Femmes Fatales Dec 17 2013
TROPICAL FLOWER
A Lilly blooms in New Orleans.

Often mistaken by casual observers for Lili St. Cyr because of their similar names and looks, Lilly Christine, née Martha Theresa Pompender, was known in burlesque as the Cat Girl. Where Lili St. Cyr projected a regal beauty, Lilly Christine fashioned herself as a feral animal, grimacing and stalking her way through famed routines such as “Harem Heat” and “The Voodoo Dance,” performing to the sound of tribal drums and showing off the bellydancer-like control she had over her six-pack abs. You can get a sense of all that from the photos below, which come from a series shot at Leon Prima’s 500 Club in New Orleans, where Christine enjoyed her greatest fame. Strangely, though she was quite a celebrity, today she has only a modest online presence, and no uploaded video at all. Hopefully, someone out there will one day digitize a film and put it online, because she probably needs to be seen in motion to be truly appreciated. Lilly Christine died in 1965 at age forty-one and was born today, ninety years ago. 


 
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Vintage Pulp Aug 1 2012
WHAT HE SAID
He really appreciates the wilder side of life.

Last year we posted the front and back covers of an issue of He magazine. As usual, it’s taken us longer than we intended, but today we’re back with more. The above cover appeared this month in 1953 and features a masked model shot at New York City’s annual Artists Equity Ball, which, according to He, pretty much turned into an orgy. We don’t know about that, but the photos do reveal a rather racy scene. You also get shots of (we think) Rocky Marciano knocking out someone or other and lightweight champ Jimmy Carter mashing some hapless opponent’s face, photos of Laurie Anders, Lili St. Cyr, Lilly Christine, Daniele Lamar, and other celebs of the day, an amazing still of Julie Newmar, aka Julie Newmeyer, dancing in Slaves of Babylon, plus a back cover featuring highly touted but ultimately underachieving actress Mara Corday. We don’t have to bother too much with a description today, because these digest-sized magazines have text that scans large enough to be read even on small computers. So read and enjoy. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 25 2012
ADAM AND TEMPTATION
Lilly Christine appears on the debut issue of Adam to entice weak and strong alike.

The good folks at vintagegirliemags.com have posted the entirety of Adam vol. 1, issue 1, from 1956, with Lilly Christine on the cover and lots of interesting art, lit, and photography inside. Adam was one of many Playboy imitators, and one of the most fondly remembered. Since Lilly Christine was already quite famous by 1956, her appearance on the cover was a nice score for the fledgling imprint. She would appear at least one more time before her untimely death in 1965 at age forty-one. We’ve seen people try to sell this exact issue on Ebay for fifty bucks, so those with an interest in classic magazines should click over to vintagegirliemags and take advantage of this generous gift while the download link lasts. Some pages below. And if you’d like to see more of Lilly Christine, we uploaded some original scans a while back.

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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 forty of heartand 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 a dive. Since thisphoto 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 should clickover 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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Vintage Pulp Apr 5 2011
LILLIES OF THE FIELD
Where have all the flowers gone?

These are pretty cool. You're seeing the front and rear cover of He magazine, yet another American men’s publication from the 1950s. It has Lili St. Cyr on the front and Lilly Christine on the reverse. They were arguably the two most famous performers in the field of burlesque at that time. The art of burlesque has died, save for a precious few revues here and there, but you can see more Lili here and here, and more Lilly here and here. And if you missed it, our comprehensive photo post on burlesque—the first of several we'll be doing, by the way—is here. 

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Vintage Pulp Jul 2 2010
GILDING THE LILLY

Burlesque queen Lilly Christine (here referred to as Lily), on the cover of Folies de Paris et de Hollywood, looking positively radioactive thanks to some overzealous photo retouching,1956. More below.

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Intl. Notebook Jun 28 2010
INFINITE JEST
The vertical expression of horizontal desires.

Nobody really knows where the word burlesque came from—some claim its roots are the Italian and Spanish words “burla”, which mean “hoax” and “deception” respectively. We’ve also seen burla translated as “jest.” Whatever its etymological roots, the art of burlesque began in Victorian England as a type of musical variety show that satirized highbrow art forms such as opera, ballet, and costumed drama. On American soil, burlesque took similar shape, but also began to incorporate semi-clad dancers. Soon, these sexually suggestive dances became the focus of the performances, and the word burlesque became a synonym for striptease. Stars such as Sally Rand, Amy Fong and Dixie Evans became celebrity practitioners of the art. The dancers generally didn’t strip totally nude on stage, but a few, like Bettie Page, did take it all off in short burlesque films. Above is a shot of Betty Blue Eyes Howard, and below we have more assorted burlesque photos featuring some of the biggest stars of yesteryear’s striptease firmament. Of special note are Betty Rowland dancing in panel 12, and being escorted into court to face obscenity charges in panel 13, Bettie Page from one of her nude shorts in panel 20, Lilly Christine in panel 21, Lili St. Cyr in panel 22, two shots from one of Nazi Germany’s legendarily decadent mid-1930s burlesque shows in panels 23 and 24, a shot from a 1945 Tokyo burlesque show staged for American GIs in panel 25, and finally Tempest Storm in the last panel. We hope these images take the edge off those Monday blahs. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 23 2010
FLIRTY DANCING
Slave to the grind.

June 1954 issue of Uncensored entirely devoted to the art of burlesque, with legendary dancers Lili St. Cyr on the cover and in panels eleven and twenty, Chile Pepper in panel seven, Lilly Christine in panels eight through ten, and Tempest Storm in panel fourteen. Finding this magazine reminds us that we've collected quite a few vintage images of burlesque shows, so since sooner is better than later, look for us to post the entire hoard in the next few days.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 23
1936—First Edition of Life Published
Henry Luce launches Life, a weekly magazine with an emphasis on photo-journalism. Life dominates the U.S. market for more than forty years, publishing scores of iconic photographs that remain some of the most recognizable ever shot, and peaking at one point with a circulation of more than 13.5 million copies a week.
1963—Doctor Who Debuts on BBC
The BBC broadcasts the first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell as a mysterious alien who time travels in his spaceship, the TARDIS. With his companions, he explores time and space while facing a variety of foes and righting wrongs. The show would become the longest-running science fiction series ever broadcast.
November 22
1963—John F. Kennedy Is Assassinated
In Dallas, Texas, U.S. President John F. Kennedy is killed and Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded as they ride in a motorcade through Dealy Plaza. Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the schoolbook depository from which the shots were suspected to have been fired, was arrested on charges of the murder of a local police officer and was subsequently charged with the Kennedy killing. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, but was killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, before he could be indicted or tried. Today, Americans who believe JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy are routinely dismissed in the press, yet the vast majority of them believe Oswald did not act alone.
November 21
1959—Max Baer Dies
Former heavyweight boxing champ Max Baer dies of a heart attack in Hollywood, California. Baer had a turbulent career. He lost to Joe Louis in 1935, but two years earlier, in his prime, he defeated German champ and Nazi hero Max Schmeling while wearing a Star of David on his trunks. The victory was his legacy, making him a symbol to Jews, and also to all who hated Nazis.

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