Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground Book Scarce
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Michael Leigh - The Velvet Underground

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Michael Leigh, The Velvet Underground. Introduction by Louis Berg, M.D. New York: MacFadden, 1963. 1st edition, 4th printing April 1965. Mass market paperback. Red dyed edges. Mild age-toning. Cover slightly browned at the edges. Foxing stains on the inside cover.

A very good+ copy of this highly sought-after book.

From the blurb: 'Come to the party - and bring your wife!' 'He may be the man next door... she may be the woman who sits next to you in church. Every-day people leading every-day lives. You'd say "Impossible!" if you were told that they also inhabit another world, one so ugly and evil that its existence must be a carefully guided secret. This is the "velvet underground", where every possible sexual depravity is practiced. It is the nightmare meeting-place of the sado-masochist, the wife/husband swappers and the seekers after unspeakable pornography... to mention only a few'

This is the book that was eventually made famous by the band. At a time when Lou Reed was teaming up with Walter de Maria, John Cale, and Tony Conrad, both members of La Monte Young's Theater of Eternal Music (NYC, 1962), Michael Leigh wrote this entertaining report on sexual practices then described from a heteronormative pov as sexual deviations and perversions.

Published in 1963, The Velvet Underground is a 'sexological' report of a parallel world where everyday people indulge in all sorts of fetishism, extramarital sex, and S&M. Leigh emphatically sets this nocturnal world of sexual deviation apart from everyday middle-class bourgeois life. It is 'a bizarre half-world', dixit Louis Berg, MD a former prison physician, in the introduction.

Leigh started his investigation after replying to an advertisement published in the end pages of a mainstream magazine. It was an ad from 'a new and unusual friendship club' that had been formed for 'unusual people' who wanted to 'exchange strange experiences and discuss the bizarre and the exotic with others. They were adventurous, uninhibited, broad-minded, intellectual and cultured.'

As is often the case with journalistic investigations into fringe sexual practices, the research is a covert form of pornography intended to excite a petit-bourgeois audience, while the reporter invariably points out the illegal or immoral nature of these non-normative practices. In the early 1960s, publications like The Velvet Underground were a very safe way for a mainstream audience to indulge in transgressive group sex, BDSM, bisexual and gay sex. The author's moral reserve or condemnation of what Leigh calls "sexual anarchy" always brought readers safely back to their moral highground.

The 'Velvet Underground', as Berg explains in his introduction, is actually a reference to "the 'velvet underworld' of Berlin' during the nazi-era. Berg mentions in the introduction that he himself studied the conditions of sexual deviation in the nightclubs of nazi-era Berlin: 'I visited the nacht lokalen where Lesbians flaunted their warped love; I danced with transvestites and did not know I was doing so until informed by my conductor (...) One cafe was devoted solely to a clientele of flagellants.'

According to Berg, 'the Germany of Adolf Hitler would have been the paradise of many who are described in The Velvet Underground...'

No wonder the book inspired Reed, Cale & co to adopt its title as the name for their band. Apparently, Tony Conrad found a copy in the street and showed it to the other members.

Contents

  1. Discovery of the Velvet Underground
  2. Mail-Order Sex
  3. Sex Orgies
  4. The "Sexual Revolution"
  5. The Secret Lives of Ruth and John
  6. More on Wife-and-Husband Swapping
  7. "Sex is... Everything"
  8. All About Sex Clubs
  9. The Sado-Masochists
  10. Case History of a "Sexologist"
  11. Letters from a Female Sex Trader
  12. Strange Satisfactions
  13. Modern "Get-Togethers"
  14. The Wide, Wide World of Pornography
  15. Masters, Mistresses - and Slaves
  16. Vice Rings International
  17. Women Who Want Other Women
  18. Men Who Want Other Men
  19. More About Pornography
  20. Adult Morals and Youth
  21. The Danger of Sexual Subversives
  22. Last Words