X-Rated

Dirty Eyes & Other Not-So-Private Dicks

There’s always been a certain amount of sexual hijinks in the world of private detective fiction, right from the start.

I mean, come on. “Private dick”? Really?

You don’t have to be an English major to suss that one out.

Want more proof?

Read early reviews of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon–readers were shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED! by the sexual frankness. Or check out the pre-code first filmed version of that classic tale.

Brigid and Sam did not spend that night playing canasta.

X EYES

Barely even soft-core here, although considered pretty raunchy stuff once upon a time. Plenty of innuendo and some smirky, mostly off-stage sex, bolstered by a lot of nudge-nudge, wink-wink and adolescent humour. A lot of “tiddly-winks are orbed,” as Dan Turner, the patron saint of spicy detectives, might say. Just racy enough to make Aunt Martha occasionally blush.

  • Dan Turner by Robert Leslie Bellem. Flash those tiddlywinks, baby!
  • Shell Scott by Richard Prather. The king of the Sexploitation Era.
  • Honey West by G.G. Fickling. “Honey, where are your clothes?”
  • Erik March by G.G. Fickling. “Erik, where are Honey’s clothes?”
  • Pete Chambers by Henry Kane (circa The Glow Job, etc.) He may be a private richard, but he’s still a dick.
  • Patrick Hardy by Martin Meyers. The so-called “sensual sleuth” of the seventies barely rates an X here.

XX EYES

Okay, these guys generally call a spade a spade. Still a lot of innuendo, but people actually have sex, and it’s usually depicted in some detail, if a little (or a lot) of it’s meant as humour. Enough to make your prudish Aunt Martha feel uncomfortable and leave the room. And besides, she mostly doesn’t get the joke.

XXX EYES

This is the real deal. We’re not talking about innuendo, or even high-volume promiscuity here. We’re talking out-and-out smut here, private eyes who appear in films and literature whose primary (and possibly sole) focus is sex.

You can call it porn or erotica or whatever you want, but these eyes are out for a good time, and if they crack a case, well, it’s only in between bouts of the horizontal (or vertical or diagonal) bop. Aunt Martha’s either going to blush and run out of the room — or call in Uncle John, and then Katie, bar the door!

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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