Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Neil Derrick, novelist, 80

The writer Neil Derrick was raised in California. Under the pen name Bruce Elliot, he published “The Potency Clinic” and other novels. In 1970, Derrick had a brain tumor removed and lost much of his sight. With his partner Edward Field, he wrote the novel “The Villagers” in 1980. Field and Derrick have been together for 52 years.

(Photo: Neil Derrick (l) and his partner Edward Field)

I came to New York in the summer of 1956. I was fresh out of one semester of graduate school at Berkeley and fresh out of the Army. I was interested in being a writer and I was interested in being in New York.

(Neil Derrick in Venice, 1962)

I had a job at MoMA. Another guy who worked there wanted to be a writer, too. He stopped by my desk with the name of a publishing company that I don’t think exists anymore. They didn’t call it soft-core porn then. They called it porno. They were looking for treatments of porno novels, paying a $1500 flat fee for books. That was a lot of money in the 1960s. I sent them a silly idea and they accepted it. It was a book called “Up and Coming,” which was published in 1969. Then there was “Sticky Fingers,” about a girl growing up to be the mistress of the President. I tried to write hard-core sex scenes, but I couldn’t do it. I started writing crazy sex scenes and I really enjoyed it. I quit my job at the museum. I had dreams of moving from porno to something better. Then my operation took place.

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