Alright, who do I have to lure to my hotel room and get photographed in a compromising position to win this thing?
Her sash says Miss Alabama, but since she fronts a Midwood sleaze paperback we're crowning her Miss Midwood Sleaze 1962. The cover was painted by Paul Rader and the rear text explains all you need to know about Walter Dyer's tale: This book tells you how beauty contests are judged and about the love-ripened contestants who will go to any lengths to win! It definitely sounds like a fertile milieu for a sleaze novel, and got us thinking about our favorite beauty contest winners. Lynda Carter comes to mind. Candice Bergen. Lee Meriwether. Sophia Loren competed but didn't win, amazingly. Here's someone else who competed and didn't win, but we love her. Who else is there? Vanessa Williams. Love her too, though not for her pageant work. Hah. Same with Isabelle Chaudieu. Maybe we can put together a post of vintage stars who competed in beauty contests. That might be fun. Top of the list: Sean Connery, aspiring Mr. Universe of 1953.
Fitzgerald and friends enter the no-go zone.
Today in 1955 in Houston, musicians Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Illinois Jacquet, personal assistant Georgiana Henry, and concert promoter Norman Granz were arrested, ostensibly for the crime of illegal gambling. Five undercover cops had barged into the backstage area at the Houston Music Hall during a mid-set break and caught Jacquet and Gillespie playing craps. Fitzgerald was having a snack. Henry was nearby, as assistants tend to be. And Granz was arrested for blocking the cops' access to Fitzgerald's private bathroom because he feared they might plant drugs—a trick he'd seen before. The photo shows Fitzgerald and Henry. The despondent singer told gathered reporters, “I have nothing to say. What is there to say? I was only having a piece of pie and a cup of coffee.”
The gambling charge was, of course, just a pretext. Ella and company were actually arrested for playing to an integrated audience. Segregation had been made illegal the year before, but local authorities weren't budging in their attempts to keep the city divided, and jazz music, because of its popularity and tendency to elevate black culture, was feared by the old guard as the thin edge of the wedge of equal rights. Back then, opponents of equality called non-segregated shows such as Fitzgerald's “forced integration,” because whites had no option to partake without mingling with blacks. The phrase is eerily similar to “forced diversity,” which you hear a lot in 2022, and will continue to hear in upcoming years.
Pretext arrests are really about plausible deniability. Even today on fact-checking websites like Snopes, the arrest is not fully labeled an incident of racist harassment. They were actually gambling, goes the logic. But so were thousands of other Houstonians that night, including, probably, cops at poker sessions in their dens. Everyone breaks the law. Policing is about who is targeted. Five of Houston's finest bursting into a private backstage area when no probable cause existed is itself proof that the arrest was harassment. But it's the cops who write the record, and in covering up their true motivations they also get to skew official history. It's the oldest game in the book.
Fitzgerald and her companions weren't taken to jail until after they completed the few songs left in their show, a concession doubtless bestowed in order to prevent the audience from getting riotous. After being released the musicians made it back to Houston Music Hall and played a second contracted show—again, leniency that was probably a crowd control measure, if not a concession to the concert venue itself. The police had accomplished their objective. They'd sent a message and, because news media were present at the jail, had embarrassed the performers nationally. We suspect that Fitzgerald's heart wasn't really in that second performance. It had to be clear to her that no matter what protections blacks were given with a pen and ink in Washington, D.C., actual power in the south flowed from a corrupt badge and the muzzle of a gun.
If you want to hear Ella at her magical best, have a listen to this
I heard this was a no Parkins zone. I'd like to have a word with you about that.
Canadian actress Barbara Parkins strikes a couple of fun poses in the above two promo images made when she was co-starring in The Kremlin Letter in 1970. She was mostly a television actress and is best remembered today for the soapy series Peyton Place, but she also appeared in the mostly forgotten but very interesting horror movie The Mephisto Waltz, and the Hollywood takedown Valley of the Dolls, which has become a cult fave. In total, she acted for almost forty years before retiring in 1998. We've seen quite a few shots of her, but we think these are the best.
Nicely done. Continuing upward, you may now kiss the royal inner thigh.
Above: Flesh Countess by J.X. Williams, a psuedonym for too many authors to name, and some that remain unknown, for Greenleaf Classics and Leisure Books. Having read many of these low rent sleaze romps, we'll go out on a limb and say the main character here isn't a real countess, but rather someone of great stature within the easy sex community. The art on this is by Robert Bonfils, and the copyright is 1964.
There's never a cop around to perform a cavity search when you need one.
You probably suspect at a glance that this is a Japanese poster for an x-rated movie, and you'd be right. It was made for Trinity Brown, starring Sharon Kelly, aka Colleen Brennan, who's backed by a supporting cast of stalwart porn studs and b-level starlets. This is the fourth movie of Kelly's we've looked at, after Love, Lust and Violence, Gosh!, Scream in the Streets, and Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks. Do we have a special affinity for her? Not really. But the Japanese did, apparently. We've found Japanese posters for many of her flicks. They've retitled this one 弾を握る女, which means “woman holding a bullet.” Or possibly they've retitled it SEXリボルバー, which means “sex revolver.” The rest says, “Right now, a miraculous comeback, Sharon Kelly. A trap of terrifying passion, the scent of lavender drifting in the cloudy darkness. A man never forgets the smell of Sharon.” Indeed.
You can always expect a plotline with vintage porn, and in this case Kelly plays a tough L.A. cop partnered with John Leslie, who she also happens to be banging off-duty. The two are assigned a murder case in which a strip club owner is thought to have shot a local gangster. Brennan and Leslie delve into the world of exotic dancers and show business to unravel the mystery. It isn't much of a mystery—psst the gangster's girl set him up—but getting to the end is reasonably fun.
Generally vintage porn features realistic sexual performances, without a lot of asinine screaming and backbreaking positions. It was made before the medium became festishistic performance art, and takes itself seriously as erotica for normal people. This particular flick was made without any of the most inspiring porn beauties from the era (Ginger Lynn, Angel, Shauna Grant, Jody Swafford, Annette Haven, et al), so it's possible some viewers might be aesthetically nonplussed by Kelly and company, but everything is real, rather than silicone, and that's worth something. We'll discuss some of those top stars again, and Kelly will be back too, on yet another Japanese poster we have. Trinity Brown premiered in the U.S. in 1984 and reached Japan today in 1986.
This is nothing. When I get really mad I grow to enormous size and destroy entire city blocks.
There's getting into trouble, getting into serious trouble, and getting into ridiculous trouble. In Gil Brewer's 1959 thriller Wild To Possess, the main character Lew Brookbank finds his wife and her lover murdered, and, thinking he might get blamed, panics and disposes of the bodies. Trouble. Later he overhears two people plotting a kidnapping and murder and decides that if he robs them of the two-hundred-fifty grand they expect to profit he can start a new life. But he's a drunk, so signs don't point to success. Serious trouble. Then a man turns up determined to send Lew to the electric chair for the two murders he never committed. Ridiculous trouble.
In an effort to make this loony plot believable Brewer shuffles the timeline: it opens with Lew overhearing the pair talking about the kidnap/murder, then the narrative backtracks and reveals that his wife's murder is why he became an alcoholic basket case. It actually works, sort of, which is good, because bizarre things keep happening, some of which involve a trapdoor above his bed. We won't even explain it. This is mid-level Brewer, quality-wise. While it has some fun ideas, it could have used extra detailing from a dedicated editor. But it's worth a read, especially this Monarch edition with iconic Robert Maguire cover art of an orange-topped, Hulk green femme fatale. More Gil to come.
Experts say the benefits include improved blood circulation, increased energy, and better eye health.
This photo shows U.S. actress Cheri Caffaro, and was made around the time she was filming her 1971-73 sexploitation-action trilogy Ginger, The Abductors, and Girls Are for Loving. We haven't watched the middle film but we'll get to it. The others are too crazy to be believed, but we attempt to describe them here and here. Caffaro also appeared in 1974's Savage Sisters, 1977's Too Hot To Handle, and mixed in a few television roles before moving into producing from 1979 onward. There was little she wouldn't do, onscreen or off. She even once gave an interview at the Sherry Netherland Hotel while completely nude. Ah, the ’70s. We'll be seeing Caffaro again a little later.
Louis Brennan's disaster thriller is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma inundated by a flood.
Louis A. Brennan's thriller Death at Flood Tide, first published in 1958 by Dell, has a cover illustration by Bob Abbett, whose work probably needs no introduction. But if he does, look here. This piece is almost on the level of a sketch compared to some of the more realistic scenes he's painted, yet it remains stylistically familiar.
The novel tells the story of Barry Coplyn, who during the flooding of an Ohio town is deputized to help the local police, is tasked to follow up the report of a body, finds a nude woman murdered in a house, and subsequently realizes he's suspected of the murder. If he'd simply been arrested he would have had a right to a lawyer and possibly bail, but as a deputy serving the county he has to obey his new boss or be jailed for dereliction of duty. It's a clever gambit by the sheriff to keep Coplyn close and talking while attempting to gather enough evidence to fry him.
The first murder reopens the file on an identical murder two years earlier, and the sheriff thinks Coplyn committed that one too—which is a realization exactly an eternity too late for the man he railroaded into the electric chair. But he isn't too broken up about finding out he was wrong. Instead, he thinks he can make up for the error by sending Coplyn to die—the other man was poor and black, while Coplyn comes from a wealthy white family. This is supposed to balance the cosmic and sociological scales. All of this occurs against the backdrop of the inundated town, with the flood providing hinderances to police, but opportunity to the murderer.
Another interesting aspect of the narrative concerns slaps of the face. Coplyn slaps his girlfriend Jay Jay twice, then spends the entire book trying to excuse this, with none of his explanations remotely adequate. He even wallows in self pity, claiming the slaps hurt him worse than they hurt her. Jay Jay comes to understand she's being unreasonable and forgives him, which we can't condone, but that's the way it goes in mid-century books. In the end she's key to solving the crimes, not through happenstance or device, but through intelligence and insight, so at least Brennan gave her that.
Brennan remains a solid author in this second outing we've taken with him, after the Ohio frontier adventure The Long Knife—though he seems a bit more sure-footed in the old than modern midwest. The main flaw for us is that we had to work hard to like Coplyn and the sheriff, who both suffer from the affliction of callousness portrayed as manliness. We think compassion and restraint show strength, while cathartic emotions like self-pity and fury show weakness, so we were hoping the sheriff would pay for his frame-up, and Coplyn would fail to get the girl. But neither of those outcomes is a possibility. Even so, Death at Flood Tide is pretty good.
Five women meant to be sex playthings instead wreak bloody havoc on their oppressors. Duh.
This is the U.S. poster for the Hong Kong sexploitation action flick Yang chi, aka The Bod Squad, aka Virgins of the Seven Seas, which we talked about a while back. Shorter version: effort by men to forcibly create perfect sexual beings leads to violent bikini uprising. We have no idea why the bad guys didn't anticipate that result. We guess they never saw a ’70s sexploitation movie, in which case they'd know such movies often end with the men toes up. That's half the point of watching them. The Bod Squad premiered in the U.S. this month in 1976.
Summer's over but the heat lingers.
The Reiko Ike Weekly Playboy calendar is in its last quarter—in its autumn you might even say. Above you see the magazine's entry for October and November 1972, featuring Reiko in a groovy fringed vest—yet another look from that era we think needs to return. And under the vest she's wearing, well, herself. Always her best look. Obviously, since this shot encompasses November we'll need to dig up an image from elsewhere for the first of next month, but luckily, we have plenty. Stay tuned.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1959—Dark Side of Moon Revealed
The Soviet space probe Luna 3 transmits the first photographs of the far side of the moon. The photos generate great interest, and scientists are surprised to see mountainous terrain, very different from the near side, and only two seas, which the Soviets name Mare Moscovrae (Sea of Moscow) and Mare Desiderii (Sea of Desire).
1966—LSD Declared Illegal in U.S.
LSD, which was originally synthesized by a Swiss doctor and was later secretly used by the CIA on military personnel, prostitutes, the mentally ill, and members of the general public in a project code named MKULTRA, is designated a controlled substance in the United States.
1945—Hollywood Black Friday
A six month strike by Hollywood set decorators becomes a riot at the gates of Warner Brothers Studios when strikers and replacement workers clash. The event helps bring about the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, which, among other things, prohibits unions from contributing to political campaigns and requires union leaders to affirm they are not supporters of the Communist Party.
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