If it's facts you want you've bought the wrong paper.
Above is a cover of the tabloid National Informer published today in 1969 with a feature on "watch-a-rape clubs," and we remind you again, these stories are fake. Tabloids at the level of Informer are closer to The Onion than any real newspaper, with the difference being that The Onion is actually funny. While it is absolutely certain that men have stood idly by and watched women be raped (all you have to do is read the news), it's equally certain that there were no watch-a-rape clubs. The story is written as cheesy softcore porn, and the image used is a promotional still from the 1968 movie Les oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou, aka Birds in Peru, with Jean Seberg. It was a controversial film, which is probably why Informer editors borrowed the shot.
They continue their anti-woman campaign in the story, “How To Tell When Someone Feeds You a Pack of Lies.” The pertinent section from author E.W. Steele: “Among the most notorious of liars are fishermen, golfers, salesmen, politicians, and women. The last-named are, perhaps, the most expert of the lot, because they find it so easy to assume an air of maidenly sincerity and absolute innocence. In addition they are less scrupulous than men. Not troubled to the same extent with qualms of conscience, lies flow from their lovely lips like lava.”
Less scrupulous than men? Apparently, this particular Informer is not so much a tabloid, but an encyclopedia of male grievance. They even try to drag Groucho Marx into it, somehow enticing him (if it really is him) into authoring an essay, “Groucho Marx Speaks Out on Love, Lust and Passion.” Marx, globally acknowledged comic genius, doesn't generate many laughs here. But it's late in his career, and maybe the written word simply wasn't his medium. After all, there are no prop eyeglasses and mustache to help him out.
While we enjoy major scandal sheets such as Confidential and Whisper, these bottom tier tabloids go against our ethical grain. But we scan and upload them because we consider them useful historical artifacts. Others have agreed. We've been contacted several times over the years and asked to provide full-sized scans for research papers and indie documentaries—though we've never seen the final results of those projects. Hey, you scholars and filmmakers, remember you said you'd send us copies when you were finished? Still waiting.
Elsewhere in Informer the (not so) Great Criswell puts in an appearance. He gives readers his usual set of preposterous psychic predictions. Our fave: I predict that an American writer will win the Nobel Prize for Literature very soon. Criswell probably thought he needed to mix an easy one in there, something he was sure to get correct, and guess what? He was way off! It took seven whole years for an American to win—Saul Bellow in 1976. Does seven years count as very soon? If you're a Galapagos tortoise maybe, but not as far as we're concerned. Back to the drawing board, Criswell.
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.
National Informer gives hypnotists a bad name.
We’re back to the National Informer today for the first time in over a year. When last we shared one of these we lamented having only five issues left. We’ve since solved that problem by purchasing six more, so fret not, Informer lovers—we have fresh stocks to amaze and thrill you. This issue comes from today in 1970 and it announces that a woman was raped under hypnosis. Fortunately, this story is nothing more than tabloid titillation. It’s told in a first person perspective designed to get pulses racing, as the woman describes how the hypnotist—who is her husband—used his power to make her cheat so he could divorce her. As she eventually remembers what happened she gives readers a highly sexual account of her ravishment. The story was obviously concocted in the brain of some sweaty Informer scribe, doubtless a male one, who possibly went on to write sleaze novels.
The issue’s real centerpiece, as far as we’re concerned, is the Amazing Criswell and his always astounding predictions. He really outdoes himself this time, telling readers, “I predict that a female ape will be impregnated thru artificial insemination with the male of the human species and the result will be a retarded ape.” Elsewhere in the issue you get a carefully considered weighing of whether whites, blacks or Asians are better at sex, a discussion of why sexy feet are indispensable for women, and dire warnings about the dangers of credit card usage. Eight scans below, and more tasty issues of Informer you can access by clicking here, here, and here.
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.
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.
1914—Aquitania Sets Sail
The Cunard liner RMS Aquitania, at 45,647 tons, sets sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City. At the time she is the largest ocean liner on the seas. During a thirty-six year career the ship serves as both a passenger liner and military ship in both World Wars before being retired and scrapped in 1950.
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
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