National Bulletin's fake cover story was unconscionable even in 1972.
This issue of National Bulletin published today in 1972 features a cover touting rapists going on strike. Do we have any doubt that this sprang from the brows of middle-aged editors with smoker's coughs, fallen arches, and no dates? As we've documented before, cheapie tabloids often trafficked in such imaginary stories. This one is akin to comedy—unamusing, tone-deaf comedy. The gist is that the head of RUFF—the Rapist's Union for Fun and Frolics—says raping women isn't fun anymore because they're too liberated and actually enjoy it. It would have been crude already in 1972 (that's why the editors did it), but these days such sentiments send a cringe through the deepest recesses of your body. The honchos at National Bulletin would, of course, say they're just riffing, yet the fact that the idea was considered by them to be viable as humor still says so much. And what it says isn't good.
So why share such items? Well, we're mainly interested in the art and graphics of old paperbacks and movie posters, and the rare photos of celebrities found in period tabloids. There are starphotos in these publications that literally don't exist online until we upload them. As lovers of old Hollywood, it's mandatory that we do so. But also, in our view, it's important to document vintage social attitudes. And here's why—after enough time passes it's easy for bad faith entities to pretend such beliefs never existed. Sharing these tabloids reminds us both of where we came from, and where we're going. In terms of promotional art and aesthetics, we believe we've ended up someplace worse than before—no matter how many book design awards are given to whichever Photoshopped covers of whatever year. Conversely, in terms of social development, we believe things are generally—despite an eddy of a few years or a decade here or there—improving.
So we're presented with divergent movement—trains traveling in opposite directions on parallel tracks during the mid-century era. On one track is excellent and commemorable visual content, and on the other is a set of social attitudes with which we tend to disagree. While it's true we could separate the art from its context, we think that's a bad practice. Many of the emails we've gotten from students, researchers, filmmakers, writers, and history buffs curious about these magazines indicate to us that without context, understanding the true characteristics of art is impossible. It'd be like looking at Picasso's “Guernica” without knowing there was such as thing as the Spanish Civil War. Yeah, it's still a great painting. But knowing its political genesis makes it more interesting. Knowledge is armor.
Bulletin moves on from the fictional rape story to offer up slightly less horrible fare in its other pages. Readers learn about lesbian communes, consensual bondage, prostitute conservationists, and sexually depraved athletes. Editors also tell readers Americans are losing the “sex race”—i.e. formerly virile men are becoming weak and impotent. If you're thinking you've heard similar masculine moaning on modern cable television, you'd be right, but the sad difference is that Bulletin's story is meant to be farce, whereas modern cable news is deadly serious about “feminization.” Accompanying the text is a photo of a woman taking the pants off a smiling wax figure of Richard Nixon. That is legitimately funny. We've enlarged it below. Feel free to spread that marvelous image far and wide. More tabloids to come.
Wilkinson's tongue lures the reading public.
Is the tongue really the strongest muscle in the human body? Maybe or maybe not, but it's certainly powerful here. This cover of National Bulletin published today in 1968 features England born model and actress June Wilkinson, owner of Hollywood's favorite exhibitionist internal organ, making newsstand browsers have thoughts that tighten their underwear. This tongue-out look was Wilkinson's trademark. Miley Cyrus is a mere millennial copycat. Too bad the cover shot is juxtaposed against blocky text about mom rape. But remember, these tabloids were part fiction. The mom story... Well, no thirteen-year-old hired men to do that. And if you look inside, it's a cinch that no anthropologist told the tabloid public she ate—and loved!—human flesh, no random daughter confessed to needing her mom to test out her boyfriends in bed, and no abortionist charged a year of sex instead of money for his services. These are cheapie tabloids, with virtually no staff, and no scruples.
The key to making fakeness work was to write stories people wanted to believe. To aid that mission they mixed in scattered factual pieces, such as the story on serial killers, including Richard Speck. He really did rape and murder eight student nurses in one night. It's a crime that sent a collective shock through America that has never been matched, at least until the era of mass shootings arrived. But importantly, it's also so bizarre and horrible that it serves as a gateway for Bulletin stories that sound more plausible but are actually fiction. Veteran breaks kitten's neck? Woman kills husband with rolling pin? Both probably happened somewhere, sometime, but did Bulletin really employ staff to travel out to woop woop and interview these people, or pay stringers for the stories? Not a chance. But that's why we love these old tabloids. They prove that nothing is new, even in 2022. It's all been done before, just not as fast, and not as glittery. Nineteen scans below.
And now an important message from the underbelly of American publishing.
And the message is: sex sells. It's been several years since we delved into an issue of National Bulletin. It was the brainchild of New Rochelle, New York based Beta Publications, which was also behind Spotlite Extra and Close-Up Extra. All Beta's tabloids were about nudity, and this issue, published today in 1973, continues the trend. Bulletin editors used handout photos to build the issue. Handouts were, we've mentioned before, photos sent around to magazines for purposes ranging from promoting movies to generating exposure for unknown models. Of course, the process works properly only if the photos are credited, and few in this Bulletin are, not even the cover model. One face is recognizable to us, though—actress and sex symbol Nadia Cassini, whose image is used to illustrate a feature called "You Name It...We've Done It," about two women experimenting with some juicy nouvelle cuisine.
Handout photos were never meant to be used without credit, but back then it wasn't possible for publicists to know what happened to all the shots they sent out. Generally they asked magazines to send clippings back to the agency, and those mailings were then compiled into folders that publicists shared with clients to prove the efficacy of their work. But if a tabloid like Bulletin simply never mailed any clippings, publicists never knew their clients' photos had been used. A good thing, because we have a feeling Cassini wouldn't have wanted to be described as “inching her tongue between the lips of [a woman's] vee.” Although, personally, we can't think of a better usage of spare time. In any case, a lot of women were borrowed to create this nudity packed issue of National Bulletin, and we doubt any of them were properly credited. Twenty-plus scans below.
National Bulletin warns against indulging in too much of a good thing.
The cheapie American tabloid National Informer warns on this cover from today in 1968 that too much sex can drive you insane. We would think the opposite is true, but the article quotes the eminent (or perhaps entirely fictional) Dr. Frans Hersen, head of the renowned (or fictional) American Sex Institute: We visited mental hospitals looking for sex problems related to a totally different study and suddenly noticed that many of the cases in the various institutions were all related to TOO MUCH SEX (emphasis theirs). So there you go—the science is clear. We have plenty more National Bulletin tucked away inside Pulp Intl. and you can see those by starting here.
The fickle finger of Tate.
We’ve seen this cover of National Bulletin all over the web, which is normally sufficient reason for us not to post something. But then we stumbled across the photo of Sharon Tate that was used to make the cover and it seemed like all the excuse we needed, so we’ve posted that image below. The Bulletin cover is from December 1968, just about nine months before Charles Manson orchestrated Tate’s murder, but the photo is undoubtedly a handout dating from earlier. We’re guessing mid-1968. We actually have an issue of National Bulletin we're going to share that has never been posted online, so keep an eye out for that. Meanwhile, click keyword “National Bulletin” below to see our other postings on this, er, interesting tabloid.
Keeping your eyes on the prize.
National Bulletin from today, 1968, with cover star Joey Heatherton, and a feature about women allegedly being given away as lottery prizes.
Tabloid predicts future with uncanny accuracy.
It’s traditional for publications to make predictions about the upcoming year. The highly respected National Bulletin, for instance, suggested in 1968 that all Americans would be born bastards by the year 2000. We can’t attest to the veracity of that, but we can tell you most of the people we meet over here seem to think it happened long before 2000. We were in a bar just last week and this Belgian guy put his finger down his throat and pretended to purge when he found out we were from the States. Our first thought, since we American bastards are all so overreactive and warlike, was to call in a massive airstrike on his face. But instead we laughed, because it really was pretty funny, and he was so impressed by our mellow reaction he bought us shots. So there’s a free lesson in diplomacy for you.
But we digress. Getting back to predictions, we aren’t going to make any ourselves, except that Pulp Intl. in 2010 will be bigger, better, and more colorful than it already is. Less a prediction than a hope is that someone takes the ad space we created. We redesigned the whole frickin’ site to fit that in, so it would be a shame to have done it for nothing. Let’s see, what else is there? Oh yes, we’ll have more gratuitous nudity, because people like that. Anyway, thanks for reading the site. Our readership has gone up quite a bit in the last six months, which is really gratifying, considering how much we enjoy doing this. Everyone have a happy and safe New Year. Below is a photo of Sylva Koscina from the Bulletin for no reason whatsoever. See you in the dos mil diez.
Surest path to lasting stardom: posing for really low rent tabloid covers.
National Bulletin published thirty-nine years ago today, with cover star Jenny Moore, who was one of the most famous models of the ’70s. Just kidding—she was actually one of the most unfamous models of the ’70s. Not that we can criticize—it’s not like anyone has ever asked us to pose in swimsuits. But maybe that’s a good thing. You’d get caught fondling the computer screen and how would you explain that?
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
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