|Hollywoodland | Sex Files||Mar 13 2013|
We’re jumping right into our treasure trove of newly arrived tabloids today with a glance at this issue of The Lowdown published in March 1965. On the cover you see Jean Harlow, Carroll Baker, and Ed Sullivan. We talked about Baker recently and there she is in that crazy gown again (below)—or is she? No, on close examination this is yet another version of the dress. Clearly, the photo was shot on a different night than all the others because her hair and jewelry are different. But the actual dress also looks slightly different from both the Oleg Cassini and Pierre Balmain iterations. A reference in the story clears things up at least a little: “Transparency gowns are another of her big passions and she often wears them.” There you have it. Half naked was a fairly standard look for Carroll Baker. They just don’t make stars like they used to.
You might be curious what the article is about. On the cover the header reads: “The Night Carroll Baker Played a Call Girl,” but on the inside, it says: “The Night Carroll Baker Played a Harlot!” The story goes that she wanted to research her role as a prostitute in the movie Sylvia, so sheventured down to Tijuana, Mexico, toured a few brothels, and somehow disappeared alone for two hours: “We don’t know what happened in the house in Mexico or what sights she could have barged in on, but that is bouncy Miss Baker’s bit.” Lost in a Mexican whorehouse. The mind reels. Do we buy it? Not for a minute.
What was the comedy? Harlow said nothing to the press. But according to Arthur Landau, she told him Paul Bern had spent $200 on a device to increase his manhood. Wearing the contraption he had entered their bedroom intent on finally consummating their marriage. This hope was doomed from the start and the whole plan turned into such a tragic farce that both he and Jean finally gave way to hysterical laughter. That’s probably one of the sadder stories you’ll ever hear. Is it true? It appeared in a biography about Harlow, but we can never know. We can, however, at least answer the question posed by The Lowdown’s story header. No—Jean Harlow’s sex life was not hot at all.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Jan 8 2013|
The cheapie American tabloid National Informer warns on this cover from today in 1968 that too much sex can drive you insane. We would think the opposite is true, but the article quotes the eminent (or perhaps entirely fictional) Dr. Frans Hersen, head of the renowned (or fictional) American Sex Institute: We visited mental hospitals looking for sex problems related to a totally different study and suddenly noticed that many of the cases in the various institutions were all related to TOO MUCH SEX (emphasis theirs). So there you go—the science is clear. We have plenty more National Bulletin tucked away inside Pulp Intl. and you can see those by starting here.
|Sex Files||Jan 4 2013|
There’s an interesting item making the rounds today, not strictly pulp, but worth a mention. Apparently a 1684 sex manual entitled Aristotle’s Compleat Master Piece will be offered for sale by Lyon and Turnbull auctioneers in Edinburgh, Scotland. The book, which was written in English and published there but banned until the 1960s, is part reference guide, part medical manual, and part anti-sex screed. For example, while the text offers suggestions for sexual enjoyment, and contains medical style drawings, it also warns couples what can happen if children are conceived in sin—namely that it would be born covered with hair or that Siamese twins would result. The author of the Compleat Master Piece is not known, but it's clear nothing Aristotle wrote made it into the text. Which could be considered a good thing. Great thinker and all, certainly smarter than we’ll ever be, but nobody’s perfect, and he whiffed badly a few times when it came to sex. Like for instance, he believed testicles were merely weights, and semen was produced from blood via body heat, with the best stuff coming from the area around the eyes. Given the choice, maybe we’ll take our sex advice from the anonymous hack. Auctioneers expect the book to fetch up to $650.
|Sex Files||Dec 31 2012|
New Year’s Eve is always a time of revelry, partying, and cringeworthy attempts to turn friendly midnight kisses into full blown sexual escapades, so what better day of the year to share this vintage 1931 condom box from Sheik? The Sheik company was founded by a half-paralyzed German immigrant named Julius Schmid, who arrived in New York City in 1884 at age seventeen and whose first job was as a—wait for it—sausage maker. Inspired by stuffing meat into animal intestines, he used the same principle to create his first condoms.
At first he sold exclusively from his apartment, and because all contraception was illegal in the U.S. at the time, he billed his skins as “French goods and medicines.” They were incredibly popular, because childbirth was dangerous and forcing women to be baby factories had serious impacts on their longevity. By the time condoms were made legal in 1918 Schmid was uniquely positioned to dominate the market. He became the official condom supplier to the U.S. military, launched the Ramses condom brand, and by the 1930s was sitting on a multi-million dollar fortune.
We were surprised to see similar Sheik condom tins online with fifty-dollar asking prices, but then a little spin around the interwebs informed us that these prices are driven by collectors. Yes, people actually collect these things. Presumably, they make great conversation pieces. With this one you really get your money’s worth, because it contains one unused, still-in-its-wrapper Sheik condom, as reliable and efficacious as the day it was manufactured. Okay, maybe not.
Happy 2013, pulpsters. We have plenty of lovely surprises planned for the upcoming year, so please keep dropping by. Our traffic has just about recovered from the erasure of our database earlier this year by the domain-company-that-shall-not-be-named, and each and every one of your visits is truly appeciated. Tomorrow, assuming we aren't hung over, we'll get back to posting pages from the Goodtime Weekly Calendar, so look forward to that. Okay, guess that's it for now. Have fun tonight, be safe in every way, and remember, when it comes time for that midnight kiss, fortune favors the bold.
|Sex Files||Dec 14 2012|
Pulp, sleaze, sexploitation, porn—they’re all related. Ginger Lynn Allen falls unambiguously into the latter category. She began her adult film career in 1983, dropping her last name and becoming simply Ginger Lynn. She quickly became the biggest star in porn. No surprise there—she was skinny, had a wild blonde mane perfect for the hair metal era, and was pretty, not just for porn, but in any milieu. In a donut shop. In a dorm room. In a convertible. On a beach. She fit everywhere. Her enthusiastic performances were a bonus. The above poster was made for 1984’s I Want It All. The movie didn’t make it to Japan until 1990, but the fact that it made it at all shows the scope of Ginger Lynn’s fame. She was born fifty years ago today.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Nov 15 2012|
The National Insider was a second tier tabloid, but even it sometimes got the facts correct. The headline on this cover is true—Diana Dors did have a two-way mirror in the bedroom ceiling of her house in Maidenhead, just outside London. Insider didn’t break the story. Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World had done that six years earlier and had shared all the tawdry details with British readers in a heavy breathing 12-week serial. But a good sex story can always be reprised, so Insider decided to dredge the details up again for American readers today in 1964.
At age nineteen Diana Dors had married a man named Dennis Hamilton, who turned out to be a paranoid, violent, and domineering louse who smacked her around and took over the management of her career. Professionally, he steered her away from serious drama into fluff cinema, while privately he initiated her into a life of sex parties and voyeurism. In addition to the two-way mirror in the bedroom ceiling, there were also assorted 8mm motion picture cameras scattered around the house so they could film their bacchanals and later review the action in their leisure time.
So there you have it. Whether Dennis Hamilton unleashed something in Diana Dors or she was always a voyeur party animal we don’t know. Or maybe it was a little of both, exacerbated by her reaching the height of fame as the prim fifties gave way to the swinging sixties. Interestingly, most of the information about the wild parties came from Dors herself at first. It wasn’t until after she died of cancer at age 52 that other people spoke up. But they were often kind with respect to Dors. That could be for many reasons, but we like to think of it this way: they must have had an awfully good time at those parties.
|Sex Files||Oct 9 2012|
1972’s Behind the Green Door was considered part of a porno chic movement—along with Devil in Miss Jones and Deep Throat—that brought porn into the mainstream. That mainstream now amounts to several billion dollars in profit a year, or as much as $97 billion, depending on whom you believe. But of course, profit and consumption are two different things. Most porn is consumed for free. But as to how widely viewed it really is, ask yourself this—what would you think of someone who claimed they had never seen a porno movie? The answer to that question tells you how pervasive it really is. The above poster, which features Marilyn Chambers symbolically wearing a pearl necklace arranged in a not-so-symbolic X, was produced for Behind the Green Door’s Japanese run, which began today in 1976.
|Sex Files||Jul 27 2012|
So, here’s the Robert Mitchum booklet cited in the July 1957 Hush-Hush in the above post. The article describes it as the lowest form of filth and its maker or makers as degenerate profiteers. Pretty hard to argue with that. Consider it a warning. It’s called Goof Butts, and it references Mitchum’s arrest for marijuana possession in 1948. Assuming the creators of the book wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so to speak, they probably published it around the same time. Enjoy.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Apr 2 2012|
In December 1965 in Essex County, New Jersey, local police raided a large home on 850 Lake Street in suburban Newark where they suspected illegal sexual activity was taking place. A detective entered first and met the house’s owner, a Dutch-born former nurse named Monique Von Cleef. The two had reached the point where she had donned a leather jumpsuit and he had stripped to his boxer shorts. At that moment the cops that had been waiting outside stormed into the house. They found that the entire three-story building had been set-up to service practitioners of sado-masochism. Von Cleef had been running the place for years, and had made a nice business out of punishing submissives—among them doctors, local officials, and many New York businessmen. According to court documents, her file cabinet contained 2,000 names.
The story exploded across America—virtually nobody had ever imagined a bdsm lifestyle existed in the U.S. The house on Lake Street was given several nicknames by the media, but “House of Pain” is the one that stuck. When the above April 1966 issue of Confidential appeared, Monique Von Cleef was facing trial and staring a prison sentence in the face. However to prosecutors’ chagrin, she couldn’t be brought up for prostitution, so they opted for a raft of charges related to lewd conduct, and one charge of possessing obscene materials. Von Cleef was convicted, but saw the decision overturned on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. Many accounts of the legal proceedings suggest thatpowerful men on her client list of 2,000 (or 10,000, if you believe Confidential) exerted influence on her behalf. The truth is her conviction was overturned after justices noted that the police had neglected to obtain a search warrant. The fact that previous appeals had glossed over this fact is actually indicative of how much influence was arrayed against Von Cleef. In any case, the Supreme Court decision made every piece of evidence police had obtained inadmissible. Without those items there was no proof of lewd conduct on the premises, and Von Cleef had never touched the detective.
Von Cleef had been free during this process, using her notoriety to financial advantage. In San Francisco, billed as the Queen of Humliation, she had been giving onstage orations/performances about sado-masochism at a North Beach nightclub called Coke’s. As her case was reaching the Supreme Court, U.S. Immigration was working to deport her—a threat of which Von Cleef was well aware. Thus when she won her appeal and the order came through shortly thereafter to ship her back to her native Netherlands, she had already left the U.S. illegally. Some claim that influential former clients were involved in her deportation, wanting her out of the States where she could do them no harm. That’s possible, but telephones, teletypes, and televisions reached all the way to Holland back then, which meant that if she had wanted to expose her clients she could just as easily have done it from there. She was deported because that’s what U.S. authorities have always done to alien felons. In Von Cleef’s case, though she had won her appeal, she had overstayed her visa.
American tabloids soon moved on to other diversions, and American society followed suit, but Von Cleef maintained a high profile internationally. She opened another dungeon, became a Baroness, wrote a book, appeared in a documentary, and traveled the world promoting her lifestyle. She died in Antwerp, Belgium in 2005, a woman who had gone from nurse to dominatrix, underground to overexposed, and ridden the crazy carousel of American jurisprudence, yet in the end survived and even thrived. One might ask how it was possible, but it seems clear that within her community she was revered from almost the moment she entered it, and she probably enjoyed copious moral and financial support through all her travails. The website dominafiles.com explains best how loyal Von Cleef’s followers were: “What her antagonists didn’t realize was that once an affluent masochist heard about Monique, no matter how, he would travel almost anywhere to see her.”
|Hollywoodland | Sex Files||Feb 17 2012|
Every year, a raft of Hollywood tell-alls hits the newsstands, all claiming to be filled with juicy revelations, with only a scant few actually delivering on that promise. Scotty Bowers' newly published Tinseltown memoir Full Service seems to fall into the latter group. Bowers was a World War II vet-turned-bartender who arrived in Hollywood in 1946 and quickly found that his striking looks opened doors for him. Those doors allegedly led to the bedrooms of such varied personages as Edith Piaf, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Vivien Leigh, and the Duke of Windsor.
Bowers soon became known on the Hollywood fast track as a guy who could arrange trysts for stars too cautious or too shy to manage it themselves, and located sexual partners for Vincent Price, Katherine Hepburn, Rock Hudson and scores of others. Some of his claims are just jawdropping. Among them: he says he procured about 150 women for Katherine Hepburn, had threesomes with Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, and learned Spencer Tracy was bi-sexual only when, in a drunken stupor, the star "began nibbling on my foreskin."
There's always a degree of scepticism aroused by books like these, but Full Service dovetails with rumors that have been floating around Hollywood for decades, and has been endorsed by Gore Vidal, who claims to have been privvy to much of what Bowers describes and has called the book "as revelation filled as Hollywood Babylon." Predictably, the relatives of some of the stars mentioned in the book are not happy with its content, but Bowers steers clear of any true libel and probably can't be sued. As to why it took him so long to reveal his many secrets, he said in an interview with the New York Times, "I'm not getting any younger and all my famous tricks are dead by now. The truth can't hurt them anymore."