In the United States during the 1950s and 60s there was a major trend in publishing (by a number of small and large publishers) towards the production of short, cheaply produced novels that dealt with illicit themes, known affectionately today as “pulp fiction” because of the cheap, recycled paper on which they were often printed.
Many of these pulp novels were westerns, romances (the ubiquitous Harlequin books began publication in 1949), and thrillers, featuring hardboiled detectives and exotic settings, and they often included brash, tough talking characters in melodramatic situations. The books were widely available at newsstands and drugstores throughout the country, and most often they were sold for under $1, making them cheap enough to be disposable.
Like comic books, pulps were permitted greater freedom than titles within mainstream publishing and were less subject to censorship because they were not taken particularly seriously, but unlike comic books they were made primarily for adults, and while there was some backlash to their existence (in the form of an investigation by a U.S. House of Representatives committee in 1953), they did not incite the same moral panic in the name of protecting the youth.
Within the pulp genre there were a great many titles that fell into a still more prurient and licentious category, referred to in general as “sleaze”. These books were erotically charged, and they were willing to depict and make use of sexual practices and behaviors that were well outside the established, acceptable mainstream, including homosexuality (particularly lesbianism) and situations and themes in common with both modern BDSM and modern polyamory.
Lesbian sleaze books were marketed to a male audience and made with them in mind, and most were written by men who used female pen names or by heterosexual women, but in the 1980s they experienced a renewed popularity with lesbian women as examples of an unfortunately scant popular literature in which they were depicted. The earliest of these, Women’s Barracks by Tereska Torrès (1950), was wildly popular, selling over 4 million copies, and it demonstrated a market that prompted the production of a few hundred such titles over the next 15 years.
(1957-1968) | Wikipedia
1950-1951 | Wikipedia
1960-1964 | Wikipedia
Bibliography (The Internet Speculative Fiction Database)
Covers with Original Artwork:
Adam and Two Eves [Beacon B152] (1956)
Never Love a Man by Dominique Napier [Beacon B511] (1962)
Darcy (Ernest Chiriaka)
Different by Dorene Clark [Beacon B311] (1960)
Teen-Age Terror by Wenzell Brown [Gold Medal S734] (1958)
Girls’ Dormitory by Joan Ellis [Midwood F343] (1963)
The Sisterhood by Sheldon Lord [Beacon Signal Sixty B659X] (1963)
Three of a Kind by P.J. Wolfson [Berkley G-85] (1957)
The Blonde by Peggy Swenson [Midwood 56] (1960)
By Love Depraved by Arthur Adlon [Beacon B457F] (1961)
Darcy (Ernest Chiriaka)
Voluptuous Voyage by Dallas Mayo [Midwood F198] (1961)
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