Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rader Love: Face of Fantasy

(Above) The Unashamed, by “March Hastings,” aka Sally Singer (Midwood, 1960). Paul Rader’s daughter, Elaine, has said she “suspects that both of the women on this cover were modeled by her mother,” Edith. (Below, left) Books historian Lynn Monroe says Kitten, by “Dallas Mayo,” aka Gil Fox (Midwood, 1961), is also fronted by an illustration for which Edith posed.

Months ago, when I started planning Killer Covers’ 110th birthday tribute to the late American painter and paperback cover artist, (Isaac) Paul Rader, I knew that I wanted to interview his only daughter, Elaine, a banker turned jeweler and metalsmith now living in northern Georgia. Fortunately, she was up for the challenge, and the results of our original e-mail exchange—covering her father’s history and work habits—can be found here.

However, shortly after posting that interview, I realized I’d neglected to question Elaine much about another important aspect of Paul Rader’s career: his association with his second wife, Edith—Elaine’s mother—who served as the model for so many of Rader’s captivating novel façades. Born on October 21, 1924, in Yonkers, New York, the former Edith Anne Radley met Paul Rader during the early years of the Second World War, wed him soon afterward, and went on to be immortalized in his now highly collectible cover illustrations. Southern California bookseller and books historian Lynn Monroe, who had the opportunity to speak with Edith Rader before she died in 2005 at age 82, has written that “She was never comfortable talking about Paul’s sexy covers, let alone the fact that she was the nude model riveting our attention on so many of them. She preferred to remain anonymous.” Yet, to a generation of enthusiastic paperback readers who grew up during the mid-20th century, Edith Rader became familiar as “The Rader Girl,” a curvaceous blonde seemingly meant to be celebrated in abundant paint strokes.

Wanting to learn more about Edith Rader’s life, as well as her working relationship with her 18-years-older husband, I e-mailed daughter Elaine another collection of queries.

J. Kingston Pierce: Do you know what your mother’s parents were like, what her childhood was like?

Elaine Rader: Her parents were both immigrants from England. My grandmother, Marion (Maude) Hale, came to the U.S. in the early 1900s as a teenager. She met and married my grandfather, Clifford Radley, and I believe had their first child when she was 18. My mother was the youngest of three children, all girls; her sisters were Mary and Helen. At some point, when the girls were still young, [Clifford and Maude] divorced, and with little or no support, my grandmother raised all three girls alone. The oldest daughter, Mary, was 10 years older than my mother and was a great help in taking care of my mother while my grandmother worked. They moved a lot, as my mother remembered, living in apartments of varying size depending on how much money was earned by her mother and the two older sisters. Sometimes the apartments were large, sometimes modest. The one thing she told me about those apartments was that no matter where they lived or how cramped the quarters, my grandmother always managed to make a beautiful home for them. She had a knack for decorating even when times were rough and money tight. At one point in her life, my grandmother came to live in a grand penthouse for a time. Her final apartment, on the upper west side of New York City (what is now called Washington Heights), was tiny but it was beautiful. She had impeccable taste … and the best costume jewelry collection that any little girl would love, and that I ran to play in every time we visited her. I only knew my grandmother, never meeting my grandfather, as he passed away before I was born. My grandmother was never seen without her makeup being perfect, her hair neat, and just the right clothing. She was not an openly affectionate person, but a caring one. I remember her as stern yet kind. We became quite close when I was a young teenager, but sadly she passed way suddenly when she was 72.

JKP: How and when did Edith and your father first meet?

ER: They lived in the same [Manhattan] apartment building. My mother was still living with her mother at that time. She was 17, and the year was 1942. Air-raid drills were a scheduled weekly event in all the apartments at that time during World War II. Evidently, each floor of the apartment building had its captain to make sure all the residents knew about the drills. My mother was the captain of her floor, my father the captain of his. As she told it, during this one particular drill, they went to the roof where the usual meeting place was, and no one but the two of them showed up. They had never met until then.

JKP: Did your mother ever reveal anything about their courtship? Anything about their early years of marriage, where they lived or any hardships they encountered?

ER: After they met, my grandmother discouraged the romance to the best of her ability, to the point of sending [my mother] off to live with relatives in Canada. My mother was 17 and my father was 35 at the time. They courted long-distance through telegrams written back and forth for over a month. (I still have all of those telegrams and correspondence from that time in a box that my mother saved all the rest of her life.) She finally came back to New York to live with her mother again, and when she turned 18, about three months after [my parents] met, they ran off and eloped. They were married by a justice of the peace—with his wife as a witness—in a small town in South Carolina.

JKP: Was this your mother’s first and only marriage?

ER: Yes.

JKP: Your parents swapped wedding rings in 1942. You were born in 1954. Why did they wait a dozen years to have children, or had they not actually planned a family?

ER: My mother wanted to have children (she told me she dreamed of having six!), but she said my father was not really sure about having any. She had given up on the idea when one day, he said to her—when she was 29—“I guess if we’re going to have a child we’d better do it soon.” So, yes, it was very planned. She was 30 when I was born.

JKP: Tell me what your parents were like together. Did they have many shared interests? Did they argue much, and if so, about what?

ER: They were very close, they shared an equal love of music: my mother played the piano, my father enjoyed playing and collecting classical-music recordings. They were both avid readers. They were also avid debaters; they could agree to disagree and had many fascinating conversations about any number of topics. They enjoyed the theater and they enjoyed each other’s mind.

My mother, like hers, was a bit of a “scheduled” personality and not very yielding in that way. My father was an artist … need I say more? As a result, I remember some problems in that area when it came to everyday things such as dinner times. If he was “in a zone,” it was hard to break that and have “the scheduled 5:00 dinner” every day, so there was that. If there were other problems, I was not privy to them. I’m sure, like any marriage, they had problems, but they were not in the habit of arguing in front of me.

Edith Rader at age 53, painted by Paul Rader.

JKP: Had your mother modeled for your father before he started painting book covers in the mid-1950s? If so, in what sorts of artworks had he employed her image?

ER: My father did a wonderful portfolio (which I have) of modeling photos of my mother for her to try to break into the clothes-modeling world, back when she was in her early 20s. Other than that, she sat for him so that he could do portraits of her, but not to sell them commercially.

JKP: Can I assume that in using your mother as a model, Paul Rader posed her as he wished, photographed her, and then painted from those photos … rather than asking her to remain in one position while he sketched or painted her?

ER: Yes, that’s correct, he would take photographs and then paint from them.

JKP: What was it about your mother that made her an ideal model for your father? And was she happy to serve as The Rader Girl?

ER: Not to be flip about it, but she was beautiful, and available to sit at his convenience, or at least to fit it into their schedule easily. She never admitted that she was ever The Rader Girl. She always said, when asked about this, that that woman was his imagination of the perfect woman.

JKP: Did your mother pose for other artists, as well?

ER: No.

JKP: How did your mother take Paul Rader’s passing in 1986, when he was 79 years old? Had she anticipated it?

ER: No, it was very sudden. He had been declining in a few ways after their move to [Ocala], Florida, but nothing that indicated a serious problem. He had several heart attacks during one day and died at the hospital. It was of course a shock, and a loss that took her years to cope with.

JKP: Did she change much personally, or change her life much, after your father’s death? Did she continue to live in Ocala?

ER: She continued to live in Ocala. She went on many trips during the first few years after his death. She took her very first airplane trip, [as] my father would never get on an airplane; it was one of the first things she did after he died. She joined some groups in her retirement community and tried volunteering for things, but realized she was not a joiner, nor a good volunteer.

JKP: And how did your mother spend the last 18 years of her life? Do you think she was happy during that period?

ER: She hadn’t many close friends in Ocala, but stayed in writing contact with many from New York. She went to visit her sister in Oregon quite a few times and almost moved there, but decided not [to]. She read, she wrote letters, we talked every day, and as we liked to say, “solved the world’s problems on a daily basis” over the phone. She enjoyed her plants and gardening—she had a great green thumb, knew all the correct Latin names of plants, and loved bird-watching. She became an independent woman who was always ready to have a good conversation. Her one regret, she told me, was that she never made it back to visit New York city.

I think that made her very sad.

Rader Love: “The Sex Plan”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

The Sex Plan, by Philip Elder (Midwood, 1963). This same illustration was recycled by publisher All Star for its 1967 release The Power and the Passion, by Peter Kevin.

Although women’s garter belts have largely fallen out of fashion, thanks to the 20th-century introduction of elastic-topped pantyhose and the inclination among today’s younger members of the female sex to eschew nylon stockings altogether, Rader was very fond of employing those garments—complete with suspender “slings”—in his cover paintings. They contributed an element of the risqué to his images: After all, if you could see the suspenders connecting a woman’s stockings to her garter belt (as you do in The Sex Plan), then you were well on your way to still more intimate sights! I won’t claim that the 18 covers featured below represent the entirety of this artist’s use of garter belts in his paintings, but it’s a significant sample, at the very least.

Click on the images below for enlargements.

READ MORE:Get a Load of Those Gams!” by J. Kingston Pierce (Killer Covers).

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rader Love: “The Jealous and the Free”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

The Jealous and the Free, by “March Hastings,” aka Sally Singer (Midwood, 1961). Rader authority and books historian Lynn Monroe calls this “one of Paul Rader’s best covers.” Who am I to argue? (You can read the back-jacket copy here.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rader Love: “Twice with Julie”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

Twice with Julie, by “Jason Hytes,” aka John Plunkett (Midwood, 1965). There were at least two editions of this 156-page, not-so-literary novel about “a girl who lived in constant torment, a girl who spent every waking moment in desperate need of sex.” The one shown above was the second; an earlier, 1962 printing carried artwork by Robert Maguire.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Rader Love: “5 Beds to Mecca”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

5 Beds to Mecca, by “Rod Gray,” aka Gardner F. Fox (Tower, 1968). Between 1968 and 1975, Fox—who is certainly better remembered nowadays as a writer for such DC Comics superhero tites as Batman, Hawkman, The Flash, and Justice League of America—composed at least 13 (and perhaps more) paperback novels featuring Eve Drum, the “Lady from L.U.S.T.” The Web site Spy Guys and Gals explains:
As the West’s love for spy fiction reached its highest point with James Bond on the screen and Napoleon Solo on the television, it was natural that publishers would branch out with series geared totally towards a love of down-and-dirty sex. The year 1967 was a heyday for such prurient entertainment as the Man from O.R.G.Y., first out in 1965, [who] was joined by the Coxeman and the Man from T.O.M.C.A.T. They were accompanied by the Lady from L.U.S.T.

Eve Drum works for the League of Undercover Spies and Terrorists. She fights against the Humanitarian Alliance of Total Espionage. Until you look at the acronyms, you’d have to be confused who were the good guys. On one side you have Terrorists against an Humanitarian Alliance. Then you look again to see it is Lust against Hate. Just shows something, I guess!

The origin of L.U.S.T. is said to have been a “natural child of the [U.S.] State Department by way of the CIA.” The task of the organization, run by the ever-horny David Anderjanian, is “to do those things that must be done to preserve peace throughout the world.”

Its key agent is the delectable Drum, a woman determined to give her all again and again in the service of her country. For protection, she has a pair of 38s that will knock ’em dead every time. It is not revealed how many other agents L.U.S.T. has, but perhaps with Drum other agents are really necessary.

Paul Rader didn’t paint covers for all of these novels. But Lynn Monroe’s research indicates his art decorated at least the opening nine, including the original The Lady from L.U.S.T. (1967), Lay Me Odds (1967), The Hot Mahatma (1968), Kiss My Assassin (1968), and South of the Bordello (1969).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Rader Love: “The Sins of Martha Leslie”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

The Sins of Martha Leslie, by Don Holliday (Midwood, 1960). As The Pulp Fiction Project notes in its write-up about this 160-page novel (which includes an image of the back cover),
Don Holliday was a [house] name used by a number of different writers over the years, including (but possibly not limited to) Victor J. Banis, Lawrence Block, David Case, William Coons, Sam Dodson, Hal Dresner, John Jakes, and Arthur Plotnick.
That blog doesn’t pin down which of those fictionists was responsible for The Sins of Martha Leslie, but Paul Rader authority Lynn Monroe does: he says Hal Dresner deserves the credit. Dresner, if you don’t know already, was fairly prolific under the Holliday pseudonym, turning out a variety of trashy tales for publisher Greenleaf Classics, including such long-forgotten “classics” as Stud (1960), Hell’s Harlot (1961), and Circle of Sinners (1962). Using the same moniker, he penned Only the Bed for Midwood Books. Interestingly, under his real name Dresner produced The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books (1965), a roman à clef about a pornographer, Guy LaDouche, whose efforts to find the solitude he requires in order to complete his latest soft-porn work are repeatedly and comically interrupted. The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books is still in print!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rader Love: “When Lights Are Low”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

When Lights Are Low, by “Dallas Mayo,” aka Gil Fox (Midwood, 1963). “Unlike some other paperback houses, all of Midwood’s early books dealt only with aspects of human sexuality,” writes Paul Rader authority Lynn Monroe. That includes lesbianism. Beginning with When Lights Are Low, Rader is said to have gone to work all but exclusively for Midwood, and a number of his paintings appeared on lesbian novels. Julie Ellis, who penned various tales for Midwood under the pseudonym Joan Ellis, told Monroe that during his college years, Gil Fox—who’d grown up partly in Connecticut and had served as a bombardier in World War II, before becoming a prolific Midwood author—had “met and married a Southern beauty who was bisexual. Her lesbian adventures would influence Fox’s writing for the rest of his life.” Fox himself related a story to Monroe about how Midwood Books publisher Harry Shorten had instructed him to write When Lights Are Low: “How Harry operated: one day we came back from lunch and Harry picks the title When Lights Are Low out of the air and says, ‘Your next book for Midwood will be When Lights Are Low.’ That was it, no meaning at all, no story. So, you know, I went home and wrote When Lights Are Low.” The book’s cover is embedded above; the back jacket can be found here.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rader Love: “Nude in a Red Chair”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

Nude in a Red Chair, by Amanda Moore (Midwood, 1963).

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Rader Love: “Stronger Than Love”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

Stronger Than Love, by Jess Draper (Midwood, 1963). You’ll find this story’s back-jacket description here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rader Love: “Nita’s Place”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

Nita’s Place, by Harry Whittington (Pyramid, 1960). This book was featured previously in a gallery of summer-related paperback fronts. You can read its back-jacket copy here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rader Love: “The Cruel Touch”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

The Cruel Touch, credited to “Alan Marshall,” but possibly written by Donald E. Westlake (Midwood, 1963). Before he became famous as a crime-fiction author, Westlake produced at least part of his income by penning sleaze novels. In fact, his first book, All My Lovers (1959), was a Midwood release, published under the Marshall pseudonym. (Westlake’s debut novel carrying his own moniker was 1960’s The Mercenaries, also issued as The Cutie.) Wikipedia explains: “Westlake acknowledged writing as many as 28 paperback soft-porn titles from 1959-64 under [the names Alan Marshall or Alan Marsh]; titles include All My Lovers, Man Hungry, All About Annette, Sally, Virgin’s Summer, Call Me Sinner, Off Limits, and three featuring the character of Phil Crawford: Apprentice Virgin, All the Girls Were Willing, and Sin Prowl. Westlake was not the only author to work under Marshall’s name, claiming that: ‘The publishers would either pay more for the names they already knew or would only buy from (those) names … so it became common practice for several of us to loan our names to friends. … Before … the end of 1961 … six other people, friends of mine, published books as Alan Marshall, with my permission but without the publishers’ knowledge.’ Two novels published in 1960 were co-authored by Westlake and Lawrence Block (who used the pen-name ‘Sheldon Lord’) and were credited to ‘Sheldon Lord and Alan Marshall’: A Girl Called Honey, dedicated to Westlake and Block, and So Willing, dedicated to ‘Nedra and Loretta,’ who were (at that time) Westlake and Block’s wives.” Sources conflict about whether The Cruel Touch was an example of Westlake’s work, or a story by someone else; Wikipedia doesn’t include it on its rundown of that author’s output, but FantasticFiction does.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Rader Love: “Over-Exposed”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

Over-Exposed, by “Jason Hytes,” aka John Plunkett (Midwood, 1962). According to Rader authority Lynn Monroe, Plunkett was once an editor for Midwood, working under founder-publisher Harry Shorten. Because he came from the Jackson Heights neighborhood of New York City’s Queens borough, Plunkett adopted as his pseudonym Jason Hytes. In addition to his work wielding an editor’s red pencil, he turned out a variety of books for Midwood, beginning with This Girl (1961, which also features a Paul Rader front) and continuing on to Sex Before Six (1962), Wait Your Turn (1962), The Doctor and the Dyke (1962), and This Is Elaine (1963). Over-Exposed—featuring one of my favorite Rader fronts—is a story about beautiful women, hidden cameras, and blackmail. You can read the back-jacket copy here.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rader Love: “Thorn of Evil”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

Thorn of Evil, by Max Collier (Midwood, 1962). I’m not sure whether “Max Collier” was the byline of a single author, or another Midwood “house name” shared by multiple writers. But in either event, Collier is credited with having composed at least half a dozen soft-core porn titles for that publisher during the early 1960s. Thorn of Evil was the first of those to see print, but it’s not the last Collier work we’ll consider in this series.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rader Love: “Passionately Yours, Eve”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

Passionately Yours, Eve, by Paul Gregory (Midwood, 1962).

Friday, October 14, 2016

Rader Love: “The Craving”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

The Craving, by “Dallas Mayo,” aka Gil Fox (Midwood, 1962). This 158-page novel’s not-very-subtle plot description reads thusly: “Regina Chadwick was a voluptuary, a woman who reveled in every pleasure of the flesh. No one man could satisfy her, including her husband. So Regina went in search of her kind of sex—the wild kind. This is the story of how Regina filled her bottomless cup of sensual craving. She tried everything once, and what she liked she did again and again.”

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rader Love: “The Uncomplaining Corpses”

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

The Uncomplaining Corpses, by Brett Halliday (Dell, 1958). Over an almost 40-year career, Halliday (aka Davis Dresser) penned more than 60 novels about red-headed Miami private eye Michael Shayne. The Uncomplaining Corpse was the third of those, following Dividend on Death (1939) and The Private Practice of Michael Shayne (1940). An earlier version of The Uncomplaining Corpses, with cover art by Robert Stanley, can be enjoyed here.