The Sporadic Beaver
March 7, 2018
Back in the 1990s I regularly used to read Headpress, the self-described "Journal of Sex, Religion and Death," which was published in my home city, Manchester.
Headpress [journal and Headpress books] moved online and to London well over a decade ago, and I lost track of them and the man who was the engine behind Headpress, David Kerekes.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to check out whether they are still around. They are, and they’re still publishing material that fits best under the heading of Sex, Religion and Death, and one of their books, Robert Rosen’s Beaver Street, caught my particular interest.
I don’t want to spoil the book by giving Rosen’s story away so I’ll just say that after being cheated by a well-known person as an aspiring writer in early 80s New York, just to keep some money coming in, Rosen applied for a job with a publisher through a classified ad and ended up working for and eventually editing porn magazines for the publisher of some well-known skin mags.
The book is promoted on its cover as “a history of modern pornography,” which it isn’t. But what it is is a fascinating tour around the personalities of the U.S. porn scene in the 80s and 90s; an insight into the practices of the publishers and video makers and the contempt in which very many of them held their customers; the influence of porn publishing on mainstream publishing including forgotten connections between porn and the origins of Marvel Comics; and the story of the decline of the porn magazines in the face of the rise of the Web.
Given that every member of VEF is here because they have an interest in some aspect of porn or—amongst the VEF VIPs—have worked in porn, there’s something in Beaver Street to interest every one of us.
Beaver Street isn’t a deep or deeply analytical book but it is an easy, informative and entertaining read from a porn insider.
Very much recommended.
I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.
July 18, 2015
In any case, adhering to my philosophy of treating like Oprah everybody who wants to talk about my books, I spoke at length to Ozy, and when they ran the story, "How Nixon Shaped Porn in America," about the connection between Watergate and Nixon's efforts to ban the film Deep Throat, I was amazed by the results.
Not only was Beaver Street prominently featured, but the story was shared a respectable 1,760 times (and counting) on Facebook; was published in the popular German tabloid Bild as “Mister President wollte eigentlich das Gegenteil ... Wie Nixon dem Porno zum Durchbruch verhalf” (roughly translated as “Mr. President wanted the opposite of it... how Nixon helped porn to its breakthrough”); and was cited in the Washington Post and Baltimore City Paper.
That Beaver Street has remained in the news for more than four years in an environment where just about everything is forgotten within 24 hours is nothing short of miraculous. But apparently, that’s how long it’s taken the media to catch on to one of the book’s central themes: The biggest crooks—notably Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, and Charles Keating—cry “Ban pornography!” the loudest.
And speaking of books that people keep talking about long after publication, on Tuesday, July 21, at 10 P.M eastern time, and Saturday July 25, at 2:30 P.M. eastern time, the Reelz channel will broadcast the John Lennon episode of Hollywood Scandals, in which I discuss my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. Click here to find the show on your cable or satellite system.
August 20, 2014
July 30, 2014
If you haven't read Beaver Street yet, our conversation serves as a fine introduction to both the book and to my entire career, in and out of porn. It's also a very nice birthday present. I'll say no more and simply ask you to click here and enjoy.
June 17, 2014
I was in good form the day I spoke to StorErotica, and the interview is one of my better efforts. I hit all the right notes, I think, especially if you happen to own a store that sells adult novelties. The article also features some photos of me and a couple of porn stars, including Traci Topps, and a great half-page shot taken by Marcia Resnick. So, if you haven’t already seen this interview—and if you’re not in the sex-shop business you probably haven’t—I invite you to check it out. StorErotica and I were on the same wavelength, and they were indeed able to fully appreciate the myriad charms of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.
June 16, 2014
At the time, Amazon had refused to make the print edition of Beaver Street available, and it was only after they got wind of the fact that the book-launch party was turning into a public demonstration against Amazon censorship that they managed to fix the “computer glitches” and “bureaucratic snafus” that had already cost me all pre-orders and three months of sales. “We would never censor a book,” an Amazon spokesman told me. (I’m pleased to report that sales have since recovered, and Beaver Street now routinely ranks among Amazon’s best-selling books on pornography.)
Bloomsday on Beaver Street was such a success that I decided to do it again last year, when June 16 fell on Father’s Day, and that, too, went rather well. It looked as if my literary celebration, featuring readings, music, porn stars, and theatrical performances, was going to become a New York City tradition.
This year, unfortunately, life (and a new job in magazines after a 14-year hiatus from the workforce) interfered with mounting Bloomsday on Beaver Street III. As much as I would have liked to, I just didn’t have the time to put together what’s become the equivalent of an Off-Off Broadway revue. This evening, however, I will raise a glass of something alcoholic (perhaps Guinness) and join in spirit all those who would have liked to gather in the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street and celebrate great books that were once denounced as obscene.
June 12, 2014
That I've used pseudonyms for many of the "characters" who populate Beaver Street was an unavoidable concession to the fact that I was writing about real people, and it would have had a negative impact upon their lives to be portrayed as pornographers or former pornographers. One of those characters is "Pam Katz," and soon after Beaver Street was published, due to a variety of factors, it no longer was necessary to disguise her identity. She is Joyce Snyder, best known as the writer and producer of Raw Talent, parts I-III, classic XXX films from the 1980s that have recently been rediscovered by such sites as The Rialto Report and The Projection Booth.
What Joyce has to say about making these films while she was working for Swank Publications should be of special interest to anybody who’s read Beaver Street. “Pam Katz” comes to life, veritably stepping out of the book. Her segment of The Projection Booth’s Raw Talent interview, on the above player, begins at the 51-minute mark.
The other people interviewed are the film’s director Larry Revene and its star, Jerry Butler.
May 17, 2014
Important update: The above player no longer works. You can listen to the interview here.
No need to even leave this website to listen to my interview with Alia Janine, which was originally posted on OnMilwaukee.com. Just click on the player. Next thing you know, you'll be hearing Alia sing the theme from Rawhide. Apparently , if you live in Milwaukee, this song has nothing to do with cowboys and everything to do with Rosen.
May 6, 2014
Alia, whose X-rated talents cannot be overstated, has developed (so to speak) into a first-rate interviewer. It’s her ability to put her subject at ease, and make an in-depth interrogation seem like a friendly chat that sets Alia apart in this competitive journalistic arena. Some of the people she’s previously interviewed include porn star Belle Knox, actor Joe Reitman, and comedian Gareth Reynolds. They’re all archived on OnMilwaukee.com.
Alia and I cover a lot of ground in a half hour, but mostly we talk about Beaver Street, deconstructing everything from the invention of free phone-sex at High Society magazine (which marked the dawn of the Age of Modern Pornography), to the Traci Lords scandal, to Edwin Meese, the rabidly anti-porn attorney general who was driven from office under a cloud of corruption.
And please stay tuned to The Sporadic Beaver for more big news.
January 8, 2014
In November, I wrote about a college textbook, published by Palgrave Macmillan, titled The Ethics and Politics of Pornography, by David Edward Rose. The book had come to my attention because it references Beaver Street in a chapter called "'I Can’t Do It by Myself!': Social Ethics and Pornography." But I didn't know exactly what the book said; I only knew that I was listed in the index atop French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
I’ve since received a copy of the book, which I plan to write about at length in a future posting, along with another textbook, also published by Palgrave Macmillan, titled Pornographic Art and the Aesthetics of Pornography, edited by Hans Maes. But for now I’d like to share with you what The Ethics and Politics of Pornography says about Beaver Street.
The reference is on page 214, in a section about capitalism called “The real enemy,” and it comes from my chapter about working at High Society magazine in the early 1980s.
“The aim of capitalism is not to make good art,” Rose writes. “Nor good products. It is not interested in the product per se, but only in the product as a means to satisfy other desires, as capital in motion. As one insider in the industry astutely observed, ‘The product, as well as my job, was anything but transgressive; it was corporate moneymaking at its most cynical, conservative, and tightly controlled. It wasn’t even about sex; it was about using sex to separate people from their money.’”
And that is indeed a spot-on description of what it was like to work in Carl Ruderman’s smut factory, a place where the most exploitative face of modern capitalism was on display daily.
July 24, 2013
This morning, an article on CNBC about the U.K.'s Internet pornography ban, "No Porn Please, We're British," by Chris Morris, mentions Beaver Street. Morris asked me what I thought would happen now that anybody in England who wants to look at X-rated material on his computer will be asked by their ISP to verify his age and confirm that he wants to watch smut.
“Obviously people are not going to want to do that,” I said. “People just don’t want to come out in public and say ‘I want to look at porn.’ A lot of people who do look at porn are inhibited, shy people.”
And in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that online porn is “corroding childhood,” I added, “If kids want to look at pornography, they usually figure out how to do it.”
That’s the first time I’ve ever given a PM a piece of my mind.
Then, last night, at the 2A bar in the East Village—along with Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace; adult actress Brittany Andrews; Bobby Black, senior editor of High Times, and actor Jeffrey Emerson—I celebrated Hunter Thompson’s birthday (he was born July 18, under the sign of Cancer) by reading from “Mein Kar,” a Thompson parody about a Mercedes-Benz road test that I wrote for D-Cup magazine, and the opening pages of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which inspired the parody.
A huge thanks to everybody who came out to see us, and especially to Eric and Lainie Speiser, who put the event together!
July 15, 2013
Now retired and living in L.A., Mozzer tends to an extensive archive of material related to the porn industry. He also knows many of the characters from Beaver Street, and he recently posted a review of the book on Amazon. I think the review serves as a perfect example of the kind of dialogue that I'd hoped Beaver Street would spark, and which I'd encourage people to continue.
This is what Mozzer had to say:
A Fascinating Read
My original reason for reading Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography is that my world overlapped with author Robert Rosen’s world during the 1980s. I worked as an adult film actor (under the name Alan Adrian or Spike), a representative for magazine distributing and printing companies that profited by serving the porn industry, and a freelance writer and photographer for some of Rosen’s colleagues.
It’s a shame that names have to be changed in non-fiction books like Beaver Street. I was hoping to recognize the colleagues whose names were changed by Rosen. But that didn’t happen. I suspect this means it will be all the more difficult for future writers on this topic to figure out who’s who.
To my surprise, in Chapter 4, Rosen describes Carl Ruderman, the person with the money behind High Society, as very involved with its day-to-day operation. Furthermore, his anecdotes about working for High Society came across as very credible. I found myself feeling, “I’m sure these things really happened.” Nevertheless, I think caution is in order, because Rosen’s stint at High Society is a small fraction of the magazine’s life, and the situation may have changed over time. After finishing Chapter 4, I decided the extent to which Ruderman involved himself with the day-to-day operation of High Society, over the long run, remains an open question.
Years ago, I heard about the murder of editor Bill Bottiggi. But I never knew about the circumstances leading up to the murder, as Rosen describes it. I find Rosen’s account very disconcerting. After all these years, I have to reconsider placing Bottiggi in the “all good” and “nice guy” category in my head. Initially, I believed Rosen’s account. Later, I found myself not wanting to believe it, and longing for accounts by other people who knew Bottiggi.
Rosen presents strong arguments against society for allowing Traci Lords to get away with hoodwinking the porn industry. In fact, his arguments made me very, very pissed off at her.
Beaver Street was truly a book that I couldn’t put down. I learned tons of stuff that I didn’t know. You don’t need to have been involved with the porn industry, like myself, in order to enjoy the book. You don’t even have to be involved with researching the subject. Beaver Street is a fascinating book to read.
July 8, 2013
May 14, 2013
Your book was amazing! I downloaded it to my Kindle and could NOT put it down last night. You perfectly capture the atmosphere of the office, that slight paranoia, tinged with smarminess, with the forced insistence that everything around here is perfectly normal. I too worked in the industry, though far more recently, but it seems nothing has changed.
Your assessment of Carl Ruderman is priceless. I, too, have sat in front of that exquisite Victorian desk, surrounded by his priceless artifacts that invariably feature naked women or abstract genitalia, patiently waiting my turn for him to say, “...And Ms. XXXX, what good news do you have for me today?” From your description of him, I could hear his voice leap from the page. I could see him as I saw him in his office at 801 Second Avenue, a bit more shriveled version than the one you saw, but in that same beautifully cut, tasteful gray pinstripe suit, pocket square, and genteel sneer.
Also, in the short time I was there, I know the company was sued multiple times. Weirdly, it was never mentioned at the meetings. It was simply like it didn’t matter. Also, by the time I got there, the porn down on the lower floor was never mentioned. Ever. People on the 19th floor did NOT speak to any of the people down there. I only knew about them because I had skills he needed for both floors.
I loved the part about “the founder.” After he lost the lease on the 19th floor and we were moved to the far less glamorous 11th floor, that bust was placed directly outside my door, so it would stare at me day in, day out. It was rumored that there was a camera in it, but that was probably just conjecture.
He was elderly by the time I worked for him, yet he was insistent on never dying. He kept a personal chef with him at the office, a woman he paid far less than she was worth, peanuts really. She would prepare his daily vitamins and medications, dozens in all, and his breakfast and lunch in the office’s formal dining room. All upper management was expected to attend, but as a woman and a low-level techie I was fortunately denied that privilege.
I liked your Maria. It explains his current secretary while I was there. She was a mid-fiftyish battleaxe of a hag who would agree with him if he said the sky was green, and spent much of her time repeating back anything he said in different words as if she had just thought of that. She, and the other woman before her, trained themselves to expect and indulge his every whim. The woman before at least seemed to see the humor in the situation, as Maria seemed to. I would have been stoned all the time, too.
There was a whole host of crazy characters there who, like me, had no other options at the time, and those of us who got out sometimes get together and talk about it, because no one else would ever believe us. They are a crazy bunch, but those who survived, many are people I really like, cause as you and Maria were, we were witness to a legend being written. Like you, I walked out of that office with no job but that “incredible lightness of being.”
All in all, you reminded me that despite everything, Carl Ruderman has charisma. A sly, slithering sort of charisma, but charisma just the same. I can’t even say I dislike him. He is the sort of man who will do anything for money, and it seems that he did.
In the end, those of us that got tangled up in it have one hell of a story to tell at cocktail parties.
April 26, 2013
Named for the now-closed Rialto Theatre on 42nd Street, the site has posted a series of podcast interviews with porn people from New York's past. Last night I listened to the interview with Carter Stevens, an actor, director, and producer, probably best known for a film called Lickity-Split. Though I didn't write about him in Beaver Street, he's one of those pornographers whose name you heard time and again if you worked in X; he was everywhere in the 70s and 80s.
The interview is over an hour, and Stevens, with his tough-guy voice, goes into great detail about New York in the days of Plato’s Retreat, Bernard’s, Jamie Gillis, Bobby Astor, Sharon Mitchell, and his ex-wife, Baby Doe.
As I write this, I’m listening to the provocative interview with Annie Sprinkle—she talks about rape and feminism. Sprinkle was a unique (to say the least) New York character whom I worked with when I was managing editor of Stag in the 1980s, and whom I did write about in Beaver Street. (I discuss Annie and some of her freaky predilections in this video clip from my interview with Kendra Holliday.)
Also interviewed on The Rialto Report are porn stars Jennifer Welles, George Payne, and Jeffrey Hurst, filmmaker John Amero, and photographer Barbara Nitke.
This is a rapidly expanding site, and a great resource well worth checking out.
March 28, 2013
And quite a year it's been! The good news about Beaver Street, one year down the road, is that it's sold out on Amazon. Again. The bad news about Beaver Street, one year down the road, is that it's sold out on Amazon. Again.
I’m not about to complain about a book selling out repeatedly. I will only say that when the book does sell out, as it’s been doing the past two months, I’d be happier if Amazon got it back in stock more quickly or kept more copies in stock so it didn’t sell out as often.
And I will express gratitude for the fact that one year after its U.S. publication (and two years after its U.K. publication) critics continue to write about Beaver Street and people continue to buy it.
And finally, I will extend an open invitation to all readers to come to the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street on June 16 for the Second Annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street celebration. The Very Reverend Byron Nilsson will be presiding, and he thinks I know how to “make words dance.” He said so in his review. I will be doing my best to make those words dance in public.
March 6, 2013
The spread brings to life much of what I write about in Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography--like High Society magazine. Ironically, if you toiled for that esteemed publication in the 1980s, NSFW had an entirely different meaning: Employees were forbidden to read The New York Times, or any other newspaper, without special permission. Instead, the publisher demanded that everybody spend as much time as possible reading (and stealing ideas from) competing porno mags, especially Hustler, which he considered the "bible" of beaver books.
In the likely event that you don’t work in an alternate X-rated universe, then NSFW is indeed the correct designation for the Weekly’s Beaver Street spread. So, read it when you get home, and take a trip down the memory lane of 20th century men’s mags. It’s a world that’s fast disappearing.
January 28, 2013
It's called "The Next Big Thing" and here's how it works: I post and promote a blog entry that answers ten questions about a work in progress. I then "tag" five authors who answer the questions in their own post and tag me along with five other authors. And so on.
Here are the questions and my answers.
1) What is the working title of your book?
I’m calling Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography a work in progress because foreign rights and film rights remain untapped, and I’m putting as much effort into promoting Beaver Street as I am into writing my next book, Bobby in Naziland.
2) Where did the idea for the book come from?
From working as an editor of “men’s sophisticate” magazines (as they’re euphemistically called) for 16 years and realizing from my first day on the job at High Society, in 1983, that I was witnessing something extraordinary: the dawn of the age of digital, or modern, pornography.
3) What genre does it fall under?
I call Beaver Street an investigative memoir, meaning it’s a combination of investigative reporting and autobiography.
4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
An incomplete cast in order of appearance:
Bobby Paradise: Garrett Hedlund
Joe Angleini: James Franco
Maria Bellanari: Michelle Pfeiffer
Ellen Badner: Janeane Garofalo
Carl Ruderman: Gary Oldman
Irwin Fast: William Shatner
Chip Goodman: Wallace Shawn
Susan Netter: Jane Lynch
Ralph Rubinstein: Shia LaBeouf
Izzy Singer: Paul Giametti
Henry Dorfman: Paul Slimak
Arnold Shapiro: Steve Carell
Pamela Katz: Scarlett Johansson
Sonja Wagner: Sigourney Weaver
Annie Sprinkle: Kat Dennings
Georgina Kelly: Courtney Love
Georgette Kelly: Ashley Hinshaw
Bill Bottiggi: Jackie Earle Haley
Al Goldstein: Byron Nilsson
Ron Jeremy: Himself
Buck Henry: Himself
Roberta Goodman: Agnes Herrmann
5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
An investigative memoir about pornography in the age of the computer, from the birth of phone sex to the skin mag in cyberspace.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
After two agents failed to sell Beaver Street, I sold it myself to Headpress, a London-based indie.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
About three years.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller. Beaver Street has been called “a Tropic of Capricorn for the digital age.”
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My experiences working in the pornography industry.
10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The political angle: the fact that historically, the biggest crooks have always cried, “Ban pornography!” the loudest, and that the four greatest anti-porn warriors of the 20th century—Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, and Charles Keating—are either convicted felons or where forced to resign their offices in disgrace or face criminal prosecution.
And here are the five authors I’m tagging: Irv O. Neil, Eric Danville, David Comfort, Joe Diamond, and Antony Hitchin.
January 7, 2013
What went on was that a lot of well-dressed and decidedly non-sleazy men and women came into the store and bought some very expensive fashion accessories, most of them made of luxuriously soft black leather--S&M hoods, corsets, bras, etc. The Pleasure Chest, I thought, was more akin to a clothing store than a sex shop.
When I walked by The Pleasure Chest a few weeks ago, the stark and simple window display stopped me dead in my tracks. It consisted of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and a riding crop.
For those of you who’ve somehow missed the news, Fifty Shades of Grey is an overtly pornographic S&M epic and one of the best-selling books of all time. As I recently learned, an entire industry has grown up around it. Walk into any sex shop in the world and you can not only buy the complete trilogy, but you can buy any product mentioned in the books—ben wa balls, handcuffs, whips, you name it. The trilogy has made porn so respectable, it’s now being advertised on the sides of New York City bus shelters.
Because Fifty Shades of Grey is, essentially, a Harlequin Romance with explicit sex, it’s been dubbed “Mommy Porn.” And though it is an undeniable commercial mega-success, I’m unaware of any men who have read the book—probably because the average male is interested in reading something grittier and more sophisticated.
Perhaps, then, it’s time to offer an alternative to Mommy Porn. Let’s call it “Daddy Porn.” In fact, let’s call it Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, a book that’s dedicated to my father and that opens in his Brooklyn candy store, in 1961, with a bunch of the “neighborhood regulars” hanging out and deconstructing the latest volume to appear in his “special rack,” a display of sophisticated pornographic literature that featured such classics as Tropic of Cancer and Last Exit to Brooklyn.
Or Daddy Porn, if you will.
I have a dream. Next Christmas, when I walk by The Pleasure Chest, I want to see Beaver Street in the window, alongside some of the products I mention in the book, like a “plug-in vibrator the size of a small baseball bat” or maybe a cat o’ nine tails, to name but two.
And I believe I’ve taken the first step to achieving this “dream.” The December issue of StorErotica, a glossy trade mag that goes out to every sex shop in the US and Canada (and will soon be available online), features an extensive interview with me, in which I discuss Beaver Street and the sex-novelty business in general.
Let’s call it the first shot of the Beaver Street Winter Assault. In fact, let’s call it a direct hit.
December 19, 2012
This is my complete Bloomsday on Beaver Street reading of the so-called "dirty part" from the chapter titled "The Accidental Porn Star," pages 110-114. If you think it's easy to read this kind of stuff in front of your family, neighbors, and classmates from high school and junior high school, I suggest you try it sometime. I've posted a couple of more videos from the memorable night of June 16, 2012 here. You can find even more videos on Youtube.
December 3, 2012
It has been almost six months since the Bloomsday on Beaver Street launch party at the Killarney Rose for my investigative memoir, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. This celebration of banned books, James Joyce, Ulysses, and all literature that has been branded pornographic, featured readings, rock 'n' roll, opera, and a surreal non-performance by a man who once ran for mayor of New York City.
Though I've posted a few truncated video clips of some of the performances, it's only recently that I've come into possession of the official Bloomsday on Beaver Street video--a complete documentation of every moment of the event. Here's the first excerpt: MC Byron Nilsson's masterful introductory monologue.
Stay tuned to relive the entire night, clip by clip.
October 16, 2012
It is, of course, a very different media environment now than it was in 1999 and 2000, when I began promoting Nowhere Man. There was no social media then and I didn’t know what a blog was. And everything was less fragmented; if somebody wrote an article about Nowhere Man or reviewed it, a lot more people would see it, and it would invariably lead to more coverage. That rarely happens anymore. With Beaver Street, even a major article in a high-profile magazine will lead to a couple of sales, a burst of online activity for a day, and then it’s forgotten, washed away by the incoming tide of the 24-hour news cycle.
So what have I accomplished in the 18 months that I’ve been promoting Beaver Street in two countries? Well, in the U.K., where the book was published in 2011, Beaver Street does appear to be firmly entrenched on Amazon, taking up permanent residence in their top 20 books on pornography, and making regular forays to the #1 spot in that category, which includes such heavy hitters as Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star.
As for the U.S., despite a recent blizzard of rave reviews, the struggle continues. But I’ve not yet begun to fight.
September 21, 2012
Malinger says that I tell my story with "charisma and charm" and that Beaver Street is "incredibly thoughtful, engaging and entertaining." His only quibble, and he makes clear that it's simply a matter of taste, is my distaste for editing "plumper" mags. Malinger, you see, is a "chubby chaser," and he's glad that the porn industry has at long last acknowledged the existence of such women.
(Note to Malinger: in celebration of Banned Book Week, I’ll be reading from The Catcher in the Rye on Thursday, October 4, 8:00 P.M. at the 2A Bar, 25 Avenue A, in New York City. Thought you might be interested.)
In other Beaver Street news, this Sunday, September 23, at 1 P.M. Eastern Time, Bryan “Shu” Schuessler will be talking to me on Core of Destruction Radio about such things as pornography, politics, John Lennon, Nazis, and writing. Hope you can tune in.
August 22, 2012
She then posted on Facebook’s Adult Films 1968-1988 page a brief review, which I’d like to share with you:
I read a very interesting book, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. It’s not about the adult film industry but about the history of magazines like Swank, what they called “men’s” magazines back in the day. It was written by a terrific writer who worked in that biz for 16 years and tells it like it was. Lots of interesting tidbits in this book, i.e.—the man who created Swank and other such mags also created Marvel Comics. True. And Mario Puzo worked in that field while he was writing The Godfather. Yes. So anyone interested in this subject would enjoy this book. I got it through Amazon.
July 25, 2012
Until the official Bloomsday on Beaver Street video is available, these clips, shot by Bette Yee on her iPhone, will serve as a record of what happened at the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street, in New York City, on the extraordinary night of June 16, 2012, at the launch party for my investigative memoir Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.
The MC (or “MC Supreme,” as I’ve come to call him) is Byron Nilsson. The videos above and below are in chronological order. If you were there, chances are you’re in one of these videos.
June 28, 2012
June 16, of course, is the day that Ulysses takes place—in Dublin, in 1904. It documents approximately 24 hours in the life of the book’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom, which is why the celebration is called Bloomsday. Traditionally, people read from Ulysses, as MC Supreme Byron Nilsson did, eloquently reciting the passage that got Ulysses banned in America for 13 years—Joyce’s description of Bloom masturbating.
There was, however, one thing that should have been explained but was not explained at Bloomsday on Beaver Street: Why, exactly, did Joyce set Ulysses on June 16, 1904?
The answer to that question can be found in the July 2 issue of The New Yorker, in an essay about Joyce titled “Silence, Exile, Punning,” by Louis Menand.
That was the day that Joyce had his first date with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle. Menand explains what happened on that date: “They walked to Ringsend, on the south bank of the Liffey, where… she put her hand inside his trousers and masturbated him.”
Quoting from a letter Joyce sent to Barnacle several years later, Menand provides more detail: “It was not I who first touched you long ago down at Ringsend. It was you who slid your hand down down inside my trousers… and frigged me slowly until I came off through your fingers, all the time bending over me and gazing at me out of your quiet saintlike eyes.” Joyce later notes, in another letter, that on that night Barnacle “made me a man.”
So, Bloomsday, then is a literary holiday that celebrates a handjob. And Bloomsday on Beaver Street was such a success, I’m considering making it an annual event. You can rest assured that next year, the MC Supreme will take pains to explain the sticky origins of the celebration.
Ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars.
June 27, 2012
Let me state again that, according to Amazon, Beaver Street was never a banned book, and that Amazon would never ban a book due to explicit sexual and volatile political content. The reason for its unavailability, an Amazon spokesman said, was a combination of bureaucratic snafus and computer glitches.
Whatever the reason for Beaver Street’s unavailability or “passive-aggressive banning” (as some in the media were calling it), I have expended an enormous amount of time and energy to achieve what should have been routine. But that’s the nature of the book business. Nothing is easy; nothing is routine; any kind of success is the exception to the rule. For every dollar I’ve earned writing books, it often feels as if I’ve expended a hundred dollars of time and energy. Going back to 1977, when I first sat down to write a book, I doubt I’ve earned minimum wage by the standards of a Third-World country.
No writer in his right mind would want to go to war with Amazon, and this battle to make Beaver Street available is, indeed, the last thing I wanted. But Amazon controls 75 percent of the online trade-paperback market, and if you want to reach potential readers, it’s virtually impossible to do it without them. So, I had no choice. Unlike, say, James Patterson and his band of elves, I don’t pop out a book every month. It took me seven years to write Beaver Street and two more years to find a publisher. My career was on the line, and I had nothing to lose. I was either going to find a way to get Amazon to sell the book. Or I was going to promote Beaver Street as the book Amazon banned.
Of course, nothing will make up for the sales I lost when Beaver Street was unavailable on Amazon and I was on the road and on the radio promoting it. All I can do is reboot, so to speak, and start promoting anew. I’ll take a day to celebrate the lifting of the “ban.” And I’ll hope that like my previous book, Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, Beaver Street will endure in the marketplace, and people will still be talking about it ten years from now.
June 18, 2012
Many things were spoken of at the Killarney Rose on Bloomsday: literature, pornography, book banning, censorship, Amazon, Watergate. In future postings, I’ll write in greater detail about this night to remember. But for now, as I sort out my thoughts and await photographic evidence of some of the things I mentioned above, I simply want to thank everybody for coming to the best Bloomsday party in New York City and reminding me why I became a writer.
June 15, 2012
I walked the length of Beaver Street, from Broadway to Pearl, and the Killarney Rose seemed the only possible choice. So I went inside. It was an unusual bar in the sense that it went straight through the block, with another entrance on Pearl Street. But it wasn’t until I discovered the upstairs bar that I knew it was tailor made to host a Beaver Street publication party.
The upstairs bar had the intimate feel of a private club, or speakeasy. And there was a backroom that seemed more like a living room—perfect for music (yes, I knew that day there had to be music) and readings.
Now all I had to do was finish writing Beaver Street and find a publisher. Nothing to it, right? Who knew ten years would pass? And how often in my life have I made a plan that I was able to see to fruition a decade later?
Tomorrow it happens—Bloomsday on Beaver Street, a cosmic confluence of coincidence and celebration, and who can resist that?
March 26, 2012
Kendra Holliday, who’s recently posted a series of rather provocative “birthday suit” pictures, is the reason I’m coming to St. Louis to launch Beaver Street next week. When we did our three-part Beaver Street interview for TBK—part three is now reposted on the Sex Positive St. Louis homepage—I knew that I’d found a kindred spirit, a woman who I like to describe as the Annie Sprinkle of the Midwest.
A launch event, April 3, at Shameless Grounds, hosted by Kendra, and focusing on Beaver Street’s pornographic aspects, was a natural. And when the legendary independent bookstore Left Bank Books invited me to do a reading the following night, in which I’ll explore the book’s literary qualities, there was no way I could stay away from the “twenty-seventh city,” as Jonathan Franzen calls it. (Twenty-seven is my lucky number.)
So, St. Louis, here I come. And I’d like to personally invite Matt Holiday to expand his horizons and come to both Beaver Street events. In St. Louis, the Hollidays should stick together, especially on Beaver Street day.
March 23, 2012
Saint Louis photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.
As I write this, cartons of the US trade paperback edition of Beaver Street are headed for various warehouses and bookstores across America. The official pub date is March 28, and that should more or less conform to reality. At least one carton has already landed in St. Louis, where I'll be doing two launch events, at Shameless Grounds coffeehouse, on April 3, and Left Bank Books, on April 4. I've not yet seen the US edition of my book, but I have been rehearsing the passages I plan to read. It's under control
Also, as you may have noticed, I’ve been blogging a lot lately—because I’ve had a number of things I’ve wanted to say, and because it’s now the law of the publishing world that authors who have a book coming out must blog, tweet, and post on Facebook as much as possible—preferably every hour. They tell me this helps sell books, and maybe it does.
I will try to keep you up to date with one blog post, etc. every weekday. But I also plan to give myself weekends off for good behavior. I have other books to write, you see, like Bobby in Naziland, which I’ve been working on for some time, and I have only so much creative energy. We can talk about it when I get to St. Louis, where I’m very much looking forward to seeing you, whoever you are.
March 21, 2012
It has been pointed out that I sound self-righteous in these postings, like Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist who often writes about child prostitution and human slavery. It has been pointed out that the Garrett-Perretta story is not a “mini-Watergate,” as I’ve described it, because there’s nothing illegal about a porn king donating money to a Tea Party politician. And it has been said that I’m a hypocrite because I once worked in pornography and that I took Perretta’s money for the nearly seven years that he employed me.
To respond to the last point first: Yes, I worked in porn for 16 years, and I endured because I needed a job, and porn paid a living wage. Like many of my colleagues, I saw it as a “survival job,” a way to pay the bills as I continued to pursue what I really wanted to do—write books. As I say in Beaver Street, much of what I did disgusted me, but I was able to carry on because I had a strong stomach. I don’t dislike porn; I dislike the kind of porn I was doing—schlocky, grind-it-out-as-fast-as-you-can, anti-erotic porn. If criticizing the people who grow wealthy by splattering this kind of stuff all over the planet while grudgingly paying me a living wage makes me a self-righteous hypocrite, then so be it. I’m a self-righteous hypocrite.
And, of course, it’s true that it’s not illegal to donate money to political candidates. What makes the Garrett-Perretta story scandalous on a mini-Watergate level is the mind-boggling hypocrisy of a candidate from a political party that wants to destroy the porn industry accepting contributions from one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America. Which begs a number of questions: Why is Perretta giving money to people who want to put him out of business? Because he likes the Republican platform of tax cuts for the rich and fuck everybody else? And what if the Vatican’s own anti-porn candidate, Rick Santorum, gets the nomination? Will Perretta give him money, too, just to help defeat the foreign-born, Muslim-socialist who currently occupies the White House?
I could go on indefinitely dissecting this kind of lunacy, but there’s no need to. Because the story of corrupt conservative Republicans who will stop at nothing in their efforts to destroy the porn industry is at the heart of Beaver Street.
I will say, however, in the course of my career, I’ve always written what I thought to be the truth without worrying if the people I was writing about would like what I had to say. That was the case with my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. That was the case with Beaver Street. And that will continue to be the case with this blog.
March 19, 2012
These anonymous porn mongers have five things in common: They’re all men. They were all born to wealth. They all used their wealth to create pornography empires. They all increased their wealth immensely by producing pornography on an industrial scale. And they all went to great lengths to publicly portray themselves as respectable businessmen, unconnected to XXX.
Having worked for three of these men, I’ve written about them at length in Beaver Street. They are Carl Ruderman, former publisher of High Society magazine and the father of “free” phone sex; the late Charles “Chip” Goodman, former president of Swank Publications; and Louis Perretta, who bought all the Swank titles from Goodman in 1993.
I bring this up now because, as the “real” media continue to investigate the story that I broke here last month about Tea Party congressman Scott Garrett (New Jersey, 5th district) accepting campaign contributions from Perretta, who is now one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America, they seem to be having some difficulty establishing that Perretta is, in fact, a pornographer. The Federal Election Commission documents that detail Perretta’s contributions to the Republican Party over a ten-year period list him as a self-employed business executive with the Great Eastern Color Lithographic Corporation, the now shuttered printing plant in Poughkeepsie, New York, where Perretta once printed his porn mags. And beyond this website, a Google search for any connection between Perretta and porn reveals little that’s verifiable. Perretta, in short, has done a commendable job of covering his X-rated tracks.
As we wait for some intrepid reporter to pull the trigger on this sordid political scandal of right-wing extremism and hardcore pornography, it would be instructive, I think, to further explore the phenomenon of pornography kings who go to great lengths to obscure the source of their wealth. And I will do so over the course of this month. So, stay tuned.
March 14, 2012
The short answer: I'll go anywhere in the world where people have expressed an interest in my work. I've traveled to Mexico City and Valparaiso, Chile, where I didn’t even speak the language, to present my John Lennon biography, Nowhere Man. Those journeys proved to be two of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life. And I'm going to St. Louis because the city is offering me a unique opportunity to present both the pornographic and the literary sides of Beaver Street.
I made the decision months ago, after The Beautiful Kind editor, Kendra Holliday, interviewed me for her website. Kendra, who described my book as “a surreal, perverted mindfuck,” strikes me as the Annie Sprinkle of the Midwest—a creative, literate woman with the courage to put the darkest realms of her sexuality on public display both on her website and, recently, in Hustler magazine. The event she organized at the Shameless Grounds coffeehouse, on April 3, is the perfect venue to discuss some of the darker, X-rated aspects of Beaver Street, mainly a chapter I wouldn’t dare read publicly anyplace else. In “The Accidental Porn Star” I describe in graphic detail what it was like posing for a porn shoot, and the high social price I paid to conduct this “experiment in participatory journalism.”
Then, Left Bank Books, the foremost independent bookstore in St. Louis, invited me to do an event there on April 4. What better place to discuss the literary aspects of Beaver Street, a book that I describe as an investigative memoir? At Left Bank, I’ll read from the prologue and discuss a literary journey that began in my father’s candy store, in Brooklyn, where he sold numerous controversial books, like Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller, and Last Exit to Brooklyn, by Hubert Selby, that had made it to his “special rack” only after enduring protracted censorship battles.
So, my literary journey is now taking me to the turf of such people as Mark Twain and Jonathan Franzen. Boy, am I looking forward to the trip.
March 12, 2012
Last night I began thinking about what, exactly, I’m going to read at Shameless Grounds, the “sex positive” St. Louis coffeehouse where, on Tuesday, April 3, at 7 pm, Kendra Holliday and I will be launching Beaver Street upon America. And I decided to read from a chapter that I would not consider reading out loud in any place other than Shameless Grounds. “The Accidental Porn Star” is about shame and pornography, and like all of Beaver Street, it’s written in a conversational tone that makes it ideal for a public reading.
So, I’m going to nurse and rehearse the passage I’ve selected, and when I show up at Shameless Grounds, I’ll be ready to read. Hope you guys are ready to listen. In the meantime, you can check out Beaver Street at the Shameless Grounds library.
February 27, 2012
Now, here it is a year later, and I’m sitting in New York, awaiting the publication of the US edition of Beaver Street on March 28. The new cover (right), features one significant change: It says “Vanity Fair Hot Type Pick,” and Beaver Street will be in the “Hot Type” section of the April issue. But there are other changes, too. The critical response to the book made the editors at Headpress realize that Beaver Street is more a work of literature than journalism, and therefore, to give the book a more “literary” feel, the photo section has been removed. (If you want to see the photo section, e-mail me and I’ll send you a PDF. Or hurry up and buy a copy of the UK edition while they last.)
Then, of course, Beaver Street will be available on Kindle, Nook, and all the other formats that e-books come in. So, if you prefer reading books on your tablet or telephone, hey, be my guest. (The cover, incidentally, looks beautiful on the Kindle Fire and color Nook.)
And finally, I’m going to be doing Beaver Street events pretty much any place they’ll let me. There’s already a reading scheduled for Book Soup in LA on May 12, and I’ll be announcing more readings in other cities in the next couple of days. So, if you’ve been waiting to get your hands on a copy of Beaver Street, the wait’s almost over. And if you’d like to meet me, please come to one of my events. Because I’d like to meet you, too. I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about.
February 21, 2012
February 10, 2012
Available now in the UK in trade paperback and Kindle editions, Beaver Street will be published in the US on March 23 as a trade paperback and an e-book in all formats.
Big thanks to everybody who’s already bought Beaver Street, and especially to those who’ve posted reviews on Amazon.
Looking forward to seeing you all at the big Kendra Holliday launch event in St. Louis, and the publication party in New York, at the Killarney Rose(n) on (naturally) Beaver Street, dates to be announced.
February 6, 2012
So if you’re one of those people who love to read e-books on a sleek little tablet, why wait for the print edition? Download your copy of Beaver Street now!
Thanks for reading! And if you should see Beaver Street available as an e-book on any other sites, please, let me know.
January 11, 2012
Also, as you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging much lately, choosing instead to devote my time and energy to the book I’m currently working on, Bobby in Naziland. Well, between now and March 23, I’m going to slowly ease back into the daily blogging groove, posting once or twice a week for the time being. So, please check back regularly for updates.
For those of you visiting this site for the first time (perhaps seeking information on porn star Missy Manners) allow me to bring you up to date: Last year, Beaver Street was published in the U.K. to critical acclaim across cultural spectrum. (Check out the blurbs in the right-hand column and links to reviews on the home page.) On more than a half dozen occasions, it’s surged to the top of the heap of Amazon U.K. porn bios, where even on the worst day, it generally resides in the top 20, among the likes of Jenna Jameson, Ron Jeremy, and Annie Sprinkle.
This augurs well as I kick off The Year of the American Beaver, which will begin in St. Louis—yes, St. Louis!—with a launch party hosted by Kendra Holliday, whom you can see in the March 2012 issue of Hustler magazine. Then, we return to New York for a party on Beaver Street, in downtown Manhattan. Stay tuned for details, and I hope to see all of you there.
December 9, 2011
Two days ago I made my debut on the Rew & Who? show. If you were unable to watch the live webcast from Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City, here are the two video clips of my interview with Rew and her co-host, Alan Rand.
In addition to talking about and reading from Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, I also spoke at some length about my new book, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, which is out now in the U.K. and will be published here in March 2012, and the book I’m currently writing, tentatively titled Bobby in Naziland.
Among the people appearing with me for this tribute to John Lennon and Rew’s brother Richard “Dicky” Kesten were May Pang, whom I haven’t seen since 1981; my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, who sang Lennon’s “I’m Losing You” and her own Christmas song, “Blue Lights;” and Hoop, who played guitar for Mary Lyn, and sang his original song about Lennon, “Oh, John.”
You can see clips of all Rew’s guests on YouTube.
October 31, 2011
Kendra Holliday, whom I’ve been communicating with by e-mail and telephone, is the editor of The Beautiful Kind. She describes herself as “a 38 year old bisexual mother located in St. Louis,” and “a passionate sexplorer” of “kinks, fetishes, BDSM, swinging, and polyamory.”
Well, I can certainly vouch for her passion, at least when it comes to Beaver Street. She’s the kind of reader every writer hopes for.
I consider myself extremely fortunate that Kendra thought enough of Beaver Street to conduct an extensive interview. Here’s a link to Part 1, titled, “Does Nothing Shock You?”
October 25, 2011
Allow me to take a morning off from exploring the meaning of the Third Reich and its impact on the good people of mid-century Flatbush, as I've been doing in the book I'm currently writing, tentatively titled Bobby in Naziland, and instead say a few more words about Beaver Street, scheduled for U.S. release in five months, on March 23, 2012.
Those of you who’ve been paying attention to this site’s home page may have noticed that my campaign to bring Beaver Street to the widest possible audience is already underway. Last week, The Sleazoid Podcast posted Part One of their interview with me, and boy, do they ever let me talk—about everything from my days as the editor of a radical student newspaper at the City College of New York, at a time when the energy of the anti-war movement was giving way to an emerging punk sensibility, to my tenure as an editor at Swank Publications during Porn’s Golden Age. They’ve also put together a very cool trailer, above, to promote the interview. Part 2 should be posted any day.
This is how it’s going to be for the next five months and beyond, a long march, blog by blog, reader by reader, as I talk to anybody who wants to talk to me about Beaver Street—an exhausting but necessary process, though one that I welcome and enjoy.
The alternative, of course, would be to stop believing in evolution and promote my book by running for president as a Republican. Seems to work for Herman Cain.
October 4, 2011
The countdown clock you see here, marking the time until Beaver Street is published in the US, signifies another change in this website and in this blog in particular. As regular readers are aware, I've been posting here five days a week—on Beaver Street itself, occasionally on Nowhere Man, and on whatever might be happening in the world that I feel like writing about, like the riots in the UK and, more recently, the Occupy Wall Street protests.
For the next few months, until the US Beaver Street launch, I’ll be posting here more sporadically, adhering to no particular schedule. Naturally, I’ll continue to comment on any significant Beaver developments, as well as the recent publication of the Italian edition of Nowhere Man. But it’s time for me to focus more of my energies on other things, like the new book I’ve been writing.
So I’d like to send out a big Thank You! to everybody’s who’s bought Beaver Street (and Nowhere Man in any language), to all the critics and journalists who’ve written about my books (or are planning to), and especially to the regular readers of this blog—the ones who’ve checked in every day, and gave me a reason to keep doing it.
Keep in touch, and stay tuned for some big changes.
September 26, 2011
Beaver People, start your countdown! It's only six months to springtime.
I’m especially excited about the Kindle edition. Over the past few months, Kindle (and other e-readers) has reached a tipping point in New York. Not only do I see more and more of them on the subway, but when I tell people about Beaver Street, their first question is often, “Is it available on Kindle?” Indeed, people have told me that they will only buy a book if it is available on Kindle. (Yes, I know, you love your Kindles.)
I’m also aware that a certain segment of the reading public prefer not to be seen on subways and buses reading a book titled Beaver Street. Well, with an e-book, nobody can see what you’re reading. But please, promise me, when strangers inquire why you’re laughing out loud, you’ll tell them it’s because you’re reading Beaver Street.
Okay, then, I’ve got six months to prepare for the big day. All I can tell you at this point is that I'm going to have a publication party in an appropriately sleazy bar on Beaver Street, in downtown Manhattan. You’re all invited.
August 10, 2011
Yes, the appendix, so called because, like a human appendix, if you remove it, the book can live without it.
One reason I wanted to write a book like Beaver Street is because I thought, having lived through it, I wouldn’t have to do a lot of research. I was wrong. The more I wrote, the more I realized there were too many things I couldn’t explain. And to explain the history of modern pornography, at least to myself, I ended up tracing that history from cave paintings in the Lascaux region of France, c. 33,000 BC, to the dawn of modern porn: the day in 1983 that High Society publisher Carl Ruderman acquired three 976 lines.
The appendix is a byproduct of that research, kind of a Mel Brooksian History of the World that concentrates only on how pornographers were always among the first to exploit new technology for economic gain. So, until I find the time to expand this appendix into an all-encompassing, thousand page History of Pornography, I’ll leave you with piece of the appendix from 1839 and the Industrial Revolution:
“The development of photography, a fusion of art and science, is attributed to many people, and it’s the greatest piece of moneymaking technology pornographers have yet to see. Though taking pictures is an expensive, complex process, this is hardly a deterrent to the ambitious sex entrepreneur. In fact, it’s as if the first words spoken upon the invention of the camera were: Let’s shoot some porno!”
July 29, 2011
One is a highly decorated Marine lieutenant colonel who was at the center of the Iran-Contra scandal, which was linked to the Traci Lords scandal by former Attorney General Edwin Meese, who was at the center of both scandals.
The other is a bisexual porn star famous for his seemingly impossibly copious ejaculations, and who appeared with underage porn goddess Traci Lords in Holly Does Hollywood (1985).
North, Oliver 145
North, Peter 108, 126, 167
Read all about this web of scandal in Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.
July 28, 2011
For those of you who’ve not read this blog before, let me be clear about its purpose: I put a lot of effort into writing Beaver Street and then finding somebody to publish it. Now that it’s out there, I want to bring it to the attention of the widest possible audience. That would be you. So, if you’ve already read Beaver Street, thank you very much. If you haven’t read it, then I urge you to buy a copy—directly from Headpress. (I hear they still have a couple of signed copies in stock.)
If you’re not familiar with Beaver Street, then please check out some of the press material on the Headpress site, or on my site. The critical response has thus far been extraordinary, which makes me feel—Dare I say it?—hopeful.
But this blog is more than just a vehicle for self-promotion. Beaver Street is investigative memoir that shows the history of the late 20th century though a pornographic lens. It’s a personal journey through sex, politics, economics, and culture. And much of what I write about remains relevant to today’s headlines. The centerpiece of the book, for example, is an exploration of the Traci Lords scandal, which began 25 years ago this month. Lords, the most famous porn star of her generation, revealed in July 1986 that she’d been underage for her entire career. The fallout from the scandal nearly destroyed the adult industry.
Yesterday, The Seattle Weekly ran a piece on their website about how Amazon is selling old issues of High Society, Oui, Club, Stag, and Penthouse containing images of an underage Traci Lords—the very images that had nearly destroyed the industry 25 years ago, and remain illegal “child pornography” today, even though Lords is now middle aged.
I, for one, can’t wait to see how this story plays out, and will update it here as information becomes available.
July 7, 2011
After his review was posted in the UK, Comfort then contacted Amazon US to ask the same question: Why wasn’t my Beaver Street review posted?
Here is Amazon’s response:
I read your recent review of “Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography” and found it violated our guidelines. I did notice that it has been approved on the Amazon UK site, but we don’t allow profanity in our US Customer Reviews.
Your review couldn’t be posted on Amazon.com as written. I would recommend revising your review and submitting it again. Specifically, the following parts cannot be posted on Amazon.com:
”cocksmen,” “blowjob,” and “newcummer”
Please take a look at our Review Guidelines for information about acceptable review content.
Comfort censored his review and Amazon US posted it. Cocksmen became studs. Blowjob became fellatio. Newcummer became freshman.
Dear readers, keep in mind that Amazon reviews are vital to the success of Beaver Street. If you’ve read the book and have something to say about it, please post a review—but watch your language, especially in the US. If Amazon doesn’t post it, ask them why and they will tell you, just as they told Comfort.
Though Beaver Street has not yet been published here, it is available through marketplace sellers on Amazon US, or through me. (Click on “Contact,” above, and send me an e-mail. I’ll send you the details.)
And thanks for reading (and writing)!
July 6, 2011
David Comfort, author of The Rock & Roll Book of the Dead, and a professional critic, looked into the matter after he submitted a review to Amazon UK—similar to his review that ran on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website—which was not posted. He wrote to Amazon to ask what was going on and received the following response:
Hello Mr. Comfort,
We encourage all feedback on the Amazon.co.uk website, both positive and negative.
However, it has come to our attention that your review of “Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography” does not comply with our customer reviews guidelines as:
We don’t allow obscene or distasteful content including sexually explicit or sexually gratuitous comments in Customer Reviews.
It is focused on the author and their life rather than reviewing the book itself.
Comfort then sent the following letter to Amazon UK:
Amazon UK Editors:
Are you still in the Victorian Age, or the 21st Century? If the latter, you should find nothing sexually explicit or gratuitous in my review of “Beaver Street.” Please point out the four letter words.
As for your objection that the piece is focused on the author, not the book itself—if you READ the book, rather than blindly pontificate, you will discover that it is AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL and all about the author and his experiences.
If you fancy yourselves as a moral police—not a Free Speech protective bookseller as your customers imagine—please let us know so we can take our business and reviews elsewhere.
The result: Comfort’s review was read by a human, rather than scanned by a computer for objectionable language, and posted exactly as he’d originally written it.
So, a word of warning to future readers of Beaver Street who will be submitting reviews to Amazon UK: Be careful with your language. Read the Amazon customer review guidelines. And if you submit a review that’s not posted, then write to Amazon to find out why. You may get an Amazon human to read it and post it.
Tomorrow: David Comfort corresponds with the good people at Amazon US.
June 25, 2011
Mailer, Norman 138
Maiscott, Mary Lyn 205
Manet, Édouard 173
Manners, Missy 142, 162
Manson, Charles 30, 118
If you’d like to know more about the letter M (or any other letter of the alphabet), you might consider reading Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.
June 11, 2011
For the record, the five reads they selected are: The Devil and John Holmes, by Mike Sager, from Rolling Stone; They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?, by Susannah Breslin (self published, 2009); Scenes from My Life in Porn, by Evan Wright, from LA Weekly; Barely Legal Whores Get Gang F***ed, by Zac Smith (Rumpus, 2009); and Hard Core, by Natasha Vargas-Cooper, from Atlantic.
June 9, 2011
Congressman, if you have an uncontrollable impulse to show pictures of your erect penis to strangers on the Internet, find another line of work. May I suggest pornography? You won’t even have to change your name.
June 4, 2011
Kafka, Franz 164
Kama Sutra 126
Kane, Sharon 63, 64
Krassner, Paul 29
Ku Klux Klan 144
Kupps, Kimberly 175
May 21, 2011
It’s funny, just as I pushed the send button it occurred to me that you teach in a state where most people don’t believe in evolution, and that you wouldn’t be able to publicly comment on a volume such as Beaver Street. In any case, I do appreciate your academic perspective.
I’m afraid you'll have to look elsewhere for your broad history. That’s why I called the book “A History of Modern Pornography,” not “The History.” Something tells me “The History” would weigh in at 1,000+ pages. Barring a $1-million advance, I’ll wait for somebody else to do it.
I’d have to agree with you that explaining what motivates consumers is too obvious: They need masturbation fodder, a point I believe is made in the Martin Amis quote on page 2: “Masturbation was an open secret until you were thirty. Then it was a closed secret. Even modern literature shut up about it at that point, pretty much. Nicola held this silence partly responsible for the industrial dimensions of contemporary pornography—pornography, a form in which masturbation was the only subject. Everybody masturbated all their lives. On the whole, literature declined the responsibility of this truth. So pornography had to cope with it. Not elegantly or reassuringly. As best it could.”
Also think it’s pretty clear what motivates the creators (you, me, and most other people), a point I made in Chapter 3: We needed a job. People like Izzy Singer, of course, are the exception. They are exactly where they want to be. They’d never consider doing anything else. To them, Porn Is Art.
I am wondering which characters you got lost with. You’re the first person to say that.
No, no doppelgangers. The main part of the “personal” narrative ends around the time you appeared on stage.
Thanks for reading. Always fun jousting with the critics. (Far more fun than writing something new.)
To be continued…
May 18, 2011
Hinckley, John 25, 30
Hitler, Adolph, 58, 65, 69, 71
Hogan’s Heroes 200
Holmes, John 30, 62, 167, 199, 201, 203, 204
May 13, 2011
By Jamie Maclean
Why did Robert Rosen throw up a promising journalistic career at the age of 30 to spend the next sixteen years of his life as a porn magazine editor, even taking part in a shoot (for reasons of journalistic integrity and in the name of transgressive art) called The Five Dollar Blow Job? ‘In many ways,’ he writes, ‘my professional pornographic odyssey is an ordinary tale of economic survival in New York.’
As someone who has spent roughly this length of time in ‘adult’ publishing, I could identify with the author of an enormously entertaining book about working behind the triple x-rated scenes of magazines such as High Society, Stag and D-Cup. I could also relate when Rosen had ‘not only become unmoored from all sense of conventional sexual mores (…) but I’d ceased to think rationally about sex itself.’ Or the times when the whiff of ‘fetid air, thick with the smell of urine and underlying stench of decay, made me stick to my stomach.’ In fact, here Rosen is describing a visit to Hellfire, an S&M club in NY’s meatpacking district, yet the experience works well as a metaphor for his equivocal reactions to having to occasionally ‘tread the fine line between arousing and sickening.’
The title of Robert Rosen’s Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography is a clue to the book’s fast-paced, ironic style, underwritten by a wealth of hilarious experience, insider knowledge and serious research. Yes, it is a history, and an important one at that, but it’s also an engaging slice of autobiography, a revealing examination of North America’s bafflingly schizoid sexual psyche and a tour d’horizon of some of the monoliths that dotted the late 20th century US porno landscape.
Among these were the kings of the stroke mag world, the aptly named Carl Ruderman (the ‘Father of Phone Sex’), ‘Chip’ Goodman, Larry Flynt and Screw’s Al Goldstein. And what often surprised these pornmeisters were the technological leaps that made some very rich indeed but which also, occasionally, bankrupted them. Rosen ably covers the Lockhart Commission on pornography, conceived by a desperate Lyndon Johnson beset by Vietnam War unpopularity and brought forth by the foul-mouthed Nixon and his sleazy, morally bankrupt cronies. He reserves his big guns for its successor, the Iran-Contra-linked, anti-porn, Meese Commission. Finally the author excoriates the staggeringly treacherous behaviour of Traci Lords, the weaselly, mendacious little madam who nearly brought the porn industry to its knees.
A billion dollar industry usually touches everything and everyone, and porn is no exception to the rule: US politics, international trade, Adolf Hitler, Jack Nicholson – even Spiderman and The Godfather. However Rosen is wisely selective when he revisits his deeply unlikeable former employers and the enjoyable, but complex (almost everyone is called Goodman, but don’t worry, the footnotes are excellent), warren of US porn-mag publishing of the early 1980s.
Surely no exposé of sleazy pop culture has ever got this up-close and personal or received such intelligent, funny treatment. As Rosen shrewdly quotes from Henry Miller’s Quiet Days in Clichy at the beginning of the book: ‘Sex is not romantic, particularly when it is commercialised, but it does create an aroma, pungent and nostalgic.’ Beaver Street captures the aroma of pornography, bottles it, and gives it so much class you could put it up there with Dior or Chanel.
Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography by Robert Rosen; Headpress; ISBN 978-1-90048-676-7; £11.99 from Headpress
May 10, 2011
In the fifth and final part of my conversation with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review, we discuss the interplay of the personal and historical in Beaver Street, and how the book looks at the late 20th and early 21st centuries through a pornographic lens. Click here to watch all five parts of the interview.
Click here to buy Beaver Street on Amazon UK.
May 5, 2011
otona_amazon 洋書/ #3: Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.
That’s amazing news, and I can only wonder what’s going to happen when the book’s translated into Japanese. So, thank you Japan!
Also, Beaver Street was mentioned in Galley Cat, which is cool, because the site, part of Media Bistro, is about as mainstream as it gets. So, thank you Galley Cat! Appreciate the attention.
And don’t worry, dear readers, I’ve not forgotten about Senator Orrin Hatch, who continues to make headlines with his demand for more vigorous porn prosecutions. We’ll get back to him soon enough.
May 4, 2011
In part four of my conversation with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review, we talk about how anybody with a video camera, a girlfriend, and an Internet connection can become an instant porn star.
Beaver Street is going fast on Amazon UK. But you can always order it directly from Headpress.
May 1, 2011
Bernstein, Carl 138
Best of D-Cup 170
Canyon, Christy 90, 125, 147, 190
Capote, Truman 138
Graham, Rev. Billy 134, 135
Grand Matriarch, the (brothel) 47, 48, 53, 60
To be continued...
April 30, 2011
I'm especially amused by the absurd and occasionally illuminating juxtapositioning of certain names. For example, having once employed the porn star Missy Manners, this is probably not the first index that has Orrin Hatch (pg. 142) on top of Annette Haven (pg. 139). But I suspect that it is the first index to have the porn star Eric Edwards (pgs. 60, 108) in the middle of a Thomas Edison (pgs. 131, 164, 197)/Albert Einstein (pg. 115) sandwich.
To check out more of the index, or any other part of Beaver Street, get your copy now directly from Headpress. Support independent publishing!
April 29, 2011
"As long as Richard Nixon is president, Main Street is not going to turn into Smut Alley." --Spiro Agnew
"Obscenity is toxic. Like other forms of toxic waste, obscenity harms everyone it touches." --Orrin Hatch
Read about it in Beaver Street, now back in stock on Amazon UK.
April 27, 2011
When Headpress released Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography in the UK last week, it immediately sold out on Amazon, and many people who ordered the book are still waiting for delivery. The good news is that more copies are on the way, and you should be receiving your Beaver soon. In the meantime, you can order the book online directly from Headpress, Blackwell's, and Langton.
April 25, 2011
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” Samuel Johnson said over 200 years ago. Today, prosecuting pornography is the last refuge of the doomed politician. Just ask Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, Charles Keating, and Alberto Gonzales. Or read all about it in Beaver Street.
April 22, 2011
April 21, 2011
April 20, 2011
In the third part of my chat with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review, we discuss the collapse of pornography as a viable business. And as we continue to wait for the online booksellers to replenish their stocks, please order Beaver Street directly from Headpress.
April 19, 2011
Here's the second part of my chat with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean, in which I discuss working on both sides of the camera in the adult entertainment industry. You can order Beaver Street directly from Headpress as we await the online booksellers to replenish their stocks.
April 18, 2011
Beaver Street, my first book in 11 years, has been published today in the UK and already it's sold out on Amazon. But copies are still available directly from Headpress. Click here to order. And check out this very British interview with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review.
April 17, 2011
April 7, 2011
April 3, 2011
February 24, 2011
...Paul Slimak and Agnes Herrmann have graciously shot another Beaver Street promo video. Paul is a character in the book; I call him Henry Dorfman. He's a professional actor who specializes in playing Nazis. Agnes is also a professional actor and voice-over specialist. She's appeared in such films as The Road. Thank you Paul and Agnes!
February 19, 2011
Singer was tickled pink to hear that a name he’d dreamed up decades ago was being discussed on an Irish radio show. “I was standing in the middle of Eighth Avenue, crossing the street, when it popped into my head,” he said.
“You never know when the Muse will speak,” I told him.
“Yes, lad,” he replied in an Irish brogue, “but she wouldn’ta given me such a lastin’ jewel had I not been supplicatin’ meself at her door for seven days and seven nights!”
February 18, 2011
February 17, 2011
February 16, 2011
January 12, 2011
November 30, 2010
November 22, 2010
October 17, 2010
October 11, 2010
My favorite Nazi, Erich von Pauli, has recorded another Beaver Street propaganda video.
September 15, 2010
“Thank heavens Robert Rosen has documented his, mine, and your wacky, tacky, rich and fun smut-rag history. Beaver Street is a deliciously delightful read, a fabulous book. He captures the complexities, ironies, and color of the times when sex magazines ruled. As a girl who has been round the Beaver Street block, I can attest that this is the raunchy truth, extremely well told.”
August 26, 2010
I’ve just completed Beaver Street, and as you could guess, I could not put it down. Can not determine WHY this was not bought in USA because there is nothing like it...no comprehensive history of modern porn, especially The Golden Age, which we were so fortunate to experience. I used to call you Nosy Rosey. Did not know you were a diarist. But noted you were always asking “why” and were just (to me) nosy. You were like a visiting anthropologist, like Margaret Mead observing the Samoans. But you were in the thick of it, not just observing, which is what makes the book work. (As you call it an investigative memoir.) Perfect mix of personal experience, research, reporting, and conclusions.
Did I ever tell you that Traci Lords lived with Greg Brown and Walter Gernert (the Dark Brothers)? She was so into the porn lifestyle. It’s like I had totally forgotten how outrageous my life had been. I remember, as if it were yesterday, Ruben Sturman telling me (while seated on a banquette at a fancy French restaurant) how some book/video store didn’t pay him his cut and he’d had to firebomb it. Telling me that like any other guy chats about “my day at the office,” remembering having the diner next to us overhear all this. Remembering how very candid he was and how uncomfortably paranoid his candidness made me feel. Insanity, all of it. Remembering doing a photo shoot on Baltimore’s Block. Sex with a stripper. Owner put a loaded gun to my head. Remembered fighting with the Teamster’s Union over equipment rental for Raw Talent. So many stories...point is, I wish I had kept a diary. Because it was all pretty incredible compared to my life in porn now. The Eighties were insane.
Anyone reading the book will also be surprised how many female pornographers were working. You not only captured the past, you offered an overview of a huge, pervasive industry people know little about. You nailed it!
July 27, 2010
Erich von Pauli Addresses the British Empire on the “Beaver Street” Issue, the first of many Beaver Street promotional videos, is scheduled to be officially released in early August; it’s “unlisted” on YouTube. But I’m offering a sneak preview to the readers of this blog.
The video is intended as parody. If you find Nazi humor offensive, please don't watch it. But if you enjoyed The Producers, Mel Brooks's 1968 film, then Erich von Pauli might be your cup of tea. I encourage you to watch it in the full-screen mode.
April 7, 2010
March 11, 2010
A few days ago I posted the above image on my home page. It's going to be part of the promotional campaign for my new book, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, which will be published in the UK, in October, by Headpress. The drawing was done by a young German artist, Mark Kaufman, a big fan of my previous book, Nowhere Man. The energy and skill that he put into the graphic is a beautiful example of what I've come to call "The Beaver Street Literary Insurgency." Simply put, a literary insurgency is when people spontaneously embrace the work of an author they enjoy reading. I hope someday you, too, will join us.