Fresh from the factory.
The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair brought eighty nations, almost fifty corporations, and a hundred restaurants together to occupy one hundred and forty pavilions built across more than six hundred acres in the borough of Queens. To say that sounds fun is an understatement. We'd love to have been there, especially to see the New York City of that era, but nobody has invented a time machine yet. If we could have gone to the Fair, though, we'd have made sure to run across U.S. actress, model, and singer Joi Lansing, above, who made a publicity appearance as the Queen of Candy outside the Chunky Candy Pavilion.
By the fall of 1964, which is when she posed for the photo, she was a longtime celebrity who had never quite made it big. That's easy to guess, because a big star wouldn't have been slogging through New York's autumn rain trying drum up publicity for herself and a candy brand. Lansing had started in movies in 1947 when she was eighteen, and bounced between cinema and television, with many stops in the pages of tabloids. She never quite became a movie star, but she did forge a major television presence, and was eventually honored for her contributions to that medium by receiving a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
We find her interesting because she had an unconventional sort of beauty, and she seems to pop up all the time in the materials we accumulate. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1972 when she was only forty-three. We have a fair amount of material on her in the website, including some interesting bikini shots here made when she was thirty-seven but looking twenty-five, an interesting paperback cover she appeared on here, a movie poster for one of her starring roles here, and a brilliant promo image showing her at her very best here.
Zsa Zsa gives Venus va-va-voom in all time sci-fi clunker.
We're back from a spontaneous vacation, and it seems fitting to discuss a movie about the same. We went to Tarifa, but this trip deals with Venus. Once more a cheapie sci-fi flick has brilliant promo posters, as you see above for Queen of Outer Space, which premiered today in 1958 starring Zsa Zsa Gabor, Laurie Mitchell, and Eric Fleming, with a brief appearance from Joi Lansing. Set in the then-distant future of 1985, a group of astronauts are unexpectedly propelled in their rocket millions of miles to a crash landing on our solar system's second planet. This is not the hellhole Venus of scientific reality, but a place with snow, forests, a breathable atmosphere, and intelligent inhabitants—more specifically, babes. In fact, babes in mini skirts and heels, much like Tarifa. And they speak English. And are starved for love because men have been banished from Venus after a revolt by women. Now the world is ruled by a cruel, masked queen. We'll stop there and offer this snippet of dialogue:
“That's incredible. How did she manage to overthrow the men?”
“They didn't take her seriously. [snip] After all, she was only a woman.”
If that gives you an idea the movie is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, you're right. It actually strives to be a sci-fi comedy. In fact, Queen of Outer Space is almost unique in our experience in that it tries to be funny, fails spectacularly on those terms, but is so badly made it's still hilarious. It's the movie equivalent of a stand-up comic slogging his way through a lame routine with no idea he's getting laughs because his fly is open. It's cringingly awful, yet consistently uproarious, as the astronauts come into conflict with the titular space queen while she hides behind her mask and plans to destroy Earth. Actually, we'll give the movie a little credit for humor—there's one instance when this campfest tries to be funny and succeeds. The three astronauts and several horny Venusians are making out in a cave. Someone notices their campfire going out.
One astronaut to another: “Larry, get some more wood, will you?”
Larry: “What do you mean, 'Larry, get some more wood?' What's the matter with, 'Mike, get some more wood?'”
Mike: “This is one time when seniority really pays off. Turner—more wood!”
You're thinking the lines are unintentional, but no—they're deliberately written to be double entendres. Need proof? Look no further than the next line, delivered by a Venusian hottie, between smooches: “We don't really need any more wood.”
So, yes, it's deliberate. Only a muted trumpet going wah wah waaaaah waaah could have made it more clear. Wanna know what accidental looks like? Have a glance here. Whoops. Sadly, because this is the 1950s, none of the Venusians actually get the ole deep space nine, but the wink-wink implications of impending sex are clear, as the astronauts use their sharply honed kissing skills to turn the queen's royal inner circle against her. While her plot to explode Earth was spawned by understandable concerns that men will ruin the galaxy, to that we say, “Stop her! Joi Lansing is down there!” Defeat looms, as does an embarrassing unmasking that reveals— Well, we bet you can guess. Bad doesn't begin to encompass Queen of Outer Space, but as we've always told the Pulp Intl. girlfriends, if you're going to be bad, at least be fun.
Horwitz Publications puts a Hollywood starlet to bed.
Above is a cover from Australian imprint Horwitz Publications for Marc Brody's thriller Lay Out My Lady, published in 1956. We've long featured Horwitz covers because they used photo-illustrations of famous or soon-to-be-famous actresses. This time the company chose U.S. actress and beneficiary of lucky genes Joi Lansing, clad in the sort of extravagant bedtime wear that was popular during the era, and whose time-defying beauty we've marveled over here and here. And here too. The face in the background is also an altered photo, though not of Lansing. We can't identify her. If you have any ideas feel free to inform us. Moving on to Marc Brody, he was both the author and star of these yarns, and claimed to be an intrepid crime reporter. That would be fascinating if it were true, but it wasn't. He was actually author William H. Williams, aka Bill Williams, and he wrote novels while sitting in a shed in his garden, which is about as far from the mean streets as anyone can get. But you have to give him credit—he churned out something like eighty of these books. We'll be revisiting him later. In the meantime you can see a bit more from him—including photo-illustrations of another beautiful actress—at this link.
Vintage men's magazine stands at the threshold to a new era.
In many countries during the late 1960s the newsstands were still dominated by nudie mags that bore classical, studio nude-style depictions of women, but the transition toward magazines recognizable as modern porn was well underway. Knight, from Sirkay Publishing out of Los Angeles, is one of those transitional magazines. It debuted as Sir Knight in 1958 with a focus on fiction, humor, and demure photo features. The above issue published in 1967 is a bit racier, but still middle-of-the road for the time period. In another few years pubic hair would be on display in American men's magazines. Soon after that the pearly gates would appear, and in short order they'd be wide open. Did we really write that? Sorry—it's the booze talking.
On the cover here is Rita Rogers, touted as the next big thing, but who made only a few magazine appearances as far as we can tell. Inside you get William Holden, Turkish bellydancer Kiash Nanah, aka Aïché Nana, whose impromptu strip in a Rome cafe we talked about a while back, and actress Joi Lansing, whose age resistant DNA we talked about here. And you get some fantastic art, much of it with a psychedelic edge. There's also an article on psychedelic music, so that seems to have been a theme with this issue. We love these old nudie publications. They're so innocent by today's bizarro standards that if you caught your kid looking at one you'd probably hug him and go, “You've made me very, very happy!” Scans below.
She made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Above is a nice piece of promo art for Hot Cars, an obscure little flick some people classify as a film noir, but which we think of as a basic crime melodrama. A Culver City used car salesman's lofty ethics get him fired from a used car lot, but hired at another whose owner is looking for employees with “honest faces and honest souls to go along with them.” But there's more than meets the eye going on here. There's a stolen car ring working Southern California and our honest John begins to suspect it's his new employer's lot the autos are being funneled through. His suspicions are quickly confirmed—his boss wanted an honest face as a front for the crooked lot. Honest boy quits in a huff, but with a sick son and medical bills piling up he has to go crawling back, and from there he just gets in deeper and deeper. The film is nothing special, but statuesque Joi Lansing plays the owner's femme fatale wife, and she's the real heat in Hot Cars. At just an hour in length the movie comes with a discount in time expenditure, so with Lansing as part of the package it's a deal you shouldn't refuse. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1956.
Hi, I'm Joi. I see you've noticed I'm sizzling hot.
You'd give your right arm to have a woman as hot as me and we both know it.
You realize the drink is just going to make me look even hotter, right?
If you think I'm smoking hot at twenty-six, just wait until I hit my late thirties.
That heat in your chest isn't indigestion. It's me. It's my hotness.
I'm hot, but often quite approachable too. Like now.
I'm going to ruin your life, but hotly, so you'll mostly love it.
Joi Lansing returns to change your luck.
Yes, we just featured Joi Lansing as a femme fatale in March. But we came across this Friday the 13th themed promo shot of her, and since today is the dreaded day we brought her back. There's no way you can call that unlucky. The photo dates from 1956.
Happiness is to age well in Hollywood.
Joi Lansing was born Judy Rae Brown in Salt Lake City, Utah, and could be the best thing ever produced by a state famous for its natural beauty. While she appeared in the film noir Touch of Evil, as well as on scores of television shows, she can't be said to have achieved major stardom. However she had a long career owing partly to the fact that she didn't seem to age—quite a useful trick in Hollywood. Despite that, don't believe it when you see other sources claim the above photo was shot in 1959. She had good genes, but not quite that good. The shot is from 1956, when Lansing was twenty-seven. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
1976—Gerald Ford Rescinds Executive Order 9066
U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signs Proclamation 4417, which belatedly rescinds Executive Order 9066. That Order, signed in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established "War Relocation Camps" for Japanese-American citizens living in the U.S. Eventually, 120,000 are locked up without evidence, due process, or the possibility of appeal, for the duration of World War II.
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