Sportswire Jun 7 2024
CRANKY CLIPPER
If Donald Sterling's comments embarrassed NBA team owners, what will they think about an entire mini-series?


We don't watch a lot of new television series, but when we heard about Hulu's Clipped we decided to have a look. It's about the dysfunctional reign of billionaire Donald Sterling as owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, and it happens that ten years ago, back when we still had the time and inclination to write about public scandals as a subset of pulp, we touched on the subject. We used to watch a lot of NBA, but around then we drifted away from the sport and haven't watched it since. It wasn't a conscious decision, but looking back, the plantation mentality of league owners like Sterling may have had something to do with it

In short, Sterling is a billionaire real-estate mogul whose wealth insulated him from consequences that should have taken him down decades earlier. It was a woman that finally did him in. His misbehavior came out in the open when his (possibly non-sexual) mistress V. Stiviano shared an audio rant of Sterling haranguing her because she'd taken a photo with ex-basketball star Magic Johnson and posted it online. Sterling didn't want Stiviano—who's black and Mexican—seen in public with people of color, and didn't want her bringing black friends to Clippers games. It was a problematic and indefensible attitude, to say the least.

The audio clip revealed to the world what sports fans around L.A. (including us) had known for years—that the city's massive fanbase meant Sterling didn't need to spend money improving the team, he had little interest in winning, and held proprietary and retrograde views of black athletes. Sterling denied that his rant was racist, of course, and exhibited the moral outrage that is the default setting for people exposed for terrible views. In reality, he was like a walking, talking villain from a blaxploitation movie. If Pam Grier had burst through the door and karate chopped him to the floor nobody would have blinked.

Hulu has released two of the six episodes of Clipped. The show has a great tone, nudging up against farce though it's based on reality. Laurence Fishburne is excellent as Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, as is Cleopatra Coleman as Stiviano, but the showrunners' coup was in casting ex-Al Bundy portrayer Ed O'Neill as Sterling. He's pitch perfectas an elderly, insulated billionaire who constantly tells himself he's brilliant, yet refuses to understand that the reason things it was “okay” to say in the past are problematic now is because in the past the people he mistreated couldn't make their protests heard. They always hated it. Digital technology, the internet, and social media finally provided them a voice. Entire swaths of America are still refusing to adjust to this tipping of the scales toward a slightly more equal reality.

Clued in sports fans have always understood that Sterling's attitude is common among owners in the NBA (and NFL), but the revelations shocked casual fans and looked dangerous for the league's bottom line. Sterling's peers, driven by the instinct for self-protection and self-policing that keeps their clan out of congressional hearings, proactively drummed him out of their cosseted circle. Therefore the ending of Clipped is pre-written, but even so, we bet there are some amusing surprises in store. If you like sports, enjoy insider info on athletes, and can laugh at the absurd, then Clipped is good fun. It can't make NBA owners happy, but we're sure enjoying it.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 2 2022
ECLIPSE OF THE SON
Sinbad may be the star but it's the dancers who shine brightest.


Howard Hughes had an entire slate of personal flaws, not least of which was that he was a frothing racist, but in terms of filmmaking he understood the concept of value-added cinema. He often battled censors, because if he had a beautiful actress on hand he'd build something around her that was as provocative as the market would bear. Jane Russell is his most famous protégée, but he shaped projects for Jean Harlow, Gina Lollobrigida, Faith Domergue, and others. In Son of Sinbad he wanted to show Lili St. Cyr to great advantage, and along the way, in typical fashion, added more, more, and more. He brought aboard MGM dancer-actress Sally Forrest and famed peelers Nejla Ates and Kalantan to compliment St. Cyr, made them all ornately clad harem girls, and ended up with a movie that was nearly banned.

The stars of Son of Sinbad are Dale Robertson as the fictional Sinbad's son and Vincent Price as the historical figure Omar Khayyám, and in the story, which is set in Baghdad, horny Sinbad is busted making time with one of the Sultan's harem girls and is imprisoned along with Omar. In exchange for his freedom Sinbad reveals the existence of Greek fire, a dynamite-like explosive, which could come in handy because the Sultanate is at war with the Tatars. Sinbad doesn't actually have the secret to this weapon himself—it's locked inside the head of his friend Kristina, who can only reveal the process for making it while hypnotized. The Sultan is suitably impressed after a demonstration and agrees to free Sinbad and friends, but due to some palace spying third parties have learned about the weapon, and from that point forward more complications ensue.

While Son of Sinbad is a fantasy adventure with elements of comedy, audiences also knew to expect titillation from RKO Radio Pictures, and the movie leans into that expectation with its sexy costumed dance numbers. Any movie that offers St. Cyr in motion is automatically recommended, and you'll get a sense of why she was probably the most famous burlesque dancer in America, though neither she nor the other dancers remove much clothing. Even so, it's a nice showcase of the burlesque arts, and the dancing offers reason enough to watch the film, and would even if the movie were terrible.

However, the bonus here is that the movie isn't terrible. The lavish sets, beautifully painted backdrops, and colorful costumes transport the viewer—not to ancient Baghdad, but to a magical, soundstage-bound, Technicolor realm similar to that from old Bible flicks. Robertson is fine as Sinbad Jr., but Price, as he tended to do, excels in his second banana role. The man was a born star, and a born ham. As long as you don't expect a masterpiece you'll be entertained. And as a point of added interest, Kim Novak makes a quick and uncredited appearance as a Tatar woman. It was her first screen role, but because the movie was delayed—like many Hughes projects—it was not the first time audiences had seen her. Son of Sinbad did eventually hit cinemas, though, premiering after more than a year of delays, today in 1955.
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Modern Pulp May 17 2022
HER MAJESTY'S DISSERVICE
Of all the different types of queens, I had to be the damn queen of S&M.

Maybe Junko Mabuki wasn't the queen of Nikkatsu Pictures' roman porno cycle, but she was certainly one of its major figures, and oh, the ordeals she went through in her fifteen films. This poster that has her looking like she somehow got stuck inside Batman's mask was made for Dan Oniroku hakui nawa jigoku, known in English as White Uniform in Rope Hell and—unfortunately—All Women Are Whores. We couldn't locate the movie, which caused us to breathe a sigh of relief. But if you want to know what Mabuki was all about, cinematically speaking, the films of hers we have watched include (English titles only) Female Teacher: Rope Hell, Female Beautician Rope Discipline, Secretary Rope Discipline, and Blazing Bondage Lady. Those titles should answer any questions. We also watched her in Hell of Roses, which, while its title seems to suggest a thematic and tonal change from Mabuki's usual fare, is also about ropes. Dan Oniroku hakui nawa jigoku premiered in Japan today in 1980.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 22 2022
BLISS FAMILY ROBINSON
It's paradise found in cheeseball sexploitation flick.


This Italian poster was painted by Ermanno Iaia for the 1972 sexploitation comedy L'isola dei piaceri proibiti, which was originally West German made as as Robinson und seine wilden Sklavinnen, and known in English as Robinson and His Tempestuous Slaves. We have another poster below, and Magda Konopka stars on it but she isn't in the movie. Don't ask us how that happened. Some mysteries aren't meant to be solved.
 
So, yes, we watched this, and it's terrible. A schlub pharmacist named Robinson, who's descended from Robinson Crusoe, is trapped in a life of drudgery and domestic strife, but has fantasies of escaping to the tropics. You'd think there would be something in that pharmacy to lift his mood, but instead he actually goes to a jungle island. Since the scantily clad trio of Andrea Rau, Anne Libert, and Ingeborg Steinbach (but not Magda Konopka) are with him everything seems perfect (even with the obnoxious wildlife whose thoughts we get to hear).
 
By definition, paradise can never last. In this case, sadly, everything goes pear-shaped when cannibals turn up. Did we mention that this is a Jesús Franco movie? But it's Franco trying to be funny, and that isn't pretty. Talking wildlife, remember? Not pretty at all. In that case, why should you watch it? Because you get to see Rau stark raving naked in a waterfall. Boom. Book it. The movie has no Italian premiere date, but if we ever find one we'll update this post. We have some production photos below, and, as a bonus Rau, Steinbach, and Libert in three nice glamour shots.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 3 2022
TRAFFIC STOPPER
Sugawara gives the red light to wartime slavery.


This blazingly colorful promo poster was made for the action movie Onna dorei-sen, known in English as Female Slave Ship, which is set during World War II and follows the adventures of a navy lieutenant played by Bunta Sugawara. The tale begins with him sent on a secret mission to obtain radar schematics to help salvage Japan's waning war fortunes, but unfortunately his plane is shot full of holes by a squadron of American F4Fs and he ends up in the drink. He's picked up by a Shanghai bound China boat, or slave ship, carrying twelve women meant to be auctioned to a gathering of Epsteins. Eleven of the women are prostitutes, but Rumiko, played by the lovely Utako Mitsuya, was tricked onto the boat. Naturally, she and Sugawara form an instant connection. Can he save her? You can be sure he'll try his best.

But just when you think Female Slave Ship is a straightforward white-knight-saves-damsel tale, the slave ship is attacked by pirates, and the women and Sugawara are suddenly at the mercy of the most ruthless band of unbathed thugs ever to steam the East China Sea. After some onboard drama the vessel lands, not in Shanghai but on a rocky Chinese coast where traffickers plan to brand and sell the women. This obviously can't stand, which means Buntawara must somehow throw sand in the gears. Why he's even alive at this point is a question. He's been nothing but trouble to the pirates, and the simplest solution would have been to toss him to the sharks. Failing to do that will be a costly and contusion making error.

We wanted to get away from Nikkatsu Studios' misogynistic roman pornos for a while and this effort from Shintoho Film fulfilled the requirement. Well, mostly. While generally tame, you'll rarely see so many women slapped around. But the treatment is meant to outrage. Mission accomplished. You will hate these traffickers. As for the movie overall, we suspect you'll like-not-love it. It's done in broad strokes, but as a sort of surf-to-turf soap opera it mostly works fine. Sugawara, who was soon to become a cinematic icon, has a charisma befitting his burgeoning status. And Yôko Mihara, already a big star at this point, is enjoyable playing a slippery slaver whose allegiances shift with the tides. She and Sugawara are worth seeing. Female Slave Ship premiered in Japan today in 1960.
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Vintage Pulp Dec 21 2021
HELL RIDE
The best defense is a good offense.


Above: the original promo art for Hell Up in Harlem, a blaxploitation classic starring former NFL defensive back Fred Williamson, along with Gloria Hendry and others. This masterpiece was painted by Robert Tannenbaum, a promo art icon whose website you can check out here. You can read about the movie here. Hell Up in Harlem opened in New York City today in 1973.

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Femmes Fatales Jul 18 2021
BAD REIKO RISING
I keep this gun under my pillow in case of home invasion by my namesakes.


There are several Reikos in the realm of pinku but we've talked about only two—Pulp Intl. favorite Reiko Ike, who we featured a few days ago, and action star Reiko Oshida. Time for some new blood. Above you see a beautiful image of Reiko Ohara, who was also a big star in Japanese filmdom, appearing in dozens of action and comedy flicks beginning in 1965, including Furyo bancho te haccho kuchi haccho, aka Wolves of the City: Blue Soldiers, and Yagyû ichizoku no inbô aka Shogun's Samurai. She has an unusually large gun here, or perhaps is an unusually small person. We don't know which. But we know the photo originally appeared in a large art book called 大原麗子メモリーずっと好きでいて, which translates as something like, “Reiko Ohara Memory I've Always Liked.” The book was published in 2010, but Ohara was born in 1946, so we'd say the image was originally shot way back around 1970. She died in 2009, so it's possible the book was published as a tribute, but we aren't sure about that. We have other images of her and she's posing with a massive gun in many of those too. Like below, for example. We figure she thought she needed it around at all times for protection from the other Reikos.

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Modern Pulp May 29 2020
KNOT ENOUGH
Once is bad luck. Twice is a trend. Six times looks more like a career choice.


Yes, Junko's back. Counting this movie—Dan Oniroku onna hisho nawa chyokyo, also known as Secretary Rope Discipline—we've now watched six of Miss Mabuki's roman porno outings, and what can we say? They're all crazy. In fact, sources say she retired because her body couldn't stand up to all the kinbaku in these flicks. This time around she's a worker at a fashion house, mostly filing and typing her days away. But she's also stealing trade secrets. When she's caught, she refuses to reveal who put her up to it, and to make her talk, the company's chairman... well, you can figure out what happens next. It involves ropes, whips, and enemas.

There's a subplot. Does anyone care? Okay, her boyfriend is a cheating dawg. He even does it right in front her because he's a terrible guy. It gets worse and worse for Junko. Later the chairman's son takes a liking to her and assumes the duties of disciplining her, which leads to her being forcibly tattooed—a standard and terribly disturbing motif in these films. The two plot streams intertwine, so to speak, in a final manic orgy. We knew fashion was a tough industry, but we had no idea it was anything like this. Next time you buy a new outfit, try to remember the pain and suffering that went into it. Dan Oniroku onna hisho nawa chyokyo premiered today in 1981.
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Vintage Pulp Oct 6 2019
MARRIAGE INEQUALITY
No wonder divorce rates are sky high.


Did we mention that the Pulp Intl. girlfriends are out of town? No? Well, they are, so it's time to screen the craziest shit vintage cinema has to offer—’70s roman porno. We don't truly understand the films, but we try. What we do understand is that on some level the previous decades' restraint in Japanese cinema was being challenged by filmmakers given almost total artistic control, as long as the films had four sex scenes per hour. So what you get is a lot of daring explorations of previously untouchable themes, and a lot of visual artistry designed to titillate without violating censorship restrictions. Japan's oldest studio, Nikkatsu, made these films, and many were hits with both audiences and critics (who we suspect in both cases were preponderantly male).

The above poster was made to promote Dan Oniroku hanayome ningyo, aka Bridal Doll, which is based on the writings of acclaimed author Oniroku Dan, and stars Asako Kurayoshi in her cinematic debut as a woman who's sold to a man as a bdsm sex slave. It's pretty twisted. Not only does he dress her as a bride, but he has a glass walled bathroom so he can watch her do her business, and at one point literally has her shackled to a ball and chain. But his idyllic set-up goes awry when a neighbor learns what's going on and decides to save Asako. He does this by kidnapping the sadist's wife, who's played by the luminous Izumi Shima, putting her through similar ordeals, then proposing a swap.

Does this swap go as planned? Well, we won't tell you that. We will, however, remind you that there are three true outcomes in roman porno: irony, tragedy, and ambiguity. Nobody ever gets out happy. At least not often. They're always transformed by their ordeals, one way or another. As always, not being Japanese and lacking the lifetime of cultural knowledge that would bring, we know there's more going on here than we can discern. But we still can't recommend this one as anything other than Shima eye candy. And you get that by looking below. So maybe save the seventy-one minutes for a walk in the sunshine. Dan Oniroku hanayome ningyo premiered in Japan today in 1979.

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Modern Pulp Sep 29 2019
CAGED HEAT
Junko Mabuko is unjustly detained yet again.


It's Junko Mabuki again, beset by her usual troubles on this poster for the roman porno flick Dan Oniroku joen fujin, which premiered in Japan today in 1980. This movie seems to have been retitled for its English language release either Blazing Bondage Lady or Madam Rope Flame. Different sites say it's one or the other, but both titles kind of mean the same thing, so both are probably correct.
 
How does Junko get caged? It's her husband's fault. He accidentally runs over a woman who's a star S&M performer and her widower shows up to claim Junko as his own (and as a bonus also kidnaps her sister, played by the ethereal Izumi Shima). Junko's captor introduces her to aspects of bdsm such as whipping and enemas (always a favorite of roman porno flicks), and her shame and resistance eventually turn to acceptance and pleasure.

Mabuki burst onto the roman porno scene in 1979 and in 1980 made a dozen films. Nikkatsu thought they had another Naomi Tani on their hands and even staged a press conference at which they introduced Mabuki to the assembled journalists while she was done up in bondage gear. These types of publicity stunts weren't unusual for Nikkatsu. 
They had barely enough time to congratulate themselves for finding a new star when in 1982 Junko abruptly retired.
 
But Mabuki left behind more than a dozen films and established herself as one of the era's most popular stars. Even so, we rarely recommend these movies and can't recommend this one either, but we love roman porno posters, which taken out of context are always amazing art pieces. Junko is like art too, below. Rest assured, this is not the last we'll see of her.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 20
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
June 19
1953—The Rosenbergs Are Executed
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet spies, are executed at Sing Sing prison, in New York.
June 18
1928—Earhart Crosses Atlantic Ocean
American aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean, riding as a passenger in a plane piloted by Wilmer Stutz and maintained by Lou Gordon. Earhart would four years later go on to complete a trans-Atlantic flight as a pilot, leaving from Newfoundland and landing in Ireland, accomplishing the feat solo without a co-pilot or mechanic.
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