This one is paved with bad intentions every inch of the way.
When we saw these two Italian posters for 1966's I selvaggi our eyes deceived us and we thought—for a wonderful split second—that they were for a film starring Frank Sinatra and Jane Fonda. But then we realized it was Nancy Sinatra and Peter Fonda, who are pretty big downgrades, quality-wise. No offense intended toward them. Fonda is an icon of cool, but not because he can act. We aren't aware of Nancy Sinatra wowing people with her thespian chops either. But we watched the movie anyway.
It's better known as The Wild Angels, and it's Roger Corman directed schlock from American International Pictures about a group called the Hell's Angels ripping and bombing around Southern California, causing problems to law abiding folk and the police. While it's obviously a take on the infamous motorcycle gang, in real life the gang spells its name without an apostrophe. Why that makes a difference in terms of trademark infringement we have no idea, but we assume that's why it was put there. Or maybe it's just a correction of an assumed typo in the real gang's name. Or maybe nobody even noticed the difference.
Whatever the case, the Hells Angels couldn't really have claimed that the racist and violent Hell's Angels portrayed by Fonda, Sinatra, Bruce Dern, and company differed greatly from reality. The real Angels may not have clobbered preachers and taken over churches for all night bacchanals, but they did some terrible shit. Despite the incendiary verisimilitude of the movie, it's mostly a bore—but one that helped establish the outlaw biker genre and pave the way for 1969's Easy Rider. For that it deserves a little credit. Now we're going to try and find out if Jane Fonda and Frank Sinatra ever acted together, because that's a movie we'd like to see.
What are they rebelling against? What have you got?
Bad girl biker Anne Neyland encourages a rivalry between good boy biker Steven Terrell and bad boy biker John Ashley and the results are disastrous. Motorcycle Gang isn't original or compelling, but it may be worth watching for fans of ’50s hipster lingo and for admirers of Ashley, who later starred in numerous terrible-but-funny Eddie Romero b-movies filmed in the Philippines. Regardless of Motorcycle Gang's lack of quality, the promo poster is absolutely wonderful. The movie premiered in the U.S. today in 1957.
Knievel’s grandest stunt nearly results in fatal Snake bite.
Photo of American motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel, from today 1974, just before his ill-fated attempt to jump Idaho’s Snake River Canyon while strapped inside a steam-powered rocket. Knievel was the most famous daredevil in history at this point, and had conceived the Snake River feat as a way to further burnish his already considerable legend. But the jump failed when a chute accidentally deployed, causing the cycle to float into the canyon, where it crash-landed mere feet from the river. Had it landed in the water, Knievel would have drowned due to a jammed restraint harness, but instead he lived to jump another day.
Japanese chopper show borrows Nazi terminology.
Now this is interesting. In our constant digging for pulp from all countries, we are always struck by how symbols, images, and terminology are appropriated by different cultures or subcultures, and how the meanings of those images mutate from their original form. So here we have a promo poster for Japan’s New Order Chopper Show, this year’s version of which takes place tomorrow, August 9.
Anyway, you’ll notice the above figure is sporting a Prussian helmet, or Pickelhaube, emblazoned with a Prussian Iron Cross. Or at least that’s what they look like, but a biker will tell you these are entirely different symbols that have nothing to do with Prussia or Germany, save that the shapes were borrowed, much like Hitler borrowed his swastika from a similar Hindu shape. So, symbols evolve—we get that. The Pickelhaube was phased out during World War I and was just a relic by the time World War II arrived, so the many people who associate the helmet with Nazism are mistakenly mashing up two distinct eras in Prussian/German military history.
But here’s the question—when people already tend to think your symbol has something to do with Nazism, why call one of your biggest events the New Order show? After all, that was the name of Hitler’s grand vision of world domination. And since Japan was neck deep in this scheme, via an agreement to evenly divide Asia, millions of Japanese, as well as Westerners, know what the term means. Bikers tend to get bent out of shape about these kinds of discussions, but the reaction strikes us as hollow indignation. Which is to say, even though they pretend otherwise, they’re deliberately mindfucking us and we know it.
Okay, enough of that. We only brought it up because it would have seemed strange to post the art without addressing the point. And what art it is, by the way, painted by one of Japan’s foremost illustrators, who goes by the name Rockin’ Jelly Bean. Jelly Bean specializes in these sorts of voluptuous cyberbikers and has built a worldwide cult following. He’s often imitated, but never duplicated. You can see more of his work here, and below.
I'm gonna take this joint apart and you're not gonna know what hit you.
A few days ago we alluded to Marlon Brando's weight struggles, so we thought it would be fair to post a reminder of how he looked during that time when he was the top male sex symbol in film, and the face of American rebellion. These two stills are from his seminal biker flick The Wild One, 1953.
Money for nothing and your chicken for free.
Just in time to capitalize on the infamous 1969 Altamont killing that brought eternal notoriety to the Hell’s Angels and Rolling Stones came Hell’s Bloody Devils. Less than a month after the December killing this film hit theaters, but if audiences were hoping director Al Adamson had insights into biker culture they were disappointed. The promo copy promises all sorts of mayhem, but instead we get a disjointed thriller with neo-Nazi villains, and Kentucky’s own Colonel Sanders in a surprising cameo. Word was he got face time in exchange for feeding the production crew. He should have cried fowl, because he gave away his chicken only to end up in a turkey. If you see this one coming your way, be sure to duck. Hell’s Bloody Devils premiered today in 1970.
Gang killings—not just for kids anymore.
In Britain, seven defendants were sentenced to life in prison yesterday for the murder of 35 year-old Gerry Tobin. Tobin was a member of the Hell’s Angels biker gang, and his killers—who ranged in age from 41 to 57—were members of the rival Outlaws gang.
In August 2007, Tobin was riding home from a motorcycle festival called the Bulldog Bash. His route took him along highway M-40 through territory the Outlaws considered theirs. They gave chase in a car, overtook the unsuspecting Tobin, and shot him once through the back of the head as he traveled at 90 mph. Two other motorcyclists trailing the scene witnessed the shooting.
Authorities were shocked by the senseless nature of the killing—the gunmen had never met Tobin. As Queen’s prosecutor Timothy Raggatt explained to the jury: “This wasn’t a case of a man being killed for any personal motive or any personal reason. This was a man who was targeted not because of who he was, but because of what he was. In one sense, Gerry Tobin was a random victim.”
Three motorcyclists cited for flouting helmet law.
You’d be surprised how many nudie magazines have been published over the years. No, I’m totally serious. It’s like guys are obsessed with sex or something. In the U.S.A., Mexico, Brazil, France, Italy—heck, even in places you’d never suspect—they churned these things out like Krispy Kremes. And don’t even get us started on the Swedes. You’d think there was nothing to do up there in the cold except think about sex. Nudie mags really came into their own during pulp’s heyday, and now, thanks to the tens of thousands of masturb—I mean, collectors out there, we can share treats like Australia’s Carnival with you. If you like that, wait until you see the copy of Road & Crack we found.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1933—Blaine Act Passes
The Blaine Act, a congressional bill sponsored by Wisconsin senator John J. Blaine, is passed by the U.S. Senate and officially repeals the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, aka the Volstead Act, aka Prohibition. The repeal is formally adopted as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on December 5, 1933.
1947—Voice of America Begins Broadcasting into U.S.S.R.
The state radio channel known as Voice of America and controlled by the U.S. State Department, begins broadcasting into the Soviet Union in Russian with the intent of countering Soviet radio programming directed against American leaders and policies. The Soviet Union responds by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts.
1937—Carothers Patents Nylon
Wallace H. Carothers, an American chemist, inventor and the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont Corporation, receives a patent for a silk substitute fabric called nylon. Carothers was a depressive who for years carried a cyanide capsule on a watch chain in case he wanted to commit suicide, but his genius helped produce other polymers such as neoprene and polyester. He eventually did take cyanide—not in pill form, but dissolved in lemon juice—resulting in his death in late 1937.
1933—Franklin Roosevelt Survives Assassination Attempt
In Miami, Florida, Giuseppe Zangara attempts to shoot President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, but is restrained by a crowd and, in the course of firing five wild shots, hits five people, including Chicago, Illinois Mayor Anton J. Cermak, who dies of his wounds three weeks later. Zangara is quickly tried and sentenced to eighty years in jail for attempted murder, but is later convicted of murder when Cermak dies. Zangara is sentenced to death and executed in Florida's electric chair.
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