instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Flatbush Flashback

Report from Flood Zone C

There's a hurricane bearing down on New York City, but from where I am, on the edge of Manhattan's Flood Zone C, five blocks from the Hudson River, all is calm. Yes, the wind does appear to be picking up, but it's not raining now and inside it's warm and cozy.

Yesterday, braving the longest line I've ever seen in the supermarket--longer than it was last year for Irene--I stocked up on provisions, though it was impossible to find flashlight batteries. (I'm also a little low on wine, should anybody nearby be reading this.) And even if Manhattan gets the full brunt of Sandy and the waters reach my building, I'm on the top floor, 70 feet above street level. So, for me, this hurricane will at worst be an inconvenience, even if the power goes out. And it's a perfectly good excuse to write about something other than the insanity of the book business.

My thoughts are, of course, with the people in the low-lying areas of the city, on Long Island, and in New Jersey. Be safe, read a book, and try to enjoy a day off from work. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Word and Image 2

Here's another shot from my East Village photography session with Michael Paul. This picture, taken in front of Anthony Aiden Opticians on St. Mark's Place, is a reference to my John Lennon biography, Nowhere Man. The art installation in the window is, of course, an homage to Andy Warhol and Lennon.

The four images of Lennon are similar to Warhol's well-known Lennon silkscreen, and the Campbell's Tomato Soup cans refer to the Warhol silkscreen that launched the pop art movement in 1962.

Lennon, who was once friendly with Warhol, seemed to have become irritated with him (and a lot of other people) during his “househusband” years—because while he was holed up in the Dakota, scribbling in his journal, Warhol was hanging around Studio 54, and his name was routinely appearing in gossip columns. Referring to Warhol’s early career as a commercial illustrator, Lennon had noted: I was an artist while he was still drawing fucking shoes!

Whatever the case, this is my favorite Lennon reference shot since the one taken in Mexico City on October 9, 2005, in which I’m wearing the same sunglasses. They’d both work well as Warholian-style silkscreens, I think. Read More 
Post a comment

Word and Image 1

The idea that a writer's image is as important, if not more important, than his words is as old as the writing biz itself. One of the most famous examples of this is the picture that Harold Halma took of Truman Capote for the dust jacket of his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms. People talked about this sultry shot of the 24-year-old Capote reclining on a sofa more than they talked about his prose. It's the image that made the author a star.

I’ve always tried to portray myself as somewhat less scruffy than I am in real life. In general, if I’m posing for publicity shots, I wear a nice sport jacket, a good pair of jeans, and shoes rather than sneakers. And I’ve gotten some good results with this costume, notably the shot taken by Marcia Resnick that’s on the back cover of Beaver Street.

This week, Michael Paul, a photographer I’d recently met, offered to shoot me in Tompkins Square Park and around the East Village. So, I decided to try something different—a more natural semi-grunge look. I wore a jean jacket, a faded pair of blue jeans, an old pair of sneakers, and T-shirt. You can see one result above. I don’t know if it’s going to help me sell more books, but it is an accurate representation of how I’d look if you ran into me on the street. I’ll post another shot tomorrow. Read More 
Post a comment

On the Responsibility of the Critic


The other day I responded to a review of Beaver Street, by Kate Gould, posted on a British site, Review 31. I took Gould to task for what was essentially a dishonest review, but limited my criticism to the review's most blatant and verifiable misstatement: "Rosen excluded female pornographers entirely from his history." Female pornographers, I said, are one of the book's main subjects.

Another critic, Neil Chesanow, has now taken this one step further, posting on the Review 31 site a detailed deconstruction of the review's inherent dishonesty. Chesanow's critique, in my opinion, is far more interesting and informative than the review itself. In fact, it does what Gould's review should have done in the first place: It provides an accurate picture of what
Beaver Street is about.

Since Chesanow's piece might get lost among the other comments, I'm posting it here in its entirety.

By Neil Chesanow
It is a pity that a tyro reviewer with a political ax to grind saw fit to trash a funny, witty, engaging, informative history/memoir of the modern pornography industry because it wasn’t the feminist screed she had absolutely no right to hope it would be. As a result, her review is much more about her than it is about the book: a mark of rank amateurism.

Ms. Gould announces her misgivings about the porno industry early on. That alone should have disqualified her from reviewing the book; she lacks the objectivity necessary to write a bona fide review. She writes, for example, that she had hoped “Rosen’s account of the industry might engage intelligently with such issues” as “consent and the way in which porn teaches boys to view and treat women.”

If Ms. Gould knew a little bit more about feminist history, however, she would know that such a book—in fact, a whole flock of them—has already been written, primarily by feminists in the 1970s and 1980s, by women (and some men) who were mainly members of the radical feminist group Women Against Pornography. They included Susan Brownmiller, Adrienne Rich, Grace Paley, Gloria Steinham, Shere Hite, Lois Gould, Robin Morgan, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, and the incomparable Andrea Dworkin, who maintained, among other bizarre notions, that all sex is rape.

There is no need for yet another of these books, and Mr. Rosen’s publisher, Headpress, would surely have rejected a manuscript along the lines that Ms. Gould would have liked to see because it has been done (and done, and done), and the desire for such a book today, even among the pathetically small number of women left who still consider themselves card-carrying feminists, is next to nil.

The subtitle of Mr. Rosen’s book, A History of Modern Pornography, Ms. Gould insists on taking literally in order to score her own points. In fact, Beaver Street is a memoir through which history is interwoven, and this is evident on the very first page. Ms. Gould writes that Mr. Rosen is “heavily biased” and “unable or unwilling to consider the existence or validity of any opinion other than his own.” Well, yes, because, you see, that is what a memoir is. Ironically, the same could be said of Ms. Gould’s review.

Ms. Gould unfairly takes Mr. Rosen to task for asserting that porn actress Traci Lords transformed “the ‘young girl’ into an object of such intense fascination, it’s now the single most profitable sector of the porno-industrial complex.” Mr. Rosen has scapegoated Ms. Lords, Ms. Gould contends, because “paedophilia is as old as time.” Yes, yes, but the porno-industrial complex, about which Mr. Rosen writes, is not as old as time, it is a recent invention, and its emergence roughly coincides with Mr. Rosen’s entry into it, which is precisely what makes his perspective on that industry valuable. It would be lovely to have a reviewer who could get such basic facts straight.

Ms. Gould snarkily sums up that “if you're looking for a dude’s take on smut mags, Beaver Street might be quite titillating.” Unfortunately, though, it seems she does not understand what the word titillating means: pleasantly stimulating, exciting, and erotic. Beaver Street is none of these things. Mr. Rosen’s deep ambivalence and frequent disgust with what he was doing during his porno years precludes that. Yes, the book mentions gangbangs and all manner of sexual acts, but none of these are lovingly described in salacious detail, not even Mr. Rosen’s account of his brief romantic relationship with a porno actress, which is tender and tawdry all at once—fascinating, yes, but erotic, no.

Ms. Gould is free to dislike Mr. Rosen’s book, but when one reviews a book for a public audience, one has a responsibility to review the work fairly on its own terms, not on a completely different set of purely solipsistic and irrelevant terms idiosyncratic to the reviewer. Ms. Gould fails to live up to this responsibility. Instead of serving us, the readers, she uses her review as opportunity to serve herself. Her review is titled “Masturbation Fodder.” And that is exactly what it is: not the book, the review. Read More 

Be the first to comment

The Google Myth

Last week I posted two pieces about recent problems I’ve been having with Google and their page-ranking system. In response, I received a number of comments from people familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as it’s called. One of those comments, from Ladyjean, a website designer and SEO expert who runs a John Lennon site, Absolute Elsewhere, was especially interesting and deserves wider attention. So today, I’m running it as a guest post.

By Ladyjean

I have a couple of other things to say about the effectiveness of Google in general.

1) It’s very unlikely that anyone will be personally “picked out” by Google for punishment, unless they are breaking all the rules that Google has set up about how people should construct and code their websites. But in regard to that, I have to ask, who died and made them the ruler of what everybody can or cannot do on the internet?

If you do break their rules, you may not get a good ranking, and yet, no one in the SEO business is actually 100% sure if that’s really the case, because spammers get away with doing that all the time. That’s the problem: Nobody really knows how Google determines anything. In that regard, Google has behaved like a tyrant who is determined to control how people design and use their websites (or blogs, etc.), and they have succeeded in periodically tormenting and abusing anyone who wishes to do anything of value on the internet, and even worse, they have decided who the winners and losers are going to be based on their rankings.

2) The initial idea that Google was (and is) this great, amazing search engine is a myth. They have been completely fooling the world about this since they achieved their major takeover of internet search, which was quite a few years ago. You DO NOT get the best results on any Google search you do, but no other search engine is providing that outcome either, because it’s impossible to achieve that result. The internet is too massive. When you do a search, Google says it has found, say, 653,000 results for your query. But you will be lucky if they actually provide you with even a thousand of those links.

Because of my profession and personal interests, I have done a lot of “deep” searching on the internet, sometimes as far as it is possible to go (dozens of pages) and the end result is disturbing to say the least: You get a handful of what is actually on the internet, and the truth is, you can’t get to the rest of those links, at least not with a search engine. Google is one of the biggest shams in modern high tech history.

There, I said it and I feel better. Read More 
Post a comment

Intellectual Masturbation Fodder

It was inevitable. After 18 months of positive reviews, including some of the best reviews I’ve ever received for anything I’ve ever written, a critic has come along and trashed Beaver Street.

As a rule, I don’t argue with critics, because there’s no winning. Everybody is entitled to his or her opinion. However, in my opinion, if you’re going to trash a book, then stick to the facts. Do not make up shit that’s demonstrably false, and then base your opinion on these misrepresentations. Because, inevitably, somebody’s going to call you on it. And when your misrepresentations or “lies,” as some might describe them, are brought to light, it’s going to undercut the credibility of the review, the publication it ran in, and you, the critic. This is especially true if you’re writing for a publication that’s generally perceived as “credible.”

The review in question, “Masturbation Fodder,” was posted this weekend on a British site called Review 31, which describes itself as a provider of “intelligent, nuanced reviews of the most interesting new books,” and describes its contributors as “a diverse mix of accomplished intellectuals.”

The intellectual in question, Kate Gould, of Edinburgh, Scotland, is the author of a book on flashers. This is what she said about Beaver Street: “Rosen excluded female pornographers entirely from his history. I suspect he was too caught up in his own juvenile dabbling to notice their existence.”

That’s quite a blurb! But anybody who has read Beaver Street in its entirety (rather than, say, select portions of two or three chapters) is aware that “female pornographers” are one of the book’s main subjects. I pointed this out on the Review 31 site, where another critic, Rich Flannagan, agreed that Gould “could have gotten her facts right” and suggested that she should have read the book thoroughly. But he also said that, in his opinion, the subtitle, A History of Modern Pornography, was “a little misleading.” He thought Beaver Street was more of a memoir.

“That’s why I called it ‘A History’ rather than ‘The History,’” I told Flannagan.

This was Gould’s response to the above comments: “I did read the book thoroughly. A very small number of female pornographers were listed in the index and a few made brief appearances in the book. That doesn’t come close to a representation of the work done by female pornographers even for ‘A’ history.”

To which I said: “Kate, you wrote that ‘Rosen excluded female pornographers entirely.’ Now you’re saying ‘a very small number of female pornographers were listed in the index.’ There are approximately a dozen female pornographers listed in the index, both by real name and pseudonym. In the High Society chapters, I describe in detail both Gloria Leonard’s and ‘Maria Belanari’s’ work. In the Swank chapters I talk about Dian Hanson and describe in detail the work of ‘Pam Katz’ (real name Joyce Snyder), who wrote and produced 4 classic X-rated films, and ‘Georgina Kelly.’ I could go on, but my point is that in your review you misrepresented an important aspect of the book.”

And that is where the first international Beaver Street literary dustup stands as of this morning. May I encourage you to go to Review 31, and weigh in with your opinion. In my opinion, the critic in question is crying out for attention. Read More 
Post a comment

Heck of a Job, Google

I knew there had to be somebody out there who knows more than I do about Google’s mysterious ways, and I’m happy to report that two readers well versed in the matter did, in fact, weigh in with their thoughts and suggestions on “search engine optimization” (SEO) and how it affects Google’s page rankings.

Debra Wheels had some good tips about content, links, and “submitting” this site to Google. But Ladyjean, a website designer and SEO expert who runs an excellent John Lennon site, Absolute Elsewhere, had some far darker things to say about the company that’s come to monopolize the internet. Referring to her dealings with “evil Googleness,” she said, “If for some reason you’re not getting good rankings (i.e. traffic) from Google, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

Whatever the case, I’m always glad to hear from readers, and even if there is nothing I can do, there is some comfort in knowing I’m not alone.

But I would like to offer a theory that you can chew on over the weekend: In addition to this site, I also have two Blogspot sites, courtesy of Google. Chapter 27 is dedicated to my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, and Maiscott & Rosen is a site that my wife and I use to post reviews when we get the urge. Both these sites carry Google ads, which generate pocket change for me—50 cents on a great day—and probably about a hundred times that amount for Google, which for them is probably the equivalent of finding a penny on the sidewalk.

Perhaps my sudden and mysterious Google problem stems from the fact that this site,, which used to get far more traffic than the two Blogspot sites combined, carries no advertising. And Google is in a petty and vengeful mood because they’ve had to lower their advertising rates for the fourth consecutive quarter, and their stock took a jaw-dropping eight percent dive yesterday.

Is Google punishing me for not carrying their ads?

If that sounds like a conspiracy theory, I’d like to point out that this scenario is similar to the main subplot of a recent episode of The Good Wife. In “Two Girls, One Code,” a Google-like company consigns to page-ranking oblivion another company that refused to buy their ads. And they punish the lawyer handling the case by suggesting “disbarred lawyer” when somebody types his name into their search engine.

When a storyline like that becomes fodder for a hit TV show, you can safely assume that Google dissatisfaction is widespread and reaching a tipping point. And I better assume that if I don’t watch my mouth, the first thing you’re going find when you search for me is pirated editions of my books. Read More 
Post a comment

Google Is God

The problem with monopolies is they just don’t give a shit if you’re unhappy with the way they do business. You can try to find a way to complain to them, of course, but what good does it do? A computer-generated form letter or even a phone call from an “associate” who’s well trained in the art of telling you nothing is less than satisfying.

Say, for example, you prefer not to deal with a certain online book-selling mega-conglomerate. Can you can take your business to the independent bookstore that’s been downtown for 30 years, and vote with your wallet. No, you can’t. Because the independent bookstore is gone, driven into bankruptcy by the mega-conglomerate. So, you shrug your shoulders and buy your book from the mega-conglomerate. It’s so convenient, after all, and their prices are… insane. Just ask the guy who used to own the independent bookstore.

This, however, is not an essay about how a book-selling mega-conglomerate has transformed the publishing industry from one kind of terrible to a completely new kind of terrible. Instead, I’m going to say a few words about a search engine monopoly.

For the two years that I’ve been running this site, about a third of its visitors have arrived via a Google search. But if you’re reading this blog today, chances are you didn’t come here via Google. For reasons I can’t explain, one week ago, Google virtually stopped directing traffic to Obviously, they’ve rejiggered their magic algorithm, and Google now thinks there are nine sites that know more about Beaver Street than I do.

Yes, I’ve done my research, and I know this is hardly the only website that Google has suddenly and mysteriously stopped sending traffic to. But all the reasons that Google gives for doing such a thing—deceptive practices, spam, blah, blah, blah—don’t apply here. is comprised of good, original material that’s frequently updated, and that you won’t find elsewhere. If you’re interested in me, my books, the pornography industry, John Lennon, or surviving as an author in 21st century America, then this is where you want to be. Just look at the tags in the left-hand column.

If Google were an ordinary company, I’d write to them and say, “What’s up? Why are you doing this?” But Google is an omniscient God, and a mere mortal such as myself cannot ask God Why? So, I will turn to you, my readers, who have arrived here by means other than Google. Some of you, I’m sure, know far more than I do about Google’s mysterious ways. And I ask you: What’s going on and is there anything I can do about it? Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

Allow me to end this post with an experiment. Below are some of the keywords that, up to a week ago, brought a lot of people here. Let’s see what happens if I put them all into the same post. I hope Google doesn’t get mad at me.

Christy Canyon, Ginger Lynn, Missy Manners, Carl Ruderman, Robert Rosen. Read More 
Post a comment

Learning from a Master

Like most writers, Stephen King does what he can to get the media to pay attention to his books, and he does it very well. The above video, from August 6, 2012, is King’s impressive appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and it should serve as an instructional video for any author out there doing promotion. Comfortable, articulate, and clearly into it, King shows us all how it’s done as he discusses the writing process, the contrast between what an author says in his books and his real-world personality, the afterlife, Jung, and the collective unconscious.

Ironically, at the 14:10 point in my interview on ReW and WhO? last week, Rew brings up Holocaust denial, and I mention my Holocaust-denying “personal conspiracy theorist” who also thinks I’m the CIA spymaster who ordered the hit on John Lennon.

“I heard someone else did it,” Rew says.

“Yeah, it was Stephen King,” I jokingly reply.

I am, of course, referring to the fact that King, too, has his own personal conspiracy theorist who believes he killed John Lennon. (Other conspiracy theorists believe Mark David Chapman received the order to kill Lennon through The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger.)

Ferguson, however, chose not to go there with King, though King’s take on the twisted psyche of conspiracy theorists, Holocaust-denying and otherwise, would be fascinating. Perhaps it’s a job for Rew. Read More 

Be the first to comment

What Hath Publicity Wrought?

A good question, if I say so myself. I mean why am I devoting all this time to blogging and tweeting and Facebooking and doing live events and answering in detail probing questions from websites that I’d never heard of a couple of months ago? The short answer is: I believe in Beaver Street; I think it’s a book that’s worth bringing to the attention of a wider audience beyond those who might normally be counted on to buy a book about the pornography industry. If this wasn’t the case, I couldn’t have written Beaver Street in the first place. And if I want to survive as a writer, then I really have no choice. This is what has to be done.

It is, of course, a very different media environment now than it was in 1999 and 2000, when I began promoting Nowhere Man. There was no social media then and I didn’t know what a blog was. And everything was less fragmented; if somebody wrote an article about Nowhere Man or reviewed it, a lot more people would see it, and it would invariably lead to more coverage. That rarely happens anymore. With Beaver Street, even a major article in a high-profile magazine will lead to a couple of sales, a burst of online activity for a day, and then it’s forgotten, washed away by the incoming tide of the 24-hour news cycle.

So what have I accomplished in the 18 months that I’ve been promoting Beaver Street in two countries? Well, in the U.K., where the book was published in 2011, Beaver Street does appear to be firmly entrenched on Amazon, taking up permanent residence in their top 20 books on pornography, and making regular forays to the #1 spot in that category, which includes such heavy hitters as Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star.

As for the U.S., despite a recent blizzard of rave reviews, the struggle continues. But I’ve not yet begun to fight. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Autumn Offensive: A Look Back

As the summer was winding down, I announced the launch of a Beaver Street Autumn Offensive—a rebooting of my publicity campaign following an absurd and exhausting (though ultimately successful) struggle with a certain mega-corporation that had refused to make available to the reading public the print edition of Beaver Street. With mid-October upon us, and the Autumn Offensive in full swing, I’m going to take a moment to recap the blizzard of rave reviews, interviews, blog postings, and assorted articles, that have recently sprung up on the Internet, not only about Beaver Street, but also my John Lennon biography Nowhere Man, which has been reaping the whirlwind of the Autumn Offensive, as well.

The Bloodsprayer: This webmag, which covers horror films and all kinds of pulp media, took a liking to Beaver Street and posted a review and a two-part interview. Here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2.

Shu-Izmz: Like The Bloodsprayer, this webmag also revels in gore and pulp and they loved Beaver Street. Here’s Bryan “Shu” Schuessler’s rave review, and here’s his interview with me on Core of Destruction Radio.

ReW & WhO?: My return appearance to this TV show, broadcast live on the Internet, was a blast. I talked about Beaver Street as much as I talked about Nowhere Man. You can watch the “15 minutes of fame” interview here.

Banned Books Week: I was delighted to participate in this event and read from one of my favorite banned books, The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. You can read all about it here.

Bookgasm: This Oklahoma City-based website, dedicated to “reading material to get excited about,” shows that Middle America has a passion for Beaver second to none.

Marv Montag’s Magnificent Echo Chamber: A review site dedicated to the adult industry discovers Beaver Street and pronounces it “excellent.”

Louie b. Free Radio Show: Louie Free has not yet archived my October 9 appearance on his show, celebrating the life of John Lennon, but you can listen to Louie live here.

Metroland: The local alt-weekly in the Albany, NY, area provided some nice coverage of my appearance at the Book House.

Indies Unlimited: They’ve posted an essay I wrote titled “How Nowhere Man Became a Bestseller,” and a Book Brief about the book.

Miscellaneous: Finally, here are five more assorted links from a variety of book-oriented sites: Pulp Informer; Celebrating Authors; Pat Bertram Introduces; Benjamin Wallace Books; and Talk Story TVRead More 
Be the first to comment

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

With the weekend upon us, allow me to take a break from my ongoing promotional frenzy and bring your attention to a short photo-essay about our summer vacation by my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, posted today on the Vanity Fair website. We spent a blissful week with my brother's family in a rented house on the ocean in Jonesport, Maine, gorging ourselves on lobster (two dollars per pound!) and anything that could be made with blueberries. The above photo, courtesy of my sister-in-law, Cindy Rosen, was taken from the deck at sunset. (I believe I was sipping a martini at that very moment.)

If you go to the site, you can also see how 31 other VF staffers spent their summer vacations. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Rew's World

Robert Rosen, Rew Starr, and the “Who,” Outlaw Bobby Steel.

Yesterday, I returned to ReW & WhO? for my second dose of Rew's Warholian "15 minutes of fame." I talked about Beaver Street. I talked about Nowhere Man and John Lennon. I talked about Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists. I talked about Bobby in Naziland. I talked about a skeleton in my closet that may surprise even some of you who think you know me well. And I had a blast. But enough talk. Let's go to the videotape! Read More 
Post a comment

Thank You, John

That's just the way it's been on John Lennon's birthday, since 1999, when word first seeped out that Nowhere Man, after languishing in limbo for 18 years, was going to be published. The phone rings, and somebody in the media wants to talk to me about Lennon. That's what happened yesterday. My old friend Louie Free, longtime host of The Louie b. Free Radio Show, called me.

Back in early 2000, he was one of the first people to interview me about Nowhere Man, our scheduled 15-minute chat turning into a four-hour free-form radio marathon. I've lost count of the number of times I've been back on Louie b. Free since then, but it's enough that I consider the show my home on the radio.

Yesterday, during our spontaneous conversation--and I hope some of you heard it--Louie suggested that, because I'd read Lennon’s diaries, I know him better than virtually anybody.

“I don’t know about that,” I said. “Yoko Ono knew him pretty well. But yes, it’s true, reading John’s diaries gave me a great deal of insight into what was going on in his mind during his years of seclusion. It allowed me to show what the world looks like through Lennon’s eyes.”

And that’s why, 12 years after publication, in a world where most books have the shelf-life of yogurt, people still want to talk to me about Nowhere Man. And that’s why, every year on October 9, I give thanks to John Lennon.

Today, at 4 P.M. Eastern Time, the celebration of Lennon’s spirit will continue on ReW & WhO?, broadcast live from Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City. I’ll be talking about Nowhere Man (and Beaver Street), and I hope you can join us.

And if you missed my Nowhere Man posting on Indies Unlimited yesterday, here’s the link again. Read More 
Be the first to comment

October 9

Normally, I'd never intentionally post a link that that takes you Nowhere. But I'm making an exception today. If you're reading this before 2 P.M. Eastern Time, the following link to a site called Indies Unlimited will take you to a blank page. But if you're reading it after 2 P.M., then it will take you to my essay on how Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, a book that was rejected by everybody before it was finally published by a tiny independent press that operated out of tenement basement on New York's Lower East Side, became an international bestseller. Why is Indies Unlimited running this piece today? Because it's October 9, John Lennon's birthday. The former Beatle would have been 72.

Which is also why tomorrow, October 10, at 4 P.M. Eastern Time, I'll be returning to ReW & WhO?, the internet TV show that’s broadcast live from Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City. Rew and I will be talking about Lennon, Beaver Street, and skeletons in my closet. It's a lot to jam in to the "15 minutes of fame" that Rew bestows upon each guest. But Rew and I are pretty good at jamming. So, if you find yourself in front of a computer, please tune in. Or, if you find yourself in New York, please join us in the back room of Otto's, and help us celebrate the life of John Lennon. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Return to ReW

Tomorrow, October 9, is John Lennon's birthday; he would have been 72, a numerologically significant number for the ex-Beatle: 7+2=9. (If you need further explanation, please refer to my Lennon biography, Nowhere Man, specifically the chapter titled "The Book of Numbers.")

This year, to celebrate Lennon, on Wednesday, October 10, I'll be returning to ReW & WhO?, the internet TV show with the Warholian premise that each guest receives 15 minutes of fame. The New York Times describes the show as a quirky blend of "live musical performances and interviews" featuring guests who are "a broad spectrum of East Village talent ranging from drag queens to lounge acts to published authors to museum curators."

In addition to talking about how, more than 30 years ago, I was given Lennon’s personal diaries to transcribe and edit, I’ll also be talking about my new book, Beaver Street, and Rew will be asking me about skeletons in my closet, because that’s what Rew does. Last year I told her that I don’t have any skeletons in my closet. “I put them all in my books,” I said. When she insisted that I divulge something, I told her about my “experiment in participatory journalism” that I describe in Beaver Street: posing for an X-rated photo shoot. So I guess I better do some research and find another good skeleton.

You can watch the live broadcast, from 4-6 P.M. Eastern Time, here. Or, if you’re in the New York area, you’re welcome to join the studio audience in the back room of Otto’s Shrunken Head at 538 East 14th Street. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Great Moments in Literature


Last night, when I read from The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, at 2A, in New York City, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Banned Book Week, I learned that it's easier to read from something you didn't write and feel detached from, than to read--as I've been doing for the past six months--an intimate passage from my own book Beaver Street, about how, as an experiment in participatory journalism, I got a blowjob for a photo shoot in a sleazy porn mag.

And speaking of blowjobs, last night may have been the first time in the history of Western Literature that a reading from the works of Linda Lovelace, author, was followed by a reading from the works of Salinger. And though few would argue that Lovelace is a better writer than Salinger, she is, arguably, a more prolific writer, and it's beyond question who's more skilled at the art of swallowing nine throbbing inches--a disciplined act of athleticism that Lovelace describes well in her banned book, Inside Linda Lovelace, read by event co-host Eric Danville to the appreciative audience.

I could go on talking about all the outstanding performances by a motley collection of writers, porn stars, and rockers, who included Lainie Speiser, Zoe Hansen & Raffaele, Shannon Conley, Rev Jen, Lisa Ann, and especially Puma Perl, who delivered an extraordinary reading of “To Fuck with Love,” by Lenore Kandel. But it’s all been documented on videotape, so you’ll soon be able to see it for yourself. I’ll post the video here as soon as I get my hands on it. Read More 

Be the first to comment

Banned Books and Bloodsprayer


October has always been a good month for me, publicity-wise. It was in October, 13 years ago, that the first item about my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, appeared in Entertainment Weekly magazine, and ignited a firestorm of publicity that put the book on best-seller lists in five countries.

Judging by what happened yesterday, this October appears to be keeping true to form. The day began with an excellent piece in Adult Video News about banned books in general and the Banned Book Week event I'll be participating in tonight, at 8:00, in New York City, at 2A in the East Village. I've never before taken part in a group reading with a porn star, so this should be both interesting and raucous. The porn star, Lisa Ann, best known for playing "Serra Paylin" in the Hustler video series, will be reading from Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James. I'll be reading from The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. And it's FREE. See the full lineup here.

Then the day ended with The Bloodsprayer posting part 2 of my epic Beaver Street interview. If you’re undecided about whether or not to come tonight, allow me, as I did with part 1, to boil down part 2 to the top 5 pull quotes.

“In the 60-odd pages Traci Lords devotes to porn in her book, in virtually every case she leaves out the Five Ws—who, what, where, when, and why—saying she was drunk and stoned the whole time and forgot everything that happened.”

“A normal company would have put Mario Puzo’s and Stan Lee’s typewriters in a glass case and employees would have been required to genuflect every time they walked by. But at Swank, it appeared as if the Goodman family didn’t want Martin Goodman’s sacred name sullied by the stench of his son’s smut.”

“The amateur exhibitionists are putting the professional studs and starlets out of business.”

“I say in the Beaver Street prologue that I wrote the book ‘to understand the cumulative psychic effect of having spent 192 months immersed in XXX and wondering if I’d ever get out alive.’ So, yes, writing it was cathartic.”

With any luck at all, I’ll be equally provocative tonight. Hope to see you at 2A. Read More 

Be the first to comment

Why "The Catcher in the Rye"?


Of all the banned books in the world to read from, and there are thousands, why am I reading from J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye at the Banned Book Week event at 2A tomorrow night? Because of the connection between that book and Nowhere Man, my John Lennon bio. As I will explain at the reading, The Catcher in the Rye is a book that drives people crazy. And it has 26 chapters. Mark David Chapman read it and decided to kill John Lennon--to save the world from Lennon's phoniness. He believed that by killing Lennon he'd write Chapter 27 in Lennon's blood and then he'd literally disappear into the book to become the Catcher in the Rye for his generation.

I wrote about all this in Nowhere Man. In the last section of the book, “The Coda,” I detail Chapman’s descent into madness as he travels from Hawaii to New York to carry out his mission. In the book’s final chapter, “Chapter 27,” I describe Chapman’s 1981 court hearing, which I attended as a journalist. Rather than stand trail, Chapman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years to life. In the courtroom, as his statement to the world, he read from chapter 22 of The Catcher in the Rye, the part where Holden Caulfield tells his sister that he wants to be the catcher in the rye.

None of this has anything to do with why the book was banned. It was banned because Holden talks too much about sex. And Salinger captures his voice perfectly, which is the real magic of The Catcher in the Rye.

Hope you can stop by and listen to all the readings. And please check out this excellent article in Adult Video News about the event, and banned books in general. Read More 

Be the first to comment

Being Bobby Paradise

Allow me boil down part 1 of my epic Bloodsprayer interview to the top five pull quotes. If this doesn't make you want read the entire interview or maybe even read Beaver Street, I don't know what will. Maybe part 2, which will be posted soon.

"The difference between working on the City College student newspaper OP and working on a porn magazine is the difference between being in a punk band like the Sex Pistols and working on an assembly line in a Chinese dildo factory."

“Porn was transformative, too. I went from being Bob Rosen, starving freelance writer, to being Bobby Paradise, crown prince of the D-Cup boob fiefdom.”

“Canadian censorship laws create a situation where a customs official looks at a photo of a woman jacking off a man with her armpit, labels it ‘degrading,’ and issues a ban on armpit fucking.”

“There will always be people arrested on obscenity charges, be it publishers like Al Goldstein, who were literally asking for it, or some poor schmuck who runs a convenience store in the Bible Belt and sells an especially noxious copy of Hustler to an undercover cop.”

“The contempt with which porn publishers treat their employees is especially pronounced, because in adult entertainment it’s so much easier to see human beings as pieces of meat—it doesn’t matter if they’re editors or porn stars.”

And don’t forget: Group reading celebrating Banned Book Week, featuring authors and porn stars, Thursday, October 4, at 8 P.M. in the upstairs lounge at 2A (25 Avenue A on the corner of Avenue A and East Second Street, in NYC, phone 212-505-2466). And it’s free! More info hereRead More 
Be the first to comment

A Really Big Show

Just a reminder that in celebration of Banned Book Week, I, along with eight other authors and one porn star (you can see the full lineup here) will be reading from banned books on Thursday, October 4, at 8 P.M. in the upstairs lounge at 2A (25 Avenue A on the corner of Avenue A and East Second Street, phone 212-505-2466). And it's free!

As far as literary events go, I suspect this Vicious Circus production is going to be unusually interesting. Never before have I received pre-show instructions telling me that because performances are going to be projected, 30-feet high, on the building across the street, I am not permitted to take off my clothes (not that I was planning on doing that) or wear a T-shirt with an obscenity on it (not that I was planning on doing that, either).

The 90-minute show will be videotaped, and if there’s time, we will take questions at the end. I’m on fourth and will be reading from J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Please arrive early. It’s going to be packed.

In the meantime you can read Part 1 of my interview with The Bloodsprayer. I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow. Read More 
Be the first to comment