Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on February 17, 1974 · Page 33
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February 17, 1974

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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 33

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Detroit, Michigan
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Sunday, February 17, 1974
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DETROIT FREE PRESS Sundav, Fob. 17. '74 7-C r !ijtiMHt;;fMHM.!it til2 . urate i -r lib .Never.: Min the Prince angs Out 250,000 a Year U . St ST6PHG1 L6WIS STLTIIEN LEWIS y'S:; 5-AHU'!'.-!'iSTV.1H HiflfM.-) Art- of -Pulp Books for B ' V- I ' - . --.,--, . & - J. if y 1 Im Jt jv M , BY WILLIAM S. WELT mmm ; , Free Prt Staff Writer ( jtunk of the writer's life and you probably conjure up images of TThest Hemingway starving in a Paris garret and running with the bulls in Pamplona, or perhaps F. Scott Fitzgerald running with the rich and drinking too much. Authors, those bril- . liant, romantic, semi-tragic figures who wring art, slowly and ; painfully, from life. It is the childbirth theory of prose production, still dogma' among the literati. ? Then there's Stephen Lewis, who is 26 and never vcnt to" college, a"nd writes as fast as his1 fingers can find the keys on his , Selectric while he watches game shows on television. . And who has three and a half million copies in print, who had " thjee runaway best-sellers in 1973 and whb is getting to be a vejy rich young man, indeed. Fot Ace, a New York'paperback house, lewis has written six books, two of them not yet published. His 1973 output included "Massage Parlor," which sold 1.5 million copies' under the nom deplume of Jennifer'Sills, "Housewife Hookers," by Barbara Lane "as exposed by Stephen Lewis," which sold a million cop- leaj and "The Watergate Girls," Lewis' first novel, which is . approaching the rnillionmark. It is dedicated Martha Mitch-;' ell a wise Washington lady who knew long before the rest of its! that love is more important than power."''.-,; , . - jEarlier this year, his "Sex Among the Singles" hit the racks. "' A Hollywood novel, "The Love Merchants," and ftn.as.yct unti-, tied sequel to "Massage Parlor" will follow shortly. ' , ; JSTEPHEN LEWIS is one of a growing number of American ' Wy-rdsmiths who crank out what the publishing trade calls "paperback originals" books that, are not issued first in hard-' coyer. '-;1;; . .'.' ';- " 3The subjects are usually related to some item currently in the news, like massage parlors,' and the books are Written quickly and brought out just as .fast, So the newsiness is not lost. "Instant publishing," the industry calls it. , 'Literature" is something hardly anyone calls it, but still, it is difficult to ignore an author such as Lewis. Like television, he aims .at and reaches the masses. 'And then there is the matter ofthe $250,000 or so a year he earns, more money than any wrjter you studied in English Lit 101 ever dreamed of making. . 'Those books they write about in The New York Times book review section make me laugh," Lewis.' said as he munched a , either his speech or his writing. His prose is akin stylistically . to that of. a dime novel and pulp magazine, short sentences composed of easy words, with surface-deep characters and frequent trading upon ersatz eroticism. ... , Witness the following example from "The Watergate Girls," a novel written ia six weeks last summer to capitalize upon the. interest generated by the televised Senate Watergate hearings: "To the campaign" she said, taking a sip from her glass. "To you," the -Senator replied, not taking his eyes front hers as he drained his glass. "Heywant to do something forme?" - "What's that? the asked. - "Rub my back, mil you? My muscles are killing me." Anne Marie watched speechless as he took off his shirt. The sight of his bare chest sent shivers of excitement through her. ' 1 He lay on the sofa, head turned sideways, as she manip-ulated the muscles of his neck and shoulders. He sighed,-his eyes closed in relaxation. "Your hands feel so soft, Annie." ' She didn't know how to answer. All she knew was that she loved him, loved him and wanted him. Her hands stopped moving, but she could feel them shaking as they , rested on his back ..." " , ' , " ''-'' Certainly not undying prose, but good enough or bad enough to outsell the likes of James Joyce. According to the Association of American Publishers, mass-marketed paperback sales hit . $252.8 million in 1972, up from $228.8 million in 1971, $85 million in 1962 and $39.6 million in 1952. Figures for 1973 are not yet complete, but the AAP says it is obvious sales are continuing to grow. - ; "THERE'S A whole myth of 'the author that I think is out of . date today," Lewis said. "People think you have to be dying of consumption . in some garret, and then come out with a slim novel, you know what I mean? , ' - "People who work in a factory do a lot of work every day, but they think authors shouldn't. Well, I work hard and I write ' for regular people, the regular American who works hard all day and wants to come home and read for fun." ' " ' Lewis is a short, frail young man who has the unhealthy " ,palor of a northern-states city dweller. This day, his nose is red and" runny from a mid-winter cold, and he is dressed ex- v pensively in a green checked corduroy suit, high-polished leather boots and a dark brown fur coat. - He is an only child from Agawam, Mass., a small, middle --class , suburb of Boston, where bis father is vice-president of a. scrap metal and machinery firm. He hated high school, and as soon as he graduated, he took a train to New York, where he got .'' a job modeling boy's clothing for now-defunct Elegant maga-' zine.) .. - - 1 , Lewis began writing articles about clothes and movie stars '' for Elegant, and soon he was writing gossip columns for Movie 3 World and Screen Stars magazines as well. (He still writes those columns.) : ' His first book was a hardcover, "The Complete Book of Beauty for the Black Woman," which he co-authored with Bar-, bara MacNair in 1971. , - "It didn't come out until a year after it was done," said Lewis. "I'm very topically-minded, and I didn't like the wait. I decided paperbacks were best, you know what I mean?" : -" He then wrote his first paperback, "Massage: The Loving Touch," a how-to book that lead to "Massage Parlor" and Jh( contract with Ace. ' , 1 "HE'S THE fastest pen in the West," said Ace vice-president. John Waxman. "And I would say that Stephen's literary quality-is commensurate with the other authors we publish. We're; known as one of the major publishers in the country for gothic, science fiction and western." -J Lewis' editor at Ace is Evelyn Grippo, who says that her sfar author "is unique, literally, in that he can work on two books at; once." 7 "He writes his books in six to eight weeks, and we can get It on the stands four to six weeks after that, sooner if necessary." Ace Books is famous for instant publishing, literally. We get a book out while an item is still hot in the newspapers." ' 1 . , Lewis' books, she says, "won't be part of English Lit 3, and! he doesn't expect it. They're the kind everybody in the country, can read and understand. He's an editor's dream." ; "I find I work much better on a deadline," says Lewis.. "Some days, I work three or four hours, others I may write Hi ' hours straight. I get excited and don't want to sleep. . . , , . "Writing has always come easy for me," he says. "I didn't do it the conventional 'way, by going to college and all, so I., never even knew about writer's blocks. I have 'blockertes' that ' last for five minutes. When that happens, I just walk away from the typewriter sp nothing sounds forced. '. , ; "I like to watch TV while I write, game shows, soaps, the' news. Or I listen to country- and western music; My publisher gave me a color TV for Christmas the perfect gift! It fit right into my study." -, " V ;-'' He couldn't, write without an electric typewriter, he says,? because he "loves machines," and would like to live above a,, factory some day, with a glass floor to his home so he could see the gears turning below. For now, he has an eight-room apartment on New York's fashionable east side. ' ' - ' HIS FAVORITE author, he says, is Joyce Carol Oates, "be-' cause she writes quickly, and admits it."' "Sounding like (he gossip columnist he is, Lewis lowers his voice and says,V'L know of a vary famous New York author who closets himself in a hotel for a few weeks and writes his books. Then he takes a two-year vacation, and says he's writing then." :' " His parents, he'says, enjoy his successt although they are." bit uncertain about the sexual explidtness of some of his works.T "My mother said she never even imagined such things," he, says. "It's been an education for her, and for me, too." f..s.- Lewis doesn't imagine that his prose will endure the test of time, and he doesn't care. "I'm not really concerned about, the future, you know what I mean?, I just want to be a partof today."' . - :.,.-. . Waiting in the cash register line at the Econ Lunchroom,-on-the ground floor of the Free Press building, Lewis spotted a, copy of his new "Sex Among the Singles" book in the paperback rack. - . r ' "' . " Wordsmith Stephen Lewis: "Reading should be for entertainment, you know what I mean?" .'.' - grilled cheese sandwich in the Econ Lunchroom during a recent promotional visit to Detroit. - "The long, lost poems of someone of other, or studies of ancient Egyptian art. I'm a great believer in pleasure reading. You shouldn't have to fight to get through a book. Reading,, shourd be for entertainment, you know what I mean?" , "You know what I mean", is a phrase Lewis uses often in conversation, but he needn't there, are no ambiguities about From Detroit ante o . 7h t f a Mmonic Lodges to the Great Way FT Glancing around furtively, he moved It from a slot near the my husband, suggested that I try out for a revue at New York's Upstairs at the Downstairs Club," Janie recalled. It was that revue, '-'Mixed Doubles," that launched Janie's career, which has included numerous television commercials and a part iff the Broadway musical ''George M!," a show that played the Fisher Theatre. Most recently, she was Debbie Reynolds' understudy for a full year in the hit "Irene." WHAT IS Uhead ' now- for Janie Sell? ',,'), v "Well, Jason issnow nine and I really love doing things with my kid ' going places with him," she says. "I'd kinda like to do a television series. ' '"'! :" , . "I, get torn between my career and a home life because I'm really a very old-fashioned, stay-at-home , person. But the othec'side of me loves to dance and sing" and be silly." ' , .' 'From the critical' approval Janie Sell has received in "Over Here," it looks like she's In for a long and prosperous career, if she wants it; bottom to a position of more prominent display. "Aren't I'terri-ble?" he said, grinning: ; ..V;..1;. ' .'? ' High School on the East Side . iff J959," said Janie, who is 32. "At school I performed, in plays, operettas and cantatas and did a lot of choreography ' before I studied dance with Julie Adlef and Sandra Seven). "' - "Then I sang and danced at Masonic Lodges in and around Detroit, but I really didn't have any serious aspirations of a career as a performer." Neither of Janie's parents, Joseph and Sally Sell, who live ' ' on Detroit's east side, had any theatrical aspirations either. "My mom is a. housewife and my dad is retired from Chrysler, where my brother Joe works," J anie said. "But my vm other's late 'brother, Chuck, Hosier, was an extra In cowboy films," she continued. "Her f at h e r 's cousin, Loretta Sell of Milwaukee, is also in show business . and is the internationally-known boite de'nuit chanteuse, Hildegarde. v - "It's a bit ironic, but the part I'm playing in the show is a lot like my second cousin," -she said. AFTER A short stop at the University of Detroit in 1962, Janie switched to Wayne State University because,-she said, ? 8''.;p:' --t. y I ft BY RUSSELL LEE v; LAWRENCE-, ptr the Free Preu ' ' , PHILADELPHIA - "Good ' notices make you very' nervous," said actress Janie Sell, a Detroit native who is appearing here as Mitzi the Nazi in "Over Here," a new musical on its way to Broadway! If she means it, Janie must be very nervous these days. 'The show takes place in the '4Ds, with its big bands and big war, and stars the two surviv i n g Andrews Sisters, Patty and Maxene (La Verne died in 1967.) ' , '"The reviews just make you think it can't last," said Janie, who, according to show business observers like EarfWil-" son, is soon to be a star her-self- :in "Over Here," Patty and Maxene are USO entertainers ' looking for ft third voice because, says Maxene, only trios are big time. !Janie is a Nazi spy who Joins the act as a way of getting on short wave radio. Her song;:"Wait for Me Marlene" is a disarming travesty on Lili Marlene of the German World War II ballad and on Marlene Dietrich. Janie's impersonation of Dietrich is as wicked as Carol Channing's, and that is very. wicked indeed.. She brings down the house with hfcr engaging, performance. . JANIE SIPPED a glass of white wine, puffed a cigaret . and recalled her early days in Detroit., "I used to pantomine to Teresa Brewer and Edie Gorme on the 'Auntie Dee' Television Show before graduating from Service Catholic Janie Sell (left), Detroit native, rehearses with the two surviving Andrews Sisters, Patty (center) and Maxene. rrrl i r J 'Ail ! I k ,1 1 ,1 "I knew they were sending out' course' at Wayne, I was too a European tour of 'Where's busy on tour with the show," Charley' and I wanted to go Janie admitted. out with the show." - . Short,y after the t0Uf sh(j She did go with the show, married a public relations ex- playing Amy, the female lead, ecutive with the Ford Motor in Germany and Italy. "Inci- Company. Their only child, dentally, I never took a single jason, was born in 1965. That saime year her husband took a publicity job at the World's Fair and they moved to New York. (They are now divorced.) "I was just a little housewife from Queens until fellow De-trolter Lily Tomlin, who knew JO Jo Starbuck :". and Ken Shelley '" - ,L HH.M.'lil.ll'HJ r LAST DAY! OPENING NOON to 7 P.M. DETROIT W$ Pi ' - in ill WEEK NIGHTS 7;30 P.M. , THREE SHOWS SAT. 1 J Noon 4:00 &'8:O0 P.M. ? TWO SHOWS SUN. 2 OO and 6 sOO P.M, , V, PRICES: $6.00, $5.00. S4.00 v mmi- Tv CAMERA MGHT WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13 ChMrtn 14 Tears mi Under, And Senior Crlxtni Vi Price Ur All Week Nights-Saturday Matinots ,' And In Tht $4.00 Reserved Mtuanlne For All SEALS & CROFTS IN CONCERT IC Performances HOW Find Week! 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