The more things change the more they stay the same.
Above is a cover of the U.S. tabloid Inside Story published this month in 1955. There's a lot in this magazine, but since we keep our write-ups short we can't cover it all. One story of note concerns Betty Furness, an actress and pitchwoman whose squeaky clean image Inside Story claims is false. This is a typical angle by mid-century tabloids, the idea that a cinema or television sweetheart was really a hussy, lush, ballbreaker, or cold fish. Furness receives slander number four, with editors claiming she has “ice bound emotions,” “a cold, cold heart,” and is, “tough and tightfisted.” It's interesting that sixty years later resistance to a woman being anything other than a nurturer really hasn't diminished all that much, as many women with high public profiles would confirm.
Another story concerns the death of actress Virginia Rappe and the subsequent arrest of Fatty Arbuckle. In short, Rappe died after attending a party thrown by Arbuckle, with the cause of death attributed to either alcohol induced illness or rape and sodomy with a Coke bottle. Arbuckle went to trial three times before winning a final acquittal, though certain details of the death remained murky. The case was muddied by the influence of sensationalistic journalism, as publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst's nationwide chain of newspapers deemed sales more important than truth. The Coke bottle, for example, was entirely fabricated, but Hearst was unrepentant. He'd fit into the modern media landscape perfectly today, because for him money and influence justified everything.
And speaking of money, a final story that caught our eye was the exposé on the record business, namely the practice of buying spins on radio. The term for this—“payola”—was coined in 1916 but not widely known until the ’50s. Inside Story helps spread the terminology with a piece about pay-for-play on national radio stations. Like the previous two stories, this one feels familiar, particularly the idea that the best music rarely makes it onto the airwaves. Those who engaged in payola understood that people generally consumed whatever was put in front of them, therefore what was the point of worrying about quality or innovation? This remains a complaint about entertainment media today, but repetition still rules. To paraphrase the famed colloquialism: If you ain't going broke, don't fix it. We have thirty-plus scans below.
Parolee skips the halfway house and goes straight to the all-the-way house.
Yes, we're doubling up on the ’70s sexploitation today because we have this nice poster for a movie that premiered in Japan today in 1972—Blue Movie, aka Das Porno-Haus von Amsterdam, aka Blue Movie Session in Amsterdam. Dutch produced and initially released in Germany as Das nackte Gesicht der Pornographie during the summer of 1971, it starred Hugo Metsers in a tale that mirrors the above-mentioned Vanessa.
Instead of a sex starved woman released from a nunnery, this one features a sex starved man released from prison. He moves into an apartment building and gets to know the resident women intimately, a process helped by the fact that they're all desperately horny. We're talking about Cary Tefsen, Ursula Blauth, and the lovely Ine Veen, so this is a pretty sweet deal for a new parolee. Eventually he goes from single sexual encounters to arranging orgiastic parties, complete with interpretive dance performances.
When the film hit Holland in the fall of ’71 viewers were shocked by its subject matter and frankness, but it was a huge hit and it's still remembered as a groundbreaker today. It's also a bit of a bore. Director/co-writer Wim Verstappen had serious intentions, and those show in the social commentary and abundance of dialogue he's loaded into the movie. We'll say this, though—the Dutch don't do sexploitation one-way, which means there are plenty of swinging dicks here, literally, along with chest hair and pork chop sideburns. We're fine with all that, but we're not fine with the movie being such a yawner. Pass.
Spread-eagled Aslan art helped cure the guilt of buying pirated music.
We said we were done with France for the moment, but we’re veering back there briefly today to show you this Cure album sleeve featuring art from the French painter Aslan. Live at Paradiso is a bootleg, same as the other Aslan-fronted Cure record we showed you back in January. The people who pressed this weren’t messing around, either—they opted for one of the artist’s more explicit paintings. No complaints here, but we bet Aslan was a bit annoyed when he saw his work appropriated yet again. It wouldn’t be the last time. We’ll get to more bootleg sleeves a bit later.
We suspect she’s about to reveal what she’s hiding.
This provocative shot features German adult actress Brigitte Maier from the Dutch magazine Chick, sometimes referred to as Chick Amsterdam. Back in October we featured a poster, which you can have a look at here, from Maier’s famous 1975 X-rated hit Sensations. This image was made the previous year.
Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel was without a doubt one of the most divine women to ever appear on a movie screen. She gained fame with her starring role in 1974’s erotic classic Emmanuelle, which ran in one French cinema for thirteen uninterrupted years. Kristel has had health problems, including a bout with throat cancer. Today she’s fighting for her life in an Amsterdam hospital after a stroke in late June and the revelation that she had developed liver cancer. Only time will tell if she’ll recover, but the above photo, which came from the same session as these, shows her timeless beauty.
A little Amsterdam goes a long way.
The National Gallery in London has just opened a new art exhibit based on one of our favorite cities—Amsterdam. The exhibit is stirring up quite a controversy because of its explicit content, which critics describe as tasteless and “designed to shock.” The artists responsible, Ed and Nancy Kienholz, created partial versions of some of Amsterdam’s famous brothels back in 1983. Their new installation, “The Hoerengracht,” or the Whore Canal, features these pieces arranged to replicate a realistic walk through Amsterdam’s famous De Wallen red light district, complete with mannequins dressed as prostitutes and garish neon lights.
These were among the final pieces worked on by Ed Kienholz, who died in 1994. By that time he had achieved widespread acclaim, but even so, this is perhaps the first time his and his wife’s work has been featured in a venue as conventional and respected as the National Gallery. It is the venue’s break from its traditional roots that has generated both criticism and publicity. Now that the exhibit is open, it’s the public’s turn to decide. “The Hoerengracht”—the closest thing to Amsterdam without going there—runs through February 2010.
De Wallen is ground zero of the international sex trade.
It’s been a great vacation, folks. We’ve been in Amsterdam for ten days, and now we’re headed back to Paris for one more night there before returning home. Last night we finally got around to checking out De Wallen, aka the main Red Light District. You probably already know that the ladies (and a few ladyboys, as well) display themselves in windows, while the potential johns parade past checking the wares. Like strippers, the girls use eye contact to both entice and control the men. You don’t just get to ogle them up and down for a cheap thrill—they are ogling you as well. Men are basically cowardly herd animals, so this has the effect of keeping them moving quickly through the area as a group. If you stop for a really good look, you have to deal with the pressure of the woman staring right back at you. Not many guys do well with that.
According to official sources, about 75% of sex workers are foreigners, and according to our unofficial visual survey, very few are the types you would pay special attention to if you saw them on a tram or in a bar. But allure isn't all just a matter of physical beauty and, like sex workers the world over, the ones here exude that intangible quality of availability that supercedes all other considerations. If you take photos, do so at your own risk. Anonymity for both the johns and pros is considered of paramount importance, and if you aim a camera prepare to discover that the dude lounging on a nearby stoop is actually a bouncer. However it is still possible to shoot pictures if you’re careful—just make sure to do it from a distance, or on the fly. Our attempts resulted in unsatisfactory results, so we borrowed the photos here from Wikipedia and Pbase.
The Dutch government is making a push to clean up the area, so De Wallen—and the other districts scattered around town—may soon be gone, or at least considerably reduced in size. This move, we’re told, is not so much about the business of sex as it is about the numerous shady fuckers who inevitably profit from it. Though the system is set up so that girls can work as independent contractors, in practice most of them are controlled by Eastern European and Moroccan pimps involved in human trafficking. A recent investigation by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime revealed that Amsterdam is the world’s number one destination for trafficked girls.
We could talk about this for pages, but let’s just say we can cross another item off life’s to-do list. It was worth the excursion, and as pulp hunters we’d have felt remiss if we hadn’t done it. Amsterdam is a lovely town, and even in the Red Light District there’s a beauty, an otherworldiness thatgives the down-and-dirty commerce of sex a storybook surface sheen. Nothing makes this clearer than when you see swans bobbing in the canal next to Voorburgwal, pure white on the neon splashed waters, as women trade their bodies for money. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.
1922—Challenge to Women's Voting Rights Rebuffed
In the United States, a conservative legal challenge to the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing voting rights for women is rebuffed by the Supreme Court in Leser v. Garnett. The challenge was based partly on the idea of individual "states rights" to self determination. The failure of such reasoning as it applied to basic human rights created a framework for later states rights losses involving the denial of voting rights to African-Americans.
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