Studies in Crap: The 'Ravenous Chinese Amazons' of Watergate Mastermind E. Howard Hunt's '60s Spy Novels

Categories: Studies in Crap
Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

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One of Our Agents is Missing & The Mongol Mask

Author: David St. John, aka E. Howard Hunt
Date: 1967 & 1968
Publisher: Dell
The Cover Promises:
"Atomic sex and a deadly game of overlove as Peter Ward, C.I.A. superstud, swings into torrid action."

Representative Quotes:
  • "Unlike Chinese custom, Japanese breasts were not bound from childhood, and the postwar craze for cosmetic surgery had converted many deficient musumes into mammary marvels." ( One of Our Agents is Missing, page 26)
  • "Concealed between the sheepskins of Arslan's bed he found a sizable dildo and a short, sharp dagger." (The Mongol Mask , page 122).

At last, here's a good rule-of-thumb for all of you national security novices who can't tell the FBI from the CIA. You see, as they jaunt across the globe fighting sumo wrestlers and impressing readers with italicized foreign words like domo arigato and futon, C.I.A. superstuds face a problem stranger than even triple agents and Chinese ICBMs. Based on the evidence of these two novels by real C.I.A. agent E. Howard Hunt, any foreign woman who meets a C.I.A. superstud will, within minutes, wind up naked.

This is exactly the opposite problem experienced by FBI men like J. Edgar Hoover.
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In One of Our Agents is Missing, a 1967 paperback original that sends Peter Ward, C.I.A. superstud, to Japan, this occurs three times. First, the nude cutie waiting in his room his first night in Tokyo:
"Her legs were straight, he noticed, and like Oriental women, her loins nearly hairless. The smooth line of her breasts told him that she was still young, and for a moment he felt as though he was in a dream fantasy."
Poor Ward! He never figured out that he actually is!

Later, in the bath, he encounters the lovely Miyoki "stripped to her cotton shorts and waiting for him." Hunt writes:
"In his limited Japanese Peter tried to explain that he needed no assistance with his bath."
A lot can happen inside a man's limited Japanese peter.

Ward plays it cool, declining to bed neither these beauties nor the servant Matsuko of the "coarse peasant's body," who eventually attempts to drown him. But Hunt himself seems to get worked up about it. Perhaps its the presence of Miyoki's mammary marvels that inspires him to leave essential connective tissue out of this completely [SiC] sentence:
"Cleansed of soap he was allowed to reenter the sunken tub whose temperature was less incandescent than before, gritted his teeth and submerged to his chin."
Here's a shock about Hunt, that "plumber" of Nixon's who planned the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the bungled attempt to wiretap the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, and the break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist. Turns out, "writing suspense novels" is right up there with "spying" and "masterminding" on the list of things Hunt just wasn't all that good at.

He also wasn't that good at differentiating between Japanese people and Scooby Doo. Actual dialogue from One of Our Agents is Missing:

  • "Rotsa ruck," she said cheerily.
  • "So grad not to disturb your rest."
  • "You from Mritrary Porice?"

That doesn't mean the books aren't worth a peek. Yes, they mistake a horndog xenophobia for realpolitik. Yes, they revel in chintzy Orientalism and weapon fetishization, and they often feature back-to-back chapters of backstory as dense and relentless as the strafing of Cambodia. But they also feature these drama like this:
"The creature who waited for him was not Sky Brooks, but a sumo wrestler, whose three or four hundred pounds could butt him to death against the steam room's concrete wall."
Some choice Huntisms from the subsequent buttening:
  • "Shaking himself like a wet bear, the wrestler let out a roar and charged at Peter."
  • "Like a cumbrous sandbag, the wrestler collided with the wall, shook himself, and pawed a path in the steam."
  • "Like a blind octopus the wrestler flung his arms out wildly"

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Hunt also describes that wrestler as having many "layers of suet" and, as Ward gains the upper hand, compares him to "A blinded cyclops at the mercy of a midget."

1968's The Mongol Mask is more lurid still. Dispatched to investigate word of missiles in a remote region of China, Ward again meets three women who with minutes (or pages) doff their clothes. This time around, Ward at least gets laid, first with Mei-Tang, whose husband has recently been murdered:
"Heavily, he turned to feel her small nipples prick his chest . . . Her loins welcomed him, and in the cool darkness their bodies merged in the primal combat in which there is no victor and no vanquished."
I don't think they're doing it right.



Hunt reserves his greatest erotic energy for this torture scene:
  • "Moving the knife to the major's crotch, [Ward] slit the fabric. Breath rattled in the man's throat, and Peter pressed the gag against his mouth."
  • "Peter pricked the warm flesh of his crotch, and the body jerked."
  • "Jerking off the officer's unit badge he thrust it before his eyes."

Shocking Detail:
The dastardly plan of the Red Chinese? To launch a fission device into the polar ice caps to hasten a scenario that today's patriotic superstuds know to be impossible. A scientist explains:
"Melting ice becomes seawater that melts floes and glaciers far removed from the initial source of heat. Vegetation and animal life cycles would be affected by the changing climate, the world's food supply would constrict, starvation would be the order of the day . . . Once melting and disintegration are established, the process reinforces itself. The release of water warms the atmosphere which in turn warms the surface layers, bringing on a continuous cycle of melting."
Our hero's response:
My God, Peter thought, the theory is so incredible it must be right.
Highlight:
Mei-Tang comes to love Ward, but she vanishes from the narrative just long enough for him to be kidnapped by Nachin, leader of an all-lady army, women whose husbands and children number among the millions of Muslims murdered by the Chinese government in the middle of the last century.

Nachin has vowed, "Before we women join our husbands, we will have paved the oath with Chinese bodies."

Only problem?

" 'We fight well because that requires only courage. But we do not understand our rifles and rapid-fire guns.' " They develop a barter system based on gender-specific symbolism. The women feed Ward milk and smear him with honey. In exchange, he teaches them how to clean and field-strip their guns.
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Holding to tradition, within a page of her introduction, Nachin strips down to wash herself in front of Ward.
"From armpits to hips, her stocky body showed no indentation. The small breasts looked like afterthoughts of her muscular pectorals."
"No indentation"? In the boudoir, this beauty breaks all the rules, even those of page layout!

Then, Ward is forced to consummate their relationship in front of the entire army, who also gets it on: "A frankly tribadic scene was being enacted, bodies coupled, their sturdy limbs intertwined."

The women hold a second prisoner, a fat Russian named Mikhail Golchuk. His discussion with Ward is illuminating:
"'Once I was as slender as you, but these savages fattened me until I could neither ride a pony nor cross the desert on foot. I am both their prisoner and a prisoner of my own body.'

'Why are they holding you?'

'For use as their stud. Every night I service at least two women. When I can no longer perform, they will poison me. . . . When I can do no more they flog me. Then, for their own pleasure, they flog me again.'"
So, female survivors of genocide become lesbian torture freaks. Silly as this is, at least it's demonstration that someone in Nixon's circle once bothered to consider the effects of organized violence on a population, even if it was just some hands-in-pants dream that mass-murder lubes ladies up.

There're plots in these books, too, but none of them are as interesting as Hunt's masterpiece: his deathbed claim that Lyndon Johnson had Kennedy assassinated. Some theorists have accused Hunt himself of involvement with Kennedy's murder, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

First off, the job actually got done.

[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice's sister paper, The Pitch.]

The mighty Studies in Crap e-mail list updates you whenever a new SiC post hits. Sign up at studiesincrap@villagevoice.com.
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