Board The Weekly Wednesday Bookmobile! Two Scandalous Publishing Scams! Sexy Stewardesses! Naked Strangers!


Welcome To the “Weekly Wednesday Bookmobile”!

Yes, every Wednesday I will be boarding the “Weekly Wednesday Bookmobile” to share another book with you – and for those who never experienced one, a bookmobile was just that – a mobile van or bus that brought books to your neighborhood – I had one when I grew up and it made me even more of a voracious reader!

So, for the rest of 2019, I will be sharing a book every Wednesday – it could be fiction, non-fiction, travel, food – whatever is of interest to me and hopefully you as well – and what better way to get started than to take you on a scandalous journey back to a simpler time: a time when a book like this could be a shocking bestseller – and a fake!

Naked Came The Stranger

The “Naked” 60’s!

Have you heard of “Naked Came The Stranger?” Well, it was “of its time”, a book rooted int he sexual revolution of the sixties, where you saw the world change from conservative to “anything goes” overnight!

It was a time when Hippies touted “free love” and “flower power”, and of course, enterprising Entrepreneurs and Publishers were eager to cash in!

Here’s what happened: in the late 60’s, Newsday Writer Mike McGrady was convinced that popular American literary culture had become so tawdry that even a wretchedly written work could succeed if enough sex was thrown in.

Mike McGrady

To test his theory, in 1966 McGrady recruited a team of Newsday colleagues – reported later as nineteen men and five women – to collaborate on a sexually explicit novel with no literary or social value whatsoever.

That’s Right, NO Literary Or Social Value Whatsoever!

Yes, the goal from the very beginning was simple – to write the worst book ever written, fill it with sex, and see what happens! According to wikipedia, McGrady co-edited the project with his Newsday colleague Harvey Aronson, and among the other collaborators were well-known writers including 1965 Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Goltz, 1970 Pulitzer Prize winner Robert W. Greene, and journalist Marilyn Berger.

Naked Came The Stranger Author

The group wrote the book as a deliberately inconsistent and mediocre hodge-podge, with each chapter written by a different author. Some of the chapters had to be heavily edited, because they were originally too well-written. The book was submitted for publication under the pseudonym “Penelope Ashe” (portrayed by McGrady’s sister-in-law for photographs and meetings with publishers).

Penelope Ashe

Hello Penelope!

The book, of course, was published and became a huge bestseler – no doubt due to the sexual revolution sweeping America at the time – people were eager to taste a bit of forbidden fruit! The publisher, Lyle Stuart, was an independent publisher then known for controversial books, and they smelled a best seller….and they were right!


So Just HOW BAD WAS IT????

As you can see from the ad, the book was a sensation, a huge bestseller that NO ONE knew was a hoax!

So it’s a fair question: knowing it was written to be horrible on purpose, just HOW BAD WAS “Naked Came The Stranger?” Well, check out a few of these lines from the book!

• “She was driving, floating actually, toward her new house, floating past the freshly butchered lawns dotted with the twisted golden butts that were the year’s first fallen leaves, past the homes built low and the swimming pools and the kempt hedges and all the trappings that went into the unincorporated village of King’s Neck.”

• “Her skin, the color of India tea at summer’s end, flowed nicely over a slender frame. The breasts were small but she wore them well at age twenty-nine. Her legs were superbly designed. The hips, though trim, were deceptively full.”

• “She knew she had aroused the creature in the torn paint-spattered T-shirt.”

• “She was at that moment gently massaging him at his point of greatest altitude with a bottle of pink Johnson & Johnson baby lotion.”


A Hoax Revealed!

Ultimately, the hoax was revealed…but as you can see, the Publisher took advantage of that to sell more books!

Subsequently, McGrady and his collaborators were approached about writing a sequel; they refused. In 1970 McGrady published “Stranger Than Naked, or How to Write Dirty Books for Fun and Profit” which told the story of the hoax.

stranger than naked book

“Naked Came the Stranger” later became the basis for an X-rated film in 1975 directed by Radley Metzger, the legendary sexploitation filmmaker who also filmed XXX-movies under the name Henry Paris.


“Naked Came The Stranger” on DVD!

Check out the trailer for the 1975 filmed version of the book:

Naked Came The Stranger Movie

“Naked Came The Stranger”, the second of the films made by legendary auteur Radley Metzger using the pseudonym ‘Henry Paris’, is a bona fide classic of the true golden age of adult films. Inspired by the notorious best-selling book of the same name, it follows the sexual exploits of radio host Gilly Blake, who is determined to get even with her philandering husband Billy in a series of torrid affairs with their friends and acquaintances.

Naked Came The Stranger movie

Set in swinging 1970s New York, the film features a series of daring escapades taking place at an elaborate fancy dress ball, an exquisite old-fashioned ball room, and even on the top floor of a double decker bus as it drives around Manhattan in plain daylight.

Naked Came The Stranger

This classic adult film was released in two versions: softcore as well as hardcore. It is a fascinating end to a literary hoax that tested the adage that “there’s a sucker born every minute!”

Naked Came The Stranger

However, “Naked Came The Stranger” was’t the only publishing scam that decade, and the other one also involved tawdry stories of sex – in the air!

Coffee, Tea or Me? — The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses!

Here’s a publishing phenomenon for you!

“Coffee, Tea or Me?” was the 1967 purported memoir of two Stewardesses, Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones, written by the initially “uncredited” Donald Bain, telling the “uncensored” story of two lusty young stewardesses!

The reality? Well, Bain was an American Airlines public relations person who wrote this work of fiction as a “sexy expose” and it sold a ton! The publisher then hired two Eastern Airlines stewardesses to pose as the authors for book tours and television appearances!

What is fascinating to me is that the Publishers sent out “fake” Authors to pretend to be the two Stewardesses whose tawdry exploits in the air were the stuff of bestselling legend – but it was all written by a man – including sequels!

While this 1967 book and sequels were a fictionalized look at the love lives of two saucy Stewardesses, the fact that it wa sold as a candid memoir by two REAL Flight attendants is what made it sell so well, and this sort of subterfuge isn’t unusual in the book industry!

So there you have it – two publishing scandals that rocked the industry in the 60’s and led the way to books such as “Fifty Shades Of Grey” and so much more…let me know what you think, and welcome to “Weekly Wednesday Bookmobile!”



Categories: 70's Cinema, Art, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Exploitation films, Hollywood, Memoirs, Movies, Obscure Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. Quite fascinating John, thanks for the post.

  2. I used to LOVE the mobile library that visit our school (although I have a feeling they wouldn’t’ve stocked these books!)

    This is a fascinating read. It sounds like it used to be a lot easier to get published…I mean, there are so many excellent authors struggling to find a publisher nowadays, when back then they could easily get a book deal with a bad book and a fake name!

  3. While reading your article I thought of Fifty Shades of Grey – another badly written book that became a bestseller and was even made into a film.

  4. Reminds me of the Confessions of a Windowcleaner, whch started as a book before being made into a film. There was a whole series of ‘Confessions’ from – driving school instructor, plumber, night nurse, etc., etc.

  5. John, you teach me something new every day. Those are amazing quotes from Naked Came the Stranger!

  6. That’s a great feature, John. Interesting that the books were hoaxes too. But from the clip, the film looks terrible! 🙂
    We still have a mobile library. (Bookmobile) It stops a few doors down from our house.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • I love that you have a mobile library still, Pete – they are mostly gone here in the US

      • We are lucky that we have that, and a good library in the local town too. Because we are classed as ‘rural’, with a poor bus service in Beetley, we get the mobile one for the old people with no cars. 🙂
        I meant to ask you for a long time now, John. I always think of your name as pronounced ‘Rye-Ber’. But for some reason, I suddenly thought it might be ‘Ree-Ber’. So, which is it? 🙂

      • RYE-ber, but something that has been mispronounced my entire life…while the learned edict is “I before E the E is silent, that bastard Justin BIE-ber is making it all so confusing again!

      • Thanks for clearing that up, John. I’m pleased to know I was right all along. Despite having a very easy surname, (Johnson) I have spent my life having to say “No T, no E’, as Johnston and Johnstone are common spellings here. 🙂

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