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Mailer’s Women: The Posthumous Brawl

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How fitting: Last week, Norman Mailer’s sixth and last wife, Norris Church Mailer, published A Ticket to the Circus on the same day that his mistress of nine years, Carole Mallory, came out with her much trashier Loving Mailer. There’s plenty they agree on (his endowment, his antipathies to various contraceptives and adverbs). What else did they share?

A Ticket to the Circus by Norris Church Mailer
Random House. $26.

Other High-Profile Liaisons:
Bill Clinton—back when he was single and the future Mrs. Mailer was a young Arkansas divorcée. He’d make late-night booty calls, and “was pretty hard to resist, I must say.”

The Meet Cute:
Went to a party with a copy of Marilyn she’d mistakenly been sent. Mailer and she ended the night with clumsy sex on her living-room floor; he signed the book months later.

Physical Attractions:
“He was chesty, but not fat, like a sturdy small horse.” She loved his hair, and made a pillow out of it; he also possessed a “splendid cock.”

Violence:
Insists that he was no longer the wife-stabber of years past, and that he never hit her. But they fought plenty, and she once punched him in the jaw.

Norman As Mentor:
Taught her that white wine goes with fish; called her writing “not as bad as I thought it would be.” Asked her to finish The Executioner’s Song if he died while writing it.

Sex Life:
Sex was “the cord that bound us together.” She agreed to play an aspiring porn star (“Cinnamon Brown”) in front of his friends, and he referred to her “fuck storm” in a letter.

Other Women:
Despite his multiple divorces and relentless cheating, “I didn’t want to be just one of the harem.” In 1991 he confessed to a long string of infidelities.

Dying Wishes Defied :
He’d often say: “When I’m gone and you write about me, I want you to say … ” Now, she insists, “It was my life as well as his. I would write it on my own terms.”


Loving Mailer by Carole Mallory
Phoenix Books. $22.95.

Other High-Profile Liaisons:
Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Richard Gere, Peter Sellers, Matt Dillon, Marcello Mastroianni, Rod Stewart, Clint Eastwood, Rip Torn. Oh, and Warren Beatty.

The Meet Cute:
At Elaine’s, Mallory told him she’d been in the orgy scene in Looking for Mr. Goodbar. When they first had sex, he told her: “Take off your panties. I want to experience your soul.”

Physical Attractions:
“He reminded me of Humpty Dumpty. But what did it matter what he looked like?” Still, “if his penis weren’t so beautiful, I would have left.”

Violence:
Writes confusingly of his “Lear-like wrath.” She claims he punched her in the stomach twice, and wonders if it was because his mother gave him enemas when he was a child.

Norman As Mentor:
Offered encouragement—“You can write a sex scene. A writer writes what a writer knows”—but told her to quit acting. Launched her journalism career by granting her interviews.

Sex Life:
Early on, Mallory asks, “was he genuinely interested in helping me with my writing or was he after sex … ?” After nine years of kinky escapades, she concluded it was the latter.

Other Women:
Mailer told her his marriage was over, “as far as romantic love is concerned.” She hypothesizes, with no evidence, that he stayed with Norris lest she reveal his bisexual tilt.

Dying Wishes Defied :
Told her: “If you ever try to write about me, I’ll haunt you from my grave.”


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