You, sir, are no Steve Austin.
Mike Power, aka the Atomic Man, originated with the Hasbro toy company in the mid-1970s as part of its G.I. Joe Adventure Team. Power was born disabled. He spent his life developing atomic parts for his body, including a leg that helped him run 200 miles per hour, an arm that lifted 10,000 pounds, an eye that could see through six feet of solid steel, and an atomic heart to help him handle all the exertion. As you have probably guessed, Hasbro created him as competition for Kenner's Six Million Dollar Man action figure, but this one was going for around sixty dollars. We've seen cheaper ones that come without a box.
Power was also low rent in the sense that he never had a television show like the Six Million Dollar Man, but Hasbro put out a comic, and those are collector's items today. There were actually two versions of Power. Here you see the British version, which was manufactured by Palitoy, and the main difference was Power's plastic hair was replaced by a flocked hairdo that looked like a white guy ’fro. Below you see what Power is packing under his jumpsuit (“Daddy, why doesn't he have a wiener?” “Well son, that's because Atomic Man had it cut off when he became what's called a eunuch. Bled like a pig, he did.”). You can see a couple more entries on vintage dolls here and here. And if you're into futuristic toy ray guns, check here.
Just the thing for a cross-country trip.
This photo shows the crater made by the Sedan nuclear test, also known as the Storax Sedan test, which happened today in 1962 as part of Operation Storax. The crater is the result of an explosion that displaced twelve million tons of earth, and at 320 feet deep and 1280 feet in diameter is the largest man-made crater in the United States. It's also—bizarrely we think—listed on the National Register of Historic Places, especially weird when you consider that it sent two radioactive plumes wafting northeast from the Nevada explosion site, cross country from state to unsuspecting state, to settle especially heavily upon Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Illinois. Of all the nuclear tests conducted in the United States, Sedan ranked highest in overall activity of radionuclides in fallout, distributing nearly 7% of the total amount of radiation which fell on the U.S. population during all of the nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site. Historic indeed. You see the explosion that caused all that below.
Better living with polymers.
Models Joan Brown and Betty Bland demonstrate the tensile qualities of Krene Plastic by using a sheet as a hammock in this photo shot in Cypress Gardens, Florida in 1955. Krene Plastic was 1/100th of an inch thick but was strong enough to support the weight of both models plus two others—at least according to its makers the Bakelite Company. At the time it was touted as a miracle material, perfect for a wide range of applications, but ultimately it was used mainly to make shower curtains.
Deep inside the civil rights movement.
Above we have an issue of The National Insider that hit newsstands today in 1966, and as you can see the cover is given over to Sheriff Jim Clark, who tells the story of how he saw civil rights activists involved in an orgy in Selma, Alabama. Clark actually writes the article himself, and it's mostly a defense against unflattering portrayals of him in the national press. He claims the accounts are part of “one of the most effective propaganda campaigns since Josef Goebbels sold Adolf Hitler to 70 million Germans—and destroyed a nation in the process.” It's always best to drop Hitler into the narrative early, Godwin be damned. Clark goes on: “The civil rights organizations and their hired agitators who descended on Selma knew that the sheriff must enforce the law and maintain order. They knew, and I knew, that I was playing into their hands. I was the heavy. They were the martyrs.”
This is fascinating stuff. Clark thought protestors were in Selma not to seek redress for abuses, but to be deliberately arrested. It's a classic case of constructing an alternate reality to confirm one's own prejudices. Civil rights protestors risk arrest, and are willing to be arrested, but do not prefer it. They prefer notice from the target of their protest, and news coverage of the event in order to spread their point of view. They don't hire agitators. It's an accusation always leveled, and not once proven. By Clark's formulation, public protest of any sort is not about seeking rights, but creating chaos. Conveniently, then, the only way to avoid creating chaos is not to protest at all, and accept one's lot in life. See how that works? Clark says, “I disapproved of civil rights protestors because they put themselves beyond the law.” But of course the law was what denied them equality, therefore no petition for redress could happen anywhere except beyond the law.
But what of the orgies? Here's Clark: “Dozens of Selma and Dallas County people swore to seeing sex acts between whites and Negroes. White teenaged girls making love in public with Negro men. White men dressed as priests making love with Negro girls. Make no mistake about it—sex and civil rights go together.” Of course this is always tactic number two. After refusing to accept the purpose behind civil protest, you then disparage the people. The fact that Clark went in a sexual direction shows what was really on his mind. “Sex and civil rights go together.” Which is to say, if blacks achieve the rights they seek, we can kiss our white girlfriends and daughters goodbye. It's almost comedy material, except it's hard to laugh knowing so many people were swayed by this argument. Sex is no longer overtly used as a propaganda weapon, but the smearing of rights protestors continues.
Taking a step back and looking at it from the reality based world, we cannot think of any instances where civil rights protestors risked their safety and freedom fighting oppression that was a figment of their imaginations. In every case the protestors were correct, from southern Alabama to South Africa. Sometimes it's ethnic majorities that are oppressed, but never the economically dominant. Sometimes the economically oppressed and economically dominant are the same ethnicity, leading to scenes such as those during the Great Depression when white police violently broke up the protests of the white unemployed. But in order to believe that rights protestors would risk their already tenuous status over a non-issue, one already has to have a low opinion of them. The upshot of Clark's article is that the Selma marchers had no true grievances. We know today that's false. Similarly, there are people who would have us believe that today's civil rights protesters have no valid grievances. This again, is demonstrably false. We'll have more from The National Insider later.
Last star you see in your life.
This photo shows the French nuclear test codenamed Aldébaran, after an orange giant star in the constellation Taurus. If the photo were in color, the light from the explosion would indeed be orange at this stage, but we actually prefer this black and white shot. It was France's first nuclear test, to be followed by 209 more, including 50 in the open atmosphere. Most took place on on Mururoa Atoll, leading to rampant radioactivity which the French government managed to keep secret until just a few years ago. Aldébaran was detonated today in 1966.
Uncensored turns its unique journalistic eye toward Anita Ekberg.
There's nothing quite like tabloid writing, a fact once again amply demonstrated by Uncensored. This issue is from June 1963, and check out this short paragraph from its feature on Anita Ekberg: “This is the Uncensored story of how Prince Philip bagged a rare and exotic Scandinavian pouter pigeon. Though its native habitat is Sweden, this double-breasted dove prefers the warmer climate of Italy. It also migrates as far from home as London and Hollywood.”
Double-breasted dove? They don't write like that anymore, and a good thing too. It's sexist, of course, but the tabs were generally belittling of both females and males—though in different ways. Women were derided for dating around, such as when Uncensored refers to Ekberg as “Sexberg,” whereas men were usually disparaged for not being manly enough. That typically involved either being rebuffed by women, not scoring with enough women, or sexually preferring men. You see this in the story on Marcello Mastroianni, who's called “lazy” for passing on Brigitte Bardot. And you see it in the story on the United Nations, which is referred to as the “U.N. pansy patch.”
From the perspective of 2017, the heteronormative insecurity is pretty obvious. Men are to be prowling wolves, and any failure to live up to the ideal prompts insults; women are to be readily available for action, but not to other men. The story on Ekberg treads the line of admiring her beauty, but being suspicious about the freeness of her affections. There's a photo of her dancing with a black G.I. in Rome, and while the caption is neutral, in the context of the story the meaning of the shot is clear: “Ekberg will even dance with a black man!”
We love the photo. Ekberg looks a bit baffled, as if the soldier is telling her, “We'd be in mortal danger for doing this in most of the United States, you know,” and Ekberg is saying, “What the hell are you talking about?” The photo also shows how tall Ekberg was, almost 5' 7”, probably 5' 10” in heels, which is towering for an actress who needed to star alongside all those mid-sized leading men. We think this is the first time this image has appeared online.
Other elements worth noting in this issue include French actress and Pulp Intl. femme fatale Dominque Boschero as a mermaid, Marlene Dietrich looking dapper in a tux, Jayne Mansfield and one of her famed toy poodles, and burlesque queen Blaze Starr sudsy in a bathtub. There are plenty of other great shots too, and you can see them all below in nearly forty scans. Uncensored will return.
Famed movie cemetery rises from the dead.
Spaghetti westerns earned their name because they generally premiered in Italy and the studios that financed them were usually Italian, but the films were often predominantly shot in Spain. The climax of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, with its unforgettable three-way gunfight between Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef, was shot outside the town of Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain, in the province of Burgos, in a unique circular cemetery put together by set builders. In the script it was called the Sad Hill Cemetery. After the shoot Sad Hill was abandoned, and soon nature began to overtake the set.
That would have been the end of the story, but a group of film fans calling themselves the Sad Hill Cultural Association decided Sad Hill was a historic film treasure deserving of resurrection, and pledged to rescue it from oblivion. Toiling in their spare time, they labored with pick, hoe, and shovel to clear the site. They needed money to accomplish the work, so they set up a crowdfunding campaign with a unique enticement—those who contributed would have their names inscribed on the restored grave markers. The restoration efforts are finally complete, and the famous graveyard has been returned to its former state.
Spanish filmmaker Guillermo de Oliveira shot a documentary about the salvation efforts, and hopes to release a film titled Sad Hill Unearthed. He's now trying to raise money to pay for the rights to clips and music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, with the plan to premiere thefinished product at film festivals and share the restorer's unique dedication with the world. Meanwhile Sad Hill will become not only a tourist attraction for people passing through the province of Burgos, but a destination for those who contributed to its renewal. As Oliveira commented, “It’s the only cemetery in the world where you can visit your own grave.”
National Spotlite gets right to the good parts.
This National Spotlite published today in 1970 knows its readers want to see boobs. It touts “the girl with the 50” bust,” and leaves a little space at bottom left for those boring witch cult sex orgies. Since Informer dealt with the boobs first, we'll follow suit. The girl with the 50” bust is Suzanne Pritchard, who was a mid-level glamour model and sometime dancer, whose go-to move was squeezing said boobs together between her arms. You can see what we mean in the interior photos, and the first thing you'll probably notice is that Suzanne Pritchard is not the woman pictured on the cover. No, that's an unnamed beauty who probably had no idea she'd end up on the front of Spotlite. Cue sleazy agent: “Hey, I said I'd get you some exposure. What didja expect? Harper's-fucking-Bazaar?”
Inside the issue there's another familiar face besides Suzanne Pritchard's. In a feature entitled “The Art of Taking a Bath” we see none other than German star Karin Schubert. Cue agent: “Hey, I said I'd get you some exposure. What didja expect? The cover? It was taken.” Actually, while the unnamed cover star doubtless knew of her turn in the Spotlite, in all likelihood Schubert had no clue. As we've mentioned before, we have a background in media, and her shot was undoubtedly what we used to call a handout photo—i.e. images given to magazines and newspapers for use in publicizing a celebrity. Agents back then kept tabs on how many photos were sent out and where, but didn't monitor whether they were used months or years later. The process was a bit more structured by the time we worked at magazines, and today it may well be computerized.
Every tabloid has its focus. Some were oriented towards scandals, others sexual perversion, still others violence and gore. National Spotlite was eclectic, but this issue's recurring theme is breasts. Schubert's bath story has this line: “Women with large breasts should make sure the underside of their mammaries get a good scrubbing. The ideal method is to have someone else cup your breasts into the air while you scrub.” To us, that actually sounds like an incredibly inefficient way to wash one's breasts, but that's really beside the point, isn't it? In sleazy tabloids, everything is foreplay and all roads lead to the bedroom. We have seventeen scans below, all of them designed to get you heated up and ready to perform.
Last one there is a rotten ama.
If you visit Pulp Intl. regularly you know that ama movies, which focus on the tradition of female free divers who scour bay bottoms for valuable items such as abalone, clams, and pearls, are very popular in Japan. The divers, who in the past traditionally worked topless, occupy a place in Japanese culture similar to that of rollerskating female carhops in U.S. culture. Both are unusual and physical forms of work with mildly sexual components (at least in the male mind), both are steeped in nostalgia for a simpler past, and both are widely appreciated by men even though most have never seen one outside a movie.
The ama tradition is ancient. The first written mention of them dates from the year 927, but ama artifacts have been found on the sea floor and carbon dated to suggest the practice is something like 3,000 years old. It's difficult to know when the tradition peaked, but according to most accounts that would have happened during the early- to mid-20th century. Movies on the subject began appearing frequently from the mid-1960s through the 1980s, with the high water mark—ahem—of western interest occurring with the appearance of an ama (played by Mie Hama) in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice.
We've talked about eight different Japanese ama movies on Pulp Intl. over the years, including two earlier this month, so we thought you might be interested in seeing a few historical photos. We have a collection of fifteen above and below, shot between the 1940s and 1980s. Sadly, like so many interesting cultural practices, ama diving is in danger of fading away. Most pratictioners are in their forties and older, with very little likelihood of being succeeded by younger women, who have moved on to less traditional occupations. And people say civilization is making progress.
Follow the links below to read about the ama movies we've discussed, and to see their beautiful promotional posters.
Zoku kindan no suna Ama bune yori: Kindan no suna
Manatsu no joji
Which direction does Monroe go? The beauty mark is how you know.
At top you see a 1956 cover of the French film and celeb magazine Ciné-Révélation featuring the eternal Marilyn Monroe. The magazine caught our eye because we recognized the cover image as a promotional photo made for Monroe's film There's No Business Like Show Business. We think it's one of the most striking shots of one of history's most photographed people, so we thought we'd show you what it looks like without the text and wear. It's reversed compared to the Ciné-Révélation version, but it's the French who printed it backward. How can we tell? Because Monroe's beauty mark was on the right. Our right. Her left. You know what we mean.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1963—John F. Kennedy Is Assassinated
In Dallas, Texas, U.S. President John F. Kennedy is killed and Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded as they ride in a motorcade through Dealy Plaza. Lee Harvey Oswald
, an employee of the schoolbook depository from which the shots were suspected to have been fired, was arrested on charges of the murder of a local police officer and was subsequently charged with the Kennedy killing. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, but was killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, before he could be indicted or tried. Today, Americans who believe JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy are routinely dismissed
in the press, yet the vast majority of them believe Oswald did not act alone.
1959—Max Baer Dies
Former heavyweight boxing champ Max Baer dies of a heart attack in Hollywood, California. Baer had a turbulent career. He lost to Joe Louis in 1935, but two years earlier, in his prime, he defeated German champ and Nazi hero Max Schmeling while wearing a Star of David on his trunks. The victory was his legacy, making him a symbol to Jews, and also to all who hated Nazis.
1945—Nuremberg Trials Begin
In Nuremberg, Germany, in the Palace of Justice, the trials of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany begin. Among the men tried were Martin Bormann (in absentia), Hermann Göring, Rudolph Hess, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner.
1984—SETI Institute Founded
The SETI Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, the discovery of extrasolar planets, and the habitability of the galaxy, is founded in California by Thomas Pierson and Dr. Jill Tarter.
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