|Sportswire||Jun 16 2015|
|Vintage Pulp||Jun 7 2015|
There’s no limit to the range of tabloids from the 1960s and 1970s. Yesterday we showed you Private Affairs, and today we’re going downmarket with Offbeat, which came from Beta Publications of Chicago. The main thing that’s offbeat with this publication is the cover design, which you can see on this issue that appeared today in 1965 features elements skewed relative to each other and the magazine’s frame. We like it. Content-wise, though, Offbeat is nothing new. Its report on the shocking habits of American housewives is just sleaze fiction dressed up as research. The number one reason wives cheat, according to W.D. Sprague, PhD, is revenge against cheating husbands. Readers are treated to a steamy retelling of a wife’s affair with a milkman—yes, really, a milkman—and another wife tells the story of how she ran into an old boyfriend one day and they fell into the old pattern and started having sex regularly again. It’s pure lit-porn.
W.D. Sprague was not the creation of tabloid editors you might suspect, but rather an actual author who published Sexual Behavior of American Nurses, Sex and the Secretary, The Lesbian in Our Society (A Problem That Must Be Faced!), and many other romps that swelled readers’ groins while doing the same for his bank account. The article in Offbeat is actually taken directly from Sexual Behavior of the American Housewife, another Sprague winner. His real name was Bela von Block—yes, really—and he also published under other names besides Sprague. His PhD was a hoax, of course, but who needs a degree when you’re smart enough to make a career of faking expertise about the inner lives of women? Some of his work was done for reliable sleaze imprint Midwood-Tower, but he also published for Lancer and other companies. We’ll undoubtedly run across him at some point in the future.
|Vintage Pulp||Apr 27 2014|
Here’s another typical cover of the tabloid Midnight. We tend to think of this as a U.S. publication but it actually had offices in both Chicago and Montreal, and was printed in Canada, which presumably makes it a Canadian paper first and foremost. This issue appeared today in 1964 and the imprint had by this point been around for eleven years. We have no idea when it died but we’ve never seen an issue past 1969. We’ll have more from Midnight later, including some complete scans.
|Vintage Pulp||Jun 10 2013|
We’re back to the West German publication Illustrierte Film-Bühne today, supplementing our post from two months ago. These examples are all from American dramas or films noir produced during the 1940s and early 1950s, but which premiered in West Germany later, typically 1954 or after. You can see the earlier IFB collection here.
|Vintage Pulp||Apr 23 2013|
One thing about writing Pulp Intl. is it gives us an excuse to fill in blanks in our movie résumé. The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, and Joan Blondell, was one such blank—until last night. A rags-to-riches-to-ruin story, it was one of the earliest gangster flicks, one that was a big hit but which had suffered the scissors of Hays Code censors. It’s always interesting to note the scenes cut from a post-Code movie, because those say the most about attitudes of the times. For example, the scene in which Cagney is measured for a suit by a gay tailor differs in no discernable way from such scenes in today’s movies. There’s macho discomfort by the lead and effeminate fussing by the tailor that leads to the inevitable inseam measuring, all played for cheap humor. We don’t condemn or endorse this sort of thing—it’s just fascinating to see how little has changed in eighty some years. Two other scenes were cut due to sexual suggestiveness, and those are also quite interesting to watch.
|The Naked City||Mar 5 2013|
This two-color cover from Headquarters Detective appeared in March 1958 and features a pose that you see quite a bit on vintage crime magazines—the man standing above a terrorized woman, often with a phallic symbol in hand. We’ve been gathering up some covers in this style and we’ll share what we’ve found pretty soon. This cover is also noteworthy because it reports at bottom left on the last of six murders that occurred in the Chicago area between October 1955 and August 1957. Three boys and three girls ranging from ages eleven to fifteen were stripped, battered, strangled, and in the cases of two of the girls, raped.
But it was the sixth murder that truly horrified already shaken Chicago residents. The killer—and if it was the same killer his violent tendencies were growing—dismembered Judith Anderson and set the body parts afloat in Montrose Harbor in two metal drums. The smaller drum contained the girl’s head, right arm and left hand, the second the rest of her. The head had four bullets in it. Police followed many leads—according to at least one account they investigated 109,000 homes, 40,000 to 50,000 garages and basements, 900 businesses, and 200 boats. They heard countless confessions, all of which turned out to be false—save for possibly one.
Some local fishermen told police that several nights before Anderson’s remains turned up they saw a car on the opposite shore of the harbor. They knew it had backed up to the water because they could see its brake lights. A person they described as well-built got out, opened the trunk of the car and threw something—or several somethings—into the water. When he drove away they noticed that one of his brake lights was out. The detail of the broken light helped generate a suspect, someone with a criminal record and a history of sexual violence, but police were never able to pin the killing on him even though at least one investigator claimed he had confessed. Ultimately police never solved Anderson's murder, or the other five.
|Mondo Bizarro||Jan 2 2013|
The above photos show an interesting looking model circa 1920 demonstrating the usage of a violet ray machine, which was a personal electrotherapy device first invented by Nikola Tesla around 1890. Tesla was way ahead of his time, and some of his electrical applications were simply amazing. For instance, he successfully generated wireless power—i.e., he lit phosphorescent lamps by sending electricity through the air. Think about that next time you trip over one of the twenty power cords you have snaking around your place. Of course, genius occasionally comes wrapped in a bit of lunacy, so in the interests of full disclosure we should probably note that Tesla also spent many years trying to build a teleforce weapon, which he claimed would “bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 200 miles from a defending nation’s border and cause armies to drop dead in their tracks.”
Tesla’s violet ray device became a major fad during the Great Depression. The contraption consisted of a portable box encasing a discharge coil that produced a high frequency, ozone-generating electrical current. That current was channeled into a bakelite-handled, glass-tipped wand, the business end of which was applied to the recipient’s skin. One company that manufactured these devices was called Renulife, and their pitch went like this: Electricity from your light socket is transformed into health and beauty-giving Violet Ray—powerfully effective, yet gentle, soothing, perfectly safe. Voltage is raised from ordinary lighting current to thousands of volts, giving tremendous penetrative force. The irresistible revitalizing powers of Renulife Violet Ray are carried at once to every nerve, cell, fibre and part of the body.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 11 2012|
Above is the cover of an issue of Final, a publication we had never heard of before, but which is certainly big budget and hit the streets this month in 1950 courtesy of Gambit Publishing out of New York City. The cover star is model Joy Niven, who we also had never heard of, but who was photographed by famed Marilyn Monroe lensman Earl Leaf. This Final has taken a bit of wear over the last six decades, but kudos to the Denver Book Fair for acquiring it, sealing it so its deterioration stopped, and selling it to us cheap. Now we’ve carried it across an ocean, opened it, and exposed it to the elements, but all in an effort to scan it for posterity. For as we discussed before, if it isn’t digital and accessible to the masses, does it really exist at all?
Update: Pamela writes in and says, "The best part about that Rod Cameron/Angela Alves-Lico story is that after ten years of marriage, Cameron divorced her. And married her mother. Yep...the woman on the right in that photo.
|The Naked City||Jul 31 2012|
Above, a cover of Master Detective from July 1949, inside of which is a story on Ruth Snyder. In March 1927 Snyder garroted her husband with the help of her lover, a corset salesman named Henry Judd Gray. The couple had been after insurance money, but instead they were caught, tried, and sentenced to death by means of electrocution. On the day of the event, which took place at Sing Sing Prison, a photographer named Tom Howard entered the execution chamber as a witness. He was under assignment for the New York Daily News, but was actually based in Chicago, which meant he was unknown to prison authorities in the New York area. That was important, because Howard’s assignment was to illegally take a photo of Ruth Snyder’s execution, which had considerable tabloid value because she would be the first woman put to death at Sing Sing since 1899. Howard was ingeniously prepared—he had strapped a camera to his ankle, and had fed a shutter release up one pant leg to an accessible point inside his suit jacket. At the moment the executioner threw the switch, Howard lifted his pant leg and snapped the blurry photo below, which appeared the next day in the New York Daily News under a huge header that read simply: Dead! The issue was a sensation, the image became iconic, and Howard became nationally famous.
|Vintage Pulp||Jun 28 2012|
Prime Cut is another one of those movies that falls squarely into the could-not-be-made-today category. Starring Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman, it’s the story of a Chicago mob enforcer sent to Kansas City to make a local meatpacking and prostitution kingpin pay a debt of $500,000. The meat aspect of Hackman’s KC operation is both literal and metaphorical, with his enemies occasionally ending up ground into actual hot dogs, and young girls being sold like cattle. Marvin starts as just a debt collector but soon becomes a white-haired angel of retribution, an avenger intent on righting a few moral wrongs. When Marvin gets that familiar look in his eyes, is there any doubt Hackman and his sleazebag underlings are in seriously deep shit? Prime Cut is an uneven flick with a few jarring 1970s quirks, but we sure enjoyed it. It’s bold, violent, and offensive by today’s standards, but nicely rendered by director Michael Ritchie and cinematographer Gene Polito. Of special note is Sissy Spacek, who makes her first credited film appearance. Prime Cut premiered in New York City today in 1972, but what you see above is the great Japanese promo, with its alternate title Kansas City Prime. If you like 1970s crime thrillers, you’ll certainly appreciate this one.