|Hollywoodland||Jul 27 2012|
It’s been a while since we’ve featured Hush-Hush, but it’s one of our favorite high-end mid-century tabloids, so today we have a newly scanned issue from this month 1957. We learn that Ingrid Bergman called Ed Sullivan a liar for falsely claiming she was booked on his show, and that Phil Silvers was terrified that he would lose his fame, and that Eartha Kitt was destined to forever be lonely because she was interested only in white men.
But the fun story here is the one headed: “Movie Stars Victimized By Smut, Inc.” The article is about Tijuana bibles, and the many celebs who had been unknowingly featured in them. We’ve already posted a few bibles, thus you probably already know that they’re pornographic eight-page comic booklets sold clandestinely in drug stores and soda fountains. Their makers felt free to borrow the likenesses of public figures of the day, and Hush-Hush offers up examples starring Bob Hope, Marie Wilson, Robert Mitchum and others. The article describes them as “unbelievably filthy booklets showing the basest sexual acts and perversions.”
Well, true enough. Their distribution was so worrisome that the FBI got involved, and while the feds did manage to make some arrests, the flow of booklets remained pretty much uninterrupted. We can only assume that Hush-Hush’s exposé made them even more popular, which is kind of how it works with porn, right? Someone gets on their soapbox about it and people walk away thinking, Hmm, I better see one of these with my own eyes. Of course, Hush-Hush didn’t dare reprint the interior pages, but we have no such inhibitions here at Pulp Intl. See the next post, and see here.
|Femmes Fatales||Apr 27 2012|
Above is a lovely image of American actress Jean Seberg, who streaked across the cinematic firmament at the end of the 1950s in movies like Lilith and Breathless, but once famous quickly learned that freedom of association was a right that was guaranteed only if one didn’t actually exercise it. When her political support for civil rights groups became known to federal authorities, they made her a target of the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO, which was a covert, illegal spying program aimed at American citizens whose political activities were deemed a threat to the status quo. The FBI harassed and discredited Seberg, and surveilled her both in the U.S. and abroad, all while hiding its involvement, and that of high ranking government officials, including U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. Seberg ended her turbulent life by committing suicide in Paris in August 1979, and her family as well as numerous fans blamed the FBI and U.S. government for pushing her over the edge. The above image was made many years before, in 1963.
|The Naked City | Vintage Pulp||Feb 16 2012|
Above is an Inside Detective published February 1963, containing a feature on Albert Nussbaum and Bobby Wilcoxson, a pair of armed robbers who were among the most sought after fugitives of their time. Nussbaum was the brains of the operation, and was adept at chess and photography, and was a locksmith, gunsmith, pilot, airplane mechanic, welder, and draftsman. With his spatial and mechanical aptitude, many careers would have been available to him, but he chose instead to become a bank robber. Predictably, he was good at that too.
|The Naked City||Nov 23 2010|
This True Detective from November 1939 features a cover painting of mobster Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, whose flight from authorities had taken him from the U.S. to Mexico, and then to Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Cuba, and across the ocean to England, France and Germany. Buchalter had begun his career in organized crime by shaking down pushcart operators in Brooklyn, and had risen through the ranks of the criminal-controlled fur industry by doing every type of dirt imaginable, from issuing threatening phone calls to garment union activists to throwing acid in a competitor’s face. Eventually he was running a criminal empire that stretched to both coasts, and was acting as head of the infamous assassination squad Murder, Inc.
In 1936 Buchalter went into hiding after he became aware that criminal charges were being prepared against him. Not long after he dropped out of sight, he was indicted for smuggling an estimated $10 million in heroin into the U.S. from Hong Kong. The FBI printed a million posters and displayed them in every post office, police station, and federal building in America. All this attention was a problem for U.S. mob bosses, and so with characteristic unsentimentality, they decided Buchalter had to surrender. Convincing him was not difficult. While he undoubtedly had the flair and intelligence to dodge the feds indefinitely, living in another country away from the old neighborhood and away from the hundreds of underlings who respected him was not his style. Buchalter was a mobster through-and-through. To him, an anonymous existence, even in a tropical paradise or cosmopolitan foreign capitol, was little different from being in prison.
Buchalter’s associates got word to him that if he came back to the U.S. he would be able to surrender personally to J. Edgar Hoover. Surrendering to the Feds meant he would not face a more serious group of charges brought by Manhattan D.A. Thomas Dewey. But it was wishful thinking. The federal charges were rapidly followed by Dewey’s charges and Buchalter earned a fourteen-year jolt in the pen. His legal team hoped tohave the sentence reduced via appeals and procedural maneuvers, but when a snitch fingered Buchalter for ordering the murder of a candy store owner named Joe Rosen, he was tried for the killing, convicted, and sentenced to execution. By some estimates Buchalter had been responsible for a thousand murders as head of Murder, Inc., but all it took was one to seal his fate. Louis "Lepke" Buchalter was electrocuted in Sing-Sing prison's famous "Old Sparky" electric chair on March 4, 1944, perhaps while realizing life on a beach in Costa Rica hadn’t been so bad after all.
|Intl. Notebook||Mar 24 2010|
|Sportswire||Jul 27 2009|
|Sex Files||Jun 20 2009|
In the U.S. this week, declassified FBI documents revealed that the U.S. government conducted a wide-ranging investigation into Gerard Damiano, director of the 1972 porn film Deep Throat. The heavily redacted documents showed that FBI agents across the nation were directed by top figures at the agency to conduct a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Deep Throat producers and distributors in a deliberate effort to stem the tide of sexual freedom that was sweeping the nation. Records show they seized prints of the film, and questioned everyone associated with its distribution, from delivery boys to theater managers.
Included in the stack of documents is an August 1973 letter stating that Damiano was being considered for prosecutorial immunity. The papers don’t say what crime exactly Damiano had committed, but at the time the film was thought to violate obscenity statutes and, because of an assumed link between porn and organized crime, various RICO charges might also have been considered. Ironically, the second-in-command at the FBI at that time was Mark Felt, who would soon play Deep Throat in real life when he became a secret source for Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward during their Watergate investigation into Republican Party corruption. He adopted the moniker Deep Throat as his code name, and his real identity remained a mystery until he came forward in 2005.
Despite the FBI’s efforts, the tides of cultural change were too strong. What had been universally offensive just a generation before was seen as entertaining in 1972, and Deep Throat became the most popular x-rated film ever released, eventually earning more than 300 million dollars after an initial investment of around $25,000. At the height of the Deep Throat craze, the film was booked into mainstream cinemas and moviegoers attended packed showings without an iota of shame. Since then American culture has changed again, and, though consumption of pornography is so widespread it generates untold billions of dollars in yearly revenue, it has lost its aura of respectability and is virtually always consumed in private.
|Politique Diabolique||May 13 2009|
In a twist right out of a Mario Puzo novel, a Guatemalan lawyer killed in a shooting Sunday reappeared on a posthumous videotape yesterday claiming the person who ordered his killing is Guatemala’s president, Alvaro Colóm. On the video, Rodrigo Rosenberg claims he ran afoul of important government officials after representing businessman Khalil Musa, who was slain in March along with his daughter. Rosenberg says Musa was killed for refusing to help launder drug money at Guatemala's Rural Development Bank, which is mostly government owned.
President Colóm dismissed the accusation, saying, “First of all, I am not a murderer. Second, I am not a drug trafficker, and everything he says there is totally senseless.” Colóm has reportedly asked the UN and FBI to investigate Rosenberg’s killing, but the country has been thrown into a state of unrest, with many calling for the president to step aside until the issue is resolved.
It’s just the latest blow for Guatemala, which has suffered a CIA-backed coup, numerous corrupt governments, and the recent rise of powerful drug cartels. As yet President Colóm has shown no intention to step aside, but Rosenberg’s accusations—factual or not—are extraordinarily damaging. Speaking of himself in the past tense, Rosenberg says: “I was a 47 year old Guatemalan, with four beautiful children, with the best brother one could ask of life, with wonderful friends, and with an overwhelming desire to live in my country.”
|Politique Diabolique||Dec 11 2008|
In the U.S., Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been snared in an FBI sting operation. His crime wasn’t the usual men’s room sexual solicitation. No, he was caught trying to sell Barack Obama’s soon-to-be vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. Under Illinois law, the governor of the state has the authority to appoint a successor when a Senate seat is vacated. FBI recordings reveal Blagojevich, a Democrat, discussing the appointment with virtually anyone he felt had something to offer in return. What incredible balls.
The conversations apparently were close to bearing fruit. Recordings reveal Blagojevich weighing a $500,000 offer from an as-yet anonymous source. Also on his wish list were such goodies as an ambassadorship, a cabinet post, possibly the establishment of a non-profit foundation in his name, or even an appointment for his wife to some powerful corporate board. President-elect Obama was not involved in these negotiations, it seems clear, because in one recording Blagojevich rails against Obama staffers for refusing to play along with the scheme, at one point declaring, “They’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.”
There seems very little chance Blagojevich can spin his way out of this mess, considering at one point he says a Senate seat is “a fucking valuable thing—you just don’t give it away for nothing.” Sadly, Blagojevich may be more rule than exception in Chicago politics. Slate magazine reported back in 2006 that the region is considered one of the most corrupt on the American political landscape, and has produced more indictments over the years than any area save central California/Los Angeles and south Florida. Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris have been formally charged with soliciting bribes and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.