Mondo Bizarro Mar 22 2020
TAKING THE PLUNGE
We're ready to explore the depths of our local convenience store.


We had this contraption sitting around in the wine cellar. Conceived by inventors Alphonse and Theodore Carmagnolle in Marseille, France, it's a deep sea diving suit made around 1878. It's truly amazing—800 pounds, something like 20 little portholes for good vision, and tricked out with more gadgets than Iron Man's suit. But here's the best part—in a lighting stroke of pure genius we realized we could use it as a hazmat suit. So we got it out, oiled its joints, and now the Pulp Intl. girlfriends are going to try and pick up some toilet paper. Yes, both of them. One has to stand on the other's shoulders to make this beast work.

You're asking, why are they going for toilet paper instead of us? Because they use twenty times more than we do. It's incredible. It's like they go into the bathroom and incinerate the stuff, it goes so fast. Now you're asking, why not venture out in their stead as an act of gallantry? We could do that. We really could. In fact, we even kind of want to, just to use that wicked-looking hook on the back of the suit's right paw with ill intent. That will definitely help you keep order in the market: “Line forms after me, virus boy!” But gallantry is so last century. This is 2020, people. We'd get destroyed on social media for it. But we'll be in constant contact with the girls via radio: “Baby, are you receiving? Make sure you get beer. Over.”

On a slightly different note, let's just get this disclaimer out of way: this coronavirus is serious as a heart attack, as far as we're concerned. Where we live a lot of people are dying. We're doing quarantine to the letter of the law. We haven't left the premises in twelve days, but considering how lax people are in this town about behavingsensibly, we aren't 100% confident this thing won't still be rampant months from now. We can see one our of neighbors coming and going like nothing is wrong, and even having friends over. “Baby, still receiving? Hook our neighbor in the neck. Over.” Anyway, while we wait for this to (hopefully) blow over we have to while away these isolated hours some way or other, and this is how—talking shit online. It's the only social life we've got for the time being.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 18 2017
ADAM AND EVIL
You brute! Why don't you enslave someone your own size!


Above, more Down Under goodness from Australia's Adam magazine, with a cover from this month in 1969 depicting a scene from Mark Bannerman's “Murder in Marseilles.” It's a tale of kidnapping and slavery, or as the author constantly puts it, “white slavery.” This is a term you run into often mid-century and pulp literature, and of course the idea is that enslaving white people must be specially pointed out, as it's presumed to be orders of magnitude more evil than just plain slavery. In this case, a “swarthy Algerian” is the villain, and a Marseillaise beauty is the target. Do we need to tell you this plot is foiled? Of course not.

Adam offers another interesting feature—a piece of factual journalism entitled “Wild Girls of the American Suburbs.” It's about apartment complexes for singles, which are described as if they're twenty-four hour sex parties. All of this being well before our time, we weren't sure if such places actually existed, but it seems they did, in locales all over the U.S., particularly San Francisco, the Jersey Shore, Myrtle Beach, and Fire Island. Apparently Los Angeles had a famous one called Villa Dionysus, which we can't help noticing would be initialed V.D. Hopefully a walk-in-clinic was somewhere in the same zip code. Twenty-seven scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 13 2013
LESS MARSEILLAIS
Passage to Marseille has plenty of message but not enough movie.

We’ve seen nearly every Humphrey Bogart movie but had been warned away from Passage to Marseille. We finally watched it last night and the haters were right—it’s substantially below standard. You have Casablanca director Michael Curtiz at the helm and Casablanca alumni Bogart, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet in front of the camera, along with the lovely Michèle Morgan in the female lead, but all their combined efforts cannot elevate this clumsily written propaganda piece. Curtiz is not to blame—his direction is functional and James Wong Howe photographs everything beautifully. Likewise, Bogart manages his role adequately, Lorre and his emotive brow are put to ample use, and Rains dons an eyepatch and permafrown to bring some gravity to matters.

But Passage to Marseille is just a badly written film. Where Casablanca used patriotic sentiments adroitly (who can forget the way the singing of the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” both roused the audience and advanced the plot?), Passage to Marseille flounders under the weight of cheap nationalism and sticky sentiment. It enjoys a decent rating on many review websites but we daresay that’s mainly due to Bogart bias (wherein even his bad flicks like Chain Lightning and Battle Circus have good ratings). We love the guy too, but no actor in history has batted 1.000, and this movie was a clean whiff. As propaganda it doubtless got the job done, but as a film we suggest consigning it to a dusty, unreachable shelf. Passage to Marseille premiered in Sweden as På väg mot Marseille today in 1944. 

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Femmes Fatales Sep 11 2012
CELEBRITY APPENDIX
It was getting about time for a scar wash.

Above, acclaimed French actress Catherine Rouvel, née Catherine Vitale, who appeared in the French television series Allô Police, as well as the movies Les assassins de l'ordre, The Marseille Contract, and Borsalino & Co., seen here joyously frolicking, proud appendix scar and all, in the south of France around 1975.

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Sex Files Aug 2 2010
COCCINELLE FESTIVAL
I know why the caged Ladybug sings.

This golden issue of Confidential from August 1961 contains an article about the one and only Coccinelle, who was a French transsexual performer, almost forgotten outside her home country, but who set the world on fire fifty years ago. Born as Jacques Charles Dufresnoy, he adopted the stage name Coccinelle—Ladybug—in 1953 when he debuted at the nightclub Chez Madame Arthur. At the outset of his career, Coccinelle was a male cross-dresser, but in 1958 he underwent sex change surgery in Morocco with spectacular results, and her re-emergence onto the stage as a woman made her world famous. Adopting the persona of blonde bombshells like Mansfield and Monroe, she was able to parlay her status into film roles, and was also featured in a few shockumentaries, but it was on the stage that she shone, performing at some of France’s most exclusive clubs, including Le Carrousel and Paris Olympia.

Her fame was a controversial subject of course, if not a public obsession, and her marriages caused epic scandals, but also prompted the French government to legalize unions between transgendered participants. By 1989 Coccinelle had moved to Marseilles, where she headlined at the Cabaret Spitz. She was still performing there in April 2006 when she had a stroke. She died after three months of hospitalization, but over forty years she had carved out a successful career, made a difference politically and, at the forefront of her own small sexual revolution, helped scores of people in her exact circumstances. We’ll look for more information on the fascinating Coccinelle at our usual French sources and perhaps report back on her later. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 05
1955—Churchill Resigns
Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom amid indications of failing health. He had suffered a mild stroke during the summer of 1949, and another, more severe stroke, in June 1953. News of these events were kept from the public and from Parliament, who were told that Churchill was suffering from exhaustion. After his retirement he suffered yet another stroke in February 1956, but survived for nine more years before finally dying of a fourth stroke in 1965.
1976—Howard Hughes Dies
Eccentric American billionaire Howard Hughes, one of the world's richest men, and a former movie magnate and aviation pioneer, dies on an airplane en route from Mexico to Texas. After years of self neglect, he is almost unrecognisable and fingerprints are used to identify his body. In addition, he is determined to have died without a will, meaning twenty-two cousins inherit his fortune.
2005—Rainier III Dies
Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, whose 50-plus year reign made him one of the longest ruling monarchs of the 20th century, dies of heart and kidney conditions after more than a year of progressively worse health. Rainier is probably best known outside Europe for marrying American actress Grace Kelly, and he was buried in Monaco next to her, twenty-three years after she had perished in a car accident.
April 03
1943—Conrad Veidt Dies
German actor Conrad Veidt, who starred in films such as The Man Who Laughs and The Thief of Baghdad, but was most famous for playing the Nazi antagonist Major Strasser in the all-time cinema classic Casablanca, dies of a heart attack on a golf course in Los Angeles, just six months after Casablanca was released.
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