Vintage Pulp Feb 22 2012
LIFE IS A CARNIVAL
Freak show on the dance floor.

At the end of last month we posted a few images of Bettie Page that hadn’t appeared online before. They came from an issue of Carnival we were too lazy too scan in its entirety at the time. Today we have the rest of that great issue, vol. 1, no. 2, published out of Chicago, U.S.A. by Hillman Periodicals, who were the same people behind the magazine Show. The cover star is burlesque queen Lilly Christine, aka The Cat Girl, and she reappears in all her wild-eyed glory in a photo set we've placed at the very bottom of this post. We’ve seen at least two of those photos before in other magazines, however Carnival claims it was an exclusive set, shot especially for them, and indeed, that could be true, since theirs appeared before the others we saw.

After a peek behind the scenes of the Miss Universe pageant, readers get a profile of Ernest Hemingway’s most recent trip to Spain. Hemingway was visiting the Festival of San Fermin in the Basque Country town of Pamplona in order to see how his favorite sport of bullfighting had fared in the years since he’d last visited. Since the text in these digest-sized magazines scans large enough to be legible, you can read whatCarnival says about the famed festival yourself. We will note, however, that the writer’s description of Pamplona as dull when San Fermin isn’t happening is wrong. Spain in general, and the Basque Country in particular, are never dull. Trust us—we’ve spent a lot of time there. If you’re interested, you can read our firsthand observations of San Fermin here and here.

Carnival next presents readers with photos of dancer Nejla Ates, whose short set begins just below. We first saw one of these shots in an issue of Uncensored dating from June 1954, but once again Carnival seems to have gotten there first—their photos are from 1953. Ates, who for some reason often appears online unidentified, was Romanian born ofTatar descent, and danced her way through Cairo, Rome, Paris, and London, before finally gaining international fame in New York City. She appeared in three American films during the 1950s, and was the go-to cover model for Middle-Eastern and bellydancing themed album sleeves, but despite her successes suffered the usual slate of dead end affairs and romantic heartbreaks with such men as, among others, Billy Daniels, George Sanders, and Gary Crosby.

Following Ates is a photo feature on American actress and party girl Barbara Payton, who burned a swath through Hollywood during the 1950s, bedding co-stars, feuding with her studio, and generally raising a ruckus before eventually drifting into prostitution and dying at age thirty-nine of heart and liver failure. She’s described here as possessing the “assets of Hedy Lamarr, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe” all at once. Not sure about that, but we'll be finding out more about her later, because we will be examining her very pulpish life story in detail.

Next you get a great close-up photo of Jersey Joe Walcott having a disagreement with Rocky Marciano’s fist. Does that shot also look familiar? Perhaps because it was the cover of a January 1953 National Police Gazette. We had no idea that the fight was considered controversial at the time. Apparently, many thought Walcott took adive. Since this photo is of the actual the shot that sent Walcott to the canvas, we have to respectfully disagree. It’s lights out, and anyone can see that. In any case, you can take a gander at that Gazette cover and learn a bit about Marciano and Walcott here.

A few more treats: panel 24, just below, contains a hot shot of Marilyn Monroe at a charity baseball game; panel 26 features actress Sheree North, who doesn’t look very impressive, which means you shouldclick over to our lovely femme fatale post on her here and get a sense of what a knockout she really was; and lastly, in panel 28, above, you get a killer shot of Zsa Zsa Gabor, who, believe it or not, was already nearly forty at the time and had been married three times on the way to her final tally of nine.

Looking at all these pages and visiting the accompanying links, you perhaps get a sense of how the mid-century tabloid industry was fueled by handout photos, with all the publications using the same shots but concocting editorial angles to create the illusion that the images were exclusive. But in Carnival’s case, it does seem to have published many of these images first. It billed itself as “a magazine of excitement”, and we have to agree. It’s also a magazine that, because of its tightly bound construction, we had to destroy in order to scan. But even though this particular issue of Carnival is now only loose leaves scattered across the room, there are other issues out there, and we’ll have some of them later, hopefully.  

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
April 18
1923—Yankee Stadium Opens
In New York City, Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, opens with the Yankees beating their eternal rivals the Boston Red Sox 4 to 1. The stadium, which is nicknamed The House that Ruth Built, sees the Yankees become the most successful franchise in baseball history. It is eventually replaced by a new Yankee Stadium and closes in September 2008.
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