|Sex Files||Jan 9 2022|
National Informer gives sex advice—and if you take it don't blame anyone but yourself.
We love National Informer. We love it like a relative who makes off-color comments and is wrong about half of what they say, but is also bizarrely funny and indispensable at barbecues. This issue published today in 1972 illustrates the point perfectly. It's filled with nonsense. You get a primer of sexual deviations, an endorsement of incest, and predictions for the future from Mark Travis—including his assertion that cock-fighting will become a major American pasttime. That didn't come true—unless we're confused about the type of cocks, in which case cockfighting has been the primary force in American politics for decades.
The paper also has bits on actress Ira von Furstenberg, burlesque dancer Rebel Carr, treats readers to plenty of sexist cartoons, and touts phony medical breaktrhoughs, but the most interesting feature is probably its forty-five question true-or-false sex quiz. "How sharp is your sexual knowledge?" it asks. Well, sharp enough for our girlfriends, is all we can say. The quiz offers up a few surprise factoids. Our favorite? “Studies show that men with tattoos are actually worried about their varility. T or F?” Studies also show that editors of tabloids should worry more about their spelling.
Informer and its little sister Informer Weekly Reader were among the earliest tabloids to prove that being regularly incoherent is no barrier to generating a mass following in America. In fact, it may even help, if the last half decade is any indication. This is the thirty-eighth issue we've shared, and finally, we're starting to run low. That's bad news, we know, and worse, we probably won't buy more. They're priced a bit high now. Maybe that happens when fifty or so issues are bought by someone in a two-year span. But don't worry—there are many other tabloids out there, and some of them are even crazier, as a traipse through our tabloid index will reveal. Have a look. Meanwhile, Informer scans below.
|Intl. Notebook||Jan 6 2022|
West German magazine tears down the wall.
German isn't one of our languages, but who needs to read it when you have a magazine with a red and purple motif that's pure eye candy? Every page of this issue of the pop culture magazine Bravo says yum. It hit newsstands today in 1957 and is filled with interesting and rare starfotos of celebs like Romy Schneider, Horst Buchholz, Clark Gable, Karin Dor, Mamie Van Doren, Ursula Andress, Marina Vlady, Corinne Calvet, jazzists Oscar Peterson and Duke Ellington, and many others. This was an excellent find.
We perused other issues of Bravo and it seemed to us—more so in those examples than this one—that it was a gay interest publication. After a scan around some German sites for confirmation we found that it was as we thought. The magazine's gay themes were subtle, but they were there, and at one blog the writer said that surviving as a gay youth in West Berlin during the 1960s, for him, would have been impossible without Bravo. We will have more from this barrier smashing publication later. Thirty-five panels below.
West GermanyBerlinBravo MagazineRomy SchneiderHorst BuchholzClark GableKarin DorMamie Van DorenUrsula AndressGermaine DamarMarina VladyCorinne CalvetOscar PetersonLittle RichardSylvia SimsJames DeanUrsula AndressJohn BromfieldBeverly GarlandOlga VarenHélène VallierOdile VersoisAndrea ChecchiIrene TuncJoan Crawfordtabloidlgbt
|Hollywoodland||Nov 29 2021|
She was one of the most watched people in the world—onscreen and off.
Whisper magazine, in this issue published this month in 1961, offers readers an interesting story about an unnamed millionaire's obsession with Ava Gardner. Apparently the millionaire hired people to follow Gardner around 24/7, all over the world, and report back to him, with this surveillance going on for years. The purpose? If he couldn't have her, he at least wanted to know what she was doing. Whisper focuses on a particular spy named Bill, the fourth of four spies employed by the millionaire, who Gardner came to be friends with and let live on her property, rather than have to sleep in his car night after night. Is this tale true? Maybe. Money buys a lot—including tolerance for bad behavior.
And speaking money, there's also a story on gangster Mickey Cohen, who counted among his consorts Liz Renay and Candy Barr, both of whom we've discussed, Renay here, and Barr here and here. Barr has also shown up in five magazines we've posted. The easiest way to see those is click her keywords and scroll. Cohen proves that no matter what people try to tell you, money is an aphrodisiac, because there's no way trolls like him could score beautiful dancers and models if it weren't for wealth. Take a look at the worst man in the world, and if he has money, he has a wife far more beautiful than makes sense.
Whisper goes on to talk about Burt Lancaster's and Charlie Chaplin's lovers, teen-age drunks, Soviet honeytraps, U.S. prisons, Jane Fonda's professional and family lives, and more. It was a Robert Harrison publication that morphed from a cheesecake magazine with painted pin-up covers into a gossip rag. That happened around 1954, when the original Whisper, launched in 1946, began going broke thanks to an inability to compete with girly magazine numero uno—Playboy. But there was plenty of room in the tabloid market and Harrison made Whisper a staple monthly on par with Confidential, his flagship publication. We'll have more from Whisper later, as always.
WhisperAva GardnerNigel PatrickAssen PiekovMickey CohenAlbert AnastasiaSandra HagenCandy BarrLiz RenayCharlie ChaplinLita GreyJoan BarryPaulette GoddardBurt LancasterJane FondaHenry FondaRobert HarrisonColette Laurentburlesquetabloidmafia
|Intl. Notebook||Nov 13 2021|
When is a watershed not a watershed? When the water runs backward.
Above is a cover of National Star Chronicle from today in 1967 that references an event from our old HQ the Philippines. At that time the country, which has always had a problem with regressive males who view women as property, was going through a particularly bad stretch of gang rapes. In June of 1967, four men targeted, abducted, and, over the course of more than a day, raped a popular Filipina actress named Magdalena de la Riva. They freed her afterward, probably feeling safe from repercussions. Among the reasons were: they all came from influential families, men all over the country were getting away with similar crimes, and de la Riva probably would have to sacrifice her social standing and career to come forward.
But the quartet—Jaime Gómez José, Basilio Pineda, Edgardo Payumo Aquino, and Rogelio Sevilla Cañal—underestimated de la Riva's courage, and they also misread the mood of the Philippine public. De la Riva did indeed step forward, and the people were overwhelmingly behind her. The four men, as well as three accomplices who helped plan the abduction, were all arrested. After a sensational trial, convictions for all involved, and a few years of legal wrangling, three of the men who committed the actual rape were executed, with the fourth escaping his fate by dying of a drug overdose in prison. The proceedings were broadcast on Philippine national radio in May of 1972.
At the time the case was considered a watershed for women's rights in the Philippines, a sign of progress on the problem. The quotes in National Star Chronicle offer insight into the prevailing sentiment. One police official said, “These young hoodlums will think twice before carrying on the way they've been. The public is so enraged now, any would-be rapist knows he stands a chance of being torn limb from limb if he's caught.” But the problem persists all these years later, even despite a ramping up of penalties for the crime.
Recent backward movement on the issue is surely due to the fact that some influential people aren't interested in improving the situation. In 2016, then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte commented about the infamous 1989 rape of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill, taken hostage by inmates at Davao Prison, “I was mad she was raped, but she was so beautiful. I thought the mayor should have been first.” Duterte was mayor in 1989, so he was talking about himself. He went on to win the 2016 presidential election, despite his comments. In 2017 he said he would congratulate anyone who raped a Miss Universe, and in 2018 he said Davao City had the highest number of rape cases in the country because there were so many beautiful women there. Needless to say, watersheds are not always what they're cracked up to be—especially in the Philippines.
PhilippinesDavao CityNational Star ChronicleMaggie de la RivaMagdalena de la RivaJaime Gómez JoséBasilio PinedaEdgardo Payumo AquinoRogelio Sevilla CañalNational Star Chronicletrialtabloid
|Sex Files||Nov 3 2021|
National Informer guest columnist bares his soul and more.
This issue of National Informer was published today in 1974. In these later editions the editors seem to have discovered the value of a little dick, which is to say they began featuring male frontal nudes. The Pulp Intl. girlfriends used to wonder why we had so few nude men on the site. They actually thought it was up to us. We were like, “Baby, vintage actors didn't do nude promo shots.” Well, except for Fred Williamson, but he's Fred Williamson. Burt Reynolds did it for Cosmopolitan, but we don't have that shot because we don't collect Cosmo. So the best you get is these randos in low rent tabloids.
The models, whoever they were, got to experience what women had been experiencing for a long time, which was the shock of realizing their secret nudes had hit daylight on a drugstore newsstand without their knowledge—or financial remuneration. And as with the women, the photos were used in articles that had nothing to do with them. In this case the accompanying feature is about a porn actor who wants to move into legit cinema. It's a silly article filled with nothingness written by J.W.—presumably Johnny Wadd, aka John Holmes. At least that's what readers were supposed to think.
Do we buy it? Not really. For one, it reads like the same house hacks who wrote all Informer's articles (we love the part where he defines the term “persona non grata”), but second, why would a guy who's flashed his gooch to millions need to hide his identity? But it's very specific in terms of the hints the author drops, so maybe it really is him. But with or without Holmes, there's quality schlong on the anonymous model. The Pulp Intl. girlfriends say he could use a circumcision, but whatever, they can't say we never tried to give them some eye candy. More Informer coming later.
|Intl. Notebook | Sex Files||Oct 27 2021|
It's not how you start. It's how you finish.
We've talked before about the mid-century tabloid interest in transexuals, and how several trans burlesque performers achieved widespread fame. Those old tabloid covers serve to contradict people who claim that trans issues are a product of the new millennium, or that “it didn't happen in their day.” They just didn't notice. As the links in the above post show, transexual entertainers regularly made headlines in tabloids that sold millions of issues per month. To the list you can now add Gayle Sherman, who you see on this cover of The National Insider published today in 1963. This wasn't the height of her fame. A year later Novel Books would publish I Want To Be a Woman!, touted as the autobiography of a female impersonator. And still, she was just getting started.
Sherman started life as Gary Paradis, but became Sherman after a name change at age sixteen. As a transvestite she scored a job dancing for the Jewel Box Revue, which was a comedic drag queen show that criss-crossed the U.S. for more than thirty years. Probably the Jewel Box Revue deserves a write-up of its own, but the shorter version is it was the most popular extravaganza of its kind, and was run by gay management who were marketing to straight audiences.
Sherman moved on from the revue and worked mainly in Chicago, appearing at places such as the Nite Life, where her act sometimes involved dressing as a witch doctor and roasting a fake baby over a fire while singing Yma Sumac songs. Sometime later she underwent gender reassignment surgery, and all the while was passing through a string of pseudonyms, among them Gerri Weise, Brandy Alexander, and Geraldine Parades.
She eventually opted for breast enlargement surgery and at that point became Alexandria the Great 48, a stage name under which she would become a national celebrity. The number of course referenced her bust size. She was sometimes dubbed “Sophia Loren's twin,” but when audiences paid to see her they got something wholly different. She had left burlesque and moved into standard stripping, sometimes appearing at porno cinemas between features. She continued dancing until 1967, when bluenose politicians in Chicago managed to outlaw nude dancing. Sherman became a hairdresser, and was out of the public eye until her death in 2019.
As we mentioned above, vintage tabloids often featured transexuals, and while those stories were always sensationalistic, they were also surprisingly non-cruel. Not always, but often. The editors' accepting stances probably weren't sincere. Because tabloid readership was generally a cross section of middle class, middle American squares, the tone of the articles tended be: “this wild stuff happens in Hollywood and Paris, but who knows, maybe it's more prevalent than you suspect where you live.” As the saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day—the tabs probably nailed it. 1.4 million Americans identify as transexual. There's no total from 1963, but you can bet it would be more than a few. In National Informer, the excellent money quote from the Gayle Sherman article is: “My birth certificate is stamped male, but my body is stamped female.” We have a photo of her below, and she's all woman.
ChicagoThe National InsiderNovel BooksGary ParadisGayle ShermanGerri WeiseBrandy AlexanderGeraldine ParadesAlexandria the Great 48burlesquetabloidnuditylgbt
|Sex Files||Oct 6 2021|
All the news that's fit to sucker people out of their cash.
Yellow press is a term for newspapers that presented little or no legitimate news, instead attracting readers with empty sensationalism. While the term was most widely used a century ago, 1960-70s tabloid National Informer may qualify. This issue was published today in 1974 and is pure sex from cover to cover. Among the jewels: “Is It Normal To Be a Girl Watcher?” and “Do Older or Younger Women Make the Best Sex Partners?” As always, the photos accompanying these stories are random handouts, but sometimes they feature semi-famous figures. In this case, one of the photos accompanying the girl watcher story is of glamour model Lois Mitchell. The other two models on that page are probably well known too, but we can't place them. In true yellow press tradition, there's nothing substantial in Informer at all, but as always, its nothingness is well worth documentation, which we've done with nineteen scans below. And yes, we have still more issues. We'll get to those later. Meanwhile, if you want to see more from National Informer, National Informer Weekly Reader, and more than four hundred other tabloids we've already uploaded, just click here.
|Intl. Notebook||Aug 26 2021|
She didn't make it to the top of Hollywood just to accept being second banana in Monaco.
Yes, people were stupidly fawning over the rich long before 2021, as this issue of the tabloid Exposed published this month in 1957 proves. There are stories on one percenters ranging from Princess Grace of Monaco on down. Of course, there's an aspirational innocence to these old stories, because very few people, if any, begrudged the rich anything in this era. Those times have gone. Companies make hundreds of billions now and pay zero taxes. The rich have a thousand ways to hide their income, to the tune of 40 trillion dollars in cash hidden in tax havens around the world.
Something else different about the rich of yesterday—they didn't have dick-shaped rocket ships. Instead they had dick shaped yachts. And that's what the feud hinted at on the cover between Grace Kelly and Tina Onassis was about—in part at least. It was also about who threw the best parties, who had the richest and most influential friends, who had the best designer clothes, and who was the greatest beauty. Of course, Kelly was legendarily lovely, but because beauty marries money even when the money is as butt-ugly as Aristotle Onassis, Tina was no slouch.
Exposed tells us of one competitive episode the night Kelly was celebrating the birth of her daughter Caroline, which had happened a day earlier. Kelly lived in Grimaldi Palace, overlooking Monaco harbor, where Aristotle Onassis lived on an 1,800 ton former Canadian navy destroyer retrofitted as a luxury yacht. The night of Kelly's celebration Onassis left his boat totally dark in the harbor, then at one point flipped a switch that illuminated hundreds of light bulbs strung from prow to stern. Kelly's clan took it as an attempt to show her up. Sounds petty, right? Well, Exposed was a tabloid, and its readers absolutely devoured stories showing that they and the next door neighbor they hated weren't so very different from the one percent.
After that boat episode, according to Exposed, Kelly and Onassis barely saw each other in tiny Monaco, such was their determination to avoid each other. Again, the half-century old public obsession with these two seems quaint compared to people's interest in the Musks and Bransons of today. There are opinions and facts, and here is a fact—the U.S. is falling apart and miniscule taxes on the rich and corporations are the reason. During the year this issue of Exposed was published, a year many people now cast their misty eyes toward with longing and nostalgia, the tax rate for top income earners was 91%. No wonder things functioned so well, eh? High taxes kept the government flush and the rich weak.
But the highlight of the issue as far as we're concerned is Vikki Dougan, who we told you would return to Pulp Intl. soon, and who shows up at a party thrown by Hollywood astrologer Carroll Righter wearing one of her infamous buttcrack baring backless dresses. Exposed indeed. Since this is about as low as her gowns went, we zoomed in a bit so you can get a good look at the San Fernando Valley. Dougan by the way, is still around at age 92. Elsewhere in Exposed you get Joan Collins and her romances, restaurateur Mike Romanoff and his legal troubles, Paulette Goddard and her love of money, and vice in New York City. Thirty scans below.
MonacoExposedGrace KellyTina OnassisAristotle OnassisPrince Rainier IIIJoan CollinsPaulette GoddardJoanne ConnellyMike RomanoffCarroll RighterVikki DouganMaxwell ReedArthur Loew Jr.Charlie ChaplinBurgess MeredithSydney ChaplinNela BogackiSid Rosstabloid
|Mondo Bizarro||Aug 14 2021|
Tabloid crosses line between science and science fiction.
Our examples of the cheapie tabloid National Examiner all have art on their front pages, but when you have a scoop like this cow blockbuster, typography alone is more than adequate. Needless to say—but we'll do it anyway because in this millennium people believe in illuminati pedophile rings in pizza parlors—a cow never gave birth to a baby boy. Hope that wasn't disappointing to hear. The story, from this issue that hit newsstands today in 1967, claims that it happened in Russia when a woman named Natasha Kropotkin was critically ill and her fetus was transferred to a cow in order to save its life. The fetus, not the cow. Anyway, the achievement stands second only to the launch of Sputnik in Soviet scientific annals. Kropotkin is a Russian word meaning gullible, by the way. If the child had been real, though, he'd be in his fifties today, and we imagine him working in the field of animal husbandry, middle management level. Medically speaking, other than involuntarily mooing at times of stress and having a tremendous problem with gas, we picture him as normal in every way. He'd also be hung like a bull. Elsewhere inside Examiner are many more bizarre stories, and a couple of nice photos of Italian actress Maria Grazia Bucella. You can see plenty more mid-century tabloids in our comprehensive index located here.
|Sex Files||Jul 15 2021|
Clear your schedule. National Informer is back.
National Informer Weekly Reader is one of the more amusing vintage tabloids we've collected. This one is from today in 1973, and has time killing features such as two narrative brainteasers and a slate of predictions for the future by the inimitable seer Mark Travis, he of the 6.9% accuracy rate. It also has what purports to be an interview about zany fame with television and film star Goldie Hawn, but it's just a few lines and we didn't bother to scan it. But we did scan a hilarious story on Gloria Simpson, who editors tell us is in love with own body. Shouldn't we all be in love with our bodies? We mean in a perfect world, as the great rhythmic philosopher George Benson put it when he said that learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all? Well, we haven't yet achieved that utopia, so you'll have to be told about self love by Gloria. We made a nice box containing her tale so that, for strictly educational purposes, you can read some hardcore porn masquerading as journalism. Enjoy that, and the boner it's supposed to give you. National Informer Weekly Reader will return.