The Sporadic Beaver

The Beaver Correspondence 4

May 23, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, pornography, Martin Amis, Martin Goodman, John Heindenry

This is the response to the e-mail I posted two days ago.

Bob,

I was strangely nostalgic when reading your thorny responses. I suppose I was throwing out some rhetorical questions. But still the same, you are far better qualified to meditate on some of the inherent issues here—i.e., the need to escape from reality (oddly characteristic of all of Martin Goodman’s publications)—than Martin Amis. You’ve earned the right to discuss some of these “big” issues by virtue of your history. You take the trouble (like John Heindenry did in What Wild Ecstasy) to trace histories of the industry that have not been brought forward elsewhere, and can guess their significance as well as or better than anyone else. This wasn’t necessity, just a road that might have been followed.

I guess what appears interesting about the “creators” is not the editors, but performers. Is porn Art to them?

My imperfect knowledge of your history led me to hypothesize about those I thought to be anonymized characters but who were real folks. Bill Bottiggi, for instance, seemed like a composite but upon reflection I recalled him from office lore.

In any case, an insightful and detailed adventure through the shadowy world of the porn industry, replete with lively anecdotes. Good luck with it.

Jack

To be continued…

The Beaver Correspondence 2

May 20, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, pornography, Swank, High Society, Martin Goodman, science fiction

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

Hey Bob,

Thanks for the galleys. For some reason, I put aside the book I was reviewing, [title redacted], and got through your book rather rapidly onscreen.

All in all, a nice package. I would have preferred to see more broad history (no pun intended) and cultural hypothesis about porn—what motivates the consumers as well as the performers/creators—but that is either too obvious or too deep, I guess. You’re perched on a seat few share and in a real sense have authority to opine about porn as phenomenon; I woulda liked to have seen more. The blend of personal experience and general history overall works well, though, one buoying up the other.

Part of the game with those associated with your travails is playing who’s who, of course, and I was most surprised by the High Society stuff, which I’d forgotten. In any case, the portraits of both that operation and Swank Publications were pretty spot on. I understand the need to mix personas for privacy’s sake in a memoir, but I got lost with a couple of the characters. Not that that didn’t make them interesting in their own right; I was continually impressed with your ability to bring characters to life through detail, idiosyncrasies. By the way, I didn’t spot any doppelgangers—did I miss anything?

One factual point: recently researching the life of an author who wrote science fiction, CM Kornbluth, I came across mention of Martin Goodman’s 50s operations including first edition paperbacks of some sci fi classics (or near classics). It was the same profit setup as porn—crank out 200 manuscript pages per month for $x, publisher slaps on a lusty cover, repeat. I don’t have the book on hand anymore that references this (I borrowed it on interlibrary loan, being a poor academic), but it’s the only bio on CMK that exists. In any case, I thought this expanded the Martin story in a useful way—in his desire for profit and ability to sort talent, it’s almost as if he stumbled on these cultural pressure points (pleasure points?) and fostered entertainment industries (sci fi, porn, comics) that would loom large 50 years later. Maybe worth adding if you can.

I think you’ll understand why it’s best for me to refrain from public comment on this project, despite my enthusiasm. Thanks for the look-see and good luck.

Jack

To be continued…