Modern Pulp Feb 11 2017
RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX
The riddle is this: why didn't Lesley-Anne Down wear that outfit?

We'll admit we watched Lesley-Anne Down's 1981 thriller Sphinx just to see if she ever got into the gauzy number she's wearing in the promo photo above. We thought it unlikely, and we were right. She mostly wore what you see below—no spike heels with asp straps, sorry. But it wasn't the worst expenditure of time, finding this out. Sphinx feels like a television movie by today's standards, but the location shooting is excellent, and some interesting performers pop up—among them Sir John Gielgud and John Rhys-Davies, the latter of whom you may remember as Sallah from another Egyptian themed movie—Raiders of the Lost Ark, which hit cinemas four months after Sphinx. Like Raiders, in Sphinx you get an antiquarian on the trail of a lost tomb while baffled by arcane clues and beset by duplicitous locals. We don't think a single Egyptian had a noteworthy role here, but at least a few of the cultural details are accurate (though perhaps not the most flattering ones). Are we recommending this one? Not without Down wearing that outfit we aren't, but the movie isn't as bad as many would have you believe. It premiered today in 1981, and the awesome poster was painted by Bob Peak.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 10 2015
IT'S A WONDERFUL KNIFE
Hmm… an Englishman to gut with my new blade. And here I was planning to go home and shave my monobrow.

We were talking recently about Harlequin’s early days as a publisher of more than romance fiction. Above is another example—Bats with Baby Faces by W. Stanley Moss, a former British Army officer who wrote such best sellers as Ill Met by Moonlight and A War of Shadows. Bats with Baby Faces, the title of which references bat-like masks rather than actual bats, deals with intrigue and smuggling in the Deir-ez-Zor region of Syria, and in Cairo, where Moss lived in a villa that became a hub for the British social set. The most famous of his numerous real-life adventures occurred during that period, and that time also served as inspiration for much of his fiction. Harlequin’s edition of Bats with Baby Faces was published in 1952, and the cover art, with its mean caricature of an Egyptian who’s so swarthy he’s—bizarrely—purple, is uncredited. More Harlequin here and here.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 24 2015
ALL IN THE FAMILY
I can hear you back there, Randy Joe. If you’s pluckin’ your twanger again I’m gonna tell pa.


One of the early cover collections we put together dealt with the theme of women interrupted while skinny-dipping—i.e. swimming naked, for our non-U.S. readers. Above is a fun addition to that group—Hillbilly Nympho, written by Bob Tralins, for Rendezvous Reader books, published 1961. This was also put out the same year by Tuxedo Books as Naked Hills. Tralins, a few of you may remember, was the man who ghost-wrote Pleasure Was My Business, the infamous tell-all about the South Florida prostitution trade by flesh peddler Madame Sherry, aka Ruth Barnes. The book was banned in Florida and prompted a massive lawsuit from the former king of Egypt, Farouk I, who Madame Sherry had named as one of her best customers. We talked about that way back. See here

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Vintage Pulp Aug 13 2015
MAIM TO PLEASE
Climb up just a bit higher. The part of you I’m planning to shoot isn’t out of the water yet.

Interesting Charles Copeland cover art for Victor Canning’s 1955 adventure thriller Twist of the Knife, published outside the U.S. as His Bones Are Coral. It’s the story of a drug smuggler flying contraband from Sudan to Egypt who crash lands near the town of Suabar, gets involved in a caper to raise gold from the waters of the Red Sea, and of course beds the only white girl within sight. This was actually made into a really bad Burt Reynolds movie called Shark! in 1970.

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Vintage Pulp | Politique Diabolique Aug 19 2013
POLICE REWIND
The National Police Gazette claims Nasser said yessir to fugitive Nazis.


This month in 1961 The National Police Gazette put Adolf Hitler on its cover yet again. We don’t know how many times he appeared there, but this makes the twentieth issue we’ve found and posted. When last we left der Führer he was hiding out in either Argentina or Antarctica, but according to Gazette scribe Harvey Wilson, Hitler was directing his minions as they launched a new Nazi empire in Egypt. Wilson tells readers that Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government was populated by ex-SS officers, that the secret police was being run by Joachim Damling, former head of the Gestapo in Düsseldorf, that there were Egyptian versions of the Hitler Youth, that the economy was being reorganized to a Nazi model, and a vast military machine was being built.

So, is any of this true? Well, many Nazis fled to Egypt at the end of World War II, probably many hundreds, including Aribert Heim, who was known as Dr. Death, and Nazi propagandist Johann Von Leers, who converted to Islam and took a high post at Egypt’s foreign ministry. However, fleeing Nazis ended up settling in many countries, including the U.S. Among those were Otto Von Bolschwing, who in Germany had helped develop a blueprint to purge the country of Jews and later worked for the CIA, and Arthur L. Rudolph, who helped the Nazis build the V-2 rocket and other weapons and eventually ended up being honored by NASA—twice.

In any case, this is an example of what makes tabloids so interesting to us. Some stories—like the one about Hitler living in Antarctica—are patently ridiculous, while others have at least a kernel of truth. The thrust of this story is largely true—Nazis did flee to Egypt, and manywere welcomed by the government. As for the rest of the story—Nasser did indeed reorganize Egypt’s economy and reshape its military sector, but we can’t confirm that it was due to Nazi influence. And we also can’t confirm the claims about Egyptian Hitler Youth and Joachim Damling, but even if parts of the story were wrong, a tabloid doesn’t need many victories to establish credibility in the eyes of its readership—it just needs a few big ones. On that score you have to give the Gazette credit—it said there were Nazis in Egypt and it was right.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 2 2012
PORTRAIT OF ELIZABETH
Whisper shows it’s still happy to wallow in the muck.

Hy Steirman’s Whisper magazine is generally considered to be less racy than when it was owned by Robert Harrison, but this issue from January 1959 shows a little of the old spark. It slams Elizabeth Taylor for stealing Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds, with staff scribe Orson C. Green spewing forth this venom: But then Liz made clear to the whole world that beneath that lovely exterior there beats a heart of purest gall. She repaid the infinite kindness of her two friends by breaking up their marriage. Green goes on to describe Taylor trying to soak down New York’s PlazaHotel for two weeks of room charges, and then, when asked to pay, phoning up Montgomery Clift and getting him to help her trash the room. The article concludes: In short, Miss Taylor and friend Clift repaid [the Plaza] for its hospitality by deliberately making a mess for some forlorn chambermaid to clean up. Ingrate!

Whisper also takes on ex-King Farouk I of Egypt—who was a favorite tabloid target of the time—describing him as “Fatso Farouk”, “the roly-poly playboy of the Nile”, “the balding balloon boy” and worse. Readers are told that he was at Maxim’s in Paris one night and saw Coccinelle do a song accompanied by a striptease that left her in only a beaded g-string. Farouk, who was famously amorous, was so smitten that he sent his card and a bouquet of flowers backstage. Coccinelle came to say thanks, and when asked by Farouk agreed to go to dinner. Moments after she left thetable one of the ex-king’s aide’s hastily scurried over and explained that Coccinelle had once been a man. Allegedly, Farouk flipped. Whisper describes overturned tables, broken bottles, the works. Readers are told: The whole Riviera rocked with laughter. The bulging butt of the joke fled to Rome.

Whisper goes on to discuss sperm banks, state prisons, Vladimir Lenin, Josip Tito, and “white” slavery, but probably our favorite story is the one headlined: Do Ex-Prostitutes Make the Best Wives? A pertinent question. And whom did they get to write the answer? The byline says: by an Ex-Prostitute. We just love that. As far as whether Whisper gets any of its facts straight, we can’t really offer a guess, but this issue proves that even ten months after the sale from Harrison to Steirman, it hadn’t quite lost its spark. Things apparently went downhill pretty fast in the next few years, but we’ll judge that for ourselves as we examine more issues. Visit our entire Whisper collection by clicking its keyword at bottom. 

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The Naked City Sep 30 2010
WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN
Egyptians are reminded that in their country, as in all others, money talks and billionaires walk.

Billionaire Egyptian Hisham Talaat Moustafa has taken the first step toward avoiding the death sentence handed down to him two years ago for the murder of his ex-lover, Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim. We posted on it back then—how Moustafa hired Mohsen Al-Sukkari to jet to Dubai and do away with Tamim, but was tripped up when Al-Sukkari accidentally let himself be caught on security cameras entering and leaving Tamim’s building. Average Egyptians, after Moustafa’s surprising death sentence was announced, were forced to deal with the unsettling possibility that their legal system was not corrupt through-and-through, and that their lifelong cynicism concerning equal justice for both rich and poor had been unwarranted. Well, they needn’t have worried. On Tuesday appeals judge Adel Abdel-Salam Gomaa left peon Al-Sukkari’s death sentence in place but reduced billionaire Moustafa’s sentence to fifteen years, even though under Egyptian law contracting for a murder is deemed equivalent to committing one. Most observers, cynicism fully restored, believe the sentence reduction is only the first of several steps toward freeingMoustafa. The judge is legally bound to detail the reasoning behind Tuesday's decision, but with a sixty day grace period to work with he has the luxury of choosing a day when his explanation will make the least impact. Meanwhile Al-Sukkari’s defense attorney—his client now left to face death alone—summed up events by commenting, “I’m 72 years old and throughout my long career as a lawyer I have never witnessed such an incident.” 

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Mondo Bizarro Jul 6 2010
DOUBLE DRIBBLE
Two heads are not always better than one.

One man’s monstrosity is another man’s miracle. That immutable truth was reaffirmed in Egypt a couple of days ago when the hideous beast you see above, with its two distinct but fused skulls, was birthed by a cow belonging to farmer Sobhy el-Ganzoury. El-ganzoury says the calf is proof that God can do anything. Perhaps, but we think it's more likely that a standard-issue genetic misfire created this P.T. Barnum-style midway freak that can’t lift its own head(s) or walk. Nevertheless, we consider it our duty to entertain all possibilities, and the signs here may be too powerful to ignore. Consider: we have the el-Ganzoury calf. And we have the Connecticut calf born in December. And before both animals appeared, this grill in California became infused with divine properties. How does one interpret the presence of two cows and an industrial size flattop grill? What is it we’re being told here? Hmm, well, best not to think too deeply about it. Some mysteries just aren’t meant to be solved. 

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Intl. Notebook | Mondo Bizarro Nov 10 2009
SANDS OF TIME
Lost army found in Egyptian desert by two former shockumentary directors.

It reads like the backstory of an Indiana Jones movie: 2500 years ago an army of 50,000 men vanished without a trace in the Egyptian desert. At least, this was the account by Greek historian Herodotus. He wrote that the army had been sent by the Persian king Cambyses from Thebes to destroy the Oracle of Amun, located in the Oasis of Siwa. But the army never made it to Siwa. Instead they were swallowed up by a great storm that, according to Herodotus, “[brought] with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops and caused them wholly to disappear.” 

Now two Italian researchers, twin brothers Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni, appear to have substantiated Herodotus’s story by locating a field of ancient skeletal remains in Egypt. Along with the bones, some of which you see above, the Castiglionis found bronze weapons, jewelry, and arrow tips. The two were already highly respected for their discovery twenty years ago of the lost city of Berenike Panchrysos, located in modern day Sudan. They presented these new findings at the archaeological film festival of Rovereto, Italy, to much acclaim.
 
However, we found it odd that two men described in all the articles we saw as “top researchers” presented their discoveries in a film rather than a scientific journal, so we did some research of our own and found that two Italian siblings/filmmakers also named Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni gave us five controversial African shockumentaries in the 1970s, including Addio ultimo uomo, Africa ama, and Africa dolce e selvaggia, films in which audiences saw unedited footage of the severing of a penis, the skinning of a human corpse, the deflowering of a girl with a stone phallus, and a group of hunters tearing apart an elephant’s carcass.
 
Are these Castiglionis the same two guys? They’d be in their early seventies by now, but yes, it’s the same pair. Not one website we saw made this connection, so we’ll just pat ourselves on the back. We haven't seen the Castiglionis' films, but we don't particularly like the type because they present African life as something savage and cruel while helping to blind Westerners to the fact that our mass shootings and modern warfare are far bloodier and more destructive. But if you’re interested in learning how much people can mellow over the years, have a viewing of these respected researchers’ early shock flicks. They’ll probably give you nightmares, but they also prove that restless, morbid, voyeuristic minds can eventually mature. Which means there’s hope for us here at Pulp. 

Update: At least one expert has called the discovery a hoax. Details here. Those Castiglionis are sneaky devils.

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Vintage Pulp | Sex Files Jul 20 2009
FAROUKING AROUND
It’s good to be the king—just don’t overdo it.

Here’s a July 1962 issue of the tabloid Vice Squad, with several interesting items on the cover. Cadillac girls—self explanatory, very smooth ride. Sexual cripples—ditto, very rough going. Same with sex roulette (bad odds), perversion unlimited (sticky ends), and the phobic feature on "lesbians and homos." But, aha, the story on Farouk’s $400,000 libel suit against a Miami cathouse operator is well worth detailing.

In brief, Ruth Barnes, a Miami madame who went by the nom de directeur Sherry, published an autobiography—ghost-written by veteran sleaze author Bob Tralins—called Pleasure Was My Business. The book named a raft of celebrity clients, including the ex-king of Egypt, Farouk I. Furthermore, it claimed he was not only a regular client, but that in 1952 he once snuck into the U.S. via some helpful port authority folks and rented Madame Sherry’s entire house for a night of fun and games. Quite an incendiary claim.

When Farouk learned he'd been outed, he flipped out and sued for libel, specifically claiming he was never in the U.S. at the time in question and he was outraged and infuriated and humiliated and so forth. The suit was not for $400,000 but rather $750,000, which was a fortune at the time, something in the area of five million in today's dollars. Long story short—Farouk lost. Not only had he entered the U.S., he’d indeed entered Madame Sherry’s house and followed that up by entering a few of her employees.

The epilogue on this guy is so fascinating. Always a bit of a gourmand, he started life thin, and remained so through his heyday, but as middle age approached the eating caught up with him and by age forty he was tipping the scales at nearly three-hundred pounds. One night, after gorging himself as usual, he collapsed and died. He was 45. We’ve taken the lesson to heart here at Pulp Intl., and we’re cutting back on the fatty foods and getting more exercise. But we’re never, ever giving up the hookers so don’t even ask.     

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
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