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Friday, May 05, 2006

The Lurking Porno Boogeyman


Black Abductor, a pornographic novel published in 1972, so precisely described the 1974 Patricia Hearst kidnapping that Special Agent Charles Bates, who conducted the FBI’s investigation into the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), deemed it necessary to buy a copy.

In this novel, two men and a woman snatch the daughter of a wealthy senator at the apartment she shared with her fiancé, a teaching assistant at the local university. The assailants savagely beat the fiancé, whom police initially view as the prime suspect in victim’s murder and disappearance. Her captors, a paramilitary left-wing group led by an embittered black man, take her to this rattrap of a house, and announce that they have her in a communiqué. Everyone there winds up having sex with her, but she becomes particularly close to the leader, who unsuccessfully tries to make the encounters as emotionless as possible. She then decides to join the group, even though they give her the option of going free.

The physical descriptions of some characters fit SLA members Donald DeFreeze, Nancy Ling Perry, Willie Wolfe and Hearst to a tee. In some cases, the author didn’t even bother to change the names. The kidnapped victim was named Patricia. The female kidnapper, who actually seems to function as more of a conflation of the SLA women, was named Angela. During the course of the novel, the author reveals that Patricia had an ongoing incestuous relationship with her brother, Will, both of whom lived in a mansion that bore strong resemblance to San Simeon where Hearst actually grew up. Here, the story deviates from real life a bit. Hearst has no brothers. She does, however, have a “favorite” cousin named William Randolph Hearst III, whom everybody called ‘Will’. He must have been of some importance to her, since he was the only family member she would speak to after her arrest.

Some passages that deviate from the official version of the SLA still rang true. In the story, a number of the revolutionaries have secret ties to the police, and nebulous government agencies. The same agencies wind up murdering them in a climactic shootout at the house. Yet, Patricia finds a way to rescue the leader from annihilation, in the process replacing his body with that of another person so police will presume that the skipper went down with his ship.

According to its title page, Black Abductor was written by a man named Harrison James, and published by a company calling itself Regency Press. There actually was a pornographic writer using the pen name Harrison James. Yet, he categorically denied that he wrote the book. If he did, he would have made a small fortune two years later, since the Hearst kidnapping was the hot topic of the day. You would have also thought that he would have objected to an unauthorized 1974 edition put out by Al Ellenberg for Dell Publishing.

Think about this. You’ve written a book. News events make the book extremely marketable. Do you call your publisher and kick him or her in the ass to print more copies? I certainly would, if the publisher hadn’t beaten me to it.

But Regency seemed to have had no interest in either exploiting or protecting its own valuable commodity. Dell tried to get the publisher’s permission to print the Ellenberg edition, but they couldn’t find the company. The only contact person was a woman named Rita Loob, a rather unimaginative pseudonym for a pornography house. No one could find her either. Dell’s detectives couldn’t ascertain whether or not she even existed. They discovered, however that payment for distribution fees came from Nova Publishing, a subsidiary of Hearst Press.

When Dell approached James to get his permission, he denied authorship, despite the fact that he could have made some real good money just by saying yes. In fact, nobody ever claimed to be the author of this book. Once the investigation exhausted all possible procedures for obtaining permission, Dell discovered that Regency didn’t even properly copyright the book. That left Dell free and clear to republish it and keep all the money.

By now, you’re probably wondering why somebody would publish a novel about a crime that they intended to commit at some future time. Wouldn’t it make more sense that somebody in the SLA read it, and patterned their actions after its plot line? Then again, it could have been coincidence, couldn’t it?

Yes, and yes.

But I would then have to wonder why somebody would pattern themselves after doomed characters. As for coincidence, that might be the case, but what a hell of a coincidence!

I have in my possession an unpublished manual of an elite secret society. You might find what the manual says about magic kinda interesting.

Esoteric magic sounds metaphysical, but in actuality it describes any action designed to enact the will of the adept. If you were in a hot room, for example, the proper magic, in their view, would consist of turning on an air conditioner or fan -- nothing really all that spooky.

Magic requiring the joint participation of many different individuals, however, requires a Statement of Intent. A Statement of Intent is a proposal put forth into public discourse, so that operators can act independently. In days of yore, you could find them in art, dramatic, or literary works. Commentary on the play or the painting could express approval, rejection, or suggested modifications.

One could speculate that the Hearst family could have had connections to this elite secret society, especially since its headquarters were close to their home. Then again, I wouldn’t really know if other elitist esoteric groups use Statements of Intent, since I only have the one manual. Nevertheless, you could read Black Abductor as history, and pass a true-or-false test on the subject of the Hearst kidnapping.

After reading Black Abductor myself, I got the impression that it was professionally written. It’s only errors in syntax and grammar occur when a character speaks. The formulaic structure is quite similar to such contemporary sex novels as Naked Came the Stranger.

Since the only legitimate (so to speak) publisher associated at all with it is Hearst Press, the possibility remains that the Hearst family might have had some hand in planning in Patty’s abduction.

4 Comments:

Blogger Suki said...

Can I borrow that to make a Biblioscope?

I can imagine a lot of reasons a person might want to stay away from a book like that, from having a connection to the crime, and not wanting to be caught, to having a connex and being paid off to stay away. Also, the print date may have been wrong/ intentionally altered to try to generate some weird publicity/plausible deniability to connex to the events therein.

I do like the idea of a magickal operation done by separate people. Let's do it and 23rd-M entries about it!!!

9:13 AM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

I'd like to lend it to you, Sukes, but I don't have a copy of this book. In fact, it's extremely difficult to find. Amazon.com doesn't list it at all, and I have yet to find it in any of my usual rare book stores.

If you want to read "Black Abductor" then you'll have to go to where the only known copy exists in the NYC area: The Schomberg Center of the NY Public Library, located at 135th and Lennox (no. 2 or no. 3 train to the 135th St. exit). You can look it up on CATNYP.

Dell isn't the swankiest publishing house, but they do have a solid reputation (paperbacks, puzzle books, etc.). The information about the previous publishing date comes mostly from Al Ellenberg, the publisher. I'd have serious doubts that Dell simply lied about the history of this property.

Also, if you clicked on the link I provided to Harrison James, it would appear that he's in some type of police intelligence field. In other words, the more you look at the SLA, the more it begins to smell like domestic ops.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Suki said...

Hrm, I used to work for the Dell publishing house, X Dell.

the puzzle and pulp mag biz has been owned by Penny Press for about 10 years now, if not a little more.
An ex-deller.

12:13 PM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

LMAO, Sukes.

7:15 PM  

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