Mondo Bizarro Jun 28 2016
BIOLOGY HAPPENS
Why, it's relativity, my dear.


It's Happening was a blaxploitation tabloid, which made it a unique player on the market. However, the stories inside were the same as those you'd find in other tabs. Here you see the paper jump on the forced sex bandwagon with a cover from today in 1970 informing readers that a man raped his own wife, who was his daughter, who was his granddaughter. Try to wrap your head around that one. The story is that an orphaned girl passes her much younger sister off as her daughter in order to make her a legal dependent, and the fake-but-legally-recognized daughter later marries an older man she has no idea is her biological father. Thus she's the man's daughter by blood and granddaughter by law. The rape triggers the investigation that brings all this to light. The tale is, of course, bad fiction passed off as news. We have several full issues of It's Happening inside the website, and you can find those at our tabloid index here.

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Vintage Pulp May 16 2015
A HAPPENING TIME
The “news” others dare not print.

Did you think we’d run out of these? Think again. Reuben Sturman’s blaxploitation tabloid It’s Happening is back with all the required portions of nudity and provocation that a typical ’70s tab requires. This issue is undated, but it appeared in May 1970, and was number five of volume five—a fact that just blows us away, considering how fly-by-night the thing is. Inside you get centerfold June Jennings, French actress Gabriella Savoi, hot stripper Eulalie Leeds, and an exposé on the French island of Île du Levant, which is said to be a nudist haven. That’s true. Since 1931 the island had been home to Héliopolis, Europe’s first nudist town. Readers learn from an island inhabitant that, “What makes it particularly attractive to girls is that they do not have to spend enormous amounts for fashionable bikinis, loungewear, cocktail dresses, shorts, et al. All they need is a little piece of fabric to cover that intimate spot on their bodies and maybe a straw hat to protect them against the sun.” We’d guess they also need a keen appreciation for middle-aged horndogs with grey chest hair, who'd be looking around wondering why 90% of the beach's inhabitants were men exactly like them. We have fourteen scans from It's Happening below. This is the fifth issue we’ve shared, and you can find the others at our tabloid index here.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 18 2014
AS IT HAPPENS
Despite appearances It’s Happening is the same under the skin as every other 70s tabloid.


Has it really been two years since we last posted an issue of It’s Happening? So it seems, and here we are, bringing back this black-themed 1970s publication today, when the U.S. is in the midst of one of its periodic racial upheavals. The timing is a fluke—this is an August issue always destined to be posted this month—but we’re reminded by the existence of It’s Happening that racial discord has always generated easy profits for a cynical few media moguls. In this case the head cynic is Reuben Sturman, a clever fox who eventually built a pornography empire his future prosecutors would describe as the largest in America. That description is unconfirmable today (and probably then, too), but there’s no doubt his holdings were vast.
 
It’s Happening of the 1960s was a bold publication, but by the time this issue appeared it was not dissimilar to other cheapie tabloids. It printed stories about the virile black lovers of white housewives and starlets, or the sporting conquests of black athletes, or current news that skirted actual journalism, but it did not—crucially for a black newspaper—spend time on important issues like police misconduct, advocacy for social change, or any other subject that might have branded it a political paper. Published during a time of constant social turbulence, it doubtless attracted the eyeballs of those looking for something radical and bold. Those readers would have been satisfied with the earlier It’s Happening, but not with the later version.

So once we take bold and radical off the table, the main two differences left between 1970s It’s Happening and other tabloids were its placement of African Americans on every cover, and its deliberate marketing to black America. Even this went only so far—by now about a fifth of each issue had nothing specific to do with the black community at all. These would be stories about white celebs, or maybe weird crimes in some European enclave. So, it was a black paper, yes, but one that had learned not to alienate. A white consumer who liked a typical cheapie tab like, say, Midnight, would have found 1970s It’s Happening comfortingly familiar. We have some scans below, and you can see more of the same in our previous posts here, here, and here

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Reader Pulp Jul 19 2012
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY SLEAZE
All citizens possess unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of tabloid depravity.

Earlier this year, the website Darwination sent us two copies of the American tabloid It’s Happening. We posted the first in May, and today we have the second issue. As we pointed out before, the publication was dreamt up by Reuben Sturman, a Cleveland-born son of Russian immigrants who realized that the lack of a cheapie tabloid aimed at black readers represented a large—and potentially profitable—hole in the market. True, there had been the magazine Hep during the 1950s, but that had been a glossy tabloid. And true, Sturman had already delved into African-American erotica with his magazine Tan N’ Terrific, but that had been a photo digest. It’s Happening—provocative, humorous, but mostly plain ludicrous—was what Sturman came up with. See below, and see here. 

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Reader Pulp May 15 2012
UNEXPECTED HAPPENING
It takes a village—or at least help from Darwination—to uncover the facts behind mid-century tabloids.

A lot of e-mails of late. Here’s one we got at the end of last week:
 
I noticed your recent post on It’s Happening and have just a bit of information for you. It was edited shortly by Michael Resnick, SF writer, and was indeed produced by Joe Sturman, younger brother of Reuben Sturman. I’ve scanned a couple issues, edited by my pal McCoy.
 
It’s truly a wild, wild tabloid. I’ve got a few more unscanned issues in my collection. I’ll let you know if I ever get more of them scanned. Tabloids are an area of interest of mine, as they are sort of a cultural id and I've scanned a good number of them (though I've never blogged on the subject). It’s almost crazy to think that some of the ones in the 70s were in the checkout line, considering how over the top outrageous they are. Keep up the great work on your blog. I intend to give it a good looking over and will give it a link in my sidebar at Darwination Scans.

Cheers,

Beau

Thanks, Beau. We knew someone had info on the publishers. The Sturmans were the sons of immigrant Russians who had settled in Cleveland. Older brother Reuben was for a time one of the most prolific distributors of pornographic magazines in America; little brother Joe published sleaze books and ran three tabloid imprints—National Times, Truth, and It’s Happening. While Reuben was neck deep in all sorts of shady goings on, Joe did not like the sleaze business, and got out of it as soon as he was able. We will explore these two men at a later date, because what we’ve read so far is thoroughly pulp worthy.

Darwination didn't just point us toward the info we related above, but even sent over a couple of issues of It’s Happening. While we assumed the facts about the mag were known by somebody out there, we did not expect anyone to have actual issues. However, we’re not surprised that of all people, it’s the person behind Darwination that does. Everyone with an interest in mid-century magazines should cruise by Darwination and check out the great collection there. It’s tabloids and much more. Below are some choice pages from that issue of It’s Happening that Beau sent over. We’ll share his second issue soon, and we have two more issues of our own to scan and share. 

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Vintage Pulp May 2 2012
WHAT'S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN?
Can’t we all just get along? Apparently not, if It’s Happening has anything to say about it.

There came a moment around 1970 in the U.S. when movie producers realized that African-Americans liked cinema too, and tailoring content to serve their tastes might prove profitable. But they did it on the cheap, with heavy-handed writers, inexperienced directors, and untested actors. The genre known as blaxploitation was the result. While the films were putatively black, the money behind them was almost always white, or at least establishment. Well, the same thing happened around the same time with at least one tabloid. Above is a May 1969 cover for It’s Happening.

So, what do you get here? The cover says it’s “the news others dare not print,” but basically, it’s the same as tabs like National Informer and Midnight, only with that added black/white spice on every page. But this is not ebony and ivory together forever in perfect harmony like Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney once sang. Who’d buy such a newspaper? No, Americans prefer to lay down their hard earned coin for fear, strife, anger, rape and pillage. The stories, in classic ’70s tabloid fashion, are basically flights of editorial fancy matched to whatever handout photos happened to be languishing in the file cabinet. Thus we learn about a white mom seducing black boys, a black beauty’s boobs that put a potential white rapist in a trance, and so forth. We don’t think it’s black published. Why? Well, for one thing, the noun usage is suspect, as in the back page story headlined: Sports Scene Now Belongs to the Blacks. If you were black, would you refer to yourself as “the blacks”?

We managed to score a few of these, and there’s no publication information in any of the issues, in fact no masthead at all—which we think lends credence to our suspicion that it was put together by a bunch of snickering yuppies in some garage in suburbia—but we’ll see if we can ferret out the paper’s provenance. Whoever put it out, we’re certain they saw it as satire, and imagined it would, in a decade or two, be remembered as a humorous artifact of a forgotten, racially divided age. Hah hah. Joke’s on them. Here we are, nearly half a century later, and it’s pretty clear that we humans are not intelligent to the extent that we can conquer the hatreds that divide us. Isn't that just hilarious? Er, maybe not. You can see another It's Happening here, and we have more coming soon.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 3 2011
MAKING IT HAPPEN
Pulp Intl. vaults soon to include more rare tabloids.

If you’ve spent any time on this website at all, you know one of our primary activities is exploring mid-century tabloids—revisiting the stories, detailing the crimes and scandals, and getting reacquainted with yesteryear’s elite celebs, as well as some almost forgotten fringe personalities. We have, beyond doubt, the most extensive online repository of these tabloids, and the imprints range from exploitative to just plain bizarre. As the 1960s wore on publishers became more diverse in an attempt to capture what marketers like to call niche audiences. So a tabloid focusing on the black experience finally came into being in the form of It’s Happening, whose slogan was “The news others dare not print.” We’ll soon be able to judge that for ourselves, because we ordered some of these via the trusty international mails and will be getting them soon-ish (unless they disappear into some postal vortex like that last batch of Adams we bought). Anyway, if all goes well you can look forward to some detailed looks at It’s Happening in the months ahead. The above cover, which we found at an online auction site, is from October 1969. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 26
1936—First Helicopter Flight
In Berlin, Germany, in a sports stadium, Ewald Rohlfs takes the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 on its first flight. It is the first fully-controllable helicopter, featuring two counter rotating rotors mounted on the chassis of a training aircraft. Only two are ever produced, and neither survive today.
1963—John F. Kennedy Visits Berlin
22 months after East Germany erects the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement between East and West Berlin, John F. Kennedy visits West Berlin and speaks the famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner." Suggestions that Kennedy misspoke and in reality called himself a jelly donut are untrue.
June 25
2009—Farrah Fawcett Dies
American actress Farrah Fawcett, who started as a model but became famous after one season playing detective Jill Munroe on the television show Charlie's Angels, dies after a long battle with cancer.
June 24
1938—Chicora Meteor Lands
In the U.S., above Chicora, Pennsylvania, a meteor estimated to have weighed 450 metric tons explodes in the upper atmosphere and scatters fragments across the sky. Only four small pieces are ever discovered, but scientists estimate that the meteor, with an explosive power of about three kilotons of TNT, would have killed everyone for miles around if it had detonated in the city.
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