Getting what you want is all in how you ask.
It seems as if no genre of literature features more characters in complete submission to others than mid-century sleaze. And how do these hapless supplicants express their desperation? They break out the kneepads. Above and below are assorted paperback covers of characters making pleas, seeking sympathy, and professing undying devotion. Though some of these folks are likely making the desired impression on their betters, most are being ignored, denied, or generally dumptrucked. You know, psychologists and serial daters say a clean break is best for all involved, so next time you need to go Lili St. Cyr on someone try this line: “I've decided I hate your face now.” That should get the job done. Art is by Harry Barton, Barye Philips, Paul Rader, et al.
Calm down. Saying I could really nibble on a bush right now is just my way of saying I'm hungry. I swear.
Above, another highly amusing cover from Greenleaf Classics, Devil's Degradation, 1966, by pseudonymous author J.X. Williams. Satanism and sex combine as people have a Devil of a time in this one. Once you go goat you never go back. Art is by Tomas Cannizarro.
What do you call forty dead men? A good start.
Two years ago we shared five covers of women standing over men they had just killed and mentioned that there were many examples in vintage cover art of that particular theme. Today we’ve decided to revisit the idea in order to reiterate just how often women in pulp are the movers and shakers—and shooters and stabbers and clubbers and poisoners and scissorers. Now if they do this about a billion more times they’ll really be making a difference that counts. French publishers, interestingly, were unusually fond of this theme—so egalitarian of them. That’s why many of the covers here are from France, including one—for which we admit we bent the rules of the collection a bit, because the victim isn’t dead quite yet—of a woman actually machine gunning some hapless dude. But what a great cover. We also have a couple of Spanish killer femmes, and a Dutch example or two. Because we wanted to be comprehensive, the collection is large and some of the fronts are quite famous, but a good portion are also probably new to you. Art is by the usual suspects—Robert Maguire, Barye Phillips, Alex Piñon, Robert Bonfils, Robert McGinnis, Rudolph Belarski, et al. Enjoy.
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.
Faced with this position surrender is the only option.
Here you see a pose that appears over and over in vintage paperback art—one figure looming menacingly in the foreground as a second cowers in the triangular negative space created by the first’s spread legs. This pose is so common it should have a name. We’re thinking “the alpha,” because it signifies male dominance and because of the a-shape the pose makes. True, on occasion the dominator isn’t male, sometimes the unfortunate sprawled figure is depicted outside the a-shaped space, and sometimes the art expresses something other than dominance, but basically the alpha (see, that just sounds right, doesn’t it?) has been used scores of times with only minor variation. You’ll notice several of these come from subsidiaries of the sleaze publisher Greenleaf Classics. It was a go-to cover style for them. We have twenty examples in all, with art by Bob Abbett, Robert Bonfils, Michel Gourdon, and others.
She just can’t contain herself.
We love this cover for pseudonymous author J.X. Williams’ The Transient Sinner, with its overheated tones surrounding a dark femme fatale with cold blue eyes and a hot and bothered pose. The art is by Robert Bonfils, and it’s a particularly successful effort. We’ve collected quite a few Bonfils covers that have been seen only rarely online and we’ll get those up pretty soon.
Oh, stop whining. I said you’d have to go to great lengths to please me.
On many sleaze covers you see men going through pain and discomfort to get laid, but this scenario painted by Darrel Millsap might finally encourage single guys to just stay home playing Bioshock on their Xboxes. In the woman’s favor, she chose a man who could really fill out a pair of tightie-whities, but working against her is the distinct possibility he’ll fill them with something else in a minute. We haven’t talked about J.X. Williams in a while, and really, his identity is no clearer than before. Let’s just call him an oft inhabited pseudonym borrowed by many but owned by none. Well Hung-Up was written by him (or someone) in 1969.
My gosh, are those Vivier stilettos you’re wearing? How extraordinary.
Don Bellmore, whose Hot Pants Heiress you see above, was one of many prolific smut authors during the 1960s. He wrote Shame Agent, Sin Dealer, Prey for Rape, The Dyke Department, The Twins’ Initiation, and many more. It all sounds pretty low rent, but you’d be surprised how robust the market is for vintage sleaze. We saw The Twins’ Initiation going for $49.95 on one site. Pretty good for an author that wasn’t even real. Bellmore was one of those names shared by a number of writers, including George H. White, who also wrote as both Jan Hudson and J.X. Williams, though the J.X. pseudonym was also used by John Jakes among others. White/Bellmore also may have filled in as Alan Marshall when Donald Westlake wasn’t inhabiting the role. It all gets pretty confusing. But what isn’t confusing is this humorous cover art, featuring a bottomless vixen doing the upside down bicycle exercise and her friend with a shoe fetish. We have some more Bellmore covers below. Enjoy.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1950—Althea Gibson Breaks the Color Barrier
Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour, and the first to earn a Grand Slam title when she wins the French Open in 1956. Later she becomes the first African-American woman to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1952—Devil's Island Closed
Devil's Island, the penal colony located off the coast of French Guiana, is permanently closed. The prison is later made world famous by Henri Charrière's bestselling novel Papillon, and the subsequent film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
1962—De Gaulle Survives Assassination Attempt
Jean Bastien-Thiry, a French air weaponry engineer, attempts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry and others attack de Gaulle's armored limousine with machine guns, but after expending hundreds of rounds, they succeed only in puncturing two tires.
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
1940—Trotsky Iced in Mexico
In Mexico City exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe
(not an ice pick) by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky dies the next day.
1968—Prague Spring Ends
200,000 Warsaw Pact troops backed by 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring political liberalization movement.
1986—Sherrill Goes Postal
In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States postal employee Patrick Sherrill shoots and kills fourteen of his co-workers and then commits suicide.
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