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.
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign
comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
1967—Boston Strangler Convicted
Albert DeSalvo, the serial killer who became known as the Boston Strangler, is convicted of murder and other crimes and sentenced to life in prison. He serves initially in Bridgewater State Hospital, but he escapes and is recaptured. Afterward he is transferred to federal prison where six years later he is killed by an inmate or inmates unknown.
1950—The Great Brinks Robbery Occurs
In the U.S., eleven thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car company's offices in Boston, Massachusetts. The skillful execution of the crime, with only a bare minimum of clues left at the scene, results in the robbery being billed as "the crime of the century." Despite this, all the members of the gang are later arrested.
1977—Gary Gilmore Is Executed
Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by a firing squad in Utah, ending a ten-year moratorium on Capital punishment in the United States. Gilmore's story is later turned into a 1979 novel entitled The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer, and the book wins the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
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