The Pleasure Dial: An Erotocomedic Novel of Old-Time Radio
by Jeremy Edwards
OC Press, 2011
How can you not love an author who focuses first on his heroines' intelligence and second on their sexual exuberance, with physical appearance taking third place? Like his first novel, Rock My Socks Off, Jeremy Edwards' The Pleasure Dial showcases a smart, sexually insatiable woman and the bright but totally laid back guy who loves her.
It's the nineteen thirties. After communing with his favorite mannequin Trixie, New York humor writer Artie Plask decides to take the plunge and accept a job offer in Hollywood. He's been invited to join the team writing material for Sid Heffy, a radio comic with a huge following and an ego to match. Arriving at Heffy's mansion, where, to Artie's surprise, the team works around the pool while ogling Heffy's delectable nyphomaniac daughter Elyse, he's introduced to the “boys” - including the true brains of the operation, Mariel Henton.
She was a compactly built woman about his age, svelte and lively looking, who was dressed in subdued tones that emphasized the acuity in her face. She immediately reminded Artie of every witty woman he'd known in New York, with all the ones he'd never encountered thrown in for good measure.
For some reason she was carrying an enormous quill pen.
From that point on, The Pleasure Dial becomes a non-stop orgy of gags and double-entendres. Artie and Mariel recognize one another as kindred spirits, both in and out of the bedroom. It's fortunate that both are brilliant, since they find themselves dealing with an ever-thickening web of plots and scams, as Heffy decides he wants to dump comedy for serious drama, Elyse decides to start her own show, Artie finds he has to disguise himself as himself... While they deal with temperamental sponsors, reclusive movie sirens, corrupt butlers, snooty playwrights, and a truckload of mannequins, the pair still find time for plenty of high-spirited sensual pleasure, in a wide variety of ingenious locations.
This is a clever and very funny book. As usual, I read it in bed; I kept laughing out loud and interrupting my husband to read him another “good bit”. At the same time, the effort Mr. Edwards invested in research is obvious on every page. Nineteen thirties Hollywood really comes alive. One of the best scenes, from a historical perspective, is Elyse's first radio performance, broadcast live, complete with orchestra, studio audience, and announcers reading commercials.
My one complaint about The Pleasure Dial is that all its complicated plot twists unwind too quickly and easily at the end, without much need for Artie's and Mariel's intelligence. All at once, the book was over – I really wanted it to be longer. I wanted to see the dynamic duo seriously challenged to sort out all their conflicting schemes. And to be honest, I wanted to see Metropolitan Mannequins become a roaring success, so that Artie had a personal supply of decision-making aids close at hand!
Maybe Mr. Edwards will provide a sequel, in which Artie and Mariel indulge in further adventures on the East Coast. Meanwhile, if you enjoy light-hearted sensuality and intelligent humor, get yourself a copy of The Pleasure Dial.