Vintage Pulp Aug 19 2014
VENUS GUYTRAP
Kill her and she’ll kill you back.


Jesus Franco’s Paroxismus was an Italian erotic mystery known in the English-speaking world as Venus in Furs. Basically, an American jazz musician in Istanbul goes to a party and there sees a woman involved in sadomasochistic sex. Later he finds the same woman’s body on a beach, and at that point flees to Rio de Janeiro. In Rio he plays with a jazz group, but one night sees the dead woman from Istanbul walk into the club where he’s performing. Or is it her? Whoever she is, she seems intent on exacting revenge against those who killed her. Or didn’t. Jesus Franco is a polarizing filmmaker, but if you’re ever going to like one of his films, this may be it. It’s dark and surreal, beautifully shot, has an interesting score, and a compelling cast that includes James Darren, Maria Rhome, and the always arresting Klaus Kinski. The late-1960s hepcat dialogue may amuse or repel, depending on one’s sensibilities, and those hoping for a linear plot or Hollywood ending should give up before even settling into their seats, but as a whole we thought it was quite entertaining.

In terms of understanding the film, it helped when we learned that a chance comment by the jazz trumpeter Chet Baker had been the inspiration for the script. We also discovered, on an unrelated note, that the lead as originally written was supposed to be a Miles Davis type guy, which is to say black, but Franco was shot down because American audiences were thought to be unready to see a black man and white woman in bed together. This led to the ethnic reversals of the lead role into a white jazzman and the character of Rita into his black girlfriend. Too bad for Franco he wasn’t allowed to make the film the way he wanted, but it’s impossible to be bummed with the casting of Barbara McNair as Rita, despite the circumstances. Impossible to be bummed about the art, either. The above promo poster was painted by the awesome Mario De Berardinis, who signed his work MOS, and we also have an ultra-rare alternate poster below, painted by unknown. Paroxismus premiered in Italy today in 1969.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 18 2014
THE EYES HAVE IT
Unknown model (maybe) practices her non-verbal communication.

Above is a 1966 Technicolor lithograph featuring an unidentified model. Well, she’s officially unidentified, but looks to us a lot like 1963 Playboy Playmate/1964 Playmate of the Year Donna Michelle. Trivia time: did you know she posed for the magazine when she was seventeen? Anyway, we can’t be sure this is her, but the resemblance is strong. See for yourself below.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 18 2014
AS IT HAPPENS
Despite appearances It’s Happening is the same under the skin as every other 70s tabloid.


Has it really been two years since we last posted an issue of It’s Happening? So it seems, and here we are, bringing back this black-themed 1970s publication today, when the U.S. is in the midst of one of its periodic racial upheavals. The timing is a fluke—this is an August issue always destined to be posted this month—but we’re reminded by the existence of It’s Happening that racial discord has always generated easy profits for a cynical few media moguls. In this case the head cynic is Reuben Sturman, a clever fox who eventually built a pornography empire his future prosecutors would describe as the largest in America. That description is unconfirmable today (and probably then, too), but there’s no doubt his holdings were vast.
 
It’s Happening of the 1960s was a bold publication, but by the time this issue appeared it was not dissimilar to other cheapie tabloids. It printed stories about the virile black lovers of white housewives and starlets, or the sporting conquests of black athletes, or current news that skirted actual journalism, but it did not—crucially for a black newspaper—spend time on important issues like police misconduct, advocacy for social change, or any other subject that might have branded it a political paper. Published during a time of constant social turbulence, it doubtless attracted the eyeballs of those looking for something radical and bold. Those readers would have been satisfied with the earlier It’s Happening, but not with the later version.

So once we take bold and radical off the table, the main two differences left between 1970s It’s Happening and other tabloids were its placement of African Americans on every cover, and its deliberate marketing to black America. Even this went only so far—by now about a fifth of each issue had nothing specific to do with the black community at all. These would be stories about white celebs, or maybe weird crimes in some European enclave. So, it was a black paper, yes, but one that had learned not to alienate. A white consumer who liked a typical cheapie tab like, say, Midnight, would have found 1970s It’s Happening comfortingly familiar. We have some scans below, and you can see more of the same in our previous posts here, here, and here

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Vintage Pulp Aug 16 2014
ASIA SPECIFIC
Mid-century fiction’s love affair with the East produced scores of virtuoso bookcovers.

It seems time for another themed cover collection, so today we’re sharing some of the scores of Asian styled mid-century paperback fronts we’ve seen. Much of the fiction here is offensive on some level, but then quite a bit of the old literature falls into that category. The art, on the other hand, is somewhat easier to look at dispassionately. So we have twenty-three paperback covers revealing the mid-century fascination with—or exploitation of—Asian archetypes, with art by Denis McLoughlin, Robert Maguire (identically on Ne-San and The Transistor Girls), J. Oval, aka Ben Ostrick, and more. Four or five of these came from Flickr, so thanks to the original uploaders on those.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 15 2014
MONROE ITALIAN STYLE
Non ci siamo già visti prima Marilyn mia cara?

Then French call it déjà vu, but in Italian it would be già visto. But while it may seem like you just saw this cover a few days ago, it’s actually entirely different. The Italian magazine Epoca loved Marilyn Monroe, and she was the star of many issues. The last one we shared was from the first anniversary of her death, give or take a few days. This one was published 15 August 1954, eleven years before she died, and again features an extensive set of rare photos. And just to show they weren’t giving short shrift to homegrown talent, Epoca editors also offer a very nice shot of Italian superstar Gina Lollobrigida. Scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 14 2014
GRAND HOTEL
You can check in any time you like.

Moving away from the hard-boiled for a moment, here’s a beautiful cover for Nina Antony’s L’hôtel des chimères, aka Hotel of Chimeras, 1960, from Editions de L’Arabesque’s collection Colorama. As you probably know by now, Antony was a pseudonym, because that’s just what French authors did. This time the owner is an author named Jeannine Rubia who also wrote under Cora del Rio and possibly other names. Another version of L’hôtel des chimères appeared with different cover art, but this breezy effort from Jef de Wulf is sublime.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 11 2014
EPOCA HISTORY
Italian magazine marks end of Monroe era.

This otherwise unremarkable issue of the Italian magazine Epoca has two things going for it—a cover featuring Marilyn Monroe, and a six-page interior spread featuring some rare photos. It appeared as a tribute issue today in 1963, more or less a year after Monroe had died. The cover text boasts of having found her personal photo album. We can’t confirm that, but the photos are indeed ones we see less often than others of Monroe. That is, if “less often” even applies when talking about probably the most photographed woman in cinema history. Eight scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 7 2014
WANDER LUST
Italian artist Mario De Berardinis finds a perfect Playmate.

Here’s a rarity—a western film for which we can’t find an official English translation, which of course means it likely never played on American or British screens. The film in question is the Italian sex comedy Giro girotondo... con il sesso è bello il mondo, which loosely means something like “wander wandering… with sex it’s a beautiful world.” Or something. Whatever it means, the unwieldy title surely would have been changed for a run Stateside, which is why we’re pretty sure that never happened. But the title isn’t the reason we’re sharing this poster. The reason is it’s by the Italian genius Mario De Berardinis, who we discussed last year. This effort is actually copied from a photo of 1973 Playboy centerfold Cyndi Wood, one of the magazine’s most popular models. And we’d show that image to you, but one thing we are sure of after working at that company is they’ll sue you in a second. So here’s a link to the shot. Did that make your day? Giro girotondo... con il sesso è bello il mondo premiered in Italy today in 1975.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 7 2014
POWER OF LOVE
Rainbowman is a lover and a fighter.

You’ve probably been asked a few times in your life what superpower you’d want, but why would you have to settle for one? This poster promotes the Japanese television series Ai no Senshi Reinböman, aka Warrior of Love Rainbowman. The main character is a former pro wrestler who trains in India under a yogi and develops not one but seven different incarnations. Each of those incarnations has a comprehensive set of abilities, so Rainbowman has about a hundred superpowers—everything from becoming jointless so he can move like a snake to using pine needles as deadly projectiles. And of course he can fly and shoot fire from his hands and do all the other mundane superhero stuff too. Unfortunately, among his many powers are none involving costume design, which is why he looks more like a backup breakdancer from an 80s hip-hop tour than a superhero. Cool poster anyway, though.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 5 2014
BORN LOESER
They say there are victors and losers in life, but what if you’re both?

David Mark’s 1959 thriller Long Shot, originally published as The Long Chance in 1955, is a look at the life of a compulsive gambler. He picks winning horses, losing horses, marries Ruth, beds Katy and Carol, picks winning horses, picks many more losing horses, and eventually resorts to lies, cheating, theft, and so forth. To understand what the novel is about all you really need to know is the lead character’s doubly predictive name—Evan Victor Loeser. The excellent art here is by Mitchell Hooks.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 21
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
August 20
1940—Trotsky Iced in Mexico
In Mexico City exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe (not an ice pick) by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky dies the next day.
1968—Prague Spring Ends
200,000 Warsaw Pact troops backed by 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring political liberalization movement.
1986—Sherrill Goes Postal
In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States postal employee Patrick Sherrill shoots and kills fourteen of his co-workers and then commits suicide.
August 19
1953—Mohammed Mossadegh Overthrown in Iran
At the instigation of the CIA, Prime Minster of Iran Mohammed Mossadegh is overthrown and the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is installed as leader of the country.

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