Admit it. We've all had a read of some of those antique ‘sleaze’ books that were available, or maybe not, to most everyone who frequented back alley erotica shops or maybe those gems were hidden away in the back room of most book stores.
I tripped across my first one in Great Falls, Montana.
There, sometime in 1986, in a dust filled second hand store, was a basket full of vintage paperbacks. The going price was a nickel a book and I ended up buying the whole lot just on the cover art alone. Within this pile of books was a little known gem, an unnerving book titled ‘Blue Bell Whores Die in Red’. There was no cover art. It was just a plain black book with red lettering and the company logo in the upper left corner.
It was one of the most terrifying novels I had read at that time, as well as one of my most treasured just because of the content. I made sure I always had that book whenever we moved from one state to another, and I also made sure no one ever saw it, especially my parents.
Fast forward to the present. Somewhere along the way, I lost the book but it wasn't a big priority as I was juggling jobs and family. Every now and then, it would pop up in my collection, but then drown again in the oceans of life. Finally, after having all the kids move out to face life, I began to concentrate on writing and organizing my book collection.
‘Blue Bell’ came to the surface once more this past month (February) when I became more interested in JT Lawrence. It was buried in a box of other vintage paperbacks in a shed over packed with about three generations of peoples junk.
Who was he? Was this just another phantom name that was slapped on the cover to protect the real author? Maybe a house name slating more lurid titles under one pen name?
Research shed a little more information. A general search revealed a few other JT Lawrences, one being a female author in South Africa or somewhere. I got the break I needed from a lone email from a former editor of a porn book publisher back in the 70’s. He’d seen a post I had mentioning about any info. New Mexico, the email stated, was where JT Lawrence had retired to. He was living with an ex-stripper, author, and ‘body’ artist named Samantha who was a good twenty years younger.
I spent several weeks verifying if he was in New Mexico and found out through one of the many websites dedicated to vintage paperback collectors, that Lawrence was in Santa Fe, New Mexico…right up in my neck of the woods. After a few email contacts I had, I managed to locate him. He was alive and well living ‘almost off grid’ north of Santa Fe.
After a long twelve hour overnight shift and an hour long drive to Santa Fe, we met and discussed things related to a lost era of pulp porn, crime and science fiction... well, mostly porn.
An interview was imminent…