|Dec 27 2009
If sex sells, pretending sex is bad sells even better.
Here’s another Vice Squad magazine, published this month in 1964, with cover star Sophia Loren and several other interesting offerings. You’ll notice the banner about bare-bosom bikinis. Believe it or not, back in the mid-sixties bikini evolution reached a point where bras vanished entirely. The most famous of these suits were known as topless Maillots, and Vice Squad breathlessly claimed they were popular with liberated young women on the beaches of Saint Tropez. As far as their popularity Stateside, we weren’t around yet, so we can’t say with certainty whether they were widely worn. However, we did find a 1964 photo at bikiniscience of a brave Chicago woman named Toni Lee Shelley being hustled away by a local cop after wearing a topless Maillot on North Beach. Interesting, isn’t it, that the same thing would probably happen today, half a century later? (At Pulp we tend to snicker about this, because on our beaches many sunbathers go entirely nude—and we wish most of them would cover up).
Anyway, the leering tone of Vice Squad’s text (along with censored pix) was designed to inflame the magazine’s mainly conservative readers while giving them involuntary stirrings in the pants. Imagine thousands of Archie Bunkers getting heated up over the magazine’s scandalous contents, slamming it down in disgust, then sneaking a closer look after the missus had gone to bed. The same formula is at work in the stories about beauty queens, the “mink and champagne girl,” and Sophia Loren, who is pictured here in her film Leri, oggi, domani, aka, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
Loren was always dogged by rumors that she turned to prostitution briefly during the dismal post-war years in Naples, when she was a teenager. The Vice Squad story, while not going that far, certainly suggests that Loren was a bit of a wild child. We can’t say if she was ever a member of the world’s oldest profession, but we can definitely say Vice Squad editors were experts at another ancient endeavor—spreading vicious rumors. That said, if any proof exists that the great Sophia Loren was a lady of the night, we’d pay to see it. How does fifty bucks sound?
ItalyNaplesLeri oggi domaniYesterday Today and TomorrowVice SquadSophia LorenToni Lee Shelleytabloid