Vintage Pulp | Musiquarium Aug 14 2009
DIRTY LOWDOWN
Tabloid pretended concern for singer’s career, but it was all a ruse.

On the cover of this August 1955 issue of the tabloid Lowdown the editors get confrontational with the then-governor of Michigan, G. Mennen Williams. The story involves chart-topping singer Johnnie Ray, who in June 1951 was convicted of propositioning a man in the restroom of a Detroit burlesque house called the Stone Theatre. Lowdown’s insistence upon a pardon for the singer is simply a backdoor way of airing out the scandal while pretending to crusade on his behalf. How do we know that was Lowdown's intent? Simple—because any tabloid worthy of labeling itself such would have known Ray was bisexual. He pled guilty on that solicitation charge without even bothering to bring a lawyer to court, and his sexual involvement with both halves of the husband-wife comedy team of Bob Mitchell and Jay Grayton was not exactly a state secret. On stage Ray was an emotional singer whose antics earned him the nicknames the Prince of Wails (for his unrestrained style) and the Nabob of Sob (for his tendency to burst into tears), so even if his fans didn’t realize he was bi, they certainly understood that macho was not his stock-in-trade. Which meant, in the end, he had a nice career even with the tabs dogging his heels. He scored numerous big hits, including “Cry” in 1951, and “You Don’t Owe Me a Thing” in 1957. But even if Ray was impervious to slander, some of Lowdown’s other victims were less fortunate. We'll discuss some of them in the future.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 05
1939—U.S. Declares Neutrality in WW II
The Neutrality Acts, which had been passed in the 1930s when the United States considered foreign conflicts undesirable, prompts the nation to declare neutrality in World War II. The policy ended with the Lend-Lease Act of March 1941, which allowed the U.S. to sell, lend or give war materials to allied nations.
1972—Munich Massacre
During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, a paramilitary group calling itself Black September takes members of the Israeli olympic team hostage. Eventually the group, which represents the first glimpse of terrorists for most people in the Western world, kill eleven of the hostages along with one West German police officer during a rescue attempt by West German police that devolves into a firefight. Five of the eight members of Black September are also killed.
September 04
1957—U.S. National Guard Used Against Students
The governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, mobilizes the National Guard to prevent nine African-American students known as the Little Rock Nine from enrolling in high school in Little Rock, Arkansas.
September 03
1941—Auschwitz Begins Gassing Prisoners
Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of Nazi Germany's concentration camps, becomes an extermination camp when it begins using poison gas to kill prisoners en masse. The camp commandant, Rudolf Höss, later testifies at the Nuremberg Trials that he believes perhaps 3 million people died at Auschwitz, but the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum revises the figure to about 1 million.

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