Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Saucy, Sassy and Sexy ... A visit to Grinders Corner -- #ReviewTuesday #giveaway #romcom

Grinders Corner cover


Grinders Corner explores the world of taxi dance halls in the 1960s in all its raw hilarity.  Saucy, sassy and sexy, but not the least bit erotic, it follows the adventures of three young women trying to survive in the glitter palaces of Los Angeles.
Like lambs led to the slaughter, Uptown, a newly divorced English major with panic anxiety disorder and no job skills, Voluptua, an out of work actress, and Mouse, a former child star trying to make a comeback all struggle to make enough tickets to pay the bills.  

Things get complicated when Uptown falls in love with a customer who happens to be a priest.
In Grinders Corner it was a simpler time, long before gentlemens clubs and pole dancers, and it happened in a place where shy, lonely men could talk to women, even dance with them, with no fear of rejectionfor about fifteen cents a minute.


Downtown Los Angeles
Romanceland, 1969

The jukebox was playing Close To You. The lights were low and romantic, the red candles on the intimate little tables for two flickered seductively, and the many-faceted, mirrored chandelier reflected tiny droplets of shivering, shimmering light onto the dance floor. His strong arms were about me, and he was lightly kissing my ear. Then he spoke in a throaty whisper.

Hey, baby, you wanna make a quick twenty five bucks? Let’s go to a motel.”

Oh God, I thought, as I looked at the clock. One more hour to go. I’m going to have to put up with this clown for sixty more minutes unless he runs out of money. Maybe I can get him to sit down and have a Coke. Then I won’t have to endure this tortuous ritual known as dancing. If we get a Coke, I’ll have to make conversation with him and that might be worse than dancing.

The only good thing about dancing is that I don’t have to talk to him. I only have to hear about the motel.

He was staring at me as if waiting for a reply, so I asked, “What did you say?”

Okay, that isn’t particularly original but it used up a couple of seconds. Then he had to repeat it all. That took a few more minutes.

I started to think maybe I could make it to the two o’clock finishing line, but I was wrong. He wasn’t slobbering on my ear anymore. Now it was my bare shoulder.

Hey, I’m kind of thirsty,” I said. “Why don’t we sit down and have a Coke?”

Baby, I don’t want a Coke.”

Oh, hell,” I said as I deftly stepped out of his reach. “Let’s go to the desk so you can check out.”

He retorted with, “How about fifty bucks? I’ll buy you a steak besides.”

I smiled, thinking how delicious that can of beans at home was going to taste. “I’m sorry. I’m not in that line of business.”

Whaddya wanna do—get married?” he yelled.


What do you do when you’re newly-divorced, broke, have no job skills, and although you live in Los Angeles, are too anxious to drive on the freeway? That’s the dilemma facing the heroine of Grinder’s Corner, a fictionalized memoir by Ferris H. Craig and Charlene Keel.

Working as a “Beautiful Hostess” at the Romanceland dance hall in gritty downtown LA isn’t exactly the oldest profession, but it’s not that many steps away, either. Uptown (as she is christened by her friends Mouse and Voluptua) endures sweaty bodies, bad breath, wandering hands, constant lewd propositions, and the occasional frottage orgasm as her customers grind themselves against some random body part, all for the princely sum of fifteen cents per minute. It’s a difficult job, not one anyone would choose, but Uptown doesn’t think she has a choice.

Then she falls in love with one of her customers, a handsome, polite, normal-seeming guy—who turns out to be a straying Catholic father. As if her life isn’t tough enough!

Grinder’s Corner is surprising, entertaining and very smoothly written. Uptown’s educated but somewhat clueless voice dominates the book, while Mouse’s fractured fairy tales and Voluptua’s flamboyant sexuality provide comic relief. Probably the best part of the book is Uptown’s tortured relationship with Don the Priest. Although he’s attractive, clean, shy rather than pushy, and truly loves her, in many ways he’s not that different from the members of the Other Species who haunt the dance halls. Like them, he’s lonely, horny, tends to take women for granted, and feels that his own life and career come first.

The pain he puts Uptown through made me ache in sympathy. Still, she changes and matures in response to the travails of her love affair, growing in confidence and letting go of some of her anxiety. One can only hope that soon she’ll figure out that she has control over her life, that Romanceland or its ilk is not her only option.

I have one criticism of the book. It is set in late sixties southern California, but to me conveyed almost no sense of the time or the place. Aside from the lack of cell phones, and the fact that dance halls are long gone, Grinder’s Corner might have been a contemporary story. The nineteen sixties were tumultuous, garish, troubled, conflicted, wild. There were urban riots and men walking on the moon. None of this ferment comes through in the book. There are few if any period details: no teased hair styles or go-go boots, no hippies or pigs. This isn’t the sixties I lived through.

However, there’s a lot of irony, humor and warmth in this book. I gather from the conclusion that it’s based on real life experiences. Nineteen sixty nine was a long time ago. Perhaps some of the environmental details have faded, but clearly the memories of the job itself are still vivid and powerful.

About the Authors

Ferris Craig is a professional dancer, choreographer, actor and writer. Her credits include The Dean Martin Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Honeymooners, The Golden Girls and many TV commercials. In the 1970s she performed with The Hollywood Hoofers in Las Vegas, later establishing The Burbank Academy of Performing Arts where she taught dance and acting. More recently, she choreographed and performed for The Broadway Seniorettes, and with Recycled Teenagers (dancers over 50). Currently she lives in Southern California with her three delightful dogs. Connect with Ferris on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecricketdance

Charlene Keel has written over a dozen novels and how-to books. Shadow Train, the final installment of her YA supernatural trilogy, won a Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Award, and The Congressmans Wife (for Red Sky Presents) is getting rave reviews. Her new blended-genre novel, Lost Treasures of the Heart, was released in November, 2016.

Keel has also worked as editor for international magazines, including Playgirl, For the Brideand Black Elegance. She says the most fun she’s had as an editor (so far) was at Spice, a fanzine featuring rap, R&B, soul and gospel music. During her time there, she enjoyed going to parties for such notables as Puff Daddy, having lunch with Gloria Gaynor and attending a pasta dinner where Mariah Carey did the cooking.

Keel’s editorial assignments include The Health of Nations, a book on political philosophy, and That Nation Might Live, a moving tribute to Sarah Bush Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s stepmother. Her TV credits include Fantasy Island and Days of Our Lives, and her book, Rituals, was the basis for the first made-for-syndication soap opera. She also produced (for Romantic Times) the first annual Mr. Romance Cover Model Pageant.

Buy link:

The book is on sale for only $0.99.


Ferris H. Craig & Charlene Keel will be awarding two winners, a free copy of Grinders Corner (print or ebook). (U.S. only for print, International for ebook) to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

Winners will also receive a fantastic Kama Sutra gift basket. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lisabet Sarai said...

Welcome to my blog, ladies! And thank you such an original book!

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

Charlene said...

Thanks for the great review! So glad you enjoyed our book.
Charlene Keel & Ferris Craig

Charlene said...

By the way, this isn't a fictionalized account of life in the taxi dance halls. My co-author, Ferris Craig (Mouse) actually lived it! We didn't have to make anything up.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Charlene,

I said "fictionalized memoir" -- an autobiographical tale with the names changed to protect the guilty!

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