Adventure magazine takes a look at what the better half is doing.
We've written a lot about vintage men's adventure magazines. Today the tables turn. Above you see the cover of a May 1956 issue of True Woman's Adventures. We're not going to kid you, though—it's still a men's magazine. Easiest way to tell? There are no photos of studs in bathing suits. But even though this women's magazine is really a men's magazine, it at least celebrates rugged women, with stories on bullfighter Patricia McCormick, French aviator Maryse Bastié, and explorer/travel writer Ginger Lamb. We'd like to do a deep dive into their biographies, but it'll have to wait for another day.
Some of the articles here are also written by women, with credits given to Carole Lewis, Jean Mayfield, Christine Herman, and Peggy Converse. This was the debut issue of True Woman's Adventures, but unfortunately, the only one. Was it always intended to be a one-off? We don't know. The cover was painted by George Giguere, whose signature you can see at lower left. Even so, we're amazed Mark Schneider didn't paint it—the style is so close. Check what we mean here. And check out the thirty scans below. As always, we have more adventure magazines to come.
Don't change a thing for anybody.
You know we're Stella Stevens fans here. Though we prefer the thirty-plus version of her, she first turned heads as a model in her early twenties, posing for a Playboy centerfold published in 1960, sessions from which the above shot originates. Stevens had begun acting before then, appearing in three films released in 1959. The next year she won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year, and eventually appeared in dozens of films and television shows. She was always a good actress, but never scored prestige roles. She did, however, grace some low budget classics, foremost among them the blaxploitation flicks Slaughter and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. Mixed in were cheeseball hits like The Poseidon Adventure and The Silencers, and an occasional good movie, such as The Ballad of Cable Hogue. All in all she's had an amazing career, on pause since 2010. But she'll never be on pause on this website. More Stella here and here. Edit: We recieved an e-mail from Herman, a man who knows a thing or two about mid-century celebs and has helped us with corrections, and he wanted to remind us:
I certainly appreciate that image of Stella. Although I have been a fan of PB since the mid 50s as a boy, I don't believe I have seen this particular photo. Of course, I have to say I believe you left some important points out of your commentary about her. I believe you said once you are not a particular fan of Elvis Presley (that may have been someone else) but without the 1962 Girls, Girl, Girls appearance I don't think she would have caught on so quick. Don't forget that the reason PB recognized her in the first place was because of her appearance in Li'l Abner in 1959. I know you didn't set out to do a biography on her, but these were points I think are important in her chronology.
Agreed, H, Stevens has a long and interesting story. We didn't set out to write a biography, as you said, but we may need to spend a little more time on her to give her proper due. She's not a subject we'll tire of easily.
Joan Collins finds herself shipwrecked on Temptation Island.
Our Girl Friday is not by any stretch of the imagination anything close to pulp style, but we stumbled across the film and figured we'd briefly expand our scope. This one premiered in Great Britain today in 1953, and played in the U.S. in 1954 retitled The Adventures of Sadie. In this day and age it's considered uncouth to perv over an actress but we don't care, so here goes: the only reason to watch this is for the all-too-brief moments of Joan Collins in a bikini. She's an absolute goddess, spun from seafoam, illuminated by moonlight, and delivered to Earth by cherubs and songbirds. Otherwise the movie is a waste of time.
Basically, it's about four people who get stranded on a deserted island. You have Joan and three guys of widely varying type—nervous geek/uneducated cad/debonair yuppie—who all want to sample her tropical fruit. There's a moment when it seems she won't choose any of these chumps, and that would have been a nice lesson to impart about never settling for less, but this is the 1950s, which means somebody is going to get her. Who she chooses and why doesn't matter and you won't care. The truth is no mortal human could deserve her anyway.
Joan Collins was defined for us when we were kids by her late-career television roles. Back then we never even had a notion of her as a young woman. Thanks to maintaining Pulp Intl. we've been able to correct that omission, because, while she was pretty hot as a fifty-year-old troublemaker on Dynasty, she's really something as an ingénue. The other thing about this film that's worthwhile is its British promo poster, above, rendered largely in lovely sky blue. The depiction of Collins is nice, as well. We don't know who painted it, but they did a bang-up job.
We're not on the fence about it—this magazine is a lot of fun.
As macho names for men's magazines go Matclif Publications' Savage Adventure is right at the top of the list. This issue from October 1960 was its debut. We gave it a read and it lived up to its name. Our favorite story was “Lizzie Russel and Her Riverboat Bordello,” by George Peterson, which deals with a floating brothel called The Virgin Queen plying the Yukon River during the 1890s gold rush. Basically, the tale is one of bad decisions and bad luck, and indeed gets pretty savage.
The brothel's owner is warned that her paddlewheeler is too big to make it upriver to White Horse, and sure enough, it runs onto a sandbar in a remote area. Left aground in deadly below freezing temperatures, the boat's two Chinese engine stokers decide to take advantage of the work stoppage with a little opium break, but overdose. Late that night everyone wakes up to a freezing ship. The captain discovers the bodies and simply chucks them overboard. When they thud instead of splash that's how he discovers the river has frozen solid. Pretty savage already, this story, but it gets crazier.
The captain gets the fire going again, but because he doesn't know what he's doing the engine boiler explodes. Fire ravages the boat so quickly that half the women going overboard don't even have clothes. One prostitute jumps but lands head first on the ice. Not good. Another catches on fire. A third runs from her flaming cabin directly into the sub-zero air and the shock stops her heart. Stranded ashore, miles from White Horse, the only heat source is the flaming boat, but once the conflagration dies they're all going to freeze to death, some of them naked.
We'll stop there—remember, no spoilers—but as savage tales go, “ Lizzie Russel and Her Riverboat Bordello” is pretty good. Other wild stories include Carl Williams' “The Grizzly Came for Breakfast,” and Jim Cooley's “I Listened To Them Scream.” We're glad we picked this magazine up. We imagine, since it was the debut issue, the editors really tried hard to get it just right. Mission accomplished, at least in our opinion, but Savage Adventure folded after only four issues. That makes this example exceedingly rare.
The cover is signed, illegibly, but thanks to the internet we were able to learn that the cropped scrawl at the bottom of the art says Norm Eastman. We've featured his work before—here. Aside from the fiction, Savage Adventure offers readers a couple of exposés, some glamour photography, and several rather interesting ads. We scanned our two favorites—one for burlesque dancer Honey Bee, and another telling readers that they can make a mint investigating auto accidents—sexy auto accidents. You'll see what we mean below.
She's not the first girl who met her idol and decided to take him home.
This is the second issue of Adventure magazine we've scanned and uploaded. The first was from 1958. This issue was published this month in 1966, and there's been a complete turnover in staff, from editor, to associate editors, and the entire art department. But the magazine is basically unchanged in content. The cover was painted by Shannon Stirnweis for a story to whose amateur author Adventure paid a $200 prize. The tale concerns a woman's attempt to steal a ruby-encrusted native idol by grabbing it and running away hella fast. For some reason she and her companion do it naked, so that's kind of fun.
Actually, what's truly fun is Stirnweis's painting, which we consider a classic in the men's magazine realm. He was another illustrator who, as they often did, moved into fine art. He focuses mainly on historic Native American scenes, western landscapes, and wild animals, and from a look at his website it seems he sells his work successfully. He was responsible for a couple of Adventure's interior illustrations also, working under his pseudonym F. Bolivar. And you get art from Marshall Davis and the well known Basil Gogos. We have thirty eight images below for your enjoyment, and another Adventure at this link.
Around the world in sixty pages.
Exotic Adventures was a men's magazine put out by NYC based Gladiator Publications, Inc. It seems obvious the company had great ambitions, but it managed only six issues before folding. This one came in 1959 with cover art signed “Louis,” whose full identity is not given. In fact, only three people are listed as staff—editor George P. Wallace and two others—so the cover artist wasn't the only hard worker who got short shrift. The individual authors are given bylines, though, as are the men who narrated their "true" tales to biographers.
Exotic Destinations lived up to its name, with pieces set in Kashmir, French Cameroon, Morocco, Honduras, Malaya, and Borneo, and nude models who are supposedly from Japan, Brazil, France, and Germany. It was all printed on glossy paper, which is why you won't see the usual yellowing you get with old magazines, though the printing got a little streaky and inconsistent in the middle pages. Still, taken as a whole Exotic Adventures is a high quality publication, which we snared courtesy of the now idle Darwin's Scans blog. Forty-plus panels below.
To reach your full potential in life you need to stretch yourself.
Maria Grazia Buccella is a former glamour model, a Miss Italy contestant, and a screen actress with numerous movies to her credit. Some of her appearances include in Le gentleman de Cocody, aka Ivory Coast Adventure, and Vittorio De Sica's Il Boom. The photo above appeared in the Japanese magazine Road Show around 1968.
In mid-century action magazines trouble always has a woman at its center.
Adventure for Men is new magazine for us, part of a group a friend couriered over from the U.S. last year. The art in this April 1968 issue is uncredited in the masthead, but two spreads are signed by Howell Dodd. The stories range from tales of wild 1890s San Francisco to uncharted Madagascar to your nearby nudist camp. And of course, par for the course for such publications, all the adventures seem to revolve around women, which makes them miss-adventures, so to speak. But we'll admit we haven't read all of the magazine yet. The piece “Sex Mistakes Most People Make!” for example. We figured we're better off not knowing.
But we did read the story on the sex camps of the Red Chinese. In times of stress people will believe anything, and there was no greater time of stress than the Cold War, a period during which most people feared they were seconds away from nuclear incineration. We're all still potentially seconds away from nuclear incineration, but back then those fears were openly exploited for political gain and monetary profit by con artists as diverse as the U.S. government and the New York City tabloid industry. Adventure for Men joins in the fun with its China sex camps tale.
During the 1960s, when Chinese were already suffering from both famine and widespread state violence, many were sent to prison camps to work and be re-educated. Conditions were generally awful, and often life threatening. Inmates were cold, underfed, besieged by vermin, and physically abused. As terrible as all that is, it still isn't enough for Adventure for Men, as journalist Alexander Ford takes the harrowing story of Chinese dissident Kuo Chung-hsaio and his wife and inflates it into sleaze fiction. Oh yeah. Political imprisonment can be erotic. All Reds are perverts. But the “sex camps” trumpeted on Adventure for Men's cover refers not to any state sanctioned sexual abuse. That accusation is never made. No—it refers to a specific voyeuristic prison official.
This official would not let Chung-hsaio see his wife unless the couple had sex while he was in the room watching. Chung-hsaio describes through Ford how humiliating and horrible the experience was, though he neglects to explain how he and his wife were even able to sexually function with their tormentor staring from the corner. Naturally, in the end it's the official's deviancy that creates the opportunity for the couple's daring escape. Do we buy this titillating tale of how a jailer got his rocks off, let his guard down, and ended up permanently cooled by Chung-hsaio's righteous hand? Not even a little bit. It's right from Hollywood's b-movie playbook—smash cut and they're out. But we'll admit that for short form sleaze it's actually pretty good. Scans below.
2nd Amendment, motherfucker. If you say it's your right, then it's my right too.
Bernie Casey exercises his right to bear a chrome plated Colt Super .38 automatic in this cool promo photo made for his 1972 blaxploitation flick Hit Man. We love Casey. He died just last year, and was pretty much unheralded, but he appeared in a lot of fun movies, including Sharky's Machine, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Cleopatra Jones, Boxcar Bertha, and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. He also had the good fortune to get naked with both Pam Grier and Claudia Jennings. The Jennings scene is flat amazing, but the Grier scene, which is actually from Hit Man, is hilarious. As Grier climbs atop him and presses her naked body full length onto his the expression on his face reads something like: “Oh. My. Freaking. God.” That's probably the only time in his life he wasn't 100% cool. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying
. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
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