You better hurry up. At the top of the hour I turn back into a housewife and hand you a list of chores.
Jason Hytes' 1960 sleazer Sex Before Six is about a married twenty-something who uses her body to climb all the way from nowheresville to the cusp of a career in professional filmdom. She's willing to lie, connive, and serially cheat on her mild mannered husband to reach her goal but is disturbed when she discovers film people are depraved. What's their depravity, exactly? Some of them are gay and lesbian. The word “evil” occurs more than once. If you were to read this with your anti-regressive filter activated you might find a thrill or two sandwiched around the homophobia and Bible style retribution, but we wouldn't go so far as to recommend the book. The best thing about it is the brilliant cover femme fatale painted by Bruce Minney. We've seen magazine art from him before but this is the first paperback front we've come across. Top work.
War is hell, but being a prisoner of war can be worse.
This January 1959 copy of Stag is an example of the joys of collecting old magazines. We bought it for three dollars, but it's being auctioned on Ebay right now for $100. Mort Kunstler handles the cover chores, illustrating Edward Newman's story “The P.O.W.s Who Broke Out of Rat Hell Stockade,” which deals with a group of Union soldiers during the U.S. Civil War who tunneled their way out of Richmond's Libby Prison. The story is true. The escape was one of the most successful breakouts of the war. The escapees were highly motivated due to the fact that Libby Prison was a hellhole that generated high mortality rates due to abuse, starvation, exposure to severe weather, and terrible overcrowding.
A contemporary newspaper had this to say: “They are huddled up and jammed into every nook and corner; at the bathing troughs, around the cooking stoves, everywhere there is a wrangling, jostling crowd; at night the floor of every room they occupy in the building is covered, every square inch of it, by uneasy slumberers, lying side by side, and heel to head, as tightly packed as if the prison were a huge, improbable box of nocturnal sardines.” Inside Stag is art from James Bama, Kunstler again, Joe Little, Al Rossi, and Bruce Minney. You also get model/actress Irène Tunc, who was Miss France of 1954 and appeared in about thirty films during a three-decade film career. All this and more below, in twenty-three scans.
Update: we got the following e-mail from James N:
The cover of Stag, January 1959 was painted by James Bama. The credit to Mort Kunstler as printed in the magazine was an editorial error. Bama has confirmed this. For the sake of historical accuracy it would be nice if you changed your Jan. 9, 2017 post to reflect Jim Bama's true credit.
We've talked a lot about how official credits can be wrong, so we're inclined to believe the cover was mistakenly attributed by editors because we already know they were human and made these types of goofs. But the process of collecting and curating vintage art offers the chance to get things right. So we're calling this cover a Bama, and thanks to James N. for taking the effort to write us.
Southeast Asia escape epic features murder, sex and everything between.
This issue of Male magazine published this month in 1958 features James Bama cover art illustrating Richard Farrington's story “The Incredible 'Blood and Bamboo' Escape,” which is the true tale of Dutchman Klaus van Tronk's flight from a Japanese internment camp in Malaysia during World War II. The story is a book-length special, and one of the more harrowing and interesting details involves one of the prisoners being tied spread-eagled on a bamboo mat elevated six inches above the ground. Beneath the mat were living bamboo shoots. As Farrington tells it (via van Tronk's account), “The shoots are tough, the tips as sharp as honed steel, and they can push through a plank floor [two inches thick]. They grow rapidly in the Pacific sun, about six inches on a good hot day. It had been a hot day.” When van Tronk's work detail came back that evening from a long grind of slave labor in the jungle the bound man already had bamboo shoots growing through his chest, and was still alive, screaming.
We did a verification check on this arcane torture and found that no cases confirmed to scholarly standards exist, but that it is well known in Asia, and experiments on substances approximating the density of human flesh have shown that it would work. As little as forty-eight hours would be needed to penetrate an entire body. Fascinating stuff, but what you really want to know in terms of veracity is whether scantily clad women helped the escapees paddle to freedom like in Bama's cover art, right? Well, this depiction is actually a completely accurate representation of what van Tronk described, or at least what biographer Farrington claims van Tronk described. The women were the daughters of a sympathetic Malay farmer, and indeed they wore virtually nothing, and were considered quite beautiful by the prisoners, save for the minor detail of having red teeth from the local tradition of chewing betel nuts.
The risk taken by these women was extraordinary. Other women who had helped van Tronk and his companions during their months-long odyssey were tortured and raped, and at one point a village was machine-gunned. Why would these Malays take up the foreigners' cause if the risks were so high? Van Tronk attributes it to a cultural requirement to help strangers in need, but we'd note that people have taken these sorts of risks everywhere, cultural norms or no. Often the suffering of others simply brings out the best in people. A historical check on Klaus van Tronk turned up nothing, though, so maybe the entire true story is a piece of fiction. If so, it's a very good one. We have some scans below with art by John Kuller, Joe Little, Al Rossi, Mort Kunstler, and Bruce Minney, and more issues of Male magazine at the keywords.
When in Rome kill as the Romans do.
forty thirty-nine issues of Australia’s Adam magazine, but none since March. That isn’t because we’re running out, but merely because we decided to focus on American men’s magazines for a while. But Adam is the king as far as we’re concerned. For us, it’s the most attractive, most interesting, and—because of its penchant for stories set in the Aussie outback and wilds of South Asia—the most exotic of all the publications from the late mid-century period. Maybe that’s why we have more than 1,200 scans from the magazine tucked inside Pulp Intl.
Today’s issue, number
forty-one forty we’ve scanned and uploaded, has a typically lurid cover illustrating James McQueen’s story “Blood on the Sand,” which is one of the better pieces we’ve read in Adam. McQueen spins a yarn about a Roman gladiator named Marcellus who faces his best friend Helvius in the Colossuem. Helvius loses, but is spared by a thumbs-ups from the emperor. But the two friends have to fight again, they know Marcellus will win again, and they know the emperor never spares a life twice. The bulk of the story is set in the few days of contemplation and partying between the two battles. It's a very effective little tale.
Elsewhere in Adam you get nice spreads from Samson Pollen and Bruce Minney, lots of thrilling fiction, and lots of naked women, including one in a soap foam bikini that reminds us of when Reiko Ike did the same. On a different subject, moving forward you may notice a break in our magazine scanning activities. Could be days or months. We have to replace our reliable old Mac with a new one and we’ll be losing our Adobe programs—i.e. no more Photoshop for cleaning scans, and we aren’t going to buy it for $1,500 because, as much as we like being one of the sites that uploads new, original content to the web, that price tag is just insane. We can still scan individual pieces of art and not need to use Photoshop on them, but magazines require retouching because the way they're bound means the scans come out skewed. If you've ever scanned one you know what we mean. We’ll see what we can do to work around the problem. In the meantime enjoy this Adam. Twenty-six images below.
Update: Forty issues, thirty-nine, who can keep count? Well, we actually went back through the website and today's makes forty. Still plenty. Plus we have twenty-one more issues in reserve. Look for those down the line.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday
records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
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