Saturday, February 25, 2012


Here's a transcript of the review of Hip Pocket Sleaze from the current issue (Feb 2012) of the UK magazine Bizarre.


Back in the 1960s and 70s, grubby, well-thumbed paperbacks with raunchy covers were sold from beneath the counter in bookshops across the world. And Hip Pocket Sleaze is a sublime celebration of these shocking vintage gems…

Here at Bizarre Towers, we’re inundated with books each month sent in by PRs and publishers hoping for a good review. As you might expect, the vast majority of these books are utter gash, and even our local charity shop won’t touch them. But sometimes a book lands on our desk that we can’t wait to share with you, our beloved readers – and they don’t come much cooler than Hip Pocket Sleaze.

An introduction to the world of lurid adult paperbacks from the 1960s and 70s – where the cover art is often more important than the contents of the book itself – Hip Pocket Sleaze is crammed with images that are edgy, sexy, camp, hip, unintentionally hilarious and just plain wrong.

The brainchild of Australia-based author and pulp paperback expert, John Harrison, Hip Pocket Sleaze takes a geeky, deeply passionate look at the golden age of dodgy paperbacks, including a raft of publications designed for gay and lesbian audiences that were ground-breaking in their time.

As these forgotten books were often a training ground for alternative artists and writers such as filmmaker and ‘godfather of gore’ Herschell Gordon Lewis, lesbian author Ann Bannon and fetish artist Bill Ward, Hip Pocket Sleaze isn’t only a fun read – it also shows that even the trashiest of publications can sire cult genius.

But, hell, enough of our yappin’! Hip Pocket Sleaze is all about the joy of poring over vintage book covers and marvelling at their wrongness, so here’s a selection of Bizarre’s favourites to get you in the mood for more. Are you game for a Blood Feast, or an Enema For Emilia?



The elevator doors pinged and drew open, all eyes in the lobby turning as if they instinctively knew there was something exceptional to see. She walked out and onto the once-ornate marble floor as if gliding on air, her svelte legs momentarily teasing as they appeared through the slits of the long red dress that hugged and highlighted every well-placed curve that the Devil had blessed her with. Cigarette smoke curled from her nostrils, creating a halo that made her face seem even more ethereal than it already was, with its porcelain skin and moist red lips that looked sensual and hungry, but had the hint of a sneer that let you know that she was nobody’s pushover.

I knew who she was. As a busboy I made it my business to know who everyone was that walked through those old glass doors. But I didn’t know her, certainly not in the way I wanted to. Her name was Allison. Her friends called her Alli…her enemies called her many things, but never a shrinking violet. She gave off class but looked like she would be equally at home in the dank alleyway behind a rowdy burlesque joint as she would in a grand ballroom. She was Veronica Lake and Vampira, as alchemised by Ed Wood on some musty, long-forgotten Hollywood backlot. If you looked deeply enough or caught her in a moment off-guard, there was a vulnerability in her eyes that told you she had been hurt, and was not going to let herself get hurt again.

She stubbed out her cigarette and I savoured the scent she gave off as she walked by, an intoxicating mix of perfume and natural pheromones that I imagined would only increase to near-lethal measures when she was in the throes of passion, seeping from her every pore and invading the senses of whatever lucky sonofabitch happened to be tangled up within her. Her long, slightly wavy hair - auburn with a hint of red - flew across her neck and cascaded across her back in thick waves as she turned and gave me a brief smile that made my spirits soar and went straight to my heart like a precision hit of adrenaline delivered to a mainlining junkie. I didn’t know if the smile was genuine, or one delivered out of pity for a poor fool who seemed to be on a long, meaningless road to nowhere, his entire existence confined within these four crumbling walls that echoed with a more glorious past. Frankly, I didn’t care what her motivations were. A smile from her was better than a kiss from any other dame I could think of.

The smile faded. Her head turned back. I savored the view from the rear, as it moved with the kind of perfect sway that is usually only reserved for fever dreams or desert apparitions. She walked out the main door and had no troubling hailing the first cab that came along. I looked down at my watch and began counting the minutes until I would see her face again.

Copyright John Harrison 2012


Photography by Marco Patino.

Note: Above are the opening paragraphs of a new pulp/noir piece I am working on. Thanks to the lovely Allison Grace (pictured above) for providing the inspiration.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Finally got around to watching my DVD of Rene Cardona, Jr’s 1979 opus Carlos the Terrorist today. Loosely based on the life of notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal, I expected it to be another inept but enjoyable trash-fest from the South American filmmaker and director of sleazy genre faves like Tintorera (1977) and Guyana: Crime of the Century (1979). However, I wasn’t expecting it to be as strangely surreal as it was, considering there is literally no dialogue throughout the entire film, the only voices heard being those of a narrator and occasional voice-overs from the lead character as he reads instructions left for him to follow. Great weird stuff, well worth the $5.00 I paid for the DVD (came on a double-sided disc with Guyana: Crime of the Century).


Saturday, February 4, 2012


Fantastic vintage 42nd St marque dipslay set up for Umberto Lenzi's classic 1981 Italian gut-muncher Make Them Die Slowly (aka Cannibal Ferox).



Sad to hear of the passing of veteran adult film actress Kandi Barbour (born Linda Jean Smith). The 56 year-old starlet of such 70s & 80s flixxx as Ultra Flesh, The Pink Ladies and Neon Nights was reportedly homeless and living on the streets of San Francisco, where her body was discovered on February the 1st. No cause of death yet given.


The following was taken from the Adult Video News website:

Born in 1956 and originally from Kansas, Barbour was a popular actress during porn's golden age, appearing in 42 adult movies, several softcore releases and at least 20 hardcore compilations. The majority of her work appeared between 1978 and 1981, though she gave her final XXX performance in 1987 in X-Effect, directed by Ron Jeremy. She was perhaps best known as the poster girl for Cecil Howard's landmark '81 film, Neon Nights, which was named by AVN as one of the 101 greatest adult videos of all time.

According to the Rotten Tomatoes website, Barbour was first discovered by photographer Diana Hardy and had appeared in "virtually every men's magazine by the mid-1970s." Other sources say that she also appeared in several mainstream ads, notably for K-tel International, which sold compilations of popular music, and was rumored to have appeared in some mainstream TV series, including Magnum P.I., which was shot in Hawaii where Barbour lived for a time.

Barbour's other notable credits include Chuck Vincent's Bon Appetit (Video-X-Pix, 1980), Richard Mahler's Pink Ladies (VCA, 1980) and Warren Evans' Pandora's Mirror (Caballero, 1981).

In 2009, Barbour was inducted into the Pioneers branch of the X-Rated Critics Organization (XRCO) Hall of Fame.

"She never worked for me," said golden age director Carter Stevens, who said he had provided some information to the San Francisco Coroner's Office, "but it knocked me for a loop when I got that call. I guess they found me because I had written something about Kandi on the internet a couple of years ago. She lived in my house for a while when we had 'Carter's Home for Wayward Women.' She lived in my loft for about three months. I never charged her rent, but I did charge her a $200 deposit on telephone because she was the type who would literally call up California to find out what time it was there. She was just a bit scatterbrained. But also, she would walk around with thousands of dollars worth of uncashed checks in her purse. She did all this modeling work besides porn; she did a lot of work for advertisers like K-tel music, those TV commercials. She did a lot of modeling work because of her face, and she never cashed the checks until she needed money; then she'd reach in her purse and pull out a check and have somebody cash it for her."

According to Stevens, after leaving his house, Barbour lived with Stevens' production manager, Curt Cressler, for two years in Los Angeles.

"When I went out to California to make Tinseltown (1979), my apartment was across the courtyard from them," he recalled, "and so she used to come down and hang out with me a lot when I was home."

Attempts to contact Cressler for comment were unsuccessful.

"The last time I saw her—actually, my wife saw her—was in Hawaii," Stevens continued. "This goes back 22 years. She was living above the Club Hubba Hubba, which was a very famous strip club in Honolulu. She was living above the club and working there, and as my wife says, she had a drinking problem. She had gained a lot of weight and was living in a muumuu and never took it off. She did have some mental problems, even at that point. She had this dysmorphic body image. She had this thing about her nose being crooked; was always talking about having her nose fixed. There was of course nothing wrong with her nose."

Steve Morowitz of Distribpix, which owns several of Barbour's titles, including Sizzle and Centerfold Fever, was also taken aback at the news of her death.

"She was very striking," he recalled, "and out of a hundred classic porn stars, she's certainly one I could name without having to look at anything to refresh my memory. It's sad—it's always sad when we lose one of the classic performers."