Pulp Friday: Ricki Francis, Nero

“The frank, revealing story of a male prostitute.”

By far the best home-grown Australian pulp produced in the sixties and seventies came from a little known publishing house called Scripts Publications.

I’ve long wondered about the nature of this low rent operation and their bizarre roster of pulp paperbacks.

The mystery has now been solved thanks to John Harrison’s marvellous history of vintage adult paperbacks, Hip Pocket Sleaze. According to Harrison, Scripts was the in-print Horwitz used for is racier pulp titles. Key themes included crime, bikies, black magic, Japanese prison camp exploitation, and a voyeuristic fascination with the exploits of drug users and sex workers in Kings Cross, Sydney’s notorious red light district.

According to Hip Pocket Sleaze, “a total of sixteen paperback titled [were] published per month at the height of their popularity in the mid to late 1960s, with each title having an initial print run of 20,000 copies.”

For these titles Horwitz mostly used most cheap photographs for covers, something which gives the books a wonderful fly on the wall expose feeling.

Today’s Pulp Friday offering is a classic example, Rick Francis’s, Nero, published in 1971.

I don’t know who Rick Francis is, if indeed that’s his real name. But, if the other titles listed at the beginning of Nero are anything to go by, he did a damn fine line in paperback sleaze – The Butch Girls, The Sex Life of a Model, Innocents Behind Bars and The Bikies.

The back cover blurb of Nero is speaks for itself:

“He would do anything for $100.

Nero was a male prostitute who enjoyed his work.

Men, women or neuter… he gave the maximum sexual satisfaction to any client with the money to pay. Sydney’s top male stud and he was heading for international fame. In the peculiar world of prostitution Nero was a star, different a gentleman, but with a pleasure gift that made women scream with pleasure, delirious with excitement.”

And check out Hip Pocket Sleazeavailable here. It’s a must have resource for any serious pulp fiction fan.


4 Responses

  1. Andrew

    Happy to do an interview. I’ll send you a book if Allen and Unwin or Serpents Tail wont. It’ll have to be after Christmas though.



  2. Hi Andrew and Adrian
    Ricki Francis is my mother.
    She is now 78, in a nursing home. Also responsible for lots of other titles, including The Butch Girls, The Intimates, The Bikies, Bikie Vengence, Kings Cross X, So many, many others. Over 80 titles in all. She put me through school and university with it. She used to go to the Cross in the 70’s, meet prostitutes, detectives, bikies. She did such good research.
    After that she tried to break into screenplays but it was a hard gig to get funding for. I have a number of her newer manuscripts we are trying to work through but it is very difficult to recreate the freedom of thought and expression she had then.
    She wrote under the nom de plume because her publisher’s initials were RF. Another name she wrote under was Rosalind French. She wrote “The Soul Sellers” under the name Carlene Hansberry. Very close to her real name.
    Reply to this blog if you are still out there and want to know more.

  3. Marky,
    Thanks for replying to this post. Great to connect with you.
    I would love the opportunity to talk to you in more detail about your mum’s books.
    Perhaps you email me at andrewnette@gmail.com with contact details and I’ll follow up from there.

  4. Hi Andrew,
    Unfortunately she went through a fairly tortuous illness and passed away at 79. I’m 58, my older brother is 63. We are still kicking. If you want to chat about her work and the memories we shared of her work, let me know. I know I left the post for such a long time. My sincere apologies. I don’t have much of her published work, a few books, and a hard-drive which is defying encryption. She was working on something less pulpy, quite substantial, I’ve seen manuscripts, and my brother may have them. I planned to work on them in retirement. However, with COVID, that seems further away, rather than closer,

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