Left brain calling right brain. Left brain calling right brain. Wake up, convict—you're daydreaming.
Here's a fun Robert Bonfils cover for Kitty Morgan's 1967's sleazer Turn-On. The art was recycled from March Hastings' 1962 book Design for Debauchery, with bars added to give the later art a jailhouse theme. It's kind of funny how shoddily original art was sometimes treated in efforts to adapt it for later usage: "Just paint some black bars over the earlier piece and we're good to go." We doubt Bonfils was the person tasked with defacing his own work, but you never know. In any case, the imagery makes us imagine some poor convict enjoying a beautiful cellblock daydream, which is then ruined when his fantasy girl says in a prison guard's baritone, “Hey convict! Who you think you eyeballin' like that?” As penal cover art goes, this is nice, but it isn't even in the same class as our favorite. Check here.
*sigh* Okay, lesson learned—new sexual orientation, same old crushing regret.
Above is a piece of classic Midwood sleaze, The Drifter, by March Hastings, aka Sally Singer, 1962, with Paul Rader cover art and the staggeringly funny tagline: Any port in a storm—and one of the ports was Lesbos. In the story, a woman has an impotent but deviant husband who seems to be sexually inspired only by his sister, so wifey flees and the drifting begins. As does the slumming, self-hating, and everything else. Since lesbianism is universally understood in mid-century sleaze to be a mental disorder, it's no spoiler to reveal that our heroine doesn't stay docked in Lesbos permanently, but rather learns the usual dubious lesson imparted by these books: the love of a good man fixes everything. It's a sex conversion fantasy written for a male market, and not to be taken seriously in any way. As a side note, since Lesbos is a Greek isle, that means we have a bit of a theme today (see below).
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.
You know, they make pills for guys with this issue. Just saying.
What is “the soft way,” according to the author March Hastings, aka Sally Singer? It's not having to make any effort. For instance, life can be “soft” for a guy. The main character in The Soft Way, who's named Jeff, has three girlfriends and life is definitely soft for him. So the cover blurb basically means the female character has to take Jeff on his own terms. It has nothing to do with the need for pharmaceutical intervention to do it the hard way, as implied by our subhead. But maybe it should—we bet the book would be especially interesting then. 1963 copyright on this, with Paul Rader art.
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.
Two flavors of femme fatale, identical health risk.
Above is a rare double-sided Robert Bonfils cover, Lash of Desire with a flipside of Pillow Tramp, from the Dollar Double Book Company of Chicago, with both covers featuring a signature—a rarity from Bonfils. G.H Smith was aka M.J. Deer, Jan Hudson, Jerry Jason, Dusty North, et al., and Hastings was aka March Hastings, Laura Duchamp and Sally Singer. The art for Lash of Desire features a confident, challenging female figure, while Pillow Tramp presents a less edgy woman seeming to offer easy pleasures. But of course, all femmes fatales lead to the same result in mid-century sleaze fiction—disaster. A lot of Bonfils’ cover output was for various Greenleaf Classics imprints during the late 1960s and early 1970s, but these efforts from 1962 show him in more conventional form. Compare them to this front, this one, and this one.
Blaze consumes acres of grassland. Authorities seek cause.
Above, the cover of March Hastings’ The Heat of the Day, one of many lesbian themed novels published by Midwood-Tower. It’s the story of two girls whose blackened skeletons are found in a fire-scorched field. Well, not really. It’s actually about two girls who meet at a summer camp and develop a scorching attraction for each other. 1963 on this one, with art by Victor Olson.
Actually, darling, the moment you left I starting having this tremendous stiffness in my lower body.
Another day, another ripe Midwood cover. The art on these are always like visual punchlines, which is why people love them so much. This particular effort is from Victor Olson, who painted covers for many men’s magazines, including Saga, Stag, Male and others. Laura Duchamp was a pen name used by author Sally Singer, one of the few sleaze writers who was actually female. She was also prolific as March Hastings. Goodbye, Darling appeared in 1964.
Before you can love another person you have to love yourself.
The only thing that could make this cover better is if she were real and not just an amazing painting by Paul Rader. And also if we could substitute the mirror for a window and put ourselves on the other side, hiding in some bushes in her yard. Or is that creepy? Anyway, the cover asks if a hunger so strong can be so wrong. We answer: not if it makes you do this.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1981—Ronnie Biggs Rescued After Kidnapping
Fugitive thief Ronnie Biggs, a British citizen who was a member of the gang that pulled off the Great Train Robbery, is rescued by police in Barbados after being kidnapped. Biggs had been abducted a week earlier from a bar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by members of a British security firm. Upon release he was returned to Brazil and continued to be a fugitive from British justice.
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet
, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler
and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals
of the Cold War.
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