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.
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March 7, 2016
Joyce Snyder, whom I call Pam Katz in Beaver Street, released her own book, Mistress Pussycat, published last year by Headpress. Below is an interview she did with the Florida radio station WOCA, in which she discusses submissive men and her experiences as a dominatrix.
And here's a link to the story about the 1984 Critics Adult Film Awards on The Rialto Report.
I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.
May 6, 2015
I contacted the writer, suggested he read the book, and told him that he was well qualified to receive a review copy. He reached out to Headpress and they sent him one.
His unabashed review, illustrated with a number of photos I’d never seen (like the two above), expresses his profound appreciation of Beaver Street.
If the publishing industry is to survive as a viable, profit-making institution, it’s the multitude of sites like Pulp Informer that they can thank.
April 19, 2015
I worked with Joyce for 15 years at Swank Publications. She was one of the rare people at that company who was a total professional and always conducted herself with the utmost integrity. So when she asked me to review Mistress Pussycat, which you’ll be hearing a lot about here and elsewhere in the months to come, I was happy to do so. This is what I had to say:
Mistress Pussycat is a disturbingly honest, highly arousing, laugh-out-loud-funny memoir by cat-loving career pornographer Joyce Snyder. At age 60, after half a lifetime spent cranking out low-rent stroke books and X-rated films, she embarks on a madcap journey of erotic self-discovery and learns the true nature of her own sexuality—she’s a “femdom,” a woman who wants to enslave men. Her quest for the perfect, obediently worshipful male is an eye-opening tour through the demented demimonde of BDSM, a secret world barred to the “vanilla”—anybody not into BDSM—featuring “adult babies,” “pony parties,” “pain sluts,” “pay pigs,” human furniture, masochists begging to be publicly humiliated, dominatrices expert in the art of testicular torture, and men who want only to suffer forevermore as naked “slave beasts,” their penises caged in diabolical chastity devices. Snyder’s sharply drawn portraits of the more than a dozen torment-craving “subs” who audition for her ministrations are frighteningly real, well written, and well researched, and because she experienced or witnessed everything she so skillfully describes, it’s hotter than Fifty Shades of Grey. Reading Mistress Pussycat is a literary pussy-whipping… and you’ll learn a lot about cats, too.
November 5, 2014
So I was surprised last year when England became a new front in an ongoing Beaver Street censorship battle. The problem wasn’t with the book itself, but rather with this Website.
CNBC adult-entertainment-industry reporter Chris Morris explains what happened in his piece “No Porn Please, We’re British.”
The article describes how British Prime Minister David Cameron had announced that the four largest Internet service providers in the U.K. were, by the end of 2013, going to begin blocking all porn sites. If a costumer wanted to look at smut, then he’d have to request that the filters be disabled.
“Obviously people are not going to want to do that,” I told Morris. “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.”
In response to Cameron’s statement that access to online porn is “corroding childhood,” I told Morris that kids have always found a way to circumvent rules meant for their protection and if they “want to look at pornography, they usually figure out how to do it."
When the porno filters were turned on, towards the end of 2013, the impact on this Website was immediate: traffic from the U.K. dropped off by 80 percent.
Even though this is not a porn site, and sites in the U.K. with far more explicit material were not being blocked, I thought there was nothing I could do about it. So I ignored what was happening and quietly hoped that the Brits would come to their senses.
Then, two weeks ago, I received several messages from readers in the U.K. telling me that they were unable to connect with this site. Something had changed and I decided to investigate.
Using the Website Blocked, I was able to determine that five major U.K. ISPs were blocking me. Blocked also provided contact information for the appropriate administrators of these ISPs, and I wrote to them.
“Robertrosennyc.com is a site dedicated to literature, publishing, and current affairs,” I said, “and you are improperly blocking me.”
Unlike their U.S. corporate counterparts—such as a certain mega-conglomerate that made the print edition of Beaver Street unavailable and initially stonewalled all attempts to communicate with them—these major U.K. corporations were responsive.
“Are there any words etc. on the Website which may be deemed sensitive to a young audience, Robert?” one of them inquired.
“No,” I replied. (Though I was tempted to say, “Yeah, Margaret Thatcher.”)
They were also reasonable. Within a week, every site but one—Talk Talk Kidsafe (yeah, I get it)—had removed their block.
England, I forgive you.
March 6, 2012
But there Beaver Street is, in the April Vanity Fair (Julia Roberts on the cover), on sale today in the US and UK. “Robert Rosen dives into Beaver Street (Headpress),” it says. And I suppose I do—dive into Beaver Street, that is.
So, look for Beaver Street on the Web or in a bookstore near you on March 28. In the meantime, virtual high-fives all around.
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 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.
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.
September 20, 2011
Which brings us to my fellow New Yorker Shade Rupe, author of the Headpress book Dark Stars Rising. Shade, whom I’ve spoken to on the phone and occasionally communicate with on Facebook, but have never actually met, has managed to get my attention on two occasions this past month. The first time was when I was buying tickets to see Tree of Life at the Sunshine Cinema on East Houston Street. There was Dark Stars Rising on display in the box office—the first time I’d ever seen a book of any kind on sale in a movie box office. “Well done,” I thought, happy to see the Headpress logo in such an unexpected place.
The second time was yesterday, when I saw Dark Stars Rising in the window of Shakespeare’s, the independent bookstore on Broadway, in Greenwich Village. Having never looked at the book, I went inside to check it out, and was greeted by a Dark Stars Rising poster hanging on the wall, near the entrance. But the book was sold out, except for the copy in the window, which a clerk retrieved for me. I didn’t have time to thumb through all 568 pages, but I did read part of Shade’s interview with Divine, which was compelling.
So, Shakespeare’s, what are you waiting for? Order more copies of Dark Stars Rising. There’s money to be made! And again, well done Shade and Headpress. Can’t wait to see what happens when Beaver Street lands on these shores in 2012.
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.
June 21, 2011
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.
June 6, 2011
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.
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 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 7, 2011
January 12, 2011
October 11, 2010
My favorite Nazi, Erich von Pauli, has recorded another Beaver Street propaganda video.
August 21, 2010
The Spanish Beatles site 10, Mathew Street just ran a little piece about "Transcriptions from the Universe," my article in Headpress Journal 2.2 that discusses my own diaries at the time I began writing Nowhere Man.
August 17, 2010
Headpress Journal 2.2
An excerpt from my new piece on John Lennon's diaries, "Transcriptions from the Universe," has just been published in the online edition of Headpress 2.2. You can read it here. The complete 28-page article will soon be available in the printed edition of the journal. Stay tuned for more details.
March 21, 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.