Aussie magazine delves into love, sex, war, crime, and more.
We're back to Man's Epic today, a difficult to find Aussie adventure magazine published by K.G. Murray Co., the same group responsible for the amazing Adam magazine. K.G. Murray Co.'s provenance goes all the way back to 1936, when an Aussie advertising worker named Kenneth Gordon Murray launched Man magazine from offices in Sydney, and its mix of adventure, cartoons, and women caught on with readers. Murray expanded and would eventually publish Man Junior, Cavalcade, Gals and Gags, Adam, and numerous other titles. By 1954 the company was churning out eighteen monthly publications.
Man's Epic, which is not related to U.S. men's magazine of the same name, came in October 1967, and switched to bimonthly in 1971, with this issue spanning May through June 1973. The imprint died in late 1977 or possibly early 1978, when numerous magazines predating World War II were withering with the changing times. Murray's umbrella company Publishers Holding Ltd. had become targeted in a takeover bid that resulted in K.G. Murray Co. being sold to Australian Consolidated Press, or ACP. After that point Murray's magazines were shuttered one by one by their new owners.
We're fans of Man's Epic, though this is only the second issue we've managed to buy. Inside you get articles about practitioners of warcraft, a story on motorcycle accidents that doesn't spare the carnage, and various models whose identities are new to us. There's also a lengthy feature on shocking sex rites, including a bit on San Simón, aka Maximón, the Mayan trickster deity native to our former beloved home of Guatemala. We once took a long drive from Guatemala across Honuduras with a statue of Maximón in the vehicle, and we learned about his trickster nature firsthand.
That story, by the way, was penned by Jane Dolinger, a trailblazing travel writer who ventured everywhere from the Sahara to the Amazon and wrote eight books, but is perhaps a bit forgotten today. The editors make sure readers know Dolinger is hot by publishing a glamour photo of her, which is a pretty sexist move, however she posed for provocative shots often. Meanwhile her framing of other cultures' sexual practices as abnormal is textbook racism. Abandon all hope ye who enter this magazine!
A constant clicking noise? I don't hear anything. Anyway, state your full legal name then let's get into some compromising positions.
The cover for Arnold Marmor's Ruthless Fraternity features possibly the least hidden camera in paperback history, but you have to love the art anyway. We've seen several blackmail covers, and they're tricky in that the artists are constrained by having to show both the camera and the intended victim of the set-up. It always turns out ridiculous in terms of believability, but they're always fun covers. The fraternity of the title is not literal. It refers to the proverbial journalistic boys club, and the story deals with the ins and outs, double-dealing, and machinations of a scandal magazine called Tell. We've featured Arnold Marmor books twice before, but had no idea how prolific the guy was. He wrote such sleazers as Bed Bait, Lust Lodge, and Boudoir Treachery, but also dabbled in spy novels and short stories. We'll probably run into him at a later date. This effort was 1960 and the art is by Bill Edwards.
Only on Mondays isn't nearly often enough.
This promo photo of the lovely Mariko Kaga was made when she was filming her drama Getsuyôbi no Yuka, aka Only on Mondays. You've seen her here before. She's on these two posters, and she's on the third poster in this collection. You'll see her again too, guaranteed. This shot dates from 1964.
There's nothing quite as stimulating as a vintage sleazy tabloid.
When the phonograph was invented, one of the things its advocates suggested was that it might be used for education, for example to listen to correspondence courses at home. Instead, in time it became a medium for selling music. When radio was invented it too was called a possible method for distance learning, and television was likewise touted as an educational device. And most of you will remember the high-minded rhetoric of what the internet would be used for. But today it's mainly a cesspool of crass salesmanship, lowbrow entertainment, mass manipulation, and intellectual self harm. So we thought we'd add to the morass today by sharing the infinitely sleazy National Informer Reader.
This issue in all its baby blue glory appeared today in 1975 with an unidentified cover model. The magazine, you may remember from previous times we've featured it, was an offshoot of National Informer, and a pared down version of National Informer Weekly Reader. The “reader” aspect is close to euphemistic, as there is no actual reportage at all, and the few stories provided are just short form sleaze fiction. We've talked about all this before. Today, for a change, we thought it might be fun to focus on the want ads. Or maybe hope ads is a more accurate description. The term “dick pic” is a recent invention, we think, but it probably should have arisen a long time ago. Check below:
He probably should have cropped the photo down to only his left-hanging dick (his left, not yours) to have a better shot at a response. In any case, the flourishing of the mid-century tabloid industry will remind you that mass communication has always bred lowbrow gratification. Some say the internet supercharged our darkest desires, and that's true, but we never actually needed digital technology to let our ids run free. Even pulp literature, with its murder, infidelities, and testosterone driven fantasies, is an example of the marginal blossoming into the mainstream. Well, there are few publications as marginal as National Informer Reader, as you'll see in twenty scans below with numerous explicit personal ads. Check our tabloid index for more examples of Reader.
Who needs a man when you have technology?
Éditions R.R. specialized in beautiful covers, and this one continues the trend. The art is by Jef de Wulf, and it fronts Dit oui, Madame by René Roques. You can't tell, but this is about a woman who falls in love with a robot. And he's a French robot, so he shares his feelings, which is more than you do. Roques actually got racy enough here that the book was banned shortly after publication in 1957. Still, we bet it wasn't as wild as this mechanical lover novel. Or for that matter this one. They say robots are going to take all our jobs. Add sex to the list.
Even without a baton the musicians follow her just fine.
Speaking of beautiful covers, we move into the music realm with this sleeve for Lew Raymond's Big Hits from The Fabulous 50s, which was put out by Tops Records in 1957. And of course that's Jayne Mansfield trying to look beachy wearing a tablecloth from a pizza restaurant. This was still early in her career, before she was Mansfield with a capital everything. The album features Raymond and his orchestra backing various contemporary vocalists, including Mimi Martel, the Laine Sisters, and Lola Grey, as they render classics like “Allegheny Moon” and “Teach Me Tonight.” But of course the attraction is Jayne, so we've cropped her below (as well as the fabulous 50s font, which we kinda want to put in our sidebar). If you're interested in hearing this music—and who wouldn't be a little curious?—you can sample songs here, here, and here, while the links last.
Pageant winner fulfilled show business and personal ambitions. Then things went wrong.
Beauty pageants are a bit silly, perhaps, but the participants are generally ambitious people who see them as stepping stones to show business or modeling. And in mid-century Los Angeles in particular, even minor pageants occasionally led to stardom. In the above photos high school student Barbara Thomason wins the crown of Miss Muscle Beach 1954. Listed at 5 foot 3 inches and 110 pounds, she was a body-building enthusiast, and in the shot just below she celebrates her hard fought win by pumping a bit of iron while photographers click away and a crowd watches.
Did Thomason's victory lead to bigger things? Maybe not directly, but it probably helped. She was a habitual pageant participant who also won Miss Huntington Beach, Miss Van Ness, Miss Bay Beach, Miss Southwest Los Angeles, Miss Pacific Coast, Queen of Southern California, andten other titles. All that winning finally got her noticed by Hollywood movers and shakers. In 1955, performing under the name Carolyn Mitchell, she made her acting debut on the television show Crossroads, and in 1958 co-starred in two Roger Corman b-movies, The Crybaby Killer and Dragstrip Riot.
But she put her career on hold when she met and married a star—Mickey Rooney, who was nearly seventeen years her senior and nearly two inches her junior. Their union had problems from the beginning. The couple married secretly in Mexico because Rooney was still awaiting a divorce from actress Elaine Mahnken. They would have to wait almost two years before the law allowed them to wed in the U.S. Legalities, though doubtless bothersome, were the least of their problems. During the next six years, during which Thomason bore four children, Rooney indulged in numerous affairs.
It should probably be noted here that Thomason was Rooney's fifth wife. Among the predecessors were goddesses like Ava Gardner and Martha Vickers. We don't know what Thomason's expectations of marriage were, but clearly Rooney didn't know the meaning of the phrase “for better or worse.” The affairs continued, and eventually Thomason did the same with a temperamental Yugoslavian actor named Milos Milosevic, who performed under the name Milos Milos. But what was good for goose was not good for the gander—Rooney found out about these international relations, moved out of the Brentwood house he shared with Thomason, and filed for divorce, charging mental cruelty. The nerve, right?
On the morning of January 31, 1966, while Rooney was in St. John's Hospital recovering from an intestinal infection he'd picked up in the Philippines, Thomason and Milosevic were found together on the bathroom floor of the Brentwood house, dead. Milosevic had shot Thomason under the chin and killed himself with a temple shot using a chrome-plated .38 Rooney had bought in 1964. The consensus is Thomason had decided to dump Milosevic and he flipped out.
The photos below show Thomason on Muscle Beach during her halcyon years there, a mere teenager, frolicking in the sun, filled with youthful hopes for a good life. She won beauty titles, acted in films, married an icon, and had four children. Any of those accomplishments would have been good legacies. Instead her death at twenty-nine overshadowed all the rest, and she's remembered as another celebrity murder victim, Hollywood style, which is always somehow both sensational and banal.
Sony Chiba battles the mob in a breakout performance.
How many movies did Sonny Chiba appear in? Like two-hundred? It must be close to that. These posters were made to promote his actioner Dasso yugi, known internationally as Escape Game, or alternatively as Jail Breakers. Chiba plays a career criminal who breaks out of the joint and ends up joining a cartel that specializes in prison breaks. They're “escape coordinators.” It's a great set-up for a flick. However, Chiba fans who haven't seen this should be forewarned that he's no martial arts master here. He's just a regular ex-con trying to make a fast yen in the face of long odds. It's a pretty good film, with nice twists, fun stunts, a cool soundtrack, and, in Chiba, one of the most bankable stars of ’70s Japanese cinema. And while the movie doesn't feature his trademark martial arts, it does feature Haruko Hanibuchi in a co-starring role, and she's an art form all her own. We'll show you what we mean a bit later. Dasso yugi premiered in Japan today in 1976.
Always get out while the getting is good.
Jim Thompson's thriller The Getaway was made into a movie twice, the first time in 1972 with Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw, and the second time in 1994 with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. Both versions opted to change the thrust of Thompson's tale, so if you've seen either movie reading the novel might provide an interesting experience. It's a crime novel with several deeper themes. For example, Thompson expresses social isolation in the starkest terms, such as here, when writing about a group of poor country folk:
Their existence was centered around existing. They had no hope of anything more, no comprehension that there might be anything more. In a sense they were an autonomous body, functioning within a society which was organized to grind them down. The law did not protect them; for them it was merely an instrument of harassment, a means of moving them on when it was against their interest to move, or detaining them when it was to their disadvantage to stay.
Against this hostile backdrop the two main characters, Doc and Carol, are—unlike in the movies—unambiguously amoral people, a couple who are certain only that the world is institutionally corrupt, and that their only hope for survival is each other. What starts as a standard heist-and-flight tale becomes an allegorical descent into hell, complete with images borrowed from various religious myths. This makes the latter third of the novel something far weirder than expected going in, but the ultimate idea of crime as a soul-killer comes across crystal clear.
You really can't go wrong with Thompson. While The Getaway is perhaps not as top flight as Pop. 1280 or some of his other books, it's still one to fit into your reading schedule at some point. It was originally published in 1958, and the above edition came from Signet in 1959 and features a nice orange cover from the incomparable Bob Abbett. If you're interested in seeing him at his best, check the small cover collection we put together here.
In real life this could only be a road mirage or a carjacking. Anything else would be too good to be true.
Above is a striking photo of U.S. actress Dolores Faith, who had no major roles during her brief career, but is probably best known for the sci-fi b-movie Mutiny in Outer Space, for her guest appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and for being a world class beauty. We don't have a date on this, but her time in Hollywood lasted only from 1960 to 1966, so take your pick from any of those years.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
2009—Farrah Fawcett Dies
American actress Farrah Fawcett, who started as a model but became famous after one season playing detective Jill Munroe on the television show Charlie's Angels
after a long battle with cancer.
1938—Chicora Meteor Lands
In the U.S., above Chicora, Pennsylvania, a meteor estimated to have weighed 450 metric tons explodes in the upper atmosphere and scatters fragments across the sky. Only four small pieces are ever discovered, but scientists estimate that the meteor, with an explosive power of about three kilotons of TNT, would have killed everyone for miles around if it had detonated in the city.
1973—Peter Dinsdale Commits First Arson
A fire at a house in Hull, England, kills a six year old boy and is believed to be an accident until it later is discovered to be a case of arson. It is the first of twenty-six deaths by fire caused over the next seven years by serial-arsonist Peter Dinsdale. Dinsdale is finally captured in 1981, pleads guilty to multiple manslaughter, and is detained indefinitely under Britain's Mental Health Act as a dangerous psychotic.
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