Tag Archives: Australian pulp fiction

Pulp Friday: Notorious Women

Notorious Women

“They were beautiful, dangerous and shocking – high voltage wantons who stopped at nothing to get their men.”

This week’s Pulp Friday, Notorious Women, is another offering from former clerk turned prodigious pulp hack, James Holledge.

Holledge, who has featured previously on this site, wrote approximately 45 books between 1961 and 1970. Most of these were heavily sensationalised, salacious examinations of social issues such as prostitution and the occult, which he dressed up as serious sociological expose.

Notorious Women, published in 1962 by Horwitz Publications, Australia’s premier pulp publisher in the fifties and sixties, is fairly typical of Holledge’s work. Purporting to be an examination of “a few of the Wantons of the World who have been branded forever as Notorious Women,” the boom is divided into 13 chapters.

These include ‘Wanton on the beach’ (“A reckless, sensation-seeking Bohemian, she had a mania for performing unrehearsed striptease dances”) and ‘Women with the serpent’s tongue’ (“The police actually feared this heartless hussy who was obsessed by money hunger”). But my favourite is ‘Edward who was really Ellen’ (“One of Australia’s most baffling sex masquerades was was finally exposed in startling circumstances”).

The one undeniable fact about Holledge’s books is that they sold, presumably to working stiffs eager for a few cheap thrills.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Operation Concrete Butterfly

“The Sydney Opera House opening was glitter and show – and then it became a  bloodbath.”

One of lessor known sub-genres of sixties/seventies pulp fiction was what for want of a better term could have been called ‘Blaxsploitation pulp’ (even though a lot of it was written by white authors).

It was big in the US and UK usually featured black PIs solving their cases in style at the same time as sticking it to the man or black revolutionaries seizing power and getting some pay back on whitey. You get my drift. New English Library, a UK pulp publisher, also released a series of semi-soft core porn novels featuring slaves and slavers in the pre-US civil war deep south.

I’ve never been able to find any example of this kind of pulp fiction in Australia, with the exception of today’s Pulp Friday offering, Operation Concrete Butterfly by Dick Peters.

To says this is a little known book is an understatement. I have not been able to find out any background on the author or Arkon Paperbacks, the outfit that published it in 1973. The publication notes suggest it might have been a subsidiary of Angus and Robertson Publications but I can’t be sure.

As for the plot, the back cover blurb gives a pretty good indication of what the prospective reader is in for.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Spungers

This Friday’s pulp offering comes via Line of Sight author, David Whish Wilson.

Julian Spencer’s The Spungers was put out in 1967 by Scripts, a publishing company based in London, Melbourne and Sydney, that released a lot of the more explicit Australian pulp fiction I’ve come across from the sixties and early seventies.

As I’ve written previously, the sixties saw Australian pulp publishers start to produce kitchen sink and exploitation fiction, often dressed up as lurid exposés of drug use and sexual promiscuity. These fed off mainstream society’s fears of youth rebellion and changing sexual standards.

The focus of many of these tales was Sydney’s Kings Cross, which in the sixties became well known as a centre for prostitution, sly grog and drugs, often to meet the demand of American servicemen on R&R during the Vietnam War.

The Spungers is a classic piece of exploitation pulp dressed up quasi social commentary on the declining moral values of youth in the sixties. Not that much has really changed. Update the language a bit and whack in a TV crew from A Current Affair and The Spungers would be right at home in Australian in 2011.

The inside front cover blurb is priceless:

“The Vicious, sordid activities of a scruffy Kings Cross beatnik clash with those of a young surfie who decides to spend a misspent holiday rorting up the Cross.Read more

Executives behaving badly: sixties Australian pulp part 2

High-flying corporate executives behaving badly were a staple of Australian pulp fiction in the sixties.

Coming off the drab post-World War Two austerity of the fifties, readers devoured tales of power hungry businessmen, international travel, fat expense accounts and modern, high tech business practices, mixed with organised crime, boozy parties and infidelity.

The following selection – sourced from my collection – mainly features local versions of books originally published in the US by Beacon Press.They were reprinted locally by an anonymous outfit called Magazine Services, Pty, Ltd, based in Sydney and Melbourne.

Most of the following titles don’t include the date they were republished.

The only indigenous effort, Mile Pegs, was written by political journalist, Don Whitington, who went onto be a celebrated author and biographer. Mile Pegs the story of a “King Hit” Seager who built an outback coaching venture into one of Australia’s biggest airlines while “Mercilessly disregarding the rights and feelings of the woman he loved, his illegitimate son, his colleagues and everyone who stood in his path”.

See Me Tonight! by Lee Richards is a rip off of a 1963 pulp called the Sexecutives. Subtle as a sledgehammer. The story of “high-power executives who stop at nothing to get their way – and of women who cooperate”, it bills itself as a “revealing book of today’s executive and the temptations put in his way”.… Read more