The Sporadic Beaver

Journey Through the Past

June 13, 2017

Tags: Robert Attanasio, Erotic Review, Observation Post, City College of New York, 1970s, art

All three parts of "The Provocateur," my series on artist and filmmaker Robert Attanasio, are now posted on Erotic Review.

In the 1970s, I worked with Attanasio on Observation Post, the radical student newspaper at the City College of New York. We published a lot of controversial material, much of it having to do with pornography and religion. Working on OP changed the course of our lives, but we drifted apart after graduation and eventually lost touch. I hadn’t heard from Attanasio in 30 years. Then, in February 2015, he contacted me and we reunited. By November he was dead—from cancer.

“The Provocateur,” adapted from a book I’m working on about the moment in the 1970s when the student left gave way to punk, is a retrospective of my relationship with Attanasio, and a journey through his art and film.

Click here to read Part I, Part II, and now Part III.

Attanasio appears at the beginning of this episode of The Madness of Art.

I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Birth of a Book

April 25, 2017

Tags: Robert Attanasio, Erotic Review, Nowhere Man, Beaver Street, 1970s, Punk, Rolling Stone, Playboy, writing

The way things are in publishing these days, it's as difficult for me to sell a magazine article as it is to sell a book. So I usually don't bother writing articles because even if I do sell one, it'll be around for a month at best. My books, however, tend to endure. Nowhere Man remains in print 17 years after publication.

Ironically, both my books began as failed magazine articles. In 1982, Rolling Stone and Playboy turned down an early version of what became Nowhere Man--because I couldn't prove to their satisfaction that what I'd written was true. I started writing Beaver Street in 1995 on assignment from The Nation. It was supposed to be an article about the economics of pornography. They rejected it for not being “political enough.”

But sometimes the stars line up and something I write finds its way into a magazine. This month, the first part of a three-part series called “The Provocateur” has been published on a British site, Erotic Review. The series is an excerpt from a book about the 1970s that I’ve been working on, and it’s the story of my old friend Robert Attanasio, an artist and filmmaker who died in 2015.

It was Attanasio’s death that helped me find a focus for the book and made me realize what its central theme should be—the moment when the student left gave way to Punk.

Part I comes with multiple trigger warnings and a big NSFW. Stay tuned for parts II and III.

I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Sex! Comedy! Music! Drama! Celebrities! (And It's Free!)

June 11, 2013

Tags: Bloomsday on Beaver Street, Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, Lexi Love, James Joyce, Jamie Maclean, Erotic Review

Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition is five days away, and it's starting to feel like the run up to D-Day around here. The musicians are coming in a few hours to rehearse. A backup singer is coming to audition. There are set lists to finalize, technical issues to sort out.

Elsewhere in the universe, actors, writers, and porn stars are preparing their readings; an emcee is practicing his monologue and his song. A lot of people are doing a lot of things to make Bloomsday happen. Because a simple literary event just doesn't cut it anymore. In 2013, you can't have a couple of 20th century authors stand in front of a microphone and read from dusty old books. You need more if you want people to pay attention. You need sex, comedy, music, drama, celebrities. You need it live, and if you're doing it for love, as we are, then you may as well give it away for free, as we are.

So come to the Killarney Rose on June 16. Meet me, Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, Lexi Love, the spirit of James Joyce, and all the musicians and actors who, at this very moment, are working to provide you with the best postmodern literary event that money can’t buy.

And a big New York City thanks to Jamie Maclean at the Erotic Review, in London, for running our Fab 4 invite in his distinguished magazine.

Greatest Hits: Volume I

February 11, 2013

Tags: Nowhere Man, Beaver Street, John Lennon, riots, Lou Perretta, Scott Garrett, Plump & Pink, Erotic Review

I launched this blog three years ago, on February 10, 2010, with the announcement that my John Lennon biography, Nowhere Man, was going to be published in Italy. Since then, there's been a lot of water under the bridge--the publication of three editions of Beaver Street, a UK and a US promotional tour, various battles with mega-conglomerates, and an assortment of earthquakes, hurricanes, and blizzards. As this past week has brought an influx of new readers to the Daily Beaver, I thought this might be a good time to look back on the 10 most popular blog postings--my greatest hits--which I'll run in two parts, beginning today with 10 through 6. And by "popular," I mean the individual posts that have gotten the most total hits over the years.

10. New York Calling to the Riot Zone (Aug. 11, 2011)
A meditation on the London riots from the comfort of my New York living room.

9. The Tea Party Congressman and the Porn King (Feb. 14, 2012)
An investigative report detailing Swank publisher Lou Perretta’s campaign contributions to ultra-conservative congressman Scott Garrett.

8. Fat Sex (Sept. 28, 2011)
An essay on some of the problems I had editing magazines like Plump & Pink and Buf.

7. The Unfinished Life of John Lennon (Jan. 3, 2011)
A piece I wrote for the Mexican newsweekly Proceso, on the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, in its original English.

6. Memoirs of a Pornographer (May 13, 2011)
Editor Jamie Maclean’s rave review of Beaver Street for the British sex journal Erotic Review.

Tomorrow, Volume II

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.)

We interrupt this correspondence to bring you a special seal of approval…

May 26, 2011

Tags: Erotic Review, Beaver Street, Vanity Fair, Village Voice, Michael Musto, David Comfort, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jamie Maclean, pornography

Yesterday I noticed that the Erotic Review, the “posh” and literate British magazine that had already given Beaver Street an outstanding review had also slapped on their “Hot Pick” seal of approval. I guess this is kind of like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval… but different. In any case, this seemed like a good time to reflect upon a few of the encouraging signs that have shown themselves to Beaver Street over the past few months.

1. Beaver Street was a “Hot Type” selection in Vanity Fair UK, which is a pretty classy seal of approval, too.

2. Village Voice columnist Michael Musto called Beaver Street “Entertaining, insightful, and hot.” And he was amused by one of the promo videos, too.

3. David Comfort, writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, called Beaver Street “riveting” and said that I’d invented a new genre, “a confessional for-adults-only romantic comedy with a rare, thoughtful twist.”

4. Jamie Maclean, editor of the Erotic Review, said, “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.”

Tomorrow we shall return to our regularly scheduled correspondence.

Out from Behind the Paywall

May 17, 2011

Tags: Erotic Review, Jamie Maclean, Beaver Street, pornography

The Erotic Review has liberated Jamie Maclean's Beaver Street review and made it available for all to read. Pretty good blurb, too, plugging it on their home page: "Rosen's hilarious and autobiographical account of the 1980s NY Pornmeisters, their tumescence and, for some, their detumescence. It's filthy work if you can get it…"

The Smell of Beaver in the Morning

May 16, 2011

Tags: Jamie Maclean, Beaver Street, Erotic Review, Henry Miller, pornography, Hellfire

I’d like to say a few more things about Jamie Maclean’s review of Beaver Street in the Erotic Review. For one thing, I love the way he tied together the critique with references to odor in my book—my description of the fetid smell of the Hellfire club, the Henry Miller quote I used at the beginning, and his description of the way the book “captures the aroma of pornography.” I remember coming upon the Miller quote—“Sex is not romantic, particularly when it is commercialized, but it does create an aroma, pungent and nostalgic”—and knowing immediately that it belonged in Beaver Street, though I hadn’t connected it with the Hellfire scene. It was unconscious, as these things often are.

I can already see the term papers: “Odor Imagery in Beaver Street.” Which raises the question: Can odor be an image? I’m not sure. It doesn’t necessarily create a picture in my brain. But it does create a smell.

I also think I should take Maclean’s advice: Bottle the aroma and sell it like perfume. I’ve got a great advertising slogan: Beaver Street, for that unmistakable stench of pornography.

Vote for the Pull Quote of Your Choice

May 14, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Erotic Review, Jamie Maclean

Normally, you’re lucky to get one decent pull quote out of a review. But Jamie Maclean’s review of Beaver Street that ran in the May issue of the Erotic Review, and that I posted in its entirety yesterday, contains a wealth of pull quotes, any one of which would look good on the cover of a future edition of Beaver Street. Below, I’ve selected five, and I ask you, my readers, to vote for the one you like best by leaving a comment. Come on, guys. I don’t often ask for reader participation. Let’s show a little enthusiasm!

1. “Enormously entertaining.”
2. “Fast-paced, ironic style, underwritten by a wealth of hilarious experience, insider knowledge and serious research.”
3. “A revealing examination of North America’s bafflingly schizoid sexual psyche.”
4. “No exposé of sleazy pop culture has ever got this up-close and personal or received such intelligent, funny treatment.”
5. “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.”

Memoirs of a Pornographer

May 13, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Jamie Maclean, Erotic Review

The following review appears in the May issue of the “posh” British sex journal Erotic Review. I’ve posted it here in its entirety, as the issue is only available by subscription. Text © Erotic Review.

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

Erotic Review Interview, Part 5

May 10, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Erotic Review, Kate Copstick, Jamie Maclean



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.

Erotic Review Interview, Part 4

May 4, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Erotic Review, Kate Copstick, Jamie Maclean, Headpress



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.

Erotic Review Interview, Part 3

April 20, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Erotic Review, Kate Copstick, Jamie Maclean, Headpress



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.

Erotic Review Interview, Part 2

April 19, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Erotic Review, Jamie Maclean, Kate Copstick, Headpress



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.

A Very British Interview

April 18, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Erotic Review, Jamie Maclean, Kate Copstick, Headpress



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.

Porn Is No Longer About Sex

April 3, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Erotic Review, Kate Copstick, Jamie Maclean

I've returned from a month of promoting Beaver Street and Nowhere Man in England and Italy. Click here to watch part one of my interview with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review.