I wasn’t going to cover naughty books again so soon. As you’ll recall, I explained how I handle the relatively tiny amount of porn which comes in Book Fair donations. I am rather apathetic about pornography at the Book Fair, beyond the fact that it makes for an interesting blog, because, as I noted, it doesn’t really sell all that well. I do not claim vast amounts of virtue on the part of my customers: a lot of them are probably uninterested while others just don’t want our checkout people to see what they’re buying. (A lot of them make excuses just for buying paperback romances, for crying out loud, spending more time explaining this is research for their dissertation than it’s worth.)
“But you CAN sell it!” I hear you cry. (Don’t pretend you were choking on your Grape Nehi; I heard you.) “There’s eBay! You can sell your porn quietly on the side.”
Let me tell you something about selling naughty pictures online. I do not wish to challenge my donors, but not one of you has ever donated ANYTHING naughty enough that there isn’t a website somewhere offering worse, in color, in a downloadable format, AND WITH BACKGROUND MUSIC. One of the results of this is that the average pornographic novel or magazine of yore is largely obsolete, unless it has something else to offer: that it is rare and sought-after: the autograph of a model or photographer, say. (The photographers and artists who specialized in this kind of work are being identified and collected now).
Some time ago, the Newberry, going through a massive collection of slides showing dance performances in Chicago, found a couple dozen pin-up slides, some in 3-D, which the owner had bought in the early days of his career. No doubt this was research for his dissertation, but he has died and cannot say so. In any case, since they were unrelated to the main collection, these were sent to me to sell.
Slides which are 2 inches by 2 inches can be difficult to sell at the Book Fair (customers may well get thumbprints on the image as they’re sliding these into their pockets). So eBay was the way to go. Most of these slides came from the late 1950s and early 1960s, and were of the classic “Oh, dear, you’ve come in just as I stepped out of the shower and I only have a hand towel” variety: models in semi-undress with props here and there (mostly there) as modesty shields. The greater eBay public loved this stuff, and we made a modest deal of money.
I still have one, though: the only slide with two people in it. These two people are enjoying each other’s company very very much. It is a timeless scene because there are no props to date it, and none of the coy facial expressions seen in the semi-nude pinup shots of days gone by. All you have are body parts which, in the main, do not alter with passing fashion trends. I have listed this for sale four times, and on my last attempt could not get fifteen cents for it. The silence of the audience translated to “Huh! You think that’s something?” But it sits on my desk, because I MAY think of another way to list it.
I’m glad we don’t get too many of these studies of the human animal in full cavort. Not only do they not sell, but eventually my heirs and assigns are going to wonder why I have them sitting around. “I bet those just didn’t sell on eBay,” will probably not be among their first ten guesses.