|Vintage Pulp||Jan 18 2015|
Above is a vintage Japanese poster for Jayne Mansfield’s 1956 musical comedy The Girl Can’t Help It. They don’t make ’em like this anymore—a gangster hires a boozing agent to transform his girlfriend into a star, but the girlfriend has no talent, and the agent falls in love with her. This might be Mansfield’s most important movie due to the role it played in popularizing early rock music. For example:
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 7 2014|
Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper has published a story in which it claims infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper has been identified through DNA testing. The analysis was performed on a shawl found by police on the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of the Ripper’s canonical victims, killed on the same night as Elizabeth Stride in what is termed by Ripper scholars as “The Double Event.” The shawl had recently been bought at auction by an amateur sleuth and passed on to genetic experts, who took samples from the fabric and found matches to the DNA of descendants of Eddowes, and to the descendants of Aaron Kosminski, an original Ripper suspect who had been questioned and surveilled by police back in 1888.
The Mail has said the new evidence “puts to end the fevered speculation over the Ripper’s identity,” but we imagine independent corroboration will probably have to follow before that’s true. Kosminski was of Polish descent and had emigrated from the Russian Empire to London. Police reports from the time of the murder describe him as a serial masturbator, and indeed the Kosminski DNA sample from the shawl is thought to be semen, meaning that in the few minutes after the killing he both mutilated the corpse and ejaculated over it. Presumably more details will emerge in the coming days, but the announcement of Kosminski as the killer, if true, has to rank as one of crime history’s most significant, and may bring to a close one of its most baffling murder cases.
Update: That didn't take long. Various scientists and DNA experts say the genetic analysis done on the shawl was botched due to error of nomenclature. Instead of an extremely rare genetic match, DNA extracted from Eddowes' shawl actually matches that of most people of European descent. So forget everything we wrote above.
|Vintage Pulp||Jul 1 2014|
Marilyn Monroe shows up just about everywhere, and here she is yet again where we didn’t expect to see her—fronting a Malaysian film publication that appeared today in 1953. The magazine, called Filmalaya, is in English, which marks it as aimed at the British colonial community that occupied the upper stratum of society in Malaysia and Singapore. The cover photo is from a publicity series made when Monroe filmed the movie Niagara in Ontario, Canada in late 1952, and let’s just assume her perch is not as precarious as it seems and there’s a handy ledge or lawn behind her in case she goes heels up. But if she does, there are other stars in the magazine, such as Joan Collins, Betty Grable, Rhonda Fleming, Ava Gardner, and Nat King Cole.
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 28 2014|
We have it on good authority that Keep it Secret! is now required reading for all new employees of the National Security Agency and the cover hangs as a poster in the cafeteria. The book was written by Philip Chambers for Sexton Blake Library, which was a line of mysteries printed by London’s Amalgamated Press between 1915 and 1968, and which starred the titular Blake—a fictional British detective almost as famous as Sherlock Holmes. Over the years about two-hundred authors wrote Blake stories. Philip Chambers wrote or co-wrote seven entries in the series between 1960 and 1963, with this one appearing in 1961. The cover art is by Stefan Barany, who worked for Amalgamated on the Sexton Blake line for a couple of years but seems to have had virtually no other output. He was a very capable artist, though, based on this effort.
|Politique Diabolique||Oct 14 2013|
Over the weekend, a squad of drug cops raided the London flat of a woman named Natalie Rowe based on what they described as a “tip from a member of the public.” The drug cops found no drugs, no drug paraphernalia, no sign that drugs had ever been consumed in the apartment. Why is this such an interesting story? Because Rowe, formerly a prominent madam who procured women for paying male customers, is mere days from publishing an autobiography in which she details early 1990s sex and drug parties attended by various Tory politicians. She claims one of the politicians was current Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. He appears in the photo above with Rowe, along with what she says is a line of cocaine (in full, fat view between the yellow vase and the wine glass).
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 10 2013|
|Vintage Pulp||Aug 15 2013|
Paul Anna Soik is another great pulp artist who we hadn’t gotten to previously, but better late than never, especially when we’re talking about this particular cover. The scene is London's Soho district near Charing Cross Road, and he presents an image of two listless souls in an urban night infused with streetlight glare, marquee glow, and a sort of carnivalsque seediness. We know the location because the Palace Theatre is in the background. The book is a realistic look at vice and prostitution, and we can assume the woman here is a hooker, though an improbably upscale one to be soliciting. But Soik lived in Canada, so maybe he wasn’t all that familiar with London street trade. This is a Harlequin book, and Soik was basically a Harlequin house artist who painted numerous covers during the company’s early years. This one, which we think is one of his best, appeared in 1955. We’ll have more from him later.
|Mondo Bizarro||Aug 10 2013|
The London Metropolitan Police’s 150-year-old collection of crime artifacts, currently held in room 101 at New Scotland Yard, may open to the public in the near future if the recommendations of the Greater London Authority are followed. The GLA’s report says charging the public to view the collection could generate millions of pounds—for example, even a 90 day exhibition at could raise £4.5 million if visitors were charged £15 each. What exactly does the Met have in its possession that's worth £15 a pop? The collection, begun in 1874 as a teaching tool for rookie officers, and then called the Black Museum, contains weapons, death masks, and assorted criminal tools, as well as unique items such as the umbrella and ricin pellet used to assassinate Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978, the pots serial killer Dennis Nilsen used to boil his victims, along with some sludgelike human remains, Jack the Ripper’s infamous “From Hell” letter, and another letter he sent to London’s Central News Agency in September 1888 in which he gloated, “I am down on whores and I shan’t quit ripping them till I do get buckled.” The Museum also contains artifacts from other serial killers, including John George Haigh, John Christie, and Dr. Neil Cream. We think the items should be displayed for their historical value, but the opening of the collection is by no means a foregone conclusion. Only time will tell if the GLA’s recommendations will be met. If you want to read a detailed account of a visit to the Museum, we recommend visiting the London blog greatwen.com, where we found the above photo.
|Vintage Pulp||Jul 31 2013|
Her body drives men wild. But it isn’t Raquel Welch being quoted on the cover of this National Spotlite published today in 1967, though the juxtaposition of text makes it seem so. No, the line came from a little known actress named Donna Selby, who National Spotlite scribe Hugh Wells interviewed in London. The story is rather amusing, as Wells tells readers how Selby appeared in only a bathrobe, made a pass at him, gave him an unwanted kiss and even licked his ear. He claims to have fled the room, saying to the actress, “I predict that you’ll go places—and quickly too!” But he was wrong about that—try as we might, we can’t find mention of an actress named Donna Selby anywhere.
You have to give National Spotlite credit—unlike many middle tier tabloids of the period this one managed to actually feature relevant and semi-relevant personalities. That comes as a surprise, since it was owned by the infamous Beta Publications of Spotlite Extra and Close-Up Extra fame. But as the flagship paper, National Spotlite doubtless had a higher budget. The masthead tells us it even had offices in New York City and Montreal, which is kind of impressive. Within a few more years, though, the paper regressed to the same form as Beta’s cheaper imprints and was reduced to putting out issues like this one. Like Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, for a while National Spotlite coulda been a contenduh. It just never quite made it.
|Vintage Pulp||Jul 3 2013|
It’s a proud moment finding new material on one of the world’s most famous pin-up queens. This pocket-sized collection entitled Intimate Studies of the Fabulous Betty Page (name misspelled) was put out by Harrison Marks’ London-based Kamera Publications, Ltd. in the late 1950s. We gather that a reprint was published in the 1990s. This is not that version. It's the original. We saw one go for $172.00 on an American auction site, but this one came from Hong Kong and cost less than one tenth that amount. We managed to score some other Kamera digests too, and we’ll try to get some scans from those up at some point.