Here’s a pop quiz for you, since you think you’re so damn clever. Is it better to be a live tramp or a dead loudmouth?
Harry Whittington’s The Lady Was a Tramp, aka Murder at Midnight, is the story of a man who hires a detective to solve the murder of his angelic daughter only to have the detective discover that the daughter was not such an angel after all. The book features Pat Raffigan, who is a character Whittington used often. 1951 on this, with uncredited art.
Hmm... looks like it was four or five shots that did her in—tequila most likely.
Originally published in 1945 as The Dead Lie Still, William L. Stuart’s thriller Dead Ahead is about an ex-naval intelligence officer who after the war runs afoul of a gang of local thugs. The Ace edition here appeared in 1953 and the art is by Norman Saunders. It’s a double novel, and the other side is Day Keene’s Mrs. Homicide, also with Saunders art. Twice the vice, one easy price.
Flight 69, please hold position until further advised.
We think the fabled mile high club is like the original Woodstock—400,000 people showed up, but if you count everyone who claims to have been there attendance was actually something like 8 million. If you’ve never had sex in the sky, let Paul Rader’s cover for Mike Skinner’s 1962 sleaze novel Flight into Sin inspire you (even if the cover figure hasn't gotten airborne yet). Skinner is a bit of a mystery, but we know he was credited with other books in a similar vein for Midwood, such as So Wild, The Undoing of Jenny, and The Passionate Virgin, and he seems also to have written Blondes Don’t Give a Damn as Michael Skinner for Kozy Books. As for Rader, there’s little more to add—he was one of the kings of mid-century paperback art. You can read a full bio on him here.
A new woman for a new era.
This issue of Paris Magazine features a beautiful Louis-Charles Royer cover of Ziegfeld star Claire Luce, one of the most popular celebrities of her time. Her heyday was the 1920s and ’30s, a period during which—though this is little remarked upon today—substantially more women began to have sex before marriage. By the time the first surveys took place in the 1940s about 50% of women admitted to having pre-marital sex. Anecdotally, during the 1920s probably at least one in four women had sex as singles. Claire Luce was a pioneer of the female right to choose. A mere eight-year span of her diary describes sixty lovers.
Luce very much personifies a seismic shift in the values of Western women. Many scholars say it happened because they moved into the university and the workplace around that time, and that was indeed an important factor because it brought women and men into mutual contact outside of family and church situations. But it’s clear the prime mover was the trauma of World War I and the loss of 37 million lives in a conflict that taught those who came of age around then that life could be short and joy could be fleeting. This factor is nearly always downplayed in studies of that time, though we have never understood why. It is too obvious?
Even with their numbers increasing, relatively few women were in the university and workplace. But virtually no Western family went untouched by the war. Those 37 million deaths reached deep into every town, every enclave, every social class. Nearly everyone had lost a father, a brother, an uncle, or at least a family friend. And if a loved one actually survived battle, they often returned to preach the futility of war to the generation below them—or by their mere broken presence serve as a warning. Ernest Hemingway captured this in The Sun Also Rises, which focuses on Jake, prevented by a war wound from having sex, and Lady Brett, who loves Jake but must constantly seek lovers elsewhere.
Of course, there are many factors behind any social shift, but rapid change typically derives from chaos. Ask any neo-con or disaster capitalist. The primary effect of war or warlike events upon society is to alter how it views life, death, and personal freedom. In the past, the spectre of death made people want more freedom to live as they saw fit; in our present era, traumatic events have resulted in people agreeing to sacrifice their personal freedom (thanks to powerful suggestions and hard work by opportunistic governments).
Anyway, just an interesting digression concerning Paris Magazine’s cover star. Like predecessors such as Dorothy Parker, and peers like Tallulah Bankhead, she was a sexual trendsetter, a new type of woman for a radically reordered Western world. She’s also about as pulp as it gets. We may get back to Claire Luce a bit later, but in the meantime we have a bunch of interior scans from Paris Magazine below, and more issues available at the click of a mouse. This edition, number 34, appeared in 1934.
Next time he should try thinking about baseball.
Above is a nice piece by George Erickson for Eric Allen’s Like Wild. It’s the story of a soldier of fortune who returns from Laos to find that his patch of land in Florida is coveted by a local villain. Complicating matters is the villain’s wife, who is a seductress with no qualms about a little action on the side. You know the drill. You may also notice the rather Freudian aspect of the art—i.e., the female figure wraps herself around the male figure in a sexual style embrace that causes his, er, drink to overflow onto the carpet. Well, the stain will come out with water and soap, hopefully. Top marks on this one.
Rock bottom is always a lot closer than you think.
This excellent promo poster is for a down and dirty little film noir called 99 River Street, the story of a boxer who was almost champion, but instead was knocked out at the moment of his seeming triumph. Now he’s a cab driver with big dreams but a wife that hates him for his low station in life and undermines him at every turn. She’s having an affair with a well-heeled criminal, and this situation leads to murder, which of course brings the cops knocking on our hero’s door. John Payne does an excellent job as a boxer with a bad eye and worse instincts, Peggie Castle is his two-timing conniver of a wife, and Evelyn Keyes is his bright-eyed and ambitious female friend—and probably his only hope for redemption. The plot takes a few twists and turns before speeding toward a nighttime dockside climax. Highly recommended. 99 River Street premiered in the U.S. today in 1953.
Today we’re doing fractions. Which of you can tell me how many times two can go into one?
Above, The Punks by Lee Richards, aka Lee E. Wells, 1966, from Beacon Signal, with unknown cover art. This book is part of that fun wave of high school sleaze fiction that crested during the 1960s. Author Lee Wells actually specialized in westerns, but you gotta pay the bills, right? See a few more good examples from this genre here and here.
They didn’t think it was funny in Oklahoma.
This issue of Laff from this month in 1949 contains a rather amusing story about burlesque queen Lilly Christine being censored from University of Oklahoma campus newspaper Covered Wagon by scandalized administrators. Seems members of the newspaper staff had been in New Orleans the previous year for the Sugar Bowl and had caught Christine in residency at the 500 Club. When later she toured through Oklahoma City the newspaper staff arranged a trip to see her, and that led to the quite logical idea of working up a story about her—which was when administrators stepped in to nix the plan. Christine saw a chance for free publicity and proceeded to appear at the campus health clinic seeking a chest x-ray. You couldn’t make this stuff up. After a bit of runaround she was refused. Meanwhile newspaper staff were seething over their unceremonious shackling—they saw it as a free speech issue, while the greyhairs saw it as a morals issue. The editor declared that there would be no more issues of Covered Wagon, but that’s when one of OU’s frats quickly ran off a scab issue of the paper to prove the point that Covered Wagon staffers were replaceable. Leave it to a bunch of entitled Greeks to side with the establishment, right? Checkmated, the editor and several loyalists quit. Meanwhile, Lilly Christine had long since minced on her merry way, no doubt accustomed to leaving a bit of chaos in her wake. See more Christine at this link (and elsewhere in the site if you search). Oklahoma
, Oklahoma City
, New Orleans
, University of Oklahoma
, 500 Club
, Lilly Christine
, Martha Theresa Pompender
, Jerry Noonan
, Winnie Garrett
, Bette Sherry
, Bette Guthrie
, magazine art
She always gets into the worst binds.
Bondage queen Naomi Tani became one of Nikkatsu's biggest stars, centerpiece of the company's roman porno line of movies during the 1970s. Above are five promo posters from her films during that period. They are, top to bottom, Zankoku: kurobara lynch, aka Cruelty: Black Rose Torture, Kashin no irezumi: nureta tsubo, aka Tattooed Flower Vase, Monzetsu! Donden Gaeshi, aka Painful Bliss! Final Twist, Kurobara fujin, aka Lady Black Rose, and lastly unknown. On that final poster, we checked IMDB, JMDB and every source of Japanese cinema we know but got no hits. The first word in the title is Tani’s name, and while we found a few movies that incorporated her name—along the lines of 1977’s Tie! Naomi Tani—we did not find anything on the poster above. Ain’t that always the way? It’s actually the most interesting of the lot. Anyone with insight feel free to drop us a line. In the meantime you can check out more Tani here, here, and here, and elsewhere in the site if you’re inclined to look.
, Zankoku: kurobara lynch
, Cruelty: Black Rose Torture
, Kashin no irezumi: nureta tsubo
, Tattooed Flower Vase
, Monzetsu! Donden Gaeshi
, Painful Bliss! Final Twist
, Kurobara fujin
, Lady Black Rose
, Naomi Tani
, roman porno
, poster art
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1949—Soviet Union Joins Nuclear Club
The Soviet Union detonates
a nuclear weapon at a test site in Kazakhstan. American experts are shocked and dismayed because they had thought the Soviets were still years away from having a workable bomb. The resultant fear helps trigger an arms race that would see the Americans and Soviets stockpile approximately 32,000 and 45,000 nuclear devices.
1963—King Gives Famous Speech
In the U.S., Martin Luther King, Jr., at the culmination of his march on Washington for jobs and freedom, gives his famous "I Have a Dream Speech," advocating racial harmony and equality.
1981—Scientists Announce Existence of New Disease
The National Centers for Disease Control announce a high incidence of pneumocystis and Kaposi's sarcoma in gay men. These illnesses are later recognized as symptoms of a blood-borne immune disorder, which they name AIDS. The disease is initially thought to have developed in the late 1970s among gay populations, but scientists now know it developed in the late 1800s or early 1900s in Africa during the height of European conquest of the continent.
1975—Haile Selassie I Dies
Haile Selassie I, former Emperor of the Kingdom of Ethiopia, dies of respiratory failure. Selassie was most famous for his landmark speech before the League of Nations in 1936, in which he pleaded for help against an Italian invasion, but to no avail. He warned that fascist aggression would not end with Ethiopia. His words, "It is us today; it will be you tomorrow," turn out to be prophetic when Germany's fascists later spark World War II.
It's easy. We have an uploader that makes it a snap. Use it to submit your art, text, header, and subhead. Your post can be funny, serious, or anything in between, as long as it's vintage pulp. You'll get a byline and experience the fleeting pride of free authorship. We'll edit your post for typos, but the rest is up to you. Click here
to give us your best shot.