|Vintage Pulp||Jun 29 2022|
The only thing that can stop her is a good guy with some gumption.
This issue of Adam magazine hit newsstands this month in 1973. The cover illustrates John P.Gilders' unusual story, “The Seventeenth Shot,” and the male character isn't really a good guy with gumption, but a meathead with entitlement. It's the type of story that could serve as an example in a women's studies class in order to show how only fifty years ago—and today, often—women were not presumed to have ownership of their bodies. One afternoon ambling around a Gold Coast beach town the main character Ral sees a woman in a fourth floor hotel window aiming a rifle toward a crowd on a boardwalk. She's cute, so he gets interested. He goes up to her room and shoves his way inside when she tries to keep him out. Importantly, he doesn't care about the gun. He cares about her beauty. He doesn't think the gun is real even for a moment, so he's not trying to be a hero—he's trying to get laid. Once inside the room he forcibly kisses the woman, and makes her submit to him sexually in that no-means-yes way familiar from so much old fiction and cinema.
Afterward, he learns that the woman, named Eva, is dry-shooting a man she claims had her family executed back in her home country. When she's mock-shot him sixteen times she plans to shoot him for real. The seventeenth shot, for seventeen dead relatives. Ral doesn't believe her for an instant, though he notes that the rifle is real. He eventually leaves, but returns the next day around the same time. He barges in again, gropes and sexually takes her again. This happens day after day, and at no point is it suggested to be rape. At no moment is Ral hinted to be a bad guy. Eva practices her shot, and Ral comes each day for some action, having convinced himself she likes him, rather than is tolerating humilation so that a plan she's had since she was a little girl won't be ruined.
Finally, on day seventeen, the day she claims she'll shoot the man for real, Ral decides to be proactive about Eva's presumed delusion, and instead of going to see her, intercepts the man she plans to kill. Ultimately his moronic meddling gets Eva killed, because Ral assumed there was no way, simply no way, she could be right about her target being a mass murderer. Gilders wrote the story unironically, an archetypal dismissal of a woman's words, with tragic results. It boils down to: Well, your so-called genocidal maniac seems like a regular guy to me, so you must be crazy. Ral is not portrayed as bad, only a little dense. His forcing himself upon Eva is just him being a normal, red-blooded male. This is another reason we enjoy mid-century fiction—because as times change, meanings often change too. “The Seventeenth Shot” is rife with meaning it was never intended to have, exemplifying on multiple levels why so many women are pretty well fed up with male attitudes.
There's another story, an excellent one, that touches on sexism and male attitudes, and does it deliberately. It's J. Edward Brown's, “Thunder Maid,” and it deals with a highly competitive golfer whose private club takes in its first woman member—who later ends up matched against him in the final of the yearly club championship. He so hates the woman for her alleged intrusion into male territory that he plots to have her killed during the competition. He can't count on mundane means, because he might get caught, so he resorts to Polynesian magic—the intervention of the titular Thunder Maid, as summoned by a local shaman. Yeah, it's a bizarre story premise, but it works. Brown tells the tale hole by hole, all eighteen of them, building suspense as the weather turns, rain comes, and bizarre occurrences tilt the match this way and that. His opponent Anita is Polynesian. Was our sexist narrator the only one who resorted to magic? It sure seems at times like Anita has a little something extra in her bag too.
All in all, we'd say this issue is one of the more successful examples of Adam we've acquired. The art was nice, the fiction was fun for differing reasons, and most of the factual stories were legitimately interesting. We did a fast count and it seems like this is the seventy-fifth issue we've uploaded into our website. We also have thirty-nine more we haven't scanned yet. Oh yes, we've been busy little pulpsters. And we almost scored six more issues, but the guy selling them didn't want to be bothered with shipping internationally, so he took far less money—less than half what he'd have gotten from us—to sell his stack locally. We really wanted those, but that's life. Will we ever get our stack completely uploaded? It's not a question that needs an answer. We'll upload as many as we can. The same goes for our books and all the rest. There's no goal. The end is however far we happen to get. We have thirty-one scans below, and those other seventy-four issues of Adam in the website for you to enjoy. The greatest men's magazine in the history of Australia will return.