Feral House, one of my favorite publishers of outré history, recently released two excellent books. Dope Menace has hundreds of color photos of sleazy drug paperback books, and The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People is a re-issue of the Wallace Family's (The Book of Lists, The People's Alamanac) fascinating history of the bedroom proclivities of famous folks, past and present.
While we now enjoy this exploitative genre for its campy kitsch, gloriously bad writing, and outlandish misinformation, drug paperback books were once a transgressive medium with a perversely seductive quality.
Dope Menace collects together hundreds of fabulously lurid and collectible covers in color, from xenophobic turn-of-the century tomes about the opium trade to the beatnik glories of reefer smoking and William S. Burroughs’ Junkie to the spaced-out psychedelic ’60s. We mustn’t forget the gonzo paranoia brought on by Hunter S. Thompson in the ’70s, when anything was everything.
For its initial edition of The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People in 1981, the legendary Wallace family read 1,500 biographies, pored over rare correspondence, legal transcripts and medical reports, and interviewed lovers, confidants and associates of many distinguished men and women in world history.
This 600-page illicit encyclopedia of the private lives of writers, politicians, athletes, popes, rabble-rousers, composers, rock stars and sex symbols has been revised and enlarged, with a dozen new entries, including ones on Kurt Cobain, Malcolm X, Wilt Chamberlain, Ayn Rand, Jim Morrison, Nico, Aleister Crowley, and more.
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