I’m glad we stopped calling it spring break. I just feel better being honest about how we behave.
Sex Week is classic lesbian sleaze from publisher Brandon House and author Rex Weldon, aka Duane Weldon Rimel, and it appeared in 1965. Weldon also wrote Party Wife, Bedroom Bingo, Bed Slave, Sweet Sapphic Scene, and other gems of the genre. He may have gotten some of his ideas from his many interesting jobs, including as a liquor store clerk, jazz pianist, hotel worker, and bartender. Thankfully, he found his true calling in sleaze. The artist here is the indispensable Fred Fixler, and you can see much more from him by starting with this link, and you can see our recent large collection of lesbian sleaze here.
When girl meets girl sparks fly.
Above and below is a small percentage of some of the thousands of lesbian themed paperback covers that appeared during the mid-century period, with art by Paul Rader, Fred Fixler, Harry Schaare, Rudy Nappi, Charles Copeland, and others, as well as a few interesting photographed fronts. The collection ends with the classic Satan Was a Lesbian, which you’ve probably seen before, but which no collection like this is complete without. Hopefully most of the others will be new to you. Needless to say, almost all were written by men, and in that sense are really hetero books reflecting hetero fantasies (fueled by hetero misconceptions and slander). You can see plenty more in this vein on the website Strange Sisters.
Fred Fixler’s talent transformed sleaze into high art.
Hungarian-born Fred Fixler’s first career was as a diamond cutter, but by the early 1950s his focus shifted to art, which he studied in both the U.S. and France. He began illustrating paperback covers, and for years was an illustrator for the sleaze publishing imprint Brandon House. During that time his instantly identifiable style resulted in some of the most dynamic paperback covers ever seen on U.S. book racks. The piece above, with its shadowy lovers, is a prime example. Brandon House used Fixler as the primary illustrator for their line of lesbian paperbacks, and because of his talent, these books, which originally sold for around one dollar, go online today for in excess of seventy-five bucks. Fixler also worked in the commercial art field, and taught at schools like the California Art Institute, The Brandes Art Institute, and Parsons School of Design. Below are several more great Fixler pieces that we corralled from around the internet. You can see more of his art by searching online, and learn a lot more about him from his website.
It was an Affairs to remember.
Above is a cover scan of Victor Jay’s 1964 novel The Affairs of Gloria, a book that is significant because it’s the first from the LGBT author whose real name is Victor J. Banis. He happens to be the person who, writing under Leisure Books’ communal pseudonym Don Holliday, gave the world the mystery series The Man from C.A.M.P., as well as many other books that are classics in the gay pulp genre. Some of those unforgettable and decidedly un-PC titles include Blow the Man Down, Man into Boy, Homo Farm, and Rally Round the Fag.
Gloria isn’t what you’d call a gay pulp. Banis hadn’t yet taken that direction with his fiction (which was all short stories up to that point), but he was literarily bi-curious, you could say, so what he did was create a protagonist whose sexual appetite allowed him to experiment with lesbian themes. The book sold well, and despite an obscenity indictment in Sioux City, Iowa, Banis came away from the experience more convinced than ever that an untapped gay market was waiting. In 1966 Greenleaf Classics published Banis’s first gay mystery The Why Not, which resulted in the go-ahead for similar novels.
Banis is still churning out books today, and is well reviewed by entities as middle of the road as Publisher’s Weekly, who, according to the author’s website, called him a literary icon who made a difference. All of that began to take shape with his first novel, The Affairs of Gloria. You can read Banis’s own account of writing Gloria and get the skinny on that obscenity trial here. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet
, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler
and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals
of the Cold War.
The federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes. The island had been home to a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison over the years. In 1972, it would become a national recreation area open to tourists, and it would receive national landmark designations in 1976 and 1986.
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