Vintage Pulp Jul 15 2018
A LIGHT YEAR
Varga's whimsical pin-ups make time stand still.

Below, every month from a Varga calendar published in Esquire magazine in 1948. Varga, aka Alberto Vargas, as you probably know was a top pin-up artist through the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. We have another complete calendar at this link, a movie poster here, and an interesting historical curiosity here.
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Femmes Fatales Apr 26 2018
MOOD INDIGO
Even Hollywood trailblazers get the blues.


This striking image, which appeared in Esquire magazine in April 1948, shows Maylia, an actress who played Eastern beauties onscreen but was born in Detroit, Michigan as Gloria Chin. Paramount Studios promoted her as “the first Chinese star since Anna May Wong,” and indeed she was—Chinese-American, that is, just like Wong. But in the end Maylia appeared in only six films. In fact she was one of the only Asian actresses appearing in films at all during the the mid-century period. After two years of decent roles from 1947 to 1949, followed by uncredited bits in ’51 and ’53, she left show business to have a family.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 28 2015
NOWHERE FAST
The thing is you got to keep moving.


Esquire magazine called Two-Lane Blacktop the movie of the year and devoted a cover to it, and many other critics also lent their applause. It stars James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates and nineteen-year-old Laurie Bird in a story of two hot-rodders who bet their cars on the result of a head-to-head cross country race. A similar movie had hit American cinemas months earlier in the form of Richard C. Sarafian’s Vanishing Point, but Two-Lane Blacktop not only has the usual feeling of road movie nostalgia due to its celebration of a peculiarly fragile type of freedom, but because it features an actress, also peculiarly fragile, who later committed suicide. Her role—all twenty or so lines of it—is iconic, even eternal, in our opinion. She’s the only one in the film who is completely free.
 
While most of the acting is slightly flat, as might be expected with two pop stars and a novice in three of the four main roles, these are not people who are supposed to be showing extravagant emotion. They’re nomadic, their attachments transitory, their stories made of small moments dwarfed by a big, desolate American landscape where only the cars are truly real. Detractors say nothing happens in the film, but that isn’t true—it’s just as plotted and dramatic as Shakespeare if you listen through the roar of engines and peer through the smoke. We consider it one of our favorite movies, and to quote Warren Oates, "Those satisfactions are permanent." Two-Lane Blacktop premiered in the U.S. during the summer of 1971, and raced into Japan beginning today in 1972.
 

 
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Vintage Pulp Mar 10 2013
ERNEST LABOR
Dedicated work and excellent results.


Below, the Esquire monthly calendar of 1952 with twelve paintings (plus an inset close-up of Miss January on the cover) by Ernest Chiriaka, one of the true kings of pin-up art.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 2 2012
A VERY GOOD YEAR
Looking forward to each new day.

During our digging around at the Denver Book Fair we found one of the greatest calendars ever printed. This is not that calendar. So just imagine what we have in store. No, this is just a lil’ ole Varga calendar, published by Esquire magazine in 1946, and featuring twelve of Alberto Vargas’ classic pin-up paintings. In 1946 Vargas was doing quite well for himself, having established himself as one of the pre-eminent pin-up artists in the world. That success came to an abrupt halt that same year when Vargas lost a legal dispute with Esquire. It wasn’t until Playboy hired him in 1959 to paint a monthly Vargas Girl for the magazine that he regained a solid financial footing and reclaimed his throne as a top pin-up artist. Vargas died in 1982, but his work has continued to increase in value, with originals routinely auctioning for $10,000 or more. Actually, if you go online you even see sellers asking ten dollars for individual Vargas pages ripped from his old calendars. That strikes us as a bit extreme, but then we’re cheap, so what do we know? See the other Varga calendar we posted here. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 1 2012
VIVA VARGA
And a happy New Year.

Above, a 1945 Esquire magazine pin-up calendar by Peruvian artist Joaquin Alberto Vargas y Chávez, who back then went only by the moniker Varga. We can’t think of a better way to start the year than with a dozen of his paintings. Well, maybe a hangover cure would be the best way, but this is a close number 2. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 18
1954—First Church of Scientology Established
The first Scientology church, based on the writings of science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, is established in Los Angeles, California. Since then, the city has become home to the largest concentration of Scientologists in the world, and its ranks include high-profile adherents such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
February 17
1933—Blaine Act Passes
The Blaine Act, a congressional bill sponsored by Wisconsin senator John J. Blaine, is passed by the U.S. Senate and officially repeals the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, aka the Volstead Act, aka Prohibition. The repeal is formally adopted as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on December 5, 1933.
1947—Voice of America Begins Broadcasting into U.S.S.R.
The state radio channel known as Voice of America and controlled by the U.S. State Department, begins broadcasting into the Soviet Union in Russian with the intent of countering Soviet radio programming directed against American leaders and policies. The Soviet Union responds by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts.
February 16
1937—Carothers Patents Nylon
Wallace H. Carothers, an American chemist, inventor and the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont Corporation, receives a patent for a silk substitute fabric called nylon. Carothers was a depressive who for years carried a cyanide capsule on a watch chain in case he wanted to commit suicide, but his genius helped produce other polymers such as neoprene and polyester. He eventually did take cyanide—not in pill form, but dissolved in lemon juice—resulting in his death in late 1937.
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