Vintage Reads #28: Trashy Books O' Plenty

What is it that's so interesting about these old paperbacks that has created such a fan base fifty to sixty years later? I mean, there's hundreds of blogs devoted to them, and that number seems to grow every week.  I've noticed more and more coffee table books on the subject being published as well.... not to mention the value of these novels keeps creeping up.

I think it's a combination of nostalgia and art appreciation.  These books allow you to step back in time better than any other device, including movies.  They're meant for the masses, so they don't strain to be "literary" - thereby making the picture of the past even more vivid.  And even the poorly painted cover art has it's own charm.

Plus, these trashy books try to cross lines of good taste with ribald titles like "The Homicidal Virgin"; but end up being unintentionally funny to the jaded and desensitized readers of the 21st century.

So, with those thoughts in mind, let's have a look at some more of those wonderful trashy paperbacks of yesteryear...

Okay, the "sexpot" they're referring to on the cover is a girl named Vangie.  Yeah, that's right - it's like "Vagina + Angie = Vangie". Not to be confused with her lovely sisters Labia and Clitorina.

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This one peaked my interest because it's by the same perv that authored Mandingo. Remember that movie? Susan George gets pounded by a slave and Perry King (the dude from Riptide) gives us the full monty (shudder).

Anyway, I have to admit that I had to look up the word "rood".  It means "cross or crucifix".  I've no beef with the word "rood" being used in the title.... it's just that it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue: "tattooed rood".  Say that five times fast.  (Possible title for a sequel: The Lunatic's Crucifix)

When I see this book, I don't think of Jim Carry's awful movie, but rather one of my favorite comedians Murray Langston (aka The Unknown Comic).  I mean it doesn't look like a mask, it looks like a bag over his head.

Strangely enough, both Carrey and Langston actually worked together back in the early eighties on the phenomenal "Sex and Violence Family Hour" for Playboy TV.  Weird.

Shit.  First there's "rood", now I've got to look up "boodle"? Apparently, it doesn't mean the same as "booty", but rather it means "bribery".  I think "The Big Bribe" might have made a better title, don't you? Just sayin'.

OK. Which one's the virgin and which one's the barfly? The chick looks about as virginal as a Saigon whore, but the text at the bottom indicates she's just trying to pay some bills. Best of all is the zebra striped bar (although poorly shaded). I'm sure it's a great read considering it's by Gerald Foster, the famed literary giant behind Vera is a Tramp.

Here's my "fog of doubt": I doubt he's going to be able to kill anything, save maybe a kitten, with that tiny mallet.  You make old fashioned toys with that kind of tool; you don't kill people with it.

But then, I may be reading this all wrong.  Maybe, he's actually just coming over to hang some pictures.

Even their dreams were dirty?!? You mean these teenage hooligans don't dream sweet wholesome dreams like the rest of us? I always suspected as much...

And who is this Norman Anthony whose got such strong opinions about this book? I Googled him and came up empty. Hmmm.

First problem: This girl is not in a shroud. She's in her bra and panties.
Second problem: This is a Carter Brown My___ Series... her gigantic beehive is obstructing the title!
Okay, I know it says "mystery".... but still.

Cool and Lam were a popular detective duo back in the day.  They even made a TV pilot (that never aired) based on the series.  Every book was basically the same: Lam falls for a femme fatal whilst contending with his hard core boss and those pesky cops.  A tired theme nowadays, but maybe not so bad back in 1944.


  1. You are missing "Kiss the Boys and Make Them Die" (a personal favorite)and "The Sex Lounge." Gotta love those old paperbacks, which can usually be found on eBay for cheap.

  2. This is my favorite blog of old paperbacks - http://salmongutter.blogspot.com/2011/07/paperback-436-midsummer-passion-erskine.html

  3. Actually this is a better link - http://salmongutter.blogspot.com/

  4. AnonymousJuly 12, 2011

    Well, some of them are actually really great reads as well. Most film noir were based on pulp novel stories. Believe me there are a ton of hidden jems out there and small book publishers are starting to re-print the odd ones here and there. It's also a collection that you can build relatively cheaply. The prices on ebay may be starting to creep up but hit your local flea markets and thrift stores. There's one near me with piles of them, constantly renewed and they're 3 for a buck.

  5. The artist of the Gutter Gang cover shamelessly swiped the iconic James Dean photo, and danged if that ain't Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall leering from the alleyway! On the last book, A.A. Fair was a pen name for Erle Stanley Gardner when moonlighting from Perry Mason. Great post and great pix!