Intl. Notebook | Sex Files May 20 2024
They slurp, you slurp, we all slurp in Rampage.

It's always fun to see which direction Rampage goes in each ridiculous centerspread, and in an issue published today in 1973 they highlight a mother and daughter who lick houseguests. This stuff is priceless. It's reported by “Karl Peabody,” who visits a Los Angeles businessman who runs his home "Burmese style," whatever that is, with a compliant wife and daughter required to entertain guests. Soon comes the licking, and we bet you can guess which part of this pseudonymous reporter gets licked. Rampage claims on its front cover that it's America's “top satire and humor weekly.” We're not so sure about the humor part of the formula, but the satire is certainly there.

We often wonder why people who bought Rampage didn't just go full porn and buy Playboy or whatever. But maybe Rampage and its ilk were displayed more openly at newsstands, and possibly as checkout line items in drugstores and the like, leading to impulse purchases. We figure the average buyer would read the paper twice—once out of curiosity, and again to make sure it was as dumb as it seemed the first time. With tens of millions of newsstand browsers every week, even a miniscule purchase rate would probably keep a tabloid afloat. Of course, we've bought dozens of these gonzo newspapers, so who are we to talk? Therefore we humbly submit for your perusal a selection of choice Rampage imagery.

Vintage Pulp May 19 2024
She'd be a distraction, but at least you'd know she wasn't hiding any cards.

Above: the 1951 novel Abattez votre jeu by Patrick MacEvoy‎ for Éditions C.P.E. and its La Mante collection. The cover is credited to someone named Cassaro. That's not the Italian illustrator Renato Casaro, but rather someone whose work we've seen never before. We've also never seen an outfit like this on any actual person, but it's nice. Fashion designers take note, and take action. The title translates as, “bring down your game,” but in this sitaution we think you'd need to step up your game.


Femmes Fatales May 19 2024
Let's not go off half-cocked.

This promo image with white markings shows Filipina actress Neile Adams, whose nickname was Nellie, entertaining dangerous thoughts with a machine pistol at her side. Adams is known, these days, for being the wife of screen legend Steve McQueen, but she appeared in about ten films and an equal number of television shows, including The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Police Woman, and The Rockford Files. There are versions of this photo with McQueen pasted into the background, so for the fun of it we added one below.

Vintage Pulp May 18 2024
Wait, don't leave. I actually have a second talent, though I don't use it much. Let me just grab my banjo.

This cover for Josiah E. Greene's The Man with One Talent isn't anything special, but the title caught our eye because it's identical to that of an 1898 short story by Richard Harding Davis—who, speaking of talent, was an extraordinary war correspondent. The one talent referenced here by Greene is the capacity for violence, which the main character puts to use breaking up a union in a small New England town. This was originally published in hardback in 1951, with the Perma paperback coming the next year.


Vintage Pulp May 17 2024
She's got a very bad feline about this situation.

Are cats creepy? We don't think so. But some people have a problem with them, and filmmakers are always happy to serve up a dose of an audience member's fears. Movies we've discussed that use cats as sources of terror include 1934's The Black Cat, 1948's The Creeper, 1970's Kaidan nobori ryu, aka Black Cat’s Revenge, 1971's Il gatto a nove code, aka, Cat o’ Nine Tails (mainly just on the posters, but what beautiful art), and 1973's La morte negli occhi del gatto, aka Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye. Those are just the ones we've looked at here. The list goes on and on through dozens if not hundreds of movies. In literature we've had looks at Nancy Rutledge's Blood on the Cat and Dorothy Salisbury Davis's The Judas Cat. You get the point. The Cat Creeps, for which you see a pretty nice poster above, fits snugly into cinematic tradition.

In the movie a newspaperman named Fred Brady is assigned to dig up dirt on senate candidate Walter Elliot, who's just been implicated in the murder of a former political rival fifteen years ago. Brady happens to be dating Elliot's daughter, but says nothing about his conflict of interest and takes the assignment to keep it away from a vicious rival reporter. Immediately, Brady learns there are family secrets, which are mostly revealed during a trip made with Elliot, his lawyer, his daughter, an investigator, and two others to the isolated island home of the person who has made the accusations. That person ends up dead, and the more superstitious members of the party come to believe a black cat is possessed by her spirit. Weirdo mystic Iris Clive even promises the others that it will reveal the murderer.

The movie is billed as a mystery, which it is, but it's a glib one, filled with one-liners and goofy looks. We were surprised to see Noah Beery in a major role as Brady's sidekick. He's best remembered these days as Jim Rockford's father Rocky from The Rockford Files, which we've been watching the entirety of during the last year. Here he and Brady—between quips, piercing screams, and drop-dead faints from the entire female cast—manage to solve the puzzle tidily but uncompellingly. Even a couple of ending twists didn't impress, and weaving the cat into it all required torturous screenwriting. But the mystery is never the point. This is an exercise in atmosphere—there's a lot of shadowy creeping around, as promised by the title. It mostly works. For a period mystery you could do far worse. The Cat Creeps—which is unrelated to the identically titled film from 1930—premiered today in 1946.
“Creeps? What kind of weirdo names their cat Creeps?”


Vintage Pulp May 17 2024
Do not centerfold, spindle, or mutilate.

The Centerfold Girls has a pretty anodyne poster for what is a decidedly provocative film. It hit cinemas today in 1974 and is about a religious fanatic played by Andrew Prine who wishes to save (read: murder) three women who've posed nude for a men's magazine called Bachelor. The film is divided into chapters, with the story around each stalking target—Jaime Lyn Bauer, Jennifer Ashley, and Tiffany Bolling—given about one third of the running time. Obviously that means—er, sorry, strongly suggests—that at least two of the trio die. Spoiler alert! There could also be collateral damage. Spoiler... allusion?

The movie lacks the tongue-in-cheek aspect of so much sexploitation cinema, falling more into the category of in-your-face grindhouse efforts like Thriller - en grym film and I Spit on Your Grave. In other words, it's a mean little movie. But one with serious intent. There's real effort made at character development, for example Ray Danton's feckless playboy in chapter two. There's also effort made to make the film look good. It's cheap but competent, with some Hitchcockian touches added by experienced television and b-movie director John Peyser meant to let cinephiles know he's no hack.

We came across comments in several places saying the movie is disrespectful toward women. That's true. Any film that casts any distinct category of human as victims (and in grindhouse it's usually women) can automatically be seen by some as targeted oppression—especially when that oppression is rampant in the real world. No film called The Centerfold Girls is interested in avoiding that criticism, so you go in knowing that. The result? It's pretty good. You know what would have been really fun? If they'd made a sequel called The Centerfold Boys about Playgirl models. Beautiful, superficial, basically helpless male models. We should have been 1970s movie producers.


Vintage Pulp May 16 2024
It's characterized by a rise in freak events and a general increase in harming.

We used the term “swooning flowers of maidenhood” last time we read a Mignon Eberhart novel, and she holds true to form with 1949's House of Storm. It's set on a small Caribbean island—so small in fact that it's named for the family that runs a plantation there. Murder occurs as a tropical storm shuts down transport and strands swooning flower and bride-to-be Nonie Hovenden with others in a large house. The real storm is (of course) emotional and deals with a weighty romantic subplot centered around her wishing to escape her pending nuptials so she can marry the man she really loves—who soon becomes murder suspect number one.

It's less complicated than it sounds. The murder plotline is interesting enough and the atmosphere is reasonably well rendered, but all you really need to know is that Eberhart operated at the nexus of suspense and romance, and here Nonie's breathless flutterings are almost intense enough to riffle the book's pages. If you can take that sort of thing, you'll like House of Storm. We kept making moments to finish it despite our reservations, so we have to call it a success. But we're suckers for tropical island fiction—even when there's breastbeating romance at its core—so take our endorsement with a grain of salt.

Femmes Fatales May 16 2024
You like my gun? I made a few modifications. It doesn't fire anymore, but it scares the absolute crap out of people.

This promo shot shows U.S. actress Stefanie Powers and was made for her The Man from U.N.C.L.E. spin-off show The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., on which she starred as secret agent April Dancer. She would later go on to become widely known while starring in the 1979-84 sleuthing weekly Hart to Hart with Robert Wagner. The photo is from 1966. You can see another one here.


Vintage Pulp May 14 2024
I've never been a fan of lingerie, but your nightgown elevates this whole abduction into something really special.

This issue of Australia's greatest men's magazine Adam reached newsstands this month in 1974. The cover illustrates Alexander Tait's story “The Catch,” about a boat captain who's given a slow-acting poison in order to ensure his compliance in a smuggling scheme. Adam covers were always painted to order, and that's especially clear here because not only does this lingerie bondage scene occur in the narrative, but the woman is described as having hair that “stuck out in all directions in some kind of afro style.”

What didn't stick out in the story was a lot of talent or imagination, but that's okay—there's always another thing to enjoy in these mags. For example, we thought “Sex and Serpents” was rather interesting. It's a factual story written by Paul Brock about snakes and sexual symbolism. Brock discusses cultures from ancient Egypt to modern Burma, and reveals that snakes are sometimes pickled or powdered. Our favorite anecdote involves an Appalachian preacher who allegedly used a live snake to beat three men and a woman into repentance for sexual sins. Afterward he probably beat his own snake. You know how it goes with these types.

Elsewhere in the magazine are the expected assortment of nude and semi-nude models, but one of them (panel eight below) is a photographed head and arms atop an illustrated torso. Can't say we've seen that before. Maybe she had a rash that day. Or maybe she refused to pose nude. Imagine her surprise when the issue hit the racks. We can only hope she beat the photographer with a snake. Moving on, there's art by Jack Waugh, and few cartoons that made us smile. Not laugh, mind you. Just smile. Scans below, and we'll be revisiting Adam later this month.


Vintage Pulp May 13 2024
Hey, take it easy! If you keep that up you'll turn my innie into an outie!

Above: another cover from artist Robert Bonfils, this time for Richard B. Long's 1970 piece of fluff Swapper Power, which is about a woman who starts sleeping around to help her husband in business. Wait—didn't we just read one like that? Of course we did—it's a well worn plotline, and that's why we didn't buy this particular iteration. Plus we have several sleaze novels stacked up waiting to be read. Richard B. Long is an obvious pseudonym, likely used by numerous authors, but we don't know which ones. And they probably don't want us to find out, so it's all good. 


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 21
1924—Leopold and Loeb Murder Bobby Franks
Two wealthy University of Chicago students named Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks, motivated by no other reason than to prove their intellectual superiority by committing a perfect crime. But the duo are caught and sentenced to life in prison. Their crime becomes known as a "thrill killing", and their story later inspires various works of art, including the 1929 play Rope by Patrick Hamilton, and Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film of the same name.
May 20
1916—Rockwell's First Post Cover Appears
The Saturday Evening Post publishes Norman Rockwell's painting "Boy with Baby Carriage", marking the first time his work appears on the cover of that magazine. Rockwell would go to paint many covers for the Post, becoming indelibly linked with the publication. During his long career Rockwell would eventually paint more than four thousand pieces, the vast majority of which are not on public display due to private ownership and destruction by fire.
May 19
1962—Marilyn Monroe Sings to John F. Kennedy
A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe's breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday," which does more to fuel speculation that the two were sexually involved than any actual evidence.
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