The Sporadic Beaver

A Dirty Book with Universal Appeal?

September 8, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, H-Net, Vanity Fair, Village Voice, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Bizarre, Amazon

As I prepare for Beaver Street's inevitable US publication sometime in 2012, it has come to my attention that the book has achieved an unusual cultural hat trick, so to speak.

The highbrow critics (H-Net) like Beaver Street.

The middlebrow critics (Vanity Fair, The Village Voice, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) like Beaver Street.

The lowbrow critics (Bizarre) like Beaver Street.

And if you add the sex critics (Erotic Review) and the chorus of professional, semi-professional, and amateur critics on Amazon US and UK who have weighed in with unanimous five-star reviews… well, one might be tempted to argue that Beaver Street is a dirty book with universal appeal.

But one would be best advised to hold his or her tongue until Traci Lords, the right-wing media, and others with delicate sensibilities render their opinions.

Great Moments in Porn Writing

August 4, 2011

Tags: Nicholson Baker, The Fermata, Beaver Street, High Society, Swank, D-Cup, Bizarre, Ben Myers, Canadian censorship, Chip Goodman

"Is there any piece of porn writing you're most proud of?" Ben Myers asked when he interviewed me about Beaver Street for Bizarre magazine. Due to space limitations, my answer wasn't published. Here it is now:

High Society and Swank Publications hired a lot of good writers to crank out mindless, disposable filth. But good writing was actively discouraged. At HS the editor occasionally threatened to do an issue with no words at all, just to prove how unnecessary writers were. At Swank, Chip Goodman, the publisher, explicitly told me not to write the kind of articles that would make people want to keep the magazines. He wanted his readers to throw out each issue and buy the new one.

But every year, as a matter of professional pride, I made it a point to write and publish at least one good story. An essay I wrote for D-Cup about The Fermata, by Nicholson Baker, comes to mind. It’s a novel about a man who has the power to stop time, and he uses this power to undress women in public places and occasionally masturbate. In the course of writing the piece, I ran into all kinds of problems with Canadian censorship—undressing women when they don’t know they’re being undressed is considered rape and degradation in Canada, even if the context is satiric literature.

What started out as a straightforward review evolved into an essay on the absurdity of Canadian censorship regulations. The illustration that I commissioned for the story was a picture of Baker sitting on a subway train with an enormous erection, jerking off while looking at a naked, large-breasted woman.

A few weeks later I went to see him give a reading at Barnes & Noble and I brought the mag with me. He’s signing everybody’s copy of The Fermata, and when it’s my turn I drop the picture of him jerking off on the table. He does a double take and breaks up laughing. But he signs it, gives me his address, and asks me to send him a copy.

Note: House of Holes: A Book of Raunch, Nicholson Baker’s latest pornographic opus, will be published on August 9.

Educating Rosen

July 18, 2011

Tags: Twitter, Bizarre, Ben Myers, Beaver Street

On Twitter the other day, I posted a link to a piece on this blog about how the July issue of Bizarre magazine was prominently displayed with upscale fashion mags in Universal News on West 23rd Street in Manhattan. I called the post “Pretty Classy Display for a Sleazeball Filth Rag.”

The following dialogue ensued on Twitter, between me, Bizarre, and Ben Myers, who interviewed me about Beaver Street for the issue.

Bizarre Magazine: Sleazeball Filth Rag? Why, sir, you flatter us!
Robert Rosen: Ah, dear sirs, it is you who flatter me.
Ben Myers: You’re both sordid grotbags, as far as I’m concerned.
Robert Rosen: Hey, I didn’t even know what prolapses meant before you asked about it, sir.

I had to look up grotbags, too. Quite the education I’m getting from these esteemed members of the British literary establishment.

Pretty Classy Display for a Sleazeball Filth Rag

July 14, 2011

Tags: Bizarre, Ben Myers, Beaver Street, pornography

Took this pic yesterday, at Universal News on West 23rd Street in Manhattan—before they threw me out for taking pictures of their magazines.

There was the July issue of Bizarre, with my Beaver Street interview, “The Porn Identity,” by Ben Myers, prominently displayed with a bunch of pricey fashion mags, like Numero and Von Gutenberg, as well as Loaded, Esquire, and Paper. Pretty classy company for a “Porn Special” featuring “Britain’s Grubbiest Grandma.”

With a price tag of $10.50 US, you’d think Bizarre was offering hardcore sleaze, which they’re not. (Actually, what they’re offering is far more shocking.)

Get ’em while they last!

Bizarre in America

June 27, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Bizarre, The Porn Identity, Ben Myers

The July issue of Bizarre magazine, with my Beaver Street interview, “The Porn Identity,” by Ben Myers, has come to America, or at least to New York City. I saw it yesterday at Universal News, on West 23rd Street, and also at Universal News on West 14th Street.

An outrageous British “alternative” mag that’s into fetishism, body modification, and the counterculture in general, Bizarre can be shocking even to the jaded. The July issue is a “porno special” with “36 pages of kink”—which includes my interview. Get it while it lasts.

An Open Invitation to Martin Amis

June 24, 2011

Tags: Ben Myers, Bizarre, The $5 Blowjob, Beaver Street, Martin Amis, pornography, anal, London Fields, James Wolcott, Vanity Fair, Thomas Wolfe

In my interview with Ben Myers that ran in the July issue of Bizarre, I explained that I served as the male model in a shoot called “The $5 Blowjob”—I describe the experience in Beaver Street—because no real writer had ever gotten in front of the camera and reported on what it was like to be a porn “star.” As I mentioned to Myers, one of the writers who failed to take advantage of this kind of opportunity is Martin Amis, when he wrote a piece about the porn industry in California, “XXX Marks the Spot,” for Tina Brown’s short-lived Talk magazine. (Another version of the article ran in The Guardian.)

Amis’s article, a classic example of an outsider writing about an industry he doesn’t understand or have any real feeling for, lacked genuine insight. His big “scoop”: “Anal is hot.”

Though he blew it on the porno piece, I still admire Martin Amis’s writing. In fact, I used a quote about modern literature’s treatment of masturbation from his novel London Fields at the beginning of Beaver Street.

James Wolcott recently mentioned “XXX Marks the Spot” in his Vanity Fair blog—he called it “a quite vivid article about visiting a hardcore porn set.” It was part of a posting noting that Amis is moving to Brooklyn and had written to him asking if he knew “any cool places to hang out” there. Wolcott, a resident of the Upper West Side, couldn’t help him.

Having escaped from Brooklyn 36 years ago, when Brooklyn was still a place to escape from, I don’t think I could help Amis either. However, once he settles into his new digs, I would like to chat with him about pornography, literature, and Brooklyn.

I’m right across the bridge in Manhattan, practically walking distance from Cobble Hill—assuming Mr. Amis likes to walk. Or, if he prefers, I can cross the bridge. Den, maybe, we can grab a coupla ’dogs at Natan’s. Dat, t’me, is duh ting t’do in Brooklyn, as Thomas Wolfe might have said.

The Beaver Street Manual of Style

June 21, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, The Chicago Manual of Style, anilingus, Headpress, Bizarre, Woody, tattoos, Ben Myers

In Beaver Street, I discuss putting together a pornographic style sheet that covered “stylistic and syntactical issues not covered by the bible of publishing professionals, The Chicago Manual of Style.” One of the common mistakes I noted was the spelling of “anilingus.” Writers misspelled this word nearly one hundred percent of the time: “analingus.”

The other day Headpress sent me the July issue of Bizarre magazine, with my interview, by Ben Myers. Thumbing through the mag, I came upon a profile of Woody, a “deviant” tattoo artist. As you can see from the photo, Woody is unfamiliar with “The Beaver Street Manual of Style.” Which just goes to show, even “inking icons” need a good proofreader.

I Am Legend? Me?

June 8, 2011

Tags: Bizarre, Beaver Street, Observation Post, City College of New York, Paul Slimak, Erich von Pauli, Henry Dorfman, Izzy Singer, For Adults Only

As strange as it seems to be wearing the mantel of “Gonzo Filth Legend” (GFL) that Bizarre magazine has bestowed upon me, the appellation is, perhaps, an apt description of my id around the time I was 20, and editing Observation Post, an “alternative” student newspaper at the City College of New York. (I describe this experience in some detail in Beaver Street.) Back in those days, though I didn’t admit it to myself (at least in those words), I dare say I aspired to be a GFL. Now, 38 years later, according to Bizarre, I’ve done it.

The reaction of my homeboys has been predictable.

“Anything less than a ‘Gonzo Filth Legend’ would have been an insult!” writes Paul Slimak, whom I call “Henry Dorfman” in the book. (Paul now plays unreconstructed Nazi Erich von Pauli in the Beaver Street promotional videos.)

“Seems you should print up some cards with that as your title,” writes a Facebook friend I know from junior high school, who prefers to remain anonymous.

“I hope I’m able to introduce you in those terms to some of my friends,” writes an editor who works with my wife, and whose name, as a matter of prudence, I shall not mention.

Former editor of For Adults Only, Izzy Singer, however, has pointed out an inaccuracy in the article. “As I recall,” he writes, “I commissioned ‘The $5 Blowjob,’ not you.”

Yes, Izzy, you are correct. And that’s exactly what it says in Beaver Street.

The Porn Identity

June 7, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Ben Myers, Bizarre, Steve Colby, Razzle, Nowhere Man

The instant feedback I’ve gotten on the article about Beaver Street, by Ben Myers, that’s in the July issue of Bizarre magazine has been encouraging.

One reader in London, who works with photographer Steve Colby and helped me organize shoots for the various magazines I edited back in the day, said that the layout reminds her of her favorite mag, Razzle, from the 1970s. The piece set off a flood of nostalgia: “I remember Steve having to do themed five-girl shoots for Razzle—five girls in a plastic paddling pool filled with baked beans or custard, that kind of stuff. Fun, except the studio was whiffy for weeks afterwards! Did some good themed stuff for you, too, if you remember—the two-girl Egyptian shaved set! Or the girl on the swing, in front of a romantically painted backdrop, who shaved her head! Wow! Imagine getting away with that these days...”

And a reader in Chile (where I’d gone in 2005 to promote Nowhere Man) writes: “As I read that article I cannot stop laughing or being surprised. Taking mescaline in S&M clubs... fake boobs exploding in the middle of a scene… Excellent stories, what can I say? It doesn’t even seem real... Ben Myers deserves an award, because it’s an excellent article, fun and freaky, in a way that you want to eat that book of yours.”

Thank you, dear readers. And keep those cards and letters coming in.

Bizarre, Indeed

June 6, 2011

Tags: Headpress, Beaver Street, Bizarre, Ben Myers, Vanity Fair, literature, Erotic Review

Headpress has posted the Beaver Street layout from the July issue of Bizarre, the popular British lad mag, which goes on sale tomorrow in the UK. It’s an amazing piece, written by Ben Myers. And it makes me wonder if I’m the first writer in the history of Western Literature whose work has been endorsed by both Bizarre and Vanity Fair. (Not to mention the Erotic Review.)

Gonzo Filth Legend

June 3, 2011

Tags: Bizarre, gonzo, pornography, Ben Myers, Beaver Street

That’s what they’re calling me in the coming attractions for the July issue of Bizarre, a popular British “lad” magazine that covers such subjects as tattooing, piercing, fetishism, and according to Wikipedia, features “interviews with famous counterculture figures” and showcases “cult directors, musicians, and authors.”

This is not the appellation I might have chosen for myself (and certainly not one that would please my mother), but I am a practitioner of “gonzo” journalism, I have on occasion written “filth,” and it’s always nice to be called a “legend.” So, I’ll take it.

The issue, which goes on sale “in all good shops” in the UK on June 7, is dedicated to pornography—“The sexiest skin stars, the grubbiest grandmas and the filthiest flicks!” as Bizarre puts it in the coming attractions.

Ben Myers, the critically acclaimed author of Richard, a novel about Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers, interviewed me about Beaver Street. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that he asked me some of the most outrageous questions any journalist ever has. And I answered them gleefully.

In New York, you can find Bizarre at Universal News and most shops that carry foreign periodicals. Ask for it by name. And don’t let them sell you a copy of Harper’s Bazaar.