Vintage Pulp Sep 1 2015
THE PARIS OF YOUR DREAMS
Where the pleasure never seems to end.

Though they are at a glance aesthetically very different, the pulp era and the art deco era were contemporaneous, both in full bloom during the 1920s. Above you see the dreamy cover of a 1925 issue of the art deco style magazine Paris Plaisirs, i.e. Paris Pleasures, which was published from 12 Rue Georges-Berger in Paris. The cover star is dancer Isabelitta Ruiz, shot by R. Sobol. It looks to us as if Sobol provided the original image, but it was tinted by a second artist in the employ of the magazine. At least that’s our suspicion. We think that because we can see a second signature on the cover at lower left—it looks like, maybe, Cuaillant? No, that sounds wrong even for French. Maybe C. Jaillant? Better, but still quite possibly wrong. Here we go again with these French artists. And the magazines never seem to bother with masthead credits either. Too prosaïque maybe. We can hear our French friends say, “Comment typique! You Americans, always wanting to know exactly who did what. Learn to embrace uncertainty!” Okay, then. Twenty-two scans below, and you can see a lot more Paris Plaisirs art at the excellent webpage aucarrefouretrange.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 24 2015
A CLAIRE DAY
A new woman for a new era.


This issue of Paris Magazine features a beautiful Louis-Charles Royer cover of Ziegfeld star Claire Luce, one of the most popular celebrities of her time. Her heyday was the 1920s and ’30s, a period during which—though this is little remarked upon today—substantially more women began to have sex before marriage. By the time the first surveys took place in the 1940s about 50% of women admitted to having pre-marital sex. Anecdotally, during the 1920s probably at least one in four women had sex as singles. Claire Luce was a pioneer of the female right to choose. A mere eight-year span of her diary describes sixty lovers.

Luce very much personifies a seismic shift in the values of Western women. Many scholars say it happened because they moved into the university and the workplace around that time, and that was indeed an important factor because it brought women and men into mutual contact outside of family and church situations. But it’s clear the prime mover was the trauma of World War I and the loss of 37 million lives in a conflict that taught those who came of age around then that life could be short and joy could be fleeting. This factor is nearly always downplayed in studies of that time, though we have never understood why. It is too obvious?
 
Even with their numbers increasing, relatively few women were in the university and workplace. But virtually no Western family went untouched by the war. Those 37 million deaths reached deep into every town, every enclave, every social class. Nearly everyone had lost a father, a brother, an uncle, or at least a family friend. And if a loved one actually survived battle, they often returned to preach the futility of war to the generation below them—or by their mere broken presence serve as a warning. Ernest Hemingway captured this in The Sun Also Rises, which focuses on Jake, prevented by a war wound from having sex, and Lady Brett, who loves Jake but must constantly seek lovers elsewhere.

Of course, there are many factors behind any social shift, but rapid change typically derives from chaos. Ask any neo-con or disaster capitalist. The primary effect of war or warlike events upon society is to alter how it views life, death, and personal freedom. In the past, the spectre of death made people want more freedom to live as they saw fit; in our present era, traumatic events have resulted in people agreeing to sacrifice their personal freedom (thanks to powerful suggestions and hard work by opportunistic governments).

Anyway, just an interesting digression concerning Paris Magazine’s cover star. Like predecessors such as Dorothy Parker, and peers like Tallulah Bankhead, she was a sexual trendsetter, a new type of woman for a radically reordered Western world. She’s also about as pulp as it gets. We may get back to Claire Luce a bit later, but in the meantime we have a bunch of interior scans from Paris Magazine below, and more issues available at the click of a mouse. This edition, number 34, appeared in 1934. 

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Hollywoodland Aug 18 2015
MEETING HER MATCH
Paris Match offers a retrospective of Monroe from childhood to superstardom.

Marilyn Monroe was perhaps the most photographed celebrity of her era, so when she died it was only natural that scores of magazines released tribute issues. One of the most comprehensive was published by Paris Match today in 1962, just shy of two weeks after Monroe’s death, and it featured a thirty-six page retrospective of her life and career. Above you see the cover of that issue, and below you’ll find all of the accompanying photographs, including several that have been less widely seen, such as those near the bottom showing her making faces while doing acting exercises. We have scans from another Monroe tribute issue made just after her death—this one by Italy’s Epoca—and you can see those here.

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Femmes Fatales Aug 17 2015
MARCHAND ORDERS
I learned this look from my cat—except on her it means she's thinking about killing somebody.

Above, a shot of prizewinning French actress Corinne Marchand, whose films include Cléo de 5 à 7 and the gangster flick Borsalino, seen here giving her best come hither stare in an image used on the front of the magazine Télé 7 Jours, 1970.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 6 2015
HEATING UP
To Caledonia and back again.

We have more from Editions S.E.G.’s Espionnage Service-Secret collection today, this time Paul Berg’s 1964 thriller Ça chauffe,,, en Calédonie, which translates to “Things Are Getting Hot… in Caledonia.” This one was issued twice by S.E.G., and you see both covers above, one of considerably higher artistic quality than the other, but both by unknowns. Berg was a pseudonym used by French writer André Jammet, who also wrote twenty years later under the name Celine Jammet for Fleuve Noir’s Femme Viva collection. We’ll have more from S.E.G. a bit later.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 27 2015
GETTING HEADE
You should have seen it. It was unbelievable. From base to tip it was like this. I swear.

Originally published in 1952, this paperback edition of Hank Janson’s Conflict came from British publisher Alexander Moring in 1957. The art is uncredited and unsigned, but it’s undoubtedly Reginald Heade, who stopped putting a name to his work after seven of Janson’s books brought about an obscenity trial and guilty verdicts. Though Janson’s writing was racy, we doubt that this cover is supposed to convey what we imply. But you have to admit—it’s a really curious pose from the female figure. See a bit more Heade here.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 17 2015
ULTIMATE FIGHTING
Vintage paperback violence gets up close and personal.


We have another collection today as we prepare to jet away on vacation with the girls. Since the place we’re going is known for rowdy British tourists (what place isn’t known for that?), we thought we’d feature some of the numerous paperback covers featuring fights. You’ll notice, as with our last collection, the preponderance of French books. Parisian publishers loved this theme. The difference, as opposed to American publishers, is that you almost never saw women actually being hit on French covers (we’d almost go so far as to say it never happened, but we’ve obviously not seen every French paperback ever printed). The French preferred man-on-man violence, and when women were involved, they were either acquitting themselves nicely, or often winning via the use of sharp or blunt instruments.

Violence against women is and has always been a serious problem in the real world, but we’re just looking at products of the imagination here, which themselves represent products of the imagination known as fiction. Content-wise, mid-century authors generally frowned upon violence toward women even if they wrote it into their novels. Conversely, the cover art, stripped of literary context, seemed to glorify it. Since cover art is designed to entice readers, there’s a valid discussion here about why anti-woman violence was deemed attractive on mid-century paperback fronts, and whether its disappearance indicates an understanding of its wrongness, or merely a cynical realization that it can no longer be shown without consequences. We have another fighting cover here, and you may also want to check out our western brawls here.


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Intl. Notebook Jul 17 2015
GREEN INFERNO
Mass destruction as a party balloon.

Above is a photo of the French nuclear test codenamed Tamouré, a 50 kiloton airdrop at Mururoa Atoll, Pacific Test Area, French Polynesia. It was the first time the French dropped a nuclear device from an airplane. The photo has the same weird ass green color as the Betelgeuse test we showed you a few years ago, but we don’t know why that is. Exposure time? Film stock? French photog getting all artistic trying make the horrifying reality of the shot a bit more cheerful? We don’t know. But the image was made this week in 1966.  

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Hollywoodland Jul 16 2015
CONFIDENCE GAMES
Liberace experiences tabloid wrath at its most merciless.


It was in this July 1957 issue of Confidential that journalist “Horton Streete’ infamously outed cover star Liberace in the most vicious and dehumanizing way with an article entitled “Why Liberace’s Theme Song Should Be ‘Mad About the Boy’.” We’ve talked about it before. Streete willfully attempted to damage the singer’s career by spinning a shocking tale of how he attacked a young, male press agent. The article refers to Liberace as Fatso, Pudgy, Dimples, and other, less flattering monikers.  

Here’s a rule you can count on—when a journalist or on-air personality constantly refers to someone by other than his or her name or title, it’s a hit piece. Liberace was horrified and sued Confidential. California Attorney General Pat Brown had already managed to win an indictment of the magazine two months earlier. Owner Robert Harrison was about to spend his entire summer in court. He took these legal threats to heart and publicly promised to stop publishing stories about the private lives of Hollywood stars.
 
Up until then Confidential had been as reckless as a magazine could be. This issue accuses Gary Crosby of punching a woman in the face, and Eartha Kitt of trapping her friend’s boyfriend in her penthouse. An extraordinary story about boxer Jake LaMotta suggests the he got a bumrap in his morals trial. LaMotta was serving time for bedding a 14-year-old. Prosecutors had convinced a jury that the incident with LaMotta was a primary cause of the girl later becoming a prostitute. Confidential rides to the rescue, claiming that the girl’s father had already deflowered her, therefore LaMotta could not have had any influence on the girl’s fate. How’s that for a principled stand?

These early issues of Confidential are a cesspool of journalistic ethics, no doubt, but they’re also a visual treat. Using black, red, blue, and yellow, plus the white of the pages themselves, the designers put together a bold and gaudy package that would influence every other tabloid on the market. The layouts on Kitt, Liberace, Alan Dale, and Lex Barker are among the most eye-catching we’ve seen from the period. Elsewhere you get Anthony Quinn, and a host of other stars. We have a bunch of scans below. Remember, you can always see more from Confidential and other tabs by visiting our tabloid index at this link.


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Femmes Fatales Jul 16 2015
UNCANI DANI
She’s always poking around.


French actress/singer Danièle Graule, better known as Dani, appeared in about twenty movies beginning in 1964, including Un officier de police sans importance, aka A Police Officer without Importance, and La fille d'en face, aka The Girl Across the Way, and was last seen onscreen as recently as 2012. We’ve turned this watery image of her vertically because a horizontal orientation would make it too small to truly appreciate. You know the drill—drag, drop, and rotate for a better view. The shot is from the French magazine Lui and is from 1975. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 03
1941—Auschwitz Begins Gassing Prisoners
Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of Nazi Germany's concentration camps, becomes an extermination camp when it begins using poison gas to kill prisoners en masse. The camp commandant, Rudolf Höss, later testifies at the Nuremberg Trials that he believes perhaps 3 million people died at Auschwitz, but the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum revises the figure to about 1 million.
September 02
1967—Nation of Sealand Established
The Principality of Sealand, located on a platform in the North Sea, is established under the rule of Prince Paddy Roy Bates. Proving that paradise is a pipe dream as long as humans are involved, Sealand has already endured a coup, a war, and a hostage crisis since its formation.
1973—J.R.R. Tolkien Dies
British fantasy novelist J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, dies at the age of 82.
September 01
1902—French Go to Moon
Georges Méliès' Le voyage dans la lune, aka A Trip to the Moon, is released in France. It is the first science-fiction film ever made.
1939—Germany Starts World War II
Nazi Germany, along with the Soviet Union and Slovakia, attack Poland, beginning the chain reaction that leads to war across Europe.
1972—Fischer Beats Spassky
In Reykjavík, Iceland, American Bobby Fischer beats Russian Boris Spassky and becomes the world chess champion. The match had been portrayed as a Cold War battle, and thus was a major propaganda victory for the United States.

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