Today’s Pulp Friday is a great example of exploitative pulp dressed up as quasi-serious sociological inquiry, Kings Cross Black Magic by the wonderfully named, Attila Zohar.
It’s also one of the more unusual pieces of pulp fiction produced in the sixties and seventies in response to the real and imagined goings on in Sydney’s notorious vice strip, Kings Cross.
I just love the cover of this book. The minimal furnishings, the title font, the female model, who I presume is supposed to look ‘Satanic’ but comes across more as a sort of sullen drag queen. It speaks of things that just shouldn’t be talked about in polite company, which, in turn, only makes me more curious.
Kings Cross Black Magic was released by Horwitz publications in 1965. According to the University of Ortago’s wonderful pulp fiction website, Attila Zohar was a pseudonym for James Holledge. Holledge was a former clerk who became part of the stable of in-house writers brought together by Horwitz in the early sixties. He wrote approximately 45 books between 1961 and 1970, most of them salacious journalistic tracks parading as sociological expose.
His titles included Australia’s Wicked Women (1963), Crimes Which Shocked Australia (1963) and Women Who Sell Sex (1964) and What Makes a Call Girl (1964). Full marks if you can see a pattern here. National borders were no barrier to Holledge. Kimono Strip (1965) was as expose of sex industry in Japan, “a country of ten thousand pleasures”. Paris After Dark (1965) promised an “expose of the fabulous city of women, strip tease, folies and a new type of call girl”.
It’s fairly safe to assume Horwitz’s expense account didn’t stretch to actually paying for Holledge to travel to either Japan or France and, in the era before the Internet, one can only imagine him having to piece together those exposes from library books, the odd film and his fevered imagination.
Teenage Jungle, published in 1964 (cover below) is another classic Holledge effort. In what could have been pulled straight from last night’s episode of A Current Affair, it was billed as a “confidential report” that “explodes the teenage myth”. The front cover screamed: “Boys and girls alike nowadays are a rough, cruel, crude collection, thinking largely in terms of sex and sadism…”
In between his various exposes, Holledge found time to pen his share of Nazi and Japanese prison camp atrocity books.
Kings Cross Black Magic was presumably written to cash in on the tabloid feeding frenzy around Roseleen Norton, dubbed the “Witch of Kings Cross”. The back cover blurb is terrific:
“Behind the glittering panorama of strip joints and all male shows the Cross has another facade… mysterious sinister, that ensnares the unwary into Satanic séances and the depraved orgies of black magic. Frenzied sex rites take place which stun and horrify.”
If you’re interested in seeing more Holledge titles, there’s a great selection of them on this Pinterest site here.
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