Excellent work! Now make them submit sexually while I get back to those mortgage bankers I'm slow roasting.
We'd been planning to read Satan Was a Lesbian for a while, but because we have plenty of experience with sleaze novels we didn't have high expectations. The good news is those expectations were surpassed. The bad news is the book still isn't good. The title alone makes it sound like a punchline in search of a publisher, but author Fred Haley—actually a pseudonym for Monica Roberts—tries to be serious as she tells the story of Charlene Duval: turned to lesbianism when barely a woman, initiated into rough practices by the violent Billie and her partner Karen, emotionally touched by her innocent young lover Cynthia, eventually case-hardened into a take-no-shit woman of the world. Is she really Satan? Come on, would Satan be named Charlene?
Think of Satan Was a Lesbian as the Thelma and Louise of vintage lesbian fiction, with the added tragedy that the book sometimes sells for as much as $350. Really? Yes. Just because of a catchy title and a piece of lurid Doug Weaver cover art? Yes, and not only that, but even refrigerator magnets and posters of this cover go for fifteen bucks, so to say everything associated with it is inflated in value is an understatement. But if you poke around and show some patience, you might not have to pay a fortune. The thing about these types of books is that eventually someone always sells them without knowing what the market is because they just want to get rid of grandpa's dog-eared old smut. Alternatively, you could buy a refrigerator magnet, stare at it, and make up your own story. It would probably be nearly as good.
The list of sensory superlatives quickly runs short.
Here yet again is Marilyn Waltz, also known as Margaret Scott, an early Playboy centerfold and popular pin-up model we've featured a few times. This Technicolor lithograph, entitled “Visions of Beauty,” is from 1952, and as you can see below more than one image of her posing against this velvet backdrop was published. The litho below was entitled “Lovely as a Rose.” Like many women who posed nude back then, Waltz had Hollywood aspirations, but her entire cinematic output consisted of a single role in the 1954 b-flick Love Me Madly, aka Love My Way, aka The Wild Sex. The film is forgotten, if not lost, but it's notable—for us anyway—because her co-star was Georgine Darcy, perhaps better known as Miss Torso from Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. With Waltz and Darcy on the same set the filmmakers probably needed a fire brigade on standby in case the sound stage burst into flames. You can see everything we have on Waltz by clicking her keywords below.
A favor turns fatal in MacDonald mystery.
This is just the sort of eye-catching cover any publisher would want from an illustrator, an image that makes the browser immediately curious about the book. Since so many John D. MacDonald novels were illustrated by Robert McGinnis, and the female figure here has the sort of elongation you usually see from him, you could be forgiven for assuming at a glance that this is another McGinnis, but it's actually a Stanley Zuckerberg effort, clearly signed at lower left. We've run across only a few of his pieces, namely The Strumpet City and Cat Man. This is by far the best we've seen.
The story here is interesting. It begins with a woman having drowned in a lake and a sister who disbelieves the verdict of accidental death. She's right, of course, and the detective she hires soon agrees with her. The mystery is quickly revealed to involve taxes, deception, and money—specifically money the dead woman was supposed to keep safe and which has now disappeared. In an unusual move, MacDonald unveils the killer two thirds of the way through the tale, and the detective figures it out shortly thereafter. The final section of the book details his efforts to trap the villain.
This is the last book MacDonald wrote before embarking on his famed Travis McGee franchise. It was within the McGee persona that MacDonald indulged himself in often tedious sociological musings. In The Drowner his characters ring more true, but you can see signs of what is to come in several existential soliloquies concerning the state of the world and the various frail personality types that inhabit it circa 1963. For all our misgivings about the McGee books, they're still good. But we especially recommend any novel MacDonald wrote that came earlier, including this one.
Unlike a normal lottery nobody wants a ticket, and against all odds you're bound to get picked eventually.
We all know that in cinema no idea lies fallow for long. They're all reused until they've given everything of value, and plenty that isn't. Part of the fun of watching movies is seeing the lineage of ideas. La decima vittima, for which you see a nice Mario de Berardinis poster above, was known in English as The 10th Victim, and resides in the sub-genre of films about humans killing humans for sport and gain. Other movies in the group include 1932's The Most Dangerous Game, 1972's The Woman Hunt, 1975's Death Race 2000, 1987's The Running Man, 2013's The Purge, and others.
In La decima vittima's near future, violence between citizens has been made legal and placed under the auspices of the Ministero della Grande Caccio, aka the Ministry of the Big Hunt. Those who hunt are given the identities of their prey, along with their locations and personal habits. Anyone can be hunted, even those who previously were hunters. The hunted can kill their hunters in self defense, but if they make a mistake and kill the wrong person—easy to do when you're paranoid and an unknown person is stalking you—that's old fashioned murder and off to prison you go. The purpose of all this slaughter? As the film explains, “Why have birth control when you can have death control?”
Ursula Andress, whose looks kill anyway, plays an adept hunter given an opportunity by a big corporation to monetize her tenth (and by law her final) murder. Marcello Mastroianni plays a one percenter who's been computer selected as her prey, and whom Andress' corporate benefactors want to film her assassinating for a tea commercial. Andress has agreed to kill Mastroianni at the Temple of Venus in Rome. Getting him there won't be easy, but the classic honeytrap, with the sun-kissed Andress as the sticky goodness, is a sure bet to work. It'd work on us.
We said the movie is in the same lineage as The Most Dangerous Game, The Purge, et al. Nearly all those films are better than La decima vittima. There are several problems here, not least of which is emotional tone-deafness—the characters love and hate because the script requires it, but there's no spark, no believability. The movie is probably worth watching anyway because of its super sex symbol cast rounded out by Elsa Martinelli, plus its sleek, retrofuturistic ’60s fashions, but don't go in expecting a landmark sci-fi, a brutal social commentary, a cutting satire, or anything of the ilk. In the end, just like the real future, it's so-so. La decima vittima had its world premiere in Rome and Florence today in 1965.
A future literary star puts audiences on notice with a downbeat debut.
Mario Puzo published The Dark Arena in 1955. He would be world famous fifteen years later thanks to his blockbuster novel The Godfather, but here readers find him exploring post-World War II Bremen, Germany, which is bombed out and partitioned between American and Russian troops. His main character Walter Mosca tries to find purpose in this blasted landscape, but his own nature and the chaos around him prevent him finding the humanity he lost in the war. Even the love of his girlfriend Hella can't seem to fill the hole inside him. The book is overwhelmingly tragic in mood from the very first pages, and it becomes obvious which character is going to bear the brunt of the inevitable sad ending, but those aren't criticisms. Puzo's talent in this, his debut novel produced at age twenty-five, shines in the darkness. Like a lot of first books it could be pared down, but on the other hand it's interesting when Puzo stretches his literary wings in lengthy descriptive passages obviously derived from personal observation. He was clearly a star in the making. That may sound like 20/20 hindsight, but it isn't. If The Dark Arena had been the only book Puzo ever published it would be an underground classic today and people would wonder why he never built on his promise. Luckily for world literature, he did.
Any way you splice her she's pure perfection.
The above photo shows U.S. actress Geene Courtney posing with a fishing rod during November in Chicago, a city in which, that time of year, people's nasal hairs usually freeze into stalagmites after a few seconds outside. But during this particular November—1949 it was—Chicago was unusually warm, with the mercury at one point climbing to an amazing 76 Fahrenheit, or 24.5 Celsius. That quirk of the weather is why Courtney is in shorts and heels, rather than a parka and mukluks, and the result is one of sexiest vintage shots we've seen. As a side note, the only similarly named actress from the period we found online was Gene Courtney, with one “e”. She has credits starting from 1951, so Geene and Gene are probably the same person, equally beautiful.
The deeper you go the tighter it gets.
We've all seen movies about the long con, the elaborate, drawn-out, multi-participant scam. The Crooked Web, aka The Big Shock, starring Frank Lovejoy, Richard Denning, and Mari Blanchard, is an early example of the sub-genre. The plan is for a group of crooks to sell a cache of gold one of them found in Germany during World War II, but the con takes an unexpected twist early, and we learn that the trap being set is deeper than it first seemed. We can't share more details, but we can tell you the film strives greatly to rise above its b-movie constraints with plenty of exterior shooting and a script with international scope. The plot even takes the principals to post-war Germany—which looks a lot like Southern California even with matte work designed to put the foreign illusion across. But you have to forgive budget woes. The flaw that's difficult to overlook is the unbelievable carelessness of the central scam artists, who are posing as brother and sister, but are really lovers and can't keep their hands off each other even when their mark is just around the corner. They're almost busted while in the clinch multiple times, which is a laughable lack of restraint when there's so much at stake. But the shortest route to dramatic tension is to make characters behave like morons. We've talked about it before. It's lazy screenwriting, but that's okay—The Crooked Web is still a fun movie. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1955
Vintage tabloid looks forward to better sex in the future but should have been happy with the present.
This issue of the low rent sexploitation tabloid National Informer published today in 1971 asks what will sex be like in the year 2020. We'd answer that compared to 1971 people will have less of it, and when they do it will come with recycled puritan guilt and fears of fatal disease. Other than that it'll be great! We jest, of course. We have no clue what 1971 sex was like, but National Informer makes clear that there were plenty of worries. Like what if you didn't know proper etiquette for your first orgy? Or what would you wear to the nude-in at Golden Gate Park? And could you get it up after popping three Quaaludes?
With the myriad sexual challenges of the period, it's no wonder people thought 2020 sex would be better, as a utopian article by Tom Bridges makes clear. Our favorite line: “Sex will be just another physical satisfaction in human living, with no stigmas attached.” Um... no. And this bit is great: “There will be sex schools in every city, attended by millions, which will teach by demonstration excellent sexual techniques. Anyone who doesn't attend and graduate will be a social dropout and considered illiterate.” Little could Mr. Bridges have suspected that the U.S. wouldn't come up with enough money to run normal schools, let alone sex schools.
It's fun to read how much faith Informer has in a brighter future. Optimism was actually a chararistic of the time period, we've noticed, whether talking about politics, science, or anything else. But a funny thing happened on the way to the post-millennial sexual mecca Informer imagines—the eunuchs took over the harem, and when 2020 finally arrived, the events of that shitty year were (notice we're already talking about it in past tense—that's how bad it was) enough to kill everyone's sex drives. Well, at least 2021 is just around the bend, and in the event of the virus actually being conquered, maybe a new sexual revolution will take hold, with love-ins and all the rest. We'll believe it when we see it, but it never hurts to dream, right?
The skies may be friendly, but the ground is an entirely different story.
When you come across a ’70s movie with bad acting, bad scripting, vaudevillian humor, nude women, and a foreign setting, there's a good chance you're dealing with the output of either American International Pictures or New World Pictures. Fly Me comes from the latter studio, and was directed by Cirio Santiago, one of the kings of Asian sleaze cinema.
The story deals with three flight attendants played by cinematic obscurities Pat Anderson, Lyllah Torena, and the gorgeous Lenore Kasdorf, who get into various pickles in Hong Kong and Manila—and get various pickles into them. One stew is secretly working for a drug cartel and is kidnapped after failing to perform up to expectations, a second meets and falls for a guy who turns out to be a British secret agent, and the third mostly tries to ditch her mother and get laid.
We'd love to tell you the movie is good, but no such luck. It lurches back and forth from sexploitation to lowbrow comedy, and as usual with Cirio Santiago's films, the action scenes are inept. We'll admit to enjoying TNT Jackson, but based on the preponderance of evidence he appears to be a real hack as a director. He's a Filipino legend, though, who helmed something like a hundred films, so he'll certainly have opportunities to redeem himself as we continue our explorations. We'll keep you posted. Fly Me premiered today in 1973.We love being stewardesses. The pay isn't great but you can't beat the travel. Oh, Captain, I've always wanted to join the five-inch high club. This chick is freaking the fuck out. Excuse me, sir. You're one of the hosts, right? You might want to toss this one with the rest of the empties. Oh no. A creepy foreigner. I heard they attack if you show fear, so just keep walking. Stay calm. Don't run. Screw that plan. Cork-soled wedge sandals, get me outta here! I have an idea. Let's go to your room and have screaming hot monkey sex, okay? Oh! Mom! Hi! Remove your grubby fingers from my daughter's big fat ’70s bush this instant! Incongruous crash-zoom of an actual bush! Hey everyone, I'm looking for my missing girlf— Er... did I say missing? I meant dead. And I miss her very much and would like a replacement. I'll take that one. Don't bother wrapping her or anything. I'm gonna eat her right in the car. Drop dead, creep! I didn't mean on top of me! Ugh, how rude! That's him! The head of the sexual slavery ring! Rip his balls off and stomp them into cracker spread! I've seen things in my police career that were hard to watch, but this is the worst of all. By the way, you okay? Wanna have sex again or do you need a few hours to recover from your trauma? Well, girls, Manila sure was a hoot. I wonder what Mogadishu will be like?
Rare celestial event returns to night sky to dazzle and amaze.
Last year we showed you a stunning photo of Marisa Berenson personifying a celestial being. Well there were other images from that iconic session, so we decided to bring her back in an alternate—and equally amazing—photo. Along with quasars, pinwheel galaxies, and planetary nebulae, Berenson is one of the most beautiful and mysterious phenomena in the cosmos. See the other shot here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1918—Wilson Goes to Europe
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails to Europe for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, France, becoming the first U.S. president to travel to Europe while in office.
1921—Arbuckle Manslaughter Trial Ends
In the U.S., a manslaughter trial against actor/director Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ends with the jury deadlocked as to whether he had killed aspiring actress Virginia Rappe during rape and sodomy. Arbuckle was finally cleared of all wrongdoing after two more trials, but the scandal ruined his career and personal life.
1964—Mass Student Arrests in U.S.
In California, Police arrest over 800 students at the University of California, Berkeley, following their takeover and sit-in at the administration building in protest at the UC Regents' decision to forbid protests on university property.
1968—U.S. Unemployment Hits Low
Unemployment figures are released revealing that the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to 3.3 percent, the lowest rate for almost fifteen years. Going forward all the way to the current day, the figure never reaches this low level again.
1954—Joseph McCarthy Disciplined by Senate
In the United States, after standing idly by during years of communist witch hunts in Hollywood and beyond, the U.S. Senate votes 65 to 22 to condemn Joseph McCarthy for conduct bringing the Senate into dishonor and disrepute. The vote ruined McCarthy's career.
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