*sigh* This was more fun before the social distancing thing.
Orrie Hitt turns his sleazolicious talents to the subject of nudism for the succinctly titled Nudist Camp, published by Beacon Signal in 1957. We're treated to the story of an Icelandic immigrant to the U.S. named Della who finds herself needing to earn her keep due to a looming divorce, and turns her patch of rural land into a nudist resort. Problem is her partner in this scheme is secretly planning to photograph the visitors and blackmail them with the prints. When Della finds out, she's aghast, and bends her efforts toward thwarting this rude plan, leading to a scheme to steal the photos and hopefully burn them. Mixed into the intrigue is a bit of romance, and lots of waxing rhapsodic about Iceland and its beautiful women. That part Hitt actually got right. We've been there, and the women do in fact often have perfect ivory skin. Despite these factoids, and the exploration of body-free culture, Nudist Camp is a preposterous tale, uninspiringly told, signifying very little. You know what would have made it a lot better? More nudity. Go and figure.
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.
National Spotlite goes where few tabloids dare to follow.
How far did cheapie tabloids go in their quest for continually more outrageous stories? Pretty damn far, as this issue of National Spotlite published today in 1968 shows. The editors give the cover to Gloria Wilmot, but it's Eva Rast who brings the shocks by claiming that her father—in hands-on fashion—taught her about sex when she was thirteen. You know how this works by now. Eva Rast is supposedly one of “the top actresses in Europe,” but has no presence anywhere on the internet. Spotlite claims she starred in The Lotus Flower with Cliff Richard, but while that title is shared by several movies made in different eras, no film called Lotus Flower was made during the mid- to late-1960s, it doesn't appear on Cliff Richard's IMDB page, nor does the page list him as acting in anything between 1968 and 1973.
So what we have is a pretty detailed piece of fiction produced back when there was no handy internet to vet the claims proffered as facts. What does “Eva Rast” say about the event? About what you'd expect: “Mother was out. I asked dad where she had gone and he told me she went to my grandmother's for a week. He said, 'We're on our own and we'll have to make do.' I was real happy about it because it seemed like an adventure that daddy and I were sharing.” And so forth. In the mid-century tabloid lowering-the-bar sweepstakes National Spotlite has taken pole position. Can it be outdone? We have about forty tabs left to look through, so we wouldn't be surprised. We'll report back. See more Spotlite here, and more tabloids at our index here.
It's okay to bend me a little but please don't fold or crease me.
We've had a lot of Bettie Page on Pulp Intl., but there's no such thing as too much, so today on the anniversary of her death eight years ago we thought we'd share a favorite shot of her. She was easily one of the most photographed models of her era. Marilyn Monroe and perhaps a few others surpassed her for sheer volume of images. Despite those thousands of Page shots, this photo has an especially joyful quality we think sets it apart. You can see plenty more of Bettie Page in the website, including a couple of sets of images we were the first to put online, like here and here.
There's nothing standard about this model.
This 1953 wall calendar from the Standard Parts Co. of Memphis, Tennessee features a lovely painting from famed pin-up artist Bill Medcalf. While it looks as if the painting featuring a golfer with a perfect follow through has been pinned to a sunny wall for ages and the colors faded as a result—an assumption seemingly confirmed by looking at Medcalf's original lithograph at right—the image isn't actually faded. A glance at the orange border, which is as vibrant as something harvested by Sunkist, proves it. The makers simply decided for stylistic reasons to go with a monochromatic sepia for the color. Why? We don't know. Maybe because golf is an exercise in serial failure that sucks all the vitality out of you.
The real bonus with this piece, though, comes when you flip it over. There on the other side of the Standard Parts calendar is none other than anything-but-standard model Diane Webber, aka Marguerite Empey, who was America's most famous nudist from the mid-century period. She's popped up on our site several times, usually in rare treasures we've had the pleasure of putting online for the first time, like here, here, and especially here. We're happy to add another find to the collection, and we'll have more from her a bit later.
Delivering thrills all year round.
Stan Borack painted the cover of this issue of Male from January 1958, and the interior art comes from Samson Pollen, Bob Schultz, John Leone, James Bama, Bob Stanley, John Kuller, and Tom Ryan. Not a slouch in the bunch. The magazine contains a preview of Shane author Jack Schaefer’s novel Company of Cowards, the Civil War tale of a group of Union officers who have all been busted down to the rank of private, but who are formed into a special unit and given a chance to earn back their honor. That chance takes them into Comanche country where they face an assortment of deadly challenges.
Also in this issue you get famed model Diane Webber/Marguerite Empey—who we’ve been seeing a lot of recently—doing a nice photo feature and complaining that since being elected Queen of the Nudists by a national sunbathing association all anyone wants to talk about is her naked lifestyle. But we think that’s just the editors trying to come up with an angle for the text. Webber was an official advocate of nudist lifestyle and even promoted her special brand of spiritual nudism in television interviews, so we doubt she was fed up with it at this point. The photos were shot by Russ Meyer, and we’re pretty sure they’ve never been on the internet before, which is always a fun moment for us. Please enjoy. Twenty scans below.
Diane Webber brings a bit of warmth to winter in Baltimore.
Today’s Technicolor lithograph features a recognizable figure for once—the much adored Diane Webber, a California born model, dancer, and actress who was also known as Marguerite Empey and became one of the most important fixtures of the 1950s and 1960s nudist magazine scene. You can see a few examples of those here. Webber was also a two-time Playboy centerfold under her Empey persona, in May 1955 and February 1956. We’ve mentioned before that the blank spaces at the tops of these Technicolor prints were made for the insertion of advertising, and at right you see how that worked with a calendar for a Baltimore, Maryland establishment called Stanley’s Drive-In. The original image came from the A. Scheer Company, was called Exclusively Yours, and appeared in 1955. The calendar came out in the winter of 1958.
Lifestyles of the naked and unashamed.
We’ve done a few posts on nudist magazines, because we consider them to be related to the racy men’s mags that proliferated during the 1950s. A nudist would most likely disagree, but they’d be wrong—if they were to look inside a typical mid-century men’s magazine they’d very likely see a photo or journalism feature on the naturist movement. Yes, men’s magazine always portrayed nudism as sexual, while real nudists would say sex has nothing to do with it, but the men’s magazine link is undeniable, even if they sensationalized the lifestyle.
One of the countries where naturism was and remains a strong social undercurrent is Germany—in fact, at our local beach, which isn’t officially nudist but is generally accepting of the practice, unclothed sunbathers are almost stereotypically German, though French visitors give them a run for their money. Above you see the cover of one of the most popular naturist magazines of the mid-century era—West Germany’s Humana. Below are thirteen scans showing a lot of naked people having a very nice time—no sensationalism needed. You can see our previous post on the magazine here.
Times may change but sex always sells.
Above is the front of a copy of Uncensored magazine that appeared today in 1965 with cover stars Jackie O., Blaze Starr, and—in a sign of changing times—the Beatles. Inside the magazine you get sin and skin in the form of East German sex camps, nudity in international cinema, exotic dancer Marlene MacLane, transgender entertainer Christine Jorgensen, and call girl Christine Keeler, who, Uncensored reminds readers yet again, had lovers with skin darker than hers. And according to journalist Bill Jeffree, so did thousands of other British women. What had the world come to? These old tabloids often contain photos that haven’t made it online yet, and from this one we’re happy to upload a cool shot of Keeler, a snap of John F. Kennedy, Jr. as a toddler, and a rare vision of Elizabeth Taylor strolling a Mediterranean boardwalk in her bikini. We have about twenty scans below and more from Uncensored to come.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1946—Antonescu Is Executed
Ion Antonescu, who was ruler of Romania during World War II, and whose policies were independently responsible for the deaths of as many as 400,000 Bessarabian, Ukrainian and Romanian Jews, as well as countless Romani Romanians, is executed by means of firing squad at Fort Jilava prison just outside Bucharest.
1959—Sax Rohmer Dies
Prolific British pulp writer Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, aka Sax Rohmer, who created the popular character Fu Manchu and became one of the most highly paid authors of his time writing fundamentally racist fiction about the "yellow peril" and what he blithely called "rampant criminality among the Chinese", dies of avian flu in White Plains, New York.
1957—Arthur Miller Convicted of Contempt of Congress
Award-winning American playwright Arthur Miller, the husband of movie star Marilyn Monroe, is convicted of contempt of Congress when he refuses to reveal the names of political associates to the House Un-American Activities Committee. The conviction would later be overturned, but HUAC persecution against American citizens continues until the committee is finally dissolved in 1975.
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.
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