Intl. Notebook Nov 9 2022
FOLDING HONEY
For this act you better get your folding money ready too.

This is an item you see other places around the internet, but we like it enough to post it anyway. It's a foldable table tent of Lilly Christine made around 1956 for the dual purpose of promoting one of the world's most famous burlesque dancers, and serving as a price list for drinks. This was made for Leon Prima's 500 Club in New Orleans, and a glance at the other side reveals that the price list was short: all drinks—$2.55; repeat drinks $1.55. Does that strike you as pretty steep for 1956? Us too. Plugging that into the old currency converter we get a 2022 price of—holy shit!—$27.28 for that first drink.

Prices like that will certainly keep the riff-raff out. The back of this particular table tent was written on by a guest (see below). It's dated October 10, 1956, and declares: Lilly is a really beautiful and sensuous creature and an “artist” (quotation marks in original). It also says her harem gave a sensational performance too, and since her harem was male that strikes us as a nicely enlightened comment for the time. We'd think most customers would be dismayed seeing muscular hunks up there with the object of their lust, but not this person.

You'll also notice the table tent advertises a second act named Carrie Finnell. We bet you've never heard of her, but she was an early—if not original—burlesque dancer who was born twenty years before Christine and had carved out an impressive career on the live stage, first as a Ziegfeld Girl, then as a peeler. You see her here checking to make sure her right boob is still where it's supposed to be.
 
The legend goes that Finnell was famous for the gimmick of the world longest striptease, which involved removing an article of clothing each week to higher and higher admission fees. It lasted fifty-four weeks. That's a lot of clothes, but then Finnell was a lot of woman. It's also a lot to pay, whether you take the entire multi-week journey or show up just for the finale, but since Finnell mainly danced in Cleveland we're betting the drinks weren't $2.55. So that's something, at least.
 
It's interesting, don't you think, that in the 500 Club a lifetime ago you had nights of gender equality (female and male erotic dancers on the same stage) and body equality (Finnell)? It's amazing the things that were done long before anyone thought to get exercised about them. We've cleaned up the table tent a bit from the form in which we found it, but it's still a bit worn, so we thought we'd give you Lilly—unfolded, unbent, uncreased, and incomparable—below. And of course we have plenty more of her in the website, so feel free to look around. She'll be back. That's a promise.

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Vintage Pulp May 31 2022
ONCE IN A LIFETIME CHANCE
Some people wait for success to come. Some people go out and grab it.


Lou Marchetti painted this cover for Chance Elson by W.T. Ballard, and as always does a good job. This came in 1958, and by then Ballard, who had been publishing since the days of Black Mask magazine, was an extremely experienced author. All that practice shows as he weaves the Depression-era tale of a Cleveland nightclub owner who's driven out of business and town by the mafia and crooked cops, fetches up way out west in a wasteland city called Las Vegas, and tries to build a hotel/casino empire. His rival in this endeavor turns out to be the same mafia thug who precipitated his departure from Cleveland.

There's an interesting subplot here involving Elson taking in an orphaned girl of fourteen named Judy, who grows into a beautiful woman and the main love interest. Because she had escaped from a reform school, he at first passes her off as his younger sister, but as she nears adulthood it's pretty clear to most that Woody and Soon-Yi—oops, we mean Chance and Judy—have something more than guardian/ward feelings for each other. As you might suspect, in the deadly game of dueling casinos that develops between Elson and the mafia, she becomes the pawn.

Chance Elson has a timeline that runs for over a decade, so the book moves beyond the boundaries of most crime thrillers into life story territory, and a major theme concerns whether Elson, who's trying to keep a growing Las Vegas from being overrun by organized crime, can win that battle without becoming as bad as those he seeks to thwart. Or more to the point, his business dealings hinge upon ruthlessness, but his personal dealings and opportunity for true love hinge upon becoming a better human being. Are there flaws in the book? Well, we weren't happy with certain aspects of the woman-in-danger subplot. But like we said, Ballard was experienced. His fictional retelling of the rise of Sin City is expert work.

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The Naked City Mar 8 2021
CAMERA SHY
Some people really don't like being in photos.


Here's a pulp style historical oddity we've seen floating around the web of late. This photo shows a frame from a bank security camera at the moment a bank robber shoots it. It's from United Press International, and first came to public attention thanks to an art exhibition called “Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play,” which was mounted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City back in 2016. Based on the fact that the men are wearing fedoras we would have guessed the robbery to have taken place during the ’40s or ’50s, but it actually happened in Cleveland, Ohio, today in 1975.

Interestingly, one of us was actually in an armed robbery. A young PSGP was in a Kroger grocery store when a guy charged in with a gun and yelled at everyone to get on the floor. People were so stunned they just stood there, and the would-be robber turned around and ran. PSGP's dad, decisive as always, said, “Let's get the fuck out of here,” and they took off mere seconds after the robber. Fast forward to later and the local news reported that the store had been robbed. It turns out the thief had come back just a few minutes later. One hates to imagine what would have happened if PSGP and his dad had bumped into the guy. Anyway, does that count as being in an armed robbery? We think so. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 31 2017
TROUBLE DOWN UNDER
Crime and punishment at the bottom of the world.

American Detective Magazine was a product of the Cleveland Publishing Company, which, ironically, was based neither in Cleveland nor anywhere else in the U.S., but in Australia. Or we should say is based, because the company launched in 1953 and still operates today. American Detective Magazine ran for several years, and featured exclusively stories by Australian authors, and awesome but uncredited femme fatale cover art. These examples are from the mid-1950s.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 17 2016
LAW AND ARDOR
I'll have both your badges for this outrage. In the meantime, either of you got a condom?


Pretty tame by today's standards, 1959's Sex Life of a Cop is the book that turned into a legal nightmare for publisher Sanford Aday when he shipped copies out of California, was indicted in Arizona, Michigan, and Hawaii in 1961 of interstate trafficking of obscene material, and finally convicted in Michigan in 1963. The story deals with two small town cops named Dempsey and Thorne who give a fat helping of nightstick to any woman whose path they cross, everyone from the hot new dispatcher to a female reporter who goes for a ride along. Ahem. The action starts right on page one outside the police station and doesn't let up. Aday, who was also the author of this as Oscar Peck, earned himself a $25,000 fine and twenty-five years in prison, a sentence that was eventually overturned.

Sex Life of a Cop later caused legal reverberations all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled not obscene in 1967. This was a stroke of good luck for publisher Reuben Sturman (the genius behind It's Happening), because he too was arrested and charged with obscenity when Cleveland police liberated more than 500 copies of the book from his warehouse. The Supreme Court ruling cleared him of wrongdoing. All this for a book that differs little from other sleaze of the era save that it stars two cops. But therein lies the lesson. When you cast aspersions upon law enforcement they'll move heaven and earth to punish you, first amendment be damned. We have covers for the original 1959 edition and the 1967 reprint.

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Intl. Notebook Jan 23 2014
SWINGING ADOLF
During World War II anyone could put Hitler on the ropes.

We’ve run across some unusual World War II memorabilia over the years, but this might be the quirkiest item we’ve seen. Pretty much self-explanatory, it’s morale boosting anti Hitler propaganda in the form of a die-cut effigy. He could be used as a bookmark, or a lamp pull, or—in the case of the lucky duck who sold this trinket online for a serious windfall—not used at all so that it would be in A1 condition for the auction market decades later. It was produced by a company in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and came complete with a tiny piece of rope to make hanging it easy for the buyer. Morbid but amazing.

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Vintage Pulp May 20 2013
GREEN MONSTER
Bungle in the jungle.

During the 1960s the Cleveland Publishing Company, which was based in Sydney, Australia, printed quite a lot of books like the one above—i.e., World War II adventures that in retrospect are subtly racist. Well, actually, who are we kidding? Retrospect and subtlety have nothing to do with it. Even in the context of the 1960s these were overtly racist books featuring depraved and heinous Japanese adversaries putting Aussie soldiers through hell, often in jungle prison camps. We have other examples we’ll share later, but this is probably the most interesting of them, art-wise, with its devilish villain painted camouflage green. Mack Kenton, the author here, wrote many war books for Cleveland, including Beachhead, Operation Solo, Ordeal of the Damned, Fight or Die, et. al., but despite his extensive bibliography there isn’t much info on him. Uncredited artist as well. It’s amusing to imagine that both author and illustrator disavowed themselves from this dubious work, but that probably isn’t what happened. The book is just obscure. As always we’ll dig for more.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 1 2013
SEX PISTOL
No, sweetie, I won’t oil your rod, and FYI there are more romantic ways to ask.

Printed by Sydney, Australia’s Cleveland Publishing Co., The Lonely Gun was written by the prolific author who called himself Marshall Grover, as well as Marshall McCoy, Val Sterling, Johnny Nelson, Shad Denver, Ward Brennan and other names. He was in reality Leonard F. Meares, and he published an astounding 746 novels. Amazingly, he didn’t even see his first on the shelf until he was thirty-four—young for publishing one’s first novel, but not for publishing the first of 746. Or better yet—look at it this way: that’s an average of just more than nineteen novels every year until he died at age seventy-two. 

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Reader Pulp Jul 19 2012
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY SLEAZE
All citizens possess unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of tabloid depravity.


Earlier this year, the website Darwination sent us two copies of the American tabloid It’s Happening. We posted the first in May, and today we have the second issue. As we pointed out before, the publication was dreamt up by Reuben Sturman, a Cleveland-born son of Russian immigrants who realized that the lack of a cheapie tabloid aimed at black readers represented a large—and potentially profitable—hole in the market. True, there had been the magazine Hep during the 1950s, but that had been a glossy tabloid. And true, Sturman had already delved into African-American erotica with his magazine Tan N’ Terrific, but that had been a photo digest. It’s Happening—provocative, humorous, but mostly plain ludicrous—was what Sturman came up with. See below, and see here. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 20 2010
DOG DAYS
The Depression-era magazine Hot Dog had two sides—and so did its editor.


Hot Dog was a humor monthly published out of Cleveland, Ohio during the 1920s and 1930s, and distributed throughout the Great Lakes states. It began as little more than a pamphlet, but quickly expanded to the digest you see above. It’s formula for success? Largely, it seemed to be stupid ethnic jokes and bawdy limericks mixed with photos of showgirls and actresses. At least, that’s mostly what we got out of this October 1931 issue.

But thanks to a little research, we discovered Hot Dog also had a serious side, positioning itself as a foe of prohibitionists and moral watchdogs of every stripe. You’ll notice that editor Jack Dinsmore gave himself billing on the cover. Dinsmore was a pseudonym. We learned this from a rather beautiful 1996 New York Times article written by a woman who goes searching for traces of a father that died when she was seven.

Her father was Jack Dinsmore, and the author is shocked to discover he edited Hot Dog, a magazine that, as the Great Depression wore on, became more and more insulting toward Jews even though Dinsmore was Jewish. But we all know nothing makes a man compromise himself more quickly than the threat of joblessness, and in 1930s America that possibility would have been staring an unimportant Midwestern editor—and millions more people barely hanging on—right in the face.

Anyway, the Times piece is long and serious, but recommended. It teaches a lesson: nothing we write is ever truly lost. We’ll keep looking for more Hot Dogs, and if we find any we’ll definitely share them. 

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 09
1960—Woodward Gets First Star on Walk of Fame
Actress Joanne Woodward receives the first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Los Angeles sidewalk at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street that serves as an outdoor entertainment museum. Woodward was one of 1,558 honorees chosen by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 1958, when the proposal to build the sidewalk was approved. Today the sidewalk contains more than 2,300 stars.
1971—Paige Enters Baseball Hall of Fame
Satchel Paige becomes the first player from America's Negro Baseball League to be voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Paige, who was a pitcher, played for numerous Negro League teams, had brief stints in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Major Leagues, before finally retiring in his mid-fifties.
February 08
1969—Allende Meteorite Falls in Mexico
The Allende Meteorite, the largest object of its type ever found, falls in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The original stone, traveling at more than ten miles per second and leaving a brilliant streak across the sky, is believed to have been approximately the size of an automobile. But by the time it hit the Earth it had broken into hundreds of fragments.
February 07
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
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