Title: Starlet Sinner
Author: Carl Mando
Cover artist: Uncredited (I've never been so sad about uncredited artwork ...)
Yours for: a short essay explaining how this young woman came to be in this (exact) position (essay must account for a. the hair; b. the ... coloring?; c. the bangles; and d. the giant slug she appears to have mounted.
[My friend Doug Peterson brings me vintage paperbacks almost every time we see each other (usually at crossword puzzle tournaments), and last weekend in NYC was no exception. His offerings this time were especially juicy, and this book may be the juiciest of the bunch.]
Best things about this cover:
- This picture looks like a shape-shifter caught midway between human and sea lion.
- I know the shading on her body is supposed to represent a tan line, but I swear it looks more like residue from an explosion. Like ... she was in her apartment in just her underwear and a bomb went off and then she thought maybe her underwear was burning her so she tore it off and started to run outside but felt naked ('cause she was) and so threw on an oversize wig and hugged a throw pillow to her chest and ran outside but then she tripped. That's where we came in...
- Or maybe she has oxidized, somehow. It does say she was "Rusty."
- The title page of this book claims that this book is "A Pillow Book Limited Edition"; and you can see why. It's not often you get the chance to get your hands on the Worst Girl Art Of All Time.
Best things about this back cover:
- Wow, she really doesn't get any better up close. And moving those breasts in closer to me is indeed distracting, but not in the way the cover probably intends. The only thing they've aroused is mild revulsion.
- The typesetter must have had a "Justify—Random" setting.
- "Reputed" makes me laugh every time I look at it. Kind of a hi-falutin' word for a sleaze paperback. Or ... wait. I think technically, mathematically, that's "negative Reputed"
Page 123~ (please be terrible please be terrible...)
The warmth of the emotion began to work over me to finally erupt into a searing flame that drained me to the depths . Arla was life itself , everything that was living centered within her and she lived this moment through to its fulfillment. The film ended and there was a moment of contentment between us before we began to get ourselves back into shape and back into the realm of reality . I don't know how a searing flame drains you, but I do know that the full extent of their touching at this point is hand-holding. I read and re-read the preceding material, and he is either emotionally overwrought or comes really, really easily.
 Let us pause to acknowledge the awesomeness that is the name "Arla" ... OK, that's enough.
 This reads exactly like every other bad porn passage I've read from 60s sleaze novels (fuzzy on the details, hackneyed in its imagery, written by someone who appears to be being paid by the word, etc.), but again, I'm telling you, I Can't Find Anything Sexual That Happened. To be specific, in the preceding paragraph, he puts his hand on her knee, she puts her hand on his hand, and then, in a gesture that is probably supposed to be erotic but just sounds weird and awkward [a theme of this book, if the cover picture is any indication], "she began to squeeze [his] fingers, each pressure being stronger than the one that preceded the one before" [sic sic sic!]. His fingers. Is that a metaphor? A metonym? Are his fingers his penis? His penises? I think this is probably the most thought that has ever been put into the literary interpretation of "Starlet Sinner."
P.S. a pretty major media outlet wants me to put together a slideshow of 12 of my Pop Sensation paperback covers, to be published on their website. If you have any particular favorites you think deserve wide exposure, let me know (in comments section, or by email). Thanks.