Part 48: Adult Reading, Not To Be Sold To Minors.
Today is Sunday, October 18th, 2020. In Washington State, most of us have our ballots. Ours arrived last night. Here, we've been voting by mail for a while now...I want to say around ten years? Once, my ballot wasn't accepted because the folks examining the ballots decided my signature was kooky. I cleared it up somehow. Anyway, it works here, and today we'll vote and drop our ballots off in a secure box near our house.
In personal news, my husband found an old VHS tape that said "Riley Shepard" on it in a box full of other stuff. The tape, from 1999, is a cable access show my father had back in Porterville, California. I remember when my high school friend, John, told me he'd seen Riley's show, I was a bit mortified. Dad wanted me to watch some episodes, so he put a few on this tape and mailed them to me. I remember the whole thing made me tense. Porterville has evolved somewhat, but not long ago I would describe the town as the "Bible Belt" of California, and I worried that my father was challenging random people's beliefs. Anyway, I'll find a way to share what's on that VHS on this platform.
When I opened the book "Glowing Heat" this picture was shoved between the pages. Thomas Schworer, thank you for airbrushing her boobs. Now she looks like she has white melons growing out of her chest.
Remember “Randy” from “Peek-a-Book”? When we first exchanged emails back in July of 2014, he wrote and said he’d done a search and found another book by Zachary Quill, called “Glowing Heat”, available in the United Kingdom and kindly sent me the link.
Congratulations, you've made a purchase using the eBid BuyNow feature.
This is a notification of purchase email. This is not an invoice.
Auction Title : GLOWING HEAT......ZACHARY QUILL...VIBRA BOOKS 100....... UK. POST FREE
The old book was around $17.00 dollars. When it came in the mail, it looked different than the other Zachary Quill series. This one had a statement on the cover “Adult reading, not to be sold to minors”—a clue that it wouldn’t read like a text book as the others had. This one also had a different publisher, “Central Sales LTD” in Baltimore. Also, the book was “well-worn”… if you know what I mean, and someone had stuck a torn out page from a magazine featuring a topless model in the book. I guess someone needed a visual. (See picture, above. I asked Thomas to airbrush out her boobs, so now she just looks strange…)
Flipping through the book, it read like a cheesy detective novel. It had some typos right on the first page. Nothing against typos. I'm the queen of typos and mistakes, especially on social media for some reason. My goal as a kid was to be a super fast typist like my dad. I got the fast part down, but for some reason I don't see all my mistakes until it's too late. When I'm using a typewriter, or handwriting on paper, I'm better... maybe it's a different part of the brain? Online, I often don't see mistakes. My father, on the other hand, rarely had typos in his manuscripts, maybe because it took way too much work to fix them back then. His work was done on an old Corona typewriter. He had a product called "Wite-out" but he probably had to retype the entire page if there was a big mistake.
The main character in "Glowing Heat" is William Kingston, who also goes by Bill. Here, the first two words in the book, his name reads "William Kingstn"...
Right away, I noticed that the writing didn’t read like my father's work. As I’ve written in previous blogs, he sent me everything he'd written, manuscripts, and other, shorter things he was working on. He wrote me long letters filled with parental love and sage advice. The letters were easy and lovely to read, but the longer pieces were tough at the time, because I was still in college, and had piles of reading to do for school. On top of my class load, I was cast in the shows the theater department. I was also the paid make-up artist for the opera, dance and theater. I worked all kinds of odd jobs to get by: A baseball card shop, an ice cream store, a salon, the college library, a donut shop, I was an artist’s model, and sometimes I cleaned houses… which I was terrible at. I was exhausted, and I couldn’t always get through Dad’s latest novel, memoir, or essay. Regardless, I'd read enough by 2014 to know my father’s writing style, and this book, “Glowing Heat” was not it.
I’d had the book for days but couldn’t bring myself to actually read it. One afternoon, our actor friends Scott and Mike dropped by the house, and I told them about my latest discovery. “Let’s see it,” Scott said. They huddled together, flipping through the pages. Then they began reading aloud and laughing hysterically, sometimes grimacing, and finally, they admitted they wished they hadn’t read it at all. I said, "Yeah, I can't read it either." Mike was writing a play and he had an idea. “Why don’t you have actors read this to you, like a play reading?”
Scott and Mike were too disgusted to be included in the “table read”, but I got Thomas, (with the bow tie and glasses, who went with me to get the “Whoring Through the Ages book) our friends Ken and Anna, who were both actors, and of course my husband, also an actor.
Anna wanted to host, so the evening was set. I would just sit and take notes.
“Ok, actors, take your seats,” Anna said, putting a tray of chocolates on the table.
“Anywhere?” I asked.
“Stacya you’re not reading—” Ken said
“No, no. God no.” I shook my head.
“More wine, honey. You just sit there and take notes,” Anna said, topping off my wine glass.
“Let’s just pass it around until people are sick of reading,” Thomas suggested.
Ken began silently reading the first page.
“Outside voice, please,” David said.
“I know. I will. It’s just…the story is so confusing already, there’s a typo right off the bat…and like… B movie writing,” Ken stops. Our eyes met, and Ken said with a serious face, “I mean… I love B movie writing.”
“Is this going to hurt your feelings?” Anna put her hand on her heart, and looked at me with concern. “It’s funny, right? But it’s your Dad’s book. I don’t want you to feel bad if we make fun.”
“No. You know… no. I mean, yes, it’s funny. It’s hilarious. Really.”
Ken started reading in a Sean Connery voice. “William Kingston was changing his clothes, Dolly Kramer leaned against the doorway of his bedroom, her slender well-shaped body twisted to the side, in such a way that all the curves of her round breasts and slim waist and full hips were clearly outlined by the tight-fitting black sheath she wore...”
Ken read for a few more pages, and then Anna took the book from Ken. “My turn.” She decided to do her pages in a Julia Child’s voice.
“I don’t believe my father wrote this book,” I interrupted.
“What?” Thomas asked.
“I know his writing. This is so odd. I can’t explain it. I just know how he writes,” I said.
“Ok well maybe he just slapped this one together under a big porn deadline. Let’s keep going,” David said.
Anna went back to using her Julia Child’s voice, stumbling over typos and laughing.
“Oh no. She’s unhooking her bra. Here comes the sex scene” Ken said, reading over Anna’s shoulder.
In the middle of one scene, the male character was suddenly naked. We laughed harder, because there was no transition. He was dressed, then he was naked. Awkward porn set-up phrases... sometimes the writing was confusing and hard to read. We all paused to acknowledge that “creamy jet stream” and “globs” should not be used under any circumstances when trying to be sexy.
Anna was laughing so hard at the word-smithery that she misread the ending dialogue when the man had his big climax. She yelled out his words out in her Julia Child voice, “JULIUS CEASAR!”
"Huh? What does that mean?" I ask.
“Oh! No, hahahaha! I misread that. He says, Jesus Christ… not Julius Ceasar.” She held her face in her hands, her eyes welling up with tears she was laughing so hard.
As the reading went on, I decided that my father might've farmed out some of the writing to someone else. He did tell us he had a writing partner back in the 70s. Maybe that guy was the one who wrote this book. How easily my mind tried to shift the blame onto some unknown person.
“Throbbing shaft” and “churning c@%t” were used to describe sex scenes.
“Churning?” I looked at Anna to make sure she didn’t stumble over a word.
“Churning…like butter,” Anna confirmed.
I wrote that down for future reference.
The reading went on, Anna stayed with Julia Child’s voice, Ken with his Sean Connery, and Thomas just tried to get through it.
Soon we realized it was a murder mystery. David began reading his parts like Humphrey Bogart, sort of a hard-boiled detective voice. Dolly, a main character, gets strangled. (Sorry to ruin the story for you. I should have said “spoiler alert”.) She dies early on, only living as long as page 17, see below.
“Wait,” David said frowning. “Here he wrote Helen instead of Dolly, when clearly he meant Dolly. What’s up with the editors here? They didn’t catch that?”
We were in a dull section, and I was relieved when it was time to pass the book over to Thomas. Unfortunately, just a few pages in, Thomas ended up with the most disgusting part. “Puffy, fluffy, and oily” came up in a sentence, describing sexual excretions. Thomas stopped, fiddled with his bow tie and said, “I’m sorry. I can’t read this anymore.”
“It would be easier if you did a French accent or something,” I offered.
Ultimately we realized this section, with all the oily excretions, was “all a dream” in the book. A set up for a nightmare the main character, William or Bill, was having.
To me, the book was like someone took a detective novel and a porn book, ripped out all the pages, tossed them together in a salad bowl, burned a few scenes, put it back together and slapped a cover on it.
The actors kept reading, passing the book from one person to the next, while I took notes.
Dolly, we find out at her funeral, was apparently the town floozy… but also an aspiring photographer. The slutty photographer as it were.
Thomas made an excuse to leave. I began to feel queasy. No matter how hilarious my friends were, the increasing sexual violence in the story, and the creepy portrayals of women was hard to keep laughing about.
After the reading, I called my mother to tell her about the book. I said that I couldn’t believe that Dad wrote it, that it didn't sound like him. I asked if she thought maybe his writing partner did the writing. That's when she told me a story about one of Dad’s wacky endeavors back in 1968 and '69. She said Riley collected crappy novels--- whether they were unpublished or published, who knows. Then he rented the office in Hollywood, and hired a bunch of women to retype the books. Dad wanted to add the sex scenes he’d written in specific places throughout the story, repackaging the crappy novels into pornography. Mom said that he cranked out these books under the name “Zachary Quill” using that method.
It all came together…my memory of the women typing, the lost doll’s shoe in the shag carpet in Dad’s office. Those women were probably on a deadline to type out those books. Sometimes our memories seem random, but that scene in the office makes so much sense now. Close to 50 years later, that memory is connected to this strange book, "Glowing Heat." My dad had a little porn book factory going in that office. It was probably weird for the typing women to see a little girl hanging around. No wonder the ladies didn’t want to stop typing to help me find my doll’s shoe. They probably got paid by the page or something... or they just wanted to find out who killed Dolly.
After the reading, Ken and Anna gave me a gift they had made especially for me. Ken, holding up his handy work, below.
In 1969, when Riley began publishing his sex books, Stanley V. Georgia had been decided in the Supreme Court, and other obscenity laws were changing. The case helped to imply a right to privacy about having "obscene" materials in a private home. Other laws were changing in the late 1960s that made porn books easier to sell through the mail. It's strange to think, with so many sexually explicit television series streaming, that "Lady Chatterley's Lover" was banned for so long.
A friend referred me to some reading material about Olympia Press, Maurice Girodias, and the censorship laws from the 1950s and 60s. I've included some pages from the book "Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs" by Ted Morgan. See you next week.
Next up, part 49: My mother takes me out on the wrong night for Halloween when I was six, but I make up for it as an adult.