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Literature / Naked Came the Stranger

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Naked Came the Stranger is a 1969 hoax novel parodying the sex-obsessed novels of The '60s, such as Valley of the Dolls and The Adventurer. It was written by twenty-four journalists and edited by Mike McGrady, who wanted to test his theory that any book would sell if enough sex was thrown in. Sure enough, the book sold 20,000 copies before the authors went public. It was adapted into, appropriately enough, a porn film in 1975.

The plot concerns William and Gillian Blake, the co-hosts of the popular breakfast radio chat show The Billy & Gilly Show. When Gillian finds out that William is having an affair with the show's production assistant, she decides not to get a divorce, as that would destroy their show. Instead, she gets revenge by having sex with almost every man in the neighborhood.

Compare Atlanta Nights, a book written in a similar fashion with the motive of twitting publish-on-demand company PublishAmerica.

Naked Came the Stranger contains examples of:

  • Afraid of Blood: General practitioner Dr. Alan Hetterton struggled through med school partly because he sometimes cries at the sight of blood, which doesn't stop him from moonlighting as an abortionist.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Mario married Donna Marie to cement the alliance between his organization and that of her father, Septimo Caggiano.
  • Ass Shove: Gillian's first conquest, Ernie Miklos, once had sex with a hooker in Honolulu who inserted a chunk of ice up his rectum. The resulting orgasm was so powerful that it left him mentally scarred. He still wakes up screaming about ice cubes.
  • Auto Erotica: Gillian gives Marvin Goodman a blowjob as they drive towards a toll booth, causing a traffic jam behind them and a minor car accident.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Most of the couples in the neighborhood.
    Gillian: Then you are unhappily married?
    Rabbi Turnbull: That is a redundancy, Mrs. Blake.
  • Barely-There Swimwear: Gillian seduces Morton Earbrow by wearing a bathing suit with "openings in unexpected places" that seems to be held together by shoelaces.
  • The Beard: Willoughby Martin has had sex with men who have married to fool the straight world, but he finds them unsatisfying. With their phony marriages and secret lives, he finds them more pitiable than sexy.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Gillian fumes about a critic in the New York Times who called The Billy & Gilly Show "pablum for breakfast." She even tries to get Morgan Advertising to stop sponsoring the Times.
  • Bridal Carry: Paddy Madigan roughly carries Gillian this way, first from the backyard to his house, then into the bedroom.
  • Camp Gay: Willoughby is an interior decorator who worries that the humidity will ruin his makeup on the first page of his chapter.
  • Celebrity Resemblance:
    • William was told in his youth that he could be a stand-in for Prince Philip.
    • William notes that Rabbi Joshua Turnbull resembles Skitch Henderson.
  • Christian Rock: A Jewish example. Rabbi Turnbull is hiring a band called Jonah and the Wails, who use two electric guitars, a tambourine, and a rubber whale jawbone banged against a kettle drum. His sexual frustration and guilt over Gillian leads him to disappear three days before their appearance. He reappears in the middle of their performance, calls them Philistines, and tries to beat up the Temple Vice Presidents.
    Open the doors
    Git out the book
    And take a look

    We all prayin'
    (Yeah, yeah, yeah)
    We all prayin'
  • Dedication: "To Daddy." Originally it was "To Mother," but one reporter didn't think that was Freudian enough.
  • Destructive Romance: Gillian finds ways to ruin all her conquests' lives.
  • Domestic Abuse: Melvin Corby finally snaps from his sexual frustration over Gillian. He runs home with his fly open and proceeds to violently beat Myrna. When emergency workers arrive, Myrna has to be taken out in a stretcher and Melvin in a straitjacket.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": The hippie couple Arthur and Raina Franhop named their cat Cat.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Zoltan Caradoc has a large wire statue of a male nude with an erection called "Male Nude with Erection."
  • Fantasy Sequence: Melvin Corby's chapter opens with Melvin at Le Mans, roaring around the track with his huge, phallic racecar while Gillian Blake cheers from the front row. Then his lawnmower sputters and dies, ruining the fantasy.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Mario Vella married Donna Marie after three dates, all heavily chaperoned.
  • Functional Addict: Dr. Hetterton takes morphine to deal with his disappointing career and the wife he's grown to dislike.
  • Glory Days: Ernie fantasizes about his days as a high school quarterback and later as a marine, when he was known as Iron Man Ernie Miklos. Now, as a middle-aged man with a wife and kids he doesn't like, he lives mostly for Saturday afternoon football games.
  • Groin Attack: During Turnbull's first attempt at having sex with Gillian, he leaps towards her on the bed and lands crotch-first on the bedpost.
  • Hand Wave: Any inconsistencies left by the editing process are explained by Gillian's ability to transform in the eye of the beholder into any man's ideal woman, even if his ideal woman looks and acts nothing like her.
  • Happily Married: Billy & Gilly pretend to be: they play the perfect couple on a popular radio chat show. In fact, Gillian thinks the main reason they're still together is because of the show.
  • Harassing Phone Call: Gillian tries to flirt with an obscene caller. To her amusement, he accuses her of attempting a Phone-Trace Race and hangs up.
  • Hates Being Nicknamed: Gillian hates being called Gilly off the air because "It sounds like some Lake Michigan fish."
  • Home Nudist: The Franhops hang around their house naked.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Gillian is the first woman to ever get a sexual reaction from Willoughby Martin.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: During arguments with her husband Marvin, Helene Goodman partly unbuttons her blouse to make him calmer and more likely to agree with her.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: "Love" is too strong, but Ernie married Laverne mostly because she was the only girl who insisted on saving herself for marriage, and after a while Ernie's curiosity got the better of him.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: While Gillian is having sex with Turnbull. First, the phone rings, and she spends fifteen minutes chatting. Then Rolf the dog escapes from the garage and bites Turnbull on the rump. Then the bridge club arrives for their meeting, and Turnbull has to flee out the back door, unable to achieve satisfaction at all.
  • Jewish Mother: Melvin Corby's mother disapproves of everything about his life, from his wife ("A Jewish girl who don't know enough to save chicken fat") to his name change ("What'll you tell the fancy neighbors? My name is Corby, and this is my mother, Mrs. Korbinsky?") to his seven-year-old's horseback riding lessons ("Fancy schmancy. Who needs it? Better he should get good marks.")
  • Lipstick Mark: Gillian notices fresh lipstick marks on William's collar and wonders if he was careless or stupid, or if he felt guilty.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Ansel Varth is a prolific writer of bizarre pornography, much of it involving bestiality, but he finds that he can't get it up in the presence of an actual woman. Gillian solves the problem by making believe that she's a chimpanzee and he's a camel.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Arthur and Raina have had sex in every conceivable location and position, from the refrigerator to the sewer. Arthur is delighted when Gillian suggests the most shocking act of all: missionary sex in the bedroom.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Gillian doesn't know who the father of her aborted embryo is. Her best guess is Arthur Franhop.
  • Metaphorical Marriage: Despite sharing a last name, Arthur and Raina are not legally married. Their marriage was sanctified by a nineteen-year-old Zen reader during a League for Sexual Freedom meeting.
  • Mona Lisa Smile: Gillian smiles like this when she rejects Mario. Mario now realizes why Mona Lisa is smiling - because she knows she's unattainable.
  • Ms. Red Ink: Helene is always spending money she and Marvin don't have on expensive dresses and blaming it on accounting errors. By the time his chapter starts, he has only fifty dollars left. Partly to get revenge on her, he has sex with Gillian, who completely bankrupts him in one day.
  • Nepotism: Downplayed. Taylor Hawkes accomplished a great deal even before he married the great-grandniece and only living relative of the full owner of Morgan Advertising, but he isn't sure he'd be executive vice president without her.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Gillian gets in the car with celebrated author Zoltan Caradoc with no interest in seducing him, since he's not married. But as soon as they arrive at his mansion, he rips her clothes off, saying he's not doing anything she doesn't want.
    Gillian: This is rape.
    Caradoc: It may begin as rape, but that's not the way it generally winds up.
  • One-Hit Wonder: In-universe example. The mob-owned pop star Johnny Alonga's song "Dying Love" has been on the charts for over a year, but none of his other records have charted.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Many think Paddy Madigan is the finest left-handed fighter ever to contend for the light-heavyweight championship of the world.
  • Porn Stash: Paddy has to look at porn in secret, because his wife Agnes will burn his magazines if she finds them.
  • Porn Without Plot: The book was intentionally written to be a plotless, awful and blatantly pornographic mess to prove the author's beliefs that Sex Sells regardless of quality.
  • Rebellious Rebel: Arthur allowed himself to be drafted because his friends had all dodged in so many creative ways that the only truly cool thing left to do was to join the army. His friends congratulated him on his imaginative stand. Luckily for him, he ended up in Maryland directing traffic.
  • Recognizable by Sound: As soon as Ansel Varth opens his mouth, Gillian recognizes him as Jack the Fucker, the dirty caller who harassed her a few chapters ago.
  • Sexless Marriage: Morton and his wife Gloria live in a house that's in such bad shape that they spend virtually all their free time fixing it, leaving Gloria too tired for sex.
  • Sex Sells: The book was intentionally written badly and with explicit sex scenes to prove the author Mike McGrady's belief that anything could sell if it had enough sex in, regardless of quality. It sold 20,000 copies, and another 90,000 after McGrady revealed the hoax.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Alan lost his virginity to Gerda, a girl who helped him through medical school. The condom failed, and they were married ten weeks into the resulting pregnancy. Alan performs illegal abortions partly to save other men from the same fate.
  • Show Within a Show: Excerpts from The Billy & Gilly Show appear between chapters.
  • Starbucks Skin Scale: A white example. Gillian is "the color of India tea at summer's end."
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Myrna Corby works very hard to fit in with the goyim of King's Neck, so she dislikes Melvin's mother for acting "kikey."
  • Straight Gay: Willoughby's partner Hank is a ruggedly handsome computer programmer who dresses in plain, ordinary men's clothes.
  • Stylistic Suck: The book is a deliberately inconsistent hodgepodge. Leading author McGrady had to heavily edit some chapters that weren't badly-written enough.
  • Token Minority: Willoughby and Hank are the only gay couple in King's Neck, and Willoughby sometimes jokes that they represent token integration. They keep getting invited to dinner parties so the neighbors can brag about having gay friends.
  • Teeny Weenie: Paddy Madigan is huge and muscular everywhere except his micropenis. Agnes is the one woman who never laughed at it, as she believes that Sex Is Evil.
  • The Vamp: Gillian. This is especially apparent with Melvin Corby, whom she doggedly attempts to seduce despite his determination to stay faithful to Myrna.
  • Wheelchair Antics: The Baron broke his back in a polo accident at age 71. Now, at age 104, he enjoys racing his wheelchair around at top speed. He refuses any help in getting into his custom-built car, preferring to ramp his wheelchair into the back.
  • While You Were in Diapers: Gillian suggests that Ernie drink his martinis slowly instead of downing them in one gulp. Ernie snarls, "I'll drink what I fucking please. I was drinking when you were still using candles on yourself."