She's not the sharpest ho in the toolshed.
Lana, by Joan Ellis, is sleaze fiction about a fifteen-year-old girl with poor critical reasoning skills. Which is to say she's D-U-M. Basically, she falls for an older guy who pimps her out. Her rationalizations around this are hilarious. Prostitutes often form co-dependent bonds with their pimps, so we hear, but Ellis didn't handle that aspect with sufficient skill, instead making poor Lana flat-out superficial. But hey—it's a sleaze novel. You don't go into it expecting Les Miserables. This is copyright 1960 with Paul Rader cover art (of a figure that looks a lot like Elsa Martinelli). By the way, if for some reason you don't know the term “ho,” look here.
Actually, I'm not nicknamed Flame because of my hair. You know what pyroflatulence is? Toss me that lighter.
Above, another great Midwood cover, this time for Flame, by sleaze stalwart Joan Ellis, aka Julie Ellis. The art is, sadly, uncredited (but looks like Paul Rader).
Once you go down there's no turning back.
But isn't Third Street in the other direction?
We're gonna go down the third street.
You mean the third street from here?
If you wanna think of it that way.
Why are you holding my hand?
The third street gets slippery. You'll see.
Super rare Joan Ellis authored Midwood-Tower lesbian sleaze novel about a female painter and female model who come together over more than just art, 1964, with Paul Rader on the cover chores.
Well, you know. I'm reluctant to stop, maybe.
Above, just another brilliant effort from illustrator Paul Rader, this time for The Reluctant Nympho by Joan Ellis, 1968.
Vice so nice they did it thrice.
Above, a cover for a rare triple novel featuring the sleaze work of Joan Ellis, Jill Hammond, and March Hastings. We like how the stories cover three different stages of life—Teen-Age Sex Party is high school, Office Playmate is the working world, and Experiment in Adultery is married life. A follow-up triple included Middle-Aged Miscreants, Retired but Desired, and One Dick in the Grave. Well, not really. But we missed our calling, don't you think? The cover art here is from Paul Rader, and the copyright is 1968.
These are people who definitely pay attention to the poles.
When you look at lots of paperbacks sometimes a common thread suddenly jumps out at you that went unnoticed before. Such was the case a few weeks ago when we noticed the large number of characters on mid-century covers leaning against poles—light poles, telephone poles, sign poles, etc. We suggested someone should put together a collection, but of course we really meant us, so today you see above and below various characters deftly using these features of the urban streetscape as accessories. Art is from Benedetto Caroselli, Harry Schaare, George Gross, Rudolph Belarski, James Avati, et al. You can see a couple more examples here and 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.
The shape of bad things to come.
Above and below are assorted covers featuring yet another fun mid-century paperback art motif—the looming or threatening shadow. The covers are by the usual suspects—Rader, Phillips, Gross, Caroselli, Nik, as well as by artists whose work you see less often, such as Tony Carter’s brilliant cover for And Turned to Clay. That's actually a dust jacket, rather than a paperback front, but we couldn't leave it out. You’ll also notice French publishers really liked this theme. We’ll doubtless come across more, and as we do we’ll add to the collection. This is true of all our cover collections. For instance, our post featuring the Eiffel Tower has grown from fifteen to twenty-two examples, and our group of fronts with syringes has swelled from thirteen to twenty-six images. We have
twenty-four twenty-six—see what we mean?—more shadow covers below, and thanks to all original uploaders.
Let's go upstairs and slip out of our pajamas, daddy-o, then I can tuck you in nice and snug.
This is one of the prettiest Paul Rader covers we’ve seen, which is really saying something considering he painted this and this. But this stellar turquoise and gold effort for Joan Ellis’s Sooner or Later may be our favorite Rader yet. Note how the placement of the girl’s elbow suggests an erection on her tormented brother-in-law. Joan Ellis was in reality author Julie Ellis, and she also wrote as Linda Michaels, Jill Monte, and Susan Richard. She went on to author serious fiction, but even if those later books were better written, we bet none of them looked as appealing as this.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday
records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
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