Tabloid gets blue inside and out.
Above is another cover from the famed blue period of National Spotlite. Actually, all the covers are blue. We've literally never seen one that wasn't. The stories are predominantly blue, too, among them a piece by Jay Shanley titled “Girl Seduces Men for Homo Clients.” In addition to being sexual it's of course offensive as hell toward the gay community, but as phony tabloid stories goes it's more inventive than most. Shanley writes about a woman named Tina Conway who has a business seducing men for gay clients. She doesn't actually have sex with them. “I just get them heated up so that they'll take any form of sexing they can get.” Did this actually happen? We seriously doubt it, but Spotlite editors had to make sure they ticked the anti-gay box with each issue. For people who claimed to dispprove, they sure were obsessed. Just saying. This issue hit newsstands today in 1971.
We better enjoy this place while it lasts. Once men find out they'll try anything short of a military siege to get in.
Above, a cover for Lesbian Gym from Brandon House, by Peggy Swenson, aka Richard Geis, copyright 1964. This one caught our eye because the Pulp Intl. girlfriends are always mocking the guys in their gym, whose apelike nature—so they tell us—emerges rather strongly there. We can't comment because we don't go to the gym. We do a bit of heavy lifting at the local bar, though. Good thing we're naturally skinny. A couple of sources attribute this cover to Fred Fixler, but we think they're wrong. Keep this in the uncredited bin.
Hey, Sarge, I'm ready for those nocturnal maneuvers you mentioned.
Not long ago we put together a large collection of lesbian paperback covers from the mid-century period. This one—Harry Whittington's Rebel Woman, 1960, from Avon Publications—we held back. It was just too awesome to mix in with the fifty or so we posted earlier. As we mentioned before, since these were mainly written by men, they reflected male fantasies and assumptions, and this one is prototypical anti-lesbian sleaze. An American mercenary gets involved in a Latin American revolution and is captured by a squad of female rebels. When he realizes the leader of the group is an old flame he figures he has nothing to worry about. But when he “saw the way she looked at the girl Dolores [he knew] the twisted path she had taken.” He decides she'll need to be reconverted to the hetero team, but that may be harder than it seems at first glance. Whittington may have gone to hell for writing this one.
Bad girls, sad girls, you're such dirty bad girls.
It's been five years since our last National Tattler, but we're returning to it because this cover published today in 1967 caught our eye. There were only two types of lesbians in mid-century tabloids—those to be converted to hetero love, and the dangerous kind. Tattler claims to have caught wind of a gang of the dangerous kind, rapists no less, and bikers to boot. We have our doubts. In addition to brutal lesbians you get Melina Mercouri kicked out of Greece by fascists. This story is actually true. Mercouri helped bring international attention to the cabal of colonels who had illegally taken over the country and in retaliation they revoked her citizenship and confiscated her property. But Mercouri outlasted the military junta, resettled in Greece in 1974, and later became the country's minister of culture.
When girl meets girl sparks fly.
Above and below is a small percentage of some of the thousands of lesbian themed paperback covers that appeared during the mid-century period, with art by Paul Rader, Fred Fixler, Harry Schaare, Rudy Nappi, Charles Copeland, and others, as well as a few interesting photographed fronts. The collection ends with the classic Satan Was a Lesbian, which you’ve probably seen before, but which no collection like this is complete without. Hopefully most of the others will be new to you. Needless to say, almost all were written by men, and in that sense are really hetero books reflecting hetero fantasies (fueled by hetero misconceptions and slander). You can see plenty more in this vein on the website Strange Sisters.
The point of no return.
Most mid-century lesbian fiction was written by men disguised behind pseudonyms. While Sloane Britain was indeed a pseudonym, its owner was actually a woman—Midwood-Tower editor Elaine Williams, who published from 1959 until committing suicide in 1964 at age thirty-three. The Needle concerns a woman who gets hooked on heroin and follows her long and winding road downhill, with the expected stops at dealing, prostitution, withdrawal, and relapse. But there are also a couple of great twists you don't get in typical heroin novels. Considered a classic of the drug sleaze genre, it was published in 1959. This fits nicely with our collection of needle paperback covers from a few years ago, which you can see here.
Hi, I'm your neighbor from row two, plot nine. I can't believe how massive your unit is. And your mobile home's big too.
A beautiful girl named Cherry Gordon who was abandoned by her birth mother and raised by adoptive parents gets into the porn racket, lets booze take over her life, runs afoul of the law, and even descends so far into depravity as to consort with lesbians. All this happens because she wants to be a singer and actress—so let it be a lesson never to follow your dreams. The story is written from Cherry's point of view, which is hilarious considering how little feel as a writer trashmaster deluxe Orrie Hitt has for women. But what does have plenty of feel is Paul Rader's cover for this 1963 Beacon Signal edition. No trash there.
It's a marvelous time for a loon dance.
This audacious wraparound cover is from Greenleaf Classics for Ricardo Armory's, aka George Davies' 1968 gay sleaze novel Fruit of the Loon. It's a satire of Richard Amory's hit trilogy Song of the Loon, featuring cowboys at the Circle 69 Ranch, a medicine man named Squirming Ass, and more. What makes the parody all the more interesting is that Song was gay fiction also published by Greenleaf, so they're roasting their own author here, as well as his novel that sold hundreds of thousands of copies, making it by far the biggest hit in gay literature in the 1970s. According to Drewey Wayne Gunn's book Gay American Novels, 1870-1970: A Reader's Guide, “[Fruit of the Loon] is not only hilarious but better written than the original.” The cover is better than the original too. It's doubtless Robert Bonfils or Darrel Millsap—probably Bonfils because thickly black-rimmed eyes appeared often in his Greenleaf work—but absent confirmation we'll go with unknown.
Don’t think too hard, my sweet. You might hurt that pretty head. Now off with the pants.
From Chicago born author Edmund Schiddel comes The Other Side of Night, a chronicle of the troubles and trials of a group of diverse New Yorkers on a particular New Year’s Eve. The menagerie includes an heiress, an aging beauty, a morbidly obese woman, a facially disfigured vet, a nymphomaniac, and a piece of Ivy League man candy. Schiddel was gay, and while he does feature a gay character here, his participation is minimal. We gather this was the norm for Schiddel, inserting gay secondary characters, but never focusing on them in the narratives. He was more interested in peeling back the tawdry layers of accepted society with occasionally controversial results. The Other Side of Night appeared in 1954, and the cover art, which we love for the expression on the male figure’s face, is uncredited.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1981—Ronnie Biggs Rescued After Kidnapping
Fugitive thief Ronnie Biggs, a British citizen who was a member of the gang that pulled off the Great Train Robbery, is rescued by police in Barbados after being kidnapped. Biggs had been abducted a week earlier from a bar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by members of a British security firm. Upon release he was returned to Brazil and continued to be a fugitive from British justice.
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet
, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler
and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals
of the Cold War.
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