With my February 1 reading at Books & Books, the venerable literary mecca in Coral Gables, Florida, imminent, I've assembled what amounts to a videobook of excerpts from Bobby in Naziland: A Tale of Flatbush. I hope the uninitiated will avail themselves of this opportunity to get acquainted with the book.
Below you'll find six videos of the actors (and myself) who read from Bobby in Naziland at the December New York launch event, "Bobby on Beaver Street," at the Killarney Rose. They are, in order of appearance, Susan Barrett, Robert Rosen, Deametrice Eyster, Byron Nilsson, Laralu Smith, and Joe Gioco.
Barrett was recorded live at the Killarney Rose. The other videos are "studio" takes of the excerpts we read at the event.
I hope you like what you hear and that you can come to Books & Books on February 1, at 7 P.M., to hear me read live and in person. This is my last scheduled event in the U.S. before moving on to European horizons in the late winter or early spring.
Suzi From the Block: From Chapter 1, "The Goyim and the Jews"
Bobby From the Block: From Chapter 3, "Heil Irwin!"
Deametrice From the Hood: From Chapter 11, "Fragments of My Father"
Byron From the Farm: From Chapter 13, "Cruel Affections"
Laralu From the Living Room: From Chapter 14, "In America..."
Joe From the TV: From Chapter 15, "The Flatbush Diet"
Byron Nilsson, a Renaissance man who resides with his family on Jollity Farm, in upstate New York, is a writer, actor, musician, beekeeper, gourmet chef, and my personal source of tech support for all things electronic.
I met him 25 years ago when I was editing a number of "adult" publications and needed a skilled writer to guide my readers to the burgeoning promised land of quality online erotica. Boy, was he ever the right man for the job!
Byron's experience contributing to the Swank magazine group was the inspiration for his play Mr. Sensitivity, performed at the 2009 New York Fringe Festival.
He was also the MC for the three literary events I've held at the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street, in New York City. At the most recent one, "Bobby on Beaver Street," the December 14, 2019, launch of Bobby in Naziland, Byron read the opening of Chapter 13, "Cruel Affections." In the above video, Byron, from his CD-lined Jollity Farm office, reprises his reading.
The next Bobby in Naziland event is 7 P.M., Saturday, February 1, at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida. Yes, Super Bowl LIV is the next day, up the road at Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami Gardens. If you're in the area and looking for an alternative to a pre-Super Bowl party, please stop by. There's quite a bit of football in the book, and I'll talk about it if you insist.
The event was "Bobby on Beaver Street," the December 14 New York City launch of my memoir Bobby in Naziland: A Tale of Flatbush, at the Killarney Rose.
Even though I spent seven years living (and dying) with the material as I wrote the book, practically memorizing parts of it, and going over every word and punctuation mark more times than I can count with a perfectionist editor and her microscope, the actors somehow made Bobby in Naziland sound fresh to my own ears. What a treat it was to watch such talented people bring to life the lost world of mid-20th-century Brooklyn!
The audience seemed so caught up in what they were witnessing, most of them put aside their 21st-century technology and simply watched, like people used to do in the 20th century. Consequently, only one actor, Susan Barrett, was recorded on video. But that video says it all, and you can watch it, above.
The next Bobby in Naziland event: 7 P.M., Saturday, February 1, 2020 at Books & Books in Miami.
"Mid 20th Century Flatbush as seen through the eyes of a Jewish boy whose bigoted dad liberated a Nazi death camp. Bobby in Naziland is a darkly funny coming of age story that many people can appreciate now, of all times." —Lesley Abravanel of the Miami Herald on Twitter
"The writing is fluid and poetic. I loved this book. It was hard to put down." —Jen Senko, filmmaker, The Brainwashing of My Dad
"The style and voice – matter-of-fact, witty – deliver [Rosen's] portrait of life growing up in Flatbush with great charm. He reminded me of Philip Roth in Portnoy's Complaint or J D Salinger and Catcher in the Rye." —Erotic Review
"I think of [Bobby in Naziland] as being in the realm of Brighton Beach Memoirs, but more inner-referenced, more emotional, and with characters who are more believable than Neil Simon's. I love this book." —Nunzio Adorato
"Childhood is a kind of fantastic wilderness that you gratefully leave behind forever, and so it goes (mostly) untold, unstudied. That a book like Bobby in Naziland does do some of the telling and studying I think is admirable. Nothing is prettified and the detail is thick.... Bobby in Naziland makes a real, if belated, contribution to postwar Jewish-American literature." —Mad Shopper
Please do stop by the Killarney Rose at 7 P.M., Saturday, December 14, and listen to some very talented actors, writers, and musicians, including Susan Barrett, Deametrice Eyster, Joe Gioco, Mary Lyn Maiscott, Byron Nilsson, Laralu Smith, and myself read from Bobby in Naziland. Find out why critics (for the most part) have turned thumbs up for Bobby.
The next Bobby in Naziland event is 7 P.M., Saturday, February 1, 2020 at Books and Books in Miami.
One afternoon in the autumn of 2006, after working on a book for several hours, I closed my laptop and went out for a 5.3-mile walk—10,000 steps. Heading downtown from Soho, I had no destination in mind.
Walking, I found, was like meditation—it cleared my head and relaxed me. Also, as often happened on these walks, the solution to whatever writing problem I'd been struggling with would pop into my head. I always carried pen and paper.
On that late afternoon in early October, I was thinking that I needed a catchier title for my new book. The working title, "A History of Modern Pornography," sounded too academic. For the five years that I'd been writing it, I'd failed to come up with a suitable title that encompassed all of what the book was about: an examination through a pornographic lens of late-20th-century capitalism and politics.
Wandering through a warren of narrow, twisting streets near the Battery, lost in the reverie of a daydream, I suddenly stopped and glanced up at the street sign.
I was on the corner of Beaver and Broad.
Oh my God, I thought, that's it! That's the title of my book: Beaver Street! It's perfect. The street not only intersects with Wall Street, the beating heart of the capitalist system, but beaver (as I once explained to an inquisitive French woman) is commonly used American slang for female genitalia.
I also knew that I had to have my book party on Beaver Street. So I walked the length of the street, from Pearl to Broadway, searching for an appropriate venue. The only place that seemed like a possibility was the Killarney Rose, a bar at 80 Beaver Street. I walked in and discovered the upstairs lounge, which had the cozy feel of a private club. It was an ideal place for a book party.
All I had to do was finish writing Beaver Street and get it published. That took six more years. But on June 16, 2012, I did, indeed, have the launch party in the upstairs lounge of the Killarney Rose. And thus was born "Bloomsday on Beaver Street," a well-attended event celebrating literary books that had been branded pornography, like James Joyce's Ulysses and, of course, Beaver Street. The event went so well, we did it again the following year.
This year, at 7 P.M., Saturday, December 14, I and a talented troupe of professional actors, musicians, and writers will return to the upstairs lounge of the Killarney Rose to celebrate the publication of my new memoir, Bobby in Naziland: A Tale of Flatbush.
The cast, which includes Susan Barrett, Deametrice Eyster, Joe Gioco, Mary Lyn Maiscott, Byron Nilsson, Laralu Smith, and me, will read select passages from the book. I hope you can join us for a night of Bobby on Beaver Street. The event is free and you can find the invitation here.
MC Byron Nilsson delivers the opening monologue at Bloomsday on Beaver Street, June 16, 2012.
They came to The BookMark Shoppe, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on the night of November 9, by subway, automobile, bicycle, and foot to hear me read from Bobby in Naziland and answer questions about the book. It was the first time a bookstore within the five boroughs of New York City had held an event for one of my books. Among the audience were people I hadn't seen since high school and college; former Flatbushians; current Flatbushians; a fellow Headpress author; and a couple of complete strangers.
It was also the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass—the night Nazi leaders unleashed a series of pogroms against the Jewish population in Germany, the first act of what would become the Final Solution.
And though the Q&A that followed the reading inevitably turned to the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, and the traumatic aftereffects that World War II had on America in the 1950s, that night I'd chosen not to read about Nazis. Instead, I read from a chapter titled "The Great Candy-Store Tragedy," which is about my father's candy store on Church Avenue but also about the Brooklyn Dodgers, many of whom had lived nearby the bookstore.
The night was also a prelude to one more local event: "Bobby on Beaver Street," which will be held Saturday, December 14, at 7 P.M. in the upstairs lounge of the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street in downtown Manhattan. (The address is actually 127 Pearl Street, but there's also an entrance on Beaver Street.)
Readers of this blog will recall the Killarney Rose as the setting of the two "Bloomsday on Beaver Street" events I held on June 16, 2012 and 2013. The first event was the New York launch of my previous book, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography; the second event was a celebration of literary books that had been branded pornography, like Ulysses, by James Joyce (which takes place on June 16, 1904), and yes, Beaver Street.
"Bobby on Beaver Street" will feature actors such as Susan Barrett, Byron Nilsson, Joe Gioco, and Laralu Smith reading select passages from Bobby in Naziland. Barrett, who has appeared in such shows as 30 Rock, grew up next door to me and is intimately familiar with the material she will read. Nilsson will be returning as the Beaver Street MC. Gioco is currently appearing in as Judge Leo Tirone in Showtime's City on a Hill. And Smith's searing reading from the Molly Bloom section of Ulysses was a highlight of Bloomsday 2013.
The event is free. Please stay tuned for more details.
This is how it looked from Lexi Love's seat as she watched (left to right) Byron Nilsson, Laralu Smith, and Joe Gioco perform a scene from Mr. Sensitivity.
Who is going to come to a book event on a Sunday night on Father's Day? That's the question we confronted as we planned Bloomsday on Beaver Street II. And though it had crossed my mind to celebrate Bloomsday on Saturday, June 15, the whole point of any Bloomsday celebration is to celebrate it on Bloomsday, June 16. So, we stuck with the real Bloomsday, and we put out the word. And yes, I was concerned that like so many literary events I've attended as a spectator (and one event that I've participated in as a reader), the crowd would be negligible or worse.
Well, people came--thank God or the devil or whatever higher (or lower) power is paying attention for that. And though it wasn't the overflow crowd that packed the Killarney Rose last year, on a Saturday night, we did okay by the standards of any literary event.
The people to whom I’m most grateful—and you know who you are—are the dozen or so repeat customers, our hardcore supporters, our friends, neighbors, and family who came to Bloomsday on Beaver Street last year, and have come to more of Mary Lyn Maiscott and HooP’s shows than I can keep track of. They are the ones who can be counted on to buy our books and music, and have worked with us behind the scenes to help us make our way in an impossible business. We are lucky to have them in our lives.
Interestingly, two of the people who came as spectators last year, Eric Danville and Laralu Smith, made the transition this year to performers, with Eric reading his vintage ’70s-era Linda Lovelace advertising flyers and Laralu reading a Molly Bloom passage from Ulysses and performing in a scene from Byron Nilsson’s play, Mr. Sensitivity. It bears repeating that this is one of the unique aspects of our Bloomsday celebration—the way that the line between performer and spectator has been virtually erased, making for an unusually intimate setting.
And it goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) that it was great to see all the new faces, too, and that everybody’s enthusiasm and feedback was more than appreciated. As far as I know, everybody had a good time, audience and performers alike. So, thanks for joining us, and we hope to see you again next year, when Bloomsday falls on a Monday, the day after Father’s Day, which I’m sure will free up everybody’s complicated schedule. Read More
The Summer Fancy Foods Show at the Javits Center, in New York, which I attended yesterday, guided by food writer and chef Byron Nilsson (who was last seen emceeing Bloomsday on Beaver Street), was very much like Bookexpo America, held in May at the Javits Center, except with food. And as we walked the miles of aisles, trying to pace ourselves as we sampled the cheese, chocolate, candy, cake, coffee, condiments, barbeque, bread, pizza, pasta, pate, juices, mezcal, ices, honey, olives, and extra virgin olive oil, I noted that unlike the products they were pushing at the BEA--books that, for the most part, I had no interest in reading--I wanted to try everything I saw at the SFFS.
With the exception of one Japanese sweet that I was tempted to spit out, everything else I put in my mouth ranged from utterly delicious (Ferrara’s cheesecake, for example) to surprisingly good (kale salad with Caesar dressing).
Though nobody would mistake me for a foodie, I have been buying food, and cooking it with some flair, for my entire adult life. I was, in fact, confident enough in my culinary skills to cook pasta primavera (a dish I’m now known for on two continents and three countries) for Italians, in Italy, and I will, for fun and educational purposes, serve as sous-chef for my sister-in-law, a semi-professional cook. So it’s not as if I was completely out of my element at the SFFS.
A few highlights of my sampling frenzy:
Mezcal Sin Piedad: Mexican cuisine was well represented, and I was happy to discover that mezcal was among the products available for tasting. Sin Piedad caught my eye because I know some Spanish, but couldn’t figure out what the name meant. “Mezcal without what?” I asked Mario Mendoza, the man who came up with the product, which should soon be available in the U.S., and will retail for $90-$100.
“Mercy,” he replied. “Mezcal Without Mercy.”
“Great name,” I said, knocking back my first shot.
It was good, it was smooth, and the flavor reminded me a little of… bacon. The second shot (my third of the day) put a nice glow on the afternoon.
Hot Sauce: Speaking of Mexican, there was a lot of hot sauce to check out. I learned that hot sauce can be so hot, it can literally give you a heart attack, and that it’s calibrated according to hotness. I took a sample bottle of El Yucatco, calibrated at a very hot 4,500-5,000, and was warned not to try it without cutting it with sour cream or mayonnaise. I will take that warning to heart.
Olive Oil: Since Trader Joe’s opened in my neighborhood, I’ve been unable to resist their price on extra virgin olive oil—$5.99 for a 33.8 fluid ounce bottle. It’s always tasted fine to me… until yesterday, after I sampled a wide variety of super-luxury extra virgin olive oils from Italy, Spain, Greece, and Chile, which retailed for, shall we say, considerably more that $5.99. But the flavor of these oils blew Trader Joe’s out of the water, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back.
Egypt: There was no food to sample in the Egyptian aisle. Their products were locked in glass cases, like jewelry. I stood there looking at a box of Fruit Loops, with Arabic writing, as if it were a Tiffany necklace.
Mousse: I was too busy eating this company’s delicious vegetable mousse, which they served in adorable mini ice cream cones, to write down their name. My bad.
Ferrara’s Bakery: I’ve been going to this Little Italy institution for decades, and when I saw their booth, offering free samples of cheesecake, chocolate cake, and canoli, I went completely nuts.
Honey: Honey is made by bees, and there are scores of different honeys to sample at the show. But make no mistake about it: the bees are being poisoned by pesticides and, according to the beekeepers, they continue to die off at alarming rates. One of them told me that this year there’s been a 30 percent drop in the bee population in his area, Florida. It is an ecological disaster.
Camus Coffee: What writer can resist a product called Camus Coffee? Certainly not me, and by the time I went to sample the stuff, I was more than ready for that existential caffeine buzz. Turns out the company is better known for their luxury cognacs, which were not available for sampling, and that the proprietors are not related to Albert Camus. “Camus,” I was told, “is like Smith in France.”
If the 11 Bloomsday on Beaver Street performers were a football team, he'd be the all-pro fullback, the guy who anchors the offense and who you build your game plan around, the one you give the ball to when it's fourth and goal on the one-yard line, and you're trailing by six points with time running out.
But we're not a football team; we're a ragtag group of writers, actors, and musicians, and besides, he probably hates sports metaphors, anyway. He is, however, the guy who anchors Bloomsday on Beaver Street and whom I build the entire show around.
If you were at the Killarney Rose on June 16, then you’ll recognize Byron Nilsson as the emcee, my surrogate host, the big guy with the radio voice who did the opening monologue, all the introductions, performed in his own play, and to top it off, sang a cappella a dirty Irish ditty about a photographer and his Nikon.
Yes, there’d be a Bloomsday on Beaver Street even if Byron Nilsson didn’t exist. But the fact that he does exist, and is willing to travel 200 miles to perform at the Killarney Rose, makes my job of organizing, promoting, writing the script, and preparing my own reading, a task that’s not completely overwhelming.
It’s profoundly liberating for me to know that when I’m putting together Byron’s monologue and introductions, he can be counted on to deliver the jokes as professionally as any late-night talk show host, and he’ll know exactly where and how to improvise—all with minimal rehearsal.
And in the hours leading up to the show, as I’m getting progressively more nervous about my own performance, worrying if anybody is going to show up, and thinking I just want to get this over with and never do another event again, there’s Byron sitting on my couch, tapping away on his laptop, looking about as nervous as a man getting ready to eat dinner.
He is, in short, a calming influence who raises Bloomsday on Beaver Street to a level of professionalism that I wouldn’t be able to achieve on my own, and he makes me think that in years to come, anything is possible. Maybe we can even save literature. Read More
Left to right: Mary Lyn Maiscott, Byron Nilsson, Laralu Smith, and Joe Gioco perform a scene from Byron's Mr. Sensitivity.
Bloomsday on Beaver Street began, last year, as a book launch party before morphing, this year, into a "celebration of James Joyce, banned books, and sex acts that have inspired great works of literature." If you're wondering where this event may be headed in years to come, look no further than Laralu Smith, Joe Gioco, Byron Nilsson, and Mary Lyn Maiscott's reading of a scene from Byron's play, Mr. Sensitivity, which debuted at the 2009 New York Fringe Festival.
The play is ribald comedy about a husband (Byron) who presents his wife (Laralu) with a porn stud (Joe) as a birthday surprise. (Mary Lyn read the stage directions.) Highlights included watching Laralu transform herself from the dramatically aggrieved Molly Bloom, whom she played moments earlier, to the comically aggrieved Tiffany Lawrence, and listening to Joe recite with feeling porn star Barry Woodman's doggerel, which contains the classic line, "You’re so refined, so full of class;/You taught me how to touch your ass."
Mr. Sensitivity made Bloomsday on Beaver Street seem like an Off-Off-Broadway revue of literature, music, comedy, and theatre, where the line between the audience and the performers is almost nonexistent, and as Lexi Love demonstrated this year (and Bernie Goetz demonstrated last year), the performances themselves are completely unpredictable.
I see the event heading in a more theatrical direction, something Saturday Night Live or Second City-like, with a touch of the avant-garde thrown in for good measure. But designations like “On Broadway,” “Off-Broadway,” and “Off-Off-Broadway” seem somehow inappropriate. How about we call it “On Beaver.” You know, just like the song: “They say the neon lights are bright on Beaver…”
They’re obviously singing about the neon lights of the Killarney Rose. Read More
Thanks to adult actress and CEO of Exotic Interludes, Lexi Love, the widely read porno "trades," AVN, GT XXXTREME, and XBIZ, have given Bloomsday on Beaver Street II a little ink today. So, click on the above links and read all about how Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, Mary Lyn Maiscott, Byron Nilsson, HooP, Ray Fuld, and me, your host, Robert Rosen, will entertain you this Sunday, at 7:00 P.M., at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street in New York City.
Or click here to see the helpful mention that Media Bistro has given Bloomsday on Beaver Street, where low culture meets high, and you never know who the hell is going to show up. Read More
With ten days to go till Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition, I can now provide a rough idea of our literary, musical, and theatrical lineup.
Robert Rosen will read a historical passage from Beaver Street and the opening pages of his just-completed novel, Bobby in Naziland.
Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, the original basis for the film Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, will read from a collection of over-the-top vintage 1970s flyers advertising Lovelace’s 8mm loops.
Lainie Speiser will be read the Mia Isabella chapter of her book Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars.
Lexi Love, AVN Award nominated adult actress and inventor of the board game Uncle Don’s Exotic Interludes, will read from Cookie Mueller’s memoir, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black.
Actor and writer Bryon Nilsson will return as emcee and sing a song.
Laralu Smith will read a passage from the Molly Bloom section of James Joyce’s Ulysses that graphically demonstrates why the book was banned in America.
Joe Gioco, Laralu, and Byron will perform a staged reading of a scene Byron’s ribald play, Mr. Sensitivity, last seen at the New York Fringe Festival in 2009.
Singer-songwriter Mary Lyn Maiscott and guitarist HooP return to perform a selection of originals and covers.
Singer-songwriter Ray Fuld returns to perform original songs.
And if need be, we’ll go all night long. Read More
…direct from Cleveland, Ohio, where he's just completed a critically acclaimed run as James "Jimmy Tomorrow" Cameron in The Iceman Cometh, let's give it up for Paul Slimak!
Actually, it's not a stage, just an area on the floor at the upstairs bar of the Killarney Rose, at 80 Beaver Street, that we like to call a stage. But it is where all the Bloomsday on Beaver Street performances will be taking place, on Sunday, June 16, beginning at 7 P.M. And we have just received word that Slimak, whom you may know as degenerate Nazi fugitive Erich von Pauli from the Beaver Street videos (and whom I call "Henry Dorfman" in Beaver Street, the book) will be one of the performers.
Slimak and his wife, Agnes Herrmann, who plays Diana Clerkenwell in the Beaver Street videos (and whom you may have last seen in The Road, as Archer’s Woman), will perform a reading from Mr. Sensitivity, a play by our MC, Byron Nilsson, about a man who gives his wife a porn stud for her birthday. (Mr. Sensitivity was performed at the Fringe Festival in 2009.)
As a special bonus, Slimak, in the character of von Pauli, will introduce my first public reading of my novel, Bobby in Naziland: A Portrait of the Author as a Young Jew.
Maybe you're celebrating Maundy Thursday, but I'm celebrating the first anniversary of the U.S. publication of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, an event marked by a responsive reading of a review by Byron Nilsson, on a site called Words and Music, which ran one year ago today.
And quite a year it's been! The good news about Beaver Street, one year down the road, is that it's sold out on Amazon. Again. The bad news about Beaver Street, one year down the road, is that it's sold out on Amazon. Again.
I’m not about to complain about a book selling out repeatedly. I will only say that when the book does sell out, as it’s been doing the past two months, I’d be happier if Amazon got it back in stock more quickly or kept more copies in stock so it didn’t sell out as often.
And I will express gratitude for the fact that one year after its U.S. publication (and two years after its U.K. publication) critics continue to write about Beaver Street and people continue to buy it.
And finally, I will extend an open invitation to all readers to come to the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street on June 16 for the Second Annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street celebration. The Very Reverend Byron Nilsson will be presiding, and he thinks I know how to “make words dance.” He said so in his review. I will be doing my best to make those words dance in public. Read More
It's been almost six months since Bloomsday on Beaver Street, and even now when I run into people who were there, they still want to tell me stories about one particular guest at the event: Subway Vigilante Bernhard Goetz. It was only recently that I heard that "Bernie" was hanging out at the bar at the Killarney Rose, describing in detail to an enraptured audience how, on December 22, 1984, he'd shot four teenagers who'd accosted him on the subway. And it wasn't until long after the party that I heard about a lot of other things Goetz did that night, most of which are best not repeated here.
Goetz had come to the Killarney Rose because he's a porno fan and he's good friends with one of the main characters in Beaver Street, Pam Katz, whose real name is Joyce Snyder. Goetz had asked Snyder if he could read from the book at the launch event, and when Snyder passed along his request to me, I said, "Sounds crazy. Why not?"
In retrospect, I can think of a lot of good reasons why not. But Goetz showed up, took to the stage, and delivered a surreal non-reading. Here, at last, is the long-awaited video clip of his “performance.” That’s Byron Nilsson introducing Goetz and that’s Joyce Snyder calling out from the audience, “Read the book! Just read the book!” Read More
It has been almost six months since the Bloomsday on Beaver Street launch party at the Killarney Rose for my investigative memoir, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. This celebration of banned books, James Joyce, Ulysses, and all literature that has been branded pornographic, featured readings, rock 'n' roll, opera, and a surreal non-performance by a man who once ran for mayor of New York City.
Though I've posted a few truncated video clips of some of the performances, it's only recently that I've come into possession of the official Bloomsday on Beaver Street video--a complete documentation of every moment of the event. Here's the first excerpt: MC Byron Nilsson's masterful introductory monologue.
Stay tuned to relive the entire night, clip by clip. Read More
Until the official Bloomsday on Beaver Street video is available, these clips, shot by Bette Yee on her iPhone, will serve as a record of what happened at the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street, in New York City, on the extraordinary night of June 16, 2012, at the launch party for my investigative memoir Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.
The MC (or “MC Supreme,” as I’ve come to call him) is Byron Nilsson. The videos above and below are in chronological order. If you were there, chances are you’re in one of these videos.
Twelve years ago, when my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, was published, Amazon was a company I loved. After having had the book rejected by every publisher in creation for 18 years, it was thrilling to watch Nowhere Man shoot up the sales rankings to heights that I’d never imagined possible. Not only was Amazon instrumental in turning the book into a bestseller in multiple countries and multiple languages, but anytime there was a problem with the book’s page, I was able to call my Amazon contact and she’d fix it immediately while I was holding on the phone. It all seemed miraculous.
I’m not going to go into any detail here about what’s going on with Amazon now. (If you’re interested, there’s an excellent article in the June 25 issue of The New Yorker that spells it all out; you can read the abstract here.) But if you’ve been following this blog, then you know that I’ve been having my problems with Amazon. It took three months before they gave the paperback edition of Beaver Street a buy box, meaning that it was impossible to order the book directly through Amazon. Though the company attributed the absence of a buy box to a variety of ongoing bureaucratic and computer problems, and told me that they’d never ban a book due to its content, most journalists and readers I spoke to about the book’s unavailability perceived the matter as a case of Amazon banning Beaver Street because of its explicit sexual and volatile political content.
It was only after I told Amazon’s PR department that the New York launch event, Bloomsday on Beaver Street, was turning into a public protest against the banning of Beaver Street that a buy box appeared on the Beaver Street page. But that wasn’t the end of it—the book still remained unavailable close to 100% of the time. Amazon would order one copy of Beaver Street. It would sell within a couple of hours. And it would again be out of stock for the next 9-11 days. This was the situation as Bloomsday on Beaver Street rolled around.
The Bloomsday MC Supreme, Byron Nilsson, is, among many things, a professional journalist, and he intimated on his blog, on March 28, the day the book was published, that there appeared to be something unusual happening with Beaver Street on Amazon. At the Bloomsday event, which was, indeed, a celebration of literature that some had branded as “smut” and “filth” (like James Joyce’s Ulysses and Beaver Street), Nilsson spoke eloquently about my Amazon problem, and described what was happening as “passive-aggressive book banning.”
So, where does this issue stand now, ten days after the event? Yesterday, Amazon appeared to have more than one copy of Beaver Street in stock. As of this morning, there’s one left. Will it ever end? Read More
I’ve written frequently on this blog about Joyce Snyder, a former coworker at Swank Publications and a character in Beaver Street whom I describe as a “mutant pornographic genius.” I call her “Pam Katz” in the book for a variety of reasons, but since she filed an age-and-sex-discrimination lawsuit against our former boss, porn king Louis Perretta, I now use her real name.
Snyder, as I explained in an earlier posting, is a close friend of the so-called “Subway Vigilante,” Bernhard Goetz, who was one of the performers at the Bloomsday on Beaver Street book launch party at the Killarney Rose on June 16.
Those of you who were there know that Goetz didn’t exactly perform as advertised. He was supposed to read a passage from Beaver Street about Snyder-Katz, but instead delivered an incoherent monologue about the book as Snyder called out to him from the audience, “Just read the book, Bernie!”
In describing Snyder’s relationship with Goetz, I mentioned that in an outrageous display of John Waters-style tastelessness, at which Snyder excels, she paid tribute to Goetz in one of her classic porn films, Raw Talent III. The Goetz character, played by Jerry Butler, masturbates on four black women who accost him on a subway train.
What I neglected to say is that this scene is a parody film within the film, titled The X-Rated Adventures of Bornhard Goetz, and was nominated for Best Sex Scene at the Adult Video News Awards in 1989.
Snyder mentioned that she feels some responsibility for Goetz’s behavior at the Killarney Rose. “A book party is like a lady’s wedding,” she wrote to me yesterday. “It is always well planned and it must go perfectly. Bernie just refuses to do as told and as agreed, [and] has to go his own way. I don’t know what the problem is. Maybe too much testosterone?”
As far as I’m concerned, Joyce, Bloomsday on Beaver Street could not have gone better. The energy in the room was so good, there was nothing Bernie could have done (short of shooting somebody) that would have ruined the evening. Indeed, his presence added a surrealistic touch and an extra jolt of electricity.
The only one with any regrets, I think, is the MC Supreme, Byron Nilsson, who thought of the perfect introduction for Goetz only after he introduced him. That introduction would have been, “And now, ladies and gentlemen, here’s a real blast from the past…” Read More
Originally, I was going to be the MC for Bloomsday on Beaver Street. It was a job I didn’t especially relish and one I’d never done before. But like virtually everything else having to do with Beaver Street, it became a case of: If you want something done then you’ve got to do it yourself. So, I was game.
Then, Byron Nilsson, who was scheduled to read and sing a song at the event, asked me, “Who’s the MC?”
“You are,” I said.
Byron, a seasoned and multitalented stage performer, as well as a professional writer who was one of my primary contributors when I was editing porn magazines, accepted the job eagerly, thereby becoming a triple threat: MC, guest reader of both Beaver Street and Ulysses, and guest singer. He did it all flawlessly.
As MC, he moved the show along in an entertaining and professional manner, concisely explaining why we were celebrating Beaver Street on Bloomsday; judiciously noting the anniversaries of Deep Throat and Watergate and deftly pointing out their connection to Beaver Street; succinctly describing Amazon’s so-called “passive-aggressive banning” of Beaver Street; and doing an especially good job of telling the story of how, 92 years ago, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, led by Anthony Comstock, succeeded in having Ulysses banned in the U.S. for obscenity because of James Joyce’s description of Leopold Bloom masturbating, which is, perhaps, the most poetic description of the male orgasm in the English language.
With a polished and theatrical delivery, Byron read this notorious passage from Ulysses, and then followed it with an equally stunning reading from Chapter 11 of Beaver Street, “The D-Cup Aesthetic.”
And his a cappella rendition of an Irish song, “The Photographer,” full of double entendres, was a showstopper, as well. My sister-in-law, I noticed, practically fell off her seat laughing.
So please, give it up for Byron Nilsson, who from now on I shall call MC Supreme! Read More
Saturday night, Bloomsday, a whole lot of people came to the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street to celebrate the New York launch of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. My family was there. My neighbors were there. My friends were there. People from my high school and junior high school, who I hadn't seen in more than 40 years, were there. Some of my former coworkers, notably Joyce Snyder ("Pam Katz" in Beaver Street) and Sonja Wagner, were there. A few members of the media were there. Gary “HooP” Hoopengardner and my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, provided live music, with a little help from our friends and neighbors. Byron Nilsson, a writer/actor/singer/pornographer, did an amazing job as MC. And, of course, I read from the book--the so-called "dirty part," that I've been reluctant to read in certain bookstores, but read without hesitation for Bloomsday on Beaver Street. And then, as you may have noticed, there was the surreal appearance of Bernhard Goetz--yes, that Bernhard Goetz--who had asked to read from Beaver Street, but instead refused to read from the book and--how shall I put this?--delivered a disjointed dissertation that seemed to have something to do with Beaver Street.
Many things were spoken of at the Killarney Rose on Bloomsday: literature, pornography, book banning, censorship, Amazon, Watergate. In future postings, I’ll write in greater detail about this night to remember. But for now, as I sort out my thoughts and await photographic evidence of some of the things I mentioned above, I simply want to thank everybody for coming to the best Bloomsday party in New York City and reminding me why I became a writer. Read More
For years I've been thinking that when Beaver Street is published in the U.S., I'm going to have the New York launch party at the Killarney Rose, at 80 Beaver Street. This old Irish bar is not far from the spot on Beaver and Broad where I looked up one day and saw the street sign that gave me the title of the book. Though I've poked my head into the Killarney Rose a couple of time to make sure it really exists and is not a figment of my imagination, I've never sat at the bar and had a drink.
Yesterday, my friend Byron Nilsson was in town. Byron’s a writer with an expertise in computers whom I met on the Internet in the mid-90s when I was editing a few dozen porn mags, and he became a regular contributor to such distinguished titles as D-Cup, Sex Acts, and Plump & Pink. We decided to walk down to Beaver Street and have drink at the Killarney Rose.
We went to the upstairs bar (there’s another bar downstairs), which seemed like a cozy private club because there was only one other person sitting there. The Australian bartender, Michelle, greeted us as warmly as I’ve ever been greeted upon walking into a New York City bar. As she drew a couple of pints, she asked us why we’d come to the Killarney Rose. I told her that I’d written a book called Beaver Street and thought this might be the perfect place to have the launch party—there’s a great back room that seems ideal for readings. Michelle immediately summoned the owner, John Moran, who was enthused by the idea of a Beaver Street launch party, especially after I told him, “I’m going to invite everybody I know in New York.”
Moran said that he'd give my guests a good price on food and drink and that musicians would be able to plug in their amps and provide live entertainment.
I said that perhaps I could even persuade Headpress to kick in a couple of quid so we could have an open bar, at least for the first guests to arrive. (Are you reading, David?)
By the time we’d finished our beers, the friendly barmaid, Michelle, the woman sitting at the bar, and the owner were all eager to get their hands on a copy of Beaver Street.
So, here’s where it stands: I’m leaving for L.A. next week for the Book Soup event, and will be back towards the end of May. I’m thinking that early-to-mid June is the time to launch Beaver Street on Beaver Street. I’ll read from the book—the “dirty part,” of course. Mary Lyn Maiscott and guitarist extraordinaire Gary Hoopengardner will provide the music. And Byron, who’s also an actor, has volunteered to read from the book as if performing a Shakespearian monologue. Hell, anybody who wants to read from Beaver Street is welcome to come up to the microphone and show their stuff.
Everybody’s invited and I look forward to seeing you on Beaver Street in June. Read More
I'm leaving for St. Louis tomorrow for the Beaver Street launch events at Left Bank Books and Shameless Grounds coffeehouse. I doubt I'm going to have time to blog every day, but I did want to do one more post before I plunge into the chaos of the road.
Byron Nilsson is a writer whom I met online in the mid-1990s when I was searching for someone to write a column for D-Cup magazine about the “pornocopia” of free X-rated material that had suddenly become available in cyberspace. Byron, a skilled journalist, an erudite pervert, and a computer expert, was perfect. So, I hired him, and he became one of my most reliable and frequent contributors, staying with me till the end.
To celebrate the US release of Beaver Street yesterday, Byron posted a piece on his blog that’s a combination review, memoir, and cultural/historical/political critique. To his credit, he does not shy away from commenting on the fact that Tea Party congressman Scott Garrett has been accepting campaign contributions from my former boss, Porn King Louis Perretta.
In the essay, “Protecting Us from the Evil of Protecting Us from Evil,” Byron describes Beaver Street as an “entertaining... well written... hands-on, first-person romp through the business of smut in the last part of the 20th century.” He also credits me with knowing how to “make words dance,” and with “grinding out some of the most amusing girl copy” he’s ever seen.
You can read the entire essay here. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing all you guys in St. Louie. Read More