2007   JULY 16   #197

Pent-R-Books, Inc. - Sexual Adventures in Marriage

1 Sexual Adventures in Marriage - Intro (1:35)
2 Sexual Adventures in Marriage - Reel 1 (10:40)
3 Sexual Adventures in Marriage - Reel 2 (10:40)
4 Sexual Adventures in Marriage - Reel 3 (10:41)
5 Sexual Adventures in Marriage - Reel 4 (10:40)

About 11 or 12 years ago, while digging through a forgotten part of the Chelsea flea market, I found a copy of the classic Fornicating Female Freaks on Audio Stag Records. That was cool, but stuffed inside the jacket was a second record: this little gem.

A soundtrack to a "film documentary" of the same name, Sexual Adventures in Marriage is a terrific mess largely due to the narrator, who is aloof, maybe tipsy, and most definitely rushed. He coughs repeatedly, clears his throat, flubs his lines, and loudly turns his pages. A phone rings next to him at one point, and you can also hear what sounds like a big truck driving by outside. As the narration goes on, I could swear that a couple of the pregnant pauses are due to the narrator actually stifling a yawn. And that's not even getting into the content of Sexual Adventures in Marriage. Most of it is only moderately spicy, but things definitely heat up by Reel 3, which contains such progressive maxims as "Never tolerate muscular softness in your wife" and "Give her a good slap where she's built for slapping."

Pent-R-Books was a cheapo, X-rated publishing outfit based at 120 13th St in Brooklyn, in business from the late-60s (maybe before) through the late-70s. From what I can tell, they published mainly adult fare disguised as how-to books. They published a book version of Sexual Adventures in Marriage (written by one Rudiger Boschmann), as well as other titles such as The Full Color Guide To Sexual Pleasures A-Z, The Picture Book of Sexual Love, and Love's Photo Album.

The story got more interesting when I discovered that Pent-R-Books was, in a way, some kind of free speech pioneer. In New York in 1971, Pent-R-Books challenged what was known as the Goldwater Amendment, a law that had passed requiring notices on any sexual oriented mail. At the same time, the Post Office had made available a blanket protection form for anyone who did not wish to receive such material. According to articles in the New York Times, the law stated that publishers had to purchase the lists (which were updated weekly by the Post Office) to make sure they were not breaking the law when sending out their explicit material. The law itself carried stiff fines and jail sentences. Pent-R-Books apparently had a mailing list of over 8 million potential customers they regularly sent sexually oriented ads to, and demanded a restraining order on the law. They claimed that the law was a violation of free speech, and would irreparably damage their business. The State's Attorney disagreed, and a 3-judge panel was ordered.

Problem is, that's where the news dries up on my end. By late 1971, 500,000 people had signed the Post Office forms, and Pent-R and four other publishers had been dutifully purchasing them at great expense, while still pursuing the matter in the courts. Missing from the newspapers was a 1974 case, United States vs. Pent-R-Books, which appears in a finding aid for the John Francis Dooling papers at the Harvard Law Library. In 1976, Pent-R-Books was still kicking around, as that's the date of this recording. However, by 1979, the company was bankrupt and an attempt was made to purchase (for ten grand) the rights to their holdings by one Jay M. Halpert.

- Contributed by: Jonathan Ward

Images: Record Label