National Informer predicts a sex-crazed future but it never came to pass.
Above, some scans from the sex obsessed U.S. tabloid National Informer, published today in 1968, with stories on penis size, nude models, spouse swapping, teen sex, and more. In fact, the editors seemed to believe the world was entering an era of sexual utopia. Which just goes to show people never appreciate the age in which they're living, because 1968 looks a lot more like sexual utopia to modern Americans than anything going on today. There are three highlights in this issue—Swedish actress Janet Agren, who we've memorably featured before, on the cover, an Aslan pin-up on page three, and visions of the future from Informer's resident soothsayer The (not so) Great Criswell. His craziest prediction is as follows: “I predict that African brides can be bought in the open market thru mail-order. These 12-year-old brides have been trained how to be a good, dutiful wife, a good mother, and a good black magician, fortune teller, and witch doctor. Over 18,000 are now in England alone!” There's really not much we can add to that. Except to say that if these 12-year-old fortune tellers actually existed we wish one of them would have taken Criswell's job. You can see plenty more from Infomer by clicking its keywords below.
Our favorite terrible tabloid flirts with real journalism, but only for a moment.
This issue of National Informer appeared today in 1970, with an unknown cover model and, unusually for Informer, stories about three actual celebrities—Walter Hickel, Richard Burton, and Jean Seberg. Hickel had been caught using public money to redecorate his congressional office and is deservedly raked over the coals by Informer. Burton endures a mere sideswipe for comments about how heroic he’d be if he found himself on a hijacked plane. Seberg’s affair (or non-affair) with Black Panther Bobby Seale is rehashed over an entire page. If Informer had kept this sort of thing up they’d have begun to resemble a real newspaper, but no worries—didn’t happen. And a good thing, because we love Informer exactly the way it usually is—devoid of truth. Highlight of this issue: The (not so) Great Criswell uses his column of psychic predictions to promote himself, saying, “I predict that Tapesty in Terror, starring Vampira and myself, will soon be seen as an hour TV program in September 1971, so watch for it.” And guess what? The worst prognosticator in history got even that wrong. Tapestry of Terror never made it to television.
Cheapie tabloid offers priceless advice to American males.
Remember when Midnight explained that virgins make lousy wives? Not to be outdone, this issue of Rampage published yesterday in 1971 reveals what type of women make the best wives. Can you guess? Give up? The answer is—wait for it—prostitutes. The magazine’s reasons are many, but the one we agree with unreservedly is this: “They’ve already seen the worst men have to offer.” Elsewhere, the editors tout a cure for inverted nipples, reveal “lezzies slurping over female bodies,” and tell the tale of a woman talked into smuggling heroin in her vagina from Istanbul to New York City. Because this is a tabloid, after all, there’s an actual heroin stuffed dildo involved that the amateur smuggler secrets inside her lady parts for two days of air travel. Quote: “I felt full down there, like I was being perpetually screwed by a guy with a really big dick. It was a funny feeling, but sexy. I may have had an orgasm on the plane.” Everybody who thinks that was written by a dude raise your hands. Yep, we’re unanimously agreed. We also get America’s most popular seer the (not so) Amazing Criswell (on loan from his regular gig at National Informer), who drops this nugget: “I predict a lawsuit will reveal that one of our top glamour girls has a wooden hand!” Rampage is a gift that keeps on giving and we have about ten more issues we’re going to share. We know you can hardly wait. Scans below.
A good old-fashioned orgy.
A reader of this website sent in a nice piece of Robert Bonfils art we hadn’t seen before. This is the cover for Orgy of the Dead, novelized from the motion picture of the same name by its screenwriter, schlock film maestro Ed Wood, who gave the world Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space. If you haven’t seen Orgy of the Dead, we’ll tell you that it’s got a werewolf, a mummy, and the (not so) Great Criswell as the Emperor of the Dead. It’s also—of crucial importance—got a bunch of burlesque dancers cavorting in a graveyard, which leads to this classic couplet of Ed Wood dialogue between Pat Barrington and William Bates as they secretly watch Barbara Nordin do a slinky topless dance:
Barrington: “Could it be some kind of college initiation?”
Bates (breathlessly): “It’s an initiation, alright—but not of a college as you and I know of it.”
Well, clearly Bill Bates went to the wrong college. See below. We don’t say Orgy of the Dead is a good movie. But it’s probably perfect background visuals for your next party. Thanks to Andy for sending this book cover our way.
Rampage is tamer than its name suggests. That could be good or bad, depending on your point of view.
This issue of Rampage published today in 1969 features an unidentified cover model claiming that men drool all over her body. Particularly the lower half, we suspect, since she’s wearing no pants. Inside, the mag’s intrepid journos go on an orgy hunt and—amazingly—find one; pseudonymous scribe Pitt Falls describes how insurance agents have a gay time balling housewives; and rape is conflated with sex. That’s nearly always the unfortunate case with these (male-written) vintage tabs. Those stories are pure farce, little slices of sleaze fiction, and we assume close to 100% of readers understood that, but then again, you never know.
Anyway, in this issue you also get the (not so) Great Criswell, who serves up yet another slate of incredibly off target predictions. Specifically, he tells readers that Armenia will be a superpower by the year 1980, that a new war will break out on the Korean peninsula, and that Esperanto will become the official language of international newspapers and magazines. Well, in the prediction business you have to swing for the fences, and really, you only have to connect about 25% of the time to maintain your status. So what was Criswell right about this time around? He said taxes would go up. Crack! That one’s waay out of here, folks!
The Great Criswell, who also called himself The Amazing Criswell, usually appeared in the pages of National Informer, a fact that tells us Rampage is a creation of the Informer Publishing Co. of Franklin Park, Illinois. But the problem with Rampage is it feels exactly as if National Informer or National Informer Weekly Reader were left out on the counter to grow stale, then warmed under a heat lamp and served on a paper plate. The fact that it’s tamer is a good thing, in real word terms. But in pulp world we’re looking for the uniquely outrageous. Rampage promises but doesn’t deliver. But we’ll reserve our final judgment until we have a look at the other issues we bought. Meantime, check out the scans below.
Freakies and beasties and bushies! Oh my!
Linguistically, American tabloids are home to some truly fascinating diminutions of the English language. This cover of National Informer from today in 1969 introduces us to the word “freakies”, and inside the issue we are treated to various hubbies, lezzies, beasties, teenies, prosties and girlies. We also get the slightly more esoteric “bushies” for pubic hair. But interestingly, women’s breasts are referred to as “titters”. Go and figure.
Moving ahead, you get a typical slate of sexually suggestive articles, but Informer outdoes itself by offering up a two page spread on how to enlarge the adolescent penis. Are they kidding? Not so much. The article is a primer for parents who are concerned that their kids’ equipment is deficient. They warn that permanent dysfunction could result when these boys have their first sexual experiences and realize they’re hanging light. We submit that permanent dysfunction could result from a kid having his unit examined by his dad.
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention The (not so) Amazing Criswell, who offers up another slate of prognostications. He starts with a few obvious predictions he probably got from watching the news (“I predict that the new automobiles will be smaller and less in power…”), then floats off into the ether, telling us that women will soon own 90% of wealth in America and will be able to buy and sell men freely for profit. Could such a world possibly look like this? Then we're all for it.
What I see is what you get.
Above, a vintage poster for Marajah the all-knowing mystic seer, who appeared at the Auditorium Theater in Stillwater, Minnesota starting today in 1923. Marajah was one of a number of popular seers who toured the U.S. during the early half of the twentieth century, although—let's be clear—as good as he was, he was no Criswell.
National Informer offered readers sexual advice. Our advice—don’t listen.
The cheapie newspaper National Informer, of which you see a September 1971 cover above, began as a rightward leaning tabloid of the post-pulp era that later increasingly tried to distinguish itself by posturing as a repository of sexual advice. In this issue its articles manage to confirm readers' suspicions about the new decade's loose morals and construct stimulating sexual fantasies. For example, the “deaf and dumb sexpot” in panel five is an archetype of the sexually available woman, but sadly she’s French, thus accessible only to those evil socialists across the sea. Just can’t win, right?
But even as these and other articles offer up sex with a hint of political division, the photo captions suggest that the editors perhaps didn’t take their own content seriously. In panel three, a subhead reads: Some wives turn to lezzies when they’re turned off on hubbies. In panel eight, in the story Commies Oppose Sexy-Looking Frauleins, a caption under a nude photo of a blonde deadpans: Commies don’t like stuff like this. And in the report on How You Can Replace Sexual Ignorance with Sex Know-How, the caption under a nude couple explains: Breast sucking is great, with proper know-how.
In our view, there’s no way the editors couldn’t have been chuckling when they wrote those lines. Certainly, the presence of the crackpot psychic The Amazing Criswell (in panel five) doesn’t lend any credibility to the proceedings, especially when he predicts that astronauts will find cockroaches living on the Moon. So was National Informer taken seriously by its readers, or was it all just low comedy? At this point we don’t know. But as we mentioned in an earlier post, we have a collection of Informers, so as we continue to share them, you can decide for yourselves.
Daze of future passed.
National Free Press, published February 1967. This is as cheap as it gets, folks. There are exactly zero actual stories in here. The highlight is a column by the crackpot psychic The Great Criswell, aka The Amazing Criswell. Criswell was pretty famous in the 60s, and appeared on The Jack Paar Show, as well as others. Our favorite predictions of his are the complete destruction of Denver by a mysterious jelly, the destruction of London by a meteor, and the relocation of the U.S. capital from Washington, D.C., to Kansas. Criswell’s book, entitled Criswell Predicts from Now to the Year 2000, boasts that 87% of his predictions have come true. We can only evaluate the ones in the Free Press, and they are as follows:
Criswell: I predict that the next generation breakfast food will have a built in hangover cure. Reality: The only hangover cure we know of is more booze, and there aren’t any alcoholic breakfast foods yet—we think.
Criswell: I predict that you will be able to camp out next summer in a clear plastic bubble that you inflate yourself and which protects you from all the elements. Reality: You know how cafés have snacks on the counter under a glass dome? Now imagine seeing that, but being a grizzly bear.
Criswell: I predict that a future President of the United States will be a hopeless alcoholic. Reality: Just the opposite—the voters must have been hopelessly drunk to put some of these guys into office.
Criswell: I predict that after 1978 your marriage license will have to be renewed each year. Reality: Impossible, because the following scene would play out in millions of households: “Sorry dear, I totally spaced going. Guess we’re divorced now. Let me microwave a chimichanga real quick, then I’ll help you with your suitcases.”
Clearly, 87% percent of Criswell’s predictions did not come true in our little test. But you have to give him credit—he was bold. What else can you say about a guy who once claimed the world would succumb to mass cannibalism? But here’s one prediction that will definitely come true: We will have more on The (not so) Great Criswell down the line.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1942—Battle of Stalingrad Begins
The Battle of Stalingrad, perhaps the most pivotal event of World War II, begins. It lasts for more than six months, spread across the brutal Russian winter, and ends with two million casualties. The Russian sacrifice reduces the powerful German army to a shell of its former self, and as a result Nazi defeat in the war becomes a simple matter of time.
1979—Alexander Gudonov Defects
Russian ballet dancer and actor Alexander Borisovich Godunov defects to the U.S. The event causes an international diplomatic crisis, but Gudonov manages to win asylum. He joins the famous American Ballet Theater, where he becomes a colleague of fellow-defector Mikhail Baryshnikov, and later earns roles in such Hollywood films as Witness and Die Hard.
1950—Althea Gibson Breaks the Color Barrier
Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour, and the first to earn a Grand Slam title when she wins the French Open in 1956. Later she becomes the first African-American woman to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1952—Devil's Island Closed
Devil's Island, the penal colony located off the coast of French Guiana, is permanently closed. The prison is later made world famous by Henri Charrière's bestselling novel Papillon, and the subsequent film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
1962—De Gaulle Survives Assassination Attempt
Jean Bastien-Thiry, a French air weaponry engineer, attempts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry and others attack de Gaulle's armored limousine with machine guns, but after expending hundreds of rounds, they succeed only in puncturing two tires.
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
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