Simon & Schuster, £6.99, ISBN 978-1-4711-3416-6
Contemporary Fiction, 1969
Oh, the things I ended up reading when I was stuck in a long journey with nothing to read but old paperbacks that I picked up at a secondhand bookstore. Anyway, The Stud was a pretty old book as it was first published in 1969, It was Jackie Collins’s second book, one of those charmingly trashy novels that focus on the rich and famous doing what they do best: being skanky, stabbing one another’s back, and more. The fact that these books are allegedly roman à clef types only made them more intriguing back in those days, when the Internet wasn’t around to let TMZ and the likes show us that these famous and wealthy idiots are actually far more trashy.
Anyway, The Stud in question is Tony Blake, who was once a hustler from the poorer part of town. He met and slept with the right women, eventually scoring himself a gig as the manager of Hobo, the hottest night club in London. He in turn is “managed” by Fontaine Khaled, the bored and horny wife of an indulgent and generally clueless much older millionaire (back in 1969, millionaires were the epitome of wealth while today we set our libidinous sight on billionaires). Fontaine financed the club as well as Tony’s lifestyle, and in return, she expects him to drop his pants and everything else whenever she beckons at him.
Tony becomes increasingly resentful over her hold on him, and this resentment comes to a boil when he meets Fontaine’s stepdaughter, the 17-year old Alexandra, and becomes infatuated with her. Hilariously enough, Alexandra doesn’t view him as anything more than a way to make her best friend’s brother – whom she has a crush on – jealous. This love triangle – if I can call it that, considering that the only person pathetic enough to believe that he is in love is Tony – becomes the central focus of this story even as various secondary characters show up to indulge in all kinds of naughty antics.
The Stud would feel dated these days, mostly because what was considered lurid back then resembles a slow news day on TMZ today. Still, it makes for a pretty decent quick read to kill some time, as it’s not a long book – my copy has 322 pages of words printed in a pretty big font size – and, even better, it can be read with the brain put on auto-pilot mode. All the characters here are unlikable types, and it’s fun to see them conceal their loathing of one another as they force themselves to socialize and copulate among themselves because the rest of the world aren’t worthy of their time and attention. Tony thinks that he’s all that, all the women want him, and he is the reason Hobo is the way it is, while Fontaine finds him a boring lover with tacky low-class fashion sense, one she’d do well to fire from Hobo ASAP. Fontaine loves to dance and thinks of herself as irresistible even as Tony mocks her dancing in his head and lusts after her stepdaughter. They are all hypocrites and it’s hilarious to see them trying to back stab one another until, in the author’s typical style, an unexpected circumstance arises and spoils all their plots.
One thing I should point out, though: this is not a sexually explicit raunchy read. Those books came out later, when the flood of similarly-themed books hit the market and everyone needs to step up the raunch to beat the competition. So, read this one for the naughty antics and the author’s acerbic derision for her characters that is evident in every word, just not for the hot stuff.
There are some sly humor and clever set-ups here that go some way in making up for the rather one-dimensional and stereotypical characters, and if you are an old codger like me, it can be fun to revisit the pop culture norms of that era. Still, The Stud is more of a candyfloss read – calorie-heavy but nutritionally light – that is better off saved for those boring days when there is absolutely nothing else to read. It would be so much easier then to enjoy its superficial charms and overlook its lack of substance.