It's okay to bend me a little but please don't fold or crease me.
We've had a lot of Bettie Page on Pulp Intl., but there's no such thing as too much, so today on the anniversary of her death eight years ago we thought we'd share a favorite shot of her. She was easily one of the most photographed models of her era. Marilyn Monroe and perhaps a few others surpassed her for sheer volume of images. Despite those thousands of Page shots, this photo has an especially joyful quality we think sets it apart. You can see plenty more of Bettie Page in the website, including a couple of sets of images we were the first to put online, like here and here.
There's nothing standard about this model.
This 1953 wall calendar from the Standard Parts Co. of Memphis, Tennessee features a lovely painting from famed pin-up artist Bill Medcalf. While it looks as if the painting featuring a golfer with a perfect follow through has been pinned to a sunny wall for ages and the colors faded as a result—an assumption seemingly confirmed by looking at Medcalf's original lithograph at right—the image isn't actually faded. A glance at the orange border, which is as vibrant as something harvested by Sunkist, proves it. The makers simply decided for stylistic reasons to go with a monochromatic sepia for the color. Why? We don't know. Maybe because golf is an exercise in serial failure that sucks all the vitality out of you.
The real bonus with this piece, though, comes when you flip it over. There on the other side of the Standard Parts calendar is none other than anything-but-standard model Diane Webber, aka Marguerite Empey, who was America's most famous nudist from the mid-century period. She's popped up on our site several times, usually in rare treasures we've had the pleasure of putting online for the first time, like here, here, and especially here. We're happy to add another find to the collection, and we'll have more from her a bit later.
Delivering thrills all year round.
Stan Borack painted the cover of this issue of Male from January 1958, and the interior art comes from Samson Pollen, Bob Schultz, John Leone, James Bama, Bob Stanley, John Kuller, and Tom Ryan. Not a slouch in the bunch. The magazine contains a preview of Shane author Jack Schaefer’s novel Company of Cowards, the Civil War tale of a group of Union officers who have all been busted down to the rank of private, but who are formed into a special unit and given a chance to earn back their honor. That chance takes them into Comanche country where they face an assortment of deadly challenges.
Also in this issue you get famed model Diane Webber/Marguerite Empey—who we’ve been seeing a lot of recently—doing a nice photo feature and complaining that since being elected Queen of the Nudists by a national sunbathing association all anyone wants to talk about is her naked lifestyle. But we think that’s just the editors trying to come up with an angle for the text. Webber was an official advocate of nudist lifestyle and even promoted her special brand of spiritual nudism in television interviews, so we doubt she was fed up with it at this point. The photos were shot by Russ Meyer, and we’re pretty sure they’ve never been on the internet before, which is always a fun moment for us. Please enjoy. Twenty scans below.
Diane Webber brings a bit of warmth to winter in Baltimore.
Today’s Technicolor lithograph features a recognizable figure for once—the much adored Diane Webber, a California born model, dancer, and actress who was also known as Marguerite Empey and became one of the most important fixtures of the 1950s and 1960s nudist magazine scene. You can see a few examples of those here. Webber was also a two-time Playboy centerfold under her Empey persona, in May 1955 and February 1956. We’ve mentioned before that the blank spaces at the tops of these Technicolor prints were made for the insertion of advertising, and at right you see how that worked with a calendar for a Baltimore, Maryland establishment called Stanley’s Drive-In. The original image came from the A. Scheer Company, was called Exclusively Yours, and appeared in 1955. The calendar came out in the winter of 1958.
Lifestyles of the naked and unashamed.
We’ve done a few posts on nudist magazines, because we consider them to be related to the racy men’s mags that proliferated during the 1950s. A nudist would most likely disagree, but they’d be wrong—if they were to look inside a typical mid-century men’s magazine they’d very likely see a photo or journalism feature on the naturist movement. Yes, men’s magazine always portrayed nudism as sexual, while real nudists would say sex has nothing to do with it, but the men’s magazine link is undeniable, even if they sensationalized the lifestyle.
One of the countries where naturism was and remains a strong social undercurrent is Germany—in fact, at our local beach, which isn’t officially nudist but is generally accepting of the practice, unclothed sunbathers are almost stereotypically German, though French visitors give them a run for their money. Above you see the cover of one of the most popular naturist magazines of the mid-century era—West Germany’s Humana. Below are thirteen scans showing a lot of naked people having a very nice time—no sensationalism needed. You can see our previous post on the magazine here.
Times may change but sex always sells.
Above is the front of a copy of Uncensored magazine that appeared today in 1965 with cover stars Jackie O., Blaze Starr, and—in a sign of changing times—the Beatles. Inside the magazine you get sin and skin in the form of East German sex camps, nudity in international cinema, exotic dancer Marlene MacLane, transgender entertainer Christine Jorgensen, and call girl Christine Keeler, who, Uncensored reminds readers yet again, had lovers with skin darker than hers. And according to journalist Bill Jeffree, so did thousands of other British women. What had the world come to? These old tabloids often contain photos that haven’t made it online yet, and from this one we’re happy to upload a cool shot of Keeler, a snap of John F. Kennedy, Jr. as a toddler, and a rare vision of Elizabeth Taylor strolling a Mediterranean boardwalk in her bikini. We have about twenty scans below and more from Uncensored to come.
Goliath Books exposes Third Reich porn to the light of day.
Of all the books Berlin-based publishing company Goliath has produced, perhaps none is more essentially pulp in nature than Private Pornography in the Third Reich. 1950s and 1960s men’s adventure magazines were obsessed with Nazis, and Third Reich spies littered post-war pulp fiction. The stories and art were often sexual in nature, such as here and here, sometimes hinting at or portraying depravity behind closed doors. With Private Pornography in the Third Reich the doors are closed no more. Stepping into forbidden salons, we’re presented not only with challenging images, but the social questions pornography raises, plus the specter of Third Reich authoritarianism and eventual war.
According to Hitler’s formulation, the perfect Aryan female was a mother. His Nazi state gave medals to women who had eight children or more, as long as mother, father and offspring were of perfect Aryan stock. It bears mentioning at this point that increasing numbers of modern day scientists have done away with race because it seems less and less to exist biologically. It is, evidence suggests more each day, an entirely social construct into which humans willingly and unwillingly self-organize. Hence there was never a master race. The theory makes as much sense scientifically as the theory of a master wizard.
But racial purity was Hitler’s obsession, and to force procreative sex on a country he felt needed to replace millions of military age men killed in the Great War his regime repressed the idea of recreational sex, driving sexual freedom and sexual expression underground. Prostitution was banned,sending an estimated 100,000 women and 35,000 men into the shadows. But as always, the rich, powerful, and connected could obtain whatever they wished. Secret dens of sexual performance and prostitution sprang up, and a black market in pornography blossomed, gaining momentum once it became clear that selling it outside Germany was an efficient means of accessing foreign currency.
Private Pornography in the Third Reich is sliced into ten sections: postcards/portraits, nudism, petting, oral sex, heterosexual intercourse, lesbian couples, lesbianism with toys, sado-masochism, and threesomes. If that sounds like a lot of photos, it is—200 images in digest size from a collection originally put together by Hans von Bockhain. The book contains only a brief introduction then presents its photos without captions or explanations. But none are needed—if pornography is the sexual id of a society then what we see is a pornographic subculture in a bread-and-circuses moment, indulging in wild diversions as the grip of an authoritarian state tightens.
In another few years the Reich would have near total control of life in Germany, and operate a chain of concentration camps in which those deemed sexual deviants could be imprisoned. As a historical document of the sex industry during the anti-lust years leading up to that period, PrivatePornography in the Third Reich is fascinating. The subject is taboo, the photos perhaps more so. They range from artful salon compositions to raunchy reverse cowgirl penetration shots, which means it may not be coffee table material for everyone, but for the adventurous it’s certain to live up to aesthetic expectations, and provoke vigorous debates as well. Read more at Goliath Books.
American Sunbather uses its 1960 calendar and twelve nude women to sell the idea of paradise.
Yes, we still have a few items from that trip to the U.S. we took a couple of years ago, and today we’re finally getting around to this baby. It’s a calendar put together by American Sunbather in 1960. We were actually going to post it on January 1, but we were still too busy fuming over our bank snafu to get it done. So instead you get it on the last day of January. All the tri-toned images are great, but sadly the January page is missing—that must have been a very good month. American Sunbather magazine was one of the main nudist publications. It was published by the Outdoor American Corporation of Spokane, Washington, and ran from the 1950s until about 1967. Like other nudist magazines, it espoused a rationale for why nudism was a desirable lifestyle and you can get a sense of their philosophy from each month’s accompanying text. If it’s too small to read, here’s an example from September:
When men begin to think that the Golden Age belongs solely to ancient history, that the future holds no radiant beauty, no effulgence of glory for the human race, mankind will be in a state of dotage. We nudists know the joy of conviction that “the best is yet to be,” and we feel certain that our preachment and program will contribute much to the sum-total of human welfare and earthly happiness.
There’s so much we could say about this. For instance, in 1960 we seriously doubt that everyone was actually welcome in American Sunbather’s utopia, but leaving that aside, we basically agree with the calendar’s sentiments. In fact, there’s no need to get mystical—it feels good when nature comes into contact with the body. That’s really the long and short of it. Where we live most people don’t get too bothered about naked bodies on the beach, which is nice, even if we don’t typically join in. American Sunbather believed humanity would become more uninhibited as time went by, and its beliefs were underpinned by an idea that we would all have more time, more money, and more freedom. But a funny thing happened on the way to utopia—once the 1970s ended there was suddenly less time, less money, and less freedom for about 90% of Americans. And now—for the moment at least—utopia is just a speck in the distance.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
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