It was a different flavor of men's magazine.
Zest magazine, with its bold graphics and cover portraits, looks like a classic mid-century tabloid, but its banner tells you it's really a men's magazine. It lives up to its billing in this issue from January 1956—issue number one, actually—with short stories from Michael Avallone and H.P. Lovecraft, real life adventure tales, scare stories (“Is Your Daughter a Sex-Film Star?), glamour photography, and humor.
The Lovecraft tale, “Rats in the Walls,” is called “the greatest horror story ever written.” We wouldn't go that far, but it's freaktacular, like everything Lovecraft wrote. It had originally been published in Weird Tales in 1924, and we imagine that its bizarro mutant/cannibalism themes were pretty shocking back then. The Avallone story, “The Glass Eye,” is novella length. He had already published three novels and was building a reputation as a reliable author of thrillers, which makes his inclusion a nice coup for a new magazine.
The photography in Zest is just as impressive as the fiction. Readers get to see rare shots of major celebs such as Sophia Loren, Sabrina, and Delores del Rio. All in all Zest was a high budget effort, but it lasted only two issues. Why did it fold? No idea on that. Competition in the market was plenty stiff at the time. On the other hand, maybe two issues are all that were planned. We're thrilled to show you one of them, comprising thirty-plus scans below for your Thursday enjoyment.
Let's split up here! And in case I get killed, nice ass! Forgive the objectification, but I couldn't leave it unsaid!
Above are thirty-five scans from a December 1976 issue of Adam magazine, with a cover illustrating Mike Rader's story “Die As the Romans Do.” We made contact with Rader a while back, and he updated us on his career, and told us some fun stories about working with Adam editors back in the day. The tale he weaves in this issue concerns an Australian tourist in Rome who helps a damsel in distress, and for his kindness gets ensnared in a murder plot. The scene in the painting occurs when he and the damsel, named Claudia, flee the Roman catacombs during a Mafia-on-Mafia shootout—but only after Claudia has had her dress ripped off by the villains.
Rader's fiction is always interesting, but the highlight of this issue is a photo feature of Daisy Duke herself—Catherine Bach, three years before she became world famous on The Dukes of Hazzard—who you see just above. Since she isn't identified in the shots, it isn't like Adam knew who they had on their hands. To them, they simply had some nice handout photos of a minor actress. But that stroke of luck gives this issue extra value, at least as far as we're concerned. Believe it or not, after posting sixty-two issues of Adam we still have forty more we haven't scanned yet. Will we get to them all? We'll certainly try.
Vintage men's magazine stands at the threshold to a new era.
In many countries during the late 1960s the newsstands were still dominated by nudie mags that bore classical, studio nude-style depictions of women, but the transition toward magazines recognizable as modern porn was well underway. Knight, from Sirkay Publishing out of Los Angeles, is one of those transitional magazines. It debuted as Sir Knight in 1958 with a focus on fiction, humor, and demure photo features. The above issue published in 1967 is a bit racier, but still middle-of-the road for the time period. In another few years pubic hair would be on display in American men's magazines. Soon after that the pearly gates would appear, and in short order they'd be wide open. Did we really write that? Sorry—it's the booze talking.
On the cover here is Rita Rogers, touted as the next big thing, but who made only a few magazine appearances as far as we can tell. Inside you get William Holden, Turkish bellydancer Kiash Nanah, aka Aïché Nana, whose impromptu strip in a Rome cafe we talked about a while back, and actress Joi Lansing, whose age resistant DNA we talked about here. And you get some fantastic art, much of it with a psychedelic edge. There's also an article on psychedelic music, so that seems to have been a theme with this issue. We love these old nudie publications. They're so innocent by today's bizarro standards that if you caught your kid looking at one you'd probably hug him and go, “You've made me very, very happy!” Scans below.
Classic pulp magazine goes for the throat.
Above is a selection of fifteen action covers from the pulp magazine Spicy Western Stories, dating from the late 1930s and early 1940s, and you've certainly noticed the choking. Those pieces are by H.J. Ward, and he worked extensively in the pulp sub-genre known as weird menace, which involved women in various forms of baroque peril. The magazines were generally mystery and horror, and while bondage, burning, cutting, and branding were common motifs in weird menace art, choking wasn't that common. It seems to have been Ward's special thing. Maybe he had a time machine and got the idea when he traveled to 2019 and saw some of the terrible American porn that's become popular. In any case, the imagery is odd as hell, and more than a little disturbing, but it's undeniably proficient.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.
We thought the 1952 issue of Adam we scanned a little while back was fragile. It has been surpassed by the above pastry crust-like issue from this month in 1955, which we barely got back into a plastic sleeve (reasonably) intact. In case you ever wondered why we stick with ’70s issues, that's the answer. But the older mags often come bundled in lots with the newer ones. Anyway, it's nice, with a brilliant cover illustration of a scuba diver and a shark, not the first time Adam has gone with this shark theme. The art is meant to reference one of the tales inside, Jonathan Edwards' aquatic adventure “Deep Water Hero,” about a trio of fortune hunters that go diving on a shipwreck and run into shark trouble. There are lots of shark tales in these magazines, one every few issues. This one is probably the best we've read. In addition you get rare photos of Abbe Lane and various unknown models. We have eighteen scans below, sixty other issues in the website, and more from Adam to come.
Watch and marvel as I escape this cage using the incredible power of my court appointed defense attorney.
This odd photo shows Eric Pederson, whose real name was Charles E. Putnam, showing off for photographers after he had been arrested on suspicion of auto theft in Los Angeles today in 1947. He and a companion named Edward Sell were busted by cops inside a car belonging a third party, though both denied they were trying to steal it. Pederson is rock hard in this photo for a reason. He was the reigning Mr. California, a title he won at only eighteen years old. The win sent him onward to the Mr. America competition, but he was beaten for the national crown by future Superman Steve Reeves.
Pederson generated plenty of publicity off that and other bodybuilding competitions, which led to a Your Physique cover painted by none other than George Quaintance. Since Quaintance painted only about a dozen of these, this was quite an honor. From there Pederson was able to launch a long pro wrestling career, which is how he's mainly remembered today. At one time he had Hollywood aspirations, but ended up managing only one role—a bit part as a wrestler in 1951's Civilian Coast Guard, starring Brian Donlevy and Ella Raines.
We weren't able to find out how his auto theft arrest turned out, but considering his seemingly unbroken timeline from bodybuilding competitions to wrestling, it's safe to say the charges were pleaded down to a misdemeanor or dismissed altogether. Which just goes to show that even quasi celebrity is helpful in L.A. Or maybe the cops gave him a break in exchange for bodybuilding tips. In any case, Pederson retired from wrestling in 1961 and died in 1990, but the Quaintance painting guarantees he'll be remembered as long as people collect great magazine art. We have more from Quaintance here, here, and here.
We're not on the fence about it—this magazine is a lot of fun.
As macho names for men's magazines go Matclif Publications' Savage Adventure is right at the top of the list. This issue from October 1960 was its debut. We gave it a read and it lived up to its name. Our favorite story was “Lizzie Russel and Her Riverboat Bordello,” by George Peterson, which deals with a floating brothel called The Virgin Queen plying the Yukon River during the 1890s gold rush. Basically, the tale is one of bad decisions and bad luck, and indeed gets pretty savage.
The brothel's owner is warned that her paddlewheeler is too big to make it upriver to White Horse, and sure enough, it runs onto a sandbar in a remote area. Left aground in deadly below freezing temperatures, the boat's two Chinese engine stokers decide to take advantage of the work stoppage with a little opium break, but overdose. Late that night everyone wakes up to a freezing ship. The captain discovers the bodies and simply chucks them overboard. When they thud instead of splash that's how he discovers the river has frozen solid. Pretty savage already, this story, but it gets crazier.
The captain gets the fire going again, but because he doesn't know what he's doing the engine boiler explodes. Fire ravages the boat so quickly that half the women going overboard don't even have clothes. One prostitute jumps but lands head first on the ice. Not good. Another catches on fire. A third runs from her flaming cabin directly into the sub-zero air and the shock stops her heart. Stranded ashore, miles from White Horse, the only heat source is the flaming boat, but once the conflagration dies they're all going to freeze to death, some of them naked.
We'll stop there—remember, no spoilers—but as savage tales go, “ Lizzie Russel and Her Riverboat Bordello” is pretty good. Other wild stories include Carl Williams' “The Grizzly Came for Breakfast,” and Jim Cooley's “I Listened To Them Scream.” We're glad we picked this magazine up. We imagine, since it was the debut issue, the editors really tried hard to get it just right. Mission accomplished, at least in our opinion, but Savage Adventure folded after only four issues. That makes this example exceedingly rare.
The cover is signed, illegibly, but thanks to the internet we were able to learn that the cropped scrawl at the bottom of the art says Norm Eastman. We've featured his work before—here. Aside from the fiction, Savage Adventure offers readers a couple of exposés, some glamour photography, and several rather interesting ads. We scanned our two favorites—one for burlesque dancer Honey Bee, and another telling readers that they can make a mint investigating auto accidents—sexy auto accidents. You'll see what we mean below.
Why did the girl cross the river? For a chance at a better future.
This issue of Adam published this month in 1952 is the second oldest issue of the magazine we've scanned and uploaded, and we gotta tell you, this thing was fragile as butterfly wings. But we got it done, and the magazine survived. The beautiful cover painting is signed by Phil Belbin, and it illustrates longtime pulp western writer Bob Obets' tale “Señorita Spitfire's Kisses”—let's just pause and enjoy that title, shall we? There's all sorts of promise in a title like that. It's simultaneously evocative and ridiculous, which often bodes well. The story is an adventure set on the Texas/Mexico border just after the U.S. Civil War. Basically, it's about a Mexican woman named Carlotta O'Farel y Cavazos who enlists the aid of a mercenary named Ricardo Ruby to cross the Rio Grande into Texas in search of a cache of money buried there. She plans to use it to buy guns for Mexican soldiers, while the captain is thinking maybe to have it for himself.
Here's a fun exchange (Ricardo refuses to call Carlotta by name at first, preferring to make up nicknames):
Ricardo: “Look, Flame of the River, just tell me where that eighty thousand is—and how come you know about it.”
Carlotta: “I was tellin' you, brains-of-a-donkey, the money is in this place call Corpus Christi, where my brother wait for the sheep to take this money to Cuba.”
Her insult really amused us for some reason. “Sheep,” by the way, is “ship” pronounced with an accent. Genre authors sometimes use phonetic spellings to portray accents, but it can cross the line into making the speaker sound stupid. It's something to avoid. After all, the presence of an accent means the speaker knows at least two languages, not just one, like most Americans. The most elegant authors, like Cormac McCarthy, write accents without alternate spellings. Obets opts for the clumsy method, having Carlotta say things like “sometheeng,” and “fineesh,” but he's a good writer anyway. In fact the story is good enough that we checked his bibliography. He's written at least two novels—1958's Blood Moon Range and 1965's Rails to the Rio. We may pick one up. In the meantime, we have a few scans, which include photos of Marie Windsor and Mari Blanchard. More Adam to come.
Nobody will suspect murder! You've told everyone you'd literally die if the Red Sox missed the playoffs!
Above, a September 1956 issue of Murder! magazine, which was the first issue ever published. It was put together by the same people who did Manhunt, was similar in content, with crime, procedural, and adventure tales, but lasted for only five issues. The action cover was painted by Frank Cozzarelli to illustrate Lionel White's “To Kill a Wife,” and it looks like the wife wins out definitively. Other contributors include Richard Deming, Carroll Mayers, Jack Ritchie, et al. And to Sox fans, better luck next year.
Pop culture magazine offers a look at post-Franco Spain.
Ages ago we found a stash of Spanish language magazines and books in a neglected closet in a stairwell in our apartment building. They were caked with dust, so we knew they'd been left to rot. We helped ourselves to a few, but didn't scan much of the collection because it was more contemporary than our usual offerings, and because the magazines were in large formats that needed piecing together in Photoshop. But we had a little time today (plus the Pulp Intl. girlfriends want us to clear out some material) so we have some scans from the Spanish magazine Interviu. This issue hit newsstands today in 1977 and features cover star María Carlos, model Virna Lisa, and Swiss icon Ursula Andress, who's the entire reason we did the scans. There's also a feature on nudism in Spain.
On the whole Interviu is a pop culture magazine, but with the crucial difference that it was published in a Spain recently freed from decades of dictatorship. Therefore the focus on politics and conflict is pretty heavy. We found four of these and all them play the dirty trick of placing photos of nude models on the overleaf of pages showing corpses. You're looking at a beautiful woman, then flip the page to see a dude with his skull smashed open. One issue had a photo of a guy torn to shreds by a bomb. We mean no recognizable body at all, just shoes, mangled flesh, and a few bones. In color. If the idea was to force readers to see the consequences of war, mission accomplished. But don't worry—we didn't include any of those scans, so scroll with confidence.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1967—Apollo Fire Kills Three Astronauts
Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee are killed in a fire during a test of the Apollo 1 spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Although the ignition source of the fire is never conclusively identified, the astronauts' deaths are attributed to a wide range of design hazards in the early Apollo command module, including the use of a high-pressure 100 percent-oxygen atmosphere for the test, wiring and plumbing flaws, flammable materials in the cockpit, an inward-opening hatch, and the flight suits worn by the astronauts.
1924—St. Petersburg is renamed Leningrad
St. Peterburg, the Russian city founded by Peter the Great in 1703, and which was capital of the Russian Empire for more than 200 years, is renamed Leningrad three days after the death of Vladimir Lenin. The city had already been renamed Petrograd in 1914. It was finally given back its original name St. Petersburg in 1991.
1966—Beaumont Children Disappear
In Australia, siblings Jane Nartare Beaumont, Arnna Kathleen Beaumont, and Grant Ellis Beaumont, aged 9, 7, and 4, disappear from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide, and are never seen again. Witnesses claim to have spotted them in the company of a tall, blonde man, but over the years, after interviewing many potential suspects, police are unable generate enough solid leads to result in an arrest. The disappearances remain Australia's most infamous cold case.
1949—First Emmy Awards Are Presented
At the Hollywood Athletic Club in Los Angeles, California, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presents the first Emmy Awards. The name Emmy was chosen as a feminization of "immy", a nickname used for the image orthicon tubes that were common in early television cameras.
1971—Manson Family Found Guilty
Charles Manson and three female members of his "family" are found guilty of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, which Manson orchestrated in hopes of bringing about Helter Skelter, an apocalyptic war he believed would arise between blacks and whites.
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