EDDIE and the LAW

The law never liked Eddie and the feeling was mutual. Police blotters back to the Forties showed his name: “busted for gambling and book making in the Bronx.” Eddie Mishkin went from making book to selling them; later adding films and videos to his inventory at Wholesale Books. Not to be confused with wholesome books, Eddie’s flavors were for adult taste, or that’s what the disclaimer read on the flyleaf: ” no kids allowed.” It’s the kids that got Eddie in his first big jam.

During the mid-Fifties a sensational murder trial, the Brooklyn Thrill Killings, grabbed the headlines when four teenage boys admitted killing two homeless men for kicks. Eddie was implicated because two of the youths confessed to reading one of his publications, Nights of Horror.

Nights of Horror, illustration by Joe Shuster, the creator of Superman

A US Senate Subcommittee, investigating the negative influence of comic books on teenagers, called Eddie to testify. The chair of the committee, Senator Estes Kefauver, also called  Fredric Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent, a Book-of-the-Month Club published, not coincidentallytwo days before Wertham appeared before the committee. Fredric testified to the derogatory effect pulp and comic books had on malleable teenager’s minds.

Mishkin at the Kefauver hearings

As a result of the committee’s hearings, Eddie was later tried in NY Supreme Court for obscenity, but he was convicted instead for not having the publishers address on his books as required by law. This led to Mishkin’s life long First Amendment Rights battle for freedom of speech in publishing.

Reputed to be a mobster, Eddie was tried in court of public opinion, when in reality his guilt was by association only. He bought some insurance, not the kind Ætna sells; Eddie’s, non- deductible daily premiums for life, were paid in cash to Eddy “Dolls” DeCurtis for protection against Eddy Dolls DeCurtis. Gambino mob man Dolls, was as much a fixture at Wholesale as the florescent lights – just not as bright. An old school hood, Dolls relied on coercion and intimidation to get what he wanted, and he wanted it all.

When I first met the two Eddies, in the early Seventies, they were a major force in purveying smut to the entire country. Mishkin was a gent and Doll’s was a goon. My connection was that of a filmmaker supplying product for the burgeoning

8 mm loop  market for the now extinct peep shows.

OZ film loop w/ made in California ruse.

Not by choice, I found myself in the pit with the vipers of that era.  X films were illegal and a cash business – naturally it attracted the smarthy characters of the mob.

“You’re a smart kid,” Dolls billowed in my face, “I don’t want you making films for anybody else, capish? If you do, I’m going to shave your mustache and make a parking lot of dis here studio.”

My mandate was clear, but my future was not – especially after the murder:

Paul Rothenberg clipping

Possibly one of the most influential sociological changes since the industrial revolution, the advent of  hardcore sex films in public places, stripped away much of the quasi-moral vestiges of the ninetieth century Victorian era. It was a time when mores, morals and modesty changed inexorably. Porn was not the only sociological shift; it was happening in the arts, politics and society in general. Whether pornography was a catlist or a by-product of this change is difficult to cleave, but for certain it played a big part in challenges for first amendment rights.  

A dangerous journey through the heady years of the 1970’s when porn was profitable, illegal and a loadstone for gangsters and profiteers attracted by easy cash from 8 mm smut loops.

 Literally at fox hole, basement level, I witness the paradigm shift from titillation to penetration in motion pictures. I paralleled the legal adjustments, while making films, and watched as the public demanded the ability to view what they wanted. It was an important slice of American culture, witnessing  implications of the past and the impact to the future. 

Available @: http://www.amazon.com/Wham-Bam-Boom-Sojourner-ebook/dp/B00ANZ1UOW

and alsohttp://www.smashwords.com/books/view/266387

~ by Larry Revene on December 29, 2012.

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