When you girls invited me here I think I heard a word other than “sax.”
This amazing cover was painted by Warren King. We'd give just about anything for a lithograph of this. Hot Lips is about an “all-girl" orchestra called the Musical Queens and the things they do when boys aren't around. Which we can understand. Just look at the male figure here, whose name is Pete. What exactly does he bring to this party? A sense of brooding entitlement? A vague homophobic hostility? The latter, for sure, since he lost his wife to another woman and is dismayed to find himself in sexual competition with the band's man-hating sax player. Why does saxy Mona hate men? Because her husband turned out to be a drag queen. But all Pete has to do is wait a bit, because while the wholesome, virginal object of desire in this, Althea, may be tempted by wild musical lesbians, such assignations are never permanent in mid-century genre fiction. It's heteronormativity or death—literally, sometimes. Put Hot Lips in the lesbians-are-bad bin with a pile of other novels from the period. We'll keep an eye out for more cover work from Warren King, because this is just great. It's copyright 1952.
That's a lovely compliment, but I haven't showered since yesterday. I did make some muffins earlier.
This is an interesting cover for the 1962 novel Sweet Smell of Lust by Arnold Marmor, with its mirror perspective and extra large Oscar standing on the bureau. Basically, it's the story of two women vying for the same plum film role. One woman is older, desperate, and ruthless enough to pull dirty tricks for the role, while the other is young and naive to the point that she'll do whatever she's asked, even if it means ending up on her back. There's something in the air indeed—pheromones. Agents, directors, criminals, hardcore partiers, and the obligatory oversexed lesbian round out the cast. There are numerous vintage books in this Hollwood sleaze category, so many that the genre cries out for a cover collection. Maybe we'll put one together.
This book strips everything off—logic, subtlety, humor, character development...
Strip, Wench... or Die! This one had us at strip. Plus it was cheap, a mere five bucks. And you get what you pay for sometimes, because this was really bad. Basically, Rip Austin is an insurance investigator posing as a rep for the local strippers union in order to look into the death of a dancer. He finds himself involved in an organized crime scam, and soon more strippers are dying. But not before they get naked and he manages to fall into bed with a few. Typical passage:
Naked women were hardly anything new in the life of a loving rounder like Austin, but he was hardly used to having one come to the door of a fashionable mansion in broad daylight. He looked at the massive mounds of her breasts—huge but beautifully formed with nipples that jutted upward with almost virginal audacity.
We get it—it's not supposed to be taken seriously. But it should at least be written in engaging fashion. Author Gene Cross, aka Arthur Jean Cox, obviously didn't give a shit about this as long as he still got paid. In that way he's a bit like a stripper himself. But again, at least the book was only five bucks. And there's a character named Kooky Marsh, which we think is kind of cool. And the cover has a rare image of a beautiful but unidentified burlesque dancer (who we once used third from the bottom of this post). Those are the sum total of the book's merits. Oh well. Onward and upward.
Update: We're beginning to think this mystery dancer is Pat Hobson. Not 100% yet, but getting there.
Eew. Please tell me you washed that hand after you were out there in that nasty gutter.
Above, an awesome cover for Gutter Star, Intimate Novel #52, written by Dorine B. Clark and published in 1954. The painting is by Frank Uppwall, and it was reused in 1957 by Beacon for Carol Emery's lesbian novel Queer Affair.
Then we’ll do flowered window treatments here, move the bed over there, and I’ll need lots of room for my porcelain dolls, and Widget’s doggie bed will fit in the corner…
French author Émile Zola gets a posthumous pulp makeover for his novel Fatal Intimacy, which appeared as above in 1960 but was originally published in 1868 as Madeleine Férat. Though Zola was a literary icon (and an interesting public figure), this is an early novel and it’s not as far away from cheap paperback fiction as you might suspect. The art is by Donald E. Green.
Isabel Sarli + water = success.
This Japanese poster for the Argentine melodrama Intimidades de una cualquiera, aka Intimacies of a Prostitute, shows star Isabel Sarli in her natural state—naked in the water. Aquatic frolicking was her calling card, and any movie in which she didn’t do it was a disappointment. That would be especially true for Japanese viewers, because the retitle here is something like “underwater agony frenzy” and when you promise that you better deliver. Basic plot: woman named Maria leaves small town for big city, find herself in dire straits, resorts to the oldest profession, falls in love with client. Think of it as Pretty Woman with underwater agony frenzy (but not really, because that scene is actually pretty sedate). You can watch the entirety of the film, if you’re inclined, on You Tube here. By the way, here’s another bit of translative trivia for your Sunday: cualquiera is used for prostitute in Spanish speaking countries, but it literally means “whoever” or “anyone.” Interesting, no? Originally released in 1972, Intimidades de una cualquiera premiered in Japan today in 1974. See two more Sarli posters here.
Just add him to the long list of genius Italian illustrators.
Even though we found no Greek pulp, we do have a related item we want to share with you. The above poster is for the Italian movie Lesbo, which is partially set in Greece. We shared two versions of this promo way back in 2009 and had no idea about the artist. Now we know that the person behind this is Mario De Berardinis. As it happens, we’ve collected other pieces of his and a few appear below. You can see the other two Lesbo posters here, and if you haven’t seen the top notch Italian poster art we’ve already shared, have look at Mafe, Symeoni, Nistri, and Aller.
Suddenly we believe in a Hyer power.
American actress Martha Hyer first appeared in films in 1946, which makes her another golden age actress who is still around today. She was predominately cast in westerns, however did appear in the thriller The Velvet Touch, the comedy Abbott and Costello Go To Mars, and the musical Bikini Beach. This was shot by Lativian-born photographer Philippe Halsman in 1963, and appeared in the German magazine Intim.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1961—Plane Carrying Nuclear Bombs Crashes
A B-52 Stratofortress carrying two H-bombs experiences trouble during a refueling operation, and in the midst of an emergency descent breaks up in mid-air over Goldsboro, North Carolina. Five of the six arming devices on one of the bombs somehow activate before it lands via parachute in a wooded region where it is later recovered. The other bomb does not deploy its chute and crashes into muddy ground at 700 mph, disintegrating while driving its radioactive core fifty feet into the earth, where it remains to this day.
1912—International Opium Convention Signed
The International Opium Convention is signed at The Hague, Netherlands, and is the first international drug control treaty. The agreement was signed by Germany, the U.S., China, France, the UK, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Russia, and Siam.
1946—CIA Forerunner Created
U.S. president Harry S. Truman establishes the Central Intelligence Group or CIG, an interim authority that lasts until the Central Intelligence Agency is established in September of 1947.
1957—George Metesky Is Arrested
The New York City "Mad Bomber," a man named George P. Metesky, is arrested in Waterbury, Connecticut and charged with planting more than 30 bombs. Metesky was angry about events surrounding a workplace injury suffered years earlier. Of the thirty-three known bombs he planted, twenty-two exploded, injuring fifteen people. He was apprehended based on an early use of offender profiling and because of clues given in letters he wrote to a newspaper. At trial he was found legally insane and committed to a state mental hospital.
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