I’m glad we stopped calling it spring break. I just feel better being honest about how we behave.
Sex Week is classic lesbian sleaze from publisher Brandon House and author Rex Weldon, aka Duane Weldon Rimel, and it appeared in 1965. Weldon also wrote Party Wife, Bedroom Bingo, Bed Slave, Sweet Sapphic Scene, and other gems of the genre. He may have gotten some of his ideas from his many interesting jobs, including as a liquor store clerk, jazz pianist, hotel worker, and bartender. Thankfully, he found his true calling in sleaze. The artist here is the indispensable Fred Fixler, and you can see much more from him by starting with this link, and you can see our recent large collection of lesbian sleaze here.
When girl meets girl sparks fly.
Above and below is a small percentage of some of the thousands of lesbian themed paperback covers that appeared during the mid-century period, with art by Paul Rader, Fred Fixler, Harry Schaare, Rudy Nappi, Charles Copeland, and others, as well as a few interesting photographed fronts. The collection ends with the classic Satan Was a Lesbian, which you’ve probably seen before, but which no collection like this is complete without. Hopefully most of the others will be new to you. Needless to say, almost all were written by men, and in that sense are really hetero books reflecting hetero fantasies (fueled by hetero misconceptions and slander). You can see plenty more in this vein on the website Strange Sisters.
Fred Fixler’s talent transformed sleaze into high art.
Hungarian-born Fred Fixler’s first career was as a diamond cutter, but by the early 1950s his focus shifted to art, which he studied in both the U.S. and France. He began illustrating paperback covers, and for years was an illustrator for the sleaze publishing imprint Brandon House. During that time his instantly identifiable style resulted in some of the most dynamic paperback covers ever seen on U.S. book racks. The piece above, with its shadowy lovers, is a prime example. Brandon House used Fixler as the primary illustrator for their line of lesbian paperbacks, and because of his talent, these books, which originally sold for around one dollar, go online today for in excess of seventy-five bucks. Fixler also worked in the commercial art field, and taught at schools like the California Art Institute, The Brandes Art Institute, and Parsons School of Design. Below are several more great Fixler pieces that we corralled from around the internet. You can see more of his art by searching online, and learn a lot more about him from his website.
It was an Affairs to remember.
Above is a cover scan of Victor Jay’s 1964 novel The Affairs of Gloria, a book that is significant because it’s the first from the LGBT author whose real name is Victor J. Banis. He happens to be the person who, writing under Leisure Books’ communal pseudonym Don Holliday, gave the world the mystery series The Man from C.A.M.P., as well as many other books that are classics in the gay pulp genre. Some of those unforgettable and decidedly un-PC titles include Blow the Man Down, Man into Boy, Homo Farm, and Rally Round the Fag.
Gloria isn’t what you’d call a gay pulp. Banis hadn’t yet taken that direction with his fiction (which was all short stories up to that point), but he was literarily bi-curious, you could say, so what he did was create a protagonist whose sexual appetite allowed him to experiment with lesbian themes. The book sold well, and despite an obscenity indictment in Sioux City, Iowa, Banis came away from the experience more convinced than ever that an untapped gay market was waiting. In 1966 Greenleaf Classics published Banis’s first gay mystery The Why Not, which resulted in the go-ahead for similar novels.
Banis is still churning out books today, and is well reviewed by entities as middle of the road as Publisher’s Weekly, who, according to the author’s website, called him a literary icon who made a difference. All of that began to take shape with his first novel, The Affairs of Gloria. You can read Banis’s own account of writing Gloria and get the skinny on that obscenity trial here. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1969—The Krays Are Found Guilty of Murder
In England, twins Ronald and Reginald Kray are found guilty of the murder of Jack McVitie. The Kray brothers had been notorious gangsters in London's East End, and for their crimes both were sentenced to life in prison, and both eventually died behind bars. Their story later inspired a 1990 motion picture entitled The Krays.
1975—Charlie Chaplin Is Knighted
British-born comic genius Charlie Chaplin, whose long and turbulent career in the U.S. had been brought to an abrupt end when he was branded a communist and denied a residence visa, is bestowed a knighthood at London's Buckingham Palace. Chaplin died two years later and even then peace eluded him, as his body was stolen from its grave for eleven weeks by men trying to extort money from the Chaplin family.
1959—Lou Costello Dies
American comedian Lou Costello, of the famous comedy team Abbott & Costello, dies of a heart attack at Doctors' Hospital in Beverly Hills, three days before his 53rd birthday. His career spanned radio and film, silent movies and talkies, vaudeville and cinema, and in his heyday he was, along with partner Abbott, one of the most beloved personalities in Hollywood.
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong
, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
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