|Intl. Notebook | Sex Files||Mar 18 2013|
Sometimes we get a little lazy with our scanning. You already know that. A couple of years ago we shared the cover and two pages from an issue of The Lowdown and discussed the murder trial of Dr. Sam Sheppard. In that issue were some other interesting pages, particularly of German actress Elke Sommer. We had made her our very first femme fatale way back, so we always thought she was amazing, but we gained a new appreciation for her after watching her in Deadlier than the Male. Really, scientists should double-check that global warming didn’t start in 1967, because that’s how hot she is in that movie. Anyway, we realized The Lowdown’s photos of Sommer might not have appeared online before, so we decided to take care of that today. What are those naughty secrets about her, you ask? The Lowdown says she was a swinger before she got married.
|Intl. Notebook||Mar 12 2013|
Well it worked again. We’re definitely feeling total confidence in the postal system now. Why that first issue of Adam disappeared a while back we’ll never know, but after that little mishap we successfully received one shipment, so this time we decided to go for broke. Above is the result of that experiment—forty-four American tabloids. Even with postage in the $40 range, these came out to about two dollars apiece. Very exciting, and since the collection consists of all the heavyweights—Whisper, Hush-Hush, On the QT, Confidential, Uncensored, The Lowdown, et. al.—we’re pretty much set for the foreseeable future. You want mid-century tabloids? This is where to find them. Accept no substitutes. On a side note, remember we said we were refinishing a 150-year-old desk? There it is above in final form. Note that the legs are topped by carved demon heads. We haven’t yet figured out who he’s supposed to be, but he emanates a palpable aura of evil that’s a bit… Hang on a sec. Did you hear that noise? Probably the wind, but we better go check anyway. Be right ba—
|Hollywoodland||Jul 12 2012|
|Vintage Pulp||Nov 3 2011|
Lots of info in this Lowdown published in November 1956, but the prestigious banner position is reserved for a U.S. Supreme Court justice who editors claim was a member of the racist organization the Ku Klux Klan. The man in question is Hugo Black, a career Democrat who served on the high court until 1971, and indeed had been a member of the Klan in Alabama. You probably already know this, but for those few who don’t we’ll note here that the Democratic Party was the more conservative party in the U.S. with regard to racial issues until Democratic President John F. Kennedy endorsed, and his Democratic successor President Lyndon B. Johnson signed, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This event led to the cementing of Democrats as the preferred party for black voters and the defection of millions of conservative white voters to the Republican Party, radically shifting the political spectrum of 1960s America (though only with regard to race, since both parties have drifted rightward on virtually all other issues since then).
Anyway, despite the KKK’s racist agenda, and the fact that Black’s racist bona fides were pristine (as a senator he once filibustered an anti-lynching bill), his Klan membership may have been more strongly tied to the group’s anti-Catholic agenda. This in turn prompted him to become a leading defender of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment: i.e., the separation of church and state. In short, his fear and hatred of Catholics led him to do everything he could to keep religion out of politics. Or so certain biographers claim. Much more revealing, perhaps, are Black’s own words on the subject: “I would have joined any group if it helped get me votes.” Uttered near the end of his life, the phrase confirms once again—to us, at least—that a politician is a construct, not a person. Basically, you can never know what any of them really believe, because they’ll say anything to win office. Some of the most successful ones present a mask upon which the various segments of the public can project any face they wish. Maybe that’s why Hugo Black felt so comfortable under a hood.
|Vintage Pulp | Sportswire||Nov 11 2010|
Above is a Lowdown from November 1963, with stories on Liz Taylor, Jackie Gleason, Inger Stevens, and Green Bay Packers football player Paul Hornung, who had gotten into hot water with the NFL. Hornung enjoyed a fast lifestyle, and had gotten to know other fast people, including a gambler named Barney Shapiro who routinely called asking for inside information to facilitate his betting. Pretty soon, Hornung was betting too, up to $500 a game on both the pros and college. When NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle found out, he suspended Hornung for the 1963 season, which is about when Lowdown weighs in with their “not guilty!” claim. But Lowdown was wrong—Hornung was guilty, and he admitted it. The revelation was a stunner, and became a story so big that ESPN recently rated it the second most shocking sports scandal of all time, surpassed only by the O.J. Simpson murder trial. But Hornung had one thing going for him—he was beloved by football fans. Eager to forgive, they did exactly that when he repented. Convinced of his sincerity, the NFL reinstated Hornung for the 1964 season, and he continued a career that would end in the Hall of Fame.
|Hollywoodland | Vintage Pulp||Nov 23 2009|
The publishers of The Lowdown went for titillation overload on this screamingly bright November 1961 cover, managing to hit several of the hot button issues of the day, from birth control to lesbianism. Frank Sinatra gets the star treatment here, and The Lowdown actually gets one right—Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe (bottom left) were involved in 1961, around the same time her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio (second from left) was growing concerned about the people around her and asked her to remarry him in hopes of stabilizing her life. Was Sinatra one of the people DiMaggio distrusted? Perhaps, but Monroe said no to Joe's proposal and was dead the next year. As for Sinatra and Brigitte Bardot (bottom right), we can’t find any references to the two being involved, but they did meet during 1959 to discuss co-starring in a film to be helmed by Bardot’s ex-husband Roger Vadim (second from right). After the three of them talked about the project for a couple of days the idea fell through because Bardot didn’t want to work in Hollywood and Sinatra didn’t want to work in Paris. Did Sinatra and Bardot manage to sneak off for some international relations? We tend to doubt it—in addition to traveling with her ex-husband Vadim (who surely would have frowned on her cheating), she was married to actor/producer Jacques Charrier. Still, you can’t really put anything past Sinatra. But short of reading every Hollywood tell-all ever published, we just can’t say whether he and Bardot got together. The Lowdown hints yes, but take it for what it’s worth.
|Vintage Pulp | Musiquarium||Aug 14 2009|
On the cover of this August 1955 issue of the tabloid Lowdown the editors get confrontational with the then-governor of Michigan, G. Mennen Williams. The story involves chart-topping singer Johnnie Ray, who in June 1951 was convicted of propositioning a man in the restroom of a Detroit burlesque house called the Stone Theatre. Lowdown’s insistence upon a pardon for the singer is simply a backdoor way of airing out the scandal while pretending to crusade on his behalf. How do we know that was Lowdown's intent? Simple—because any tabloid worthy of labeling itself such would have known Ray was bisexual. He pled guilty on that solicitation charge without even bothering to bring a lawyer to court, and his sexual involvement with both halves of the husband-wife comedy team of Bob Mitchell and Jay Grayton was not exactly a state secret. On stage Ray was an emotional singer whose antics earned him the nicknames the Prince of Wails (for his unrestrained style) and the Nabob of Sob (for his tendency to burst into tears), so even if his fans didn’t realize he was bi, they certainly understood that macho was not his stock-in-trade. Which meant, in the end, he had a nice career even with the tabs dogging his heels. He scored numerous big hits, including “Cry” in 1951, and “You Don’t Owe Me a Thing” in 1957. But even if Ray was impervious to slander, some of Lowdown’s other victims were less fortunate. We'll discuss some of them in the future.