Reviews > Published on August 8th, 2016

Bookshots: 'Sin-A-Rama' edited by B. Astrid Daley and Adam Parfrey

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties

Who wrote it?

This thing will get you off your ass and in the mood to create something. Not just a sex book, but anything.

Edited by B. Astrid Daley and Adam Parfrey, with contributions by Stephen J. Gertz, Jay A. Gertzman, John Gilmore, Michael Hemmingson, Lydia Lunch, Lynn Munroe, and Robert Silverberg.

Plot in a box:

An examination of the lives of many writers, illustrators, and publishers from the 1960s who were involved in softcore sex paperbacks.

Invent a new title for this book:

The Big Sleaze

Read this if you like(d):

Boogie Nights. Porn. Erotica. That one video of your mom you pretend doesn’t exist.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

The people in this book were hungry for money, and they found a temporary way to strike it big. They were devoted and worked harder than most writers ever will. They were more than just smut-peddlers. They were goddamn artists.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Steve Buscemi, probably.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

The publishing world in the 1960s. The porn publishing world. A time when you could very likely get arrested for being too graphic, too obscene. A time when you couldn’t even write the word “fuck”.

No. Fuck that.

What was your favorite sentence?

[Bill Edwards] characteristically painted moles on women’s faces and, strangely, often painted Band-Aids on butts.

The Verdict:

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. The front cover is very graphic and the interior illustrations are even more NSFW. The first half of the book consist of essays and interviews all relating to literary erotica published in the 1960s, and the second half of the book is a series of book covers. So, really, it’s not that long of a read. However, I do admit it took me several weeks to finish it, on account of it being the kind of book you can't just walk around in public reading. Well, you can, and maybe you should, but I was on vacation visiting my parents for most of July, and I’m not quite sure how that conversation would have played out.

Mother: “What...what are you reading?”
Me: “Sin-a-Rama. It’s about naked people.”
Mother: “But what is that dog doing on the cover?”
Me: “Dogs can be naked too, Mom.”

It wouldn’t have been the first time we’d had a conversation about naked dogs. And it sure as hell wouldn’t have been the last.

The best part of Sin-A-Rama is the very first essay: Robert Silverberg’s “My Life as a Pornographer”. In it, he details his journey as an author of sex books. Over a five-year career, he wrote 150 novels reaching at least 50,000 words each. He details how he came up with simple formulas that allowed him to knock out one-to-two books a month. The whole book reads like one long motivational guide. This thing will get you off your ass and in the mood to create something. Not just a sex book, but anything. Hell, even a sex book, I suppose.

The people in this book’s spotlight were porno entrepreneurs who took chances and didn’t give a fuck about what people thought. They wanted to create, so that’s what they went out and did.

If you’re interested in early porno lit, this book is a must-buy. The essays and interviews found in this collection are required reading, and the illustrations are damn near mesmerizing.

About the author

Max Booth III is the CEO of Ghoulish Books, the host of the GHOULISH and Dog Ears podcasts, the co-founder of the Ghoulish Book Festival, and the author of several spooky books, including Abnormal Statistics, Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, and others. He wrote both the novella and film versions of We Need to Do Something, which was released by IFC Midnight in 2021 and can currently be streamed on Hulu. He was raised in Northwest Indiana and now lives in San Antonio.

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