Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Duped: “Campus Sex Club”

The latest installment in Killer Covers’ “haven’t we seen this front someplace before?” series. Previous entries are here.

Although he’s known today as a prolific and award-winning science-fiction novelist, Robert Silverberg spent some of his early years concocting soft-porn tales. He did this under pseudonyms such as David Challon, John Dexter, Don Elliott, and Loren Beauchamp, the last of which he applied to “classics” on the order of Nurse Carolyn (1960), Sin on Wheels (1961), Campus Sex Club (1962).

As the enticingly named Web site, Those Sexy Vintage Sleaze Books, explains it, Campus Sex Club was originally published in 1960 by Bedside Books as Campus Love Club. It’s described as a “light, humorous” yarn “told in first-person by Metropolitan College sophomore Jeff Burnside, who starts off as an awkward virgin and soon becomes a master of ‘making’ the girls on campus.” I won’t go into all of the plotting particulars, since they’re quite well described at the Vintage Sleaze Books link provided above, but suffice to say that much of Beauchamp’s novel has to do with a secret fraternity and corresponding sorority that provide their members with guaranteed “sex and companionship--insuring [sic] that everyone has a new partner every night. On Saturdays, they get together for naked orgy parties, where they watch each other have sex with ‘Bolero’ playing on the hi-fi (this long before the movie 10).”

I wouldn’t care a jot about Campus Sex Club, were it not for the fact that its paperback front, displayed above, features artwork by Robert Maguire (1921-2005), who in addition to creating memorable fronts for 20th-century crime novels, also contributed his talents to “adult fiction” works published by Midwood, Monarch, and other such imprints. His painting for Campus Sex Club--showing an oddly unruffled young man in a college letterman sweater looking on as a topless redhead zips up the back of her skirt on a nearby bed--can hardly help but stimulate “improper” thoughts in the viewer.

Which is why I’m so surprised to see it was changed four years later when the illustration was reused on a Midwood “giant” release of two eminently forgettable tales, Norman A. King’s Goodbye Innocence and Linda Michaels’ Big City Campus. If you look closely at the cover below you’ll see the two college pennants that had previously hung on the wall behind the man have disappeared, and the slender redhead’s butt crack (that anatomical feature formerly known as the intergluteal cleft) has been covered up by what appears to be the back of a pair of black panties. One must ask, why bother? Seriously! We’re talking soft porn here, not high literature. Did somebody actually complain to Midwood about the explicitness of its cover art? Was it really necessary to give Maguire’s young miss more modesty?

READ MORE:A Brief History of Robert Silverberg,” by Claude Lalumière (Locus Online).


Unknown said...

Jeff, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Campus Sex Club sports a Robert Maguire cover, not Paul Rader.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Whoops! You're right, "Unknown," I had this cover improperly filed. I've now fixed the credit. Thanks for pointing out the error.