|Mondo Bizarro||Jun 28 2016|
|Vintage Pulp||May 16 2015|
Did you think we’d run out of these? Think again. Reuben Sturman’s blaxploitation tabloid It’s Happening is back with all the required portions of nudity and provocation that a typical ’70s tab requires. This issue is undated, but it appeared in May 1970, and was number five of volume five—a fact that just blows us away, considering how fly-by-night the thing is. Inside you get centerfold June Jennings, French actress Gabriella Savoi, hot stripper Eulalie Leeds, and an exposé on the French island of Île du Levant, which is said to be a nudist haven. That’s true. Since 1931 the island had been home to Héliopolis, Europe’s first nudist town. Readers learn from an island inhabitant that, “What makes it particularly attractive to girls is that they do not have to spend enormous amounts for fashionable bikinis, loungewear, cocktail dresses, shorts, et al. All they need is a little piece of fabric to cover that intimate spot on their bodies and maybe a straw hat to protect them against the sun.” We’d guess they also need a keen appreciation for middle-aged horndogs with grey chest hair, who'd be looking around wondering why 90% of the beach's inhabitants were men exactly like them. We have fourteen scans from It's Happening below. This is the fifth issue we’ve shared, and you can find the others at our tabloid index here.
|Vintage Pulp||Aug 18 2014|
So once we take bold and radical off the table, the main two differences left between 1970s It’s Happening and other tabloids were its placement of African Americans on every cover, and its deliberate marketing to black America. Even this went only so far—by now about a fifth of each issue had nothing specific to do with the black community at all. These would be stories about white celebs, or maybe weird crimes in some European enclave. So, it was a black paper, yes, but one that had learned not to alienate. A white consumer who liked a typical cheapie tab like, say, Midnight, would have found 1970s It’s Happening comfortingly familiar. We have some scans below, and you can see more of the same in our previous posts here, here, and here.
|Reader Pulp||Jul 19 2012|
Earlier this year, the website Darwination sent us two copies of the American tabloid It’s Happening. We posted the first in May, and today we have the second issue. As we pointed out before, the publication was dreamt up by Reuben Sturman, a Cleveland-born son of Russian immigrants who realized that the lack of a cheapie tabloid aimed at black readers represented a large—and potentially profitable—hole in the market. True, there had been the magazine Hep during the 1950s, but that had been a glossy tabloid. And true, Sturman had already delved into African-American erotica with his magazine Tan N’ Terrific, but that had been a photo digest. It’s Happening—provocative, humorous, but mostly plain ludicrous—was what Sturman came up with. See below, and see here.
|Reader Pulp||May 15 2012|
Darwination didn't just point us toward the info we related above, but even sent over a couple of issues of It’s Happening. While we assumed the facts about the mag were known by somebody out there, we did not expect anyone to have actual issues. However, we’re not surprised that of all people, it’s the person behind Darwination that does. Everyone with an interest in mid-century magazines should cruise by Darwination and check out the great collection there. It’s tabloids and much more. Below are some choice pages from that issue of It’s Happening that Beau sent over. We’ll share his second issue soon, and we have two more issues of our own to scan and share.
|Vintage Pulp||May 2 2012|
There came a moment around 1970 in the U.S. when movie producers realized that African-Americans liked cinema too, and tailoring content to serve their tastes—the same way white tastes had been prioritized since the advent of cinema—might prove profitable. They bet that blacks would enjoy seeing themselves represented onscreen, even if many of the representatons were caricatures. But they did it on the cheap, with heavy-handed writers, inexperienced directors, and untested actors. The genre that would be called blaxploitation was the result. While the films were putatively black, the money behind them was almost always white, or at least establishment, but the bet paid off—blaxploitation was a cultural explosion. Well, the same thing happened around the same time with at least one tabloid. Above is a May 1969 cover for It’s Happening.
So, what do you get here? The cover says it’s “the news others dare not print,” but basically, it’s the same as tabs like National Informer and Midnight, only with that added black/white spice on every page. But this is not ebony and ivory together forever in perfect harmony like Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney once sang. Who’d buy such a newspaper? No, Americans prefer to lay down their hard earned coin for fear, strife, anger, rape and pillage. The stories, in classic ’70s tabloid fashion, are basically flights of editorial fancy matched to whatever handout photos happened to be languishing in the file cabinet. Thus we learn about a white mom seducing black boys, a black beauty’s boobs that put a potential white rapist in a trance, and so forth. We don’t think it’s black published. Why? Well, for one thing, the noun usage is suspect, as in the back page story headlined: Sports Scene Now Belongs to the Blacks. If you were black, would you refer to yourself as “the blacks”?
We managed to score a few of these, and there’s no publication information in any of the issues, in fact no masthead at all—which we think lends credence to our suspicion that it was put together by a bunch of snickering yuppies in some garage in suburbia—but we’ll see if we can ferret out the paper’s provenance. Whoever put it out, we’re certain they saw it as satire, and imagined it would, in a decade or two, be remembered as a humorous artifact of a forgotten, racially divided age. Hah hah. Joke’s on them. Here we are, nearly half a century later, and it’s pretty clear that we humans are not intelligent to the extent that we can conquer the hatreds that divide us. Isn't that just hilarious? Er, maybe not. You can see another It's Happening here, and we have more coming soon.
|Vintage Pulp||Oct 3 2011|
If you’ve spent any time on this website at all, you know one of our primary activities is exploring mid-century tabloids—revisiting the stories, detailing the crimes and scandals, and getting reacquainted with yesteryear’s elite celebs, as well as some almost forgotten fringe personalities. We have, beyond doubt, the most extensive online repository of these tabloids, and the imprints range from exploitative to just plain bizarre. As the 1960s wore on publishers became more diverse in an attempt to capture what marketers like to call niche audiences. So a tabloid focusing on the black experience finally came into being in the form of It’s Happening, whose slogan was “The news others dare not print.” We’ll soon be able to judge that for ourselves, because we ordered some of these via the trusty international mails and will be getting them soon-ish (unless they disappear into some postal vortex like that last batch of Adams we bought). Anyway, if all goes well you can look forward to some detailed looks at It’s Happening in the months ahead. The above cover, which we found at an online auction site, is from October 1969.