Vintage Pulp Aug 24 2015
A CLAIRE DAY
A new woman for a new era.


This issue of Paris Magazine features a beautiful Louis-Charles Royer cover of Ziegfeld star Claire Luce, one of the most popular celebrities of her time. Her heyday was the 1920s and ’30s, a period during which—though this is little remarked upon today—substantially more women began to have sex before marriage. By the time the first surveys took place in the 1940s about 50% of women admitted to having pre-marital sex. Anecdotally, during the 1920s probably at least one in four women had sex as singles. Claire Luce was a pioneer of the female right to choose. A mere eight-year span of her diary describes sixty lovers.

Luce very much personifies a seismic shift in the values of Western women. Many scholars say it happened because they moved into the university and the workplace around that time, and that was indeed an important factor because it brought women and men into mutual contact outside of family and church situations. But it’s clear the prime mover was the trauma of World War I and the loss of 37 million lives in a conflict that taught those who came of age around then that life could be short and joy could be fleeting. This factor is nearly always downplayed in studies of that time, though we have never understood why. It is too obvious?
 
Even with their numbers increasing, relatively few women were in the university and workplace. But virtually no Western family went untouched by the war. Those 37 million deaths reached deep into every town, every enclave, every social class. Nearly everyone had lost a father, a brother, an uncle, or at least a family friend. And if a loved one actually survived battle, they often returned to preach the futility of war to the generation below them—or by their mere broken presence serve as a warning. Ernest Hemingway captured this in The Sun Also Rises, which focuses on Jake, prevented by a war wound from having sex, and Lady Brett, who loves Jake but must constantly seek lovers elsewhere.

Of course, there are many factors behind any social shift, but rapid change typically derives from chaos. Ask any neo-con or disaster capitalist. The primary effect of war or warlike events upon society is to alter how it views life, death, and personal freedom. In the past, the spectre of death made people want more freedom to live as they saw fit; in our present era, traumatic events have resulted in people agreeing to sacrifice their personal freedom (thanks to powerful suggestions and hard work by opportunistic governments).

Anyway, just an interesting digression concerning Paris Magazine
’s cover star. Like predecessors such as Dorothy Parker, and
peers like Tallulah Bankhead, she was a sexual trendsetter, a new type of woman for a radically reordered Western world. She’s also about as pulp as it gets. We may get back to Claire Luce a bit later, but in the meantime we have a bunch of interior scans from Paris Magazine below, and more issues available at the click of a mouse. This edition, number 34, appeared in 1934. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 29
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.
May 28
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
May 27
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
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