Sunday, February 8, 2009

Porno Pulp For The Loving Man

'84 was a great year for publishing:

William Gibson's Neuromancer, Douglas Adams' So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood, David Gemmell's Legend, Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf, Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory (my personal favorite)...


and Star Distributors' In His Sister's Bed, easily the least ambiguously titled of the bunch.

Neuromancer didn't tell you much about its subject; So Long and Thanks For All The Fish was open to interpretation, too.

Cycle of the Werewolf
? A tale of lycanthropic menstruation, perhaps? Or a tale of a werewolf's love for a Harley? It's not terribly clear.

The Wasp Factory? A horror story set inside a factory where white Protestants are mass-produced on an assembly line manned by illegals? Possibly. Banks was not at the top of his game when he thought up that title.

In His Sister's Bed? Much, much better.

It's clearly about a fella (Luther) who's about to make a mistake. He's had a few beers, stumbled in late, and crashed in the wrong bedroom -- his sister Lucy's bedroom, to be specific. He's freezing his balls off (it's the middle of Winter), so he jumps into bed with sis to keep himself warm. As you do.

Since it's a porno novel, and honest enough to say so with a vivid cover illustration, Luther's attempt to keep the Winter willies at bay results in an intimate encounter with his sister.

Like most intimate encounters of an incestuous nature, this one comes with baggage attached -- in this case, that baggage is a yellow-haired person (pictured) who's happy to share.

The porno world is traditionally a very sharing world. This twice told tale doesn't fornicate with that tradition, although it's primarily about fornication.

It keeps its focus within the walls of a single home where selfishness doesn't exist -- neither does privacy. In this household (err, mobile home), nobody's too fussed about the real life stuff non-porno people worry about and there seems to be a pleasing free-for-all vibe that is conducive to everybody having a good time.

And what's wrong with that?

Here's an opening paragraph that gets straight to the meat of the matter:

Homer McCall took a healthy swig from the jug of corn whiskey and watched his sweet sixteen year old daughter Maize stack the dishes on the shelf in the kitchen of their crumbling mobile home. She was wearing skimpy shorts and a thin tee-shirt. The cheeks of her ass bulged from the tight shorts as she bent over to put some plates under the sink.

Just one paragraph in and we're hooked. We have a father whose whiskey drinking is a "healthy" thing. We have a daughter whose ass cheeks "bulge". And events take place in a harsh socio-economic milieu where there's probably no cable TV. So who can blame these folks for generating their own brand of cost-free entertainment, right?

It seems that the book's author was so pleased with the end result, he/she took his/her name off the cover.

They didn't take their name off the copyright page, though:

No, siree. The author, Star Distributors (any relation to TV personality Star Jones?) copyrighted the work in '84 and was even kind enough to list their home address as 362 Canal St. Stat., NY, NY.

The publishers of porn novels from this era understood that value wasn't just a five letter word.

At $3.50, you didn't just get a hundred and seventy pages of guilt-free fornication, you also got Personal Ads. Nine damn pages of 'em!

When you were done reading stories about people whose solitary focus in life was sex (not taxes or electric bills or ex-wives' alimony demands), you could comb the Personals at the back of your porno novel and find like-minded perverts... and naive ladies with zero self-esteem.

Take "I'll Travel Anywhere"(above), for example. "Does anyone want me?" she asks. "I'm 18 with nowhere to go adn (sp) want to relocate with a loving man."

Boy, she sure came to the right place for a "loving man"! Clearly, a reader of In His Sister's Bed would have been the ideal candidate to answer this young lady's cry for help. Loving. Caring. Sensitive. He was all of those.

It's just as well she didn't put the same ad in the back of William Gibson's Neuromancer. Can you imagine the greasy degenerates that would have attracted?

It must have been heartening for prospective, financially strapped "loving men" to know that this woman (179-S) was prepared to travel "anywhere". Yes, folks, ANYWHERE. There were no exceptions. And for a fiver you could receive a photo and phone number, too. Who said things were bleak before the internet?

The fact that she was "somewhat inexperienced", eager to learn the ropes of love, and 18 (not an age that would put most loving men off) certainly must have bolstered her chances of finding happiness with a reader of a Star Distributors book.


Eager to keep the serpentine plot of In His Sister's Bed under wraps, the publisher included no synopsis on the back cover. Instead, it printed the covers of four other titles that also knew something about direct language:

All focused on the exploits of a variety of loving men.

Joining the Personals and adding further v.a.l.u.e. to the enterprise were more lurid covers from other categories.


George Orwell didn't foresee that 1984 would be a great time for love, and loving men.

6 comments:

  1. The title 'Rape Heat' wins my personal award for excellence in the field of Inexplicable Porn Titling. I just keep looking at it going "What?"

    I keep trying to imagine what fiendish horror novel plot was going on with those personal ads though.

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  2. Porno novel titles are notoriously fantastic...some of the covers are superb, too (though not this one).

    SOMETHING was going on in those personal ads. By the time somebody placed an ad, how much time elapsed until publication?

    Talk about long lead times!

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  3. Wow! Just came across your blog. It's really awesome. That book "In His Sister's Bed" reminds me of the type of books that my buddies and I would pass around in the 8th grade back in the mid-80's.

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  4. Thanks, Keith. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

    IHSB may well have been one of the novels you guys were passing around in the 8th grade.

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  5. I actually really want to read those taboo porno novels.

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  6. That's understandable.

    Many are well written.

    What they convey very honestly is the sexual anarchy of the male mind. Lust unbridled.

    Their purpose is to arouse.

    They possess a raw, savage animalism that, for me, defines lust.

    Artists such as Toshio Saeki and Antoine Bernhart capture this, too.

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