Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Paperback 449: Starlet Sinner / Carl Mando (Pillow Book No. 1102)

Paperback 449: Pillow Book No. 1102 (PBO, 1963)

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 [1]. Arla was life itself [2], 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 [3].
[1] 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.

[2] Let us pause to acknowledge the awesomeness that is the name "Arla" ... OK, that's enough.

[3] 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.


Sean Brodrick said...

Pillow book #1102? How many in this horrible series have been written? Wouldn't the writer(s) and artist(s) have died of a sense of shame somewhere along the way?

JamiSings said...

It's obvious, she's fallen into the hands of an infomercial-exercise-equipment-obsessed taxidermist/serial killer. Here we see her after she has been stuffed and mounted on Ron Popeil's latest invention, the home rocking butt-exerciser. Every purchase comes with a free wig. Just 12 easy payments of $19.99 plus shipping and handling.

This case will eventually go on to inspire five episodes of Law & Order: SVU, three CSIs, two Criminal Minds, and one Doctor Who where the serial killer will be replaced with an alien who'll have sex with anyone of any gender and eventually be killed by Amy Pond while the killer alien is in a hot same-sex liplock with Captain Jack Harkness. She'll kill it by strangling it with the Doctor's bow tie.

Sara said...

Clearly that is a Model-A Abdominizer. But she is doing it all wrong.

John Flanagan said...

As for the slideshow, "A Thousand Beds" gets my vote.

Pat said...

I vote for "Lesbian Twins" for the slideshow.

Anonymous said...

Now I know why we need the word "ghastly"!

borky said...

When I was a kid, the BBC used to show Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, and sundry other US stuff from the 30s; and in many of them there'd be an exploding cigar type scene, where someone with a sorry looking flummoxed expression on their face ended up looking like a Black and White Minstrel.

I kept trying to see our starlet as Harpo Marx because of course of the hair.

But in the end I realised the book should be called Starlet Sinner - The Secret Adult Movie of Stan Laurel.

The sequel, in turn, should be called A Blow-up Sex Toy Called 'Olly', because clearly what we're seeing on the cover is a still from the movie of Stan about to wrap his mouth around a black package - whoops, missus! - which, as he continues blowing air into it'll gradually expand to reveal 'Olly' in trademark suit and bowler - minus kecks - at which point Stan'll probably start sending Laughing Gravy in Olly's direction.

toad said...

In the sixties girls used to set their hair with beer cans and/or toilet paper rolls. True story! Then they would back comb their hair to get the big hair helmet effect. Really!

Random White Guy said...

As for the slideshow: you should use a selection showcasing fear hand, killer POV, floating heads, and Frank!

And if you can find one book that features all four of these, that would be the most Epic Cover Ever.

borky said...

Presumably a slide show means little or none of your original hilarious commentary, in which case I'll go purely for the covers.

In no particular order:

Raymond Chandler's Finger Man, (because Clark Gable's clearly getting that finger ready, and to go by 'Toots'' erect nipple and lascivious enamoured smile it's a cert he'll be getting to use it).

(By the eight purple headed objects of Qoink, and the seven blue dragons of Burp), R.L. Fanthorpe's Negative Minus.

Gil Brewer's Wild to Possess, because "she lit a fuse inside men", (and boy did they have to take a lot of antibiotics to put it back out!).

Barbara Bonham's Diagnosis: Love - every crappy hospital soap ever made encapsulated on one cover.

Bruno Fischer's The Lady Kills, where the cover lady gets to be the peg and the guy in the form of his coiled whip gets to be the hole.

Day Keene's Too Hot to Hold - for its cover's astonishing industrial/urban beauty and for being a complete evocative mystery tale all to itself.

Erle Stanley Gardner's Daring Decoy, for a floozy who's so blitzed her arse can't even find the step, yet who pulls off her calamitous indisposition with the classiness of a master 'piece' on display in a 19th Century Paris Art Salon.

John Dexter's A Thousand Beds - where the ridiculous becomes the sublime.

Paul M said...

@Rex - I thought you were a student of these books, how can you not immediately know what's going on here?

In the late 50's there were several things going on out in Cali and in medium-hard core. First, women were inbetween using and rejecting bathing caps. Around the Big Sur, there came to be a fad of bathing cap wigss, where it looked as if you weren't wearing a bathing cap, but your real hair stayed safely dry, though a little mussed. They tended to look ridiculous

As to the cover, it was stolen, hence the lack of attribution, from a previous work "Love among the Sea Lions" which was, contrary to your initial take, totally literal, and not related to the sexcapades of pirates or admirals. Yup, actual Sea Lions. With people.

So, on the original 1959 artwork, there was this naked bathing beauty (the coloration is due to the removial of the bikini and resulting tan lines, nothing else) being ravaged by a Sea Lion. I believe the artwork was by I.M Thewalrus. For this, apparently pathetic, story, the Sea Lion had to go, hence the epically bad artwork.

Lacey said...

Been there
Done that
Story of my life

Lisa in Oz said...

These are all covers I love - not sure I could narrow down a list of WTF covers. :)

The Four False Weapons - John Dickson Carr. What's not to love?

The Drowner - John D. MacDonald. I'm guessing this one isn't very popular, but it's uber creepy and gorgeously styled and that's an awesome combination.

I Fear You Not - Ben Kerr. Half the reason I love this one is because of the back cover - do you get to include those, or just the fronts?

Louisville Saturday - Margaret Long. I forgot this was the first one you bought until I went searching for the post, and that's a pretty good reason to include it. But I'm just voting for it because it rocks. :)

Anonymous said...

The Huffington Post piece led me to your website which has given new meaning to my life. You are hilarious and I can't wait to fill hours and hours of on-the-clock work time here!

TRB said...

The image on this cover appears to be a bad drawing of a particular photo of a Playboy model from the early 1960s named Christa Speck. She was actually rather pretty and had a lovely, healthy figure but, yes, she did have at that time a puffed up hair style not much better than the one in the drawing. Googling her name will probably turn up the photo that the artist copied for his drawing.