Naked Came The Hoax…..A Brief History

“Naked Came the Stranger,” Penelope Ashe’s torrid novel of adultery and revenge, exploded onto the literary scene in the summer of 1969. Ashe, a “demure Long Island housewife,” regaled every television and radio show host who would listen to her with tales of how she brought the sultry page-turner to life.

The literary establishment was scandalized, both by the explicit and pervasive sexual content and by the poor quality of the writing itself. The book-buying public didn’t care. “Naked” shot to the top of the bestseller lists, blazing through its initial run of hardcovers in a matter of weeks.

Then on September 1, 1969, the David Frost Show introduced its guest for the evening, “Penelope Ashe.” As the orchestra struck up a rousing rendition of “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody,” nineteen men filed onto stage, single file. The hoax was revealed and a media firestorm ensued.

“Penelope Ashe” did not exist. Hoax-ringleader Mike McGrady’s sister-in-law played the role for the press and a cadre of 24 Newsday writers (19 men and 5 women) had written the book. Each had provided a chapter without any knowledge of what the others had written, under strict orders to avoid character development, plot advancement, and quality writing at all costs. Chapters deemed too high in quality were rewritten. A two sex-scene minimum per chapter was rigidly enforced.

McGrady, incensed that poorly-written sex novels like “Valley of the Dolls” topped the bestseller lists while talented writers languished in obscurity, had set out to prove a point. Choose a sexy title, slap a naked woman onto the front cover, fill the pages with explicit sex, and the novel would sell. Any novel. Even if the writing was terrible, the plot non-existent, and the style a mishmash of two dozen different authors. He made his point in spectacular fashion.

When Radley Metzger brought the story to the screen half a decade later, he kept the title, the character names, the episodic structure, and the basic plot. But he jettisoned the hackneyed dialogue and poorly-written encounters, replacing them with his trademark clever staging and sparkling wit.

It was now the Newsday writers’ turn to be shocked. Metzger invited them to the premiere, and many took up his invitiation, bringing along their wives, blissfully unaware that they were about to watch a hardcore film full of unsimulated sex. “I donĂ­t know what they were expecting,” Radley shrugged, “the theater where it played was the most prestigious house of porn in America.”

Nevertheless, the movie was a hit, dethroning “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” to top the New York box office. Radley rode the wave of success to bankroll his next film, the ambitious and remarkable “The Opening of Misty Beethoven.”

For all the sordid details of the “Naked Came the Stranger” hoax, quotes from the participants, the backstory of Radley’s adaptation, and more, check out film historian Benson Hurst’s incredible writeup in the DVD’s 40-page liner notes booklet.

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Barbara Bourbon’s Biography….a sneak peek at Pamela

California born Barbara Bourbon spent the first sixteen years of her life on Indian reservations in the Pauma Valley north of San Diego.

A graduate of Fallbrook High, the blonde beauty attended San Marcus Jr. College for one year and San Diego State one year as well as Palomar College for two years where she majored in drama.

Ms. Bourbon then moved to Boston for three years where she was a member of the Boston Repertory Company. Her stage experience included the lead in nine plays from Boston to San Diego. They include dramatic offerings such as “Of Mice And Men” and musical delights including “Man Of La Mancha’.

Film credits for the green eyed actress include a co-starring role in “One Million A.D.” with John Carradine and leading roles in five other Hollywood general release feature films, including a role in Francis Ford Coppola’s, “The Godfather Part II”.

Starring in the X-rated “The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann”, she accepted the role solely because of the caliber of the production personnel, including the cinematographer.

While she had no inhibitions on displaying her private charms, she rejected several offers of X-rated films before, because she considered them tawdry rip offs, with no real production value to speak of. The story line of “Pamela Mann”, the opulent sets and the eroticism that builds, enticed her to reveal her all before the cameras.

Barbara Bourbon’s hobbies include the exotic, but true one, of training Siberian Tigers, for her own pleasure!