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I miss my floozies…

I have a friend, George, with whom I’ve sometimes watched films noir. He has an endearing habit of saying, “Here’s the floozy music,” whenever the music on the soundtrack obviously indicates the entrance of a so-called tramp or femme fatale.

Well, I don’t need music to know when I’m in the presence of a floozy. I use the term affectionately, meaning to me “a woman of the demimonde.” Strippers are my chief floozies, although in my time I’ve known some nice hookers too. But with the decline of the adult magazine business in which I worked for more than 40 years, and the greater difficulty of making a buck as a porn writer online, I just don’t have the disposable ca$h to spend time with “floozies” much anymore.

That’s one reason why I enjoy noir films and noir novels…I get to spend time with floozies without going over my budget. 😉 (Can you tell I drank a 24 ounce can of ready-made margaritas before writing this post?)

While I drank the margaritas I watched Joan Bennett in 1948’s Hollow Triumph on TCM’s Noir Alley series, although in this film Joan is not particularly floozy-ish. I love Joan Bennett, her tart affectionate dames are just my cup of tea, and I’ve known a few in my time, especially barmaids at the old Times Square strip clubs like the late lamented Club 44 on Eighth Avenue near 44th Street. I sometimes have a gloomy disposition, after all I am a kind of noir guy myself; and one of the Club 44 barmaids, a older Brazilian lady named Elizabeth, used to try to cheer me up by giving me clippings to read, in a plastic baggie, of humorist and toastmaster Joey Adams’s joke columns from the New York Post.

Anyway, I digress. Here are a couple of recent novels I’ve read that had their happy share of floozies…

This cover scene is actually in the 1952 book, as a streetwalker tries to pick up the detective hero at 51st and 6th Avenue, a location I know quite well. But although a nice interlude, the sequence feels inserted into the story simply to justify the cover; it’s not pertinent to the plot, which is a pretty good one about political corruption in NYC.

 

This is a really tense 1954 novel about two gay drifters who kidnap a narcotics agent as he drives out to Los Angeles after a undercover job on the New Orleans docks. It has two well-drawn floozy portrayals, one of an affectionate stripper involved with the agent in the Big Easy, and the other of a not-too-bright but good-hearted female drifter from Tennessee who gets swept up by one of the male drifters, who is bisexual.

 

When I wolfed down these fun books, I got to enjoy the company of classic-style noir floozies. You can easily meet the two dames in Death Hitches a Ride by checking out the double-novel reprint at Sinister Cinema’s Armchair Fiction line here. It’s a really well-done story, and in fact I read it twice for the way it builds character and tension; the only flaw is that the ending is a bit too abrupt. But the characterizations are terrific. I wonder whatever happened to author Martin L. Weiss—a very talented fictioneer indeed.

 

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Times Square porn writer enjoys the calm before New Year’s Eve frenzy…

At last 2011 is coming to a close. I’ve definitely had better years as a freelance writer of erotica. Many of the magazines I was writing for in 2010 at this time closed down in early 2011. I lost a tremendous amount of regular income.

Still, I persevered. I figured it out last night from my daily records–I wrote, revised, and polished approximately 362,600 words–or the equivalent of SIX 60,000 word books. Or if you consider a full-length book 80,000 words, I wrote the equivalent of four and a half books. No wonder I feel discombobulated sometimes! That’s a lot of porn under the bridge. And this was an off-year assignment-wise for the reason I just stated above. The year before, when there were more magazines to write for, I wrote somewhere between 750,000 and 1,000,000 words (my records were not as meticulous last year, so I’m not exactly sure–I was too busy cranking out horny stories, girl copy, website prose, research articles and product reviews). That’s the kind of production pulp writers used to achieve back in the 1930s and 1940s…on the low end of the pulp spectrum! I’ve heard of pulp writers who did 3,000,000 words in a year (although unlike myself, they could only do that by mostly not revising or polishing). Anyway, I was a writing demon in 2010; I did as much as I could, maybe because I sensed or feared many magazines wouldn’t last. That kind of work opportunity isn’t available anymore in magazines.

So now 2011, when the sex mag business really took a hit, is coming to a close. And I sense it’s going to end noisily. I live in midtown Manhattan on the edge of Times Square, and the throngs are already blowing their little horns on the streets and whooping it up, and it’s not even 8:00 yet. You have more than four hours left to go, folks!

Yesterday I took a walk through Times Square and on the fringes of the nabe with my camera in hand. It was sunny and not too cold, and I enjoyed mingling in the crowds. When I have something to do, like making pictures, Times Square is interesting. When I’m just walking through the hordes of people, it’s annoying and stressful.

Here are some of the sights I came upon. As you’ll note, I enjoy contrasting tiny people with big billboards:

42nd Street Near 8th Avenue

42nd and Broadway

Around 45th and Broadway

Looking south from 44-45th and Broadway

In 1888, Eugene O'Neil was born on the spot where I took this picture

The ziggurat-like Paramount Building at 44th and 7th Avenue, where Frank Sinatra wowed the bobbysoxers.

Looking east from between 45th and 46th on Broadway

Later, in the evening, I went out to dinner with my camera along, and walking through the area once known as “Hell’s Kitchen” I came upon this striking sign. Two versions:

51st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues

A touch of the old Times Square & Hell's Kitchen, but timeless in its blunt force

I can’t decide what I want to do tonight. I made no plans, and money is tight, but perhaps on New Year’s Eve I could allow myself the pleasure of a lapdance or two. I have coupons to get into the strip clubs for no admission (that little ole clever carnal consumer, me). But do I want to fight my way through the crowds? I was also tempted to call friends, but I felt like being alone and maybe watching a movie and having a beer in pleasant solitude, despite the racket of the New Year’s crowds on the street. And then maybe, an hour or two before midnight, trying to work my way over to a tittie bar.

I’ve been very frugal this year, and sometimes I think I take it too far. Maybe it’s not good for a pornographer’s mental health NOT to check in with the floozies at least once a month…

Well, whether I go out or not, at least I can travel to sleazy destinations in my memory, stuffed full of the sensations of lapdances, strippers, hookers, dominatrixes, and peep show girls from my past…or through a screen capture like this one of Broadway and 52nd Street almost forty-six years ago, courtesy of the 1966 James Garner movie Mister Buddwing, a suspense thriller about an amnesia victim wandering through the raunchy old New York so many of us miss.

52nd and Broadway on the edge of Times Square, 1966

But you know something? If I walk around on the streets, I can find the film-noirish visual energy still in Hell’s Kitchen without time-traveling through memory or movies…

Click on the pic to enjoy its full intensity! This is 52nd Street and 9th Avenue, looking east toward Worldwide Plaza.

Let’s hope for a better year in 2012 for all of us who need it and want it! And thank you all for reading my blog and checking out my bizarre ebooks.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in Erotica

 

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Annie Sprinkle gets me thinking: can a john take pride in hiring hookers?

Can a john take pride in patronizing hookers? This was the question set off in my mind after reading former porn star/prostitute/sex activist/performance artist/writer Annie Sprinkle’s review of Paying for It, Chester Brown’s memoir of being a john, in the New York Times Book Review for Sunday 7/3/11.

A “john,” as I’m sure most everybody knows, is the slang word for a prostitute’s customer. Also known as a “trick,” but we’ll stick to johns for the purpose of this discussion.

The book well captures the empty feeling that often results after a visit to a hooker.

A few weeks ago I looked at this book for about a half hour in the bookstore as a possible review subject for a column I do for an adult magazine. One thing that struck me was that Paying for It caught the loneliness of the “john experience” quite well and so I hesitated to read it. It brought back too many unpleasant memories. Over the years, I’ve had plenty of encounters with hookers. (By the way, I loathe the icy, emasculating word “sex worker,” and “prostitute” isn’t much better, although I can’t get around using it sometimes. Still, no form of positive thinking will ever salvage it from its harshness and judgmental tone.)

The number one emotion I have felt in connection with paying for sex is loneliness afterward–even when the experience itself was pleasant, as it frequently can be. Yes: emptiness, aloneness. Of something lacking in me. So I haven’t read Brown’s whole book yet. My impression of the style of the drawings in this comic strip-style memoir is that they are very detached, almost passionless. This artistic approach clashes with what I remember most fondly about my own experiences with hookers, which was of a fleshy excitement even when the encounter wasn’t so hot, of a tactile aliveness resulting from my pleasure and awe or just my fascination at this bountiful femininity being available to lil ole me for something as simple, and non-binding, as mere money.

I’ve written about this subject at length myself in fiction, short memoirs in adult magazines, and in X-rated screenplays. In film, The Masseuse 2 is from the hookers’ point of view, and The Masseuse 3 includes the customers’ angle more prominently. They were two of the best regarded X-rated movies of the 90s. A French critic recently wrote an interesting analysis of the film here; and here is the English version of that article, somewhat mangled in Google’s automatic translation but readable enough to make it clear that I treated the subject, and the characters, with seriousness. The fantasy of a masochistic man cleaning a domineering woman’s house, which figures prominently in my new ebook Learning to be CRUEL, pops up in Masseuse 2 as well.

Ashlyn Gere and Asia Carrera give memorable performances as the masseuses.

The complexity of man's relation to hookers is explored in the arousing context of this classic porn film.

Ms. Sprinkle, whom I know slightly from my work in the adult magazine business (although I haven’t seen her for many years), and who is a nice lady, makes the statement in her review that “There are millions of johns, but for one to come out voluntarily–with honesty, integrity, and pride–is rare indeed.” I had to shake my head at that. There are many writers certainly who have written well about this subject, with honesty and integrity if often in the somewhat veiled form of fiction. But Ms. Sprinkle, by her own admission on the Times’ ArtsBeat blog, rarely reads fiction. Still, I wonder if she is acquainted with James Jones’ great novel From Here to Eternity, which chronicled the interactions of clients and prostitutes with great skill, and to my mind is the best thing I ever read on the subject. Part of the story centers around a brothel that American soldiers patronize just before America enters World War 2.

Jones captures perfectly the obsession of a customer for his favorite hooker.

Jones certainly wrote with honesty and integrity. As far as “pride” goes, well, he wrote like a mature man of the old school, and about a subject such as this, his characters expressed the ambivalence any half-way sensitive guy would feel about falling for a woman who sells her favors for a living.

Having pride in being a john strikes me as oxymoronic. To my mind, the two don’t go together, because I’ll always have the sneaking suspicion that I couldn’t get for free what I just got for money. No, correct that–not the sneaking suspicion, but the knowledge, that I couldn’t get it without cash. That hurts my pride, doesn’t boost it.

Hey, maybe I will end up reviewing Paying for It at some point. I’m certainly qualified to do so and might have some interesting things to say further…and maybe I’ll even learn something once I get past my emotions about the subject.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Erotica

 

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