|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Jan 10 2015|
The last time we checked in on Top Secret was with their October 1962 issue. Today we’re visiting January 1964 and plenty has changed in the intervening months. Foremost—the paper and printing quality have degraded to what surely must have been the lowest standard available at the time, which is why our scans are grainy. But we can still recognize June Wilkinson on the cover, who we’re told is retiring from modeling, and inside readers hear from Ursula Andress, Jack Lemmon, Brigitte Bardot, Shirley MacLaine, Mandy Rice-Davies and more.
|Intl. Notebook||Dec 19 2014|
Mandy Rice-Davies, one of the central figures in the John Profumo Affair of 1963, died of cancer early this morning. Most accounts of the scandal describe Rice-Davies as a prostitute, and indeed Stephen Ward, one of the principals in the fiasco, was imprisoned for living off the earnings of Rice-Davies and other women—another way of saying he pimped. But Rice-Davies spent a good portion of her final years denying she was a call girl, saying she didn’t want her grandchildren to remember her that way.
Whatever her means of support during the Profumo Affair, what is certainly true is that she was young and beautiful and somehow found herself at the nexus where rich, entitled men and beautiful women always seem to meet. The Profumo Affair's world of secret parties, middle-aged male egos, and a lurking Soviet spy came into being during the most paranoid years of the Cold War, and John Profumo’s role in it cost him his position as Secretary of State for War in the British government.
|Femmes Fatales||Nov 20 2011|
Q: What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of a national scandal? A: Parlay the recognition into money. The above photo of Welsh-born party girl Mandy Rice-Davies made us think yet again of that question and answer. The first time we remember considering them (because Rice-Davies was before our time), was during the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. Lewinsky appeared on the cover of a national magazine and an acquaintance of ours commented that she must be mortified by the entire situation. But we noted, “Not so mortified that she didn’t manage to get into an expensive photography studio and get these shots made.” Not an affordable thing for a D.C. intern with legal fees looming, but no problem for a person who has signed a representation deal and is being backed by managers.
Likewise this photo of Mandy Rice-Davies tells the world she isn't the least interested in hiding, but rather in embracing her unexpected fame, derived from her role—along with friend Christine Keeler—in the Profumo Affair that rocked Britain’s conservative government in 1963 with tales of wild parties, paid sex, and nuclear secrets. Rice-Davies used the notoriety she gained to release pop singles, open nightclubs bearing her name, and write an autobiography and a novel. She and Keeler weren’t the first ordinary citizens to rise to fame on the back of a sexual scandal, nor the first to use that recognition for their benefit, but their case seems like a historical marker, telling us we were entering fully into an age inwhich infamy, pain and public spectacle would rank equally with creativity and intelligence as undifferentiated collateral to be traded for cash. A culture of Hiltons, Kardashians and Joe the Plumbers speaks to this truth. You can read more about Mandy Rice-Davies here.
|Intl. Notebook | Sex Files||May 3 2011|
The infamous Profumo Affair exploded onto British front pages during the spring and summer of 1963, outing Secratary of State for War John Profumo’s affair with the call girl Christine Keeler, and leading directly to his humiliation and resignation. More than a year later the other call girl at the center of the scandal—Mandy Rice-Davies—was promoting a tell-all book about her time in the sex trade. It was called The Mandy Report and on the cover of Confidential from May 1964, we see Rice-Davies holding the book and looking pretty darn pleased with herself.
The Mandy Report was actually rather cleverly formatted as a tabloid-style magazine, and between the covers Rice-Davies claimed to have spent quality time between the sheets with the likes of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Mitchum, Bob Hope, George Hamilton and many other household names. Mostly, the men denied it, of course, but to paraphrase Rice-Davies herself: “Well, they would, wouldn’t they?”
Call us prejudiced, but we tend to believe women about situations like these, even when they happen to be trying to drum up sales—and especially when they aren't. In pulp novels women publicly lie about this stuff all the time, and as a fictional device it's fun, but in the real world there's a lot of potential for danger and social loss that makes us think falsehoods in this area are relatively rare. But that's just us.
We don't know how many copies The Mandy Report eventually sold, but the fact that it's still widely available online might be an indication that it did okay. Later in life, Rice-Davies stayed in the spotlight, acting in film and television. That’s her below, relaxing on a beach on Majorca circa 1963, and if you're curious you can read a bit more about the Profumo Affair at an earlier post, here.