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Far From Flatbush

The Lennon Vibe

Today, John Lennon’s birthday--he would have been 73--is a day that I always acknowledge in one way or another. In past years, I've often spent October 9 talking on the radio about Lennon's life and death, and how a few months after his murder I was given his diaries, which became a prime source of information for my book Nowhere Man. Other years I've wandered uptown, to Strawberry Fields, to pay my respects to a man who changed my life. Today, I intend to quietly observe Lennon's birthday at home, taking at least a few moments to Imagine Peace, as corny as that might sound.

But next Tuesday, October 15, at 8:00 PM, at the 2A bar in the East Village, I will be celebrating Lennon's life by reading from three chapters of Nowhere Man. Joining me will be my Title TK co-producers Eric Danville and Lainie Speiser, adult actress Alia Janine, radio personality Ralph Sutton, writer James Sasser, character actor David Healy, and writer and musician Mary Lyn Maiscott.

The event, as always, is free, and if you have an urge to tune into the Lennon vibe, 2A is the place to be on Tuesday night. Read More 
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Lennonight

 

They were into wordplay, John and Yoko, especially when it came to their names, which lent themselves to a variety of combinations, like Lenono Music and Discono, a title John suggested for one of Yoko's LPs. In that spirit, I'm calling this post "Lennonight," which will take place at 8:00 PM, on Tuesday, October 15, in the upstairs lounge of the 2A bar in the East Village.

This is number four in the Tuesday night reading series that Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been producing. We've christened our spoken-word collective Title TK, and Listen to This Reading is our celebration of John Lennon's birthday--he would have been 73 on October 9.

I’m going to read from my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, specifically the opening chapter, “Being Rich,” the closing chapter, “Dakota Fantasy,” and “Chapter 27,” which is a reference to the nonexistent chapter of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the novel that drove Mark David Chapman to murder.

Mary Lyn Maiscott, who’s more accustomed to performing with a guitar in hand, will read from “Birth of a Song,” the Nowhere Man chapter that explores the inspiration behind Lennon’s “I’m Losing You,” which Mary Lyn covered at the first Bloomsday on Beaver Street.

Lainie will read from May Pang’s memoir, Loving John.

Other readers include actor David Healy, adult actress Alia Janine, actor James Sasser, and radio personality Ralph Sutton.

As always, admission is free and there’s no cover.

In other Title TK news, Lexi Love has created a long-awaited Bloomsday on Beaver Street page on her Website. The page features some very cool photos and the complete audio of her reading that night. Check it out for a taste of the unexpected drama you can expect on October 15, at 2A Read More 

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The Eichmann Transition

New York Times article from May 25, 1960.
Mary Lyn Maiscott, aka the Mistress of Syntax, is an editor whose judgment I trust implicitly. (That's one reason I married her.) She edited my two previous books, Nowhere Man and Beaver Street. In both cases, when they were accepted for publication, the editors at the publishing houses barely changed a word.

Four months ago, having finally reached the point where I felt I could do no more on my own, I gave Mary Lyn the complete manuscript for Bobby in Naziland, a novel I'd been working on for more than five years and had shown to nobody. She has since read it and has been giving me feedback--specifically flagging passages that she thought could be clarified, tightened, or somehow improved. (I gave an example of this in a previous post.)

Though I’ve been making improvements, there’s one passage that’s been driving me crazy since 2009, and that I continue to struggle with. It’s the primary thing that stands between me and a finished book. I call it “The Eichmann Transition.”

The capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Final Solution, is a story that I knew as well as any story: In 1960, the Mossad kidnapped Eichmann off the street in Buenos Aires and spirited him back to Israel to stand trail for crimes against humanity. I drew on my memory of these events to write a chapter titled “Tales of Eichmann.”

But when I turned to the historical record to check the accuracy of my memory, I came upon a fantastic tale that had been declassified only a few years earlier, and that changed the very essence of the story. Though the Mossad had taken all the credit for capturing Eichmann, acting as if they’d learned of his whereabouts clairvoyantly, it so happens a former Dachau inmate who’d fled with his family to Argentina had tipped them off.

Once settled in his new country, the former inmate, Lothar Hermann, did such a good job of concealing his Jewish identity, not even his teenage daughter Silvia knew about it. She was, in fact, so oblivious of her heritage that she began dating Eichmann’s rabidly anti-Semitic son Klaus, who used his real name and bragged to the Hermanns that his father was a high-ranking Gestapo officer.

The Hermanns, acting as spies, then confirmed Adolf Eichmann’s identity, at which point the Mossad took over.

This story, reduced to little more than a historical footnote, remains generally unknown to anybody who hadn’t researched the matter in the past few years. And it cried out to be included in Bobby in Naziland, a fictional memoir that in part explores the meaning of memory. But how to include it? The story of the Hermanns was not part of the narrator’s memory and its inclusion seemed to violate the narrative structure of the book.

And this is what I continue to struggle with—how to seamlessly transition from what the narrator remembers about Eichmann to what he couldn’t have possibly known, because nobody outside a select inner circle knew it.

Sometimes it feels as if Eichmann will be the death of me yet. But, I swear, with a little help from the Mistress of Syntax, I’ll nail the bastard sooner or later. Read More 
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In Denial

In the Adolf Eichmann chapter of Bobby in Naziland, the novel to which I'm currently applying some finishing touches, one of the things the Mistress of Syntax flagged was my reference to a bone-grinding machine used in death camps. She wanted to know if the machine had been built specifically for use in the camps. This was a good question, I thought, and turned to Google for an answer. The search terms I put in, as shown in the graphic, were: bone grinding machine Nazis. I was shocked and dismayed to see that the first three results were Holocaust denial sites. (In a search two days later, the denial sites placed two and four, and the order continues to change.)

One of the first things that popped into my head was the idea of a kid in grade school, who knows nothing about the Holocaust, being given an assignment to write a report about the Nazis. He goes to Google and the first thing he sees is that the Holocaust didn't happen, thereby handing a tremendous victory to the deniers.

I posted this on Facebook, and it led to a surprisingly large number of comments, notably from fellow Headpress writer Shade Rupe, who’s done a great deal of Holocaust research.

What I hadn’t mentioned on Facebook was that part of the inspiration for Bobby in Naziland was my own dealings with a Holocaust-denying conspiracy theorist who’d read Nowhere Man, and in Internet postings that described me as a “Jewish writer,” said that I was the Zionist-funded CIA spymaster who’d given the order to kill John Lennon. He also tried to goad me into an online debate about whether or not the Holocaust really happened.

In the book’s endnotes, I say of this (naturally) pseudonymous fellow, “That there are people like this lurking on the Internet should come as no surprise to anybody. That other people who call themselves journalists echo such theories in cyberspace and, on occasion, have published them in books, and in at least one legitimate newspaper, is an alarming truth that cannot be ignored.”

That’s just the way it is in the fact-free 21st century. Holocaust denial is spreading and Bobby in Naziland is, in part, my own small response to it, for whatever that may be worth.

And, yes, the bone-grinding machines were specifically built to grind human bones in Nazi death camps. Read More 
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Sex & Politics, American Style

The image on the right is the flyer for the next event at the 2A bar, 25 Avenue A, in the East Village, where Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been coordinating a series of readings for the past few months. The theme for Tuesday night, September 17, is politics--specifically sexual and gender politics.

In celebration of this theme, I'll be reading the section from Beaver Street that ties together Lyndon Johnson's Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, Richard Nixon, Billy Graham, Charles H. Keating, Deep Throat, and Watergate. All in about 1,300 words.

Whitney Strub, an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University, will be reading from his first book, Perversion for Profit (Columbia University Press), which was just released in paperback, and which covers material that’s almost identical to what I cover in Beaver Street. (You can read a review comparing the two books here.) The title is a reference to an anti-porn film produced by banker and convicted felon Charles H. Keating, who might have described Strub as a “permissive professor dedicated to a position of complete moral anarchy.” Our kind of educator, in other words.

J. C. Malone, a take-no-prisoners political columnist for Listin Diario, in the Dominican Republic, will read one of his columns, posible en español. Translation will be provided. Here’s a link to a recent Malone dispatch from the Bronx.

Malone’s daughter Gloria Malone, who writes for Teen Mom NYC, will read “I Was a Teenage Mother,” her Op Ed piece that ran in The New York Times.

Other performers include Lainie, who will read from Election, by Tom Percotta, adult film star Britney Shannon, actor David Healy, and actor Peter Loureiro.

It promises to be a provocative and enlightening evening, and we hope to see you there. Admission is free and the event runs from 8:00-10:00 P.M. Read More 
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Return of the Beaver

It's been nearly seven weeks since I last posted here, and the ninth day of the ninth month (see Nowhere Man) seems like an auspicious day to declare an end to summer hours. Regular readers of what used to be The Daily Beaver will notice the name change. I'm now calling this blog The Sporadic Beaver, which means that I'm no longer going to post Monday-Friday, but will make the effort to post at least once every week.

A lot has been going on since July 24:

· I’ve given the complete Bobby in Naziland manuscript to the Mistress of Syntax, who has read the entire thing. I’ve since been working on corrections and rewrites.

· The Beaver Street Kindle edition was re-released on Amazon U.S. and Canada, and last week it was the #1 “Hot New Release” in pop culture books in the U.S., and the #2 “Hot New Release” in art books, behind Gertrude Stein’s The World Is Round, in Canada. This is my first #1 anything in the U.S. since September 2000, when Nowhere Man was riding high on numerous bestseller lists.

· In other Amazon news, the secretive company has made the Kindle edition of Beaver Street unavailable in the U.K., telling me that they “don’t have the rights to sell it.” This is what Amazon U.S. told me last year about the print edition of the book—before the threat of a public protest against Amazon censorship persuaded them to make the book available. Perhaps the Brits will sort this one out, though they’ve given no indication that they’re capable of doing so.

· I’ve been kicking back in Machiasport, Maine; Saint Andrews, New Brunswick; and Greenacres, Florida, doing my best not to think about Amazon or any of the other routine aggravations that the publishing industry is so good at generating.

· Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been preparing for our next group reading on Tuesday, September 17, at 8:00 P.M., at the 2A bar in the East Village. The theme is politics, and I’ll be reading from the Lockhart Commission/Deep Throat/Watergate section of Beaver Street. Stay tuned for more info, and in the meantime, you can listen to Eric talk about Deep Throat on The Rialto ReportRead More 
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No Porn Please, We're British

If I believed in astrology, I'd attribute the events of the past couple of days to the fact that, on July 23, the zodiac moved into Leo, the sign under which I was born. But since I don't believe in astrology I'll have to attribute these events to the fact that for more than two years I've been talking nonstop about Beaver Street to anybody who'll listen.

This morning, an article on CNBC about the U.K.'s Internet pornography ban, "No Porn Please, We're British," by Chris Morris, mentions Beaver Street. Morris asked me what I thought would happen now that anybody in England who wants to look at X-rated material on his computer will be asked by their ISP to verify his age and confirm that he wants to watch smut.

“Obviously people are not going to want to do that,” I said. “People just don’t want to come out in public and say ‘I want to look at porn.’ A lot of people who do look at porn are inhibited, shy people.”

And in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that online porn is “corroding childhood,” I added, “If kids want to look at pornography, they usually figure out how to do it.”

That’s the first time I’ve ever given a PM a piece of my mind.

Then, last night, at the 2A bar in the East Village—along with Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace; adult actress Brittany Andrews; Bobby Black, senior editor of High Times, and actor Jeffrey Emerson—I celebrated Hunter Thompson’s birthday (he was born July 18, under the sign of Cancer) by reading from “Mein Kar,” a Thompson parody about a Mercedes-Benz road test that I wrote for D-Cup magazine, and the opening pages of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which inspired the parody.

A huge thanks to everybody who came out to see us, and especially to Eric and Lainie Speiser, who put the event together! Read More 
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My Last Hunter Thompson Parody

Hunter S. Thompson did for journalism what the Beatles did for rock 'n' roll--he made everybody want to be a journalist, even John Lennon, who wanted to play Thompson in the movie after he read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I read Fear and Loathing when I was 21, and I saw my future. "I can do this," I thought. I wanted someone to pay me to go places, take drugs, and write stories about it.

Since that day, I’ve read Fear and Loathing so many times, my copy of the book disintegrated.

I went through a phase in graduate school where everything I wrote came out sounding like Hunter Thompson. I was possessed by him, and one of my teachers literally performed an in-class exorcism—everybody started chanting, trying to purge Thompson’s spirit from my system. It didn’t work.

I think I finally got rid of him around 1990, when I wrote a parody review of a Mercedes-Benz for D-Cup magazine—I was editing a car magazine, too, and I was always getting cars to test drive. This was the last Thompson parody I ever wrote, and it was also the last time that Mercedes ever gave me a car.

On Tuesday, July 23, at 8 P.M., at a Hunter Thompson birthday celebration in the upstairs lounge of the 2A bar, at 25 Avenue A in New York, I’ll be reading this parody, “Mein Kar” (featuring renegade Nazi Erich von Pauli), along with the passage from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that inspired it.

Joining me will be senior High Times editor Bobby Black, adult film star Brittany Andrews, and actor/writer Jeffery Emerson.

Hope to see you there, especially if you couldn’t make it to the last Eric Danville, Robert Rosen, Lainie Speiser production, Bloomsday on Beaver Street. There is no cover charge. Read More 
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This Is Cool

John Mozzer was an information technology specialist who'd received security clearance from the National Security Agency. But in his secret life, one that he lived from 1978 to 1995, he was Alan Adrian, a pornographic actor who appeared in 67 XXX-rated movies, including such classics as A Taste of Money, Inside Little Oral Annie, Maid in Manhattan, Babylon Blue, Oriental Techniques in Pain and Pleasure, Centerfold Fever, and The Devil in Miss Jones II.

Now retired and living in L.A., Mozzer tends to an extensive archive of material related to the porn industry. He also knows many of the characters from Beaver Street, and he recently posted a review of the book on Amazon. I think the review serves as a perfect example of the kind of dialogue that I'd hoped Beaver Street would spark, and which I'd encourage people to continue.

This is what Mozzer had to say:


A Fascinating Read

My original reason for reading Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography is that my world overlapped with author Robert Rosen’s world during the 1980s. I worked as an adult film actor (under the name Alan Adrian or Spike), a representative for magazine distributing and printing companies that profited by serving the porn industry, and a freelance writer and photographer for some of Rosen’s colleagues.

It’s a shame that names have to be changed in non-fiction books like Beaver Street. I was hoping to recognize the colleagues whose names were changed by Rosen. But that didn’t happen. I suspect this means it will be all the more difficult for future writers on this topic to figure out who’s who.

To my surprise, in Chapter 4, Rosen describes Carl Ruderman, the person with the money behind High Society, as very involved with its day-to-day operation. Furthermore, his anecdotes about working for High Society came across as very credible. I found myself feeling, “I’m sure these things really happened.” Nevertheless, I think caution is in order, because Rosen’s stint at High Society is a small fraction of the magazine’s life, and the situation may have changed over time. After finishing Chapter 4, I decided the extent to which Ruderman involved himself with the day-to-day operation of High Society, over the long run, remains an open question.

Years ago, I heard about the murder of editor Bill Bottiggi. But I never knew about the circumstances leading up to the murder, as Rosen describes it. I find Rosen’s account very disconcerting. After all these years, I have to reconsider placing Bottiggi in the “all good” and “nice guy” category in my head. Initially, I believed Rosen’s account. Later, I found myself not wanting to believe it, and longing for accounts by other people who knew Bottiggi.

Rosen presents strong arguments against society for allowing Traci Lords to get away with hoodwinking the porn industry. In fact, his arguments made me very, very pissed off at her.

Beaver Street was truly a book that I couldn’t put down. I learned tons of stuff that I didn’t know. You don’t need to have been involved with the porn industry, like myself, in order to enjoy the book. You don’t even have to be involved with researching the subject. Beaver Street is a fascinating book to read. Read More 

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Summer Hours

I'll be posting here sporadically over the course of the summer. So go enjoy yourselves, read a good book, and don’t forget to use sunscreen. Read More 
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Let's Hear It for the Crowd

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 
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What About Me?

Robert Rosen prepares the audience for his reading from Bobby in Naziland. Photo © Cindy Rosen.
Having written about every Bloomsday on Beaver Street performer except for myself, it's probably time to say a few words about my own performance. Beyond noting that I know I've done better and I know I've done worse as a reader of my own work, I'm not going to get into a masochistic self-critique. But I will add that reading a piece of fiction as emotionally intimate as Bobby in Naziland was nerve-wracking--more nerve-wracking than reading from the so-called "dirty part" of Beaver Street, as I did at events last year.

It was, however, encouraging to hear laughter in the all the right places. And I took it as a positive sign when yesterday, one of my neighbors who came to the event stopped me in the street to say, as if she were surprised, "You really are a good writer."

In a lot of ways, Bloomsday on Beaver Street II was an experiment. It’s the first time I’ve ever organized an event with other readers, and it’s the first time I’ve ever worked directly with professional actors and a professional PR person. Which is to say that coordinating a show with 11 writers, actors, and musicians, all of whom are performing because they want to perform, is complicated and stressful, but ultimately rewarding. Again, I offer my humble thanks to everybody who participated.

It has also come to my attention that my aggressive promotion of the event surprised some people—especially those who know me, and regard me as a laid back kind of fellow. Having been on the receiving end of such promotions, I know how annoying this can be. But the promotion, too, was an experiment. I know that last year, despite the overflowing turnout, I didn’t promote the event aggressively enough. There were at least a half dozen people who told me that they would have come, but somehow got the date or the time wrong. I wanted to make sure that this didn’t happen again. Hence, the constant stream of reminders, on Facebook and elsewhere. Event promotion is still new territory for me, and I’m simply trying to get it right.

And I will try again next year, for Bloomsday on Beaver Street III, which will commemorate the 100th anniversary of when James Joyce began writing that damn book, which he called UlyssesRead More 
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Like the BEA with Food

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.”

The show continues through July 2. Read More 

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Michael Paul: Paparazzo of the Self

Many of the pictures you've been looking at on The Daily Beaver for the past ten days were shot by Michael Paul, whose work has appeared frequently on this blog, and who was, more or less, the in-house Bloomsday on Beaver Street photographer.

One of Michael's specialties is the group selfie. So, in case you've been wondering what the man behind the camera looks like--and who hasn't?--here he is, posing after the show with me and my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott. Ain't we a threesome?

Stay tuned for more paparazzo shots of the non-selfie variety. Read More 
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The Big Guy

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 
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The Music of Transgression

Left to right: Mary Lyn Maiscott, Samantha Echo, and HooP, perform Angel Tattooed Ballerina at the Killarney Rose. Photo © Michael Paul.
Bloomsday on Beaver Street is a family affair in the Rosen-Maiscott household. I take care of the literary end of things, and Mary Lyn, whether she knows it or not, is the musical director.

This year, Mary Lyn and guitarist Gary "HooP" Hoopengardner--vice president of the New York chapter of Guitars Not Guns, an organization devoted to stopping school violence--returned to the Killarney Rose, along with backup vocalist Samantha Echo, who also sang two of her own songs.

The musical themes for the night were literature, Ulysses, and transgression, and every song performed referred to at least one of them. Mary Lyn opened with You Can't Do That, the Beatles classic that she sang 13 years ago, at the publication party for my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. (You can hear it on her CD, Blue Lights.) Samantha provided the soaring backup vocals for Mary Lyn’s next song, the just completed Angel Tattooed Ballerina, about a boy who wants to be a girl struggling with his (or her) sexuality. And she ended the set with Madam Olenska, a tribute to the scandalously divorced central character in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocense, published in 1920, the same year as Ulysses.

The second set, which followed the readings, began with singer-songwriter Ray Fuld performing two originals, including a tune about a Brooklyn hooah, which seemed to be the perfect complement to my reading from Bobby in Naziland.

Next up was Samantha, who’d studied Ulysses in college, and sang her song about Gerty MacDowell, the character who was responsible for provoking Leopold Bloom to an act of public onanism, which was the passage that got Ulysses banned in the United States. (You can see Samantha perform regularly at the South Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, just a couple of blocks from Beaver Street.)

Finally, Mary Lyn and HooP returned for two more songs, Toxic City, Mary Lyn’s paean to Paris, where Ulysses was originally published, and Crucified, a religiously transgressive song about sex.

All in all, it was a night of good music and good literature, and you should have been there. But if you weren’t, we will have video in the coming weeks, and there’s always next year. Never too early to make plans. Read More 
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Redefining the New York Literary Event

Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, the original basis for the forthcoming film Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, brought a touch of the avant-garde to Bloomsday on Beaver Street. Rather than read from his book, as he did at his own Whole Lotta Lovelace event last June, he read descriptions of Lovelace's 8mm loops from vintage '70s-era fliers put out by a San Francisco mail-order company, K.R. Enterprises.

Though Eric considers himself more of a "literary cover band" when it comes to live readings, his Bloomsday performance seemed to be an exercise in transforming objets trouvés into performance art. He read the flyers as if they were they were diverse bits of a surreal monologue featuring the sleaziest examples of illiterate porno hucksterism: ad copy for films about bestiality and "golden showers."

Like so much else that happened at the Killarney Rose, on June 16, Eric’s reading extended the parameters of what you might expect to see and hear at a New York literary event. The spirit of James Joyce, if I’m not mistaken, gave him a double thumbs up.

I thought that I heard him laughing. Read More 
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New Horizons in Entertainment

Lainie Speiser, a public relations professional who spent a decade at Penthouse, and was instrumental in bringing Bloomsday on Beaver Street to the attention of the masses (and Lexi Love to Beaver Street), also writes books about what she knows best--sex and porn stars. Her titles include The Little Bit Naughty Book of Blowjobs, The Manhattan Madam's Guide to Great Sex, and Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars, an X-rated trilogy that adorns the shelves of erotic literature fans everywhere.

Like many writers, getting up in front of people and reading from her books is something that Lainie prefers not to do. But she also understands that in today's book biz, writers are expected to be performers, too, and if you want people to read your books, then you have put on a show.

Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars is not the kind of book that writers normally read at literary events. But it is the book that Lainie chose to read on Bloomsday—to a crowd at the Killarney Rose that consisted mostly of people unfamiliar with the adult industry, and who considered it genuinely exotic to be able to chat with a porn star like Lexi Love between performances.

Lainie read her interview with Mia Isabella, known to her fans as “the cutest little TS chick with the biggest candy stick,” which, in plain English, means she looks like a beautiful woman, but if you reach inside her lace panties, you’ll find a 10-inch penis.

Among the lines that Lainie delivered with aplomb, and that provoked uproarious laughter in the appreciative audience were, “I enjoy looking at my tiny hand holding my great big cock,” “I have a wonderful boyfriend, and he tries to fuck me at least six times a day,” and “Hold the doors open and treat us like ladies,” which is Mia’s advice for “tranny chasers.”

Nothing like introducing literature lovers to new horizons in entertainment. Read More 
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Off-Off-Broadway? No. More Like "On-Beaver"

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 
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A Prayer to the Spirit of Joyce

Laralu Smith's reading of an excerpt from Molly Bloom's soliloquy in Ulysses, at Bloomsday on Beaver Street, was offered as a prayer to the spirit of James Joyce. The passage also serves as a graphic example of why Ulysses was banned in America.

In the scene, Molly is thinking about her lover as she lies in bed next to her husband, Leopold Bloom. It contains the following lines:

“I wished he was here or somebody to let myself go with and come again like that I feel all fire inside me or if I could dream it when he made me spend the 2nd time tickling me behind with his finger I was coming for about 5 minutes with my legs round him I had to hug him after O Lord I wanted to shout out all sorts of things fuck or shit or anything at all…”

The reading was an electrifying moment. When Laralu stepped up to the microphone, something changed in her eyes, as if a switch had been flipped. The spirit of Molly Bloom, Irish accent and all, flowed into her, and took possession. It was almost frightening.

In the hands of a lesser actress, such a reading might have sounded smutty. But in Laralu’s hands, it became the deeply moving cri de coeur of a woman who has come to symbolize all women.

Bravo, Laralu! Read More 
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A Different Kind of Naked

"Bizarre" may sound like an inappropriate word to describe a woman's public breakdown. But that is one of the words I used yesterday in describing what happened to adult actress Lexi Love when she read from Cookie Mueller's memoir, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, at Bloomsday on Beaver Street. ("Stunning" was the other word.) To be clear, it wasn't Love's breakdown that I found bizarre. It's that I didn’t understand what was happening, and neither did a lot of other people.

Love seemed fine as she rehearsed before the event, reading the part about the narrator's lover suffering from infectious hepatitis--the part that would push her over the edge an hour later. Her main concern was the correct pronunciation of certain drugs and diseases referenced in the book.

“This is not the kind of book I usually read,” she said, professing a preference for the works of Malcolm Gladwell.

“You can feel pretty naked, sitting up there and reading,” I told her.

“I’m used to being naked in front of people.”

“It’s a different kind of naked.”

Love’s performance began smoothly enough, with the actress saying a few words about her career in X. She then turned to the book, and the breakdown began around paragraph three. That’s when I asked Mary Lyn Maiscott, one of the musicians, “Is she acting or is she really crying?”

“She’s acting,” my wife replied with certainty.

And I thought: Of course she’s acting. If she were having a breakdown, she’d stop reading and explain what was going on.

But Love bravely plowed on, finishing the chapter.

It was only afterwards that she explained that the scene reminded her of her own mother’s recent death from hepatitis, and that’s why she began crying.

“That’s what I loved about Lexi’s reading,” said Lainie Speiser, who read from her book Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars. “That’s what readings used to be about—the excitement of not knowing what was going to happen.”

And that’s what Bloomsday on Beaver Street will continue to be about. Fortunately, we all have a year to recover. Read More 
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Something Happened

Too much happened last night, at the second annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street, at the Killarney Rose, to process right now. If I'm counting correctly, there were 11 performers altogether, and I shall give them all their due over the coming days. But the one that everybody's talking about is Lexi Love, and her reading from Cookie Mueller's memoir, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black.

I'm not sure I understand exactly what happened, or why. But as she read the book's opening pages, a scene in which the narrator visits her lover in a hospital, where he’s being treated for infectious hepatitis, Lexi began to cry--and it was impossible to tell if she was acting or going to pieces in front of us.

I, for one, thought she was acting. Lexi is, after all, an adult actress with more than 500 films to her credit. But, as it turned out, she was having a breakdown. Apparently—and I’m sure somebody will correct me if I’m wrong—the scene reminded her of her own mother’s death from hepatitis.

It was a bizarre and stunning thing to witness, and for the time being, I’m just going to leave it at that. Read More 
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Sneak Preview

The narrator and his non-fictional mother, circa 1957. Any resemblance between them and characters in Bobby in Naziland is purely coincidental.
I know certain people, specifically members of my family and perhaps some high school and junior high school classmates, are coming to Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition to hear me read the opening pages of my just completed novel, Bobby In Naziland, which is set in Brooklyn in the 1950s and '60s.

For them, I offer a preview of my introductory remarks, subject to modification:

For those of you familiar with my work, this is a bit of a departure. For those of you not familiar with my work, this is one way to get acquainted.

A lot of people have been asking me, “What’s this thing you’ve been working on for five years?” This thing is called Bobby In Naziland, and as this is my first public reading from the book, I’ll answer that question in detail in The Prologue, which I’ll read tonight along with the opening pages of the first chapter.

But before I begin, I want to say that this is the kind of book that I should prepare my mother for before I publish it, as there’s a character in the novel that the narrator, who might resemble me in certain ways, but is not me, calls “my mother.” I know there are some people here who talk to my mother and are related to my mother—my real mother, not the character in the book. I ask them: What you hear on Beaver Street stays on Beaver Street. So, please, let’s just keep this among ourselves for now. Don’t squeal on me, I believe, is the correct terminology. Or at least the terminology that the narrator would use. Read More 
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One Night Only

This event is happening five days after Bloomsday. But Lexi Love will be there, too, and she'll be auctioning herself off for a date to benefit the victims of the Oklahoma tornados. Check her out THIS SUNDAY in the more intimate Beaver Street setting.
By all outward appearances, this Bloomsday on Beaver Street thing is really happening in about 55 hours, and that means that I've got to put the finishing touches on emcee Byron Nilsson's script and remind my multitude of overbooked and date-and-time challenged literature-loving friends that the event is THIS SUNDAY, at 7:00 P.M., at the upstairs bar of the Killarney Rose, at 80 Beaver Street in New York City. That means if you're on my mailing list or a Facebook friend, you'll soon be receiving one last gentle reminder. And if you're a special case with a sense of time that can perhaps be described as "Majorcan," you can expect a personal phone call from me. So, pick up.

In the meantime, I'll share a fun fact about James Joyce's Ulysses, which is one of the books we'll be celebrating THIS SUNDAY: In episode 17, "Ithaca," in the wee hours of June 17, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus's "nocturnal perambulation" through Dublin take them to Beaver Street. Joyce writes: "the visit to the disorderly house of Mrs Bella Cohen, 82 Tyrone street, lower, and subsequent brawl and chance medley in Beaver street (Armageddon)…"

And finally: Adult actress and CEO of Exotic Interludes, Lexi Love, who will be reading THIS SUNDAY, on Beaver Street, will also be auctioning herself off for a one-on-one date on June 21, Fleshbot Friday, at Headquarters, in Manhattan. The event is a benefit for victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes and all proceeds will go to the Red Cross. You might keep in mind that seven months ago, during Hurricane Sandy, Beaver Street and the Killarney Rose were underwater. Read More 
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Read All About It!

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 
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An American in Copenhagen; A Dane in New York

Last night, for an infusion of inspiration, I went to a reading at 192 Books, a little gem of an independent store, about the size of my living room, in Chelsea. The event couldn't have been more different than what we have planned for Bloomsday on Beaver Street II, on Sunday.

The readers were Thomas E. Kennedy, an American novelist, originally from Queens, who's lived in Copenhagen for the past 30 years, and Naja Marie Aidt, a Danish writer, born in Greenland, who's lived in Brooklyn for the past five years.

While everything about Bloomsday cries “underground”—Porn Stars! Banned Books!—the sedate and respectful scene at 192 was more mainstream and literary establishment. Kennedy, probably best known for his Copenhagen Quartet, a series of novels set in that city, has published 27 books, and has been compared to James Joyce.

Aidt, whose novels, short stories, and poetry, are now being translated into English, was awarded what Kennedy described as “the Little Nobel,” the 2008 Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, for her novel Bavian, or Baboon, in English.

But the readings themselves, delivered to a crowd of about 30 people gathered around a table, were not sedate, and the availability of free Tuborg Danish beer, both light and dark, only enhanced the literary atmosphere.

Kennedy read from the opening pages his latest novel, Kerrigan in Copenhagen, a poetically rendered travelogue of a middle-aged writer’s efforts to “research” all 1,500 “serving houses,” or pubs, in the Danish capital, and he served up a good 20 minutes of irony, drinking, sex, and humor.

And though Aidt’s a short story, “Blackcurrant,” might have been a little on the sedate side, her poem, whose title I didn’t catch, contained a line about getting “fucked” against a wall, and held my attention throughout.

As Kennedy went to high school in Brooklyn, and Aidt now lives there, the readings were followed by a discussion about the enormous size and geographical complexity of New York’s trendiest borough. Aidt said that she’d like to get to know Brooklyn better, but no longer tries, because it’s too big and confusing. Kennedy then cited the Thomas Wolfe story, “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” reading the last line, “It’d take a guy a lifetime to know Brooklyn t’roo an’ t’roo. An’ even den, yuh wouldn’t know it all.”

The two writers both seemed like the sort of people who might enjoy what we have on tap for Bloomsday on Beaver Street. Kennedy, unfortunately, was leaving for Boston. But when I told Aidt that I’d be doing my first public reading of Bobby in Naziland, which is set in Brooklyn in the 1950s and ’60s, she asked, “What neighborhood?”

“Flatbush,” I told her, and handed her an invitation.

We’ll see if the Danish poet ventures across the East River for a taste of the New York underground, and to hear about a time when Brooklyn was a provincial burb and a place to escape from. Read More 

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Sex! Comedy! Music! Drama! Celebrities! (And It's Free!)

Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition is five days away, and it's starting to feel like the run up to D-Day around here. The musicians are coming in a few hours to rehearse. A backup singer is coming to audition. There are set lists to finalize, technical issues to sort out.

Elsewhere in the universe, actors, writers, and porn stars are preparing their readings; an emcee is practicing his monologue and his song. A lot of people are doing a lot of things to make Bloomsday happen. Because a simple literary event just doesn't cut it anymore. In 2013, you can't have a couple of 20th century authors stand in front of a microphone and read from dusty old books. You need more if you want people to pay attention. You need sex, comedy, music, drama, celebrities. You need it live, and if you're doing it for love, as we are, then you may as well give it away for free, as we are.

So come to the Killarney Rose on June 16. Meet me, Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, Lexi Love, the spirit of James Joyce, and all the musicians and actors who, at this very moment, are working to provide you with the best postmodern literary event that money can’t buy.

And a big New York City thanks to Jamie Maclean at the Erotic Review, in London, for running our Fab 4 invite in his distinguished magazine. Read More 
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Obsessive? Moi?

I've heard it through the grapevine that some people, especially those who get my Facebook feed, are getting a little tired of hearing about Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition, which, in case you haven't heard, takes place this Sunday, at 7 P.M., at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street. (You can download your invitation here).

In a perfect world, I'd prefer to be doing other things besides promoting a yearly literary/theatrical/musical event. There are books to write, bills to pay, groceries to buy, bathrooms to clean, meals to cook, cats to feed… Getting people to come to Bloomsday should involve no more than a couple of phone calls, maybe a group e-mail, and perhaps a handful of casual mentions to my neighbors when I see them in the elevator.

But in this overbooked world, where social engagements are in constant flux, and using a wall calendar to keep track of such engagements has become virtually obsolete, a constant social media and blog presence has proven to be a necessity, as I found out last year.

So, to those of you who’ve grown weary of my blog and social media obsessiveness, please bear with me. Bloomsday on Beaver Street is an event worth coming to, as those of you who came last year have been telling me all year. There are a lot of talented people working very hard behind the scenes to make sure that this will be the most entertaining Bloomsday party in New York. And if I didn’t think that was the case, I wouldn’t bother trying to get you to come. I mean, really, how often do you think I throw a party featuring writers, musician, actors, and porn stars?

Come to think of it, I never have, as the first Bloomsday lacked the presence of a genuine porn star. What more can I say? Read More 
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Happy Anniversary, Deep Throat


Amanda Seyfried shows off her porno skills in Lovelace
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How did an hour-long loop shot in six days for under $25,000, about a woman whose clitoris was in her throat, earn over $600 million, and become the eleventh-highest-grossing film of 1973? How did the ability to swallow an enormous penis without gagging become, that same year, America's #1 topic of dinner-table conversation? How did buying a ticket to a dirty movie become an act of revolution and political protest? And how did Linda Lovelace become the world's first porno superstar?

Blame it on Richard Nixon. It was June 19, 1972, exactly one week after Deep Throat premiered in porn houses across America (and three days after Bloomsday), that the Watergate story broke on the front page of The Washington Post, and Nixon, in an attempt to distract the country from the emerging scandal and unraveling cover-up, ordered the FBI to shut down every theater showing Deep Throat, to confiscate every print, and to arrest the actors and the filmmakers responsible for it. And "Deep Throat" became not only the title of a film and a renowned sex act, but the code name for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's FBI source, who was feeding them the information they needed to bring down a president.

We will be celebrating this anniversary on Bloomsday on Beaver Street II, as Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, the book that was the original inspiration for the forthcoming film Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, reads from a collection of over-the-top vintage 1970s flyers advertising the late deep-throat artist’s 8mm loops. And we will come to a deeper understanding of how, though Ms. Lovelace’s athletic skills, Deep Throat would become a cultural touchstone, its commercial success in the pornographic arena still unsurpassed.

Joining Eric will be authors Robert Rosen and Lainie Speiser, adult actress Lexi Love, and a host of musicians and actors. The event is free, and you can download your invite here. Hope to see you on Sunday, June 16, at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street, for the best Bloomsday party in New York City. Read More 
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A Really Big Show

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 
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