We're still at it because like all PIs we're persistent.
So we've been doing Pulp Intl. for twelve full years, as of today. That's a lot of trainspotting. Sometimes we're asked why there's so little information about us on the site. To us, there's too much, but we're flattered anyone would care. We can put a little info out there. We're nobodies. See? That was easy. We've also had people ask us to explain exactly what the site is about. Okay, what we're trying to do is create a conversation about art, literature, and cinema, and how they're perceived culturally, but especially temporally, while also mixing in real world material mirroring the focus of those media, which is why we examine feminine beauty, vintage tabloids, and old crimes. We're trying to do all that while using the actual art as a launching point and being light in tone when we discuss it. First the art, then the work it promotes, then the implications of the art and the work.
One aspect of these musings involves the influence of the profit motive on media. Seeking ever larger payouts, publishers and movie studios have jettisoned virtuosic promo illustrations created by artistic masters in favor of art designed in computer programs, nearly all of it within the capabilities of any graphic design graduate. The arc is interesting to observe. At the beginning of the mass media era beautiful art was not a priority for publishers and studios. Both realms experienced a peak in design that paralleled the rising popularity of their products, followed by a dramatic falloff in artistic quality even though their products remained popular. So with Pulp, in addition to discussing the merits of film and literature, we also like to look at how promo art developed, improved, then degraded over time.
Another area we're interested in is sex in media. Depictions of sex—the single most important thing humans ever do—have almost vanished from popular media. We think this happened due to fear, guilt, the influence of a minority of puritanical reactionaries, and the politicization of even loving and joyful depictions of sex. Yet the ongoing banishment of sex hasn't benefitted society, but instead has given an innovative pornography sector outsize influence over ideas of what constitutes normal forms of sex. We sometimes imagine future alien archaeologists, thousands of years from now, sifting through the rubble of U.S. civilization. Like earthly archaeologists they would look for clues who their subjects were in their art, and when they discerned that violence and death were viewed as entertainment but the procreative act was seen as shameful, they'd reach the conclusion that there was something seriously wrong with the creatures they were studying. So with Pulp, we like to ponder whether the loss of sex from popular media is a step forward or a step backward.
Why are we qualified to do ask all these questions? We're not. But we've been well schooled, well careered, and have seen and done a lot. We've been, either separately or collectively: screenwriters, magazine editors, musicians, workers in the porn industry (behind the camera), Hollywood insiders, social outsiders, bar owners, heavy drinkers, heavy drug users, global travelers, longtime residents of lands far flung from the Colorado where we spent our youths, and sources of consternation for many. And there are only two of us that do this site, so that's a lot of experiential ground covered in a number of years that would surprise you in their brevity. We're not experts about anything related to pulp, and the only credentials we have consist of Pulp Intl. itself. We use this website to learn as we go, and our visitorship from you guys makes the process fun.
Right now, twelve years in, Pulp. Intl. is doing fine. But we still haven't gotten the site redesigned, and at this point we realize we never will. Little pieces of it stop working occasionally, due to changes in the architecture of the internet. We realize that one day, due to some glitch or obsolescence, the entire site will go offline. We'll wake up and it'll be inaccessible, and that will be that. But we're going proceed as if Pulp Intl. will last forever. And if that moment comes when the site vanishes and doesn't reappear within a few days, it won't because we just quit. It'll be because rebuilding it was too hard. On the other hand, maybe instead of trying to do it ourselves we'll finally pay somebody to bring it all up to spec so it'll run smoothly. There's that option too. We'll see. Thanks for your visits, and please keep coming back.
Just let me out! I know a little about cars and I don't think that's what four-on-the-floor really is.
Four-on-the-floor. Too easy, right? Well, we could have gone with dipstick or blowing a tranny, but those are even easier. 1959's Night of Shame deals with anonymous partners in a one night stand whose lives are complicated by their constant desire for each other. Later, they meet again by chance and rekindle their affair, only to discover, as Mr. Spock once so eloquently put it, that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. The beautiful cover on this is unattributed, but it could be Rudy Nappi. We reached that conclusion because it was definitely painted by the same artist who did this cover, which is identified as Nappi's work in Gary Lovisi's Dames, Dolls and Delinquents: A Collector's Guide to Sexy Pulp Fiction. Problem is, we don't actually think that cover is Nappi either. We think it's Howell Dodd. This wouldn't be the first time we've doubted Lovisi, but what do we know? We didn't write a whole book on the subject. So, okay, call this one Nappi.*
You're just in time. Your apartment's on fire. Someone threw matches in the window. Someone who doesn't like waiting I bet.
Whenever we see this sort of distinctively sculpted red hair on a cover femme fatale we think the artist is Howell Dodd, but Gary Lovisi's Dames, Dolls and Delinquents: A Collector's Guide to Sexy Pulp Fiction says this is actually Rudy Nappi's work on the front of Orrie Hitt's Sheba. Nappi did his share of sculpturally coifed redheads, so Lovisi is probably right. The cover banner says Sheba Irons would sell anything, which might be true, but her actual job, once she secures it, is to sell cars. She and the other employees at the dealership sucker customers into unscrupulous financing deals, but this is Hitt fiction, which means the details of the business are minimal—the recipe here is sex and scandal. The men at the dealership all want Sheba, and when they eventually find leverage they seek revenge for having been rejected. We've seen this called one of Hitt's worst books, but anyone who would say that really doesn't know Hitt. There's no worst—they're all bad. This one is solidly middle-of-the-road for him.
The stuff that bad dreams are made of.
Any movie called Pulp is one we must watch, and since Mike Hodges of Get Carter fame helmed the production we were confident going in, especially since we knew it featured pouty Italian bombshell Nadia Cassini and numerous locations in some of the prettiest and most remote parts of Malta. In fact, as a travel piece the film is flawless (Hodges could have written it for the sole purpose of getting a Mediterranean vacation on the Hollywood dime), but as satire, it’s torturous, despite a few clever sight gags and four or five sharp one-liners. Don’t get us wrong—there are merits: always-interesting star Michael Caine, character actor Lionel Stander, and Hollywood icon Mickey Rooney. But there was also a lot of bad: star Michael Caine sleepwalking through the production in owl glasses and a pompadour, character actor Lionel Stander in a cock-hugging one-piece bathing suit, and Hollywood icon Mickey Rooney getting his dangle on in size forty tightie-whities. To quote our girlfriends, “Eew.” Yes, we know they’re riffing on their own tough-guy images. But still, eew. The main problem with this movie is there’s simply no—if you’ll excuse the term—thrust to the plot. Even satire needs to go somewhere, otherwise it's just middle-aged men showing their packages for nothing. If Rooney and Stander ever watched Pulp without cringing they did better than us. However, since scantily-clad men are rare in the macho world of pulp, we’ve posted some beefcake as a treat, below. And afterwards, we have some shots of Malta that’ll really turn you on. Pulp opened in the U.S. this week in 1972.
Tamil pulp hits foreign shores this week.
Chennai, India-based Blaft Publications has followed up their acclaimed 2008 collection of Tamil pulp stories with a second volume, which they’ve called Tamil Pulp Fiction II. Original, untranslated copies of Pulp II have been available since April, but the first English copies are just hitting American bookstores this week. We haven’t read any of the stories, but we’re aware of how popular the genre is. In India, pulp paperbacks are sold at every newsstand in the country, along with the incredibly popular crime magazine Murder Weekly. Indian crime writers in general are becoming more recognized worldwide, led by Aravind Adiga, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2008 for his novel The White Tiger. You can learn more about Tamil Pulp Fiction II and read an excerpt at NPR, here.
Twenty-three years ago we published something called Pulp Magazine.
Yes, twenty-three years ago it was (we keep updating this number). We were kids who didn’t know squat about print publishing and now we’re older and we don’t know squat about web publishing. But we hope Pulp International manages to entertain. It’s a bit different from our old Pulp, but it’s similar in many ways too. It's also different from the textbook defnintion of pulp, but we're going with a personal take on the art form. We’ll be looking for pulp everywhere—certainly in the accepted places such as vintage magazines and books, but we'll also be posting old tabloids, memorabilia, and various types of ephemera. We'll be looking at movies from the blaxploitation, sexploitation, film noir, horror, sci-fi, and psychedelia genres. And we’ll even be looking for pulp events—that is, real-world occurences with a touch of deceit, corruption, or the fantastic, because those too fit what we're trying to do. So there you go. Nothing is permanent, and this site won’t be either, but as long as it’s fun, and you enjoy it, we’ll be here. Welcome to Pulp Intl.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong
, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.
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