On the 34th anniversary of his death, author "PK" Dick was the subject of a biography on A&E.
For the first time in a mainstream media piece, his other life, that of pornographer, was discussed.
Although PK Dick's eleven serious novels are all part of the school curriculum, and indeed have been for 50 years, his works of erotic fiction for "spank books" and the like have been a subject, when discussed at all, for dismay. No one in any serious journal or program has taken the time to study them as they should be studied: the portrait of a young artist desperately in need of cash.
Dick was introduced to the world of erotic literature if we can dignify it with such a literary term by his friend from Greenwich Village, Jonathon Quille. Jon Quille would later rise to considerable prominence as a writer of popular books on the topics of Forteana, especially the Bug-Man sightings in East Texas in the years 1966-1968, leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge tragedy of December 12, 1968.
What is not generally know is that Jon A. Quille began his writing career in the late 1940s as a script editor, gradually working his way into television scripting, as well as contributing radio plays and other light works.
None of that remunerated Quille well enough however and he turned to quick money: writing lusty short pieces for Gentlemen's Magazines, both the red blooded hairy chested oeuvre of such titles as This Marine's Life and American Warriors, but also contributing to outright pornography titles such as Bunnygirl and Selection.
There were types of work within this field Quille just could not master with his medium talent; when mourning this fact one night over drinks and marijuana with PK, PK offered to help. And of course it was help for PK too: in the late 1950s only the first of his real novels had been published, and that to little acclaim. As a young writer with a new family, PK had urgent need of cash. Writing erotica was both outlet and remuneration for him.
It is sobering indeed when one realizes that there would be no 'The Crying Cop', no 'I Pray You Shall Arrive Soon' and no 'SALVE' if it had not first been for the money that kept him going earned by such torrid masturbatory material as 'The Girl With The Thigh Tassel', 'Now Wait For My Blast, Dear', the now never to be reprinted 'Through A Scamming Darkie', 'Bacon for the Eggman' and the particularly nasty and lurid 'Marital Twine Slip'.
Those of us with pretentions toward appreciation of truly great literature -and it is unquestionable that the worldwide success and multiple movie versions of the monk's tale in SALVE is indeed great literature- must also accept that the man who toiled so long and who has so influenced our very concept of what it means to be an American still had to feed his family and pay the bills.
We don't have to like the product of his toil, but we must respect his effort at toiling.
Leonie Fremont, excerpted from 'The Girl With The Thigh Tassel: Glimmers of his greatness in his meanest work' in the December 2016 issue of Litero magazine.
7/26/2016 11:25:25 PM
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