The Sporadic Beaver

The Mike Nichols Reference in Beaver Street

November 20, 2014

Tags: Mike Nichols, Beaver Street, Buck Henry, Catch-22, Henry Miller, Screw, Hellfire, Al Goldstein, Mel Brooks, S&M

Mike Nichols, circa 1970, the year he directed Catch-22.
Mike Nichols, best known as the director of such films as The Graduate, Catch-22, and Carnal Knowledge, died yesterday, at 83. Below, I give you the scene from Beaver Street, set in New York City's Hellfire Club during a Screw magazine Halloween party, in 1985, that references Nichols.

I wandered into a back room and saw Buck Henry, the frequent Saturday Night Live guest host, standing by himself and observing with clinical detachment a bleached-blond dominatrix walloping a naked man with a riding crop.

“Come here often?” I asked Henry.

“I’m Buck,” he said, shaking my hand in a firm, businesslike manner. “Yeah, I’ve been to Hellfire once before. But I was expecting a classier crowd tonight—since Al invited me.” He gestured towards the man writhing on the floor. “Is this the kind of stuff that usually goes on here?”

“I wouldn’t know,” I said. “I’ve only been here once before myself, and very briefly at that. But I hear in the old days before AIDS, you could walk in any night and find a half-dozen piss drinking orgies—stuff like that. I can’t believe people are dying now for a little fun they had ten years ago.”

“The statute of limitation for these things should be five years,” Henry said, just as the dominatrix whacked her slave’s penis with a wicked shot that made us both wince.

“Absolutely,” I agreed, unable to take my eyes off the S&M show. “But you’ve got to admit, this is something you don’t see every day. It’s like a scene from Tropic of Cancer.

He nodded and said, “I met Henry Miller once at a Hollywood party. He was there with Mike Nichols. All he wanted to talk about was The Graduate. All I wanted to talk about was Quiet Days in Clichy.

I knew that Henry had written the screenplay for The Graduate, which Nichols had directed, as well as creating with Mel Brooks the classic sitcom Get Smart. “What are you doing now?” I asked. “Writing for Screw?”

“I’m waiting for my mother to die first,” he said.

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.