moonlighting for Frank and got to know the Rogue staff... Bruce Elliott was Exec Ed, FMR Managing Ed, Mackle Assoc Ed, Ed Yerxa around sort of. A sr. art director, Ron Bradford, and Terry Rose, were back in the art department. Don't remember if Patty O'Brien was at reception...probably was. (Black hair piled on top of her head, round face, Kewpie-doll lips). There was also a VP and Business Manager, Art Johns, and a big fat guy, Al Lerman and maybe one other. Don't think they sold any national ads...other than giving the back cover to Jim Beam (or possibly bribing some media guy to get the schedule...I remember a couple of lavish downtown parties for the ad agencies). It was Hamling's big run at breaking away from Dude, Gent, et al and getting a piece of Playboy's "high class" market... I believe they got out 6 issues or so...no rise in circulation, no national ad revenue...hasta la bye-bye Elliott, Johns, Terry...
That's when FMR moved up to Exec Ed, Mackle became Managing Ed, and Frank wheedled Ajay and/or Hamling into moving me over to the Rogue operation as Asst Ed. David Stevens was hired as a 2nd Asst Ed shortly after.
I was at Rogue for about 2 years, 1963-1965. I married Bonna (secretly) in March 1964 to hold off the draft, and got ceremoniously married in Aug '64....while at Rogue. I left in '65 to take a copywriter job at Earle Ludgin Advertising in the Wrigley Bldg.
In my first year at Rogue, Mackle was hired away by Playboy, David and I moved up to Assoc Eds. It was like an escalator. I think Ajay and Rayonelle left for Playboy Books and Larry Shaw showed up to replace him back in the Regency shop...but I was gone very soon after that. I remember Shaw's eyebrows and pipe, and his pleasant manner.
About company names: I'm fairly positive that the front door of the Rogue office (including Bill's office area) was labeled "Greenleaf Publishing Co." Not even sure if "Rogue" was listed (to deter crank visits). Our back office...don't remember but probably only "Regency Books" My paychecks from both Regency and Rogue were from "Greenleaf Publishing Company." I NEVER saw the name "Blake Pharmaceutical" in any printed form and only heard it spoken once or twice... I believe it was used strictly as a holding company, 100% behind the scenes.
By David Stevens
Wow Earl, this is great stuff. I'd forgotten so much of it. Let's see what I can add.
When I came to Rogue I'd just spent 9 months traveling around the world on freighters and living in a flop house in Hong Kong. Lolled around my parent's place in LaGrange Park reading men's magazines (Dude, Gent, Escapade, Nugget, Modern Man, Playboy and Cavalier) including Rogue. Noticed it was published in Evanston.
Had an interview with Frank and Bruce Elliott who was sure that I was a narc looking to bust Blake Pharmaceutical. Frank immediately knew I was harmless.
I started work at Rogue in late fall of 62 for $100 a week. I left in 1965 and started at Playboy in December 1965. I remember Frank telling me that Hamling gave out very generous Christmas bonuses. I'd only been there a few weeks when Hamling called me in and gave me my bonus -$50. I still can remember how thrilled I was! Half a week's pay. Wow. Funny how that stuck with me. Don't remember a hell of a lot else except we sure had fun and the old Rogues still look pretty good for what they were. Where do we go from here?
I almost never spoke to Hamling; I found him very quick and edgy.
I never worked with Harlan Ellison. I do remember the production guy with a big moustache who drove an old Citroen once dumped a plate of food on Harlan.
My fondest memories are the three-hour lunches that we used to take
at The Dark Place with Bruce
I remember that Bruce tried to edit a magazine called Rake that may have come out once or twice? Don't have any copies. I also remember Bruce being on the radio one night to be interviewed and he was fried and made a total ass of himself. Came into the office the next day and kind of apologized to everybody in that snarly way he had.
I also remember going to the printers with Frank for "press check" and we'd make corrections on page proofs and they'd run down and set the stuff in hot type and run it back to us for approval.
I remember one trip, I think late in the game, to LA with Bruce Glassner and Frank where we all went to the Whisky A Go Go and Clint Eastwood, who was playing Rowdy Yates on Rawhide, showed up in a White Rolls Royce.
Also remember getting really drunk (boy, that's something new) and Bruce cutting himself and becoming ill at the sight of blood. Also I think Frank and I wrestled in the hotel one night. At least I thought we were wrestling! I think I beat him. Good thing. God knows what might have happened.
I remember Frank would be either really up and maniac and fun or in the depths of a terrible depression and we'd all creep around trying to stay out of his sight. I think we had a name for his depression but can't remember it.
I also remember the FBI showing up one time and speaking to me. Don't remember much else except they were only there a few minutes. It would be interesting to go to the Freedom Information site and see how many of us have an FBI file. I'm sure our phones were tapped because I used to hear a funny clicking now and then.
Frank really helped me with my column "Rogue About Town." Bruce didn't need any help; he was an excellent writer. We both went on a "Rogue Goes On A Yacht Party" thing on Lake Michigan with Al De Bat doing the photo shooting.
I remember thinking, "Wow, I'm out here with topless babes" especially one really cute blonde. Later on that night I discovered that she'd stolen five bucks out of my wallet while on the boat. Frank wouldn't cover it in an expense account.
Another time Ron Bradford took photo shots of me and an art director and some model in a hotel room while we did exercises of some kind. Really stupid.
I also know that David Steinberg from Second City did some house ads for us. They may be in 1963 issues.
Unfortunately I never got into really wild sex like Bruce did because I was dating my first ex-wife Rat Fuck (never speak her name) and didn't think that would be the thing to do. She was such a stick in the mud - but exotic - that when she would loosen up I'd say, "Rat Fuck laughs!" like "Garbo laughs" you know. I'm sure that didn't endure me to her. Got married at City Hall but couldn't live with her until we got remarried at a Serbian Monestery in Libertyville a month and one half later.
Talk about a fucked up way to start a marriage.
Ah, back to Rogue. I remember one very cold winter day when Frank had stayed over at Bruce and my apartment in Old Town and we crammed ourselves into my Alfa and started driving north on I-94 or maybe we had left the office and were heading north for some reason. Very slippery and snowing like nuts. Suddenly the car started to skid sideways. Then we did a complete 360 spin and went off onto the shoulder of the road.
Nobody said a word. I just restarted the car and pulled back onto the highway. Bruce, I think, said, "Nice driving."
Before I got married to RF I was also dating a blonde whose name I
can't remember. I remember I wanted to take her to Frank's apartment but he'd just
stripped it all down, curtains included, for spring cleaning. In his frazzled Frank way,
he put all the stuff back in place and then stomped around glowering at me for a week.
Today it seems funny; then it
Also I remember going to an apartment in Evanston where some young guy who I think was a friend of Rayonelle's (don't remember much else about this; Ajay might have been involved) had gone nuts and dumped food and stuff all over. We were cleaning it up with some guy who was there with us and then somebody whispered to me that this is the guy who trashed the place. I think his parents came and took him home and he was put away.
I also remember Eddie Yerxa stoned out of his mind in an apartment where his only piece of furniture was a mattress. He also liked to argue that the world didn't need cops.
Then, when Billy, Jr. would come to the office with his dad, we were all on our toes. Frank told me to watch him at all times and never turn my back on the kid for a second.
I also remember when Ajay went to Playboy and he was making $18,000 a year which seemed like a fortune. Vaguely remember Rayonelle being there but we were all so terrified of Spectorsky and Jack Kessie that we couldn't see straight. Wish that I'd spent more time talking to her.
Had a good time with Mackle at Playboy and at Rogue. One day at lunch while at Rogue Mackle and I went to his mother's apartment in his little Renault Dauphine which was always breaking down. He had a love/hate relationship with his mother. The car got a flat tire right on Belmont and Lake Shore Drive. Mackle got out of the car, took the tire iron and started to assault the car.
I started to say, "what the fuck are you..." and ending the sentence with "please don't do that."
We used to laugh about it later.
Arthur Kretchmer, who has been riding to work and home with me since 1984 when I moved to Evanston, still tells Mackle stories. (I also remember going to a Bastille Day, I think, party at Al De Bat's apartment where his girl friend and a cute blonde were doing topless pushups in the kitchen.) Kretchmer just retired as Playboy Editorial Director some months ago.
Also I remember Bruce, Frank, and me going to a really hip club called The Bear where Bob Dylan and Judy somebody (a singer) were playing. Place didn't last long.
We used to hang out with Bob Ellison, a wise ass writer at the (I think) Sun-Times. Got a lot of jazz lps from him which I still have.
Frank, Bruce, and I also went to a press opening of a club in Old Town where the singer fell off the stage. I remember the PR person begging us to be kind in a writeup.
In those days Playboy sold a million copies a month and we did 200,000 second to them, but we won more professional awards every year. Took a lot of pride in that.
As I said before, I went to Playboy in 1965. I think I got married in '68 and bought a vine-covered three-story Tudor house in Uptown Chicago for $27,500. I remember my father saying, "I don't know if you'll ever get your money out of that house, son."
I got divorced in 1973 or something like that and married Karen, a copy researcher at Playboy, in 1974. My dad died in 1976 at only 66. Yow!
In 1982, our first son, Matthew, was born and we all moved to a house in Evanston the next year. It was owned by Arlene (the copy chief at Playboy) and Harry Bouras (who were divorcing or divorced). The joint was built in 1898 and originally owned by G.V. Black, the founder of modern dentistry at Northwestern. Our second son, Jonathan, was born in 1984.
I've had a lot of fun at Playboy over the years; raced in the Mexican 1,000 (I think you already know this); spent five weeks in the Sahara (wrote stories on both trips), did a lot of other crazy travel and got promoted to Modern Living editor in 1981. One of the perks was getting a different car every week to drive and going on a lot of car press trips.
My last one was to Skibo Castle in Scotland two years ago (Andrew Carnegie's Highland home and where Madonna got married) and I had lunch with Prince Andrew. Then that night I fell asleep in the gun room after consuming a boxcar load of Scotch. Never heard a word of complaint about it.
I also had some wonderful cruise trips off Africa and spent a lot of time in South Africa back when it was very un PC to go there. My older son, Matt, is a senior at the University of Vermont majoring in art. He's a vegetarian and doesn't drink or smoke. When he was 16 he rode his bike across the country dipping one bike wheel in the Atlantic and the other in the Pacific. Took eight weeks. Also did a three-month survival trip in the Rockies.
My younger son, Jon, will take everything that Matt doesn't touch in doubles. He's manager of a pizza place in Evanston and lives with me and three dogs (mastiff, border terrier, and a pug) in the house. He's now thinking about college, but not too much.
I got divorced earlier this year after Karen went through a major midlife oopsy but we're still friends and ride to work and back together. Had dinner with her Saturday night. The day we got divorced was Jon's birthday and we all went out to dinner. Very civilized.
I'm leaving Playboy after 38 years on December 19 as I said, and don't know what I'll do then. Will be strange to not have a deadline coming at me once a month like a freight train after 40 years plus. What's left of my hair has gone white but I'm still pretty trim. Did a really strenuous exercise program at lunch for about 15 years. Should start doing something again. I just turned 65 and am getting SS this month. Looked forward to the birthday. Wahoo!
Thanks for priming the pump. Maybe I'll think of something else. Those were great old days at Rogue. Wished we'd recognized that then.
TIME OUT: I'm creating a persona here.
In 1962 my old hero Harvey Kurtzman of MAD did the same thing when he created Little Annie Fanny for Playboy. She was deliciously completed by the incomparable Will Elder. And they did it just in time, too, because I really needed her.
We had an immediate opening for a Receptionist/Editor at The Porno Factory and did she ever fit the bill. I saw both of them coming, announcing her impending arrival, seconds before she entered the room.
In time, mixing with my science fiction friends, she became a legend. Whenever her name was even mentioned, there would be a noticeable chorus of sighs and at least one plaintive male voice saying, "Boobs !"
She was hired on the spot, of course, regardless of her excellent qualifications from Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. She worked at Blake Pharmaceutical until the very end of the company itself, many days and nights of exciting adventure and angst.
For the time being I am calling her Francine Schieskopf because that is not her name. Little Orphan Frannie instead of Little Annie Fanny. Also because Schieskopf was the protagonist's name in the first sleaze novel she wrote and sold to Nightstand Books.
Other than that, what follows has been compiled from her letters, emails, and numerous phone calls over the last several years.
Midnight Readers on the Nightstand
By Francine Schieskopf
I had the best seat in the house. From there I had a perfect view of almost everything that was going on. It felt as if I was the best clued-in insider who stood just outside all the exciting action. From there, also, I eventually got to meet all of the principal players in one hell of a roller coaster soap opera.
Because I had been dating Bill Mackle for some time, I kept meeting all those people one at a time or in groups or, best of all, at one of the numerous Rogue parties. Bill was an editor for Rogue, big and filled to overflowing with gregariousness and good will. You never saw him without a trademarked grin on his face.
One of the first players I met was Frank Robinson, the working editor. I also met some of the part-time editors like Harlan Ellison, Bruce Elliott, and Larry Shaw. They were all short timers and played through in a hurry. I met Earl Kemp then, too, and Rayonelle Seiben and Ajay Budrys (and his fantastic wife Edna).
There were others, too, who impressed me. Bonnie Elliott, a feisty little woman with a love of owls; she kept images of them all around herself. She was a wonderful hostess and very easy to shop for all you had to do was look for owls.
From Earl Kemp, the people I got to meet stretched far afield from Rogue, into science fiction fandom and Henry and Martha Beck, and Jon and Joni Stopa, to name just a few.
My frequent party going with Bill Mackle brought me into contact with many colleagues from all around the Chicago area. It wasn't at all unusual to run into some low-ranking Playboy staffers at some of the events we attended together.
What I wanted, most of all, was to get into the middle of the action I was watching take place in front of me.
I knew that William Hamling was the boss of Rogue and of Regency, and I also knew most of the secrets about Hamling's back office operation where the dirty books were coming from, including the name Blake Pharmaceutical which was no drug store.
Everything about the big office there on the second floor at the corner of Sherman and Dempster in Evanston was perfect for me. To begin with, I lived just a few short blocks away, within easy walking distance. Most of the time I rode my bicycle anyway, back and forth, in those days. I loved to be outside in the sunshine with the wind blowing my hair back from my face as I pushed those pedals.
As I watched the play unfolding before me, I kept looking for the right opportunity for my entrance onto the stage, and finally it came.
There had been an up and down period of confusion for a few months, so no one seemed to know what was really going on around Rogue. What was happening was Ellison was leaving and Budrys stepping in as the boss of the backroom books. It was an unhappy time with many long faces and whispered conversations and angry participants. Rayonelle and Earl tried to hold down the fort while this was going on.
Then Rayonelle made the big decision. She was going to marry Richard Sieben and become a full-time stay-at-home mother to Richard's young son Craig; at least that was the story. They were married in a beautiful ceremony at the Unitarian Church in Evanston.
What was really happening, I found out later, was that Rayonelle was actually moving on to Playboy. That she was leaving was my clue. I rode my bicycle over to the office the minute I heard the gossip. I wanted that job, and I got it.
Finally I was right where I had wanted to be for some time, working as a real honest paid full-time book editor. I sat at the front desk and pretended to be the receptionist, but I really wasn't. I was editing books real sleazy trash stuff and loving it.
The boss was William Hamling, but I never had any interaction with him, before or after he became my employer. I met his wife, Frances Hamling, a time or two, just enough to have a nodding acquaintance. I thought she was a beautiful woman and then there were their kids.
Eddie Yerxa was something else. His stepfather kept shuffling him around like a piece of furniture. Sometimes he would pretend to work in the Rogue office and at other times he would pretend to work in the Blake office, only he never did any work any time. Annie Darden was Hamling's receptionist and secretary. Since her husband Severin left Second City for Hollywood and Fame and Fortune, Annie had been living with Eddie.
I remember Earl thought that Hamling placed Eddie, his stepson, into the Blake offices as a spy of some sort, and it bothered him for a bit. After I pointed out that all Eddie did was put his head down on his desk and sleep all day, Earl started relaxing a bit. Maybe once a day Eddie would get up and go to the john and smoke another joint, then go back to sleep.
I remember Eddie's younger brother Richard, because Hamling was grooming him to front the book division. And then there was Billy Hamling, Jr. He was a holy terror and a problem maker from the very first.
All this time Ajay Budrys was the boss, and he brought Larry Shaw in from Lancer Books in New York to be his backup. For some reason, Larry and the job in Evanston didn't work out well, and he left quickly.
Part of the problem was Ajay, who was seriously paranoid about his job and wanted to move to Playboy Press where he could be a respectable book editor in the worst way. It was his one topic of conversation, and how to get into the Hefner organization. Earl went out of his way to help maneuver him there. And Rayonelle who went along with him.
As far as I knew, Earl was the only one out of the whole lot with a direct line to Hefner, since he and Hamling had parted ways while formulating Playboy. I remember I put through enough phone calls for Earl from Playboy during those wonderfully thrilling days. We were always pretty careful about things like that, and went into some subterfuge to underplay the connection.
I also remember Earl having some pretty exciting stories about partying at Hefner's hutch with the bunnies and some well-known big names like Jules Pfeiffer and Shel Silverstein.
We looked so good. We were all so sophisticated, so suave and debonair back then. We were all young and beautiful and charming and witty. We wore business clothes and the guys wore coats and ties. Black socks and shined shoes Playboy Club keys in hand. Looking the Good Life. We could have been performing a Noel Coward play for all I knew at the time.
And, it all worked out right. Ajay got the job he had been trying for at Playboy Press, the book division of Hefner's enterprises. At Blake, Earl expected to get the boss job, but Hamling placed Bruce Elliott in charge of the dirty books instead.
That, too, was a quick turnaround. Unknown to most of us, Bruce had become a really heavy using alcoholic. Most of the days he would go around the office in a total stupor, not knowing even where he was, much less what he was supposed to be doing there. I saw him take reasonably good manuscripts, rip whole sections of them apart, and spend days rewriting the portions the way they should have been written in the first place. Days at a time when our hurried schedule didn't even really allow for hours .
In 1963 Hamling finally called a halt to the boozing, eased Bruce and Bonnie Elliott back to New York City, and gave the job to Earl, who had been doing the work for a while anyway. And, at the same time, he made some major revisions within the Rogue staff, cutting it considerably.
Mary Stanko, on her own time and at home, worked full time as a free-lance editor. Her husband, George, one hell of a biker, was just about to hit it big with his special design handlebars featured in Easy Rider. Now and then, we would even have to call in other overflow workers to get us out of a tight squeeze of some sort.
I remember that office well; there at 1236 Sherman Avenue in Evanston, at the rear of the second floor of a building we shared with Rogue and Golf Digest. The Dempster Street Elevated station was just half a block down the street. The Elevated station was also the closest newsstand to the office half a block down the street. It was there that Frank Robinson, who routinely haunted newsstands, discovered much to our horror, that all of our exciting paperback novels were proudly displayed, sold, and sold out.
The problem was, we had all been told that Hamling had placed a block on distributing the novels in Evanston, to keep the books and attention well away from us, the perpetrators, who were producing those very same books there just half a block down the street from the newsstand that was trying to get more copies to sell. At the same time, there were many local and federal agencies trying to find out where they were coming from.
Another half a block along was Baskin and Robbins, where we ordered up many treats for consumption in our office on hot afternoons, or cold ones as the lust required. I still remember that Ajay Budry's favorite flavor was raspberry sherbet; he called it "ramsberry sherhoo." Earl and I had a fondness for B&R's hot fudge sundaes.
I never ever had any dealings with Hamling. I almost never saw him even, but I do have one really bizarre memory. This incident happened more than once, but each incident was more or less a complete replay of the original.
Hamling would walk into the office, without any warning, and go around my desk that blocked the doorway and directly into the bathroom. Once inside, leaving the door open, he would start complaining, loudly, about all of our "disgusting habits" without naming any names or specifying which habit was the most disgusting. Then, I swear, he would begin cleaning the bathroom, while nonstop berating someone of us for existing. When he was satisfied that the bathroom was once again usable, he would leave the office without saying a word to a one of us.
He didn't use that bathroom. There was no real reason for him even to enter it.
The memory is difficult to suppress.
There were, also, many days and nights of stark terror. These were the terribly paranoid days when there were cops coming to the office, and newspaper reporters, and funny people calling in on the telephone with even funnier reasons for calling in the first place.
At other times, we would really be under the gun, and actually have to hide to get the work done. On those days, one of the things we did was to take the workload right to my apartment, just down the street and around the corner for a few blocks, and work there. I can't remember why we felt more secure there than anywhere else. I can't remember why we were so afraid to begin with, but I do know that much of that paranoia came directly from Budrys and from William Hamling personally.
Sometimes we would even have lunch at my apartment also, and other times we would go to International House of Pancakes and splurge for blueberry waffles. For very special occasions, there was always The Dark Place.
Rarely there would be some form of disaster at the printing plant in Sandusky, Ohio. We would have to rush there and work in motel rooms and printing plant offices to put patches in blown-out books. The work schedule was so short that there was no time for any sort of delay in production and distribution of the books. At times we had to write thousands of missing words to fill books that were moving directly from typeset to pressroom. It was an exciting, break-neck pace. We felt as if we were really doing things, accomplishing small miracles, changing the whole world for the better one book at a time.
Getting our mail sent out from Evanston was always a problem, there was so much "cover" on it at the federal level, rerouting it to places other than the intended recipients, and we would have to go to really unusual lengths to communicate by writing. Some of those involved taking the mail onto a train to a town 100 miles away and dumping it into the outgoing mail there.
There was always a sharp division separating us there on the second floor in Evanston. Rogue was a clean and Regency was a dirty. There were even Rogue employees who wouldn't walk down the hallway and enter the Blake office for fear of being there at the wrong moment when the Feds would rush in, grab everyone in sight, and send them all off to Leavenworth.
Other than that, we were one tight-knit bunch of people. We did almost everything together and that especially included spending all our spare time together, socializing, having little office parties, playing charades and acting out impromptu suggestions from our fellow coworkers.
I remember Frank Robinson and his obsession with outfitting Bruce Glassner with the best of everything and a fancy sports car to move it around with. Dave Stevens wondering what the hell was going on.
I remember lateral movement going always in one direction, from Rogue to Playboy, gleefully. Eventually there were five crossovers. Budrys and Rayonelle from Blake and Mackle, Robinson, and Stevens from Rogue. No wonder Dave Stevens left, driving his cute little Morgan, for better digs with HMH.
I remember that Dave and Earl co-hosted a couple of really good Halloween costume parties during those years.
Then, all too soon, it was 1965 and the beginning of the end. Hamling had made a decision to move the book division to San Diego and the end was in sight. But first there was much extra work to be done.
We accelerated the schedule until we edited three extra months of paperback production to cover the gap between closing down Evanston and turning on San Diego. It was one hell of a task.
And that wasn't all. While all this was going on, we were plotting how to select the right crew to staff the new offices in San Diego. Among other things, we worked out a really complex test to sort out the undesirable editor applicants in one easy move. Our prospective editor test looked like one page selected at random from a representative manuscript. Onto that page we contrived to place the most complex set of errors we could come up with after years of experience working with the actual things.
I just happen to have a copy of that test, in case Earl or anyone else would like to try to spot the errors in it again.
As a parting gesture, Hamling gave us the office furniture we had been using in Blake Pharmaceutical. Anything left after that was abandoned property. I kept my desk at in my apartment in Evanston for a long time after than, remembering how good it had been for a while.
Actually, we had worked so hard, near the end, that there was nothing left for me to do once Earl had actually left the building. I stayed to the very end, the closed and locked the doors to Blake Pharmaceutical for the last time.
But that wasn't the end of the story. I was still there and Rogue was still there for just a while longer. Only not too long.
By the end of the year the whole era was finished. Rogue and Regency were both gone and the staff members scattered everywhere.
It was a lonely Christmas that 1965.
By Earl Kemp
One of the good things about working at Rogue was the spirit of the staff. They tried to have fun while they were doing whatever it was they were doing. Some of those things included living it up with the freebies, smoozing with the naked ladies, and getting off.
Photo shoots were to die for, especially on location or out in Lake Michigan on some luxury craft. The Rogue staff never missed an opportunity to use themselves in those photo shoots in place of hired models. It not only saved money, it gave the office crew vastly expanded horizons as far as their friends were concerned.
Gathered here are examples of some of the ways Rogue featured the staff, the regulars, and the hired hands.
The William Lawrence Hamling
By Earl Kemp
Archive Five: Model Arts
William Hamling next published Model Arts, about which little or nothing is known. No examples could be located, and no data regarding any of the contents.
There is the memory of Richard Yerxa, who recalls:
Model Art I'm pretty sure that was the name. It was pretty "plain Jane." Digest sized, black and white, just the photos and simple comments like camera settings. I'm pretty sure it came to be done in our basement . (February 9, 2003)
Archive Six-A: Rogue (Greenleaf)
Rogue was born in the Hamling basement in Evanston in
November 1955 and ended as a Greenleaf production in December 1965.
I was unable to locate anyone with copies of the earlier issues who would communicate with me. For that reason there are huge gaps in the data regarding the contents. As a result, this archive is somewhat speculative and based solely on available fragments of information. I would appreciate any corrections, additions, or any form of data revision being emailed to me at email@example.com and thank you for helping to correct and complete this archive.
Rogue Contents: NOTE: This is only a partial listing, by Volume.
1955-1956 Volume 1:
1957 Volume 2:
1958 Volume 3:
1959 Volume 4:
1960 Volume 5:
1961 Volume 6:
1962 Volume 7:
1963 Volume 8 (complete):
1964 Volume 9 (complete):
1965 Volume 10 (complete):
1966 Volume 11 (February/March
Archive Six-B: Rogue (Douglas)
Almost no data is known about the Douglas Publishing Co., Inc. or their version of Rogue. However, thanks to Bill Burns who made an exhaustive search of the Internet, we are presenting Archive Six-B for reference only.
No attempt has been made to index these Douglas issues.
Archive Seven: Regency Books
Regency Books began in 1961. Forty-two titles were published in two years. The series was discontinued in 1963 and revived as Corinth Regency in 1965.
This archive contains only the original 42 Regency Books.
Return to Earl Kemp page