|Hollywoodland | Vintage Pulp||Oct 30 2014|
Top Secret is in fine form in this issue from October 1962 as it goes after all the biggest celebrities in Hollywood and Europe. Treading the line between journalism and slander is no easy feat, but take notice—Top Secret’s editors and hacks manage to pull off a high wire act. And of course this was key to the tabloids' modus operandi—they had to present information in a seemingly fearless or even iconoclastic way, yet never actually cross the line that would land them in court.
|Intl. Notebook||Mar 28 2012|
|Modern Pulp||Dec 5 2011|
Tanya’s Island may not be the best sexploitation flick of all time, but it’s surely one of the most earnest. Before she hooked up with Prince and became known as Vanity, Canadian actress D.D. Winters headlined this deeply Freudian beauty-and-the-beast psychodrama about a young actress who lucidly dreams of going to live with her painter boyfriend on a deserted island, only to discover that they are in fact not alone. The imaginary island’s other inhabitant is a sort of tropical sasquatch (but with soulful blue eyes), and within the reverie Tanya develops, her boyfriend becomes jealous and aggressive while the ape seems to take on increasingly more humanity.
Since this all takes place in Tanya’s head, some pretty interesting questions are being raised about the nature of female desire, as well as both the savage and civilized sides of man. Perhaps you’re rolling your eyes now, and that’s fair enough, but a big reason why these seventies skin flicks are great to watch is because the filmmakers took themselves so seriously. Writer/producer Pierre Brousseau even plastered the 1982 Cannes Film Festival with posters in hopes of generating attention for his movie. His strategy probably didn’t boost box office receipts much, but it did increase interest in his lead actress, resulting in her appearance in Playboy, and thence into the arms of Prince. Since Tanya’s Island is indeed about a woman searching for her prince charming, there’s a certain symmetry in this.
But probably the only symmetry you’re really interested in is Vanity’s, so you’ll be happy to know she’s completely naked before the opening credits have finished and remains half or wholly bare through much of the film. And for our female readers, her boyfriend’s member makes a brief appearance as well (though we suspect you won’t find the man attached to that appendage particularly alluring). Soon after this film Vanity would become famous as a singer and consort, and in one of her most memorable songs she cooed: “Ooh yeah, such a pretty mess.” That neatly sums up Tanya’s Island. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1980.
|Vintage Pulp||Sep 21 2011|
Above, a September 1966 Confidential with a rivalry theme featuring Ursula Andress vs. Claudine Auger, and Jackie Kennedy vs. Princess Grace. Andress and Auger are compared merely for their Bond girl qualities, but Kennedy and the Princess actually did have their resentful moments. These were detailed not just in the tabloid press—even supposedly sober magazines like Time reported on the feud. Perhaps it was inevitable. The two began as friendly acquaintances and ascended to positions of American royalty, a level that was surpassed by Grace Kelly when she became an actual royal with her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. A widowed Kennedy later married Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis, who happened to be an epic business and political rival of Rainier. How epic? Rainier actually suspended Monaco's constitution to put an end to Onassis’ meddling in its internal affairs. So taking that into consideration, it’s amazing Jackie and the Princess never tried to choke each other out. But like everyone says, that was a much more polite age.
|Vintage Pulp||Sep 20 2011|
Above, two great, provocative covers by Jean David for Pedro Alvarez’s Bonjour, Princesse... and Dora Christobal’s La maîtresse de Santiago, published by Seine Editions for their collection Plume au vent, 1956/1957.
|Femmes Fatales||Jun 23 2011|
Above, Austrian-born British actress Jocelyn Lane, who appeared in numerous films and television shows during the ’50s and ’60s, including The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Operation Snatch, Dangerous Youth, and The Gamma People, before going on to marry Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (there’s a mouthful), relaxing here with her dog circa 1960.
|Femmes Fatales||May 5 2011|
She was born Denise Matthews in Niagara Falls, Canada. She began her show business career as an actress, using the name D. D. Winters. Her first starring role was in Pierre Brousseau’s Tanya’s Island, one of our favorite bad sexploitation flicks ever, and as eye-catching a debut as you’re ever likely to see. After that she met up with the musician Prince and under his tutelage became simply Vanity. Under that moniker she released music of debatable quality and continued to act in less-than-stellar-movies, but along the way redefined the word sultry. She posed for this aggressive promo image around 1982.
|Intl. Notebook||Dec 30 2010|
A couple of days ago we did a post of Mexican film magazines and basically, we knew none of the cover stars. But we were curious, especially about the interestingly named Viviane Romance, and decided to dig a bit more deeply. Born Pauline Arlette Ortmans in France in 1912, her career began in 1925 at age thirteen, when she danced at the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris. The next year she scored a spot as a Moulin Rouge dancer, and at sixteen moved on to dance at the famed Bal Tabarin nightclub. At eighteen she entered and won the Miss Paris pageant but was stripped of her title when she was found to be pregnant.
This loss of her crown, while doubtless dismaying for Romance, also generated public recognition that she parlayed into a film role in 1935’s Princess Tam Tam, in which starred American dancer Josephine Baker. In 1936’s La belle équipe, she played the role of a young woman who destroyed the friendship of co-stars Jean Gabin and Charles Vanel. The film was a hit, and a series of bad girl roles followed in Naples au baiser de feu, La Maison du Matais, Prisons de femmes and Le puritain. She had become one of cinema’s first femmes fatales.
When the German army swept into France in May 1940, Romance found herself caught in a dilemma. The Nazis were eager to create a veneer of normalcy. That meant they were willing to allow the French film industry to function, though under the auspices of their Propagandastaffe, which would censor any content deemed disrespectful or harmful toward Germany. Faced with the choice of working for the Nazis or retiring—which might not have been allowed without serious consequences—Romance chose to continue performing, and starred in Vénusaveugle, Feu sacre, Une femme dans la nuit, and Cartacalha, reine des gitans. In the last, she sang the hit song “Chanson gitane (Sur la route qui va).”
It’s worth pointing out that Romance wasn’t alone in her decision to perform for the Nazis. Many of France’s top stars, including Danielle Darrieux, Junie Astor, René Dary, Suzy Delair, Albert Préjean and others did the same. In select instances, some type of pressure was brought to bear. For instance, in Darrieux’s case, the Nazis had imprisoned her husband Porfirio Rubirosa, and her acting was the price for his freedom. At the same time, it should also be noted that many French actors made the choice to ignore the plight of their Jewish compatriots. The Germans banned Jews from any participation in cinema, and the workers who remained were required to carry cards affirming their non-Jewishness. Thus while the genocidal extent of Nazi plans may not have been crystal clear to some actors, the intent to—at a minimum—erase Jews from public life was certainly no secret.
But Romance and others performed anyway. And of course, giving the Nazis an inch meant they would take a mile. Ever vigilant for propaganda opportunities, party officials pressured Romance, Darrieux and the other actors into traveling to Germany for a highly publicized visit to several Berlin film studios. Newspapers and newsreels touted the appearances in a blatant attempt to burnish the Nazis artistic bona fides. For the segment of French citizenry opposed to the occupation, the actors had crossed the line. It was one thing to continue working—everyone needed to dothat. But to allow themselves to be used to legitimize the Nazi agenda was an entirely different story. When the Germans were finally expelled from France in 1944, Romance was thrown in jail. We don’t have much information about this event. We can only say she was eventually forgiven—officially at least—for what many perceived as her feeble level of the resistance to the Nazis.
After the war, Romance immersed herself in work, making eight movies in the next three-plus years. In 1949 she played the role of Bella in the film Maya, for which you see the promo art at top. Her performance was lavishly reviewed—she was the toast of Paris again. Romance worked steadily through the next decade until her star began to dim in the early 1960s. She grappled with financial difficulty in the mid-1960s, and at one point had to sell off her possessions to survive. She made her last film, Nada, in 1974, and died in 1991 in Nice, on France’s Côte d’Azur, at age seventy-nine.
It would be journalistically tidy to write that Viviane Romance lived a lifethat somehow embodied her stage surname, but it would also be glib and untrue. The scandal of unwed motherhood, the climb up the ladder while still just a teenager, the shadow of Nazism over the prime of her career, her stint behind bars—none of it can be romanticized. Nor can her three failed marriages. If anything, Romance was like the narrator of the song she once memorably performed, “Chanson gitane.” That woman was strong enough to pass “with a noise of horses” but fragile as “a shiver of tinsel.” Ultimately Romance's story mirrors that of many women who survived dangerous times. They had to be tough, smart, and pragmatic—then when order returned they had to be judged on their failings and hope for forgiveness.
|Intl. Notebook||Aug 26 2010|
You’d never put blue, orange and yellow together in an outfit, but those colors coordinate nicely on this Uncensored from August 1971. The magazine had launched in 1953 and become a heavy hitter in the tabloid market by the end of the decade, but by now was running on fumes. However, that didn’t stop it from taking swipes at big targets—in this case England’s royal family in the person of Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.
Born Margaret Rose, the princess had a rebellious spirit and had married late—at age twenty-nine—to a commoner named Anthony Armstrong-Jones. Jones was a photographer, and if you’re going to slander a photographer, of course you call him a pornographer. There’s no evidence Jones—who became Lord Snowdon—was head of a smut ring, as Uncensored claims, but he did shoot his share of nudes, like the image of Gloria Higdon below, dating from 1959.
His marriage to Princess Margaret was known to be on shaky ground, and by the time the above cover appeared, the couple were leading separate lives. Margaret indulged in a series of indiscreet affairs, and had unconfirmed liaisons with the likes of Mick Jagger, David Niven, and Peter Sellers. Snowdon, on the other hand, became a royal favorite, shooting official portraits for the Queen and other family members.
Lord Snowdon and his wife finally divorced in 1978, and Princess Margaret died at the relatively early age of seventy-two after many years of drinking and consuming prescription drugs. We may actually revisit her at some point—her life reads like just the sort of melodrama we're interested in here.