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Tag Archives: noir fiction

The great face-slapping fetish novel of the 1940s

I took some time off over Memorial Day weekend, urgently needed relaxation. I saw friends, watched movies, took some walks, and sat in the pleasant spring shade and read…

The book was wild and grim…

 

…but the day was sunny and warm.

 

BEHOLD THIS WOMAN was noir specialist David Goodis’ melodramatic saga in richly entertaining purple prose about Clara Ervin, a malignant, monstrous narcissist of a woman, who dominates her husbands with all the techniques at her disposal: lush redheaded beauty, entrancing eyes, a mindfucking manner of taking control of conversations, an erotic style of cigarette smoking, and most dangerous of all, a penchant for doing whatever it takes—from cuckoldry to murder—to get where she feels she deserves to be in prestige, money, and luxury.

But what makes BEHOLD THIS WOMAN even more extraordinary, and it’s something I haven’t seen written about before (although I may have missed it since so much has been written about Goodis since the rediscovery of his work here in America in the 80s with the Black Lizard reprints): this is also a fetish novel, and the fetish is face-slapping.

Now, I had first read this novel around 1996, when I got my copy at a paperback collector’s show. Oddly, though, in the intervening years I just seemed to remember that Clara had just slapped around her defeated husband, backhanding him too. But when I re-read the novel Memorial Day weekend, I discovered anew that Clara not only slapped her husband, but also her lover and her stepdaughter, and repeatedly, in long richly detailed scenes that (as a writer of fetish fiction myself, of course) I recognized as designed to be erotic, definitely for the author and for all other connoisseurs of face slapping action. The result of all the slapping is to so discombobulate her victims that they are then ripe for “Stockholm syndrome” style capitulation to her control, wherein they turn from fear to zombie-like submission to her will—and even a sick kind of adoration or love (in the case of the stepdaughter). Although in the case of her husband, the face-slapping does wake him up to the true nature of this woman by whom he was once so entranced. The scene of their first date, wherein she entices him both with her eyes and cigarette smoking, is a classic of subtle seduction by a dominant female over a susceptible male.

In the intervening years since I first read the novel I also became far more knowledgeable about the femdom and fetish comic art of Eric Stanton, particularly where women are fighting other women or abusing men—and BEHOLD THIS WOMAN has the equivalent in scenes so vividly described it’s almost as if they’re drawn, not written, because you can see them so clearly. Clara Ervin would not be out of place in a Stanton story of female domination. There is a physical confrontation between Clara and her stepdaughter that could have been drawn by Stanton.

This vintage drawing by Stanton, which was posted online at Twitter by the German writer/photographer/model Pitt Prickel here, perfectly captures the kind of face-slapping with which the book is filled:

This is the kind of feminine fury captured in Goodis’ prose. I wonder if Goodis knew of Stanton’s 1950s and 1960s artwork, which came long after the 1947 publication of Behold This Woman. It’s possible.

 

This bizarre and entertaining novel—which is also very alarming and disturbing in its relentless portrayal of how narcissistic personalities manipulate and conquer more reasonable  types of people—came out in 1947, the same year as BORN TO KILL, a film noir starring Claire Trevor as another psychopathic female. Goodis was working out in Hollywood as a screenwriter at the time, and as I read the book it occurred to me that Claire Trevor would have been perfect casting as Clara Ervin. And Phillip Terry, who played her handsome, even-tempered fiance in BORN TO KILL, could have been excellent casting as Clara Ervin’s besotted and befuddled lover Leonard in a film version. But it was never made. Here is the poster for BORN TO KILL; Claire Trevor really looks like the embodiment of Goodis’ femme noir, although since Clara as described is a bit on the plumper side, Trevor would have had to pack on a few more pounds to be letter perfect physically.

BEHOLD THIS WOMAN is currently out of print, and that’s a crime in itself. This saga belongs in an affordable reprint edition or ebook so more people can see what it takes to stop a narcissist like Clara Ervin: a comeuppance so grotesque it borders on something out of Hieronymous Bosch! Which isn’t a spoiler because damn you know it’s coming and hell you know Clara deserves it!

Here are two other editions of BEHOLD THIS WOMAN. First, the 1949 Bantam paperback cover:

The man looks suitably awed and astonished but Clara looks too svelte and posed here.

 

And this is the original dust jacket of the 1947 hardcover. This perfectly captures Clara’s red hair and charismatic and overpowering personality, but she still a bit too trim! The book definitely describes her as curvy and plush in her contours and flesh.

Clara Ervin: master manipulator of men and women, and one of David Goodis’s most memorable creations.

 


If you’d like to read more about David Goodis and the strange backstory of how he came to write BEHOLD THIS WOMAN after an unhappy marriage to a woman who, apparently, intensely teased and dominated him, you can find the story in the legendary 1984 French biography Goodis: A Life in Black and White by Philippe Garnier, which is now available in a recent English translation here.

And visit a webpage here , which I just found, that gives excerpts of BEHOLD THIS WOMAN that give a good flavor of Clara Erwin’s dominating power.

And if you want to learn more about Eric Stanton, check out Richard Pérez Seves’ incredible new book Eric Stanton and the History of the Bizarre Underground here.

 

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Enjoy my blog? Savor my erotica!

If you enjoy my blog, try one of my ebooks! It is there that you can savor the full flavor of my kinky mind.

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Every day, people from all over the world visit this blog. In some of your countries, there are Amazon online stores. To show your support and enjoyment of my blog writing and picture editing, if you read English and enjoy female domination fiction, try an ebook! (Unfortunately, there are no translations yet.) Buy one ebook…you might end up buying and enjoying them all! You can sample them for free on Amazon before purchase.

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Hot, clever stories mostly in the femdom genre, with lots of sexy dialogue and detailed descriptions that will linger in your mind and you’ll return to time and again.

 

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I have ten erotica ebooks up, plus my latest, a 249-page noir suspense novel (not erotica) about a stripper and her older boyfriend. That’s eleven ebooks.

In the tradition of the 50s noir paperbacks and films!

In the tradition of the 50s noir paperbacks and films!

Each book costs $2.99 (or the equivalent in your country). That is less than the price of the average fast food hamburger. You can read the books on Kindles or phones or computers or laptops or other mobile devices.

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After you read the books–let me and your fellow readers know your opinion! Please leave a few lines of review on Amazon, or on Twitter. Start a conversation so I can reach more readers.

 

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This blog in itself is like a book, filled with thoughts and pictures and articles. Please leave me some comments here too! I don’t write to entertain myself (although I do find my own work entertaining), but primarily to reach other people.

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If you enjoy the work of femdom artists like Sardax, who has illustrated a number of my Leg Show stories–or Eric Stanton, or Namio Harukawa, or Gene Bilbrew–or femdom clips by many of the outstanding dominatrices found on Twitter, like AstroDomina whose work I reviewed in a recent blog post–you’ll enjoy my vivid fictional world of…

Ladies in charge and the men who are in awe of them!

For links to the many Amazon stories, click to this post and scroll down. Thanks, and enjoy!

 

 

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Femdom noir fiction bonus!

Here for your enjoyment is a brand new short story, never before published. You might describe it as “femdom noir,” as I blend a tough babe with a submissive guy and let the fireworks explode in a taut and tingling scene!

 

SLAP ME, LOVELY!

Her collection of vintage pulp art was unsettling, to say the least…

SUREFIRE Detective Oct1957

 

Femdom noir fiction

by Irv O. Neil 

She said she was an actress, and a freelance writer, and she dug the 1950s paperbacks and enjoyed dressing up like the femmes fatale on the covers. “Cool,” I said, “the books on my table should give you lots of ideas for things to wear.” She was already fixed up vintage-style in a Fifties dress, purse, and ankle strap shoes. You see people like this at the flea market sometimes, spiffy like they stepped out of a time machine.

She told me her name was Myrna. Not the name she was born with, but another vintage thing she liked to wear. I started to wish I was dressed retro too, in a double-breasted suit with a pocket square, snappy tie and fedora. I would have liked to talk to her while dressed that way. But it wasn’t practical to wear stuff like that to stand behind a table at the flea for eight hours on a Saturday.

She chose two books with real dangerous dames on the covers, holding guns on guys. Tight skirts and sweaters, deadly curves, seamed stockings, and cigarettes dangling. “Are you gonna dress up like one of these gals and back some lucky guy into a corner tonight?” I said, after she gave me the money. She didn’t haggle on the price.

She laughed. “Sure, tiger. I can put one of these outfits together easy tonight. And the guy could be you.”

“Me? Really? Why me?” First, I had quite a few years on her, and second, we didn’t know each other in the least.

“Why not you?” She smiled and fished a cigarette out of her purse, slipped it between her lips, and handed her lighter to me. I got excited at the ridiculousness of it, I mean, she could have lit her smoke herself. But I did it.

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” she said. I shook my head, but if I’d spoken, the words might have come out in a squeak.

She looked at all the books I had, quite a few. Not the biggest name authors, but that didn’t matter. The covers on the unknown guys can be just as good, and cheaper too. “Come over to my place tonight,” she said, “and bring these books.”

“All of ‘em?”

“I think you can manage that, tiger.” And she gave me a smile that would have melted an orange, handed me her card, and walked away on those ankle-strap heels.

*  *  *  *  *

It was crazy, I didn’t know anything about her. But I told myself that the fastest way to feel old–I mean, older than I already was–would be to look a gift dame in the mouth. So I left the flea market early, went home and took a shower, and then put my small but impressively colorful stack of 1950s paperback mysteries and thrillers into a satchel. Luckily I did have a vintage suit to wear, pure 50s with lapels like George Reeves used to wear on Superman, so if she wanted to roleplay “guys and dolls” I wouldn’t look out of place. I had no idea what the night would be, except that she was going to dress like one of the cover dames and look more closely at my books. I wondered if she’d wanted to buy all of ‘em back at the flea, but didn’t have the cash in her purse. Together they were worth maybe a hundred, hundred and a half at the most. Hey, I was ready to hand ‘em over real cheap to Myrna for an interesting evening. Haven’t had many of those lately, since I lost my magazine editing job and have been scrambling for bucks doing flea markets, trying to pay rent and health insurance by selling some of the stuff I’ve collected over the years. Too little money for social life these days, if you know what I mean.

*  *  *  *  *

Myrna lived on the second floor of a walkup near Tenth Avenue on 47th Street, a building out of one of the old noir movies. I rang the bell and went up the creaky carpeted steps, and she was waiting for me in the doorway of her place, as bright and painted as one of the paperback dames. She had on a snug red skirt with a tight gray sweater that scooped almost to her cleavage. And she had a black scarf tied in a bow around her throat. She’d changed her nylons, these looked sheer black with no seams, and I could see the little crimson jewels of her toenails in the peep toes of her black pumps. Her blonde hair was fluffy around her face, and she gave me that same powerful smile again.

“Hello, tiger.”

“Actually my name is Bill.”

“Hello, Bill. I see you dressed up for me for this time.”

“I thought maybe you’d wanna go someplace retro.”

“We’ll see, tiger. Meanwhile, we have all the retro we need right here. Come on in.”

The apartment was small, and it was decorated the way I’d expected and hoped. She had early Fifties furniture and curtains, and old copies of LIFE on a coffee table. There was a vintage television and radio too. But there was also something stranger and more surprising: she had framed covers of some of the sleaziest 1950s detective fiction digests hanging on the wall right behind her sofa.

OFF BEAT Detective Jan1960

These were some of the toughest collector’s items to find, with painted covers of violent women beating guys with guns or blackjacks or knives. There would always be lots of torn clothes on both the girl doing the beating and the guy getting beaten.

“My pride and joy, that display,” she said, coming up behind me as I put my satchel of paperbacks down on the coffee table. “Who said women weren’t strong back then?”

“Deadly dolls, all right,” I said, feeling a little weird with her standing right behind me as I looked at those sadistic pictures. These were really cruel covers, and I wasn’t sure what to make of Myrna for displaying them.

“These are the books, Bill?” she said, pointing at the satchel.

“Yeah.”

“I suppose you intend to charge me an arm and leg for ‘em?”

“Well—”

“You’re gonna give ‘em to me for nothin’, see?”

“Nothin’?”

“Nothin’.” And with that she cracked me across the mouth with her beautifully manicured right hand. I fell on the couch. There was blood trickling from my lip that I wiped off with the back of my hand. Then I reached for the satchel and held it close.

“You think I invited you here so I’d get fleeced?” said Myrna. She stood in front of me with her hands on her hips, her blue eyes bright even with the lamplight behind her fluffy blonde hair. “You’re gonna give me all the books, tiger, just because I asked for ‘em.”

“Well, Myrna—”

She came close, grabbed me by the front of my shirt and my Countess Mara tie, and cracked me one across the mouth again. Tears came to my eyes and I let out an almost but not quite silent sob.

“No squawkin’, mister!” And she took the handle of the satchel right out of my fingers and hefted the haul away. She walked over to her small dining table. As she did, I watched her hips sway in the tight skirt…and I wanted her so bad I couldn’t think straight. It didn’t matter that she was maybe thirty years younger than me. I knew now we were really the same age at heart. The insane are always the same age. Maybe we had a chance together…

I heard her unzip the bag and dig into the paperbacks. “Beautiful, Bill. I want ‘em all. And now they’re mine.” She turned around and pointed a red-polished fingertip at me. “And no squawkin’!”

I felt it was my duty to stand up to her. “Hey, see here, Myrna—”

She dropped the books back into the satchel and hurried on her heels over the carpet with perfect balance, just like the gals in the old movies. In her shoes, she was as tall as I was, but she might as well have been taller, because she felt taller as she grabbed me by the shirt again and backhanded me and forehanded me, backhanded me and forehanded me, until I fell down on the sofa, in such a daze I almost could feel no pain. Almost…

“That’s better, you’ll be quiet now,” she said. She reached down to her coffee table and took a cigarette out of a tray, and picked up the lighter and handed it to me. “Obedience is a quality I respect in a man, Bill.” I lit her cigarette and she blew smoke in my face.

“Tiger, I think we might have the beginnings of something here. I’ll give you some iodine for your lip, and then we’ll go get some steaks and do a little dancing.”

I sat on the couch, and even though my lip hurt like hell, I couldn’t help but smile. As I said, I’d been ready to give her the books cheap from the git-go, just to have an interesting evening. But to be forced to give them for free and get a beating in return was much more than I’d hoped for. I gazed up at those violent old magazine covers and smiled. I liked the way she dressed, and I liked the way she decorated. It looked like Myrna was real relationship material.

the end!

 

SUREFIRE Detective Feb1958

 

If you enjoyed this short story, check out my much more sexually explicit adults-only femdom erotica Kindle ebooks, too! Click here for links to Amazon Kindle stores around the world.

I found the magazine covers which inspired this story here.

————–

“Slap Me, Lovely!” © 2014 Irv O. Neil

 

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Porn scribe’s diary 12/2/12: Oh to be vamped by Marta Toren or Debbie Linden…!

Lately I’ve been very wrapped up in myself and feeling much like a “man alone.” One reason is my natural reclusiveness; I like to spend time by myself, reading books and magazines, watching films, browsing on the computer. The other reason is business; as a freelancer I am always looking out for more work opportunities, and it takes up a lot of my time and attention. When you add to this the fact that I basically already have a full-time freelance job writing copy for adult websites and columns for erotic magazines, it doesn’t leave much time for other people. I like to socialize; in fact, I would rather spend my time hanging out–I certainly did a lot of that in my twenties before I became a very busy porn magazine editor as well as freelance story and script writer on the side; but lately, even though I have less work now that I don’t edit magazines, I feel time is getting more and more precious. I guess this could be simply because I am much older now than when I was sitting in an office until midnight writing and assembling the pictures for my first smut mags, Game and Partner back in late 1981 to early 1983.

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As you can see from the coverlines, my current obsession with kinky behavior is nothing new. The late British beauty Debbie Linden is the covergirl on both issues–she was one of my favorite models back then. I got the cover images above from the great online magazine source Oldmags.com.

Anyway, back to the present. Once a week I get together with some fellow vintage movie buffs and we watch old films. Last week we watched a suspense film from 1952 that featured Claude Rains and the beautiful Marta Toren, entitled The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, released in the USA as Paris Express. It was based on a novel by Georges Simenon, one of my favorite writers of psychological suspense. Below is a vintage European poster I found at a cool film blog here.

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Marta Toren, who died in her early thirties, had a short but busy career. Swedish like her countrywoman and friend Ingrid Bergman, she worked with many of the top leading men of the 40s and 50s. Marta held her own with Humphrey Bogart in Sirocco, a kind of “anti-Casablanca,” and she was fetching and cunning as she manipulated Claude Rains in The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, in which she’s often photographed in a Technicolor manner that resembles the noir paperbacks of the era.

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I’m glad I get out for “movie night” once a week, but sometimes my impulse is just to stay in my cocoon.

I’ve been feeling reluctant to blog too, lately, so I’m going to try to do short posts to get back into the swing of it, just sharing quick thoughts and maybe a picture or two. Sometimes I think I make this into too much of a production. (That’s my problem in general; I make everything into too much of a production.) Another problem is I feel more and more that I shouldn’t be spending my time writing for free on this blog, when I want to find more freelance work. I feel this even though I started this blog to promote my erotica ebooks which you can find here. Such is the nature of being a self-employed writer–you’re always looking for more gigs. And yet, when I get into it, I really enjoy blogging; it’s a great form of expression that enables me to utilize my two strongest talents: writing and picture-editing. Once I get going, I could blog all day…

By the way, my ebooks are also available at Amazon UK, France, Italy, Germany, India, Spain, and Japan; just search for “Irv O. Neil” in your country’s online Kindle store and you’ll find my listing of books. And if you’ve read any of my titles, feel free to leave a comment on this blog or a review on Amazon. Your feedback is greatly encouraged and appreciated. I would love to know your thoughts, pro or con! As the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in 1847, “What a writer asks of his reader is not so much to like as to listen.”

 

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Femme fatale mannequin…

I like to read 1950s noir fiction, those paperback books about shady women leading men down the path to hell. I like caper novels and certain psychological mysteries, especially if there is a beautiful “dame” or “doll” or “dish” on the cover.

This is the cover of a book I recently read, which I found at a flea market. It wasn’t a great book, but it was a good page turner about a psychopathic killer who pretends he’s a retired British army officer and stalks various females. The title was odd and didn’t quite seem to fit, except maybe for the fact that the officer isn’t on any official military records, because his career is a fake and he’s an impostor.

The cover artist was the great Robert A. Maguire.

I probably wouldn’t have bought the book if it didn’t have this striking, cold beauty on the cover, which was painted by Robert A. Maguire, one of my favorite paperback artists, and whose work can be seen here. I urge you to check out the link!

Nowadays people sometimes say that the femme fatale archetype is one of those stereotypical characters our “post-feminist” society has outgrown, now that women are empowered and have more choices besides being a madonna or a whore, a housewife or a floozy. But I recently saw a mannequin in a women’s clothing store window that reminded me of the Maguire girl above, and made me realize that the paperback villainess of yesterday has now been transformed into the icy shill for ladies garments of today. Because let’s face it–most of the women you see in clothing ads or fashion layouts all have this same vaguely sociopathic hard-edged look. Many of them look like they could be fierce dominatrixes if you got them in the right situation.

She looks as hard and deadly as any girl Robert A. Maguire ever painted.

Cold women for a cold world?

———-

You can find copies of Murder Off the Record at Amazon here, where I found the cover scan. I could have scanned my copy, but I was just feeling too lazy…

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Erotica

 

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