Vintage Pulp Jun 27 2024
Infancy, adulthood, and death in twenty-four years.

This issue of Man's Magazine hit newsstands this month in 1963 with Mel Crair cover art we suspect is cropped from a larger piece. In the past the magazine had featured paintings that occupied its entire front, but by this time it was experimenting with a tabloid look, giving more space to blocked text with sensational messaging, and reducing the dimensions of art acquired from Crair and others. More cover changes would come. From fully painted fronts, to the tabloid style you see here, it shifted to photo covers, which happened in 1969 and saw cheesecake and adventure imagery alternating, until the early ’70s when cheesecake took over and adventure was relegated entirely to the interior. Man's Magazine was by that point publishing nude and semi-nude women on all its covers. Other men's adventure magazines were doing the same.

This shift happened quickly, but had been in the wind for a long time. Private publications had crossed all red lines much earlier, though they hadn't been openly available. Producing and selling them was to risk prison. But it was understood that men wanted more eroticism, wanted it at high quality, and would buy it even if it wasn't behind the fig leaves of art and literature. However, art and literature were needed in above-ground publications because they helped avoid obscenity convictions. Otherwise, erotic content had no “redeeming qualities,” and legal troubles were guaranteed. Mainstream men's publications were largely articles, fiction, and cartoons for that reason—and to attract advertisers.

Man's Magazine had launched in 1952 and operated in reasonable health for at least fifteen years. But by the mid-1960s social repression and censorship were in retreat. Language was changing. Racier novels could be published without legal concerns, and more revealing cinematic content was possible. In the magazine realm, brands that foregrounded women's nudity more than previously were prospering. The erotic but coy Modern Man had launched in 1951. Playboy had arrived in 1954 and been willing to push the standards of what was possible. Penthouse arrived in the UK in 1965, in the U.S. in 1969, and began to show pubic hair. When Hustler arrived in 1974 the floodgates weren't just open, suddenly, but gaping.

Man's Magazine is a classic example of a publication that was swept away by all that change, but refused to go down without a fight. Its attempts to adapt failed and it folded in 1976. Interestingly, by the end, during the latter half of that year, it moved to personality covers. Cover stars included Richard M. Nixon, Muhammad Ali, and even Paul McCartney and Larry Csonka. We don't know what prompted that move—a final attempt to appear more highbrow, perhaps? We haven't bought any of those last gasp issues to seek clues, but nothing could help Man's Magazine retain market share in a landscape that featured publications with more nudity and gloss.

But it wasn't only explicitness and printing quality that pushed Man's Magazine and its ilk slowly off newsstands. With their tighter operating budgets when compared with Playboy and cohort, they generally had lower quality fiction, profiles, essays, and cartoons. By contrast Playboy would eventually interview some of the most important people in the world, and its fiction would feature the most acclaimed authors. Man's Magazine never had a prayer of keeping pace. But today's issue appeared before the decline. There's fiction from the well known Richard Deming, non-fiction by the respected Richard Hardwick, and many excellent illustrations. All of that and more are below.


Vintage Pulp Jun 10 2011
Cuz I’m a hustler baby.

A couple of years ago we showed you a couple of vintage French one-sheets for the great poolroom drama The Hustler, and today we have the film’s excellent Japanese poster. This is one of those films that everyone has heard of, but surprisingly few people have actually seen. For those in the latter group, we can’t recommend it highly enough. The Hustler, with Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott, and Piper Laurie, opened in Japan today in 1962. 


Vintage Pulp Jan 12 2009
“Fast Eddie, let’s play some pool.”

The Hustler is doubtless the best movie about pool ever made. Director Robert Rossen’s dark vision of the underground billiard circuit earned the film nine Academy Award nominations. All four major cast members received nominations for their acting, although George C. Scott renounced his. The showdown between Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats, and Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson, ranks as one of the most nail-bitingly tense psychological encounters ever filmed. Fast Eddie has been beating Fats’ brains out for an entire night, and he’s feeling pretty good. Come morning it looks like Fats is whipped. He looks like five miles of bad road. He takes a break, washes his hands, gets his hair-do in order. When he puts his jacket on and adjusts his carnation, Fast Eddie starts grinning. It’s over. Fats is going home. But instead Fats looks at his grinning opponent and says, “Fast Eddie, let’s play some pool.” Like the contest hadn’t even started yet. And Fast Eddie’s smile melted away. The Hustler opened in Paris as L'arnaqueur today in 1962.


History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 19
1966—Sinatra Marries Farrow
Superstar singer and actor Frank Sinatra marries 21-year-old actress Mia Farrow, who is 30 years younger than him. The marriage lasts two years.
July 18
1925—Mein Kampf Published
While serving time in prison for his role in a failed coup, Adolf Hitler dictaes and publishes volume 1 of his manifesto Mein Kampf (in English My Struggle or My Battle), the book that outlines his theories of racial purity, his belief in a Jewish conspiracy to control the world, and his plans to lead Germany to militarily acquire more land at the expense of Russia via eastward expansion.
July 17
1955—Disneyland Begins Operations
The amusement park Disneyland opens in Orange County, California for 6,000 invitation-only guests, before opening to the general public the following day.
1959—Holiday Dies Broke
Legendary singer Billie Holiday, who possessed one of the most unique voices in the history of jazz, dies in the hospital of cirrhosis of the liver. She had lost her earnings to swindlers over the years, and upon her death her bank account contains seventy cents.
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