Everyone knows it's impolite to stare. Well, almost everyone.
When you look out your window there may be nobody on the street, but The Girl Watcher has come to the rescue with some time killing imagery to brighten your lockdown. Only two issues of this magazine were ever published, as far as we know, with this one coming this month in 1959. Inside you get plenty of photos by lensman Earl Leaf, including rare shots of Mamie Van Doren, Susan Harrison, June Wilkinson, Danish model Elsa Sorenson (aka Dane Arden), and some unidentifieds. While meant to be humorous, this magazine is textbook mid-century sexism, something scholars could use to fuel semesters of women's studies classes. It speaks of women as prey to be stalked, ambushed, and captured, and while it's not meant to be taken anything close to literal, it still carries a powerful suggestion that male desire trumps female self-determination. In general this attitude has changed for the better since then, with the result that the American mating game has greatly improved. While in general men still look at women almost anywhere, most understand there are unaccepable and acceptable times and places to do so—bars and parties being good examples of the latter. Men look, and always will. Women look too, and always have, more subtly. And increasingly, both look at digital apps—which is not nearly as much fun as in the flesh, but it certainly confers women more power and safety, even if it's inherently restricting in terms of choice. The Pulp Intl. girlfriends would never have chosen us if we'd had to entice them with online profiles designed to sell us as perfect matches, but when randomly thrust into the same social gathering, the concept of perfect did not apply—it was game over folks! Um, forty-plus scans below.
The key to a successful assassination? Time management.
Just that quickly we have another Adam for you today. This issue is from this month in 1978, with a cover illustrating Norman G. Bailey's story, “The Assassination.” We're still trying to make sense of this take on the classic international hitman motif. If we understood it correctly, a highly skilled killer is hired for a hellishly difficult hit on a head of state in the fictional country of Damahomey. He travels by plane, boat, and train, cases the job, beds the femme fatale, pulls off the job, and returns home carrying a valise bulging with Damahomeen currency. But once back in the U.S., he finds he can't exchange this money for dollars because it went out of usage in 1930. Well, that's weird, considering everyone was using it in Damahomey. He subsequently finds that the man he assassinated was killed in 1930. So, seemingly, unbeknownst to him—or the reader—he traveled back in time and shot a guy. All without a machine or any bells and lights of any sort. We went through the tale again to see if we missed the part where he pushed a big red button marked, “Press Here To Travel Back in Time,” but nope, wasn't there. So the assassin was hired by time travelers, and somehow also time traveled through no agency of his own. Fine, we guess. Give Bailey credit for thinking outside the box. We have thirty-plus scans below, including rarities of Sharon Tate and members of the Manson Family, accompanied by Adam's take on the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders.
He promised her a smashing time on safari but this was nothing like she had in mind.
Adam magazine's covers are nearly always the same—two to four people and a pivotal action moment. This front from February 1970 is a typical example. It shows an unfortunate hunter learning that elephants sometimes won't simply stand still and let you shoot them through the heart so you can turn their tusks into paperweights. The nerve, really. The painting is great. It's probably by Jack Waugh, but it's unsigned, so there's no way to know. He did sign a couple of the interior panels, though. The cover was painted for Ken Welsh's story, “Dirge for a Darling,” which deals with a woman on safari who wants her hunting guide to kill her rich, alcoholic husband. Risky, but when you stand to inherit fifty million dollars, what's a little risk?
We try to avoid spoilers, but since you're never going to have a chance to read this obscure story, we'll just tell you what happens. The husband is a terrible guy, and he spends his days shooting badly at wildlife, and his nights drinking himself into a stupor. The fact that he's always insensate by dark is what allows the wife to start bedding the hunter right in camp in the first place. Once the hunter has been convinced to do the job, he realizes he must devise a foolproof yet suspicion free murder. He plans and schemes for days, looking for an angle, and finally tells the wife he has an idea, but the less she knows the better. Her job is to convincingly play the grieving widow when it happens, so for the sake of realism it's better if she's in the dark.
One morning the hunter comes to fetch the husband for a foray into the bush. Elephants are near. Today is the day the husband will finally get a big tusker. But the husband is hung over like never before. He wants a trophy, but can't possibly go shooting. He asks the hunter to bag an elephant for him. As the cover depicts, the hunter gets trampled to death. When the news comes to camp, the husband smiles evilly. The hangover had been an act. He'd discovered his wife's affair and, while she and her lover were otherwise occupied, had filed down the firing pin on the hunter's rifle. The gun didn't work when needed, resulting in a squashing.
The husband has a celebratory drink and forces his wife—who hates liquor—to join him. The husband cramps, convulses, and dies in excruciating pain. The wife realizes the hunter's foolproof murder method was to poison her husband's beloved liquor in such a way as to make authorities think it had been a bad batch. Then she cramps, convulses, and dies in excruciating pain too. The story ends: “It was all very sad when you considered the talent of those involved, but there it was. The principals, no doubt, went to hell. The $50,000,000 went to charity.” We've read a lot of Adam stories, and this was one of the more entertaining efforts. We have numerous scans below, with Claudine Auger in the second panel, and more Adam coming soon.
It was a different flavor of men's magazine.
Zest magazine, with its bold graphics and cover portraits, looks like a classic mid-century tabloid, but its banner tells you it's really a men's magazine. It lives up to its billing in this issue from January 1956—issue number one, actually—with short stories from Michael Avallone and H.P. Lovecraft, real life adventure tales, scare stories (“Is Your Daughter a Sex-Film Star?), glamour photography, and humor.
The Lovecraft tale, “Rats in the Walls,” is called “the greatest horror story ever written.” We wouldn't go that far, but it's freaktacular, like everything Lovecraft wrote. It had originally been published in Weird Tales in 1924, and we imagine that its bizarro mutant/cannibalism themes were pretty shocking back then. The Avallone story, “The Glass Eye,” is novella length. He had already published three novels and was building a reputation as a reliable author of thrillers, which makes his inclusion a nice coup for a new magazine.
The photography in Zest is just as impressive as the fiction. Readers get to see rare shots of major celebs such as Sophia Loren, Sabrina, and Delores del Rio. All in all Zest was a high budget effort, but it lasted only two issues. Why did it fold? No idea on that. Competition in the market was plenty stiff at the time. On the other hand, maybe two issues are all that were planned. We're thrilled to show you one of them, comprising thirty-plus scans below for your Thursday enjoyment.
Let's split up here! And in case I get killed, nice ass! Forgive the objectification, but I couldn't leave it unsaid!
Above are thirty-five scans from a December 1976 issue of Adam magazine, with a cover illustrating Mike Rader's story “Die As the Romans Do.” We made contact with Rader a while back, and he updated us on his career, and told us some fun stories about working with Adam editors back in the day. The tale he weaves in this issue concerns an Australian tourist in Rome who helps a damsel in distress, and for his kindness gets ensnared in a murder plot. The scene in the painting occurs when he and the damsel, named Claudia, flee the Roman catacombs during a Mafia-on-Mafia shootout—but only after Claudia has had her dress ripped off by the villains.
Rader's fiction is always interesting, but the highlight of this issue is a photo feature of Daisy Duke herself—Catherine Bach, three years before she became world famous on The Dukes of Hazzard—who you see just above. Since she isn't identified in the shots, it isn't like Adam knew who they had on their hands. To them, they simply had some nice handout photos of a minor actress. But that stroke of luck gives this issue extra value, at least as far as we're concerned. Believe it or not, after posting sixty-two issues of Adam we still have forty more we haven't scanned yet. Will we get to them all? We'll certainly try.
Vintage men's magazine stands at the threshold to a new era.
In many countries during the late 1960s the newsstands were still dominated by nudie mags that bore classical, studio nude-style depictions of women, but the transition toward magazines recognizable as modern porn was well underway. Knight, from Sirkay Publishing out of Los Angeles, is one of those transitional magazines. It debuted as Sir Knight in 1958 with a focus on fiction, humor, and demure photo features. The above issue published in 1967 is a bit racier, but still middle-of-the road for the time period. In another few years pubic hair would be on display in American men's magazines. Soon after that the pearly gates would appear, and in short order they'd be wide open. Did we really write that? Sorry—it's the booze talking.
On the cover here is Rita Rogers, touted as the next big thing, but who made only a few magazine appearances as far as we can tell. Inside you get William Holden, Turkish bellydancer Kiash Nanah, aka Aïché Nana, whose impromptu strip in a Rome cafe we talked about a while back, and actress Joi Lansing, whose age resistant DNA we talked about here. And you get some fantastic art, much of it with a psychedelic edge. There's also an article on psychedelic music, so that seems to have been a theme with this issue. We love these old nudie publications. They're so innocent by today's bizarro standards that if you caught your kid looking at one you'd probably hug him and go, “You've made me very, very happy!” Scans below.
Classic pulp magazine goes for the throat.
Above is a selection of fifteen action covers from the pulp magazine Spicy Western Stories, dating from the late 1930s and early 1940s, and you've certainly noticed the choking. Those pieces are by H.J. Ward, and he worked extensively in the pulp sub-genre known as weird menace, which involved women in various forms of baroque peril. The magazines were generally mystery and horror, and while bondage, burning, cutting, and branding were common motifs in weird menace art, choking wasn't that common. It seems to have been Ward's special thing. Maybe he had a time machine and got the idea when he traveled to 2019 and saw some of the terrible American porn that's become popular. In any case, the imagery is odd as hell, and more than a little disturbing, but it's undeniably proficient.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.
We thought the 1952 issue of Adam we scanned a little while back was fragile. It has been surpassed by the above pastry crust-like issue from this month in 1955, which we barely got back into a plastic sleeve (reasonably) intact. In case you ever wondered why we stick with ’70s issues, that's the answer. But the older mags often come bundled in lots with the newer ones. Anyway, it's nice, with a brilliant cover illustration of a scuba diver and a shark, not the first time Adam has gone with this shark theme. The art is meant to reference one of the tales inside, Jonathan Edwards' aquatic adventure “Deep Water Hero,” about a trio of fortune hunters that go diving on a shipwreck and run into shark trouble. There are lots of shark tales in these magazines, one every few issues. This one is probably the best we've read. In addition you get rare photos of Abbe Lane and various unknown models. We have eighteen scans below, sixty other issues in the website, and more from Adam to come.
Watch and marvel as I escape this cage using the incredible power of my court appointed defense attorney.
This odd photo shows Eric Pederson, whose real name was Charles E. Putnam, showing off for photographers after he had been arrested on suspicion of auto theft in Los Angeles today in 1947. He and a companion named Edward Sell were busted by cops inside a car belonging a third party, though both denied they were trying to steal it. Pederson is rock hard in this photo for a reason. He was the reigning Mr. California, a title he won at only eighteen years old. The win sent him onward to the Mr. America competition, but he was beaten for the national crown by future Superman Steve Reeves.
Pederson generated plenty of publicity off that and other bodybuilding competitions, which led to a Your Physique cover painted by none other than George Quaintance. Since Quaintance painted only about a dozen of these, this was quite an honor. From there Pederson was able to launch a long pro wrestling career, which is how he's mainly remembered today. At one time he had Hollywood aspirations, but ended up managing only one role—a bit part as a wrestler in 1951's Civilian Coast Guard, starring Brian Donlevy and Ella Raines.
We weren't able to find out how his auto theft arrest turned out, but considering his seemingly unbroken timeline from bodybuilding competitions to wrestling, it's safe to say the charges were pleaded down to a misdemeanor or dismissed altogether. Which just goes to show that even quasi celebrity is helpful in L.A. Or maybe the cops gave him a break in exchange for bodybuilding tips. In any case, Pederson retired from wrestling in 1961 and died in 1990, but the Quaintance painting guarantees he'll be remembered as long as people collect great magazine art. We have more from Quaintance here, here, and here.
We're not on the fence about it—this magazine is a lot of fun.
As macho names for men's magazines go Matclif Publications' Savage Adventure is right at the top of the list. This issue from October 1960 was its debut. We gave it a read and it lived up to its name. Our favorite story was “Lizzie Russel and Her Riverboat Bordello,” by George Peterson, which deals with a floating brothel called The Virgin Queen plying the Yukon River during the 1890s gold rush. Basically, the tale is one of bad decisions and bad luck, and indeed gets pretty savage.
The brothel's owner is warned that her paddlewheeler is too big to make it upriver to White Horse, and sure enough, it runs onto a sandbar in a remote area. Left aground in deadly below freezing temperatures, the boat's two Chinese engine stokers decide to take advantage of the work stoppage with a little opium break, but overdose. Late that night everyone wakes up to a freezing ship. The captain discovers the bodies and simply chucks them overboard. When they thud instead of splash that's how he discovers the river has frozen solid. Pretty savage already, this story, but it gets crazier.
The captain gets the fire going again, but because he doesn't know what he's doing the engine boiler explodes. Fire ravages the boat so quickly that half the women going overboard don't even have clothes. One prostitute jumps but lands head first on the ice. Not good. Another catches on fire. A third runs from her flaming cabin directly into the sub-zero air and the shock stops her heart. Stranded ashore, miles from White Horse, the only heat source is the flaming boat, but once the conflagration dies they're all going to freeze to death, some of them naked.
We'll stop there—remember, no spoilers—but as savage tales go, “ Lizzie Russel and Her Riverboat Bordello” is pretty good. Other wild stories include Carl Williams' “The Grizzly Came for Breakfast,” and Jim Cooley's “I Listened To Them Scream.” We're glad we picked this magazine up. We imagine, since it was the debut issue, the editors really tried hard to get it just right. Mission accomplished, at least in our opinion, but Savage Adventure folded after only four issues. That makes this example exceedingly rare.
The cover is signed, illegibly, but thanks to the internet we were able to learn that the cropped scrawl at the bottom of the art says Norm Eastman. We've featured his work before—here. Aside from the fiction, Savage Adventure offers readers a couple of exposés, some glamour photography, and several rather interesting ads. We scanned our two favorites—one for burlesque dancer Honey Bee, and another telling readers that they can make a mint investigating auto accidents—sexy auto accidents. You'll see what we mean below. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
1930—Selassie Becomes Emperor
Haile Selassie I, whose birth name Tafari Makonnen and title "Ras" give the Rastafarian religion its name, is proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia. Selassie would become one of the most important leaders in African history, and earn global recognition through his resistance to Italy's illegal invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Selassie died in August 1975 under disputed circumstances.
1984—Marvin Gaye Dies from Gunshot Wound
American singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye, who was famous for a three-octave vocal range which he used on hits such as "Sexual Healing" and "What's Going On," is fatally shot in the chest by his father after an argument over misplaced business documents. Gaye scored forty-one top 40 hit singles on Billboard's pop singles chart between 1963 and 2001, sixty top 40 R&B hits from 1962 to 2001, and thirty-eight top 10 singles on the R&B chart, making him not only one of the most critically acclaimed artists of his day, but one of the most successful.
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