Archive for August, 2009

Some Orrie Hitt Biography — Brian Ritt’s “The Sleazy Side of the Street”

Posted in Orrie Hitt, sleazecore with tags , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2009 by orriehittfan

Reprinted from a May 29, 2009 blog post on James Reasoner’s Rough Edges, providing some interesting and curious facts about the noir poet of sleazecore.

THE SLEAZY SIDE OF THE STREET
by Brian Ritt

Hitt - Lady is a LushGrab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worries on the doorstep
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street
On The Sunny Side of the Street
(McHugh/Fields)

Orrie Hitt wrote about low-rent people in low-rent places.

His men were rotten to the core, as bad as they come, lust prowlers, promoters, cheaters, suckers, pushovers, and Peeping Tom’s. Their names were Dutch, Arch, Rip, Brick, Buck, Shad, Slade, Big Mike, Clint Crown, Johnny Vandal, and Jerry Slink. They dreamed and schemed, manipulated and manhandled.

HITT - LADIES MANMeet one of Hitt’s men: “He was a big man, a couple of inches over 6 feet, and he weighed 180 pounds. None of his weightwas fat. He was all raw muscle and bone with broad shoulders and close cut sandy hair. As for being handsome he didn’t know… Most of the women thought he was pretty much of a man at the age of 26 and that, to Dutch, was what counted.”
Naked Flesh, Kozy Books, 1962, pg. 3

His women were too hot to handle, ex-virgins, frigid wives, sin dolls, wayward girls, torrid cheats, easy women, frustrated females, inflamed dames and, most often, trapped. Their names were Sheba, Sherry, Honey, Candy, Cherry, Betty French, and Lola Champ. They used what they had to use to make a buck–limited opportunities left them few other choices. They were duped and deceived, approached and abandoned.

Hitt - Man HungryMeet one of Hitt’s women: “Jutting breasts, a flat stomach, willing hips, anxious thighs and legs that demanded all of the man in me, bringing to both of us an ancient pleasure which never grew old.”
Man-Hungry Female, Novel Books, 1962, pg. 127

His places were shabby streets, strip alleys, pleasure grounds, private clubs, passion pools, girls dormitories, dirt farms, nudist camps, and sexurbia counties.

Enter one of Hitt’s places–The Hotel Shelly: “By my watch, every night in this creep joint was too long. The rugs in the lobby were faded and the seats of the chairs sagged worse than the knees in my pants. The manager had a lousy disposition and a couple of ulcers as big as watermelons. One of the bellhops was always chasing strange-acting guys. After almost a month in this racket I was ready to get out of the hotel business for good.”
Shabby Street, Beacon Books, 1958, pg. 5

You might even say Hitt wrote about low-rent emotions: unnatural urges, warped desires, untamed lusts, tormented passions, taboo thrills, and strange longings. Once he even wrote a book about panda bear passions.

Hitt - Naked FleshExperience one of Hitt’s emotions: “His hands roamed her body as a savage roams the darkness of an unknown jungle. He filled his hands with her, sensing the rich beauty of her flesh, and he bore down on her mouth, crushing her lips. She twisted nearer to him, moaning with longing and anticipation, her restraint shattered, her fingernails clawing at his skin, bringing pain, turning the desire that he felt into raw, reckless lust.”
Naked Flesh, Kozy Books, 1962, pg. 56

But there was nothing low-rent about Orrie Hitt.

Behind the tawdry and lurid titles, covers, and subject matter of Hitt’s books was a beloved and faithful family man who worked ten to fourteen hours a day.

Hitt - Dial M for ManHe was born Orrie Edwin Hitt in Colchester (now Roscoe), New York, on October 27, 1916. Died in a VA hospital in Montrose, New York, from cancer, on December 7, 1975. He married Charlotte Tucker in Port Jervis, New York (a small town upstate where he became a lifelong resident), on Valentine’s Day, 1943. Orrie and Charlotte Hitt had four children — Joyce, Margaret, David, and Nancy. In contrast to his macho male protagonists, Orrie was slightly under 5’5″, and took a 27 inch inseam, which his wife had to alter because stores didn’t sell pants that short. But he was a hell of a tough old bird, who had more grit and backbone than anynumber of his fictional he-men combined.

Hitt wrote approximately 150 books. Sources differ as to the exact number. Even Orrie himself wasn’t sure. “I’m no adding machine”, Hitt answered on the back cover of his book Naked Flesh, when asked how many books he’d written. “All I do is write. I usually start at seven in the morning, take 20 minutes for lunch and continue until about four in the afternoon.”

Hitt - Carnival Honeu

In his prime, Hitt wrote a novel every two weeks, typing over 85 words per minute. “His fastest and best works were produced when he was allowed to type whatever he wanted,” said Hitt’s children. “His slowest works were produced when publishers insisted on a certain kind of novel, extra spicy, etc.”

(Note: a large part of the information in this article comes from a lengthy interview with Orrie Hitt’s four children, conducted in 1993 by R. C. Holland for his fanzine “Books Are Everything!” He conducted the interviews by mail, and combined the answers into single blocks, rather than quoting each individual. I’ll do the same for this article, and when quoting, will simply refer to “Hitt’s children”.)

Most of Hitt’s books were PBOs. He wrote a few hardcovers, as well. Pseudonyms include Kay Addams, Joe Black, Roger Normandie, Charles Verne, and Nicky Weaver. Publishers include Avon, Beacon (later Softcover Library), Chariot, Domino (Lancer), Ember Library, Gaslight, Key Publishing, Kozy, MacFadden, Midwood, Novel, P.E.C, Red Lantern, Sabre, Uni-books, Valentine Books, Vantage Press, Vest-Pocket, and Wisdom House.
Weaver - Hitt - Love or Kill Them All

Normandie - Race with Lust
He wrote in what is known today as the “sleaze” or “adults only” genre. Many of the writers in this genre were hacks, using the thinnest of plots merely as an excuse to throw some “tits and ass” (to borrow a phrase from a famous Lenny Bruce stand-up bit) between two covers to make a quick buck. Other writers used the genre as a stepping stone to more “legitimate” writing, later unwilling to discuss this part of their career. And there were a few like Orrie Hitt, whose writing left an original, idiosyncratic and, in my opinion, lasting mark even beyond the horizons of 1950s-mid 60s “sleaze” publishing.

What made Hitt unique was simple, really–his belief and passion that he was writing realistically about the needs and desires, the brutality (both verbal and physical), the hypocritical lives inside the quaintly painted suburban tracts houses, and the limited economic opportunities for women that lay beneath the glossy, Super Cinecolor, Father Knows Best surface of American life as it was culturally represented during the 1950s and early 60s.

Hitt - Lonely FleshHitt observed and investigated the people and places he wrote about. When he wanted to write about a nudist camp, he went to a nudist camp though, his children were quick to admit, “he would not disrobe”.

His research allowed him to write convincingly enough so that author Susan Stryker, in her book Queer Pulp: Perverted Passions from the Golden Age of the Paperback, says, “Only one actual lesbian, Kay Addams, writing as Orrie Hitt, is known to have churned out semipornographic sleaze novels for a predominantly male audience.” Stryker actually thinks “Orrie Hitt” is a pseudonym, and “Kay Addams” is a real lesbian author! I’m sure Orrie’d be laughing his ass off about that one

Addams - Secret Perversions of Kay Addams.

“[My agent] was obviously under the impression that women didn’t have breasts”, Hitt wrote in an autobiographical article for Men’s Digest magazine, “and that you didn’t write about them if they did — or that men and women slept together.”

But it wasn’t just about sex for Orrie Hitt. It was also about guts.

“The characters,” Hitt’s protagonist–a movie producer complimenting a screenwriter on her work–says in the novelMan-Hungry Female, “were very real, red blooded people who tore at the guts of life. That’s what I’m after. Guts.”

And if there was one person who knew about guts, it was Orrie Hitt.

Hitt - Pasion HuntersLife started out tough for Hitt. His father committed suicide when Orrie was 11 years old. “Dad seldom spoke of his father, who had committed suicide, because it was a very unpleasant chapter in his life,” said Hitt’s children.

After his father’s death, Orrie and his mother moved to Forestburgh, New York, where they worked for a private hunting and fishing club. Orrie started out doing chores for the wealthy members and was paid 10 cents an hour. Later, the club’s management offered him a better job, at 25 cents an hour–good money during those Depression-era years. Eventually, he became the club’s caretaker and head supervisor.

“Dad talked a lot about working as a child to help his mother make ends meet,” Hitt’s children recalled. “He wanted his children to have a better life while growing up.”

Hitt - Private ClubTragedy struck Hitt again during those years at the private club. Hitt’s children explain: “Dad’s mom died at her sister’s house on the club property during an ice storm, so dad walked to the house to get his mother and carried her back to his car in order to get her body into town.”

Sometime between his father’s and mother’s death, Orrie Hitt decided he wanted to be a writer. Initially, his ambition was greeted with something less than cheers and applause.

“I guess I was in my second year in high school when the teacher gave me the bad news.” Hitt wrote in Men’s Digest. “I’d never make it as a writer. To begin with, I didn’t know up from down about the English language and, secondly, I was too much of a dreamer.”

Hitt continued. “Well, it hurt. Almost anything hurts a kid of 15. What the teacher told me hurt especially because those were the years of the Great Depression and I knew, since my widowed mother was only making $50 a month as a hotel chambermaid, that there would never be enough money for college…It seemed to me that the teacher had taken that hope away from me, the only real hope I’d ever had since I can remember.”

But the lack of encouragement from Orrie’s “educator” didn’t stop him. He soon started writing articles for outdoor magazines — and sold them.

“The articles dealt with animal raising,” Orrie wrote, “all kinds of trapping and hunting and fishing, things which I knew about because I spent my vacations and weekends with relations in the country. When the teacher did learn of my luck she said nothing.”

A couple years later, Hitt and his sophomore teacher had a final contretemps.

“During that last year in high school I was told that an educational book published once a year in Albany would consider articles on school subjects from students and teachers,” wrote Hitt. “I wrote about our rifle club and mailed the material to them. The teacher who told me I couldn’t write selected some other subject. My article was published and the teacher’s article was rejected. After that I was pretty sure that, right or wrong, the guy I saw in the mirror when I shaved was the man whose advice I’d follow.”

Hitt continued writing and selling articles and short stories while working at the private club, although the long hours left him little time to write. He also met and acquired an agent.

Hitt - Diploma DollsThen came World War II, and the 24-year-old Orrie Hitt enlisted in the Army, “going in as a private and coming out as a First Lieutenant.”

Orrie met the woman who would become his wife during his service in the war, and upon his release, he not only had a wife to support, but a child, as well. In order to support his family, he had to curtail his writing career for the next 6-8 years, taking a variety of odd jobs which barely paid the bills. He sold life insurance, roofing and siding, and frozen foods to stores. He worked for a local automotive firm and marketed a new type of sparkplug. He worked for a local radio station as a DJ and ad salesman. Altogether, he worked between 15 to 17 jobs, all the while pining to pursue the passion he felt he was born for.

“Oh, I might’ve done a few short stories which didn’t sell but I’m not counting them,” Orrie wrote. “A book was in the back of my mind and I was unable to shake it.”

And then the Iceland cometh.

Iceland???

Yes, Iceland.Hitt - two of a kind

“My next stop was Keflavik, Iceland, working at the airport hotel and, again, the pay could’ve been better,” Orrie wrote. “However, I found in Iceland what I wanted. Once I had learned my duties there was plenty of time to write. And this time it was a book.”

Hitt worked at the airport hotel for a year, and by the end of the year he’d written two more books.

Throughout that year, Hitt had submitted all three books to his agent in New York. The agent’s responses, one after another, were discouraging; he claimed the books were unmarketable. It must have seemed like sophomore year all over again. But, as Hitt did with the old schoolmarm, he ignored his agent’s advice and got right back to work. But instead of pounding the typwriter keys, this time he pounded the pavement. He went back to New York and “made the rounds of publishers myself, receiving encouragement but no contracts.” Hitt did find one taker–a “vanity” publisher who wanted Hitt to pay them to publish the book. (He turned them down flatly.) Finally, he found a legitimate publisher who wanted his book and, “A few days later I had a royalty contract.”

That was 1953, and Hitt’s first book was titled I’ll Call Every Monday, published in hardcover by Red Lantern books (later re-issued as a paperback by Avon).

From that point, according to Hitt’s children, Orrie’s work schedule was “continuous and incredible. From morning to dinner time he was at the kitchen table with his typewriter, and his iced coffee and ash tray full of half-smoked Winston’s were at his side… Ideas flowed out at 90 words a minute on his old Remington Royal…There he would sit, amidst cookies, glasses of milk, and all the comings and goings of a busy family of four children, and write to his heart’s content. He always enjoyed having the family around. I don’t ever remember him asking us to be quiet so that he could concentrate…The only days I remember him not typing were Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter .”

During the evening Hitt watched comedy shows on TV — Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, Jack Benny, and Sgt. Bilko. Or a buddy stopped by and they’d throw back a few cold ones while watching wrestling. Makes sense when you consider the dark, violent, emotionally harrowing lives he wrote about all day.

Hitt - Loose WomenAs a man-about-town, Orrie, “was a loquacious man, anxious to talk to anyone who would listen…especially when he had a few too many beers,” Hitt’s children remembered. In fact, one night while Mr. and Mrs. Hitt were at a bar, a woman tried to “pick-up” Orrie, curious if he was anything like the characters in his books. Orrie saw quite a bit of humor in the situation. Mrs. Hitt, however, did not. POW! Right in the kisser, Orrie!

As a father, Hitt’s children characterized him as, “sensitive and loving and stopping at nothing to provide for his family. He wasn’t interested in ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’, just in doing well enough so his family didn’t have to want for anything. We were taught right from wrong. Often our house, the ‘party house’, was packed full of kids. Dad was kind yet stern; you knew when not to push him to the limit…Every one of our friends liked dad. He would listen or help when needed and they could always use his shoulder to lean or cry on…He was nothing like the characters he portrayed in his books.”

As a writer for the “adults only” market, life in a small town was not always easy for the Hitts.

Hitt - prowl by night“We knew that he attempted to have his books marketed in places other than our small home town due to the nature of the books,” Hitt’s children recalled. “Our father always said his books were mild in comparison to what was written many years later. As children, we encountered a fair amount of prejudice from other families as the news of dad’s source for our livelihood spread…When we read his books, however, we could see the events that occurred in his life and the people that lived in our small home town that provided the inspiration for his characters.”

Shades of Peyton Place!

Hitt earned between $250 and $1000 in advances for his PBO’s. He earned additional money from reprints and royalties, though not all his publishers were on the up-and-up, a situation not unusual for many of the fly-by-night (some should have been called “lie-by-night”) publishers serving the “adults only” market at the time.

Hitt - pandaThe Hitt children: “Some [of Hitt’s books] had words and phrases added without his consent. He also asked for some of the manuscripts back because of the publisher’s low offer…Some reprints were done without prior authorization and some appeared to have been pirated. In the latter case, the titles, authors, and names were changed, but it could never be proven.”

But generally, Hitt’s relationships with his publishers were good…sometimes too good. “If the publishers were having money problems,” Hitt’s children said, “dad would wait patiently for his money. Once he waited too long, the publisher went bankrupt and dad lost out; and it was a large sum of money. He would often spend hours on the phone calling publishers in New York and California trying to recover money he was owed.”

Hitt’s books also contain the common mistakes (typos, misspellings, words printed twice, words left out, etc.) that characterized the slim-to-none editing style of the “adults only” publishers during the 1950s and 60s.

Regarding the content of Hitt’s books, it wasn’t all blood and guts, angst and anguish. Orrie wrote some wonderfully loopy metaphors and similies as well.

Weaver Hitt - Blood Tears

“If she bore his child it was an obligation that he’d have to face. To run or to ignore it was to deny that he was a man. Onions? Why was he thinking of them? Onions were so much a pound, depending on the season. Well, the pleasures of the flesh cost money, too…Yes the price of onions and the price of desire. So totally unrelated and, yet, in cost so much the same.”
Naked Flesh, Kozy Books, 1962, pgs. 94-95.

“Her nipples could stay hard longer than a bear could hibernate.”
Wilma’s Wants, Novel Books, 1964, pg. 62.

Intentionally funny or not? You decide. In my own opinion, after reading about 30 of Hitt’s books, I would say the majority were intentional, and occasionally not. As I sit back and chuckle, wondering how Hitt’s mind made the connection between the responsibilities of parenthood and onions, I really don’t give a damn. I just enjoy it.

Toward the latter part of his career, Hitt’s writing took an unexpected turn. He started writing books for a publisher called Novel Books in 1961. In contrast to other sleaze books, where “the story”, was just a frame around a sometimes mind-numbing succession of softcore sexual liasons, Hitt’s stories turned this concept on it’s head. The titles, cover photos, and blurbs (A NOVEL BOOK IS A MAN’S BOOK!) were as sensationalistic as ever, but between the covers, Hitt filled his pages with points-of-view about personal and political issues. What’s even more interesting–as we, from a safe distance of almost 40 years later, can sit back and chuckle at books that now seem so “dated”–is that the same issues are still provocative today.

Some examples:

On censorship. “As a writer, and as an American, I dread any form of censorship. Of course I agree that discretion should be exercised…but I do not think that the right of expression should rest in the hands of any particular group.”
— Wilma’s Wants, 1964, Novel Books, pg. 94.

On Socialism. “Well, there is a man wants to run for governor of this state, whether or not he’s endorsed by his party. One promise he’s made is that if he’s elected he’ll see that every boy and girl who wants to have a college education will get one. What kind of talk is that? Only a form of Socialist state could promise everybody everything.”
— Ibid, 1964, Novel Books, pg. 74.

On writing about sexually provocative subjects. “Of course I wrote about loose wives, wandering husbands, girls who were too willing, men who were anxious, but I considered these things as a part of life and I wrote about life.”
–Ibid, 1964, Novel Books, pg. 82.

Hitt - DollsandDuesOn union bosses. “Unions. A lot of people will yell, but I want a close study of them. Money under the table, big shots taking dough to settle a strike that from the very beginning was as useless as a pair of falsies on a whore.”
— Man-Hungry Female, 1962, Novel Books, pg. 75.

On a free society vs. a dictatorship. “Damn! How could I be so blind! The minute you take from one man to give to another, even if the first man is a millionaire and the other man is broke with ten mouths to feed — you’re taking away man’s inalienable right to freedom and ownership of his own property like Jefferson and Paine talked about. The minute you tell a man he owes his life or his money to another man, you’ve got a dictatorship, a socialist police state where character, ability, and ambition are just words that don’t mean a damn thing. Brave New World, that’s what it is.”
— Shocking Mistress!, 1961, Novel Books, pg. 153

Let’s pause for a breather here, folks.

hitt - tramp wife
hitt - suburban wife

Hitt - Ungfaithful Wives
Orrie took one hell of a leap from onions and nipples to Jefferson and Paine, eh? I bet if you check your heart you’ll find it’s beating a bit harder, and if you check your pulse you’ll find your blood racing a bit faster. You might even feel some anger about the views Orrie espouses, whether you’re for or against them. But that was part of what made Orrie’s writing unique–apassion and curiosity about the world, and a no-holds-barred style of expression.

So between 1953-1964 Orrie Hitt wrote approximately 145 books. But between 1965-1968, only 5 Hitt paperback originals were published (although a number of earlier books were reprinted during this period). So what happened? Had the cancer, that eventually killed Hitt in 1975, already started? Hitt’s children would have been young adults by this time; maybe they had their own children and Orrie wanted to spend time with his grandchildren. Unfortunately, I have no information about these “lost years” (publicly, at least) of Orrie Hitt, about the last ten years of his life. Perhaps that information will someday come to light.

Hitt’s complete novel writing career lasted from 1953-1968. During that time, Hitt and his family experienced both feast and famine. “When dad was financially healthy, he was very sharing and caring,” Hitt’s children said. “We felt like we were rich. But when the chips were down and the money was gone, things got pretty bad. Once we lived from hotel room to hotel room, leaving when the rent came due…There was a time however, when we owned a beautifully remodeled home,we had beautiful new cars, one daughter was in college, and we had plenty toeat…Our life was lived in extremes — we went from eating out every Wednesday night to dad eating from garbage cans in the city!”

Orrie Hitt died at a too-young 59 years of age. Quite possibly, his steady regimen of coffee, cigarettes, and 10-14 hour workdays contributed to the cancer that caused his early death, although this is speculation on my part. Besides his fairly young age, there was another tragic element to Hitt’s death. “Our dad died in debt in a veterans hospital,” said Hitt’s children, “although he had helped others all his life. But, when we needed help, the same people were nowhere to be found.”

Hitt’s children summed him up this way: “We’re proud of both our parents. When we lost our dad, we also lost our best friend. Dad taught us many things in life; hard work, love, honesty, respect, caring, and never giving up.”

Doesn’t sound like a sleazy guy to me.
Hitt - Gang Up
______________________________________________________________________________________________

References

Hitt, Orrie. “My ‘Sex’ Books”, Part 1. Men’s Digest, #31, 1962. Pages 37-39.
Holland, R.C. Books Are Everything! Vol. 5, No. 1, Whole Number 21. 1993. Pages 28-48.
Stryker, Susan. Queer Pulp: Perverted Passions from the Golden Age of the Paperback, Chronicle Books, 2001. Pages 61,66.
Various novels of Orrie Hitt.

Trivia note: Hitt’s children briefly stated that Orrie said he did some ghost-writing for Mickey Spillane, but they have no idea of the nature of that work.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Special thanks to Jerry Chadburn of Always 1st Books, for introducing me to the work of Orrie Hitt, and to Rose Idlet of Black Ace Books for allowing me to xerox her copy of Books Are Everything!

And, of course, to James Reasoner for allowing me to put this article on his blog.

Orrie Lives!

Hitt - Violent Sinners

The Orrie Hitt Book Blog

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, sleazecore with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by orriehittfan

A number of people suggested it, so here it is, the Orrie Hitt Book Blog, an extenion of blog called Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks.

Hitt - Wild Oates

Deluxe Teaser

Posted in Orrie Hitt, sleazecore with tags , on August 26, 2009 by orriehittfan

Hitt - Teaser

A deluxe hardcover of Hitt’s Teaser from the Woodford Press.

Hired Lover by Fred Martin, an Orrie Hitt Pen Name

Posted in Orrie Hitt, sleazecore with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by orriehittfan

midwood - hired lover

Accoridng to Lynn Munroe’s richly informative article on Midwood’s beginnings:

Amazingly, just 5 men wrote almost all of the first 40 numbered Midwoods. This hard-working group (Beauchamp, Lord, Marshall, Orrie Hitt and Don Holliday) carried and established Midwood until [Harry] Shorten was able to build his own stable of regulars –- names like March Hastings, Dallas Mayo, Kimberly Kemp, Joan Ellis, Jason Hytes and Sloane Britain.

Beauchamp was, of course, Robert Silverberg, Lord was Lawrence Block, Marshall was Donad Westlake, Holliday was Hal Drenser, and Orrie Hitt was himself.

Hired Lover is Midwood 13, published in 1959, although there are some early un-numbered Midwoods. Fred Martin was a one shot name for Midwood (and seems to have written one for the short-lived Magnet Books), and the style is easily identifiable: this is an Orrie Hitt book.  You can’t mistake Hitt for anyone else: the set-up, the dialogue, pacing, wrap-up.  Silverberg also did an early one shot, Immoral Wife by Gordon Mitchell (Midwod #11), that I discussed in this blog a while ago.

The question is: why these one-shot names?  Was it Midwood’s idea, to look like they had more than the same writers, or Scott Meredith’s, since the mauscripts came from the agency blinded as to the true writer’s identity. After all, Silverberg did an early Midwood, #7, Love Nest by Loren Beauchamp (see my review), and Beauchamp was his continued name for a dozen more titles from 1960-1963.

Munroe also notes:

Although nobody at Midwood knew it then, most of the books were by the same writers turning out the Nightstands. For example, Loren Beauchamp (Robert Silverberg) would become Don Elliott a year later at Nightstand, Sheldon Lord (Lawrence Block) would become Andrew Shaw. Some of the writers, like Alan Marshall and Clyde Allison and Al James, used the same name for both.

Midwood - Call Me MistressI have another early, un-numbered Midwood, Call Me Mistress by Tomlin Rede, and I wonder who wrote this one.  I haven’t read it yet but on quick glance, the style seems like early Westlake/Alan Marshall.

Call Me Mistress is a crime noir set in Hollywood and among syndicate crime lords, wuth a dash of lesbiana tossed in.  I will be getting to this book soon after I do my reading stint of campus sex books and lesbian titles.

Back to Hired Lover — yes, one of many Orrie Hitt’s novels but the name is not listed among Hitt’s pen names (Nicky Weaver, Kay Addams).  I Feldspar - Squeeze Playhave two Kozy Books by one “Walter Feldspar” (Loose Women and Squeeze Play) that look like they may be Hitts (there’s also a Beacon Hitt book called Loose Women) — Feldspar only penned two books, and for Kozy, and Hitt wrote many for Kozy as himself, Weaver, and Roger Normandie…like Lawrence Block and Robert Silverberg and others, there are pen names used that are not always associated with these writers, either overlooked by bibliographers or not admitted to by the writer (or remembered).

Hitt - Loose Women

Hired Lover is a first-person tough guy story — Mike has left Los Angeles after a bad incident and is in Chicago, where he has ties.  He’s working as a driving instructor when one day a gorgeous dame in her mid-20s, Kitty, is his student…she takes him to her mansion, gives him booze and fucks him.  She’s married to a rich old man — short fat,bald and ugly — whom she met when she was a nurse and he was in the hospital in diabetic shock.

As luck would have it, the rich man’s chaueffer just quit and he needs a new driver. Kitty suggests her hubby hire Mike — he can live in the apartment above the garage, where she can visit him for illict sin and lust.

While Kitty and hubby are away on a trip, Mike looks up an old business buddy who runs a stripper club.  One of the strippers has her sister, Ruth, with her — new in town, fresh from Ohio farmland, 18, a virgin, and ignorant of the big bad ol’ world of strippers, whores, booze and crime that her sister is involved with.  Mike manages to talk her out of going down that road — he’s no hero, since he also gets her drunk and takes her virginity, being 10 years older than the girl.

Right off, we know that Mike will end up with Ruth as his wife in the end.  This is typical of Hitt’s novels, mostly for Beacon — similar to the set-up of The Promoter, that I talked about last week.

(An aside: Beacon and Softcover seemed to require, as with lesbian novels, that the hero or heroine redeem and depent tgheir sinful ways by book’s end, married and in the arms of someone good, man or woman.  This does not seem to be the case with Hitt’s titles for Sabre and Novel Books — in fact, Novel gave Hitt carte blance to “take the gloves off” and write what he wanted, free of market and genre constraints.  I will be talking about a few of those in the near future.)

The set-up for Hired Lover isn’t new in sleazecore: the wife convinces the lover that they have to murder the old rich husband so they can be together and get rich.  That never works out, of course, and the wayward wife gets hers in the end — in this case, she has set up Mike in cahoots with the head butler/valet of the mansion. And the hero repents and finds love in the arms of a younger, less gutter-drivem woman, in this and other Hitts.  Mike, on the run from the set-up murder, is aided by young Ruth.  The cops wind up arresting the wife and the valet, but Mike is still guilty for the murder, and had helped plan it.  He married Ruth, but is dying from tetnus due to a untreated gun-shot wound.  The novel ends with Mike on his deathbed, confessing the murder to a Catholic priest, and holding his young wife’s hand, whom he has impregnanted so she will have something of his left.  It’s a sad ending, in a way.

Hired Lover is a great read, however, and if you dig Orrie Hitt, you will dig this — and it’s too bad that Hitt fans may miss this one,  so this blog/review will serve as a pointer for anyone doing research on Hitt.

Sin Doll

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, sleazecore with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by orriehittfan

hitt - sin doll

hitt - sin doll 2

The covers above are the 1959 and 1963 editions.  There is a 1971 photo cover edition that I will skip posting.

Still not sold on being an Orrie Hitt fan, but close.  I have a few more here to read, and I have ordered some with great covers and titles, like Love Princess and Tramp Wife.

Sin Doll is one of Hitt’s young-woman-exploited-in-the-50s books.  Cherry lives in a small town, is 20, has adopted parents and dreams of New York or Hollywood — anything.  She can sing and she has a killer body.

She also has trouble making good money — she has a $40/week receptionist job at a photo developing lab and sings several nights a week at a cafe for $15/set.  She needs at least a grand or two in the bank to move to NYC.

She loses both jobs and all she can find is factory work.  Her ex-boss at the photo lab lets her in on his real business: he takes nude pictures of women, and makes stag reel films, for buyers. He says he can pay her $200 week to pose nude.

She has other problems: the buy who has been bugging her to marry him forced sex on her without a condom, so she would get pregnant and forced to marry him, stuck in this town.

She does the photos…she drinks to deal with it…she becomes an alcoholic…she has a lesbian affair with another model/stripper, and she styarts sleeping with the photographer, her married ex-boss who wants to get a divorce and marry her.

Then they all get busted by the police for lewd acts of sin.

True to Beacon Books, there is a happy ending where she and her boss/lover learn that they must reprent from this sleazy sin, and when he gets out of jail, she will marry him and have his babies.

Sometimes these quaint cheesy happy endings are funny — they come out of the blue, like in Loren Beauchamp’s Connie or Sheldon Lord’s April North. People who hardly know each other fall in love and run off to the chapel and live good mid-American Christian lives after wallowing in the gutter of filth and sin.  Ah, the 1950s.

The Promoter

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, sleazecore with tags , , , , , , , on August 20, 2009 by orriehittfan

Hitt - Promoter

I may have become a fan after reading this 1957 novel by Orrie Hitt.  The (great!) cover art and cover copy is misleading — it seems to indcate that it’s about a sleaze merchant in female flesh but it’s not, really, or: the guy on the cover is not the narrator.

The narrator is Bill Morgan, a freelance magazine writer who specializes in pieces for car magazines.  He heads into a small New Jersey town to interview a church minister, Dr. Call,  who has boys re-build cars, believing it keeps them off the streets and getting into gangs and crime.  There he meets the minister’s daughter, Judith Call, who is on her way out of the small town with her dreams for New York City and the high life.  She uses the distraction of the writer being there to slip out and run away.

Dr. Call and the church elders wish to hire Morgan for an information job — they have heard about sleaze tabloids, the selling of nudie pictures, an underworld of sex and sin in New York, but in their isolated lives, they have no idea if it is hyperbole or true.  They want to know the truth, what kind of people are behind such sleaze, in order to keep their young ones away from it all.  Morgan takes the job — and oh, the minister tells Morgan that his daughter ran away to NYC and would he find her?

It has a Big Sleep set-up feel — the wayward teenage daughter, the naive older man with money, the taking of nude photos.  It is obvious Hitt was influenced by Chandler, as many were at the time.  Hitt’s style is smooth, but his sentences can get convoluted, not unlike Chandler.

But it has a different angle — Morgan becomes a detective, but he’s not a private eye, he’s just a writer.  But he’s hardboiled and tough enough, and knows his way around the streets.  He does’t know about the syndicate sex world, mobbed up, bogus model agencies that lure young women into being prostitutes and sex toys, drugged up and chewed up by a strange cabal of rich people — remidned me of the movie Eyes Wide Shut in some ways.

In the 1950s, still photos of women naked or partially undressed was a curious business — it’s what Betty Paige fell into.  Hitt seemsHitt As Bad as They Come to have tackled the subject in a few other books: As Bad as They Come and Sin Doll, probably more, he seems to write a handful of books on the same subjects, like peeping toms.

Morgan sleeps with half a dozen women in the process — like all hardboiled heroes, the dames and dolls just throw themselves at then, even if they are all slutty models and drugged up babes.  Morgan has an odd sense of justice, wanting to take the sex rackett down — his motive: the ghost of love.  The woman he was to marry died in a skiing accident a few years ago and he is emotionally messed up still.  The minsiter’s daughter happens to look like a younger version of that woman, and she seems to have vanished without a trace after meeting some man about a secretarial job.

He finds her in a mansion one night at a syndicate sex party — many young women, drugged up on pills, are there to be used by a bunch of men, photographed…and Judith Call is there, drugged out of brain, taking one man after the other.

He saves her.  Bullets fly.  In the last sentence, we are told of an unlikely marriage.