Intl. Notebook Jan 2 2023
INFORMER IN COLOR, BLACK, AND WHITE
America's worst tabloid pops the bubbly and starts the year strong.


Above is a cover of the tabloid National Informer that hit newsstands today in 1972 featuring an unidentified Champagne toasting model. We love how the editors emphasize the word “truthful” in the second banner, beneath the name of the paper. That's a bold claim from one of the ultimate bottom shelf tabloids of the era, one that traffics in faux news and sensationalism more than actual journalism. But we won't argue the point. Whenever one's reputation is less than stellar don't leave it to chance: tell people what opinion to have of you. National Informer says it's truthful, fine.

There are a couple of stories of note in this issue. According to Informer, German high wire artist Karl Traber died when he lost his balance during a walk between the towers of two Munich churches and fell two-hundred feet onto a spiked fence. We couldn't find a single reference to anyone named Karl Traber online, though we did to a Traber family who remain famous today as aerialists. We did a Boolean search within German websites and still found no Karl Traber who suffered this grisly death. It's no surprise. Cheap tabloids often leave you with more questions than answers. We'll blame it on sloppy journalism (maybe they got a name wrong?) rather than false reporting. But since we don't want to spend our Monday searching the internet, we'll just move on.

Later in the issue Informer's resident seer Mark Travis produces a slate of predictions, and one of them qualifies as his wildest ever: I predict the invention of a serum which is injected into the bloodstream to create more pigmentation of the skin and turn a white person black. It will be very popular among the young college students. This serum [snip] will enable white youngsters from affluent homes to really see what life in the ghetto is like. Since the results will wear off in a few weeks if the injections are discontinued, it will be quite an adventure to “go black” for a short period of time. Only a wig will be necessary to complete the disguise. And since another drug which works in reverse—lightens the skin—will enable any Negro who desires to do so to pass for white, it will soon be impossible to tell who is white, who is black, and who is one in the disguise of the other.

We think we know how that would turn out: the caste-destroying serum would be banned in all fifty states, plus overseas U.S. territories, and bring penalties for usage ranging up to execution. We're only half kidding. Imagining the possible fallout from such a form of recreation makes us want to pitch the idea to some of our Hollywood friends. Can you imagine the television show that could be produced? Travis has made some blah predictions over the years, but we bet this one hit a nerve among Informer's readership. Unfortunately, we don't have the next few issues to check the infuriated responses in reader mail. Maybe it's better that way. As a side note, this is the thirtieth issue of Informer we've shared.
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Sex Files Jan 9 2022
NOTES FROM THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION
National Informer gives sex advice—and if you take it don't blame anyone but yourself.


We love National Informer. We love it like a relative who makes off-color comments and is wrong about half of what they say, but is also bizarrely funny and indispensable at barbecues. This issue published today in 1972 illustrates the point perfectly. It's filled with nonsense. You get a primer of sexual deviations, an endorsement of incest, and predictions for the future from Mark Travis—including his assertion that cock-fighting will become a major American pasttime. That didn't come true—unless we're confused about the type of cocks, in which case cockfighting has been the primary force in American politics for decades.

The paper also has bits on actress Ira von Furstenberg, burlesque dancer Rebel Carr, treats readers to plenty of sexist cartoons, and touts phony medical breaktrhoughs, but the most interesting feature is probably its forty-five question true-or-false sex quiz. "How sharp is your sexual knowledge?" it asks. Well, sharp enough for our girlfriends, is all we can say. The quiz offers up a few surprise factoids. Our favorite? “Studies show that men with tattoos are actually worried about their varility. T or F?” Studies also show that editors of tabloids should worry more about their spelling.

Informer and its little sister Informer Weekly Reader were among the earliest tabloids to prove that being regularly incoherent is no barrier to generating a mass following in America. In fact, it may even help, if the last half decade is any indication. This is the thirty-eighth issue we've shared, and finally, we're starting to run low. That's bad news, we know, and worse, we probably won't buy more. They're priced a bit high now. Maybe that happens when fifty or so issues are bought by someone in a two-year span. But don't worry—there are many other tabloids out there, and some of them are even crazier, as a traipse through our tabloid index will reveal. Have a look. Meanwhile, Informer scans below.
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Sex Files Nov 28 2020
NATIONAL INSECURITY
Vintage tabloid looks forward to better sex in the future but should have been happy with the present.


This issue of the low rent sexploitation tabloid National Informer published today in 1971 asks what will sex be like in the year 2020. We'd answer that compared to 1971 people will have less of it, and when they do it will come with recycled puritan guilt and fears of fatal disease. Other than that it'll be great! We jest, of course. We have no clue what 1971 sex was like, but National Informer makes clear that there were plenty of worries. Like what if you didn't know proper etiquette for your first orgy? Or what would you wear to the nude-in at Golden Gate Park? And could you get it up after popping three Quaaludes?
 
With the myriad sexual challenges of the period, it's no wonder people thought 2020 sex would be better, as a utopian article by Tom Bridges makes clear. Our favorite line: “Sex will be just another physical satisfaction in human living, with no stigmas attached.” Um... no. And this bit is great: “There will be sex schools in every city, attended by millions, which will teach by demonstration excellent sexual techniques. Anyone who doesn't attend and graduate will be a social dropout and considered illiterate.” Little could Mr. Bridges have suspected that the U.S. wouldn't come up with enough money to run normal schools, let alone sex schools.
 
It's fun to read how much faith Informer has in a brighter future. Optimism was actually a chararistic of the time period, we've noticed, whether talking about politics, science, or anything else. But a funny thing happened on the way to the post-millennial sexual mecca Informer imagines—the eunuchs took over the harem, and when 2020 finally arrived, the events of that shitty year were (notice we're already talking about it in past tense—that's how bad it was) enough to kill everyone's sex drives. Well, at least 2021 is just around the bend, and in the event of the virus actually being conquered, maybe a new sexual revolution will take hold, with love-ins and all the rest. We'll believe it when we see it, but it never hurts to dream, right?

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 28
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
May 27
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
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