PLUGOLA: This is the expanded version of an article written for Donna Kossy's wonderful new magazine "Book Happy", devoted to curious and osbscure books. Folks who wish to acquire a copy of her first issue, featuring articles by, among others, John "Murder Can Be Fun" Marr and Al "Thrift Score" Hoff, should send $4.00 to Donna at:
PO Box 86663
Portland, OR 97286
The second issue, including an edited version of this article, will probably cost $5.00 or so and may be available around mid-December.
Fiction paperback books have, not surprisingly, gotten the lion's share of attention from collectors. They tend to have the most imaginative prose, have the most spectacular covers, and on occasion are even well-written. Huge numbers of non-fiction - and supposed non-fiction - titles were also published during the '50's and '60's, but have been pretty much ignored by collectors and commentators alike.
Nonfiction paperbacks owed their existence to a long-forgotten legal loophole - a book could not be censored if it was (or, in practical terms, could make a pretense to being) a serious scientific study. This distinction was used, initially, to make previously obscure scientific texts available to the reading public. The great-grandaddy of all of these books is Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Kraft-Ebbing, published in German in 1886. It was initially only available in the United States as a German-language medical textbook, then as an English language book with the really "nasty" parts left untranslated. (This used to be a common practice in high-end sleaze publication; I remember my father owned a copy of The Philosophy of the Bedroom by the Marquis de Sade with the hot parts in French). As community standards became even more lenient, a number of different publishers issued their English language own editions of the book.
The mass-market appeal of this book lay in the fact that, unlike, for example, The Kinsey Report, it did not just lay out statistics of behavior, or provide general summaries - it set forth hundreds of individual case studies, in many cases supplemented with interviews with the persons profiled. The "disorders" profiled range from simple cases of behavior now viewed by many as unremarkable, such as homosexuality or transvestitism, to hideous cases of sexual sadism (even Jack the Ripper merits a case file.) For many outsiders in the less tolerant periods in our country's history, Kraft-Ebbing supplied the first evidence they has ever seen that there were others like them out in the world. For others in search of a cheap thrill (not that I have anything against cheap thrills) this book supplied personal interviews with many of the person profiled, sometimes with breathless descriptions of the acts they had reveled in.
A flood of these "studies" followed, beginning in the '50's, as paperback publishers rapidly came to realize that they could put out them out at little cost and legal risk, and that they would sell, particularly if they could find a scientific figure willing to devote a little less space to analysis and more space to those fascinating interviews. Most of these books were allegedly written by physicians or psychologists, but I think we can safely assume a great many, particularly the more obviously exploitative examples, were written by individuals whose only medical expertise was an encyclopedic knowledge of alternative nouns for different parts of the body.
A selection of examples from different genres, in chronological order, follows.
1. A CREEPY STAB FROM THE PAST
The Sex Life of the Single, the Engaged and the Married, by Dr. Maurice Chideckel, M.D. (Eugenics Publishing Company, Inc., (c) 1936, paperback edition (c) 1952)
Now, here's an interesting little item. Eugenics Books was the publishing arm of the eugenics movement, which succeeded in getting a number of state legislatures around the country to pass laws providing for the sterilization of a number of different societal undesirables (the mentally deficient, the physically handicapped, the mentally ill, people who read stuff like this website, etc.). In some instances, these programs gained so much blind momentum that teenagers were sterilized for running away from home. For most modern readers, the word "eugenics" only evokes dim memories of old Star Trek episodes, but in their day the eugenicists here highly influential.
In the case of this book, they avoided the "let's breed people like prize cattle" stuff and instead set forth Dr. Chideckel's personal observations of his patients and his conclusions about how we should all behave sexually before and during marriage. In many respects, the author seems to have progressive ideas about sexuality, but then he sets forth his belief that all women are either "uterine" or "clitorid", and all men either "orchitic" or "phallic." (p. 140-42) In either instance, members of the latter category are strictly governed by lust, and, in the eyes of the author, apparently worthless. The perfect match is between the "uterine" woman and the "orchitic" man, where the woman is "the maternal type, the woman we know, the woman we respect, court, pay homage to, the woman we marry", and the man is clean, faithful, lacking in artistic ability, and smarter than his "uterine" wife.
2. FOUR FROM THE MONARCH HUMAN BEHAVIOR SERIES
Monarch Books was a well-known, middle-level publisher, ranking on the prestige scale somewhere between Dell on the high side and Bacon and Midwood on the low. They are perhaps best known for their science fiction and true crime books, but in the early 1960's they published a series of allegedly nonfiction titles called the "Human Behavior Series." This collection mixed such titles as Go With God and The Book of Miracles in with The Lesbian, Sex and Hypnosis and I am a Nympho. The books in this series are particularly distinguished by some of the best cover art of any of the non-fiction paperbacks.
A. Tormented Women - A Frank, Revealing Study of Women Degraded by Alcohol, by Edward J. McGoldrick (Monarch Books #503, (c) 1959) (Cover by Maguire)
Sounds cheerful, no? The foreword, by one Dr. Vito Luongo (a name that most paperback authors would not even dare to foist upon the reading public), explains that Mr. McGoldrick is a respected counselor who has had great success treating alcoholics at a facility called "Bridge House", through a technique that focuses upon not treating alcoholism as a disease but instead forcing alcoholics to accept responsibility for their actions and to realize that they can control their own fates.
Well, I cannot vouch for the success of Mr. McGoldrick's treatment program, but one immediately notices two things about the book: first, that he apparently believes that all he has to do to cure a woman's drinking is to find the secret thing that causes her pain - her belief that her breasts are too small, her fear of blushing, her shame about her mother having been black - and she will dry up like a banana slug on a hot tin roof; and, second, that he sure has a vivid memory for the details of his sessions:
"If you must know, Tom and I are finished!
I'm getting a divorce!"
"Yes, a divorce! About time, isn't it? The lecherous old bastard and his naked pictures of women" She reached into her purse. "Here! These are some samples of what sends Tom into raptures." She whipped out two pages obviously torn out of some girlie magazine. "Look at these!" she cried hysterically. "Her are two specimens of what he loves. I haven't got a case against him? Look at those women -- completely naked -- not a stitch on them! And look at those breasts," and she waved the pictures in front of my nose like a red flag in front of a bull.
"Let me see them --"
"Say!" Her tone was thick with suspicion. "Maybe you'd enjoy feasting on them just like Tom does!"
"Maybe I would. If I know myself at all, I'd probably would enjoy looking at a lovely, shapely, naked woman."
Her mouth gaped open at my words. With the suddenness which characterized all her movements on that particular morning, she slumped down in the chair and broke out into loud, unrestrained sobbing.
I let her cry. She needed to cry. (p. 30)
Gee, whatta guy.
Or even better, his memory of what a friend of his told him had happened to a third party who had committed suicide. (To provide the proper setting - the soon-to-be-dead-man returns to his apartment and finds an orgy in full swing):
"Christ," he muttered, "Christ, this is the jungle.
These people are beasts, not people." He pushed and shoved his way
to the stairs.
"Where the hell did they all come from?" he asked himself in utter disgust. "Vivian's friends? My God, I thought -- Webb was brought up short in his frantic soliloquy by two pink-faced chaps blocking his efforts to get upstairs. They both wore their hair long on their necks, like a woman's Italian haircut. Their lips were painted red and their pendant earrings were the cause of their mutual squeals of admiration.
"Fags -- goddamn fags." Webb elbowed them to the wall.
Halfway up, a girl came cascading down the stairs, clutching at the torn shreds of her dress. Her pursuer was drunkenly staggering, highball in hand, from the doorway of the guest bedroom. He tripped, then fell and lay still.
He reached the top of the stairs. "Vivian, I must find Vivian." Webb turned to the left, toward his own bedroom and Vivian's. The door was shut. He threw it open violently, then stood transfixed, his mouth agape, his eyes staring. He had found Vivian. There she was, standing in the middle of their huge double bed -- swaying back and forth, back and forth. Vivian was stark naked -- her eyes glazed -- a rapturous smile on her face. Three men ringed the bed, leering at her, lust shining in their red-veined eyes. Vivian held them in strained silence as they ogled her seductive nakedness -- full, lithe and incredibly beautiful, even in its hideously sordid setting.
"I am a slave up for auction" she announced. "Who bids for me? Who wants me? To the highest bidder I go - to the highest bidder - to the highest --"
I am not entirely sure whether the reader is supposed to be horrified or moved to ask, "Gee, why don't I ever get asked to parties like that?" Pretty good eye for detail for a guy that wasn't even there, I'd say.
I can't vouch for the success of Mr. McGoldrick's methods, but The Bridge,the successor to his clinic, continues to operate to this day.
B. Crime and Passion - the Sexual Side of Crime in Contemporary Life, by Dr. Eugene B. Mozes (Monarch Books #505, (c) 1960) (Cover by MaGuire)
This book is a more respectable effort, being essentially a true crime book, analyzing such famous cases as the Raymond Fernandez/Ruth Beck "Lonely Hearts Murders", Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray's murder of Ruth's husband and Neville Heath's sadistic killings; and in each case attempting to show how the sexual urges of the perpetrators gave them motivation for their crimes. The book covers not only murder, but rape, fetishism, kleptomania, pyromania and a variety of other unwholesome pursuits, and, contrary to what one might expect from the cover, does not recount the crimes in a particularly titillating fashion.
C. Sex and the Armed Services - A Doctor's Confidential Report on the Sexual Behavior of Men and Women in Military Life, by L.T. Woodward, M.D. (Monarch Books #507, (c) 1960) (Cover by MaGuire)
The main question about this and most other such books is whether anything in it actually happened. The book is full of "case histories", but they are typically related in the following manner:
Terrified, both for herself and in fear that a rampaging Voskovec might do some harm to her patients, the nurse submitted. Choking back tears, she removed her uniform, folding it neatly, glaring at Voskovec with loathing. He was almost drooling as she bared her firm-tipped breasts and slender loins to him. Seizing her roughly, he bore her to the ground and, though her eyes remained open in stark hatred throughout the act, he took her. When he had what he wanted, he rose. The girl remained on the ground, naked, her violated body quivering in disgust.
Forgive me if I observe that this sort of writing is not typically found in scholarly works - to the best of my knowledge, the word "loins" never appears in the Kinsey report. In this book, there are a total of four sexual encounters in the 11 pages of the first chapter, in each instance particularly dwelling on the appearance of the breasts of the female involved. For some reason, though, the good doctor is less graphic in describing the acts described in the chapter devoted to male homosexuality. Women in particular seem to have a particularly miserable time here; many of the sexual encounters portrayed therein are violent, and there is even a particularly painful episode wherein a woman "teases" a soldier, is raped, and, after bringing him up on charges, is herself discharged as "unfit to serve"!
Ya know, I gotta wonder about this Dr. Woodward fella. He was also the author of Sex and Hypnosis for Monarch, Sadism, The Twilight Women and Sex and the Divorced Woman for Lancer and Deceivers for Beacon.
4. Crack-Up in Suburbia - a Dramatic Case-History Account of the Manners, Mores and Morals of Big-City Exiles, by Jay Carr (Monarch Books, #522, (c) 1962) (Cover by Tom Miller)
I always thought "Crack-Up in Suburbia" would make a great title for a rock album. Jay Carr was one of the many, many authors, ranging from serious writers such as John Updike and John O'Hara down the the sleaziest schlocksmiths, who chose to explore the new kinds of tawdry behavior unleashed by the growth of the suburbs in the fifties and sixties. Like most of these, Mr. Carr revels in tales of burned-out, rat-race defeated husbands, bored and frustrated housewives with too much liquor within easy reach, hormone-inflamed teenagers with absent parents, and, of course, "The Homosexual Problem" (Chapter 4). Mr. Carr seems to have taken a little more care in preparing this book than most, quoting a variety of contemporary books on families and marriage (the existence of at least some of which I can actually verify), and even seems to have a relatively compassionate attitude toward his "interviewees". Still, given his other contributions to literature, such as Motel Wives and She Wolves for Beacon Press, I cannot help but doubt the authenticity of his source material.
3. RESPECTABLE EXPLOITATION
a. Sex Life of the Modern Adult ("The Glover Report") by Dr. Leland E. Glover (Belmont Books #L503, (c) 1961)
Belmont Books was hardly too classy to publish trash if they thought it would sell, but in this case they chose to put out a relatively restrained book that was in many ways ahead of its time, in that it examines a variety of patterns of behavior in a non-judgmental fashion and evens treat gays and lesbians sympathetically. Seekers of hot reading, however, are to be greatly disappointed; sexual encounters are written in such a fashion as to suggest that a couple of pages have dropped out of the book:
In the bedroom, Dan took Penny in his arms again
and kissed her lips, her face, her cheeks, her neck. He held her
close and kissed her longingly and hard. And then he let her go.
"You're on fire, today, Danny," Penny said, moving away.
"It's these clothes," Dan said, grinning. "It's too hot in here with them on." He took off his coat and placed it on an hanger. "But," he added, unbuckling his belt, "I'll take care of that."
Penny awoke suddenly and sat up.
"What time is it, Danny?" she asked.
Dan stirred sleepily and looked at the watch on his wrist.
"Quarter-to-six," he said, yawning.
Tame or not, this book apparently sold well enough that the good doctor was back the following year, exploring new horizons.
b. Sex Life of the Modern Teen-Ager ("The New Glover Report") by Dr. Leland E. Glover (Belmont Books #L523, (c) 1962)
Dr. Glover, having fully explored adult sexuality, now sallies forth into the wacky world of teenage nasty, but his narrative style remains intact:
You're pretty cute," he said quietly, grinning.
He took her in his arms, held her close. He kissed her forehead,
her lips, her cheek, her neck.
Harriet's eyes closed, her heart pounded with strange excitement. She closed her eyes again and waited. She often had wondered how it would feel the first time. Soon she would know. She hoped it wouldn't hurt too much.
Jim sat up, coughed nervously, rearranged his
clothing. Harriet sat up too, self-conscious, smiling a little.
"I'm sorry," Jim said at last. "I didn't mean to do that."
Harriet frowned. "Why are you sorry?"
"I'm just sorry that I did it -- that's all.
"Was I that bad?"
Jim's jaw dropped. "I didn't mean it that way. Nothing's wrong with you -- you were great." (This leads into a lengthy discussion of possible pregnancy.)
If you take Dr. Glover's word for it, the primary difference between adult and teenage sex is that teenage sex is a lot more depressing. In such chapters as "The Promiscuous Girl", "Motherhood Without Marriage", "'Shotgun Weddings'", "Abortion" and "VD", teenage sex frequently takes place under coercion and usually (but not always) leads to dire results. This may be true in part, particularly in 1962, but once again, the reader looking for cheap thrills had best look elsewhere.
c. Sex and the College Girl, by Gael Greene (Dell #7754, (c) 1964)
This book must have sold a ton of copies back in '64, because I seem to keep finding copies of it in thrift stores, flea markets, etc. (I fished this particular copy out of a dumpster.) It is quite tame by comparison, but it actually rings truest of all of the books listed here. More than anything else, sex in this book is complicated, for a change, and people behave in all kinds of different ways without God striking them down in righteous anger. This item is most notable because it actually talks of a "sexual revolution" before most of us would have had the idea any such movement was underway, and because the author actually went on to a successful literary career as one of the nation's most esteemed food writers and restaurant critics.
d. Casebook: Nymphomania, by Victoria Morhaim (Dell #1113, (c) 1964) (second printing); introduction by Dr. Albert Ellis
Here's an item that reeks of class. Not only
was it published by the comparatively-respectable Dell, it sports an introduction
by none other than Dr. Albert Ellis, one the most prolific authors of sex
advice books, such as Sex Without Guilt, during the '50's and '60's.
So, one might think, it is serious examination of "compulsively promiscuous"
Fat chance. The book purports to tell the stories of four different women and how they came to behave in a sexually self-destructive manner, but what we have here once again is mild porn masquerading as scientific study:
"More, more," begged Addie. "Say some more."
Charlie's voice was a gasp. "Princess, all right? If I'm Prince Charming, then, goddamit, you're my Princess." A lunge of his body and he was inside her. "Princess, all right? Princess."
"Ah, Charlie . . . ah, Jesus."
Addie clung to Charlie. Her voice began following the movements of his body.
"Oh, yes. Jesus. Sweet Jesus. Oh, Lord, my Lord. Yes, yes. Oh, LORD!" (p. 184)
Dell may have been more reputable than most paperback publishers, but in the end that never stood in the way of making a buck. I will not even try to guess at Dr. Ellis' motivations.
e. The Yankowski Report on Premarital Sex, by John S. Yankowski (Holloway House #1144, (c) 1965)
I saw this book at a library sale, and noticed that it was published by Holloway House, a company that specialized in African-American authors and put out such memorable books as The Wild, Wild, Wild World of Jane Mansfield, Pimp, the Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim and The Black Gestapo; I further took note of its emigmatic cover, and snapped it up. Imagine my surprise upon getting it home and finding it to be a carefully researched statistical analysis of sexual behavior in the mid-'60's, and completely devoid of any sleaze content. The lesson of this is that you just cannot make any assumptions about many of these books without picking them up and reading them. The following books, on the other hand:
4. SCRAPINGS AND SPLINTERS FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL.
a. England's Sex Explosion, by Allen Carson (Social Behavior Books #152, (c) 1967)
For the unitiated, one almost ironclad rule: if the words "England" or "English" appear anywhere in the title of a cheap, sleazy looking paperback, you can bet someone is in for some SERIOUS ASS WHUPPIN'. Of this book's nine chapters, the first six are pretty much devoted to various individuals birching, whipping, and otherwise whacking away at one another. Chapter 7 is "Sin in the Embassies", Chapter 8 is "Homosexual v. Heterosexual" (an argument, not a fight, oddly enough) and Chapter 9 is a plea for happy, wholesome sexuality. There now, don't you feel so much better?
b. Flagellation, by Simon Defont (Viceroy Publications #297, (c) 1967)
This book claims to be "A major breakthrough into understanding the many bizarre aspects of human sexuality". Whatta load; this cheerful little item is yet another compendium of supposedly true stories of unpleasant people wailing the crap out of each other for the reader's enjoyment, and even features a few dozen vintage hippie nudie pictures, ranging from the hilarious to the depressing, of spankings, whippings, bondage, etc.
c. Lesbian Ward, by Gilbert M. Schotz, Ph.D. (Classics Library #48, (c) 1968)
One cannot help but picture some guy drawing
up the plans for a hospital and saying to himself "Well, the first thing
we should do is put all of the lesbians together in one ward . . ."
There are some pretty dreary paperback books out there, but this one really works hard at it. Chapters include "Incestuous Lesbian", "Nine-Year-Old Lesbian" and "Coprophiliac Lesbian." Classics Library seems to have specialized in bogus "scientific" books; a catalog at the end of the book lists such redeeming titles as "Teenage Sexual Deviations", "Rubber Goddess", "Swastika Sex Cult" and "The Sexual Freaks."
d. The Rabbit Lovers, by Jane Joyce (Impact Library #222, (c) 1967)
I have seen some pretty crappy-looking covers in my day, but this one takes the cake so far. I found this one being sold by a homeless guy on a Manhattan street corner, and I must admit I slowed down enough just to find out what a "Rabbit Lover" might possibly be. One finds out, on closer examination, that the book claims to be "An uncensored report that blows the lid off the erotic needs of the insatiable mature woman (sic)." What the hell this has to do with rabbits, I cannot imagine. How does this book differ from the average dirty book about young women? Well, except for claiming to be about "grandma's" sexual adventures, it doesn't. Enough said. Believe me. Really. Take my word for it. I consider myself to be far more open-minded than the next guy, but when it comes to finding out how granny does the nasty, I DON'T KNOW, AND I DON'T WANNA KNOW.
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