Mondo Bizarro Mar 22 2020
TAKING THE PLUNGE
We're ready to explore the depths of our local convenience store.


We had this contraption sitting around in the wine cellar. Conceived by inventors Alphonse and Theodore Carmagnolle in Marseille, France, it's a deep sea diving suit made around 1878. It's truly amazing—800 pounds, something like 20 little portholes for good vision, and tricked out with more gadgets than Iron Man's suit. But here's the best part—in a lighting stroke of pure genius we realized we could use it as a hazmat suit. So we got it out, oiled its joints, and now the Pulp Intl. girlfriends are going to try and pick up some toilet paper. Yes, both of them. One has to stand on the other's shoulders to make this beast work.

You're asking, why are they going for toilet paper instead of us? Because they use twenty times more than we do. It's incredible. It's like they go into the bathroom and incinerate the stuff, it goes so fast. Now you're asking, why not venture out in their stead as an act of gallantry? We could do that. We really could. In fact, we even kind of want to, just to use that wicked-looking hook on the back of the suit's right paw with ill intent. That will definitely help you keep order in the market: “Line forms after me, virus boy!” But gallantry is so last century. This is 2020, people. We'd get destroyed on social media for it. But we'll be in constant contact with the girls via radio: “Baby, are you receiving? Make sure you get beer. Over.”

On a slightly different note, let's just get this disclaimer out of way: this coronavirus is serious as a heart attack, as far as we're concerned. Where we live a lot of people are dying. We're doing quarantine to the letter of the law. We haven't left the premises in twelve days, but considering how lax people are in this town about behavingsensibly, we aren't 100% confident this thing won't still be rampant months from now. We can see one our of neighbors coming and going like nothing is wrong, and even having friends over. “Baby, still receiving? Hook our neighbor in the neck. Over.” Anyway, while we wait for this to (hopefully) blow over we have to while away these isolated hours some way or other, and this is how—talking shit online. It's the only social life we've got for the time being.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 18 2017
ADAM AND EVIL
You brute! Why don't you enslave someone your own size!


Above, more Down Under goodness from Australia's Adam magazine, with a cover from this month in 1969 depicting a scene from Mark Bannerman's “Murder in Marseilles.” It's a tale of kidnapping and slavery, or as the author constantly puts it, “white slavery.” This is a term you run into often mid-century and pulp literature, and of course the idea is that enslaving white people must be specially pointed out, as it's presumed to be orders of magnitude more evil than just plain slavery. In this case, a “swarthy Algerian” is the villain, and a Marseillaise beauty is the target. Do we need to tell you this plot is foiled? Of course not.

Adam offers another interesting feature—a piece of factual journalism entitled “Wild Girls of the American Suburbs.” It's about apartment complexes for singles, which are described as if they're twenty-four hour sex parties. All of this being well before our time, we weren't sure if such places actually existed, but it seems they did, in locales all over the U.S., particularly San Francisco, the Jersey Shore, Myrtle Beach, and Fire Island. Apparently Los Angeles had a famous one called Villa Dionysus, which we can't help noticing would be initialed V.D. Hopefully a walk-in-clinic was somewhere in the same zip code. Twenty-seven scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 13 2013
LESS MARSEILLAIS
Passage to Marseille has plenty of message but not enough movie.

We’ve seen nearly every Humphrey Bogart movie but had been warned away from Passage to Marseille. We finally watched it last night and the haters were right—it’s substantially below standard. You have Casablanca director Michael Curtiz at the helm and Casablanca alumni Bogart, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet in front of the camera, along with the lovely Michèle Morgan in the female lead, but all their combined efforts cannot elevate this clumsily written propaganda piece. Curtiz is not to blame—his direction is functional and James Wong Howe photographs everything beautifully. Likewise, Bogart manages his role adequately, Lorre and his emotive brow are put to ample use, and Rains dons an eyepatch and permafrown to bring some gravity to matters.

But Passage to Marseille is just a badly written film. Where Casablanca used patriotic sentiments adroitly (who can forget the way the singing of the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” both roused the audience and advanced the plot?), Passage to Marseille flounders under the weight of cheap nationalism and sticky sentiment. It enjoys a decent rating on many review websites but we daresay that’s mainly due to Bogart bias (wherein even his bad flicks like Chain Lightning and Battle Circus have good ratings). We love the guy too, but no actor in history has batted 1.000, and this movie was a clean whiff. As propaganda it doubtless got the job done, but as a film we suggest consigning it to a dusty, unreachable shelf. Passage to Marseille premiered in Sweden as På väg mot Marseille today in 1944. 

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Femmes Fatales Sep 11 2012
CELEBRITY APPENDIX
It was getting about time for a scar wash.

Above, acclaimed French actress Catherine Rouvel, née Catherine Vitale, who appeared in the French television series Allô Police, as well as the movies Les assassins de l'ordre, The Marseille Contract, and Borsalino & Co., seen here joyously frolicking, proud appendix scar and all, in the south of France around 1975.

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Sex Files Aug 2 2010
COCCINELLE FESTIVAL
I know why the caged Ladybug sings.

This golden issue of Confidential from August 1961 contains an article about the one and only Coccinelle, who was a French transsexual performer, almost forgotten outside her home country, but who set the world on fire fifty years ago. Born as Jacques Charles Dufresnoy, he adopted the stage name Coccinelle—Ladybug—in 1953 when he debuted at the nightclub Chez Madame Arthur. At the outset of his career, Coccinelle was a male cross-dresser, but in 1958 he underwent sex change surgery in Morocco with spectacular results, and her re-emergence onto the stage as a woman made her world famous. Adopting the persona of blonde bombshells like Mansfield and Monroe, she was able to parlay her status into film roles, and was also featured in a few shockumentaries, but it was on the stage that she shone, performing at some of France’s most exclusive clubs, including Le Carrousel and Paris Olympia.

Her fame was a controversial subject of course, if not a public obsession, and her marriages caused epic scandals, but also prompted the French government to legalize unions between transgendered participants. By 1989 Coccinelle had moved to Marseilles, where she headlined at the Cabaret Spitz. She was still performing there in April 2006 when she had a stroke. She died after three months of hospitalization, but over forty years she had carved out a successful career, made a difference politically and, at the forefront of her own small sexual revolution, helped scores of people in her exact circumstances. We’ll look for more information on the fascinating Coccinelle at our usual French sources and perhaps report back on her later. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 03
1968—Andy Warhol Is Shot
Valerie Solanas, feminist author of an anti-male tract she called the S.C.U.M. Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men), attempts to assassinate artist Andy Warhol by shooting him with a handgun. Warhol survives but suffers health problems for the rest of his life. Solanas serves three years in prison and eventually dies of emphysema at San Francisco's Bristol Hotel in 1988.
June 02
1941—Lou Gehrig Dies
New York Yankees baseball player Henry Louis Gehrig, aka The Iron Horse, who set a record for playing in 2,130 consecutive games over the course of fourteen seasons, dies of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, two years after the onset of the illness ended his consecutive games streak.
June 01
1946—Antonescu Is Executed
Ion Antonescu, who was ruler of Romania during World War II, and whose policies were independently responsible for the deaths of as many as 400,000 Bessarabian, Ukrainian and Romanian Jews, as well as countless Romani Romanians, is executed by means of firing squad at Fort Jilava prison just outside Bucharest.
1959—Sax Rohmer Dies
Prolific British pulp writer Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, aka Sax Rohmer, who created the popular character Fu Manchu and became one of the most highly paid authors of his time writing fundamentally racist fiction about the "yellow peril" and what he blithely called "rampant criminality among the Chinese", dies of avian flu in White Plains, New York.
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