Happy first day of Spring, gang!
Here, it is raining –we even had a bona fide thunderstorm during the night. The temperature is supposed to go up to nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit by this afternoon — and then plunge down to about 28 degrees by tomorrow morning!!
So, yeah. Spring.
But I’m happy!
Before I forget, in honor of everyone being stuck at home all over the world, I’m participating in a month-long special sale at Smashwords. All of my Muse Revisited titles are 60% off. So is Freak Parade. And Twilight of the Immortal is absolutely free!
But you have to purchase them through Smashwords to get the discount, not Amazon or iTunes, or any of the other outlets that sell my eBooks. However, Smashwords gives you the option to download the eBook in any format you need.
I chose to make Twilight of the Immortal free because it is probably the best book I’ve ever written, but because it isn’t erotica, almost no one buys it. I honestly think I’ve sold less than 1000 copies of this novel. And it’s been in print since 2010 (it came out first on a very small press, then I got the rights back and published it myself electronically because the publisher had filled it with typos that enraged me.)
But anyway, it’s been in print for 10 years now and no one buys it and it’s a great book, but it’s not erotic. No explicit anal sex or fellatio or anything — although anal sex and fellatio are heavily implied in many passages…
After Valentino has died (at the peak of his fame), Rosemary, the novel’s protagonist, returns to Hollywood to marry her best friend, Mitch. Mitch is a very successful movie producer but he is notoriously gay in an era when it is still illegal to be gay and the Government is cracking down on any suspiciously single men employed by the movie studios (this is fact). Rosemary recalls the final days she spent with Rudolph Valentino, after his notorious divorce, while she was employed as his “assistant”:
I drank the champagne down. The bubbles seeped into my veins and made tiny explosions all up and down my spine. Rodolfo; it was the name he’d been born with, that he preferred to the Americanized “Rudolph.” The moment had finally come where he’d told me to call him Rodolfo and so I did. He whispered in Italian, “Abbi coraggio.” Then more closely, right in my ear because now we were in bed together, naked, he said, “Be brave.” It had sounded so tender, so bewitching, and so erotically compelling that I could not resist him; I leaned down in the dark and did what I’d seen the boys do. In truth, I’d had no idea what I was doing and I didn’t care. I didn’t want to resist him; I was so glad that Natacha was gone, at last. I knew life was spiraling downward; I couldn’t ignore the hypnotic pull of his private hell. I was trapped in it, too, like it was quicksand. He was miserable, lonely, aching without her. I was clumsy but I tried to fill the space. Mostly there were men everywhere filling up his nights and days, not just with erotic favors but with polo, endless games of it; Rudy loved his horses. And there was also Pola Negri, but she was only acting a part and grasping at more and more fame, ensuring she was on Rudy’s arm whenever the cameras came out. I wasn’t competing with her; a rising star. I wasn’t competing with anybody. I just wanted my moment in the sun. His sun — I wanted to bask in his attention finally. But I overplayed my hand and, for me, the sun only shone after midnight when the lights were out, when the decent world was dark and the house was otherwise empty.
Or here, where Rosemary’s soon-to-be (gay) husband is informing his lover, Jim, that he’s being tossed to the curb because, in order to save his career, Mitch is marrying Rosemary:
The raised voices on the patio grew more heated. I tried to focus on the golden bubbles bursting at the rim of my wine glass and block out what the voices were saying, but it was next to impossible. “How convenient,” Jim practically shrieked, as if to doubly-ensure I could hear him. “A girl like that is almost as good as the real thing, isn’t she, Mitch? Everyone knows it — what she was up to with Valentino. It was all over Hollywood. With a girl like her, just turn out the lights and you’ll never notice the difference.”
So, yeah, there’s anal sex in the novel, too, but it’s not explicit at all.
There’s tons of lesbian sex in it, too, although back then they were called Saphhists. A lot of those scenes are between the young Rosemary and the true love of her life, the very poor, very abused, very worldly, very Irish Molly McClellan, who works as a Dresser for Alla Nazimova, who was called “Madame” (and who, in case you don’t know the name, was, at one point, one of the most famous actresses in the world and a totally “out” lesbian):
Molly waited expectantly for me to finish what I was saying, but I knew I was lying, or at the very least embellishing what had happened. “Go on,” she encouraged me. “Spill it; what did she tell you?”
“Nothing, just that… I don’t know — someday.”
“Ah, go on, Rosie. She’s practically thirty-eight; you’re just a kid.”
“Not anymore I’m not,” I warned her. “I’ve done things now.”
“Oh, and what have you done?”
“I mean, that a woman like Madame would like? Have you been to the lady doctors yet?”
“What lady doctors?”
“The midwives down on Broadway.”
“Why would I go to a midwife? I’m not having a baby.”
“It’s not for girls who are having babies, you ninny who thinks she knows everything. It’s a code word. These midwives cure hysteria; they do things to you with their hands. Things you wouldn’t believe.”
“They pull up your skirt and take down your drawers, for one thing, and they touch you down there and make you feel things with their hands — until your eyes roll up in your head.”
She had my attention there; that was certain. I’d never been anywhere where a midwife had done a thing like that to me. “Oh, I don’t believe you,” I said.
“What’s not to believe? How do you think I learned what I know? How do you think I make Madame so happy with me?”
“Well, then I’ll go, too. I’ll learn.”
“You can’t. They don’t just let you in. I knew a woman who worked at one of those places, so I got in. Besides, you’re not old enough, so just give up your dreaming.”
“I’m going to be eighteen soon.”
“And when might that be?” Naked now, Molly slipped under the bed covers; apparently she wasn’t going to wear a nightgown.
“Summer,” I said.
“Summer?” She laughed at me again. “That’s, like, years away.”
“Well, what of it? Regardless, I’m not a kid anymore.”
“You mean because you’ve done it with a man? That makes you grown?”
“Yes,” I said bravely, knowing we were inching onto a topic I didn’t want to discuss with her.
“Boy, have you got a lot to learn. Come on ‘old lady’; turn off the lamp, why don’t you, and come to bed.”
I was annoyed with her; she knew everything it seemed. Still, I was freezing and wanted the warmth of the bed. From somewhere downstairs, I could hear the Victrola playing. I slid under the heavy eiderdown next to Molly and said quietly, “Aren’t they ever going to go home?”
“Better get used to it, is what I’m thinking. Some nights, Madame and her friends don’t go to sleep at all. It’s mostly those actresses she knows; they never sleep.”
“They’re awfully loud. I can hear that music all the way up here.”
“That’s because they’re right underneath us — they’re in Madame’s bedroom now. And when the Victrola winds down, you can hear other things.”
“What other things?” I whispered, snuggling close to her mostly because I was still so cold.
“Guess,” she said slyly.
“Oh no,” I said. “We’re going to have to listen to that?”
“We could always drown them out, you know — go at it like a couple of alley cats ourselves.” She worked her hand up under my flannel nightgown. I was still annoyed with her, but for the time being, I let her do it. “How does that sound, Rosie; want to give it a go?”
I didn’t answer her. I was too entranced by her fingers…
Plus, the novel is 600 pages long — however, if you want something to just get lost in until the quarantine is lifted, then this book could help you do that. And even though it is many pages, most people say that the book is hard to put down. Especially once Rosemary — our heroine — gets to Hollywood in 1918 and eventually starts working for Mr. & Mrs. Rudolph Valentino. Then the book races almost unstoppably to its tragic (but sort of uplifting) end.
Most people who take the time to read this book, end up loving it. However, if you are one of those few people left in the world who honestly believed that Rudolph Valentino was heterosexual, then you will despise this book.
I researched all of it as best I could, hampered by it being nearly 100 years after the fact, and came to my own decision that when Valentino fell for a woman, he fell hard — and she was always a very worldly and beautiful woman, and usually very destructive to his reputation and his career. And when he wasn’t in love with a woman, he hung out exclusively with groups of men who were known in Hollywood to be homosexuals.
So, you know, you do the math. (Today, he would probably be called non-binary.)
A couple of reader reviews to gently bludgeon you over the head with how good this novel is:
“As soon as I read this quote attributed to Valentino: ‘Observe, Rosemary, how in Hollywood there is no difference between a knife and a smile,’ I knew for sure that I had found a gem! Twilight of the Immortal is both beautifully written and an engaging romp… Marilyn Jaye Lewis captures Valentino’s essence, the allure that endeared him to millions of fans. There is not one false step in this book. All the details are meticulously researched … I give it five stars!”
“Unlike her previous books, this is NOT erotica! This is a serious novel that should be enjoyed by the general public. The story is captivating. The characters are very strong and the book is hard to put down.”
And the eBook is free at Smashwords for the next month.
Another thing that might of interest during your quarantine — Soulpepper Theater Co in Toronto is hosting a live webcast of playwrights reading their newest plays. The program is called Fresh Ink, and you can listen free, online, 4:30 PM today, Eastern (NY) time. Visit here and listen for free. (You will need to download Zoom at the link.)
I actually have to work with Peitor this morning on Abstract Absurdity Productions stuff, so I’m gonna scoot! I hope you’re able to make the best of your house arrest, wherever you are in the world. Thanks for visiting, gang! I might come back later and do a real — non-promotional sort of post. God knows, I’ll be here! Okay. I love you guys. See ya!