|Vintage Pulp||May 23 2011|
Here’s a curious item we ran across at our favorite vintage memorabilia shop. It’s a Japanese promo poster for Viva Las Vegas, which… hey, wait a sec. Where’s Elvis? Where’s Ann-Margret? And who are these imposters? Well, turns out Elvis’s immortal Viva Las Vegas was not the first. The first film of that title starred Cyd Charisse, Dan Dailey and Agnes Moorehead, and was released in 1956. During its U.S. run it was known as Meet Me in Las Vegas, but for its international release the title was changed. Plotwise, you’ve got a flick here with a central gimmick that’s just begging to be recycled in a modern romcom. Get this—Dailey discovers that whenever he’s at the gambling tables he cannot lose as long as he’s holding hands with Charisse. If it sounds intolerably cute, well, what do you expect? It’s a mid-century musical. Actually though, the movie isn’t top notch, due mainly to some less-than-stellar acting in parts, but you do get to see Las Vegas as it was before it became the consumerist dystopia it is today, and you get cameos from Vic Damone, Sammy Davis, Jr., Debbie Reynolds, Frankie Laine, Lena Horne and others. Well worth a look.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Feb 16 2011|
A while back we promised to dig up some more info on Tijuana bibles, and today, prompted by an e-mail we received, we’ve decided to share a bit of what we learned. By at least one estimate, more than two-thousand different bibles were published in the U.S. between 1930 and 1950. They were copied and sold, spreading from city to city, distributed from dealer to dealer and dealer to customer in exactly the same fashion as illicit drugs. According to author and critic R.C. Harvey, many young men actually learned about sex from these books, or at least learned there were more variations than they had imagined. And cultural critic Gershon Legman believes that mainstream comic books evolved from Tijuana bibles.
In that e-mail we mentioned, we were asked about a bible cover we posted called Sex Slave. Would it be possible to post the entire book? Sure, no problem, we’ve posted it below. When was it made? No copyright, sorry, but since Elvis stars we can assume it was sometime after he achieved true fame, so let’s say post-1955. That’s also after the TJ bible heyday, which may be why Sex Slave deviates from the normal eight-page format. It’s also unorthodox in that it’s highly editorial, and doesn’t offer much in the way of clinical explicitness. In fact it’s almost chaste—well, as chaste as an x-rated tract about forced anal sex with the King can be. We will of course post another of these publications at a later date. In the meantime, click keyword “Tijuana bible” below to see our past offerings.
|Vintage Pulp | Politique Diabolique||Jan 21 2011|
This colorful January 1960 Hush-Hush features Gina Lollobrigida, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and others, but of special note is an exposé on burlesque queen Blaze Starr and Louisiana governor Earl Long. Sometime in the late 1950s the elderly Long got involved with the buxom young Starr, and it was a scandal for the ages. Starr had a routine in which she wriggled around on a sofa so sensually that it began smoldering (thanks to a hidden smoke machine). The routine had been a hit everywhere she worked, and by the time she appeared at New Orleans’ Sho-Bar she had it down to a science. Governor Long had wandered into the place with several friends and staffers, and when he saw the smoldering sofa routine he was smitten. He made his way backstage and asked Starr out to dinner. She responded by asking if she could trust him. His response: “Hell no.”
The two hit it off and, after a few false starts, embarked on an affair. Long was deliriously happy, but others were not, and they used the relationship as grounds to commit him to Southeast Louisiana Hospital—a mental institution. Long couldn’t get out of the bin on his own, but due to a loophole in the law retained his powers as Governor. For a time he ran Louisiana from his hospital room, and eventually devised an escape plan, which involved having the head of the state hospital system fired and replaced with someone who would pressure Long’s doctors to declare him mentally competent. Upon release, Long resumed his relationship with Starr and made plans to run for Congress in the fall. In August 1960 he won a Democratic primary, but just a month later died of a heart attack.
The relationship between Long and Starr has been much dissected since then, and some revisionists have denied that it was at all meaningful to Earl Long. Perhaps not, but it meant something to Blaze Starr. Years later she said in an interview with People magazine: “I still dream about stripping sometimes. When I do, Earl is in the audience watching me do my thing. Then I wake up and feel sad. I miss Earl and I miss being on that stage.” You can catch Blaze’s act here.
|Hollywoodland||Jan 19 2010|
Above is a January 1957 Confidential with Joan Crawford in the spotlight and Elvis in the wings. The Crawford story involves her playing cougar with a boytoy bartender. She’d call, or have an assistant call, and he’d drop everything, scurry over to her house, and be seen leaving the next morning. Pretty salacious claim, but of course, the bartender is never named and so the story is impossible to prove. The Elvis article is in a similar vein. Basically, Presley signed an autograph on a girl’s bare skin, and she ended up going home with him. The next morning the girl called a friend to have the signature photographed before she showered it off.
You can get a sense from these two pieces just how extensive Confidential’s network of spies was, and who they were—cabbies, switchboard operators, busboys, mailmen, and doormen. You can also, if you imagine yourself as a movie star, get a sense of how paranoid Hollywood players must have been. Every misstep—no matter how small—was splashed across Confidential’s pages.
For a while, the stars simply hoped against hope they could stay under the radar, but eventually they went on the offensive and ran Confidential into the ground with lawsuits. But in 1957, the magazine was still at the height of its power, selling millions of copies and being read secondhand by millions more who were too prim to be seen buying a scandal sheet. Confidential’s actual circulation may have been quadruple its sales figures. Humphrey Bogart said it best: “Everybody reads it but they say the cook brought it into the house.”
|Hollywoodland||Jan 9 2010|
The thing about Midnight is that they didn’t need much to build an issue. A couple of phony, sex-oriented stories, some outraged letters to the editor, their monthly “Hollywood Confidential” column, a bunch of sleazy little ads for the back pages, and they were good to go. In this issue from forty-three years ago today we learn that a UC Berkeley co-ed is earning enough credits to graduate by performing a “first hand” survey of American sex practices. For that, she needs volunteers. Lots of them. Another story, written by Element J. Pussypimple (seriously) discusses a Sheffield, England sex school that teaches teens to get it on without getting pregnant. But the real gem in each issue of Midnight was John Wilson’s column “Hollywood Confidential,” which was as libelous an effort as ever appeared in an American tabloid. In this issue alone, Wilson claims Elvis Presley placed an emergency call to his plastic surgeon because his new nose was sagging, Chris Noel ditched her date Richard Boone at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go and ran out the back door with Tom Tryon, Jack Lemmon hit a man over the head with a brass ashtray, and Barbara Stanwyck resorted to paying tabloids to arrange trysts for her with young men. Wow! Spinning a web of lies that vast is no easy feat, but it's go big or go home at Midnight. Check out more issues by clicking keyword "Midnight" below. See you Monday.
|Sportswire||Dec 8 2009|
After their careers were over, Johansson and Patterson became good friends and even flew to visit each other in their native countries every year. Top Secret could well have done a story on that, but of course harmony doesn’t sell magazines. So while in the U.S. civil rights strife raged through the rest of the sixties and into the seventies, two guys who once made a living beating the living shit out of each other quietly proved that, given a chance to see each other’s similarities rather than differences, people tend to get along just fine.
|Vintage Pulp||Mar 4 2009|
Gunard Hjertstedt wrote six books before he decided people weren’t digging his name. So he chose the pseudonym Day Keene and went on to publish some of the most entertaining novels of pulp’s golden age. Hjertstedt also wrote as William Richards, but it was the Day Keene moniker that he parlayed into international fame, writing titles like My Flesh Is Sweet, If the Coffin Fits, and Dead Dolls Don’t Talk. Several of Keene’s novels were adapted to film, including 1960’s Chautauqua (written with Dwight Vincent), which was transformed into the Elvis Presley vehicle The Trouble with Girls. But don’t let that deter you—Keene’s novels are hard, fast and well worth the read.