The Sporadic Beaver

Paparazzo of Porn

August 9, 2017

Tags: Beaver Street, Bill Bottigi, Izzy Singer, John Mozzer, Alan Adrian, For Adults Only

Back in the 1980s, John Mozzer was porn star Alan Adrian. He was also a photographer, a paparazzo of porn whose archive is now online. He recently sent me this photo of Bill Bottigi and "Izzy Singer," both of whom are major "characters" in Beaver Street. (I enclose Izzy Singer in quotes because at the time Beaver Street was published, he didn't want his real name, Neil Wexler, used in the book.)

Mozzer took the photo on April 15, 1987, at the downtown New York club Heartbreak, at a launch party for 2029, a German photography magazine published by Leslie Barany and Diane Brandis.

In Beaver Street, I describe Singer/Wexler as “the ingenious creative force behind Swank’s sleaziest stroke book,” For Adults Only, and a man who “possessed an unrivaled knowledge of the fair-market value of everything having to do with commercial sex.” Today he remains one of the last working writers in porn. You can check out his Website here.

Also in the book, I detail the controversial story of Bill Bottigi’s murder, 25 years ago.

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

The Delightfully Titled Beaver Street

December 12, 2013

Tags: Moncrieff, Beaver Street, SoundCloud, Izzy Singer

On February 17, 2011, I conducted my first Beaver Street interview. Sean Moncrieff, host of the Moncrieff show, on NewsTalk radio, Ireland, was the man asking the questions, and we got into some heavy duty stuff--capitalism, exploitation, and the psychological effects of working in the pornography, both in front of the camera and behind it. But Moncrieff also found the title of the book delightful, and was quite taken with the names of some of the superhero-like porn stars I'd written about--Deena Duo, Pandora Peaks, and Busty Dusty, for example. His favorite, however, was Auntie Climax, so named by Izzy Singer, the man who acted as my guide through the world of XXX.

I’ve posted the interview on SoundCloud. Moncrieff and I cover a lot of ground in 15 minutes. Give it a listen.

Personal Faves: Volume II

February 14, 2013

Tags: Slate, pornography, Izzy Singer, Ken Kesey, John Babbs, Joseph Heller, Catch-22, Traci Lords, Beaver Street

This week I've been celebrating the third anniversary of The Daily Beaver with a look back at the ten most popular posts and a selection of some of my personal favorites. As I was putting together Volume II of my personal faves this morning, it reminded me that anniversaries also serve a practical purpose: They are a time to take stock, evaluate, put things in perspective--to see what's come out of this three year frenzy of writing, promotion, and travel. So, once again, here's a random selection of blog posts that caught my eye.

The Business of Smut: Critique #2 (June 15, 2011)
A review of "Hard Core," by Natasha Vargas-Cooper, one of the articles Slate selected as an example of great writing about the porn industry.

The Real Life of a Beaver Street Character (July 15, 2011)
Izzy Singer steps out of Beaver Street to publish a shocking pornographic e-book.

Still on the Bus (Aug. 4, 2011)
A review of Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Cool Place, and a tribute to my friend John Babbs, who passed away last year. I ran this photo essay on my other blog, Maiscott & Rosen, because you can't run multiple photos on The Daily Beaver.

Yossarian Taught Here (Aug. 18, 2011)
A memoir by Joseph Heller’s daughter, Erica, prompted me to jot down some of my own memories of Joseph Heller, author of Catch 22, and one of my creative writing professors at City College.

The Trials of Traci Lords (Jan. 10, 2013)
A further exploration of one of the main subjects of Beaver Street: At age 44, the once underage porn superstar seems to have stopped complaining about being “exploited.” Instead, Lords complains that people won’t let her forget her X-rated teenage exploits.

Tomorrow, Volume III

Izzy Singer on the Radio

November 15, 2012

Tags: Izzy Singer, Irv O. Neil, Beaver Street

If you've read Beaver Street, then you're familiar with a character I call "Izzy Singer," a magazine editor and "porno intellectual" who took me under his wing when I went to work for Swank Publications. Izzy, as I explained in the book, showed me that pornography could be "a form of high art that required specialized knowledge and talent to produce."

Last year, I wrote about how Izzy, writing under the pseudonym "Irv O. Neil," had begun publishing on Kindle his short stories about female domination. And I said that one story in particular, "Learning to Be Cruel," had shocked me because Irv/Izzy was clearly writing from the heart, and the story gave me the feeling that he may personally enjoy having sexy young women treat him in the degrading manner that he so graphically and realistically described.

Over the past year, Irv/Izzy has published a number of other such stories on Kindle and has begun to attract some well-deserved attention. This week, along with three other fetish writers, he appeared on a Blog Talk Radio show, In Bed with Dr. Sue. For nearly two hours, they discussed their craft, the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, and took calls from listeners. It’s an interesting look into one of the darker corners of the publishing biz and a rare opportunity to hear a Beaver Street character speak. You can listen here.

Beaver Street: Well researched, Smartly Written, Surprisingly Funny

August 19, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, pornography, Matthew Flamm, The New York Times, Izzy Singer, Maria Bellanari, Stag, Swank, Mario Puzo, Marvel Comics, Amazon, Nowhere Man

Beaver Street's first brush with notoriety occurred nine years ago, when The New York Times ran an article partially inspired by an embryonic Beaver Street manuscript. "A Demimonde in Twilight" profiled a number of literate porn writers surviving in New York City in the declining days of magazine publishing. Two of those writers, "Izzy Singer" and "Maria Bellanari," are major characters in Beaver Street. (They went by different names in the article.) The story also discussed the connection between magazines like Stag and Swank, writers like Mario Puzo and Bruce Jay Friedman, and Marvel Comics, a "secret history" that I explore at length in Beaver Street.

It was written by Matthew Flamm, a journalist who’s been instrumental in bringing attention to my work. In 1999, Flamm was the first one to write about my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. His item in Entertainment Weekly sparked a conflagration of media coverage that put Nowhere Man on best-seller lists in five countries.

Flamm has at last read the published version of Beaver Street, and has posted his distinctly New York-flavored review on Amazon. I will quote it in its entirety below:

Robert Rosen’s Beaver Street is both an absorbing memoir of a writer's struggle to make a living and a brief history of pornography as it grew from a mom and pop business into the industrial giant it is today. But this well researched, smartly written, surprisingly funny book is also a one of a kind tour through a fast-disappearing underbelly of American popular culture. Rosen, a pre-gentrification New Yorker, fell into porn when it still held a certain countercultural allure. His cast of characters includes hapless, aspiring artists, shrewd businessmen (and businesswomen), all-out neurotics, sexual desperados, and conniving egomaniacs. Kind of a cross section of a broken down IRT local train circa 1980. Beaver Street shows us an alternative Grub Street, one that many of us never knew existed.

Update: The Naked and the Dead

July 21, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Izzy Singer, Carl Ruderman, Sonja Wagner, Pamela Katz, Steve Colby, Neville Player, Lou Perretta, High Society, X-Rated Cinema, Paul Raymond

In fiction, when an author brings a character to life, that character is said to take on a life of his own. In nonfiction, the characters are alive (except when they’re dead) and they do have lives of their own. Such is the case with Beaver Street, which is populated with real people who continue to lead vital and interesting lives outside the confines of the book’s covers.

Towards the end of Beaver Street there’s a section called “On the Naked and the Dead,” in which I give updates on some of the main characters. I’ve continued to do so on this blog, in the past week mentioning that Izzy Singer recently published a short story on Kindle, and that Carl Ruderman has divested himself of all his pornographic holdings and can no longer be called a pornographer.

Here are a few other updates of note:

Happily retired from the porn biz, Sonja Wagner continues to create her art, erotic and otherwise.

Former X-Rated Cinema editor Pamela Katz was fired from Swank publications after 30 years on the job and is now suing the company for age and sex discrimination.

Steve Colby, a photographer who helped launch the British Porno Invasion of 1987, is one of London’s last remaining “glamour” photographers, though now shoots almost exclusively in Prague.

Neville Player, whose name I didn’t use in the book but described as the "porno genius" who took over D-Cup magazine, has written a memoir (title TBA) about his long career working for British publishing legend Paul Raymond and his short career working for Lou Perretta.

Having recently acquired High Society, Lou Perretta now owns virtually every porn magazine of significance, with the exception of Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler, and has made Paramus, New Jersey ground zero for what remains of the dying men’s mag industry.

The Real Life of a Beaver Street Character

July 15, 2011

Tags: Amazon, Kindle, Learning to Be Cruel, Irv O. Neil, Izzy Singer, Beaver Street, sexual humiliation, pornography

There’s a lot of talk in the writing biz about Amazon’s Kindle, not all of it good. But one thing is undeniable: Kindle has given authors the ability to publish their work at no cost, distribute it globally, and collect royalties on it—without the need of a traditional publisher. In short, it’s changed the rules of the game, and like it or not, e-books, Kindle or otherwise, are the industry’s future.

With that in mind, I downloaded the free Kindle app for PC, invested $2.99, and read a short story titled “Learning to Be Cruel.” Why? Because “Irv O. Neil,” the author of this deranged bit of semi-autobiographical fiction about a middle-aged freelance writer who’s sexually humiliated by a gorgeous young Chinese woman, is “Izzy Singer,” one of the main characters in Beaver Street. It’s his first venture into the realm of Kindle.

In the years that I toiled in pornography, I published a lot of Irv/Izzy’s work in magazines such as D-Cup. But I’ve never read a story of his like this one—due to censorship regulations, I wasn’t allowed to publish stories about humiliation and degradation.

“Learning to be Cruel” shocked me, probably because I got the sense that Irv/Izzy is writing from the heart, and may personally enjoy having sexy young women treat him in a manner similar to what he graphically and realistically describes in the story. (I shall not enumerate the details here.)

Though not my “cup of sleaze,” as Irv/Izzy might say, this skillfully rendered tale has given me additional insight into a character in my own book, showing me a dimension of his personality that even after 27 years, I never fully grasped.

“Learning to Be Cruel” is not only a good companion piece to Beaver Street; it’s the brave work of a man who has mastered the short story form. Or perhaps I should say, a man who’s been enslaved by it.

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 Beaver Correspondence 3

May 21, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Martin Amis, Izzy Singer

This is my response to the e-mail I posted yesterday.

Professor,

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.)

Bob

To be continued…

Auntie Climax

February 19, 2011

Tags: Moncrieff, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Izzy Singer, For Adults Only

Sean Moncrieff, host of Moncrieff! on Newstalk Radio Ireland, was quite taken with the names of some of the porn stars I mention in Beaver Street. “They’re like superheroes,” he said of Deena Duo, Pandora Peaks, and Busty Dusty. But his favorite porn star was Auntie Climax, so christened by Izzy Singer, editor of For Adults Only magazine.

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!”