Before this book I did not know that comedy spy porn was a literary genre. Nor was I aware that a man named Ted Mark was that genres greatest scribe, having written dozens of such books.
I found this book at the last SF Library big book sale and thought owning a book with this title was easily worth a dollar. Several months later I finally got around to reading it.
Jaded as I am by the barrage of porn available on the internet I found the porn in the book to be almost quaint by comparison. It even seemed reserved by 1967 standards, which is when it was published. A modern romance novel would put it to shame. It does have however a certain naive charm. Genitalia are never named in vulgar terms. The writer uses either medical terms or cute euphemisms.
After a few chapters I started to wonder whether the book was porn disguised as social commentary or social commentary disguised as porn. After a few more chapters I decided that neither could stand on its own which is probably why the whole spy plot line had to be added.
The premise is that this handsome recently-divorced lawyer owes a Senator a favor and is recruited to investigate communist infiltration of community theater groups in middle class American suburbs. In the course of his duties he begins to have sex with each female member of his local theater troupe. I say begin because he is almost always interrupted in some humorous manor.
The humor is of course mostly juvenile and exceedingly chauvinistic. The old complaint of how porn objectifies and degrades women is truthfully founded in works like this. In the midst of the sexual revolution the author paints woman as opportunistic nymphomaniacs looking to avoid all responsibility in life.
While not apologizing for the sexist views of the author, like H.P. Lovecraft’s racism you have to take it as a symptom of culture and marketplace. It does detract for the work but it shouldn’t be banished because of it. The work should stand on it’s own. Though I doubt Mr. Mark’s work will ever be measured beside Lovecraft’s.
So what am I trying to say about this book? It’s interesting as a time capsule of a forgotten sub-culture and an artifact of a time in publishing of which I will always be jealous. A time when many new writers found an easy path to getting their little paperbacks published and distributed. Of course cable TV, the web and the publishing industry’s changes have done away with all that. It sounds like I’m down on how things have changed but I’m happy with the current state of things. My words find their way to my readers. I think I’m just romanticizing a bygone era.