There's nothing quite as stimulating as a vintage sleazy tabloid.
When the phonograph was invented, one of the things its advocates suggested was that it might be used for education, for example to listen to correspondence courses at home. Instead, in time it became a medium for selling music. When radio was invented it too was called a possible method for distance learning, and television was likewise touted as an educational device. And most of you will remember the high-minded rhetoric of what the internet would be used for. But today it's mainly a cesspool of crass salesmanship, lowbrow entertainment, mass manipulation, and intellectual self harm. So we thought we'd add to the morass today by sharing the infinitely sleazy National Informer Reader.
This issue in all its baby blue glory appeared today in 1975 with an unidentified cover model. The magazine, you may remember from previous times we've featured it, was an offshoot of National Informer, and a pared down version of National Informer Weekly Reader. The “reader” aspect is close to euphemistic, as there is no actual reportage at all, and the few stories provided are just short form sleaze fiction. We've talked about all this before. Today, for a change, we thought it might be fun to focus on the want ads. Or maybe hope ads is a more accurate description. The term “dick pic” is a recent invention, we think, but it probably should have arisen a long time ago. Check below:
He probably should have cropped the photo down to only his left-hanging dick (his left, not yours) to have a better shot at a response. In any case, the flourishing of the mid-century tabloid industry will remind you that mass communication has always bred lowbrow gratification. Some say the internet supercharged our darkest desires, and that's true, but we never actually needed digital technology to let our ids run free. Even pulp literature, with its murder, infidelities, and testosterone driven fantasies, is an example of the marginal blossoming into the mainstream. Well, there are few publications as marginal as National Informer Reader, as you'll see in twenty scans below with numerous explicit personal ads. Check our tabloid index for more examples of Reader.
Users of popular internet platform sent for a nasty Tumbl.
The news broke Monday, and you may already know, that the image aggregation platform Tumblr has decided to ban nudity beginning December 17. After child porn was discovered among the tens of thousands of Tumblr pages, all users must now adhere to restrictions banning photos, videos, and GIFs “that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples” along with any visual content “that depicts sex acts.” Exceptions include breastfeeding images, images related to childbirth, nudity in sculptures, and other fine art. But what is fine art? This is a question we ask here all the time. Are Japanese film posters fine art? Sleaze paperback covers? Screen grabs from popular motion pictures?
Unmoderated sites will always draw problematic users, so conflict around this issue was inevitable. Needless to say, the ban will decimate thousands of users' work, as well as Pulp Intl.'s sidebar. Tumblr says it wants to create an online space that is open and safe, which is a worthy goal. Child porn is a scourge. But any blanket ban on nudity is going to result in the loss of important material. Should this be eradicated? This? This? This? If Pulp Intl. were a Tumblr page it all would be toast, and all our original scans from tabloids and movie magazines would be collateral damage. Though our discussions of nudity and sex are rooted in artistic merit, and are designed to make visitors think about changes in artistic media over the decades, Tumblr would see no nuances.
It's really a shame. Great Tumblr pages like Humungus and Bulles de Japon are now endangered, if not targeted. Burleskateer, the best Tumblr page that had been collating photos of mid-century burlesque dancers, has already preemptively decamped from the digital field. Sites that feature a little nudity but a lot of valuable content will have only two weeks to clean up their feeds, which may do no good anyway because they've possibly already been slated for annihilation. Ultimately, we think Tumblr should have simply moderated the site, but failing that a 90 day period for users to process this issue and, if possible, make arrangements to save the material for possible future usage would have been nice.
The lesson here is never, if at all possible, store content you consider important in other people's computers. That includes the cloud—which is just a fancy name for other people's computers. Which, by the way, happen to be open to cyberattacks, insider theft, and legal liability that you don't have to worry about using an encrypted external hard drive sitting on your desk. Not to mention that the same way Tumblr made a sudden change and left thousands in the lurch, a government could decide to intrude on your activities due to a sudden change in law. While it's true that nearly all internet content is trafficked through third party servers, those are—at the moment anyway—not under threat, and it's easy to move from server to server, country to country. We do it all the time. Well, dark days for Tumblr users, but the internet is a funny place. Where there's a demand there's often soon an answer.
De Sade administers shock treatment in new art book from Goliath.
Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher, and author of novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts. But he's best known, of course, for his libertine sexuality. Since his death in 1814 he has continued to enthrall scholars, social critics, and historians. Now Berlin based art publishers Goliath, a group always fascinated by the sexually bizarre, have taken their own careful look at de Sade, publishing Marquis De Sade - 100 Erotic Illustrations, a collection of art from various Marquis de Sade books, put together as a hardcover volume.
Goliath points out that everyone knows what sadism is, but nobody actually reads de Sade. They've solved that problem by doing away with text entirely. It's a canny choice, because for all de Sade's renown, critics remain passionately divided over his literary worth. There are those who say his writings were merely a fig leaf for his obsessions. If that's the case his fig leaf has been ripped away in this book, and you get a set of ink drawings that detail everything he loved without trying to intellectualize, condemn, or justify it.
The illustrations are shocking, of course, but de Sade lived to shock. He'd probably be thrilled to know he still manages to do that more than two centuries after his death, as well as to learn of his influence on Japanese roman porno cinema, women-in-prison movies, bondage literature such as Fifty Shades of Grey, and other odd niches of modern media.
Considering de Sade's fame, those who don't know his history might assume that French society was hopelessly depraved to tolerate his acts. Actually, the opposite was true. He spent thirty-two years of his life in prisons and asylums, and escaped having his head and shoulders separated by the guillotine—more than once—due only to political upheaval.
When examined by psychiatrists the diagnosis was that de Sade was “insanely obsessed with vice.” There can be little doubt this diagnosis was spot on, as he gambled away his fortune, consorted with prostitutes, staged orgies, forced servants and maids to perform sexual acts, drugged the unsuspecting, indulged in corporal punishment, and of course engaged in every sexual variation and deviance known.
Though 17th century France didn't find much humor in de Sade, with the passage of two hundred years the illustrations in Goliath's book do provoke a few laughs—from us at least—as lords and ladies relentlessly diddle, fondle, suckle and paddle each other. We don't mean to make light of de Sade's crimes—the French were probably right to stuff him away. But considering the fact that his work has been routinely banned and burned—even by his own son at one point—it's instructive to be able to look at the contents of a mind that has had such an influence on our own weird and depraved age. You can find more information about Marquis De Sade - 100 Erotic Illustrations on the Goliath website.
Marquis De Sade - 100 Erotic Illustrations
Take National Spotlite's dating advice and you might end up black and blue like its cover.
Looking at this cover of National Spotlite published today in 1971 teaches us one thing—black ink is cheap. The magazine has Austrian actress Marisa Mell on the cover in a nice shot we've never seen before. Also on the cover, editors promise you can learn to be a modern Don Juan, and inside they share “sure fire seduction methods.” We know you're dying to learn these, so for all you single boys out there we'll skip right to the actionable intel.
The thing to watch are a woman's thighs, the way she sits and moves. If she's squirming around in her seat a lot and crossing and uncrossing her thighs it probably indicates a lot of beneath-the-surface sexual tension. On the other hand, if she's sitting there calmly smiling at you it could mean she's a tease, trying to get you to come on to her so she can put you down.
There aren't many women who want to be picked up in an elevator at 8 o'clock in the morning. On the other hand, there aren't many women sitting alone in bars who don't want to be picked up. Walk up, buy her a drink, sit down and enjoy the entertainment. When she's finished her drink, take her by the arm and guide her outside. After that you've got it made.
Wow, to us this seems like terrible advice, particularly the part about grabbing a woman by the arm and leading her outside. That sounds like a quick shortcut to a swift knee in the nuts. But the advice doesn't end there. After all, the real point of every cheapie tabloid article about dating is to veer into graphic sleaze fiction. That's no less the case here:
To help with the satisfaction part guys of the ’70s should use tools of the ’70s. I never let a woman go the first night without a little treatment from the vibrator. I mean, there's a limit to what you can do with penis, fingers, tongue, and so forth. (edit. “and so forth?”) Take a vibrator and start working it around her breasts. Watch her nipples rise and swell. When [you use it] on her clitoris and vaginal lips, let the tips of your fingers dip into her nest.
We'll stop there, before the climax, so to speak. We aren't sure if National Spotlite is trying to create Don Juans or increase the number of restraining orders. We also find their prototypical stud—this guy below wearing a bowler hat and a carnation in his lapel—of questionable use as a role model. As far as we're concerned Spotlite reinforces the same old lesson—never take sex advice from a tabloid.
Introducing the official Pulp Intl. Cheapie Tabloid Drinking Game™.
Cheapie tabloids are such a joy to read. The vocabulary alone. Some choice words from this issue of Rampage published today in 1973: buttsters, hiney, clitty, throasts [sic], goosey, and more. The photos are nice too. Contemporary glamour models or erotic actresses tend to appear, and this one has Lillian Parker, who was both. Rampage uses her image for a story called “Sisters Admit They Have Perfect Sex Lives.” By perfect the editors mean they like to swap, which is another word you see basically only in old tabloids. It gave us an inspiration. We have a large stack of these bad mags, and we decided to create a drinking game. Here's how it works. You simply read stories aloud and take a drink every time these words occur (singularly or in the plural).
ball (verb form only)
broad (noun form only)
nympho (or nymphomaniac)
orgasm (as verb or noun)
prostie (prostitute doesn't count)
Sinatra (Ole Blue Eyes is also acceptable)
And down an entire shot if any of these phrases come up:
after school/after class/after church
high and firm
firm and proud
my wife's sister
Modify the rules as you see fit. Playing the game using two or three typical thirty-two page cheapie tabs like Rampage should get you fucked beyond repair—and ironically “repairman” might be what does you in, because in two tabloids we checked it came up seven times. But the real fun with this should be reading the insane stories. The drinks are merely a bonus.
L.A. burlesque dancer sentenced to cool off in jail.
Today in 1952 thirty-six-year-old burlesque dancer Betty Rowland, known as the Ball of Fire because of her red hair and diminutive stature, was convicted of lewd behavior for a dance she performed at the Follies Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Being arrested was an occupational hazard, but this was an unusual case. Two cops had ventured into the Follies and, as cops are wont to do, demanded special treatment—i.e. free entrance. The ticket girl was not with the program so the cops busted the show and hauled Rowland and her manager into court. Rowland was eventually sentenced to three months in jail for a lewd performance and hit with a $5,000 fine—a tremendous amount back then, about $46,000 in today's money.
Rowland is putting on a brave face in the Los Angeles Examiner photos you see here, but she was stunned by the sentence, and the situation was all the more frustrating because the conviction hinged on the lies of two angry cops. Rowland had been performing her act for years with no hint of problems from the morals squad, and certainly wouldn't have started pushing the envelope after being so well established for so long. But that explanation held no water with Judge Byron J. Walters, who we can assume issued an unusually harsh sentence at the behest of those same crooked cops. Rowland wasn't the first dancer railroaded by the law and she wouldn't be the last.
Several weeks after being hauled off to the cooler, the Ball of Fire's sentence was commuted by Walters, who had been told Rowland planned to quit the burlesque business to open a perfume store in Beverly Hills with her sister. Walters: “The value of incarceration seems to have made its effective marks.” Some time after Rowland's release—we don't know if it was days, months, or years—she claimed it was actually a bribe that secured her freedom, paid out of pocket by her and shunted into the appropriate coffers. We've seen no reports that she opened a perfume store. Instead she danced into the 1960s before retiring. At last count she had reached age 102 in a rest home, and we bet she's still plenty steamed about that jail sentence. The photo below shows a young Rowland, probably around 1945.
Goliath Books examines a century of German erotica.
We recently showcased Berlin based art publishers Goliath's latest release Photographia Erotica Historia, a collection of erotica in a unique mini book format, and over the years we've talked about four other releases by the company. Today, in the while-we're-at-it category, we wanted to take a quick look at Goliath's 2016 compendium History of German Porn. Culled from the Gretchen Kraut Archives, the book is more than 200 black and white photos and drawings with explanatory text, and in size is like a thick paperback novel. Where Goliath's 2014 collection Private Pornography in the Third Reich dealt with German sexual culture from around 1920 until the end of World War II, this subsequent collection starts in the 1800s, squeezes Third Reich porn into a chapter, and continues until the 1960s. Along the way it looks at parlor photography, gay/lesbian erotica, ethnographic nudes, amateur erotica, naturism, and more.
It's a lot of material, much of it highly explicit, and it could serve as a launching point for any number of discussions. But for us, as an art history site, we're reminded once again that nothing is really new. Whatever the particular kink, photographic evidence proves that people the age of your grandparents have already done it, and we can safely assume all the practices go back for centuries. Every variation, every position, every combination, already done. Consider the sexual imagery on Greek urns, and in the Kama Sutra. There's nothing new. Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus observed way back in the first century that Germans were a tough and wild folk, perfectly content to roam naked through the wilderness, but not particularly lustful. The images in History of German Porn cast doubt upon Tacitus' assessment. They suggest that the German reputation for sexual coolness doesn't quite fit.
Having spent some time in Germany, we don't think it fits either. Consider the fact that freikoerperkultur, or nudism, is more embedded in German culture than that of other western nations. There are parks in Berlin where one can lounge naked. German cities have brothels the size of malls. Sexual decadence, though mostly underground, was a hallmark of the Third Reich years. Munich, Berlin, and Hamburg were notorious for their exclusive erotic stage shows. So perhaps what History of German Porn teaches us is merely that overt sexual expression in Germany is pushed more toward private realms such as naturist retreats and sex clubs. Or maybe it teaches us that sexual reputations are misleading, and all of us respond to the same stimuli. But ultimately, there's no need to probe that deeply into the implications of History of German Porn. As pure art, as photographs of nude young bodies, as tableaux merely to regard and enjoy, the images are more than worthwhile.
History of German Porn
Cannes goods take on a whole new flavor.
Today in 1976 the U.S. porno movie Sensations premiered in Japan. We talked about it five years ago and shared an amazing Japanese promo poster painted by William Stok. That piece was an alternate promo. The one you see above was more widely used. While it's no Stok, in its own way it's almost as interesting, with star Brigitte Maier seeming to fellate psychedelic emissions of unknown composition and provenance. Of course, the Japanese designers merely painted over what she was really tasting. The visual effect is rather nice, we think.
Sensations—referred to on the poster as Sensation—was well received upon release. Bruce Williamson of Playboy called it a “sensually pulsating sextravaganza” that was “the best bet of all for outright voyeurs.” The film was so highly regarded it even screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Does that mean it's good? Not exactly. Not by any normal standard. But we mention the Cannes thing because if someone walks in unexpectedly while you're watching it you are now equipped to indignantly inform them: “Porn? Porn? I'll have you know this played in Cannes!”
When a man gets desperate he'll spray the darndest things.
This issue of the U.S. tabloid National Spotlite was published today in 1971, and the highlight—or lowlight—is a story on chemist John Turner, an unattractive man who had no luck with women until he invented an aphrodisiac spray. According to journo Jack Friedman: “Armed with two spray cans of his unpatented aphrodisiac, Turner headed for Manhattan. Just out of the subway he saw lovely New York secretary Judy Dahlman walking in front of him. Ssssttttt... went the spray can. Mmmmm... went Judy, “Your place or mine.”
Turner ended up sticking either cock or tongue in one-hundred three women in seven days. But the big problem with the spray was that, while the women participated in sex enthusiastically, they weren't thrilled about it once the aphrodisiac effects wore off. Assorted criminal complaints resulted, and Turner was arrested on multiple counts of rape. He managed to make victim one-hundred four the policewoman who showed up to arrest him, but eventually he was bestowed by a jury and judge some years in the state pen to think about the error of his ways.
We don't have to tell you this story is a total fabrication, right? And we've already explained the process of using handout photos—usually modeling nudes—to inspire pieces of steamy sexploitation, then publishing them and pretending the fiction is fact. Elsewhere in the issue you get “Women Who Rape Men,” “I, a Lesbian,” “A Behind-the-Scenes Peek at the Porno Pictures Racket,” and more. All fake, but all fascinating, in a guilty-pleasure kind of way. We have hundreds more tabloids at our tabloid index. Just click here.
Sex Stars System uncovers erotic cinema around the world.
Here's a little treat for Monday, because Mondays are universally acknowledged to suck. Above is the cover and below are a ton of scans from the cutting edge cinema magazine Sex Stars System, which billed itself as “Le Magazine du Cinema Erotique.” It was published out of 55 Passage Jouffroy, in Paris, France, and for a while it was the top magazine with reviews and features on the new, sexually liberated mainstream cinema of the early 1970s, and the new pornography of the same era. Because porn was taken seriously as an art form back then (hard to imagine, we know) certain magazines discussed and critiqued the films and regarded the performers as equal with those in mainstream cinema. We talked about this phenomenon with Cine-Revue a few years ago. Sex Stars System was similar, but much edgier, as you'll see.
On the cover and in the centerfold you see Croatian born star Sylva Koscina (a mainstream actress), and elsewhere you get Emmanuelle Parèze (porn), Dany Carrel (mainstream), Valérie Bosigel (mainstream), Karin Schubert (both), Catherine Spaak (mainstream), Ornella Muti (mainstream), Chesty Morgan (porn, obviously), Marilyn Monroe (mainstream, though some scam artists claim she was the other too), et al. They don't make magazines like this anymore, because they don't make cinema like this anymore. Sex in U.S. movies is strictly taboo, unless, generally speaking, the actors keep their clothes on. You do see it on cable television, however, though such shows generate reams of online criticism about how terribly wrong it is (we agree, however, that more sex and nude scenes need to be filmed from the vantage point of the female gaze). In Europe, as always, things are a bit more liberated.
We aren't sure how long Sex Stars System published. It debuted in 1975. Also in 1975, or possibly 1976, a magazine called simply Stars System appeared. Stars System had a softer editorial approach and featured solidly mainstream cover celebs such as Jane Fonda and Romy Schneider. At some point it changed its name slightly to Star System and, thus rebranded, published at least as late as 1982, which seems to be longer than Sex Stars System was on the scene. The information online about these magazines is, as you can probably guess, a jumble, but we'll keep looking into it and maybe have something more concrete to report later. There's also a Star System celeb magazine around today, but it's Canadian and presumably unrelated. Many scans below, and we have a few more issues we'll post later.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1964—Soviets Shoot Down U.S. Plane
A U.S. Air Force training jet is shot down by Soviet fighters after straying into East German airspace. All 3 crew men are killed. U.S forces then clandestinely enter East Germany in an attempt to reach the crash but are thwarted by Soviet forces. In the end, the U.S. approaches the Soviets through diplomatic channels and on January 31 the wreckage of the aircraft is loaded onto trucks with the assistance of Soviet troops, and returned to West Germany.
1967—Apollo Fire Kills Three Astronauts
Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee are killed in a fire during a test of the Apollo 1 spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Although the ignition source of the fire is never conclusively identified, the astronauts' deaths are attributed to a wide range of design hazards in the early Apollo command module, including the use of a high-pressure 100 percent-oxygen atmosphere for the test, wiring and plumbing flaws, flammable materials in the cockpit, an inward-opening hatch, and the flight suits worn by the astronauts.
1924—St. Petersburg is renamed Leningrad
St. Peterburg, the Russian city founded by Peter the Great in 1703, and which was capital of the Russian Empire for more than 200 years, is renamed Leningrad three days after the death of Vladimir Lenin. The city had already been renamed Petrograd in 1914. It was finally given back its original name St. Petersburg in 1991.
1966—Beaumont Children Disappear
In Australia, siblings Jane Nartare Beaumont, Arnna Kathleen Beaumont, and Grant Ellis Beaumont, aged 9, 7, and 4, disappear from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide, and are never seen again. Witnesses claim to have spotted them in the company of a tall, blonde man, but over the years, after interviewing many potential suspects, police are unable generate enough solid leads to result in an arrest. The disappearances remain Australia's most infamous cold case.
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