She's a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
Above is a Toho Company promo photo of Rika Aoki made for Konketsuji Rika, known in English as Rika the Mixed-Blood Girl, released today in 1972. Though the promo is copyrighted by Toho, that was the distribution company. Kindai Eiga Kyokai actually made the film, which tells the tale of a half-Japanese half-black gang leader who deals—violently—with a lot of very bad men. It was part of a Rika trilogy, of which we've seen installments one and three. This promo reminds us to check out the third.
Walk a city's streets and you never know what you'll find.
We were wandering around town earlier today, and what did we spy outside a sundries shop but a stack of vintage reading material. Wedged between English teaching books and bags of sawdust was a stack of J. Mallorquí and Keith Luger paperbacks, and there were even more inside. All of which reminded us that we had posted something from Luger—aka Miguel Oliver Tovar—years ago, which can see at this link. We didn't buy any of today's pile, but we may mosey back round that way another morning and pick up a few. After all, why not? They're cheap as hell. Also, we want to know why people buy bags of sawdust, and we can only find out by going back to the store and asking. The overarching theme, though, is this: it's nice to be living in a city where we can find a bit of pulp style treasure just by taking a stroll. For years that wasn't the case.
When is a watershed not a watershed? When the water runs backward.
Above is a cover of National Star Chronicle from today in 1967 that references an event from our old HQ the Philippines. At that time the country, which has always had a problem with regressive males who view women as property, was going through a particularly bad stretch of gang rapes. In June of 1967, four men targeted, abducted, and, over the course of more than a day, raped a popular Filipina actress named Magdalena de la Riva. They freed her afterward, probably feeling safe from repercussions. Among the reasons were: they all came from influential families, men all over the country were getting away with similar crimes, and de la Riva probably would have to sacrifice her social standing and career to come forward.
But the quartet—Jaime Gómez José, Basilio Pineda, Edgardo Payumo Aquino, and Rogelio Sevilla Cañal—underestimated de la Riva's courage, and they also misread the mood of the Philippine public. De la Riva did indeed step forward, and the people were overwhelmingly behind her. The four men, as well as three accomplices who helped plan the abduction, were all arrested. After a sensational trial, convictions for all involved, and a few years of legal wrangling, three of the men who committed the actual rape were executed, with the fourth escaping his fate by dying of a drug overdose in prison. The proceedings were broadcast on Philippine national radio in May of 1972.
At the time the case was considered a watershed for women's rights in the Philippines, a sign of progress on the problem. The quotes in National Star Chronicle offer insight into the prevailing sentiment. One police official said, “These young hoodlums will think twice before carrying on the way they've been. The public is so enraged now, any would-be rapist knows he stands a chance of being torn limb from limb if he's caught.” But the problem persists all these years later, even despite a ramping up of penalties for the crime.
Recent backward movement on the issue is surely due to the fact that some influential people aren't interested in improving the situation. In 2016, then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte commented about the infamous 1989 rape of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill, taken hostage by inmates at Davao Prison, “I was mad she was raped, but she was so beautiful. I thought the mayor should have been first.” Duterte was mayor in 1989, so he was talking about himself. He went on to win the 2016 presidential election, despite his comments. In 2017 he said he would congratulate anyone who raped a Miss Universe, and in 2018 he said Davao City had the highest number of rape cases in the country because there were so many beautiful women there. Needless to say, watersheds are not always what they're cracked up to be—especially in the Philippines.
It's not how you start. It's how you finish.
We've talked before about the mid-century tabloid interest in transexuals, and how several trans burlesque performers achieved widespread fame. Those old tabloid covers serve to contradict people who claim that trans issues are a product of the new millennium, or that “it didn't happen in their day.” They just didn't notice. As the links in the above post show, transexual entertainers regularly made headlines in tabloids that sold millions of issues per month. To the list you can now add Gayle Sherman, who you see on this cover of The National Insider published today in 1963. This wasn't the height of her fame. A year later Novel Books would publish I Want To Be a Woman!, touted as the autobiography of a female impersonator. And still, she was just getting started.
Sherman started life as Gary Paradis, but became Sherman after a name change at age sixteen. As a transvestite she scored a job dancing for the Jewel Box Revue, which was a comedic drag queen show that criss-crossed the U.S. for more than thirty years. Probably the Jewel Box Revue deserves a write-up of its own, but the shorter version is it was the most popular extravaganza of its kind, and was run by gay management who were marketing to straight audiences.
Sherman moved on from the revue and worked mainly in Chicago, appearing at places such as the Nite Life, where her act sometimes involved dressing as a witch doctor and roasting a fake baby over a fire while singing Yma Sumac songs. Sometime later she underwent gender reassignment surgery, and all the while was passing through a string of pseudonyms, among them Gerri Weise, Brandy Alexander, and Geraldine Parades.
She eventually opted for breast enlargement surgery and at that point became Alexandria the Great 48, a stage name under which she would become a national celebrity. The number of course referenced her bust size. She was sometimes dubbed “Sophia Loren's twin,” but when audiences paid to see her they got something wholly different. She had left burlesque and moved into standard stripping, sometimes appearing at porno cinemas between features. She continued dancing until 1967, when bluenose politicians in Chicago managed to outlaw nude dancing. Sherman became a hairdresser, and was out of the public eye until her death in 2019.
As we mentioned above, vintage tabloids often featured transexuals, and while those stories were always sensationalistic, they were also surprisingly non-cruel. Not always, but often. The editors' accepting stances probably weren't sincere. Because tabloid readership was generally a cross section of middle class, middle American squares, the tone of the articles tended be: “this wild stuff happens in Hollywood and Paris, but who knows, maybe it's more prevalent than you suspect where you live.” As the saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day—the tabs probably nailed it. 1.4 million Americans identify as transexual. There's no total from 1963, but you can bet it would be more than a few. In National Informer, the excellent money quote from the Gayle Sherman article is: “My birth certificate is stamped male, but my body is stamped female.” We have a photo of her below, and she's all woman.
Sometimes you find what you're looking for without even trying.
Yesterday, we were running a bit behind and didn't comment on our vacation. We have time today. We did indeed run across some interesting items. In fact, we stumbled upon an entire comic book convention, the 26 Salón Internacional del Cómic de Granada 2021, with guests of honor that included Howard Chaykin and an assortment of accomplished Spanish artists such as Jaime Martin and Pedro Cifuentes. Chaykin looked a little bored in his booth, indulging various fans with autographs and anecdotes, but that's the gig. When it happens to bring you to a beautiful plaza in an amazing city, you can only thank your lucky stars. There were about sixty or seventy booths total, we estimated, so we wandered around and picked up a few vintage items we'll share later.
Rolling on down the highways.
We know. We just had an intermission. Well, a friend has flown in all the way from the U.S., so we're going to take a little drive around the region surrounding our new home, stopping in three towns and two countries, then circle back here. As always the first question is: will there be pulp where we're going? We think there may be. We're hopeful. Second question: is there potential for serious trouble? Hey, not just anyone can be threatened with murder by five guys in the Marrakech medina, so we're hopeful on that front too. Barring true catastrophe, we'll be back in five or six days.
Mystery attackers of U.S. embassy workers in Havana turn out not to be Cuban—or human.
A couple of nights ago PSGP and PI-1 were in deep slumber in their seaside apartment when a high pitched noise sprang up in the wee hours. It took only moments to identify the sound as a cricket, which somehow had gained entry to their bedroom though it's on the top floor three stories up, and the exterior doors were shut. What followed was a comedy of errors, as PSGP tried in vain to pinpoint the noise and eject the interloper, while PI-1 cursed all of creation because insects were now conspiring to disturb her sleep. They ended up moving out of the bedroom. The next day PSGP had another look around, and after a more careful examination located the cricket—outside on the balcony. It had never gained entry to the flat in the first place. It was just that loud and disorienting. This is an absolutely true story, and even the timeline is factual. It really did happen night before last. So imagine our surprise when an item came across the wires this morning about the infamous Havana Syndrome. You know the one. U.S. embassy personnel stationed in Cuba, beginning in 2016, reported mysterious sounds in the building, which brought on headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, balance problems, and other weird effects. The State Department and the American press immediately ran a political football the entire length of the unverified news field and claimed Cuban or Russian sonic or energy weapons were probably the cause. Nobody explained what Cuba or Russia had to gain from quasi-effectual sonic attacks, and it didn't matter, because you never let implausibility get in the way of rekindling the Cold War. But there are these people called scientists, and they have a way of studying things until they find answers, and yesterday the most likely cause of the dastardly Havana Syndrome was revealed to be crickets.
The JASON Group, an independent organization of scientists that works with the U.S. government, analyzed recordings made by embassy personnel and found only one phenomenon to be a sonic match—the Indies short-tailed cricket. There the sneaky bugger is just below. This mystery was actually unravelled back in 2019, but the report was classified—probably to milk a few more years from a patently ridiculous story of being targeted by commies. Let's face it—when you have top level Cuban figures defensively trying to explain that they have nosonic or energy weapons, and the American press is pretty much dismissing those claims, you keep the pressure on. Some experts note that sonic weapon frequencies wouldn't be recordable, and the enemy attack theory is thus unaffected. In other words, the recordings given to JASON scientists weren't of the actual phenomenon in question. Well, okay, but we prefer crickets. Please let it be crickets. Or maybe the answer is twofold. Maybe Havana Syndrome is caused by crickets trained by Cuba or Russia. Bet those egghead scientists didn't even think of that.
Texas legislature finally stops with the half measures and passes law that stamps out all rights for women.
Above: a Paramount Pictures promo image of Janice Logan about to be smashed by a boot much larger than her. It was made for her 1940 sci-fi flick Dr. Cyclops, which deals not with a big man as you might expect, but with a normal sized man who makes those around him tiny. Science fiction movies from the period tend to be a bit silly and this one is no exception, but an efx team probably spent weeks making those boots, so you gotta respect the effort.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1941—Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor
The Imperial Japanese Navy sends aircraft to attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet and its defending air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While the U.S. lost battleships and other vessels, its aircraft carriers were not at Pearl Harbor and survived intact, robbing the Japanese of the total destruction of the Pacific Fleet they had hoped to achieve.
1989—Anti-Feminist Gunman Kills 14
In Montreal, Canada, at the École Polytechnique, a gunman shoots twenty-eight young women with a semi-automatic rifle, killing fourteen. The gunman claimed to be fighting feminism, which he believed had ruined his life. After the killings he turns the gun on himself and commits suicide.
1933—Prohibition Ends in United States
Utah becomes the 36th U.S. state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to overturn the 18th Amendment which had made the sale of alcohol illegal. But the criminal gangs that had gained power during Prohibition are now firmly established, and maintain an influence that continues unabated for decades.
1945—Flight 19 Vanishes without a Trace
During an overwater navigation training flight from Fort Lauderdale, five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers lose radio contact with their base and vanish. The disappearance takes place in what is popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle.
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