Tag Archives: Julian Spencer

Pulp Friday: passion pits and twilight zones, Kings Cross pulp fiction

The Deserters“A startling and authentic story of wartime Sydney when the American ‘invasion’ turned Kings Cross into a passion pit of vice and black marketing.”

Earlier this week I reviewed Louis Nowra’s terrific social history Kings Cross A Biography for the Overland Journal website.

Kings Cross has always had a particular place in our popular imagination as Australia’s capital of sin, sleaze and crime.

The terrific 1995 television mini-series Blue Murder and the not-so-wonderful Underbelly: Razor and Underbelly: The Golden Mile all did their bit to maintain this unsavoury reputation.

In the sixties and early seventies, Kings Cross was also a favourite setting for locally published pulp novels.

As I have discussed many times on this site, pulp fiction is a warped reflection of mainstream society, its illicit desires, fears and fascinations. Thus it was with pulp’s depiction of the Cross as a virtual Sodom and Gomorrah of sex, gambling, crime and human depravity of every description.

Wild youth gangs, criminal syndicates, black magic, pulp took all of these and turned them into portable, pocket sized key pieces of key hole voyeurism. From a publishing perspective they sold a bomb to punters eager for vicarious thrills and a peek of the dark goings on in the Cross.

Nowra’s book didn’t touch on this this particular aspect of Kings Cross’s hold on our popular imagination.… 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