INTERVIEW WITH B. ASTRID DALEY BY CLAIRE DE HAVEN
Background on upcoming SIN-A-RAMA Book Publication.
The expanded edition of SIN-A-RAMA: SLEAZE SEX PAPERBACKS OF THE SIXTIES was published by Feral House this June. I wrote two new essays on “Occult Sleaze” and “Swinger Sleaze” for this edition and helped determine which new images to showcase. The original edition was published in 2005, and I came to be involved after publisher Adam Parfrey found me on eBay. He contacted me about participating after reading a thorough description I had written of a sleaze book I was selling. In preparation for interviews with journalists, Claire decided to interview me to provide some basic background on how I became interested and wound up co-editing a book on this topic.
Claire: What is “vintage sleaze?”
Astrid: Vintage sleaze is a term used by collectors to refer to erotic pulp paperbacks, mostly produced in the 1960s. They are celebrated for their richly illustrated covers with naughty characters in compromising positions, drawing the reader into forbidden worlds that were foreign to their readership. Think lesbians hiding their love in the shadows, adulterous businessmen having office liaisons with their secretaries, wife swapping suburbanites exchanging glances at the neighborhood barbecue, and free love hippies having acid-filled orgies. Their frequently over-the-top titles and cover blurbs had a ripped from the scandal sheets quality that, while shocking in their time, seem quaint today. Giggles ensue when you see a title like STARSHIP INTERCOURSE or KEEPING IT UP FOR THE JONESES’. These were the books that would be hidden under the mattress and, in fact, they were the subject of many legal battles over obscenity.
Claire: How did you become interested in this genre?
Astrid: I first became interested in this type of material when I was a teenager. I was getting into Beat authors, so I bought a CD box set with a bunch of related audio recordings. Pictured inside the box set’s booklet were a bunch of vintage paperbacks that were clearly exploiting popular stereotypes about the Beat Generation. Think funny titles such as, LIKE CRAZY MAN, stereotypical phrases like “dig it,” and plentiful bongo drums. I asked my local bookseller if she had anything like this, and she brought out about 100 vintage paperbacks, very few with Beat themes but all with awesome illustrated covers and funny titles and cover blurbs. I was in love. From the more tame 1950s stuff, I then discovered the raunchier world of 60s sleaze. I was even more in love with those. This was the early days of eBay; I would spend hours scrolling through page after page of listings. The dial-up modem made the process tedious, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of them and soon began amassing a collection, which today numbers in the thousands. They reminded me of the cheesy b-movies my brother and I used to sit up late watching in the 90’s— these movies were tame for sure but very taboo to us. I remember reveling at the rebellious b-movie bad girls whose adventures were so far removed from my small town upbringing. This early exposure to the taboo was the launchpad for my fascination with the forbidden.
Claire: What aspect of the books do you find personally intriguing, the stories and writing or the cover art?
Astrid: I'm most intrigued by the cover art. I haven't read a whole lot of the actual stories, although I've read bits and pieces of many books. The 50s and 60s were an awesome time for illustration art. Most of what I've collected has centered around the decadently illustrated covers. A few of the cover themes that I love the most include anything with a devil, the occult, hippie free love, or science fiction with a sleaze twist. Although recently I did take more of an interest in the storylines as they concerned the swinger Lifestyle. It was part of my research for a new book I’m about to release called SWAP CONFIDENTIAL: SWINGING IN POPULAR CULTURE.