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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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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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Check out Vintage Mania in New York City 8/31/13!

This Saturday in New York City, very close to the southern end of Central Park, it’s Vintage Mania, a fantastic memorabilia show offering all the delights listed on this flyer:

Admission is FREE on 8/31/13 for the first show at the new location!

Admission is FREE on 8/31/13 for the first show at the new location!

Here are some of the things you’ll find there:

Vintage VHS and DVDs!

There will be THOUSANDS of classic movies, obscure and well-known!

There will be THOUSANDS of classic movies, obscure and well-known!

Girlie mags and movie memorabilia!

These mags are like little time machines!!

These mags are like little time machines!!

Wild sleaze paperbacks from the 1950s!

That's a Gene Bilbrew cover on the left, Paul Rader cover in the middle!

That’s a Gene Bilbrew cover on the left, Paul Rader cover in the middle!

Maybe you like Sherlock Holmes…or 1950s pinup digests?

You never know what you'll find at this great monthly memorabilia show!

You never know what you’ll find at this great monthly memorabilia show!

Or maybe you’d like to pick up those convenient Taschen Icon editions of John Willie’s Bizarre or the works of Eric Stanton?

No sophisticated library should be without these volumes! ;)

No sophisticated library should be without these volumes! 😉

And you can catch up on the amazing story about Zena, the girl with the world’s most gigantic breasts, in a perfectly preserved sex tabloid from 1991!

You'll want to browse for hours in this paradise of vintage collectibles!

You’ll want to browse for hours in this paradise of vintage collectibles!

So look for me and a great assortment of dealers this Saturday, August 31, 2013, at VINTAGE MANIA, at the Holiday Inn at 440 West 57th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues! 10 a.m to 5:00 p.m. FREE ADMISSION! See you there!

Love old paperbacks with all those shady ladies!! (This one sold, but I've got more!!)

Love old paperbacks with all those shady ladies! How about you?

POSTSCRIPT: Well, it’s 6:30 p.m. on 8/31/13 as I write this postscript, and the Vintage Mania show is over now. If you missed this fun show, don’t worry–you can check out the next one at the same location on September 28th, only four weeks away; the flyer above lists the upcoming dates of all future 2013 shows!

 

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Closely guarded virginities…

What a summer. Between the broiling NYC heat wave of a few weeks ago and various personal things I’ve been dealing with, I’ve been too distracted to write here for several weeks. But the prodigal porn scribe has returned!

At least I’m able to escape from my stresses by reading vintage paperbacks, one of my true pleasures. The last few weeks were fascinating as I “time-traveled” via a novel back to 1945 Boston’s famous honky-tonk district Scollay Square, where hot dames cavorted with sailors during and after World War 2. Here is the district below, as seen in a photo I found here.

Bars, burlesque houses, hot sheet hotels...

Bars, burlesque houses, hot sheet hotels…

I was reading the late Pearl Schiff’s 1952 New York Times bestseller Scollay Square, in this beautiful 1953 Signet paperback with a wonderful cover by Stanley Zuckerberg…

This cover beautifully captures the feeling of the book.

This cover beautifully captures the feeling of the book.

This well-written and entertaining novel tells about an upper-crust Bostonian girl who tries to very independently make her way as a fashion illustrator, leaving her stuffy family life to get an apartment near the disreputable Scollay Square. She gets involved with a sailor and the first half of the book is about how she resists going to bed with him. When she finally does, she essentially becomes enslaved to her need for him and can think only of satisfying her hunger, tossing her career away.

The other main character is an Italian-American girl who, coming from a poverty-stricken background, hangs out in the Square, teases guys and let them buy her drinks, until she finally meets a Midwestern sailor to whom she wants to give herself in love and marriage–but who seems out of reach because of the difference of their religions and backgrounds.

I’d heard about Scollay Square from an older friend of mine who grew up near Boston, and I knew about it also because one of the most famous burlesque houses in America, the Old Howard, was located there. There’s a brief scene in the book where two of characters see a show at the theater. Here is a picture of the stage of the Old Howard that I found at this site.

This is the show the two characters on the book's cover go to see.

This is the show the two characters on the book’s cover go to see.

Unfortunately the trip to the burlesque show comes at a time of emotional stress, and the characters don’t really enjoy the performance. What stands out in the scene is how the musicians in the pit read pulp magazines while the comedians are doing their sketches and schtick between the strip acts that obviously require music.

The uptight mid-20th century attitudes toward virginity and female sexuality pervade the novel and provide quite a contrast to today’s more relaxed erotic philosophies. But author Schiff is very modern and prescient in how she depicts, with compassion and without judgment, her characters’ struggles to deal with their physical desires and society’s expectations of what to do about them. I recommend this book, especially if you want to see and feel how differently women thought about sex and virginity in the 1940s.

As a porn writer who has been looking at models exposing their vaginas professionally for the last 40 years, I find it fascinating and even stimulating to look into the thought processes of long-ago ladies who kept their labia behind closely guarded curtains.

Pearl Schiff’s Scollay Square is definitely worth reading for its depiction of the era and a famously raunchy section of Boston that was demolished to make way for government buildings a half century ago.

Here’s one last shot of the Old Howard that I found here!

Let's hurry into the theater and catch the show! ;)

Let’s hurry into the theater and catch the show! 😉

————

Stanley Zuckerberg was one of the best artists to work in the paperback field. I found the scan of the Scollay Square cover at this awesome Flickr page. Check out his other amazing paintings!

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Erotica

 

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Temptresses! Models! Online radio chat with femdom erotica writers!!

Sorry I haven’t posted in three weeks! March is always a very busy month, what with preparing my income taxes as a freelance writer and other work-related stuff. When I manage to get away from the computer and the thousands of words of weekly copy I do for the adult websites at the DDF Network, writing about mouthwateringly beautiful girls like Katarina from the Czech Republic, who’s one of my all-time favorite models…check her out here on DDFBusty.com…

…I try to relax a little, reading about temptresses and femmes fatale in some of the vintage paperbacks I find at flea markets, or looking at the glorious models of yesteryear in classic girlie mags from the 1950s and 1960s.

This cover accurately captures its femme fatale character & enslaved hero!

This cover accurately captures its femme fatale character & enslaved hero!

Covergirl Shirley Quimby was popular in the early 60s...which is easy to understand!

Covergirl Shirley Quimby was popular in the early 60s…which is easy to understand!

But I’m starting off April with a bang. Another story will be posted at BestLegShow.com, so check out the site with all the fantastic photos and videos done by leg photographer extraordinaire Jana Krenova here, and look for my fiction in the Stories section.

And on Tuesday April 2nd at 10 p.m. Eastern Time I’ll be a guest on the In Bed With Dr Sue online show, interviewed along with writer Edward Cantor about our various approaches to femdom erotica.

Dr Sue is an insightful interviewer and the fans call in with some provocative questions!

Dr Sue is an insightful interviewer and the fans call in with some provocative questions!

Be sure to visit the chatroom or call in with your thoughts about sex writing and our stories in particular. Just click here for more info! Look forward to hearing from you on the show!

 

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A little cleavage goes a long way…

I went to a memorabilia show last weekend, and one of the dealers had a copy of this 1962 Popular Library paperback movie tie-in edition of The Phantom of the Opera. That cover offers a nice pulp fiction come-on, even if it is a photograph instead of a painting.

I came upon this at age 11, as my interests were shifting from monster movies to monster mammaries.

It was too expensive to buy and scan for myself (the dealer wanted $18, and even if I negotiated down to probably $12, it would have been too much), but I found an image of it at the site of the horror film magazine Rue Morgue here.

I had a copy of this edition back in 1962 when I was eleven. It was inadvertently lost when my mother sold the family house many years later. I never finished reading the book, but this cover was of endless fascination to me in my early teens. The bold way the otherwise demure Heather Sears looks at the camera–the bold way her decolletage exposes two inches of cleavage and the top of the spherical terrain of her momentous tatas–kept me coming back to admire in hallowed secrecy this treasured volume.

It was just two inches, but a little cleavage went a long way in those days. Come to think of it–it still does. I have a bit of a fetish for cleavage, and I actually find it more sexy than bare breasts (not that I don’t like bare breasts a whole lot too).

I didn’t see the movie until years later. It was a minor version of the story, but both Heather and Herbert Lom were good in their roles. As was Decolletage in the role of Decolletage! 😉

Hmm, this is all making me rather silly…I better stop while I’m still ahead.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Erotica, Pulp fiction art

 

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