Los Angeles, California, Nov. 15, 1962.. 1962.. Fine. - sc - A 4-page manuscript densely typed on 11 inch high by 8-1/2 inch wide paper. The first page is typed on Seidenbaum's embossed "The Saturday Evening Post" stationery with his name embossed at top left as associate editor. In this manuscript addressed to Bill Emerson (Editor in Chief of the Saturday Evening Post) and Bill Davidson (an associate editor), Seidenbaum proposes to write an article on the extortion of gay men by criminals posing as police officers and opines that "it is a damn good bet that in some cities, like Chicago, it is indeed the police who do the fruit shaking. Among lawyer friends of mine, this criminal practice is an old story and an old cop racket. Of course, this would in no way preclude a story by us on the subject but I'm afraid that, in other cities, we might have to admit that not only bunco artists but corrupt cops are involved." Identifying the practice as "Fruit Shaking", Seidenbaum, in a glossary describes the word "Fruit Shake" as "The underworld term for blackmailing deviates...." In fact, much of the proposed article is about organized gangs who travel from city to city and, proffering fake police badges, shake down gay men in public washrooms. Some of the information is derived from interviews with Lt. William Hull and Captain Harry Didion of the Los Angeles Police Department's Fraud and Bunco squad. He identifies several extortionists who are now awaiting trial for this very crime and proposes to interview them to further expand the article. Signed "Art" in red ink on the last page. The manuscript is further annotated in pencil at the top of the first page as "Folder - extortion Inc., cros ref.". The four pages are stapled together at top left. There is minor rust staining from a paper clip to the verso of the last page. Near fine.
A retained copy of Bill Emerson's response dated November 21, 1962 is included. In his reply, Emerson indicates that "The Extortion, Inc. story is a real dilly." but... "the consensus of the brass is that we just can't risk this sort of major piece at the moment. Davidson and I are forced to see the logic of this position...." Emerson still holds up hope that it may yet have a chance if they are able to "take it up again in February or March."
A wry observer of the Los Angeles cultural, literary and political scene, Art Seidenbaum (d.1990) was associate editor at the Pacific Coast Editorial Office of The Saturday Evening Post and a writer, columnist and editor of The Los Angeles Times. He edited The Times' Opinion Section and was the recipient of an Emmy Award for the TV program "City Watchers".