Carnival Sin – Vest-Pocket Book #101, 1962
Vest-Pocket Books only put out four titles, two each in a box:small trimmed little flip-books. It was an experiment that didn’t fly. There’s no publisher listed but it was apparently a product of Camerarts, publisher of Novel and Merit Books, based on the back cover copy: “Men — You Can’t Afford To Miss This One!”
Hitt was Camerarts’ star writer from 1962-4, until Hitt had some reprint and money issues with the publisher.
Speaking of money, these two little books are a rare find, and tend to go for outrageous prices: in the $600-700 range. Why, I have no idea. A few months ago I was bidding on eBay for these Vest-Pockets, went up to $120, and someone paid nearly $200 for them. I’m glad I didn’t bid higher because two months later I found them at the Mission Hills Paperback Show in L.A. for a very, very reasonable price–albeit not in the best condition, I wondered if the seller knew what they had.
They’re not quite the Orrie Hitt Holy Grail like Panda Bear Passion, which I am still trying to locate — and Cabin Fever, anyone? I am five titles away from having a full Hitt collection. The other two are Cherry (a Kay Adda, Torrid Cheat and Honey (both Chariot).
Another carney stripper tale, this one is told from the perspective of “Bubbles,” so named for her breasts. She’s shacked up with the owner, but the show is nearly bankrupt and she’s given her man her savings so he can meet payroll. Now she regrets it.
She gets talked into doing a new dance craze in her act, “The Twist.” Everyone is ga-ga for Chubby Checker’s twist dance, where drunk suburban housewives at parties are known to take off their clothes when doing it.
And then an old flame shows up, Johnny, working as a wrestler. He’s been hopping from one carnival act to another searching for her, when he heard she was dancing. They were an item back home, but he had sex with her sister so she dumped him. Now he wants her back and she doesn’t know what to do.
“Johnny, I don’t want to hurt you. Can you appreciate that?”
“I think so but you have just the same. With your sister — what chance did I have to explain? You caught us and we were through.”
“We’re still through,” she said gently. “Hurting you proves nothing and it makes me feel badly. But, Johnny, I am serious about somebody. I’m terrible serious and if that stings I can’t help it. Do you want me to lie to you?” (p. 153)
The little books are 220 pages, with 19 lines of text per page, so about 40,000 words. So far this is the best of Hitt’s carney novels, but still just an average tale, that on the Hitt Scale comes in at 7.5.