Vintage Pulp Nov 28 2023
MEDICAL MYSTERIES
I'm baffled, frankly. When I chose women as my area of specialization I didn't realize how hard it would be to figure out what's bothering all of you.


Above: a little Beacon Signal sleaze for you today, a cover for Woman's Doctor by Terry James, published in 1962. We've shared numerous medical paperback covers over the years. Several of our favorites are here, here, here, and here.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 26 2023
MR. MUSTACHE'S PLAYHOUSE
You know, you have marvelous muscle tone for a woman eleven feet tall.

Above: a photo cover for the 1967 sleazer The Man Who Played with Dolls, written by Paul Clay for Softcover Library. “He turned discontented women into sexual slaves.” The Pulp Intl. girlfriends really got a kick out of that. Softcover, which evolved from Beacon Signal, provided the world with some pretty nice book fronts, including here, here, and here, but by this time was moving away from paintings to photos like all the publishers. What it didn't move away from was sleaze, its bread and butter, more of which we'll show you down the line, assuming we can ever stop looking at this one, with Dennis Weaver* copping a cheap feel. Hands off the merch, McCloud.
 
*Probably not really Dennis Weaver.
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Vintage Pulp Aug 22 2023
INFERNAL AFFAIRS
I'm sorry to say it, but this has to end. I mean for today. I'll see you here tomorrow same time.


Does Hell Is a Woman look like a crime novel to you? Us either, but it is. Beacon Books decided to market this effort from Garrett W. Deas as sleaze, and used cover art from Jack Thurston to implant the idea into book rack browsers' heads. Beacon also wrote cover text in that vein, though it's wildly inaccurate.

Protagonist Sheriff Ben Randall's wife Helen loved other men behind his back? Not true. She has an affair with one man. Mary Ann, according to the cover, loved other men in front of Ben? Not true. She starts the novel as a corpse. Lorna loved in very special ways? Maybe. She pines for the sheriff and ignores other men. Also, Helen's cheating is meant by Deas to be a suspicion followed by a revelation. Beacon spoiled that. You take your chances with cover blurbs.

But all that aside, as a crime novel Hell Is a Woman is pretty good, with a rural setting that works, and Sheriff Ben as a likeable sort who doggedly tries to solve three murders while the county bigwigs want everything swept under the rug. The main flaw of the book is that the identity of the killer becomes obvious well before we think Deas means it to, but overall he did decent work. It seems to have been his only novel, though, which is too bad.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 29 2022
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Okay, I think we're ready. Formula for edible pomegranate flavored body oil, test seventeen, commencing now.

Brian Aldiss was better known as a sci-fi author, but his 1961 novel The Male Response deals with sexual mores and politics. On Aldiss's website he writes: “Only marginally science fiction, the story tells how the indecisive Soames Noyes is sent by his company with a computer to the newly free black state of Goya, in Africa, where he becomes entangled with women and witch-doctors. Reluctantly, Noyes faces all challenges and, following by public promiscuity, becomes President.” That certainly sounds fun, especially the promiscuity to president part. It obviously could only happen in sci-fi. The cover art here is by Robert Stanley. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 29 2022
UNBOTTLED BLONDE
You can love her but you can never trust her.

A while back we said we'd skip the 1954 Orrie Hitt novel Cabin Fever because we had several other Hitt books awaiting our attention. But the cover art for 1959's Tawny enticed us, so we bought it and—turns out we didn't pass on Cabin Fever after all, because Tawny is Cabin Fever published under a new name. It was also published yet again in 1974 as Lovers at Night. Lesson: watch out for re-titles in vintage literature. But it's okay. Hitt is interesting if erratic, and since this is an early effort from him—possibly only his third, though we can't be sure because he published four books in 1954—we were curious to have a look.

Tawny follows the travails of Danny O'Conner, who takes a job managing a sprawling lakeside roadhouse/casino/cabin complex called the Flying Red Rooster and quickly becomes romatically entangled with the boss's omnivorous wife, the eponymous Tawny Stone. She hates her husband but divorcing him would mean losing her stake in the business she originally financed. You'd think this would lead to the usual murder-the-husband scheme, but Hitt twists the plot the other direction when the husband approaches Danny and says that he wants Tawny to die or disappear.

So the question is who tries to kill who? Or maybe they both take a whack at homicide. We ain't saying. In the end, though, you still have juicy adultery and a sinister murder plot. We've read a lot of books along those lines, often by better writers, but we've read them by worse writers too. In the hands of a top stylist Tawny might have been a real barnburner. As it is, we can call it readable but not special. The art on this Beacon Signal edition (it was also published by Softcover Library in 1969) is by an unknown, which is too bad because it's one of the better covers on a Hitt novel. The far less tawny original painting appears below.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 13 2022
NEED IN THE GROIN
I wouldn't call them raging so much as extremely reluctant to take no for an answer.


A little bit of vintage lesbian fiction today, Her Raging Needs, by Kay Johnson for Beacon Signal, 1964, with uncredited cover art. A libidinous young woman finds herself widowed, after which point she goes from to man to man, never satiated, until she finally crosses the line and jumps into bed with another woman. This one deserves points for the main character's name: Honey Bard. Amazingly, the book got reprinted in 1970 by Softcover Library. 

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Vintage Pulp May 24 2022
LISETTE ON REPEAT
Is sex déjà-vu a thing? Because I feel like we've lived this before. Try not to finish so fast this time.


Above: a cover for Val Munroe's Lisette, painted by Darcy, aka Ernest Chiriacka for Beacon Signal, 1962. We were surprised when we discovered this was Munroe's Carnival of Passion under a different title. Since the name of the main character is Lisette rather than Liz, we didn't guess it was the same book, and you'll also notice the cover doesn't mention a carnival. Luckily we didn't pay for this because it was available for download on Archive.org. By the way, the story wasn't the only thing repeated here. The art was later paired with Dee Winters' 1965 sleazer The Swingers, as you see below.
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Vintage Pulp Mar 15 2022
CONVENTIONAL APPROACH
I'm going to reach the top and I'll do it by using the most American method of all—buying my way there.


Above are the cover and original uncredited art for the sleaze novel Convention Girl, written by Rick Lucas for Beacon Signal and published in 1954. This was a one-day read. Basically, at a yearly Washington, D.C. convention staged by the Association of Young Executives, oil tycoon Holly Carroll and beer baron James Barton are both convinced by AYE string-pullers to run for the position of association president. Both are promised the inside track to victory by means not solely involving how many votes they actually get. As ex-lovers, the complications soon pile up between them, as well as between other highly sexed characters. The reasons they were asked to run for president are obscure, but they eventually boil down to a vast communist plot to undermine the free enterprise system. Commie scare fiction mixed with sleaze? What a concept! Sadly, as usual with these anti-commie books, the political aspects are laughably simple-minded. But we expected that. The hurdle that can't be overcome is the tepid eroticism. There's just not much heat—and this in a book with so many reds. We don't think we'll be reading Mr. Lucas again.
 
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Vintage Pulp Feb 14 2022
HANDLING FEES
Sorry, that was a mix-up in the ad. It's actually pay now love later. There's also an admin surcharge and a damage deposit.


Elaine Dorian's 1961 novel Love Now Pay Later has more depth than usual for Beacon Signal sleaze fiction. She has a real feel for the setting and her lead characters, Ross and Gay, two people trying to find happiness while swept up in the fast paced worlds of publishing and politics in New York City. For both of them ambition is their undoing, though of different types—Ross will do anything for success, including throw away love, and Gay will do anything for love, including throw away success. Both lose their way, and both debase and publicly embarrass themselves, though again, in different ways. Dorian serves up strong anti-sex undercurrents, but her story basically works. We wouldn't call the book good, exactly, so much as better than average. But in vintage sleaze, that's good enough. 

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Vintage Pulp Feb 7 2022
TIGHT FIT
You're not gonna be able to get my dress off. I needed two guys just to get it on.


This is a nice piece of cover art, though unattributed, for Lee Brill's 1962 novel The Skin-Tight Sheath. The above-the-title teaser text is almost exactly backwards. This is really about one man who uses everyone to even the score with one woman. Or tries, anyway. Stuck in a loveless but socially necessary marriage, he wants to have his cake and eat it too by hooking up with an old flame, keeping both wife and mistress. His plan goes great—until it goes wrong. His downfall? He's sadistic, and his need to hurt people begins to destroy him. If only the real world had the same moral clarity as sleaze novels. Reasonably entertaining, but not unmissable. 

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 21
1924—Leopold and Loeb Murder Bobby Franks
Two wealthy University of Chicago students named Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks, motivated by no other reason than to prove their intellectual superiority by committing a perfect crime. But the duo are caught and sentenced to life in prison. Their crime becomes known as a "thrill killing", and their story later inspires various works of art, including the 1929 play Rope by Patrick Hamilton, and Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film of the same name.
May 20
1916—Rockwell's First Post Cover Appears
The Saturday Evening Post publishes Norman Rockwell's painting "Boy with Baby Carriage", marking the first time his work appears on the cover of that magazine. Rockwell would go to paint many covers for the Post, becoming indelibly linked with the publication. During his long career Rockwell would eventually paint more than four thousand pieces, the vast majority of which are not on public display due to private ownership and destruction by fire.
May 19
1962—Marilyn Monroe Sings to John F. Kennedy
A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe's breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday," which does more to fuel speculation that the two were sexually involved than any actual evidence.
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