Cleanliness is next to bawdiness.
Below, a small selection of paperback covers featuring characters getting more from their daily rinse than just a squeaky clean feeling.
An equitable exchange of services.
Are you old enough to have experienced the swinging craze? We aren’t, and we wouldn’t have taken part anyway (are you reading this, Pulp Intl. girlfriends?), but it does look kind of fun on vintage paperbacks (you aren't reading this are you, Pulp Intl. girlfriends?). We’ve shared a few covers in the past dealing with the subject of swapping, and you can see a few here, here, and here. For today we decided it was finally time to do what every pulp site must—put together a large, swap-themed collection of sleaze paperback covers. So above and below is a vast assortment for your enjoyment. The trick with these was to make sure they weren’t all from Greenleaf Classics, which is a company that through its imprints Companion, Candid, Adult, Nightstand, et al, published hundreds of swapping novels. That means we had to look far afield to avoid having the entire collection come from that publisher. We think we’ve done a good job (though we will put together a Greenleaf-only swapping collection later—it’s mandatory). Want to see even more swapping books? Try the excellent sleaze fiction website triplexbooks.com.
Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer shares his thoughts on dying in the electric chair.
Above is a typically lurid front of Inside News from today in 1964. Sugar Ray Robinson gets a mention in a topside banner, but stripper Candy Wells and killer Jack Ruby dominate the cover. Ruby had fatally shot alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald the previous year. Thanks to television cameras that recorded the event he had no chance at any real defense except to plead insanity, but he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. In the article a suicidal Ruby reflects on his pending appointment with Old Sparky. The money quote: “You know, I was the first to ever shoot somebody on TV, and I was the first to have a death sentence handed me with TV cameras on. But if they think I’m gonna be the first guy they see fry in the hot seat on TV, they're nuts." He alsooffered this: “They say it don’t hurt—it’s over faster than a wink, but I don’t think so. I saw a guy get it once. It don’t hurt? Hell when that jolt hit him he jumped so hard he would have hit the ceiling if he wasn’t strapped down.” And one more interesting quote: “Sometimes I feel like a caged freak, like a million people out there are waiting to see me fry.”
What is Candy Wells’ role in all this? She danced at the Carousel Club, the Dallas strip establishment owned by Ruby, and Inside News asks her for insights about her boss. She’s really just an excuse to slip some skin into the story, but she does offer this about Ruby’s suicide threats: “If he said it you can believe it. I don’t know what he’ll do, but I’ll bet my last pair of pasties he’ll do something.” Hah hah, her last pair of pasties. Do you believe she said that? We don’t either. But it’s an interesting article, and the Ruby quotes, if true, are revealing. He was wrong about one thing, though. He said a million people were waiting to see him fry. Actually, because by killing Oswald he ruined the opportunity for the public to get answers regarding the Kennedy assassination from the alleged assassin, there were probably more like one hundred million people waiting for him to fry (for those unfamiliar with the history, a Gallup poll conducted just days after the assassination showed that a majority of Americans believed Oswald was not the only one involved, and that number has only gone up since). But the people never got to see Ruby ride Old Sparky, because he died of a pulmonary embolism related to lung cancer in January 1967.
Police Gazette gets readers up to date with Ava Gardner but it’s their Castro story that leads someplace interesting.
Above are a couple of scans from an issue of The National Police Gazette published this month in 1963 with cover star Ava Gardner. Gardner had been living in Spain and hadn’t been in a movie in three years, but was about to appear in the historical war drama 55 Days at Peking with Charleton Heston and David Niven. The Gazette discusses how she’d gotten fed up with the U.S.—particularly the American press. She had been particularly annoyed by the rumor that she was involved with Sammy Davis, Jr., a story that took flight after several magazines published photos of the two holding hands. When asked why she was returning to Hollywood after being out of circulation for so long, Gardner, in typically blunt fashion, replied, “I need the money.”
Moving on, we’ve pointed out that the Gazette made a longstanding habit of using Adolf Hitler on its covers, but his wasn’t the only face that moved magazines. After Fidel Castro assumed leadership of Cuba, the Gazette regularly wrote scathing stories about him. We’ve already learned that he let Viet Cong killer squads train in Cuba, and that he planned to “arm southern Negroes” in order to foment revolution in the U.S. Well, now we learn he was also a rapist. Figures, right? He might have been supreme leader of an island filled with beautiful women, but people always want what they can’t have—in this case, a teenaged ship captain’s daughter named Lisa. Gazette writer Bob Hartford cranks up the melodrama:
Castro laughed drunkenly as he weaved his way into Lisa’s sitting room.
“Have you changed your mind, my pet?” he demanded.
“No,” replied the brave but frightened girl.
All Castro needs at that point is a Lacoste sweater and a fraternity paddle and his transformation into pure evil would be complete. But as fanciful as the story seems, Lisa really did exist. Her real name was Marita Lorenz and she was Castro’s live-in mistress for several months in 1959. While Lorenz herself never suggested she was ever raped by Castro, the two did have a falling out around the issue of her unplanned pregnancy, which was terminated in its sixth month. Lorenz later said the abortion was forced on her while she was drugged; Castro’s associates claim that she wanted it. Lorenz went on to join anti-Castro activists in the U.S., and on a fundraising visit with the deposed Venezuelan dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, became involved with him. She was still traveling to and from Cuba, and was recruited by the CIA for a Castro assassination attempt. But instead of poisoning his food, like she’d been instructed, she abandoned the plot, supposedly because she still felt strongly for him. Lorenz later wrote about all this in two autobiographies.
In 1977, Lorenz told the New York Daily News that she met Lee Harvey Oswald in autumn 1963 at a CIA safe house in Miami. She claimed she met him again weeks later along with a group of anti-Castro Cubans and they had Dallas street maps. We all know what happened next. Lorenz eventually testified about this before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, but her story was deemed unreliable. We suppose bouncing between two dictators and acting as a double agent will tend toraise a red flag with American congressmen, though these things have no bearing on whether she was telling the truth. It’s interesting though, isn’t it? You’d think that if a single man of his own accord assassinated another man the surrounding circumstances wouldn’t be so… labyrinthine. Yet lurking near the supposed black swan event of the Kennedy killing were double-agents like Lorenz, spooks like E. Howard Hunt, underworld figures like Eladio Ceferino del Valle and others. Just saying. In any case, we’ll have more from the Police Gazette and more on Fidel Castro soon.
Close only counts in horseshoes and h-bombs.
We came across two more postcards celebrating Las Vegas’s distinction as a city from which it was possible to see nuclear test shots. You may remember we posted a couple of similar items in December. These two promote not just Vegas’s dubious proximity to planet-killing nuclear ordnance, but also the venerable Horseshoe Club, a casino owned by Vegas legend Benny Binion. This is the 1950’s we’re talking about, so of course Binion was mobbed up. He started as a thief and killer in Dallas, and ended up with a commemorative statue on Freemont Street (later moved to the Strip). That simple fact probably says more about old Las Vegas than entire books. We’ll get back to him a bit later. No pulp site could be complete without him.
Ex-CIA officer makes new claims about JFK’s assassination.
There’s an interesting story emerging today involving former CIA officer Brian Latell, right, who claims that Fidel Castro ordered subordinates to listen carefully for news from Texas on November 22, 1963. That was, of course, the morning U.S. president John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and Latell, who was the CIA’s national intelligence officer for Latin America, says Castro gave the order to put ears to the ground hours before the shooting. Possible? Well, probably quite a few people had advance knowledge of the assassination, so why not Castro? One wonders, though, why Latell, who’s made a nice living of writing about Fidel, appears with this revelation now. Had it slipped his mind for forty-nine years? Surely these claims have nothing to do with goosing sales of his new book Castro’s Secrets? That would be so very… capitalist of him.
Kidding aside, there’s little logic in Castro trying to kill Kennedy. Latell doesn’t make this claim, exactly, though he comes mighty close: “I don’t say Fidel Castro ordered the assassination. I don’t say Oswald was under his control. He might have been, but I don’t argue that, because I was unable to find any evidence for that.” Hmm. We tend to think a presidential killing conceived and orchestrated in the U.S. could be effectively covered up because some of the participants might be government officials able to classify documents, manage the press, pressure investigators, falsify evidence, and so on. But a Cuba-based conspiracy would have none of those advantages, thus the evidence would be there. Glaringlyso, we think. Indeed, we can imagine teams of CIA analysts in the days after the murder searching—if not praying—for even the most tenuous Cuba connection in hopes of uncovering a pretext for dispatching a division of marines to Havana. The fact that those marines never embarked says volumes. So we’re going to vote no on the implication that Castro had Kennedy killed. Advance knowledge? Possible. Did he pull the strings? No way. But like millions of Americans, we’d love to know who did.
In the aftermath of tragedy, a widow experiences historic generosity.
This National Enquirer from today in 1964 tells readers the story of Marie Tippit, the widow of J.D. Tippit, the Dallas police officer shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald the morning of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In the year since, Mrs. Tippit had received a lot of money. The cover text might make you think she's referring to life insurance benefits, but actually she’s talking about cash donated to her by sympathetic Americans. The total was $647,579, which would be about $5 million in today’s money. $25,000 of that came from Abraham Zapruder, the man who filmed JFK’s assassination. The amount he gave was almost 15% of what he received for selling the film. If you find it hard to imagine this non-cynical outpouring of generosity today, join the club. But thanks to National Enquirer, we’re reminded of an earlier America, and given an interesting historical footnote to the events of that day in Dallas.
Americans still have a few nagging doubts about who pulled the trigger on John F. Kennedy.
Polls conducted in the last ten years indicate that 70% to 75% of Americans do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald, seen above in a photo taken while he was in the U.S. Marine Corps, acted alone when U.S. president John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas in 1963. A March 2010 Gallup poll tells us the number might be as high as 81%. These are astounding percentages when you consider that reaching a higher level of agreement in a poll is nearly impossible. For perspective, consider that according to a 2005 article by New York Times journalist Cornelia Dean, only about 80% of Americans believe the Earth revolves around the sun. Such overwhelming belief in a Kennedy conspiracy is easy to understand when reading the many contradictory accounts of the event. But filter out all the white noise and what attracts attention are the statements of two people who were highly respected—if not revered—in their fields. First, Secret Service agent Clint Hill, who was laying atop Kennedy to shield him as the limousine drove away from the scene of the shooting, testified that the President had a five inch diameter wound behind his right ear, indicating the exit of a bullet that had struck from the front. Other witnessess observed this too, but Hill was closest—literally inches away. Second, Marine gunnery sergeant Carlos Hathcock testified that, utilizing the same rifle as Oswald, and shooting from the same range and angle and with the same weather conditions, he was unable to duplicate Oswald’s feat, even after multiple tries. Why is that significant? Because Hathcock was one of the best riflemen in the world, the winner of multiple shooting championships and a guy who in Vietnam documentably notched a kill from a distance of 1.42 miles. Oswald was a “marksman”—the lowest Marine designation for rifle qualification. So what happened that day in Dallas when America lost a president? Was it Oswald who fired the fatal shot or someone else? We don’t know. But we certainly understand those poll results.
Federal prosecutors say defrauding clients out of two million bucks was a slam dunk for Jay Vincent.
Yesterday, former professional basketball player Jay Vincent, who played for the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and other teams during a nine year NBA career, was indicted on a variety of counts relating to an alleged scheme to defraud 20,000 job seekers. Vincent’s Foreclosure Bank Inspection, Co. offered people work nationwide inspecting homes that had been returned to bank ownership. His company took care of the necessary training for the job, but there was a catch—applicants had to pass a background check. These checks (which are constitutionally dubious, in our view, since they result in applicants being refused jobs for transgressions like having a poor credit score) cost upwards of eighty dollars, but once Vincent’s desperate applicants paid the fee, prosecutors say his company simply pocketed the money.
How much cash do they claim was made on this scam? Two million dollars. That’s a 2 with six zeros after it. If true, this is sad on two levels: first, that a former NBA player who probably had a thousand other opportunities went this route; and second, that jobseekers who were being crushed by a recession had no choice but to feed on the corpses of people who had already been crushed before them. Vincent has had no comment thus far, but his attorney has described the former basketballer as a “legitimate businessman engaged in legal activities”, which we think is like claiming to be a “legitimate cigarette marketing executive”, or a “legitimate geologist for a mining company that blows the tops off pristine Appalachian hills and dumps them in valleys, destroying wildlife and contaminating groundwater”. In other words, “legal” isn’t a synonym for moral—at least not in our book. But unfortunately, we didn’t write the book everyone else is playing by—Wall Street did. And it seems as if Vincent may have memorized it chapter and verse.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
1976—Gerald Ford Rescinds Executive Order 9066
U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signs Proclamation 4417, which belatedly rescinds Executive Order 9066. That Order, signed in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established "War Relocation Camps" for Japanese-American citizens living in the U.S. Eventually, 120,000 are locked up without evidence, due process, or the possibility of appeal, for the duration of World War II.
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