Minstrel’s Alley Sees Sales Double on Gordon Basichis’ Biographical Novel, Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story

Minstrel’s Alley, has seen recent sales double on its bestselling, Beautiful Bad Girl, the Vicki Morgan Story. The non-fiction book describes in first person the scandalous self-destructive relationship between department store scion and Ronald Reagan Kitchen Cabinet Member, Alfred Bloomingdale, and Vicki Morgan, his mistress of some thirteen years. The book is told through author, Gordon Basichis’ point of view, as he knew Morgan and got swept up in her murder trial, serving as a witness for the prosecution.

“Beautiful Bad Girl was absolutely scandalous when it was first published back in the eighties, by Santa Barbara Press,” said Minstrel’s Alley Publisher, M.J. Hammond. “People were much more morally constrained and less accepting of the wild bad girl and her years as Bloomindale’s mistress. It is an amazing story, a wild ride depicting how a high school dropout off the streets of suburban Los Angeles found notoriety and fortune hobnobbing with some of the richest and most powerful people in the world. Vicki Morgan, of course, came to her tragic end.”

Hammond noted that the increase in book sales is a result of a brisker marketing campaign and that the author, Gordon Basichis, has been interviewed for an upcoming documentary film about the luminaries of the eighties and the social mores of the time. She added that Basichis has been interviewed before on a number of occasions, including the Vicki Morgan segment on Investigation Discovery.

“The sex scandal made international headlines,” said Hammond. “Several books, seemingly countless feature articles, and different television segments have been made about this incredible story. But the book’s author,Gordon Basichis, was the only one who knew Morgan. She had chosen him to write her book.

“It is one crazy love story,” said Hammond. “The book is timeless. It makes most stories about obsessive romance, sado-masochism and exotic sex play among the rich and power seem like The Runaway Bunny. Years later, the more people get to hear the story, the more they want to know. Doesn’t matter if they are fiction or true stories, Beautiful Bad Girl is the gold standard.

For the complete press release, click on this link

Minstrel’s Alley to Launch Campaign Marketing Beautiful Bad Girl; The Vicki Morgan Story as a Narrative of Eighties Female Empowerment

Beautiful Bad Girl


Here is a new press release where Minstrel’s Alley is going to run a new marketing campaign for Beautiful Bad Girl.  Thirty years ago most pundits got on their high moral horse about how could a woman take money for sex and indulge in BDSM.   Today, Fifty Shades of Grey is a best seller and hit movie.  My how times have changed.


Minstrel’s Alley announced it was planning on marketing its number one bestseller “Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story” as a thematic example of early female empowerment. Vicki Morgan was longtime mistress to department store scion and member of Ronald Reagan’s Kitchen Cabinet, Alfred Bloomingdale. The non-fiction novel is told as a first person narrative through the eyes of author, Gordon Basichis, who worked on the book with Morgan, until she was murdered in 1983.

“In any number of publications, including an article in the Sun Herald, Fifty Shades of Grey is considered by many as a story of female empowerment ,” said Minstrel’s Alley Publisher, M.J. Hammond. “While Fifty Shades is a highly readable book, it is fiction, a fantasy. To see the result of a true story of obsessive love and BDSM, then Beautiful Bad Girl is the real thing. And it did not end well for either of the lovers.

“Minstrel’s Alley believes it is time to create a new marketing campaign for Beautiful Bad Girl,” said Hammond. “We see this as a story of a high school dropout who in the world of very rich and powerful people was able to prevail for over a decade, before her devotion to the one love of her life resulted in her murder. But in her prime this was a woman making some mid-six figure income in 1980’s money as a mistress, confidant, and perfunctory lover of some of the more notable names in international society. That is no easy feat.”

Hammond pointed out how Gordon Basichis’ chronicle of Vicki Morgan’s life has displayed remarkable legs as it has sold consistently since its first publication in 1985. She cited how the advent of electronic publishing created a robust market for this highly controversial story. Hammond also remarked that the new Minstrel’s Alley marketing campaign should enable readers to see this story in a different light.


For the complete release click on this link

On Writing Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a tough city to write about.  There are so many elements, so many angles, that writing about the City of the Angels can be approached from a myriad directions.   On one hand, there is the Hollywood scene, the glamour and sex, a la Judith Krantz, Sidney Sheldon and dozens of others.  There is the crime scene literature, be it the classic noir of Raymond Chandler, the wonderful and biting irony of Ross Thomas, the mixed bag mysteries of the prolific T. Jefferson Parker, or the police procedural novels of  first Joseph Wambaugh and now  Michael Connelly.   To name but a few.

Even Thomas Pynchon took a whirl at the LA mystery, having written Inherent Vice, a quirky period piece set in seventies Los Angeles, as the hippie era was ending and becoming something even much more strange.  Charles Bukowski, is noted for writing about the lowlifes and the dingier side of the Los Angeles experience.   Joan Didion exposed the quirky and the quixotic, the perennially haunted.  Especially in her first novel, a seminal work, to me, of LA fiction, Play It As It Lays.

Tod Goldberg’s recent article in the Los Angeles Times, To Live and Write in LA, addresses the prismatic context and the incumbent difficulties of writing about a city that in some ways is nowhere and everywhere.  Goldberg describes his arrival to Los Angeles at the age of nine and how he came to reckon with this unique city.  Yes, I say unique.  Once upon a time it had been denigrated for its tinsel, its expanse, and its lack of a center.  But as we advance into the twenty first century, it is clear Los Angeles is a city of its own.  There is no other city like it.  No other city where through art and literature you can approach it from any direction and find the subject and story refracts of its own will through the prism of perception that leaves each Angeleno with his own particular take on the city in which he lives.

Despite all cliches to the contrary, Los Angeles has a history.   It’s Spanish History dates back to 1789 when ten motley families , escorted by Spanish soldiers ventured through the perils of the desert.  It took Spain some ten years to get these mix blooded explorers to undertake the journey.  When they, first arrived, they cast their eyes  on what was described  as an Indian village situated along the banks of the Porciuncula River…a spacious valley, lush with cottonwoods, sycamores, wild grapes and thousands of wild roses in bloom.  During their brief stay in the village, the members of the expedition counted nine earthquakes, and they encountered boiling tar pits and dense marshes. And thus a city was born.

There is the periodic sales pitch of sunshine, health, and wealth, going back to the middle of the nineteenth century.  There are the oil wells, the cattle ranches, and, of course, Hollywood.  The beat goes on, to borrow a lyric that was manufactured just off of Sunset Strip.

Los Angeles is a character.  A good book about Los Angeles, shows the city as a character, or perhaps more so, as a presentation of different characters, myriad interpretations who populate the Facebook Friends in the City of Dreams.  With most art and literature, you can start from somewhere and find your creation has taken a life of its own.   But with Los Angeles, every story not only takes on a life of its own, but the better stories reveal a series of characters in a series of incarnations, all working on various planes of reality, and somehow, in some weird way, all making imperfect sense.

Many writers have tried to capture the city.  Some do it better than others.  But Los Angeles, rich, poor, lavish, spare, ethnically diverse, and social exclusive, offers many stories to tell.  The only thing that doesn’t change much here, really, is the weather.

I’ve tried to capture the city in several books I’ve written. The Guys Who Spied for China, is a roman a clef, detailing the discovery of Chinese Espionage networks operating in the city during the eighties and nineties.  It is a story that rambles from the Asian neighborhood and business parks in the San Gabriel Valley, to characters and conclaves in the Santa Monica Mountains, just above Beverly Hills.

The Blood Orange is a romantic mystery thriller, a contemporary novel in the tradition of Los Angeles Noir.   The novel incorporates the bandit legends of  old Spanish California with the modern internecine battles for power and money among the tonier set in the exclusive neighborhoods.   In a sense, the modern day movers and shakers are following the tradition of the mid-nineteenth century Mexican Pistoleros who between their marauding found sanctuary in the Hollywood Hills.

And my best selling, Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story, there’s a tale that could only be spun in Los Angeles.  The book describes a 13-year affair between Vicki Morgan and Alfred Bloomingdale, scion and socialite and bona fide member of Ronald Reagan’s kitchen cabinet.   The non-fiction novel is a tale of obsessive money, power, and love, especially love,  and the Machiavellian machinations, that ultimately killed the two lovers, and left a wake of scandal and collateral damage that Beverly Hills Society still talks about to this day.    It was the perfect tragic romance, a notable addition and venerable legacy to the myriad scandalous love stories that have rendered these lyrical oddities a hallowed tradition.

The Constant Travellers.  Well, it’s an allegory.  The publisher, in its initial book cover description, mistakenly believed the novel and its odd accumulation of characters was set in Alaska.  What can I say?  Only Los Angeles could offer the mental habitat for such a mystically delicious, sex and stoner depiction of the West that Never Was.

Despite all dire predictions to the contrary, LA is blessed in some obscure and indecipherable way.    Its guardian angels serve up the middle finger to propriety and uniformity, to the predictable, and to the constraints of urban configuration.  Which is why it is such a fascinating city to write about.

Other artists and writers came before me.  Others will come after.  But the City of the Angels, will always live on.

Evergreen Review Publishes Book Review for The Guys Who Spied for China

The Evergreen Review holds a special place in my heart.  Along with its book publishing division, Grove Press, from the mid-century on,  intrepid visionary, alias the publisher, Barney Rosset,  brought forth to this nation a tremendous selection of cutting edge literature.  This was literature that few back then would dare publish.   Even today many of these remarkable contemporary writers  would still be wanting a publisher had it not been for Rossett.

The Evergreen Review and Grove Press publication list, first introduced Americans to Samuel Beckett and William Burroughs.    Grove published the unexpurgated version of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, among other of the author’s works,  and the unabridged work of Marquis De Sade.   Grove and Evergreen published international authors, some of whom would go on to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.   Like Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe and Per Lagerkvist in Literature.

Evergreen Review published Jean Paul Sartre, John Rechy, Octavio Paz,  Malcolm X, John Rechy, Jakov Lind, Jack Kerouac,  Jean Genet, and Allen Ginsburg.   There are so many that it is almost senseless to name them all.    You can find a list of authors at the Evergreen Review website, which I have linked to here…Evergreen Review.

Back in the Paleolithic Era when we were supposed to be good children reading Silas Marner, I was visiting the long defunct Marlborough Bookstore in New York.   The Marlboro Bookstore was a local chain and was unique as it put on its remainder shelf copies of Grove Press publications.  They sold them at a bargain off of list price.  Just a buck.  For one dollar, not the smallest amount of money for a high school kid in search of something  a little more a little more relevant than the classics, I could rummage Marlboro on the cheap and find in Grove and Evergreen this marvelous new world of writers.   These were writers who had not been  sanitized with century’s worth of time time and that incumbent respectability.   These were flawed individuals, exploring the world around us, offering us at times often gritty and surreal insights.

These were writers  who were flawed in character, erratic, and often unpredictable,.  They were lyrical and immediate, in your face.   They explored sex of all varieties and  drugs of every kind.  They examined changing roles of men and women in modern society.  They delved into politics and society and helped to demystify the bland myths of mid-century acceptance.    And for these writers, unlike the academics and the acceptable mainstream, this was not an intellectual exercise.    They practiced what they preached, and a good many paid the price for their indulgences.   Such is the price for living it.

This is where I cut my teeth.   These were the writers who worked to define modern times and now and then offer illumination and poetic transcendence to a world that was getting crazier by the moment.   Some of these writer had been published elsewhere.  Some had not been published at all.   But here in a changing America, Barney Rosset made sure their voices were heard.

I write this because Evergreen Review was kind enough to review The Guys Who Spied for China.  While I make no points of comparison to others who have graced its pages, my literary exposure started with Evergreen Review, so it’s like a full cycle.  I am delighted.  It means a lot to me.  Live long, Barney, and publish for another dozen centuries.   Given what the publishing world is today, it truly needs guys like you.

Here is the link to Kevin Riordan’s review of The Guys Who Spied for China.