Femmes Fatales Jul 10 2014
ENCHANTED CASTLE
Something wicker this way comes.

Back in March we shared a Technicolor lithograph of an unknown model we later found out was Playboy centerfold Madeline Castle. A few days ago we stumbled upon this photo from the same shoot (which we’ve dubbed the Wicker Sessions). We knew nothing about Castle just three months ago, and now we’re seeing her everywhere. Have to say, after nearly six years of doing this we have learned so much about mid-century celebs it’s astonishing. Anyone need a pub quiz teammate? We would absolutely kill this category. 

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Vintage Pulp Mar 16 2014
BAMBOO SHOOT
Take... picture quick. Can’t hold this pose… much longer.


Above, a familiar looking but as yet unidentified model posing for one of Corp. Fox A.’s Technicolor pin-ups. This makes the eleventh one of these we’ve shared and you can see the others by clicking its keywords below.

Update: It's Madeline Castle, who was a Playboy Playmate of the month back in October 1954 and a popular pin-up model for many more years. The shot above isn't the most flattering of her, so we've uploaded another one below, from Folies de Paris et de Hollywood #288, 1964. Yes, we know the two look like different women entirely, but they aren't, we promise. She just looks better below, and as a bonus she's smiling instead of grimacing.
 
Update on our update: Turns out she was under our noses the entire time. We shared a Man's Life featuring Castle back in January 2013. You know when have so much stuff you can't keep track of it? Yeah, exactly.
 
 
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Femmes Fatales Nov 17 2013
TITLE SEQUENCE
They probably should have called off the contest and given her the crown in perpetuity.

Zahra Norbo was a 1955 Miss Sweden, 1958 Playboy centerfold, and all-around popular magazine model who appeared in publications like Spick, Stag, Tempo and Tiger. She also scored a few television appearances, notably on The Groucho Marx Show. There’s a bit of confusion online about which year she was Miss Sweden. Some sources, Wikipedia among them, say it was 1956, but we’ve seen a 1956 press photo that refers to her as the previous year’s winner, and here’s what Playboy said in her March 1958 layout: After copping the Miss Sweden title three years ago, Miss Norbo came to the U.S. of A. So that pretty much settles it—she won her title in 1955. This provocative shot was made in 1957 by acclaimed lensman Peter Basch.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 30 2013
THE BRIGHT WHITE LINE
They say once we cross it the end is near.


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 to show pubichair, 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.

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Hollywoodland | Vintage Pulp Feb 7 2013
DRESS TO EXCESS
If there’s such a thing as the most amazing dress ever made, Carroll Baker wore it.


In the summer of 1964, promoting her movie The Carpetbaggers, American actress Carroll Baker attended a premiere at London’s Plaza Theatre in Piccadilly Circus wearing a $28,000.00 transparent dress from designer Pierre Balmain. She had worn it before at the U.S. premiere in June, which means Londoners had an inkling what they were going to see, but what resulted was, well, a circus. The crowd went nuts and the situation devolved into what some newspapers described as a near riot. The above National Examiner, published today in 1972, features Baker wearing what we noticed was a similar but not identical dress. We got curious where it came from, and so we went looking.

Turns out in late 1964 designer Oleg Cassini, entranced by the Balmain dress, designed a similar version for Baker to wear at a promotional event in Las Vegas. The difference is in the placement of the beading—Balmain’s left a v-shaped peek-a-boo, whereas Cassini’s left a diagonal opening across the chest. You can see the difference below. Cassini had built his version of the dress in Baker’s absence using a model of identical size, but it didn’t really fit because bodies have all sorts of differences, even if their crude numerical aspects are ostensibly the same. Baker endured eighteen precarious hours in a gown that was so tightshe couldn’t shake hands without it shifting to reveal parts she wanted to keep hidden. She later wore the dress—hopefully altered—at a premiere of Cheyenne Autumn, and a photo of her posing with a dozen costumed Native Americans survives today in the Associated Press archives.
 
But the dress wasn’t finished quite yet. The next year immortal costumer Edith Head designed yet another variation on Balmain’s original for Baker to wear promoting the film Harlow. We don’t know where the previous two gowns went, but the Head version, one of several she put together, survived and has appeared in Hollywood fashion exhibitions as recently as 2003. Baker also wore a Balmain (or Cassini or Edith Head copy) during a 1966 troop tour in Vietnam, and the only reason a full firefight didn’t break out among the GIs the moment she unveiled herself is probably because that version had no cut-outs (right).
 
Extreme publicity stunts were apparently not unusual for Baker. She considered herself a good actress, but felt that she couldn’t become a star in Hollywood without promoting herself as a sex symbol. “I’ve tried just acting,” she once said, “but sex sells at the box office.” As time wore on, she went from threatening to walk off the set of Station Six—Sahara due to the director pressuring her to appear nude to playing unclothed roles in The Sweet Body of Deborah, Così dolce... così perversa, and Paranoia, as well appearing nude in Playboy and Playmen. Nothing like a shrinking bank account to totally reshape one’s morals. In 1966 AP scribe Doris Klein wrote that Baker was “almost too pretty, too much like a slim teenager to play a sexpot.” But Baker became one of the biggest sexpots in the world. Looking at the 1964 Balmain, and the three to six versions that followed, we’d say it was inevitable.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 20 2013
HATS OFF

Here's the latest page from Goodtime Weekly with a shot from Don Ornitz of February 1958 Playboy centerfold Cheryl Kubert. Kubert is a bit of a mystery. Early Playboy centerfolds were pretty demure, and she showed less than normal. She had already appeared in magazines such as Pageant, Gala and Argosy, and after her Playboy appearance was featured in their 1959 calendar, but after that there’s only a bit appearance in the movie Pal Joey, and a bit part in 1980’s Smokey and the Judge. She died in 1989, supposedly from suicide. The calendar quips are below.

Jan 20: “Many a girl is only as strong as her weakest wink.”—Sam Cowling

Jan 21: “A girl is grown up when she stops counting on her fingers and starts counting on her legs.”—Irv Kupcinet

Jan 22: “A wizard is a man who can describe—without gesture—an accordion or a girl.”—Quin Ryan

Jan 23: “Fashion is what a her does to a hem to get a him.”—Joe Hamilton

Jan 24: “A clever girl is one who knows how to give a man her own way.”—Tom Poston

Jan 25: “The greatest mystery in the world is a woman who is a bachelor.”—Loretta Young

Jan 26: “A confirmed bachelor is a guy who’ll go to a drive-in on a motorcycle.”—Scott Brady

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Vintage Pulp Jan 16 2013
UP THE YIN YANGTZE
Big trouble in not-so-little China.

When it comes to vintage magazines, the range of prices is incredible. We’ve been seeing issues of Man’s Life online for $168.00. We will go out on a limb and say that nobody will ever pay that price. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we got this issue published January of 1959 for $4.00. The front is a bit mangled but the interior is fine, and includes some nice art, excellent fiction, and four pages on October 1954 Playboy centerfold Madeline Castle. The cover art for Thomas Halloran’s 1930s-era tale “Attacked by the Girl Pirates of the Yangtze” is by Will Hulsey, and the other spreads are by Geoffrey Biggs, Lou Marchetti, Bruce Minney, and Bruce Minnie (he does two and gets his name spelled two different ways). The Madeline Castle photo feature is uncredited. We’ll have more from Man’s Life a bit later.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 10 2013
JUNE BLOSSOMS
Teased at fifteen, she was teasing the world just a few years later.

Above, a cover of The National Insider from today in 1965 screaming that June Wilkinson was teased for being a virgin at fifteen. If she really was considered a late bloomer, she certainly made up for lost time, becoming a massive sex symbol by appearing in movies and on or in virtually every glamour magazine and tabloid of her time. Her résumé includes Adam, Caper, Venus, Man, Knight, Figure Studies, Midnight, Inside Story, and many, many others, including Playboy, where she appeared on four occasions and officially was nicknamed “The Bosom.” Also, she starred on the cover of the wonderful Goodtime Weekly Calendar of 1963, which we posted just last week. You can see that great photo here. And below is another image we dug up just for the fun of it.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 25 2012
ADAM AND TEMPTATION
Lilly Christine appears on the debut issue of Adam to entice weak and strong alike.

The good folks at vintagegirliemags.com have posted the entirety of Adam vol. 1, issue 1, from 1956, with Lilly Christine on the cover and lots of interesting art, lit, and photography inside. Adam was one of many Playboy imitators, and one of the most fondly remembered. Since Lilly Christine was already quite famous by 1956, her appearance on the cover was a nice score for the fledgling imprint. She would appear at least one more time before her untimely death in 1965 at age forty-one. We’ve seen people try to sell this exact issue on Ebay for fifty bucks, so those with an interest in classic magazines should click over to vintagegirliemags and take advantage of this generous gift while the download link lasts. Some pages below. And if you’d like to see more of Lilly Christine, we uploaded some original scans a while back.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 9 2012
CAR TROUBLE
Bumpy road ahead.

Above, a cover from the Aussie men’s mag Adam, April 1955, with art depicting a tense moment on the road in Lester Way’s short story “…the Dotted Line.” Below are some interior scans, including one containing the immortal Bettie Page, identified by the editors only as “this brunette”. But even if they didn’t name her, they certainly knew of her. By 1955 she was extremely famous. Her image had been used in dozens of magazines, including Playboy in January of that year, and she had appeared on The Jackie Gleason Show, in the burlesque films Striporama, Varietease, and Teaserama, and had acted in two off-Broadway plays. Page is in panels twelve and thirteen below, and you also get other pin-ups, some nice art, cartoons, and an interesting ad. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 01
1966—Whitman Massacre in Texas
Charles Joseph Whitman, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, kills 14 people and wounds 32 during a shooting rampage on and around the university's campus. Ten are killed from the 28th floor observation deck of the University's administrative building. Whitman had already murdered his wife and mother in their homes.
July 31
1964—Riot Stops Stones Concert
The Rolling Stones play in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but the show is stopped after twelve minutes because of violence in the audience. Some fans are carried away in straitjackets.
July 30
1935—Penguin Launched
Penguin Books is launched by Allen Lane and begins publishing cheap, no-frills paperbacks. Lane's idea of selling books not just in bookstores, but in train stations, pharmacies and corner stores, quickly revolutionizes the publishing market.

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