|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Jan 16 2012|
In our continuing search for rare magazines of high entertainment value (if sometimes dubious quality), we stumbled across the above gem—the first issue of the self-described sexploitation film graphic Flick. Published in the U.S. out of Libertyville, Illinois, it was basically just reviews of x-rated films in tabloid form. The publishers admit in their introductory editorial that the tabloid market is glutted, but insist America needs a magazine that helps porn consumers separate the wheat from the chaff. They do it with utter seriousness and, as a bonus, also throw in some musings on film history, with discussions of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Theda Bara, Jean Harlow, and Hedy Lamarr, who all had pre-Hays Code flirtations with screen nudity.
It might be difficult to imagine actors appearing nude on screen during the 1920s and 1930s, but the idea back then was that, because the medium was considered an art form, motion picture nudity was no different from nudity in sculpture, photography or painting. Theda Bara's and Jean Harlow’s screen nudity was merely implied, but Hedy Lamarr went all the way in her 1933 Czech-made romance Ekstase, aka Ecstasy, in which she ran starkers through the woods, giving audiences a gander at her backside and breasts. She was known at the time as Hedy Kiesler, but it’s her. There’s also a non-nude love scene containing what some critics believe is the first cinematic depiction of an orgasm. As you can imagine, Ekstase was controversial. Only four-hundred prints were ever made, and most of those were butchered by censors. By the 1940s, the only complete copy known to exist was in Russia. It had first been Hungarian property and had been exhibited in Budapest in ’33, but because the Hungarians had fought alongside Nazi Germany and helped conquer swaths of Russian territory in the early 1940s, when the Russians reversed those gains and occupied Budapest in 1944, they sort of helped themselves to a few choice cultural treasures.
Elsewhere in this inaugural Flick you get reviews of the adult films A Hard Man’s Good To Get, Sisters in Leather, College Girls, and Jack Hill’s first full-length effort Mondo Keyhole. The editors remind readers that their magazine is a collector’s item. At the time—January 1970—they probably imagined it would be quite valuable in forty-one years. Well, we got it for $4.00. But just for the hell of it, maybe we’ll hang onto it for another forty-one years. You never know. By the way, if you’re curious, you can actually see that famous Hedy Lamarr nude scene here. It is not a complete version, though. We doubt a complete one exists. See ten scans from Flick below.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Sep 2 2011|
Virginia McManus, who you see above having a smoke, stars on the cover of this September 1959 Confidential because she transformed from a New York City teacher into an expensive Manhattan call girl. Her fame was typically short-lived in the tabloid universe, but it was hardly usual in its details. McManus was a child prodigy, scion of a well-to-do Chicago family. She moved to New York when she got a job as a substitute biology teacher at Brooklyn’s William Maxwell Vocational High School. But the job didn’t pay well, and she had a difficult relationship with her parents that precluded asking for money, so McManus made the decision to sell sex. She was arrested for prostitution in October 1958, but acquitted of the charges. The arrest did nothing to deter her—quite the contrary, she gave up teaching and became a full time lady of the evening, eventually partnering with a woman named Beatrice Garfield, whose midtown Manhattan apartment was their base of operations. In February 1959 police raided that apartment and found a nude McManus entertaining two businessmen. This time she was convicted and served three months in New York’s Women’s House of Detention.
In Confidential, she reveals that half the women in her jail were lesbians, and that confinement actually made their lives easier, at least in terms of hooking up without public scorn and legal risk. She was making an important point, but of course it read like something right out of a sleaze pulp novel, and the public ate it up. McManus, understanding the financial opportunity being presented, wasn’t long in writing a book. That book, entitled Not for Love, was published the next year and explained how a child prodigy who could read the Bible at age three and earned a Master’s Degree in literature became a hooker. There were several fascinating passages: she admitted that prostitution had been an easy transition for her because she had always been promiscuous, writing, “I had been able to go to bed with five men, all complete strangers, without guilt or horror or even as much revulsion as I had anticipated.” She described some of the other call girls, and how their emotional fragility led to depression and drug abuse, and revealed that, “Inwardly, I hadn’t changed a bit. These “girls” have not matured into adult women, despite the nature of their activities.”
The book was an instant bestseller, and for a time the erudite McManus was everywhere. The woman who spoke so frankly about her experiences in the sex trade, and who had written that, "My father was a shadowy figure in my life, scarcely distinguishable from any other big man with a hat and cigar," was a case study for everyone from Freudians to feminists. But this was New York City, after all, where there were so many scandals and so little time. Eventually, she was pushed from the front pages, the bestseller list, and finally from memory. Today, save for a few copies of her book that appear on auction sites, little trace of her exists in the historical record.
|Sex Files | Swindles & Scams||Aug 8 2011|
Yesterday, an Argentinian memorabilia dealer named Mikel Barsa attempted to auction what he says is an 8mm porn reel starring Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe. According to Barsa, who represents anonymous sellers that priced the film at $480,000 but got nothing when no bidders emerged, Monroe was broke at the time and had no choice but to parlay sex for money. This would have been presumably 1946 or 1947, when Monroe was indeed known to be broke and had indeed posed nude. However spokespeople for Monroe’s estate have come forward and pronounced the porno a fraud. But they would say that, wouldn't they? So we got hold of a low-rez copy of the flick in order to assess it ourselves. In it the alleged Monroe strips, plays with a dildo, and engages in a little 69 with a male partner before moving on to the main event. Afterward the pair have a smoke and a laugh. It doesn’t take a photographic expert to see that the woman involved doesn't resemble Monroe very closely. The hairline is wrong, the facial proportions are way out in left field, the breasts are not the ones that so thrilled Playboy readers when she appeared as the magazine's first centerfold, and there’s what looks like a hysterectomy scar we’re pretty sure Monroe didn’t have. We’ve posted some screen captures below so you can see for yourself how obvious this scam is. But don’t be too hard on Mr. Barsa and his associates. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—in a culture that values money above all things, you can’t be surprised what people will do to get it.
|Sex Files||May 3 2011|
The infamous Profumo Affair exploded onto British front pages during the spring and summer of 1963, outing Secratary of State for War John Profumo’s affair with the call girl Christine Keeler, and leading directly to his humiliation and resignation. More than a year later the other call girl at the center of the scandal—Mandy Rice-Davies—was promoting a tell-all book about her time in the sex trade. It was called The Mandy Report and on the cover of Confidential from May 1964, we see Rice-Davies holding the book and looking pretty darn pleased with herself.
The Mandy Report was actually rather cleverly formatted as a tabloid-style magazine, and inside Rice-Davies claimed to have spent quality time with the likes of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Mitchum, Bob Hope, George Hamilton and many others. Mostly, the men denied it, of course, but to paraphrase Rice-Davies herself: “Well, they would, wouldn’t they?” Call us prejudiced, but we tend to believe women about situations like these, even when they happen to be trying to drum up sales.
We don't know how many copies The Mandy Report eventually sold, but the fact that it's still widely available online might be an indication that it did okay. Later in life, Rice-Davies stayed in the spotlight, acting in film and television. That’s her below, relaxing on a beach on Majorca circa 1963, and if you're curious you can read a bit more about the Profumo Affair at an earlier post, here.
|Politique Diabolique | Sex Files||Apr 7 2011|
In Italy it has to be one of the biggest trials in history. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is facing charges that he paid for sex with a then-underaged prostitute on thirteen separate occasions, and afterward used his power to cover it up. Both Berlusconi and the woman—known as Ruby, but born Karima El Mahroug in Morocco—deny hooking up, but Italian prosecutors claim to possess a wealth of wiretap evidence that will help them prove otherwise. The trial began yesterday, but that initial session lasted only seven minutes before being adjourned. Proceedings will resume in May, and eventually 20,000 pages of evidence will be presented and forty women will be called as prosecution witnesses. Meanwhile the defense witness list includes assorted attendees of Berlusconi’s many parties, including American actor George Clooney, Venezuelan model Aida Yespica, Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, Portuguese football god Cristiano Ronaldo, and a who’s-who of jetsetters, television stars, and showgirls.
Berlusconi didn’t attend yesterday’s court session, and has maintained all along that the event is a politically-motivated set-up. Which prompts us to point out that Berlusconi has been surrounded by scandal since way before he became prime minister. Perhaps that’s why in 2008 he pushed through a law granting himself immunity from prosecution while in office. That law was finally overturned last year, paving the way for what Italiansare calling the “bunga bunga” trial. Berlusconi claims that his famous parties are not bacchanals, as portrayed in the tabloid press, but rather “convivial, elegant soirées of food and song.” Of course, bacchanals are always convivial and elegant on the surface, and remain that way to 99% of the guests. But in a private room upstairs the host’s closest homies and associates are slurping MDMA-spiked Taittinger blanc out of giggling models’ navels. How do we know? Because one of us worked at Playboy before running away to the developing world—which is to say, we know whereof we speak.
We don’t think there’s any doubt that political motivations play a part in Berlusconi’s prosecution, but frankly, we don’t blame his enemies—the man is an international embarrassment. Not because he sleeps with showgirls and models fifty years younger than him—we’d all do that if we could. What? Oh, don’t give us that shit. Of course you would. And to our female readers—yes, you would do the same with a twenty-two-year-old Calvin Klein Jeans model. Or even two of them. No, Berlusconi’s a joke because the same planetoid-sized ego that’s convinced him he’s getting all this trim because of his charm and looks has also convinced himhe can portray his country as one where public office is a farce. Or put another way—part of a prime minister’s job is to bring credibility to a nation, and if he hates that fact, he should step down. True, he wouldn’t be able to funnel models and dancers into cabinet positions, but at least as a civilian his sex life would once again be private (and the public wouldn't have to hear about about the septuagenarian heaving atop some poor teenager like a walrus). In any case, whether Berlusconi returns to civilian life may no longer be his choice. Much of the public despise him, and are calling for his resignation. And even assuming he does secure an acquittal, he faces three more trials on a variety of corruption charges.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Feb 16 2011|
A while back we promised to dig up some more info on Tijuana bibles, and today, prompted by an e-mail we received, we’ve decided to share a bit of what we learned. By at least one estimate, more than two-thousand different bibles were published in the U.S. between 1930 and 1950. They were copied and sold, spreading from city to city, distributed from dealer to dealer and dealer to customer in exactly the same fashion as illicit drugs. According to author and critic R.C. Harvey, many young men actually learned about sex from these books, or at least learned there were more variations than they had imagined. And cultural critic Gershon Legman believes that mainstream comic books evolved from Tijuana bibles.
In that e-mail we mentioned, we were asked about a bible cover we posted called Sex Slave. Would it be possible to post the entire book? Sure, no problem, we’ve posted it below. When was it made? No copyright, sorry, but since Elvis stars we can assume it was sometime after he achieved true fame, so let’s say post-1955. That’s also after the TJ bible heyday, which may be why Sex Slave deviates from the normal eight-page format. It’s also unorthodox in that it’s highly editorial, and doesn’t offer much in the way of clinical explicitness. In fact it’s almost chaste—well, as chaste as an x-rated tract about forced anal sex with the King can be. We will of course post another of these publications at a later date. In the meantime, click keyword “Tijuana bible” below to see our past offerings.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Jan 26 2011|
This January 1967 issue of Whisper digs up dirt on Gina Lollobrigida, Eddie Fisher and Connie Stevens, and tells us why Uncle Sam wants to deport a topless dancer. The latter is actually an interesting story. The topless star in question is Iranian-born burlesque dancer Yvonne d’Angers, aka Yvonne Boreta, and the reason she was being deported was for obscenity. D’Angers, who was also known by the nickname the Persian Lamb, had already been involved in a 1965 obscenity trial over the employment of topless waitresses by various San Francisco nightclubs and had gotten herself on the radar of political bluenoses scandalized by her act at the Off Broadway Club. When the deportation order came, d’Angers waged a very public battle against it and finally, in 1967, chained herself to the Golden Gate Bridge in protest. The press turned out in droves for the bizarre spectacle, and all the publicity made her nationally famous. At that point she was able to make the leap into motion pictures, appearing in 1968’s Sappho Darling, 1970’s Move with Elliot Gould, and the 1971 Russ Meyer flick The Seven Minutes. And in the end d’Angers was never deported, so, in this case at least, protest paid. So there's a lesson for all of us.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Dec 24 2010|
Nothing says happy holidays quite like National Informer Weekly Reader, which in this December 24, 1972 issue treats us to some festive recipes and expounds upon the pagan roots of modern day Christmas. But of course Reader’s mission is always to show feminine skin and it does that with typical zeal, all while using terms like “brown sugar” and “comely wench” without so much as flinching. Of all the articles, our favorite is the one promising to teach men to “deliver an extra inch” during sex via the use of proper positioning. But strangely, it isn’t actually the man that has to do all this contorting, a fact made clear by Reader’s description of a doctor at the Swedish (of course) Institute for Sex who teaches a woman to grip her ankles while standing so she can be penetrated from behind. As the experiment progresses, she becomes so excited that the doctor has to hold her in place while the man finishes up. We have to give Reader editors credit—turning a fictional medical experiment into voyeur porn could be tricky for lesser talents, but they hole it like a three-foot putt. Later in the issue we’re introduced to a 425-pound model supposedly named Fran Fullenwider. Heh. There’s one other thing that’s fuller and wider—the raft of bullshit National Informer Weekly Reader constantly floats our way. But like all good masochists we love it.
|Sex Files||Nov 5 2010|
The world famous tea shop Bettys, based in Harrogate, England, recently unveiled a vintage line of chocolates based on one of their popular selections from the 1920s. The flapper figure perched atop the original papier-mâché box has a partially unbuttoned blouse and a mischievous expression that—in our humble view, at least—is perfect for the guilty pleasure of chocolate. But when the line goes on sale later this month, the flapper will have been bounced in favor of a more conservative breed of woman. Bettys execs are quoted in various British newspapers stating their belief that the 1920s figure is too risqué, and expressing their amazement that such a box was even made back then. A Telegraph quote from a Bettys archivist sums up their view: “I am surprised at how daring the original chocolate box is for its time as there is quite a lot of flesh on display. The fact that it is still a bit risqué even nowadays shows it must have caused quite a stir.”
Bettys management may believe the original box got everybody’s knickers in a twist, but in actuality, the 1920s were a sexually open decade. It was an attitude shift that arose among those who survived the generation-killing horror known as World War I. Life was to be enjoyed, because ten million dead on the battlefields of Europe proved it could be over in a flash. But the change also had to do with the rising numbers of women going to college (thus finding themselves in less protected social environments where they could make their own sexual decisions). Studies show that in the 1920s roughly 50% of American and British women were having sex before marriage. And let's not even get the French, Dutch and Scandinavians involved. We haven't researched it, but we'd bet they were humping like rabbits. The point is, though it’s possible Bettys' suggestive flapper caused a stir, we wouldn’t assume it. And if it did, the reaction may well have been considered a boon to the product. What’s changed in 2010 is our default position—i.e., sexualization is automatically bad, even though sex is that thing we do that enables our survival. So the question becomes are we evolving to a better state, or a worse one?
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Oct 12 2010|
National Graphic from today, 1965, with actress Mary Hughes on the cover from her film How To Stuff a Wild Bikini, and inside, stories about women’s exploding behinds and doctors making virgins. The former article is about fashion, and the latter is about sexual deception, i.e. surgically reconstructing the hymen so that a woman can appease her man by bleeding on her wedding night. You can draw your own conclusions about sexual pressures in places where the procedure is popular. Those places, by the way, include the U.S.—where born-again Christian women use it to erase evidence of their sexual past.