Tours de Farce: Every Day They Write The Book
Probably one of the best-kept secrets within the publishing industry is the popularity of the genre known as concert romance books. These “ticket rippers,” as they’re called in the business, often star young ladies who find true love amidst the aisles during shows by Eric Clapton and Jewel.
“At any given time we’ll have more than 100 titles in stores,” says J.N. Wenner, considered by many to be the king of the concert romance publishers. “Books like The Passion Of The Wayne Newton Fan or The Nurse And The Bob Dylan Roadie. You may not see these books on The New York Times Best Sellers list, but we can’t keep them on the shelves. We like to think of them as one of life’s guilty pleasures.”
Indeed, these guilty pleasures are ringing up hot sales from coast to coast. While many of them feature the same basic plot – a young lady finds romance while buying tickets for Prince or experiences exhilarating passion during the encore by Pat Travers – there’s no denying that the field’s best selling series is known more for what’s on the cover than the action between the pages.
Standing well over six-feet tall with long flowing hair falling down past his muscular shoulders, the famous concert booking agent simply known as Robio has graced the covers of over 500 concert romance books, such as The Promoter’s Temptation and The Compassionate Concessionaire, and has even spawned a cottage industry of calendars, screen savers and T-shirts. What’s more, a growing number of fans refuse to see any concert, no matter if the headliner is Elton John, Celine Dion or Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine, unless the date has been booked by Robio himself.
“Robio is a natural,” says Wenner. “Pecs, six-pack abs, a cell phone and contracts for Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise and Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers. Our readers can’t get enough of him.”
Are concert romance books here to stay? Or will the genre go the way of past concert fiction attempts such as the G.I. promoter series or the celebrity rehab medical mysteries? Furthermore, is the genre strong enough to produce a second generation of writers willing to carry on the tradition set by such books as Lost Innocence On The Orgy Tour Bus, and Love Among The Barenaked Ladies? If there’s one thing publishers like Wenner are not worried about, it’s a shortage of authors.
“Say what you will, but concert romance books are no longer dirty stories about dirty fans going to dirty dives just to see a band,” says Wenner. “Nowadays, everybody wants to be a paperback writer.”