|Vol. 3 No. 1||
(Vol. 3 No. 1) February 2004, is published and © 2004 by Earl Kemp. All
|Contents -- eI12
- February 2004
Lefty Gloves, by Jon Stopa
El Jardin de las Marias, by Earl Kemp
Return to sender, address unknown .4, by Earl Kemp
"The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius," by Earl Kemp
The Widdershins Man, by Earl Kemp
H.R.H. The Queen of Weird Tales, by Earl Kemp
H.R.H. The Queen of Pornography, by Earl Kemp
Señor Pig, by Earl Terry Kemp
Monomanual Memoirs, by Arthur D. Hlavaty
The Bela Tolls for You, by Earl Kemp
House Style Manual, Greenleaf Classics, Inc., by Peter V. Cooper
By Jon Stopa
When I got out my winter clothes this year, I was surprised to discover I had five left gloves, and no corresponding right ones. None, zero!
That's really odd, I thought. Only lefties, no righties. That just couldn't be. There wasn't a single glove for my right hand! What could I have done to lose all my right gloves?
I searched in closets, shelves, the car, and plastic storage boxes--any place I could think of--but to no avail. Somewhere I may have had a whole bunch of right-handed gloves, but I sure couldn't find them.
While I was quietly grumbling to myself, I came to remember a theory expressed in a book by scientist David Deutch, The Fabric of Reality, the science of parallel universes. In the book on this strange but interesting subject, he carefully rejected the science fiction tope of parallel worlds stacked, one atop the other, like cards in a deck. But could he have been wrong? Could that be what had happened to me?
Could there be an alternate time track where an alternate Jon Stopa is looking for his left gloves?
This made me feel very uneasy--what if that universe was the main line and this one is a sidetrack?
I must admit that when George W. Bush became president without winning the election, I thought there was something wrong with the world. When Bush invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein was supposed to have weapons of mass destruction, and there were none, I took that to be bad, over-the-top satire. No one would start a war over WMDs if they didn't exist. This universe was wrong, wrong! Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth might write about this kind of world--but Kornbluth was dead, and Pohl's satire is subtler than that now.
Feeling uneasy, I reviewed recent history--reluctantly I had to agree that, even so, the above facts did seem to fit the theory that this was an alternate time track. Many things fit. There was the amazing way that tax cuts solved every problem, from budget surpluses to budget deficits. Who would have thought that cutting taxes, especially for the very rich, would have had such wonderful effects? That had seemed pretty strange, but I came to believe it. On the other hand, if this were the real world, surely that wouldn't work.
Maybe this was, indeed, an alternate universe. Maybe it just needed a better editor! But no, the idea was too far fetched. I tried, but couldn't suspend my sense of disbelief.
At that moment an old stack of Time magazines slumped across my desk, the headline on the cover proclaiming Arnold Schwarzenegger governor of California. The Terminator! I felt an ice-cold shock. This couldn't be! The world I was living in had become a poor satire.
Still, my head rebelled. I couldn't believe this was an alternate universe! It seemed so real--and yet, and yet...
Suddenly I had a vision! There was George W. Bush cruising through Baghdad on Thanksgiving day, 2003, at the head of a parade of thirty thousand American troopers, flower petals choking the air like colorful snow, while tens of thousands of cheering Iraqis struggling to touch his feet! Bright flags are snapping, and bands are tooting. No sneaking into Baghdad in the middle of the night in an unmarked plane! He rolls under the famous crossed swords and, after a sentimental embrace with the democratic leader of Iraq, the newly appointed president, Ahmed Chalabi, mounts Chopper One, which flits away. Hey, if Bush is not too proud to accept being appointed, why should Chalabi? The thirty thousand troopers, last of the American occupiers of Iraq, climb into their planes and arc up into the bright sky, on their way to Damascus, Syria, to liberate millions more!
Then the vision flickered and disappeared. What a hollow feeling it was, having had this glimpse of the main time track, then have it yanked away. Back to this miserable failure of a world...
I'm still searching very diligently, looking for right-handed gloves. Though, I have finally found one. You have no idea how relieved I became! Maybe, at last, the real timeline is bleeding through.
I console myself with that thought.
Yet, there is the irrefutable fact, George W. Bush is still president of the United States. Reality obviously hasn't bled through completely.
I think I'm going to buy new gloves, and hope for the best.
By Earl Kemp
Somewhere out there not quite halfway between the Sea of Tranquility and the Sands of Mars, you might be able to find Paradise Acres.
At the beginning of the 1950s, a huge area known as Golden Valley just outside Kingman, AZ, was surveyed and marked off into streets and residential lots. It was a grand scheme and a massive undertaking. To begin with, Golden Valley, an oblong shaped leftover sea bottom, is easily 50 miles across and three times that in the longest direction.
The one outstanding feature of the area is the mountains surrounding it on all sides and protecting it from most weather conditions. The mountains are very old, very black, and awesomely craggy; they could have come straight out of H. Rider Haggard or Abraham Merritt. In some directions, the mountains are layer upon layer of mountains at different distances and different color intensities. In the winter they become topped with glistening snow and in the summer by occasional natural wildfires and always spectacular. A view that no amount of money could buy.
Desolate isn't the word I would use to describe the area. Peaceful comes quickly to mind, as if a bit of the water from the Sea of Tranquility spilled over and landed in Golden Valley. It is tranquil beyond description, a perfect place for introspection, reflection, and data accumulating. An unmatchable place for translating those things into written words, however ineptly and unsatisfactory.
The effort to merchandise Paradise Acres was undertaken with much fanfare and publicity in the 1950s. It was fronted by a woman named Crystal Collins. She looked like an over-the-hill bimbo who could have easily passed for a retired madam or several of her girls. She was a very flashy person given to overdressing for eye-catching sleaze. She wore extremely tight-fitting cowgirl clothes and tons of pre-Tammy Fay makeup, and drove herself around in a Cadillac convertible.
I came along in 1958 as part of the Falasca motorcade going to Southgate in '58, the world science fiction convention. I was amused by the hooplah, flag-waving, and very cheap land prices associated with Paradise Acres. I looked at some of the sample lots along US 66 "get your kicks on," and made the mistake of signing a guest register. That was my downfall.
What Crystal Collins had in mind, and what she did with her grand scheme, was to unload all those thousands of vacant residential lots (some totally unusable) in a hurry. The subdivision was called Paradise Acres, of all things, and their full color brochures featured all the best of the best for several hundred miles around this area. Glorious photos of desert cactus flowers and natural wonder beauties to die for.
Those brochures were mailed to addresses in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana the winter wonderlands of the USA Midwest to people who hated to shovel snow and dreamed of owning their own little place on which to retire in the sun. It is reasonable to assume that 99% of all lot purchasers never saw their property, ever.
It is still vacant, the way it began, in 1950 almost all of it.
I bought my first lot in the area in 1959 and, over time, I bought several more of them, along with lots in California, Nevada, and Florida. What I was trying to do was to buy a plot for each of my children, and for myself. Over time, many of those lots were sacrificed for divorce settlements and other types of spousal payoffs.
My son Terry lives on one of those lots in Paradise Acres a couple of miles away from me. My son Erik lives with me. He keeps me mobile, anchored, and tries to keep me out of trouble but rarely succeeds. In his spare time, he is Webmaster for www.earlkemp.com.
It is possible that when I purchased this property in 1959 that I had a secret plan to eventually live here, but I've never been known for making long-range plans.
Nevertheless, after I burned out on living elsewhere, and semi-permanently vacationing in Mexico, I returned to the States and to this lot, in the middle of nowhere, to make it my final residence.
At that time, in desert ambiance, two things were noticeably outstanding: the almost complete absence of birds and the constantly changing winds. After a fashion, both those things created the name for my new residence, El Jardin de las Marias [garden of the winds]. My son Erik describes those winds swooshing unimpeded across the vast valley as "coming with magnificent forces," and he is right about that.
As the garden progressed, little by little, out of nothing, and plants and trees began to grow and to take bloom, the birds began coming. Now they are here almost all the time, singing and happily eating all my insects and rejoicing at the water they are privy to inside el jardin. The only water available to them for miles around in any direction.
In January 2004, these aerial photographs were taken of the area by my daughter Edith and her husband Doug Pinney. I thought some of you might enjoy the flyover.
Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy ride.
- - -
THIS ISSUE OF eI is dedicated to my children, Edith Lynn, Elaine Lee, Earl Terry, Erik James, and Erina Leah the Es of my life my past and my future. Enduring love forever.
And, it's a special issue the Second Anniversary Issue. With this number, Bill Burns and I begin our third year of publication for eI. Hopefully we can improve a bit this year. To start with, we're introducing a Table of Contents in response to numerous requests and hope you will find it helpful to use. Your Letters of Comment, should you happen to write them, brought this about and your suggestions could make this zine better for everyone. How about giving it a try occasionally, you might enjoy writing them.
Eydie has something special in the works for me and she's doing it at www.earlkemp75.com and wants me to call your attention to it. Please check in and see what she's trying to do to me now.
Erik has taken over the task of Webmaster for www.earlkemp.com and updates and additions are posted occasionally.
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, Cuyler Brooks, Arthur D. Hlavaty, Earl Terry Kemp, Robert Lichtman, Edith Kemp Pinney, Robert Speray, Jon Stopa, and Peter Weston.
ARTWORK: This issue of eI features recycled
artwork by William Rotsler.
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.
Monday December 15, 2003
This issue of eI is fabulous. Thanks for sending
it. Printed the whole thing out [at Playboy] as don't have time to read
it all right now and damn near burned out the printer. Hope Frank doesn't
take exception to my mild shots at him in my write up. I think that he's
a little thin skinned these days. It's really good to be back in touch.
I know the amount of work I do on each issue, but
I am awed by what you put into it. These memoirs are important and irreplaceable--so
much of the history of that period has been lost, and we're reclaiming
it while there's (just) still time. I really hope you can get it published
at some point.
Thanks for eI11. I've read part of it, plan
to spend some time on the rest of it Real Soon Now. I've heard a lot of
these same Evanston/Z-D/Hefner/Hamling stories before, mostly from Frank
Robinson, but it's always fascinating to get somebody else's take, somebody
else who was there. Kind of like watching Rashomon.
Tuesday December 16, 2003
I appreciated the mention of Passion Pit. However I wish Tony Calvano would have had a better plug. OR telling them that John Dexter just happened to get hung on one of my 150 masterpieces. Maybe next time. That book was so sweet. Like Bush, I am a compassionate pornographer.
--Thomas P. Ramirez
[Tom, I am really sorry about that. Allow me to make a tardy introduction. Thomas P. Ramirez was one of the original Scott Meredith Black Box porno writers. He is most known by his pseudonym Tony Calvano, however he has also written extensively as Gage Carlin, Steve Savage, and others. He says he is writing it all up for eI slowly. -EK]
Hi, Earl. Read it "cover to cover." Big, colorful, impressive--a patchwork quilt as, perhaps, memories really are. Can't stop roaring with laughter every time I read Raye's vivid memory of me assassinating her cactus. David has a wonderful sense of humor (wish I knew him better). Loved the singing telegram prank, then and now. Yeah that's how we were.
Hamling poured all his resources and ego into the Rogue operation while the truly successful and profitable MR/NS group was constantly screwed for resources.
My recollection is that you and I split the editing on 8 Nightstand and 8 Midnight Reader titles a month -- 2 books apiece a week -- and worked pretty hard. The Regency titles were almost 100% Ajay's babies...we only got a crack at those when Ajay was tied up on other business matters. It must have been incredibly hard when you had to edit that volume with new/part-time/psychotic staff. But that's Hamling's screwed-up value system... everyone who worked "in the back" is entitled to be pissed off at that.
Minor carping aside...thanks so much for pulling all
these people and memories back together. Was it good for you, too?
Wednesday December 17, 2003
I did want to correct one small mistake. While you burned most of the art from the Rogue files, you didn't burn all of it. Several years ago I interviewed Harold McCauley's family and took photos of the 15 or so paintings they have by him. The enclosed photo was one they were not exactly sure where it had appeared. I think you'll recognize it right away.
Many years ago (at least 25 or more) I sold some paintings
that Dave Stevens had stored in his house in Chicago. Several of them
were early Rogue covers with the wolf. I have photos I took of
them somewhere in the clutter of my house. So they are in someone's collection
as well, though I'm not sure where.
[Robert, leave it to me to screw up. The single McCauley example I chose to represent the burned cover paintings in "Is McCauley Burning" in eI11 was this picture. Then you trumped me by sending me a jpeg of the original that escaped those paranoia fires. Your visit with the McCauley heirs sounds like an exciting story for eI. Can I persuade you to write it up and illustrate it for the rest of us to enjoy?-EK]
Thursday December 18, 2003
This is fabulous stuff. I was deeply involved in a
lot of Bill's publishing efforts, from Imagination on through Nightstand,
Regency, and Rogue, but I was always at the New York end of things
and it's fascinating to see what was going on back at the home office.
Tuesday December 23, 2003
I've been printing out your latest little by little
[at Brandies University] and then taking the tidbits home to savor at
my leisure. As much as you appreciate my interest, I really appreciate
your taking the time to make your zine of great interest to those of us
who want to learn more about this aspect of the book publishing trade.
An aspect that could easily fall in between the cracks of book history.
Sunday January 3, 2004
I had no idea that Harlan Ellison came up with the quote about hydrogen and stupidity. I bought that button from Nancy Leibovitz many years ago at a Worldcon. I think stupidity has long passed hydrogen, but hydrogen is still a strong No. 2.
Science fiction magazines the biggest financial black hole in existence, I'm sure. I have a friend on the Canadian west coast who started a new SF magazine with the unlikely name of Neo-Opsis, and all I can do is wish them luck.
The Charles Beaumont story, "Gentlemen, Be Seated," reminds me of today, where humour has not quite died, but is quite ill, and most humour must be aimed at someone only too eager to be offended. We're too damned PC.
I'd love to find out what Robin Williams might think of Harlan Ellison today. There's a lot of years under the bridge, and neither HE or RW are young men any more. RW's gone from standup to one of the most-in-demand actors, and you know what I mean here.
The only time I met Frank Robinson was at the 1992 Bouchercon in Toronto. Quick meet, a few words, carry on. Frank was there to do business, and I was there to help run the convention.
The Redrup case of 1965 has recently been matched,
if my memory serves, by a case in Texas where a night-shift store clerk
sold men's magazines to an undercover agent, who promptly arrested the
clerk. I believe the clerk was successfully prosecuted for selling the
Thanks for the full-colour Rogue covers. You know, I think I recognize some of them, or I may have seen the covers at one time or another. We all used to peruse the SF sections of many used bookstores, and many of those sections were close to the men's section we weren't supposed to be looking into. Also, thank you for the full-colour Regency covers. I'm happy to say that not only do I recognize many of the covers, a couple of them are on my bookshelves.
Not much of a loc. so much of it is outside my own
experience, so I can't say much except thank you for more information
about your glorious career. I look forward to more.
Sunday January 25, 2004
Scanning through eI 9 and 10 again to prepare for writing this letter, I immediately got wrapped up in Dave Locke's piece on what to do with fanzine collections. I was a long time gafiated, and so I don't have enough of a collection for this to affect me directly, but it is sad to think of unopened boxes of fanzines going to the dump or the paper recycler. A run of even a mediocre fanzine represents a skein of friendship, enmity, argumentation, thought, and creation that comes back to life for a knowledgeable reader. It is good that there are university collections keeping at least some of this stuff for future readers. But in the end, the zines are ephemeral, and maybe it is best for makers of zines to think like those Tibetan monks who make elaborate sculptures in butter, or like Indian sand painters. They know their work is going to be lost, but the essence of it is in doing it.
I've read the parts of the Hamling/Greenleaf story in eI 9 and 10 with great interest, and I'm going to go back to the earlier issues and read the "prequel." The prison memoir was harrowing. I hope you take some satisfaction in having been right, and being still here, while Nixon is gone. I do see a parallel in what the current government is doing: they act the way they want to, regardless of any actual information. (When watching the government, I feel a bit like the guy in that Rotsler cartoon, looking up at the sky and hoping that it won't be shit this time.)
I think that Ian Williams is dead right about the effect of art on an individual being something way different from the quality of the art. The problem comes in trying to share one's enthusiasm with people who are not of the same mind. If the enthusiasm is for something that is in museums or English textbooks, the response is "He must be a snob." If it's for something found in old magazines with fuzzy edges, the response is "He must be a moron." "It's okay to like crap." Yeah.
It's been a long time since I've read any of Kurt
Vonnegut's writing. Player Piano was among the earliest SF books
I remember reading. The articles on him reminded me just how good his
writing is. Now I'm going to have to go look up his later work.
By Earl Kemp
During the 1960s I found myself frequently flying back and forth from various European destinations on business. Initially I tried to make sure my trips there always began and ended in London. I loved to letdown there and wait for jet lag and time changes to catch up with me. The biggest problems, then, were the unavailability of a drinkable cup of coffee, the absence of bathrooms or tissue suitable to wipe your ass with, and body odors originating with service personnel. In time, all of those improved just a little.
London was, in the '60s, certainly the center of the swinging world. Everything was in either dayglo colors or paisleys, much like the set for an Austin Powers movie, and flashed with strobes and colored lights and pulse-pounded with a hard-driving beat that kept your feet bouncing at all times. British style was THE fashion of the decade, and I was helping out all I could. After all, I was running quite a tab on an endless expense account and "looking good" was half of my job responsibility.
When I was not in business meetings, I wore nothing but clothes from Carnaby Street haberdashers. Lord John of Carnaby Street, Lord Kitchener's Cabinet, etc. Low-riding, hip-hugging, ass-molding, ball-sculpting, uncomfortable trousers and frilly, flashy shirt "blouses" of open-front lace or shiny fabrics with lots of flounces and ruffles. Real exhibitionist show-off clothes. They were accessorized with love beads and garlands of coke spoons, of course, like everyone else was wearing. It all sort of went with my hair; I was bald on top and had a ponytail hanging down to my waist.
For sure I had an entirely different wardrobe of "arrived," severe business suits with matching shirts, ties, and shoes. These were all Armani-of-the-period-ripoffs and were tailored especially for me, including the shirts and ties, in China (at 30 cents on the USA dollar, hand delivered). Arranging for those suits was a concession I made to myself personally. If the people running my country decreed absurdly that I might not possess anything originating in China, then of course I had to go out of my way to flaunt that edict. This was a special thrill when navigating through customs with every single item I was wearing, including the silk tank-top, low-rise silk briefs and socks, the shirt, tie, suit, and camel-hair overcoat, certified and guaranteed to be 100% pure Chinese. It's so easy confronting any one of them looking like and feeling like a million dollars in forbidden finery.
And, when I wasn't enjoying myself, I was working. Working in those days consisted of prowling every low-life joint in the seamy side of town (which was everywhere) looking for English-language pornography. In and out of every bordello and every back alley sleaze bookshop, questioning every pimp, every hooker in Soho buying up future product. None of them could understand why I only wanted things "about" it instead of just "doing" it since the price was considerably cheaper.
Then, in my free time, parties allowing, I'd get in a little fringe fan action.
Ella Parker comes instantly to mind, as being perhaps my favorite, closest British science fiction fan friend. I had met her first when she came to tour the States in 1961. I was immediately captivated by her charm, audacity, and gregariousness. I also met Ethel Lindsay the following year, and she was a very special person as well, but not the same type as Ella at all.
Ella Parker, for many years during the 1950s and 60s, was a steady mainstay and influence upon UK fandom and USA fandom alike. As a fan writer she was very popular. As a fanzine editor, she was even more so.
Her fanzine Orion, frequently sporting wonderfully on-point drawings by ATom, was one of the very best fanzines of that entire period.
For details like these, we are indebted to Robert Lichtman who has shared his superb files with us in the form of the jpegs of a few of Ella's fanzine covers that decorate this article, all Courtesy Robert Lichtman Collection.
There were also other fan-type meetings that Ella would take me to and professional publishing socials, but the details, after all these years, have faded totally away. However I do remember partying with people like Michael Moorcock, John Brunner, etc. but that's all, just vague blurs (perhaps it was the British recreational drugs and their easy availability, perhaps the booze).
Unrelated to all this London activity, in Frankfurt at one of the annual book fairs, I became quick, close friends with some British publishers, editors, etc. Notably among them were Charles Skilton, of Charles Skilton Limited, and his executive editor, Doolan. At this point science fiction begins overlapping onto itself: Charles Skilton, just coincidentally, happened to be Ella Parker's employer. She was his warehouse supervisor and executive shipping administrator, or somesuch gratuitous title.
It was great fun, after then. I would drop by his office to visit with Charles Skilton then, with him, rush into the warehouse, grab Ella and give her a great big hug. I did everything I could to enhance her brownie points with her boss, who would lavish faint praises upon her for my benefit and for the benefit of her co-workers. Then I'd blow them all away and run off with Charles for a weekend in his incredible English countryside manor house in Surrey (years later, I named a pornography publishing company in the United States Surrey House in his honor and in the memory of that estate).
I had never seen places such as that estate, except in movies. Acres and acres of manicured, lush lawn, formal landscaped gardens, retreats, gazebos, reflecting ponds and the house itself, huge and completely unmanageable even then. Charles would tell me how expensive it was to maintain and operate, and how totally impossible to heat even for special occasions. And he would show me the routes through the secret doors and sliding panels and through dark connecting corridors with peep-holes and listening places into other bedrooms where the lord of the manor could leave his lady, observe some of his house guests at play, and quickly rip off another piece elsewhere, in some other bedroom, before his wife even missed him.
And Doolan and the rest of Skilton's editorial staff would take over from there and try to show me something I had never seen before in the way of party time. They insisted, for instance, that marijuana joints heavily laced with menthol were undetectable (which lent me a characteristic odor those days and gave me a permanent dislike of the flavor). Consequently, all of us, at all times, went around London smoking one of them, only we didn't pass them around in the usual fashion but each smoked a separate joint. And we did this everywhere we went, in and out of every nightclub in W.2, every disco, during every dance. When we weren't doing lines right off the tabletop.
Doolan was married to a Jamaican black. Both of them were very beautiful people and they had a son who garnered the best of both of them. I would visit with them in their London flat from time to time. And, after work, I would leave Skilton's company with Ella and ride on the underground to her house and meet her friends and neighbors.
I was a theatrical snob in those days, catching three plays a day on most days, for my personal enjoyment things like Hair, that I saw in many cities, in many languages. In London Anna Magnani and Anthony Newley were seated on one side of me and Eli Wallach and Ann Jackson on the other. I kept imagining that all of them were wondering who the hell I was anyway and how could I get the front-row-center seat when they couldn't and besides, didn't I know that menthol in such concentrations really reeked? Then getting up onstage and dancing at the end of the performance and complaining because they wouldn't let me do it naked and they could.
It went on this way for years, just getting better all the time, and I thought the good times would continue on indefinitely.
- - -
By Earl Kemp
There have been times, while working on parts of my memoirs, when I have paused in disbelief. I read things I wrote half a century ago, look at photographs long since forgotten, or read accounts of things I have done and draw blanks.
Some of the things that I read surprise me because I don't think I could have written them, then. I really don't recognize the people in the photographs, including myself, and there's no way I could have done all those things, been in all those places at all those times, and been all those other people who have occupied me from time to time. Nor could I ever have met and maintained such a cast of characters to populate my private farce. Yet there they are; each patiently awaiting their cue to move onstage.
Weird Tales made some of that happen for me. It was my first addiction as a pulp junkie. The covers really grabbed me and held my attention.
A god of some sort has always loved me, protected me from internal stupidity, and lighted my way. In the early 1950s, when I needed things the most, he gave me the Pullman Company. I was allowed to work at slave wages for union hoodlums in Chicago's south side railroad complex. A fringe benefit of the job was free travel, and did I ever need free travel in those days. That free travel included free Pullman accommodations as well, for my wife and two daughters. At times it was almost cheaper to take a trip than to stay at home, because we could schedule those trips to be overnight trips avoiding hotel stays and returning to Chicago the same way.
That was about the time I discovered that science fiction didn't live inside pulp magazines with irresistible covers painted by Margaret Brundage, Hannes Bok, Virgil Finlay, and other icons, but lived inside real people and they were real people I wanted to know, to see, to be. I had some particularly desperate need to know the people who produced that science fiction, the writers, editors, publishers, illustrators, artists, and anyone else who stood in my way.
I was a traveling giant for a while .
At times I would take the Panama Limited, the crack overnight train from Chicago to New Orleans. I would do this just to visit with my friend Daniel F. Galouye who worked for the New Orleans Times-Picayune at the time. Then I would take the reverse route back to Chicago arriving just in time to punch in at work on Monday morning.
At other times I'd go north, along the Hudson River route, to New York City.
I hated going there, always have, always will, but I would go there because I could go there for free. Being there was another story that one wasn't free at all. Far too many things of value originate in New York to hate it; yet that is so easy to do.
I liked Hannes Bok quite a bit, and we would go to visit him now and then. I also visited Marty Greenberg at Gnome Press when I was in New York, and John W. Campbell, Jr. over at Street and Smith where he edited Astounding, the science fiction magazine always at the top of the heap.
Hannes lived in a typical New York apartment building in a flat that he shared with his mythical friend mouse Abner and a number of authentic rodents. He was an artist like no other, creating his own world of ethereal weirdness and blatant, jarring colors. With cute little monsters and sultry sirens being threatened from all directions. He was a bit of a nut and more than a bit gay, but he was charming and giving and kind all the way.
In SaFari February 1965 I wrote an article called "Adios Abner" and arranged "Hannes Bok - A Final Portfolio" for the same issue. Both of those have been reprinted on eFanzines.com as "Feliz Navidad 2001." The portfolio contains a number of drawings of Abner.
Hannes had a number of really peculiar affectations or traits, I never could figure out which was which, that he clung to religiously. These traits were just oddball enough to be noticeable but not dangerous enough to cause alarm. One such was his thing that led me to think of him as being the Widdershins Man. He couldn't turn to the left. A counterclockwise movement was forbidden by some pagan Wicca belief. It even had a name, "witch's way." It was very bad luck. Something dreadful would happen to him if he made a left-hand turn even by accident, similar to his mother breaking her back should he step on a line in the sidewalk.
What he would do, in every instance regardless of location or circumstances, instead of making a left turn, was to do a complete about face right turn and end up facing the direction he wanted to continue going in. Walking up a flight of stairs of several landings, in the correct direction, was a nightmare of twirling flourishes. Imagine subway stairs during rush hour and Hannes pausing, in mid crush, to do all those twisting around movements.
Hannes Bok was the first artist who ever asked me to pose, and I was enormously flattered.
I could almost feel the lines running out from his pencil as he rapidly sketched me on his drawing pad, so intense was the imagined pleasure. In his spare time, Hannes was something of a fortuneteller, casting professional horoscopes for magazines, something like that. Once he charted my stats and read the astrological me, and shattered all my dreams.
"No," Hannes said, "I can't find it anywhere. You will not be the writer you think you are.
"However," he continued, "you will be a very big fish in a very little pond and, I don't understand this at all, it looks like something bad's chasing you."
Just what I needed to hear.
I hated to go to New York, as I said, but I had free science fiction time on my hands and free rides on the railroad. We tried to think of them as mini-vacations as we would lug our two daughters plus lots of luggage around by hand. We got free Pullman accommodations also, and were frequently upgraded to a compartment or a drawing room "for the kids" that we never objected to. Still, there was New York to contend with once we got there.
The first stop in New York, after we found a reasonable (yeah, sure) hotel to stay in, was to visit Hannes Bok. It was one of my greatest thrills just to be there with him inside his minuscule studio/home surrounded by all his things, and especially by his creations. His paintings were strewn everywhere, his sketchbooks and easels. Books and magazines were in disarray in every direction. And I loved it very much. I wanted to wrap it all up and take it home with me on the train, every scrap of it.
Hannes had a magnificent talent; there is no other way to describe him as an artist. He appeared to have inherited much of Maxfield Parrish's talent, particularly with regard to the way he would use light and shadow and ethereal landscapes. Toss in just a bit of Hieronymus Bosch, a tinge or two of Ivan Le Lorraine Albright's colors, and there you have Hannes Bok. His visions could make me dream all day long.
He sketched me once, in one of his numerous pads, for some future canvas that probably never existed. I wish it had, that it did, that I owned it.
Hannes also sketched Nancy holding our daughter Elaine in her arms as some really devout Madonna and Child. That canvas never materialized either, but the subject was a favorite of his.
There was one particular drawing that Hannes Bok did, a silhouetted profile of a young boy's head showing most of the things that occupy young boys' minds. The drawing ran with Richard Ashby's "Master Race" in Imagination, September 1951.
Hannes handed that original drawing to me one day and said, "For some reason, this reminds me of you."
As I held that piece of artwork in my hand, I realized for myself just how very much the picture made me think of myself as well.
"I want you to have the picture," Hannes said, "as a gift ."
My decade was made just that easily .
- - -
By Earl Kemp
Science fiction artists, like science fiction writers, were targets of my evil design once I became aware that they existed, in the early 1950s. I sought them out diligently in the same manner I located my favorite writers, and managed somehow to get to know them also.
Margaret Brundage was one of my earlier delights. For years, actually before my time, her paintings had graced the covers of Oriental Stories, Magic Carpet, and pulp magazines of that nature in the 1930s. Her pictures showed vast areas of nebulous thought surrounding ethereal sailing ships navigating hazardous waters using only ghost crews. Or vast expanses of space with sea vessels effortlessly sailing on toward the sultry maiden waiting in the distance, somehow suspended above it all.
For over a decade spanning the 1930s and 40s, she was the most prolific and popular female cover artist working in the pulp field. She rightly acquired the title of Queen of Weird Tales. And, just as rightly, it was Weird Tales that first attracted my attention away from comic books and moved me into the pulps. I also liked Spicy Mystery Stories because I was starting to grow up at the time and was filled with disturbing lusts all my own, or so I thought.
There had never been a thought passing through my head that I would actually someday get to meet the queen herself, but I did. In her place in Chicago I would sit there with Margaret Brundage by the hour, looking at magazines with her paintings adorning them (she had almost no originals left by that time) and listening to her talk about painting them and the good old days .
I first met Margaret in Chicago in the mid-1950s when I was getting to know (perhaps "forcing myself upon" would be more appropriate) everyone in the area evenly remotely connected with science fiction. She was a wonderful and gracious lady of the old school. She painted the sexiest, most desirable nudes ever to grace the covers of any magazines, and etherealness and vastness and endless desires and expectations. It was easy to see that Margaret (who was born in 1900) had been a fantastic looker in her prime and I always thought she secretly used the memory of herself to model for most of those alluring vixens.
I considered myself lucky to have been able to spend as much time with her as I did, and to persuade her to lecture before the University of Chicago Science Fiction Club a couple of times while I was president of the organization.
There is a wonderful interview with Margaret Brundage conducted by R. Alain Everts on August 23, 1973 (three years before her death). It appeared in Etchings & Odysseys #2 and is carried at http://members.aol.com/weirdtales/brundage.htm with a special bonus: a couple of nice photographs of Margaret at different times and some of her Weird Tales cover scans.
One of the stories Margaret tells in that interview, in reply to the question "Did Weird Tales ever attempt to censor the nudes you were doing for their covers?"
"No," Margaret said, "all they wanted me to do was to paint women with bigger breasts."
Margaret's painting of the Weird Tales cover for September 1933 was a total sell-out.
I particularly remember one of Margaret's favorite stories she shared with us at the UofCSF Club and I hope she would like to know that it is being retold yet again.
In Chicago, when Margaret was growing up, she attended McKinley High School where she was editor of the school newspaper for years. During her tenure there was one particular student who unrelentingly pursued Margaret to do artwork for the paper. He so annoyed Margaret, in fact, that she remembered never using a single drawing he submitted.
Then, after having graduated, Margaret moved on directly to the Chicago Academy of Fine Art where, much to her surprise, the same rejected artist appeared in some of her classes.
Skip ahead: Numerous years later, while on vacation in Los Angeles, Margaret thought she would like to see him again for some unknown reason. She picked up the telephone and called him and, much to her surprise, was put right through to him without delay.
Walt Disney, her old classmate and perennial rejectee, insisted that Margaret come to see him right away, and she did.
Disney met her personally, as she entered the building, and gave her a guided tour of all his facilities (this was the animation studio, not Disneyland), bought her lunch, and couldn't stop talking about how fondly he remembered her.
It almost made Margaret wish she had used at least one of his drawings.
Eventually, maybe because she couldn't get rid of me anyway, Margaret Brundage gave me one of her original oil paintings that she had created during the 1940s. The name of it was "The Wind" and it was vaguely Gainesboro Pinkyish in nature. I treasured it with all my life until, like most everything else I treasured, it somehow seemed to evaporate from my existence. That's what happened when I sold it to Robert Weinberg, along with a few other treasures.
I also knew Margaret's many-years-estranged husband, Slim Brundage. He operated an unusual coffee house named the College of Complexes where people who thought they were smart would go, sit around, drink coffee, debate, and discourse on any subject anyone would run with. I recall local personalities like Studs Terkel and Irv Kupcinet being regulars there for a while. There were lots of places like that around in those days, where people could just show off being naturally smart and jangling their nerves with some over-charged caffeine .
- - -
By Earl Kemp
My friend Don Gilmore was an idea-generating machine; it was difficult to turn him off and just kick back. Relaxing wasn't even in his vocabulary, but a bunch of off-the-wall theories certainly were. He was always bouncing some oddball theory off me, trying to see how I reacted or if his idea flopped with a dull thud.
One of his theories was that women are much better writers of erotica than men. Toward this end, he went out of his way to cultivate associations with qualified subjects. He would involve me with this theory of his on a number of occasions. Eventually, I had to agree with him; I also think women make better porno writers than men; they're much more intimately involved with whatever's going on inside the narrative and better at grabbing at the genitals, and that counts for a lot.
At the time Don was touting three women to me as being the very best in the field, if not the best female erotic writers of all time. And there were certainly many more women involved with the writing and many of them were really excellent at the craft.
One of those women was Peggy Winter, who lived near me in El Cajon. She became the first of the three that Don introduced me to because of that. She was a shy, middle-class housewife who was easily embarrassed and blushed frequently; I liked her right away. Eventually she would open up to me a bit and tell me really kinky things about her and her husband's lovemaking. Peggy wrote under various pseudonyms for different publishers. For Greenleaf, I believe she was mostly Marta Summer. For one enchanting season, Peggy joined the crowd in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, but found the pace a bit hard to keep up with so she returned to California.
The second of those women was Vivien Kern. At the time she was living in Guadalajara and was one of Gilmore's porn mill writers. She was a small woman who chain-smoked until her death, many years later. She wrote under the pseudonym of Vivien Blaine and other names, and would become a life-long intimate friend.
These two fabulous ladies of pornography were only the ladies-in-waiting to the real thing, though.
Linda DuBreuil was the unquestioned Queen of Pornography.
Gilmore couldn't stop bragging about her and he had just met her himself. She was already a resident of Guadalajara when Gilmore moved there and began setting up his King of Pornography empire. Within the first week in residence, Gilmore had already identified and located every viable writer and potential hack within the municipality a staggering feat. And Linda was the prize of the lot.
I knew of her only through Don's rants and an occasional book carrying one of her bylines. I was not at all prepared to meet the living legend in person and she was much more than I could have ever expected or wanted.
She was a real doll the pornography grandmother wise beyond her years and younger than springtime. She had curly hair and was rather small and built around a tightly wound, tiny skeleton. She was one of those amorphous types who could be 30 as easily as she could be 60, but was really somewhere in between.
Linda lived in Zapopan, a suburb of Guadalajara that was directly opposite all the way across town from Ajijic, the Guadalajara suburb where I lived. Fortunately there was a long, wide-sweeping bypass highway known as the Periferrico for people who had rather not do all that city driving. In those days in the absolutely free and uninhibited 'sixties, it was quite a pleasant drive through the countryside just getting to her house.
I never knew the rationale behind it, but Linda had rented the biggest, splashiest place she could find for herself and her family. It was the Bishop's Estate; the huge, many-hectared, rambling mansion occupied by the pre-Revolutionary bishop of Guadalajara. During the Revolution, all church property was confiscated and all ranking clerics expelled from Mexico, including the bishop of Guadalajara. Getting him out of the house had taken some doing. The main building was still, 60 years later, riddled with bullet holes and other signs of religious devotion.
The Bishop's estate was built for a king. It was big and imposing and luxurious and reflected only the very best of everything. Linda, H.R.H. The Queen of Pornography, fit in perfectly and brought a true royalty to the structure after far too many years of desecration.
Linda was right at home in the monstrously rambling structure. It was enormous, with huge rooms with 14-foot ceilings and lots of French doors opening out into cute little landscaped gardens with reflecting pools and koi. There were many outbuildings as well, for horses, cows, pigs, chicken, and whatever else the bishop might ever need. There was a kitchen garden as well.
In addition to Linda and her husband Frank, two of Linda's children by a previous marriage also lived there, her daughter Carolyn and her son John Eric Poling. The four of them, plus two or three servants and an assortment of yard boys, rambled noisily throughout the huge structure. Servants were incredibly cheap and it was commonplace to hire too many of them for show if for no other reason.
Just about the first time I visited Linda, I knew I loved her. There was something very special about her that I had never encountered before. She had an extremely casual approach to handling weed the local mota.
Several of us were seated at her kitchen table, her most favorite of all gathering places, eating pie that was still hot and far from humble, and smoking a bunch of really good joints. There was weed and debris scattered on the floor, seeds and stems all over that table, and elsewhere in the kitchen. A constant cloud of sativa smoke had been gathering in the corners of the kitchen and wafting outside for hours it seemed.
When we made a move to leave the kitchen, I began my California routine of gathering up the weed. Linda laughed at me when she realized what I was doing.
"Don't bother with that," she said. "All the servants know where to put it. They'll clean it up."
I hadn't encountered such nonchalance about pot since visiting Bruce Elliott in New York City, or Al Goldstein, whose living room was "help yourself" central. No one I knew in California would leave their evidence out in plain view.
Once, while the DeBreuils were living in Zapopan, by pre-arrangement, a tour of Catholic Youth Activists asked permission to visit the estate. Two bus loads of activists from Temecula, California, with their chaperones and herders, arrived on schedule and spent several hours wandering around the estate and in and out of the mansion, the out buildings, etc. They had even brought along their own tour guide who narrated the trip with much exaggerated movements about the gunfire, corralling the bishop and dumping him onto a one-way train outta Dodge, much to Linda's delight.
Not a week passed, following the tour group's visit, before every inch of soil on the entire estate erupted into fresh, bright green bloom. This included the landscaping, the potted plants on the patios and inside the house everywhere thousands and thousands of baby pot plants. A considerate offering left behind by the Catholic Youth Activists.
I liked Linda the moment I saw her; before an hour had passed, I was hopelessly in love with her. She was a fireball of energy, nonstop fun, and games. She was the life of every party she ever went to and the hostess with the mostest whenever it was her turn to shine. She had perfected a talent that kept most people she encountered in awe. Linda could roll absolutely perfect joints using only one hand, and was frequently called upon to demonstrate her talents.
But she had another talent besides writing that I liked much better, and grew to anticipate and to lust after with a mighty hunger. Linda also was the world's best pie maker. She would take over the entire kitchen, spread out a minimum of ten varieties of goop all over the place, and make pies to die for. They were so good, I finally asked her to give me lessons, and she did, and I learned how to make them almost as good as she could only not nearly so.
We became close friends after I made the jump to Jalisco myself, and leased a house in Ajijic. That was great fun, running around with the Gilmores, getting started all over again, buying beds and mattresses and furniture and stuff at all the high-priced stores. When Linda found out what we were doing, she objected strenuously. "You're going to all the wrong places," she said, knowing the Gilmores.
Linda and Frank took Nancy and me on tours of all the better used furniture outlets, the Salvation Army type furniture stores, etc. In no time at all, my house was outfitted in real style and ready for any kind of partying.
The Dubreuils were frequent guests at my house, as we were at theirs. We would have dinner together, go shopping, catch a show, all the usual. Because Linda drove a big VW van and I drove my Mexican car, a wimpy Fiat, she would loan her vehicle to me occasionally whenever I needed to do big-time shopping or carry a load of awkward stuff.
Her son Johnny was also a porno writer, and Linda encouraged him to keep at it. Mostly, Johnny had rather just experiment with recreational drugs, and at the time he was fixating on hallucinogenics like Oajaca mushrooms, mescaline, and peyote the stuff you bought at the local veggie market by the kilo scoopful. He got me involved in an experiment to encapsulate peyote because it is so damned difficult to ingest. The flavor is so awful. The automatic gag reflex blocks it out of your stomach. The object is to bypass the gag reflex and get the payload directly into the digestive system. The best way we eventually found to do it was to dip the peyote into a bottle of horseradish mustard and to down it as quickly as possible with a healthy dollop.
Linda's parties, some of them running over several days, were something else again. There would be pies, of course, out the wazoo, and mounds of pot all over the place, a big roaring fire in one of the stand-up fireplaces even in July, and something very special baking in a pit in the garden whole roast pig wrapped in banana leaves that had been slow-simmering for an entire day.
Linda DuBreuil was always a very classy lady. You would never think that she could write a fuck book, let alone say the word. But she was not a party animal like the others in the Guadalajara gang. Johnny Poling, her son, took after her. Johnny was a delicate, thin boned, fair-haired young man, living with his family in Zapopan in suburban Guadalajara. It was always fun to visit with Johnny, especially after a day of talking business with Don Gilmore (my dad and Don talking, me listening).
Johnny always had the very best pot. He also had a unique way of storing and rolling the dope. He kept his weed in the strangest containers. He would open one container, and roll one type of weed. Later, open another, and roll a different type of weed.
Much, much later, my dad and I would drive back to Ajijic in a cloud.
On the occasion of this visit, Johnny introduced us to his pet pig, Señor Pig. Johnny had become intrigued with cooking a pig while doping and looking for pussy in Guadalajara. It was Linda's suggestion to him that he try his hand at writing porn, and to facilitate that, he should get laid. As a part of that bacchanal suggestion, he had decided to indulge in a food, booze, dope, and sex orgy. So the fate of Señor Pig was decided. All that was left was to set the date of execution.
But first, we all needed to prepare, especially after that ballistic drive from Ajijic.
"Have another hit, Señor Pig," Johnny Poling chortled again, slurring the Tequila-laden words. "Uno mas, por favor. No more booze, unless you toke."
With that, Johnny slumped forward. It looked like Señor Pig was going to win the drinking contest. Señor Pig had already out-smoked, and out-boozed most all of the Hah-hah-Ajijic gang. This was quite a feat considering the phenomenal range of experience and practice among the gang, which included some of the most hardcore hedonists on the planet.
Rick and Gail Robinson were there, too. They had been lured to Ajijic, a suburb of Guadalajara, by that sinister bearded editor, Earl Kemp.
[Petey Dixon, Jerry and Diane Murray, Gary Sohler
and my sister Edith were among the people gathered in Ajijic for transportation
to Zapopan. There were also a few local writers like Les Gladson, Lee
Florin, and Vern Lundgren. Along with a bunch of other people, we were
starting to get ready to go to Linda's pig roast.]
I think that some of us stood around chanting, "Kill the Beast," shades of Lord of the Flies. In our drunk and stoned stupor we were possessed by some mystical vision of objectifying the Beast that runs rampant destroying the world. We all know that Beast, and have all seen its minions.
As I recollect, it took most of the rest of the day and night to cook the pig. And finally when Señor Pig was on the platter, no one could look the creature in the face, and no one had any stomach to eat. In fact, I don't think that anyone who attended the fest could ever clearly remember who was there, what happened, and who did what to whom.
It was a clear case of having your pig, and not wanting to eat it.
Alas, the halcyon days of youth have passed and that golden age of porn has disappeared. Now only memories remain, clear, faded or reconstructed. The world has moved on. Many of those things that we all fought for have become legal and commonplaces in our society. We all fought the good fight.
However, the fight is not yet over, there are still more battles.
"Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!"
Leaving from one of her parties, my son Terry and I found ourselves almost totally fogbound. Needless to say it had been one of Linda's usual affairs and both of us were zonked out of our minds. It was one of the most difficult and most frightening drives I have ever made in all my life. It seemed to take hours through the gray haze, via Periferrico, to get from Zapopan to Ajijic with my son hanging out the passenger-side window, looking directly down at the side of the car at the painted line, telling me, all the way, at five miles per hour, more to the left, more to the right Truly a harrowing experience and one neither of us will ever forget.
We continued on this way for a year or so, and then Frank became ill and wanted to return to the States. Reluctantly, the DuBreuils began packing up and disbanding the household. At the last minute they drove by my house, bringing an entire vanload of furniture and stuff they hadn't been able to unload during their Grand Moving sale parting gifts for forever memories.
Linda, Frank, and Carolyn moved back to French Lick, Indiana, a town whose name has always given me much joy even though I've never been there.
Johnny moved to Albuquerque where he married and became a father again in quick order.
After I gave up my house in Ajijic, several years passed before I went back just to revisit the scenes of the joyous crimes.
I was houseguest of Margo ______, in her huge guest suite with the big balconies overhanging the street. Margo herself had just returned from Bogotá where her son had the Coca-Cola franchise home of the "original formula."
We were seated on her patio looking out over her landscaping. The central focus of the entire yard was a large, rambling waterfall Pete Peterson, a local artist, had designed and built for her. The air was filled with the gentle rippling of the water as it rambled over pebbles and around water plants, teasing the goldfish.
Birds flittered through Margo's trees and sniffed at the numerous blossoms that perfumed the air so delightfully.
"I've been admiring your patio tables," I said, pointing to two particularly nice random shaped end tables with marble tops.
Margo laughed. "You should like them, Earl," she said. "I bought them right off your patio at your grand moving sale."
My God! Those tables were among the last-minute gifts Linda and Frank gave me before they moved back to the States. How quickly we forget.
Linda would come to visit us in El Cajon while visiting Johnny in Albuquerque. I remember she would smuggle her pot inside L'eggs eggs on the airplanes; she never felt comfortable without it close at hand. Then, almost as soon as she would get to El Cajon, she would go right into the kitchen, start pulling out things here and there and, without even unpacking, bake a dozen assorted flavor pies. My favorites: pecan; peanut butter cream; apple/raisin.
Linda's crowning glory was The Girl Who Writes Dirty Books (Leisure Books LB2250K, 1975), because she was very proud of her profession and of her books. They were almost as precious to her as her real children.
Because of Linda's appearance and vagueness of age, she found ways to use both to her advantage. One of her favorite routines, and one she loved to tell at length to an appreciative audience, is the one about hassling porno store operators. Linda would burst into adult book stores screaming and shouting like Carrie Nation bringing down the wrath of God the ultimate little old grandmother. She would walk through the store condemning everything with a vengeance and berating the proprietor and clerks unmercifully .
Then she would break into peals of laughter and confess to putting them on. She would point out her books with real pride, and autograph them for the clerks and customers. They would take her to lunch or dinner and figuratively carry her around on their shoulders. The Queen of Pornography at the top of her form.
Eventually, as does all good things, Linda's presence faded from my reality but never from my memory where she still holds court with fresh hot pies and perfectly rolled joints.
The back cover of Linda DuBreuil's The Girl Who Writes Dirty Books calls her "Queen of the sex book writers" and I wouldn't want to dispute that claim at all. Linda DuBreuil was at least that, because of the more than 300 titles she produced in her short but prolific career. Beyond that, though, Linda was something very special a charmed human being.
Donald Gilmore was touting Linda to me for months, about how superior she was as an erotic writer, and how I really had to meet her. And, to make matters worse, Linda wasn't even one of the writers hacking away in Gilmore's porno mill in Guadalajara. Linda was a fully arrived individual; she just happened to be living in Guadalajara at the same time as the Gilmores. Linda had been regularly and frequently supplying manuscripts to numerous sleaze book publishers in the 1960s, under her own name and a rash of pseudonyms.
One of them was D. Barry Linder. I created it for her for some of the books she was selling to Greenleaf Classics. It is a simple play upon her real name, of course, nothing subtle about it at all, but it helped to perpetuate the myth that Linda was a male named D. Barry Linder who wrote occasionally under the female pseudonym of Linda DuBreuil. Of her writing, I have heard it said more than once, "She has to be a man; no woman can write like that."
When I finally did get to meet her I realized just why Don Gilmore had been so very impressed with her. Linda DuBreuil was a real live wire. While she was small in stature, she was grand in her scope of comprehension and reach. There was almost always a twinkle in her eyes and a grin that sparkled like hand-processed glints onto movie film. Whatever she was doing, Linda always seemed to be saying "See, I pushed you beyond your limits. Nanna, Nanna, Nanna!" in the most benevolent way possible.
All my best memories of Linda involve food, or being in someone's kitchen with her, or of eating mounds of delicious goodies. They are overwhelmed by succulent odors of cooking or food preparation, with boiling pots on the stovetop and baking delectables in the oven. Everything leading up to the ultimate expectation devouring the feast after having been plied by half a dozen of the damnedest hand-rolled joints you ever saw.
I always felt so very privileged there in the kitchen with Linda, with her face smeared with flour and fruit-pie filling, idly passing the time of day.
Reading Linda's book was a real shock to me. It was the third in a series of books written by major porno producers of the 1960s that I was directly involved with, and the only one written by a person that I knew well and loved enough to last me forever.
Hal Dresner's The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books and Donald E. Westlake's Adios, Scheherazade were the other two books, and both of them were novels wherein the dirty book writer is the protagonist. Linda's The Girl Who Writes Dirty Books is not; it is a straightforward autobiography wherein Linda pulls out all the stops and doesn't waste a single instance where she can---in true sex book fashion--write the sex into the narrative.
That's where I remembered most of the things about Linda's love of cooking, reading her book of really cooking up lots of food for lots of people and about her family and her life. The things you get to learn about real friends when you have lots of things in common and your families get together and share those things. I knew her husband Frank, and her two children by a previous marriage, Carolyn and J.(ohn) Eric Poling. I also got to relive many of the scenes I witnessed first hand while we shared three wonderful years as neighbors in suburban Guadalajara in the 1960s.
I had been searching for a copy of Linda's book for almost a year when Robert Speray finally located a copy for me. I wanted to read it and analyze it in the same manner I had done the other two books about the sleaze paperback period by Dresner and Westlake.
Because it is an autobiography it was difficult to compare to two novels, but nevertheless there were enough juicy tidbits about the entire field of pornography that made reading the book more than worthwhile for me. Let's see exactly what Linda DuBreuil had hidden inside her story for me:
p. 93: "I began to realize that I'm not capable of being what most men believe is a good wife. My interests outside the home are necessary for my very survival. I can't live without writing and it must have been difficult indeed to live with a woman who gave the impression that the typewriter was more important than the company of a husband ."
p. 134: "The book was about a subject I had long wanted to write about: a hermaphrodite who finally had a sex-change operation. Morfie, published by Greenleaf Classics [GC225], 1st printing 1967, 2nd 1971. Based on fact, it was well written and technically correct. There was plenty of conflict, a lot of humor, tragedy in places, and it told an excellent story ."
This is Linda being totally neutral and reviewing her own book. I remember this manuscript well when it first came into the office. I had no idea it had been kicking around a bit, looking for a home. It was so superior, compared to our usual submissions, that it was irresistible. It worked out well in the marketplace also.
p. 137: "He's read some of my articles (which sold to men's magazines like Mr. Magazine and Rogue.)"
I never knew that Linda had written for Rogue, which was more or less the original starting point for our entire era of sleaze paperbacks.
p. 155: "A writer owes it to himself to write the truth as he sees it ."
p. 157: "I don't mean to infer that all of the writers who are grinding out novels for the erotica markets are necessarily great writers with lofty aspirations. Some people will jump on any moneymaking bandwagon and ride it until they fall off from exhaustion. There are porn writers who go about the business of writing a sex book in the same manner they would hoe potatoes. All the male characters have twelve-inch dicks and are capable of repeat orgasms. They can last all night long, too. All the girls are just sitting around drooling, waiting for a man with a twelve-inch dick to come along and ball. Some of the porn writers have regular factories going, where ghost writers turn out fifteen pages a day for them, all done to formula ."
Here Linda is clearly talking about Don Gilmore's Guadalajara porno mill. She became friends with most of his stable over the years she lived nearby and entertained them often. Linda would constantly encourage them to try for other markets, as she did, where she frequently sold romances, gothics, mysteries, etc. At the same time, some of Gilmore's writers would meet me secretly, asking for advice on how to break into science fiction markets.
p. 170: "Writers of porn have an obligation to help make sex a happier, more fulfilling experience for both people involved."
This was much more apparent in the fiction written by females than that written by males. Perhaps part of a wish-fulfillment fantasy.
p. 173: "My fictitious characters speak to me on the inside of my head while I'm writing. I know the voices I hear aren't real; I know I'm not 'hearing voices' in the usual context of those who do and soon find themselves inside padded cells. I know I'm not merely an instrument through which some departed entity actually writes my books, too ."
p. 199: "Three or four years ago an article came out in a national magazine entitled 'The Smut Peddlers' or something like that. The text introduced several of my own editors and publishers, one of whom later went on to make something of a name for himself in the battle for freedom of the press. Since he's already had plenty of publicity that he didn't particularly enjoy but at the same time didn't exploit or shy away from, he will remain anonymous. Personally, I felt cheated when I read the article because not a word was mentioned of Mr. X's warm, kind personality. He was depicted as a purveyor of smut, a somewhat lewd man who was taking advantage of the current interest in literature pertaining to sex, and somehow the text managed to infer that a man who would do such a thing was a rank-assed bastard of the first degree. Come to think of it, I've known only one publisher I consider in the above category, but I'll get to him later. Mr. X, though, is an exceptionally fine man. He is also highly educated, intelligent and somewhat shy. Although I can't say for sure because I've not been with him every moment of his life, I would be willing to wager a considerable amount of money on Mr. X's high moral standards.. He's a family man and very much so. He loves his wife and never gives another attractive woman the impression that he is thinking about jumping into bed with her; to say nothing of not giving a woman the feeling that she's about to be knocked down and raped,. Not only that, he's the soul of integrity in his business dealings-a rare kind of find in today's business world. I have enjoyed a beautiful friendship with this man over a span of several years. Although it's doubtful if I would ask a close relative for a loan of say a few thousand dollars to tide me over a rough spot, I wouldn't mind asking Mr. X. If he had it, he'd not hesitate to lend it."
Pardon me while I take a brief blush break. See I know Linda loves me. Reading this was a bit like discovering an undelivered love letter that had been written to me. I have never been Mr. X before and it is quite a surprise to encounter myself in this fashion. Fortunately Linda's glowing praises and portrait of me are enough to sustain me and certainly confirm the fact that Linda loves me as much as I love her.
p. 231: "I don't really come alive until around noon. My writing is geared to start somewhere close to one p.m. and doesn't shut off until two or three a.m. If (Frank) awakens when I come to bed, I'm too exhausted from writing about sex to be interested. He has what he refers to as the 'King's Syndrome'--a direct result of being married to a prolific pornographer. Some of my friends and publishers call me the Queen of Porn."
Please count me among that group. I know for a fact that Linda DuBreuil was at least that.
p. 234: "A few years ago I went into (an adult book store) in New York . There was a definite feeling of paranoia in the place as soon as I walked in. Pretty soon a big burly man came over and asked me to leave. Said it was a place for men only. With fourteen of my books in the window, yet! Last year I went to the same place with a friend. Again came the cold front. My friend, who is a very conservative lady, stayed pretty close to my side but we were not asked to leave. Afterward, B. and I went out on the street where we were stopped by a swimmy-eyed man who asked in a near-whisper if 'we girls' would like to get hold of something that would do us a lot more good than a bunch of books .I said, 'Oh, hell no! We aren't looking for any dildos, vibrators or anything like that, I just wanted to see how my books are selling.'"
I suspect they are still selling, Linda, only these days the copies command unbelievably premium prices. In fact, those prices are much more what you deserve to have received for writing them in the first place.
_ _ _
By Arthur D. Hlavaty
Our story begins in 1963, which is when, according to Philip Larkin, sex was discovered. I had not discovered anywhere near as much in person as I wished, and a group of us guys went down to the legendarily corrupt city of Baltimore to get more information. To give you an idea of how different those days were, we were surprised and delighted to see that the drugstores openly displayed "RUBBER GOODS"--condoms. (As they say, back then a man would go into a drugstore, clearly announce that he was buying cigarettes, and then shamefacedly whisper an order for condoms. Now it's the other way around.) We went to a burlesque show and saw actual female pubic hair, and then we visited a store where we could buy books about the alleged Real Thing.
My purchase was NB1653 Sin Sisters, by John Dexter. It was a Nightstand Book (I got the pun), it cost more than an ordinary paperback, and it inexplicitly promised to be Awful Dirty. By the standards of the day, it kept that promise, which is to say that it described the sexual behavior of its characters more thoroughly, and had more such scenes, than mainstream fiction. It also, and I ascribe this to legal pressures rather than the tastes of those producing the books, was full of moralizing, telling us in as much detail as who did what to whom with which that all of this behavior was WRONG WRONG WRONG, and making sure that all the transgressors were punished in the end.
(I didn't like that part, and would have been happy to know that a more positive approach to written sex would be permissible in a few years. The two approaches battled for the next thirty years, with the worst example of that particular combination of the two meanings of prurient--itching desire and morbid shame--appearing near the turn of the millennium, when a guy with the porn-writer name of Ken Starr needed $40,000,000 of the taxpayers' money to produce a Nightstand Book that Don Elliott would be ashamed to sign his name to.)
Of course, this was not the first time I had seen fictional sex described in print. It was becoming permissible (soon to be mandatory) among designated Serious Fiction Writers, such as John O'Hara and James Gould Cozzens. (The latter's one description of the act in By Love Possessed read like the work of space aliens who produced their cars that way.) Furthermore, thanks to lawyers and justices who believed that No Law means No Law, we were finally getting access to the dirty books we'd been hearing about for years. This was where I first learned that to be a First Amendment fanatic is to defend nasty people and crappy writing
Henry Miller wasn't all that bad, but he kept boasting of his skill at utilizing those around him for sex, money, and whatever else he wanted, and that soon palled. Perhaps he deserves his current historical status as primarily a supplementary figure in the fictions of Anais Nin (the ones she calls "diaries"). D.H. Lawrence was more the sort one defended out of pure duty. Along with the famous Good Parts, Lady Chatterley's Lover featured endless harangues about Life and Passion and the importance of thinking with one's blood, rather than one's brain, a suggestion later made by Joseph Goebbels. There was also the subtle symbolism of having Lord Chatterley, the main representative of the upper classes, paralyzed from the waist down; he was contrasted to the manly Mellors, whose dialogue mixed university knowledge with a properly lower-class accent, phonetically represented. (I have sometimes imagined a world in which Lawrence was born in the USA, so he made Mellors an African American, expressing all that life-affirming stuff with lots of "I'se gwine"s.) Like many who idolize Woman, Lawrence was less fond of women.
It would get better. The next book to run the court gauntlet was Fanny Hill, alias Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, an 18th-century work that had survived by being light-hearted and tolerably well written. Lenny Bruce had hit the bull's-eye on one of the hypocrisies of the time by saying that one of the most hopeless seduction lines imaginable would be, "I'll tell all my friends what a nice person you are because you did that with me." One of the reasons Fanny was such a nice person was that she did that with many people.
Then Candy, Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg's sex-changed update of Voltaire's Candide, introduced the radical concept that porn could be funny. It also opened the door for the other works originally published in Paris by Maurice Girodias's Olympia Press, all of which were brought to America in the mid-60s by Greenleaf Classics, Brandon Books, and Collectors Publications.
Olympia had always been a curious operation, presenting serious fiction with unacceptable sexual content (Lolita), XXX stuff with titles like The Whip Angels, and everything in between. Girodias had continuing bad luck (he wound up legally entitled to almost none of the American proceeds of the work he had published), which put him into bad situations he proved himself equal to. Much of the history of Olympia Press is given in The Good Ship Venus, by John de St. Jorre, a charming book in which we learn, for instance, that The Ginger Man, J.P. Donleavy's most successful (and perhaps only readable) book, was, at great effort, cut and pasted into shape by a woman known as Muffy (the wife of translator Austryn Wainhouse).
The Olympia stable included Alexander Trocchi, perhaps the most respected of the bunch, whose Cain's Book and Young Adam wound up published in America as mainstream fiction; the poet Christopher Logue (Lust, by "Count Palmiro Vicarion"); and Iris Owen, who wrote amusing Olympia books as Harriet Daimler and returned to the United States in the 70s to write, under her own name, After Claude, which began with much wit, ran down, and concluded as something like a Harriet Daimler BDSM book. Mason Hoffenberg proved himself to be something more than Southern's second banana (as it were) with the hilarious Until She Screams and Sin Before Breakfast [bylined Faustino Perez-EK]. Norman Rubington wrote even funnier books (and pasted up remarkable collages) under the name of Akbar Del Piombo. The steadiest performer in the group was a British civil servant named John Stevenson, writing as Marcus Van Heller, who turned out a dozen books that resembled competent contemporary or historical fiction (Kidnap, The Loins of Amon) with one hypertrophied part.
Also in the mid-60s, Grove Press, which had fought the good fight for Henry Miller and D.H. Lawrence, was trying to keep up by publishing two classic works of Victorian erotica. My Secret Life had what is called an unreliable narrator when one is discussing fiction, but it was alleged to be a factual memoir. The man who called himself Walter convincingly, if inadvertently, presented himself as a mindless rich boob, one who had relations with over 3,000 women (every nationality but Lapplander, he proudly reported) and still believed that all women ejaculate. He showed a similar lack of awareness of his effect on the lives of the impoverished women whose company he purchased. The Pearl was a collection of writings from a 19th-century underground publication, full of explicit descriptions but somewhat less pleasurable to those of us who did not attend British public schools or otherwise learn to associate arousal with flagellation.
Cheerier than these were the two great works of sexual idealism that decade produced. Of course, Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land was not primarily about sex. Its first effect on me was the introduction to a new religious approach, one that I soon learned is common in the East. Still, there were those nests, with everyone finding unjealous bliss, and while the novel included indications that Martian superpowers were needed to make the nests work, many readers were tempted. (I never tried to set up a nest, but I did modify my feelings about jealousy, though not to the point where I considered it simply pathological.)
If Stranger had no explicit sex in it, The Harrad Experiment, by Robert Rimmer, contrived to be less erotic. It harked back less to Fanny Hill than to books like Edward Bellamy's Looking Backwards, which, as serious critics have been known to complain, proceed from premise, rather than character. An ideal system is proposed, and enthusiastic puppets eulogize it. In this case the system was a small college in which students were required to share a room with a member of the other sex, and this would lead to enlightenment and to what would later be called polyamory. While copulating, the spokespersons carry on long philosophical conversations, sometimes pausing to read aloud to each other. The characters engaged in this practice to ward off orgasm, an effect that was known to transfer.
As America became more permissive, France began cracking down on smut. In 1968 Girodias moved Olympia Press to America, on the assumption that there one could pretty much get away with anything, at least as far as the written word went. To the best of my knowledge, he had no obscenity busts, but he also continued to lose money. He produced a few good books while the operation lasted. There was for instance, The Erotic Spectacles, by "Genghis Cohen," an erotic multidimensional fantasy. As might be guessed from the author's nom de plume, the book was rich in references to Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. My favorite American Olympia book was Bishop's Gambol, by Roger Agile, a hilarious picaresque in which a Roman Catholic bishop is miraculously healed of impotence.
Olympia tried to present quality smut, as did Essex House, a short-lived imprint that published two of Philip José Farmer's more grotesque imaginings (A Feast Unknown and Blown), but most publishers were aiming at cheaper and shoddier production. (Proofreading was a rare luxury. It was not unknown to encounter a character sporting a "big hand on.") Around that time I met a man whose job was literally, as Truman Capote said of Jack Kerouac, not writing but typing. His assignment (he did not divulge the identity of his employers) was to take other publishers' dirty books and copy them with only names and scenes changed (another job no doubt eliminated by computerization).
I don't know if Little Liverpool Books operated that way, but I didn't like them. The male characters got their way by ordering the women to comply (with no overt threats, so it wasn't "really" rape) and the women eventually realized that the sex was what they always wanted. I could no more identify with men who behaved that way than with the protagonists of the Kennel Club series. I think it is a positive change that more people refer to that sort of thing as "date rape."
My own tastes ran more to the soft core stuff published by general mass-market publishers Berkley and Lancer, in which nice people enjoyed nonserious sex. In Robert Vichy's Making It Big and Making It Bigger the protagonist was a hippie standup comic, and his act was interspersed between his acts ("Imagine when grass is legalized and there are TV ads: 'Ladies, is your wash dull and gray? Smoke Groovies and you won't give a shit.'") Andrew J. Offutt, writing under the name of John Cleve, wrote the hilarious Holly Would, whose protagonist becomes rich and famous by acting rich and famous.
There were also alleged nonfiction books that provided at least as much physiological detail as necessary, such as the writings of Russell Trainer. One leading producer of such material was John Warren Wells, who approached the work with the kind of light-heartedness and cheer about sex that I prefer. For instance, a chapter on adult consensual incest was entitled, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." He lovingly dedicated several of his books to novelist Jill Emerson. I thoroughly enjoyed her book, Threesome, for its descriptions; it also offered my first introduction to my two favorite Freud quotes. ("Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" and "The paranoid is never entirely mistaken.") I eventually learned an interesting pair of facts about those last two: Lawrence Block was both of them, and Wells's work was as fictional as Emerson's. (Block's hand has not lost its skill, as his recent novel Small Town demonstrates.)
It was around this time that I entered science fiction fandom, where I read complaints that sf was "ghettoized." Porn had always been more so, and after a brief moment in the sun, it was returning to that status, to the benefit of neither it nor the mainstream. Berkley stopped doing porn, and Lancer vanished in 1973, almost immediately after publishing Samuel R. Delany's The Tides of Lust (pure coincidence, I trust). For a while, there was a tolerable specialty line, Bee Line Books. My favorite of their writers was one Lilith Della Mare, whose name was so exotically feminine that I immediately assumed the author had to be a greasy fat guy, smoking a cigar while typing in his undershirt and occasionally pausing to scratch his balls. I liked the books anyway. It was friendly stuff, and while some of the participants were below the official age of consent, we were told, with all the repetition and lack of subtlety that categorizes the genre, that the participants were sexually mature. After a while, though, Bee Line showed its respect for its product by taking the writers' names off it, and there was no more identifiable Good Stuff, at least not in the written word.
L'Envoi: Many years later, we have learned of a medical study concluding that those men least at risk for prostate cancer are the ones who averaged five or more orgasms a week. (Medical science does not distinguish between "honorable" and "dishonorable" discharges.) And so I would like to dedicate this essay to all those who got in any sort of trouble for producing work so conducive to male health.
By Earl Kem
I always had a thing for vampires, at least one particular vampire. It was Bela Lugosi's Dracula that appealed to me, even years before I ever saw the movie. Just one of those kid-identification things. I figured that if I liked Dracula enough, he would never harm me. Whenever the kids in my neighborhood played "monster," I always had to be the Count, wrapped in a ripped-open, printed-flower-pattern flour sack.
All kinds of Vampires from Nosferatu to Andy Warhol (my all-time favorite movie one-liner comes from his Dracula: "The blood of these virgins is killing me.") to Christopher Lee, George Hamilton, Frank Langella, Tom Cruise and especially Willem Defoe and every stop in between. (And, by association, Theodore Sturgeon's "Some of Your Blood.")
Especially when we're talking about dreadful Saturday matinee double-feature fare like the products of Monogram Pictures or Republic Studios. Those were where I found my friend Bela Lugosi the most, in his later years, between fixes.
So, how do you segue from vampires to bats in the belfry? Easy just think of Ed Wood. With or without thinking of any of his awfully dreadfully original fantasy movies.
In the mid-1960s I was editorial director of William Hamling's pornography publishers known as Greenleaf Classics and a few other imprints. Those who were in the know thought of it affectionately as the Porno Factory. At the time we were producing more than fifty novels a month from San Diego, California (and a number of magazines, heavily illustrated books, and occasional special projects).
Science fiction writers wrote a good portion of the manuscripts we used at the Porno Factory. It was reasonable for me to call upon many science fiction people for help in various directions in those days. One of those people was Forrie Ackerman. Forrie could always be counted on to know where you could locate almost anything picture-related, around Los Angeles, and people who knew how to do most jobs cheap, between engagements. Even some odd-ball, raunchy nudie stuff.
While I was shopping around for something new and novel to foist upon the eagerly awaiting public, we came up with the idea of highly illustrated sex novels. Forrie submitted a package that eventually [GC 205] was labeled Orgy of the Dead and contained a special introduction written by Forrest J. Ackerman. It was three-quarters photographs and one-quarter text. The whole thing was built around Ed Wood's and A.C. Stevens' current in-progress movie. It was really dreadful, too, as you might expect. Lots of bare-breasted strippers wrapped in thin scarves and jock-type hunks in brief loincloths greased down and dancing through ground fog in a cemetery endlessly while not much else went on except Criswell twirling his cape and relaxing in coffins.
There was nothing anywhere resembling an orgy about the whole project. The erotic parts of the book were all gratuitously added by Ed Wood to please the editor and, as usual, bore little resemblance to the original effort.
That's how I got to meet the great man; Forrie sent him trolling for money.
Because I was such a movie nut, I was already aware of Ed Wood the movie nut. Coincidentally, I also had a very good science fiction friend named Ed Wood, but there the resemblance ended, abruptly.
Ed Wood (Edward D. Wood, Jr.) phoned me and told me that he was going to be in San Diego and wanted to get together with me. I was vaguely amused at the prospect and invited him to come for lunch. He said there would be two of them.
When the scheduled time arrived, so did Ed Wood, along with his friend Criswell. They erupted into the office reception area in a flutter of flapping wings and flying, billowing, twirling capesmanship that was enough to rival an entire ballet troupe. There were also giggles and twitterings and they didn't come from the office staff that had become an unknowing audience to the spectacle of their "beingness."
Criswell was ablaze in heavy layers of theatrical makeup that made him look like a run-away circus clown. His clothes were extremely shabby and almost threadbare. They had clearly seen much better days and they were meticulously maintained as if they were actually the last real remnants of a once-great wardrobe.
Criswell had a remarkable voice; it was almost mesmerizing in its intensity. He could use it with real force and easily project it across an entire restaurant, causing every head to turn and admire the professional at work. Then, just as quickly, he would lapse into almost childish glee, once he knew he had them in his hands.
Ed Wood, himself, was similarly attired in well-worn and better-days clothing, only he wasn't nearly as flashy as Criswell. If he didn't talk or show his panties, he could pass for an almost normal person with no trouble. And he especially didn't look nearly as good as Johnny Depp.
Now that they were inside my office, I realized right away that I had a new problem on my hands. In those days I was still a bit square and reserved, easily embarrassed. Wood and Criswell were really doing a heavy trip on me. I didn't dare take them to any one of the restaurants that I routinely frequented for fear I would be recognized with them. Part of my duties was to take most visiting dignitaries to lunch...especially if they were there visiting Bill Hamling...and I could easily convince myself that the two clowns performing in front of me were visiting dignitaries.
Looking backward, with that infallible view, I would have treated them like dear friends and taken them to my favorite, most frequented restaurant where I entertained the real visiting dignitaries. They deserved it then and they deserve my acknowledgment of that now.
Only that was then, and I had to go all the way across San Diego to an area I never visited, hunting down a satisfactory restaurant where I felt I could be seen with them while they took over center stage and went into one of their blatant, attention-garnering routines.
They were fantastic together, moving like a well-oiled machine, empathetically communicating with each other, each finishing the other's sentences, etc. I didn't know if I should be scared or amused most of the time. Fortunately, amused won out, and rightly so. Had I not really accepted them, I would have missed out on one of life's really rare moments sharing in fleeting touches of greatness.
Ed Wood was noted for wearing female garments, especially things that feel fantastic against the skin, like silk panties and cashmere sweaters. [In truth, I have known some noteworthy Chinese and Vietnamese silk undergarments myself that were so sensual to wear they were almost embarrassing.] Every time I saw him, without fail, even though I wasn't interested, he would tell me what female garments he was wearing at the moment, in case they weren't visible (like nylons). He would also offer to show me that he was really wearing them, especially the panties; he always wanted to show off the panties. I managed to avoid the exhibition somehow.
Never for a moment did I get a gay hint off Ed Wood, a former US Marine, though that could not be a guarantee of heterosexuality; if anything it was simply self-hype driving Wood that was relatively harmless.
Ed Wood and Criswell came to visit me a number of times at my office in San Diego. In that time I felt I got to know both of them a little better than I mighty ever have really needed to know, but what the hell, Hollywood is paved with nuts anyway.
I remember we paid Ed Wood $500 for writing the text portion then published the book they were working on and it did only so-so in the marketplace. On the other hand, I bet a copy of that book, in any condition, would bring a pretty penny at eBay auction these days. Too bad I didn't have psychic powers enough to get Ed Wood to autograph a hundred copies or so for posterity and my retirement. Notice how easily I make that observation while all the time I know I didn't manage to hold onto even one copy of the book for myself.
I believe Ed Wood and Criswell (I never saw Wood without Criswell) made a special trip to see me just to pick up his check and to have lunch with an audience. When I handed him that check, time froze. He looked at it in disbelief, then lit up like a Christmas tree, broke into a big grin, and did an involuntary quick two-step dance in excitement, all in double-time. I guessed that $500 check represented the largest amount of money Ed Wood had seen all at once in a long time. (1966 dollars went a very long way.)
We published three of Ed Wood's books that year. Besides Orgy of the Dead, there was SR611 Parisian Passions by J.X. Williams and SR618 Side Show Siren by Edward D. Wood, Jr. Wood was so insistent that I use his real name. He loved to see it anywhere, everywhere. I can't remember how the house pseudonym of J.X. Williams slipped in there. I'm rather glad Wood was so anxious about it at the time.
In those halcyon days at the Porno Factory, I visited the sets of numerous films in progress, and not all of them were hard core. In fact, Greenleaf Classics invested in a couple of them and I spent much time partying with some of those producers, directors, and stars in a number of countries. It eventually got to the point where moviemaking held no more thrills or mysteries for me.
Finally, to add an ironic touch to all this, as if it was done on purpose just for me, Tim Burton picked up all the pieces and put them together in his incredible film Ed Wood. This neatly brought me back to Bela Lugosi, my vampire hero, to my movie-making nut, and to the real world.
I have a video copy of Tim Burton's Ed Wood. There are times when it seems to call to me, on dark winter evenings, to pull it out and stick it in the VCR and get back that old-time thrill.
They are all still there, whenever I want them or need them, just waiting to be watched. Watching them brings back all those wonderful feelings of yesterday. If I close my eyes and breathe deeply, I can see Bela Lugosi lurking just at the fringes of my imagination awaiting his cue to slink onstage ominously, and I can pick up the heady aroma of Criswell's Max Factor No. 5 pancake makeup and Wood's even headier dedication.
With people like Dracula, Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood, and Criswell around, you don't need much more to get you through the night.
Version dated 06-09-1969
I. MANUSCRIPT SPECIFICATIONS
II. STYLE GUIDE
III. WORD LIST
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