|Vintage Pulp||Dec 2 2017|
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 23 2015|
We’ve shown you a couple of Technicolor lithographs with overlays. Before we get off the subject for a while we want to show you one more—this effort featuring Marilyn Monroe. The image is best known as the centerfold of the debut issue of Playboy from December 1953, but it actually hit the market as part of a 1952 calendar, which means it went on sale in late 1951. The only text featured on those original calendars was the title “Golden Dreams,” but the above lithograph has both a title and Monroe’s name because it was a re-release designed to take advantage of her growing fame. That fame had waned since a favorably received role in 1948’s Ladies of the Chorus, but had been rekindled when she admitted to newspapers in early 1953 that she had posed nude. The Playboy centerfold further turbocharged her ascent, and the famous velvet photo kept appearing over and over again, mainly as calendar shots in 1955, 1956, and 1958, and at least three times with different types of obscuring overlays. In all those images, as well as the one above, Monroe is facing the opposite direction from the photo that appeared in Playboy. However, the Playboy centerfold is reversed from the original calendar shot, so it was Hugh Hefner who flip-flopped her. But from whichever direction you look at her, and in whatever garb she appears, Monroe is still exquisitely Monroe.
|Vintage Pulp||Apr 30 2013|
Today on Britain’s respected Guardian webpage, writer Mariella Frostrup muses about the prevalence of pornography in modern society and asks whether it’s harmful. At Pulp Intl., with few exceptions, our nude images are merely quaint, which raises the questions of whether they were ever considered harmful, and if so, why and when they came to be seen as artful. We are well aware that the airbrushing away of womens’ genitalia—something that was general practice at the time these images appeared—was seen by many rights advocates as a type of violence against women. After all, what was so dirty about female genitalia? Didn’t their erasure peel back the mask from a male-dominated society’s desperate efforts to control female sexuality?
Then along came Playboy, which challenged archaic laws designed to prevent mass production and mass mailing of pornography. Compared to what you see here today, Playboy represented a quantum leap. Its women looked less like Renaissance paintings and more like real human beings. By increments it beat back legal challenges, and eventually Penthouse, Playboy, and other newsstand magazines began toshow pubic hair, and then actual sex organs. Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner was hailed as a First Amendment hero as well as a defender of womens' right to control their own sexuality. But pretty soon it was clear that women had won only the right to sell their sexuality—the control remained exclusively male.
Mariella Frostrup’s Guardian piece is like others written before. It suggests, like all those articles from earlier decades, that there’s a bright white line in erotica that has been crossed and that society is suffering for it. We can’t comment on the harm aspect, but we do see a line. Basically, old porn, because of its paper format, depended upon the labor of dozens of outside people—printers, film developers, pre-press personnel, postal workers, newsstand owners—and required such an investment of capital that 95% of its producers served the middle ground of taste and depicted acts that, with perhaps the added twist of one or two extra participants, were taking place in private anyway.
The internet changed all that. So if there’s a bright line, it lies where the internet atomized porn and turned much of it into a performance art, a sideshow that somehow has taken over center stage with acts that are most certainly not already occurring in private. Call us crazy, but even though these images were produced before we were born weprefer them to the new stuff. They don’t depict merely bodies or an act, but an entire lifestyle of beaches and gardens and all the warm thoughts and simple desires such places entail. This issue of Folies de Paris et de Hollywood appeared today in 1966. If it was ever offensive or harmful it isn’t anymore, so enjoy it as an artifact of an earlier age—not a better one by any means, but certainly a more artful one.
|Vintage Pulp||Oct 8 2010|
Our copies of National Informer span a time during which the paper was transitioning from typical tabloid to sex magazine. In our issues from 1966 to 1968, you get alarmist political journalism, which by the 1970s becomes drooling quasi-smut, as we see in this issue that first hit newsstands today in 1972. Of course, this shift from commie-baiting to masturbating meant abandoning a rightward leaning readership for a leftward leaning one. Clearly the move was meant to boost readership, but it didn’t work. It wasn’t Informer’s fault, though. All the old school tabloids were taking a beating. Even the venerable National Police Gazette, which had begun publishing lifetimes earlier, in 1845, died during the seventies. But Informer had a shorter history, a smaller audience, and a lower budget. In a tabloid sea where old battleships like Gazette and Confidential couldn’t turn quickly when the weather changed, Informer was a mere speedboat. Turn it did, and quite easily. Hugh Hefner’s Playboy had obliterated America's already battered pubic hair barrier in 1971 and Informer followed in its wake. But more explicitness did not bring more readership, as far as we can tell. National Informer and its sister publication National Informer Weekly Reader were dead by 1974.
|Hollywoodland | Vintage Pulp||Oct 1 2009|
The Monroe story is equally fascinating. When she was making the film Something’s Got To Give, she was supposed to appear in a swimming scene wearing the usual flesh-colored body stocking to conceal her lady parts. Monroe had caused problems on many sets by then, and her reputation was in tatters. When the time came to shoot the scene, she allegedly did it fully nude, with publicity photographers and crew present.The event caused a sensation, and seemed to signal a renewed focus from Marilyn to reclaim her status as America’s top sex symbol. Sadly, it was the last splash she ever made—she was fired and the film was never finished. But a precedent had been reestablished—for the first time since the Hayes Code, actresses were showing skin. Soon, Hollywood males would be doing the same. In less than a decade the human body would be fully uncovered on film, and there was no putting it back under wraps.