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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Love Slave of a Red-Hot Blonde Sorceress


Back in the 1950s, most hunters read mainstream fare like OUTDOOR LIFE and SPORTS AFIELD.

But for brief period, men who liked hunting magazines that were a bit spicier could buy HUNTING ADVENTURES at their local newsstand.

HUNTING ADVENTURES was a hunting mag on steroids AND testosterone.

Along with the usual stories about great white hunters killing and maiming animals (and/or natives) in remote places, it offered exotic pulp adventure yarns that usually featured scantily-clad, sex-hungry women of one sort or another.

HUNTING ADVENTURES was published quarterly by Newsstand Publications, a subsidiary of Magazine Management from the fall of 1954 to the spring of 1957.

Today, old copies are not abundant. I only have of 9 of the 11 issues that were published in my own collection so far. And, I treasure them all.

One of my favorites is the Summer 1956 issue, which has fantastic cover painting by Rafael DeSoto.

It’s one of the DeSoto covers featured in Adam Parfrey’s must-have book about the men’s adventure genre, IT’S A MAN’S WORLD: MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES, THE POSTWAR PULPS.

DeSoto was a Hispanic American artist who painted many covers for pre-WWII pulp magazines and then for the post-WWII men’s pulp adventure mags.

His painting for the Summer 1956 issue of HUNTING ADVENTURES, with its translucent snake, is pure pulp psychedelia.

The wildest of a number of wild yarns inside is the story: “I WAS A SLAVE OF THE SAVAGE BLONDE,” subtitled “A fantastic adventure in Paraguay’s lost world.”

Yep, it’s a good, old-fashioned love slave story set in an exotic locale, a favorite theme in men’s pulp mags.

The protagonist in this one is a field botanist who seeks out jungle plants that could provide new wonder drugs, much like Wade Davis, the author of the great Haitian voodoo and zombie tale THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW.

In fact, the hero of the HUNTING ADVENTURES also runs into zombies of a sort.

After surviving some animal attacks, he gets captured by a tribe that’s ruled by an iconic white queen.

The natives call her a “Bruja Rubia,” which basically translates as a red-hot blonde sorceress or witch.

Using a drug from a local plant, she turns the men of the tribe — and any hapless white guys they capture — into mindless slaves.

The “lucky” ones get to be her lover. But when she tires of them, she has them killed in horrific ways.

The field botanist in the story gets lucky, for a while. Then…

Well, I’ll let you find out for yourself. I’ve posted the entire yarn for your pulp-reading pleasure.

Just click here to download it as a PDF file. Happy hunting!

By the way, if you like “I WAS A SLAVE OF THE SAVAGE BLONDE,” keep an eye out for the anthology of men’s adventure stories I’m editing.

It’s set for publication in the summer of 2012. Click the image or link below for more info…

Click this link or the image above for more information about the 
forthcoming men’s adventure anthology WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dudes, here’s your electric car – Sixties style!

The pulptastic cover art on the July 1960 issue of Men magazine is by of the most talented and popular pulp artists ever, James Bama.

It’s a teaser for an article inside about Colonel T.E. Lawrence, the legendary “Lawrence of Arabia.”

The article itself is non-fiction and basically non-embellished. But you wouldn’t know that from the cover painting.

Bama’s cover art is men’s pulp fantasy of a high order: a hunky he-man and his trusty Arab sidekicks saving minimally-clothed harem babes from Telly Savalas’ evil Turk brother!

It’s Lawrence as played by Doc Savage. In fact, Bama also painted the covers for Bantam’s popular Doc Savage paperbacks.

I’m a big fan of both the Doc Savage prewar pulp magazines and the later paperbacks.

I’m also a big fan of David Lean’s epic 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia.

So, I especially liked this issue’s cover art and cover story.

It also has a fascinating article about electric cars.

The article describes various electric vehicles being developed by both small innovative companies and larger corporations, like American Motors and General Motors, and it suggests that electric cars would likely be common before the Sixties were over.

The article also talks about a new breakthrough – Prius-like hybrid gas and electric cars. And, it notes that “many major companies – Union Carbide, Chrysler, General Electric and Curtiss-Wright among them” are “hard at work” developing non-polluting, hydrogen fuel cells to power our cars.

Yeah. That was back in 1960.

Apparently, those big corporations needed to do a lot of testing before they thought it would be safe for us consumers to have that kind of car tech.

Thanks for watching out for our best interests, guys.

NOTE: Click here to read the entire electric car article in PDF format.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

“GIRLS GIVE IN TO MEN WHO GO IN”


During our recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even the anti-war protesters have been saying they “support the troops.”

It was different during the Vietnam War. And, men’s adventure magazines of the time provide some vivid glimpses of that difference.

This weekend, I was reading the March 1968 issue of the men’s pulp mag For Men Only, which features a rip-snorting cover painting by the renowned illustrator Mort Kunstler.

A few pages in, I was struck by several short news items in the issue’s “Last Minute Memo for Men” department.

“Many of our chest thumping DRAFT CARD BURNERS are phony paper martyrs,” said a section headed MEMO: MEN AT WAR.  “They’re not burning their draft cards at all, only 25-cent PHOTOSTATS. No real guts that might inspire begrudging admiration here.”

The following news bite notes (with apparent approval) that a “favorite pastime” of seamen moored in Viet Nam’s Haiphong Harbor “is betting on winners in the dogfights between Red MIGs and U.S. jets over the city.”

An item on the lighter side reports that a “New York wigmaker says he sells 400 Beatle type hairpieces per month to BOOTS [i.e., newly enlisted or drafted men] shorn in basic training. They stuff them in their pockets, slip them on when in town off base.”

Then there’s this: “Movement underway among PRO-VIET WAR GIRLS to counter the ANTI-WAR HIPPIE chicks’ slogan: ‛GIRLS SAY YES TO MEN WHO SAY NO.’

The patriots’ line is: ‛GIRLS GIVE IN TO MEN WHO GO IN.”

The “girls say yes” slogan suggested to young men that they’d have a better chance of getting laid if they refused to be drafted. This inspiring anti-war ploy was popularized, maybe created, by singer Joan Baez. In the late 1960s, she regularly performed her concerts in front of a banner printed with the slogan. She also posed for a famous/infamous poster that used it.

To me, the girls say yes and no slogans highlight an interesting difference in the political rhetoric used then and now. At the same time, things like the pointed use of the word “patriots” in the For Men Only “news” item shows that, unfortunately, some things never seem to change.

I just report, you decide.

Friday, August 21, 2009

“Baseball doesn't deserve support!”

Decades before the controversies over players on steroids and taxpayer-funded stadiums, some baseball fans were already mad as hell about the trends in “America’s national pastime.”

In 1955, one of the cover headlines on the May issue of Man’s Life magazine groused “BASEBALL DOESN’T DESERVE SUPPORT.”

It’s sandwiched between two other provocative coverlines: “WOMEN CAN DRIVE YOU INSANE!” and “WE NEED ATOMIC PLANES NOW!” Further down is the headline for the story that goes with the issue’s absolutely smashing cover painting by noted pulp artist Milton Luros.

The cover story – delicately titled “Rip Their Guts Out!” – tells of a bloody fight between American and Japanese whalers, who cross paths while slaughtering humpbacks and blue whales not long after Pearl Harbor. They end up slaughtering each other.

The baseball article is a rant by writer Tom Blades. His gripes will sound familiar to today’s baseball fans, despite the fact that the article is over 50 years old.

“The people connected with the game,” he observes, “have changed. Disappearing fast are the Wrigleys, Comiskeys, Briggses, and Griffiths, the type of wealthy club owner who took the profits if they came and stood the losses if they didn’t, but who also made baseball a hobby. And, on the scene has come a new type of owner interested only in profits.”

“The same attitude infects some of the players,” Blades grumbles. “Their ardor for the game is in precise ratio to how much money they can make out of it.”

Blades also complains that the only way for fans who aren’t rich or famous to get good seats is by giving surreptitious bribes to the ticket booth clerks and stadium ushers. And, then there’s the annoying trend of owners moving teams from one city to another, cruelly breaking the hearts of thousands of loyal fans.

“Baseball men seem now to have embarked on a determined policy that can only end in wrecking the game,” Blades grumpily concludes.

His prediction may have been a little premature. But those “baseball men” are still working on it. Give them a little more time.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What’s up with that bondage and torture cover art?

The men’s postwar adventure magazines didn’t invent bondage and torture cover art. It was already common in the pre-WWII pulp magazines. During 1930s and early ‘40s, there was an entire subgroup called the "weird menace" or "shudder” pulps. Their cover art tended to focus on endangered, barely-clothed babes in ropes, chains and other restraints. (To find out more, check out the book The Shudder Pulps: A History of the Weird Menace Magazines of the 1930s by Robert Kenneth Jones.)

Here are just a couple examples of prewar "weird menace" pulp covers...

Yeah, pretty racy. But the men’s postwar pulp mags took bondage and torture cover art to a whole new [in]glorious level.

There were a number of bondage and torture subgenres in the men’s adventure magazines. For example, there was the ever popular evil Nazi bondage and torture subgenre...

...the Japanese prisoner of war bondage and torture subgenre...

...the Commie-pinko Cold War bondage and torture subgenre...

...and, the miscellaneous exotic foreigners and primitive natives bondage and torture subgenre.

Starting in the late 1960s, and blossoming like bizarre pulpy flowers in the post-Manson, post-Altamont ‘70s, there there was also the vicious bikers bondage and torture subgenre and even the Hippie bondage and torture subgenre.

These could be – and have been – called depraved and perverted by some observers, especially in the decades when they were published. Of course, nowadays, it takes a lot more to set off the shock and outrage alarm. I give you the highly-rated CSI episodes with Gil Grissom (William Peterson) and his dominatrix soul mate "Lady Heather" (Melinda Clarke). And, that’s a pretty mild example of the S&M-related stuff that’s in the media of today.

I am now raising my hand and swearing that I am not and never have been involved in sadism or masochism or sado-masochism or anything like that. Never. Really.

But I also admit that I think the bondage and torture cover art and stories in the men’s adventure magazines are a fascinating hoot. I love 'em. And, I’m not alone. They tend to be the priciest copies of vintage men’s pulp mags sold on eBay and elsewhere.

The men’s adventure magazines were targeted to World War II veterans and other typical, "normal" men of the era. Those “Greatest Generation” guys weren’t deviants and perverts (at least, most of them weren’t.) And, current fans of vintage men’s adventure magazines and CSI aren’t either (at least, I’m assuming most of them aren’t).

So why was – and why is – bondage art in vintage pulp magazines so popular? My theory is that it’s like the enjoyment of watching horror and monster movies that feature plenty of blood and scantily clad bods. It provides some titillating, vicarious thrills and fun, but it’s not real, illegal or dangerous.

Anyway, that’s my theory.

Monday, August 17, 2009

“Shotgun Husband of the Long-Pig Amazons”

Before we get to today’s “true” story from Ken for Men magazine, here’s a little pulp history...

mag-066 Ken for Men was one of many postwar men’s magazines published by pulp mogul, Martin Goodman. It was one of his “Diamond Group” of men’s mags, along with Stag, Male, Men, Man’s World, For Men Only and others.

Goodman also published prewar pulp mags, pulp fiction paperbacks and comic books – including the original Marvel Comics, which his Timely Publications company created in 1939. His in-house comics staff included comics legends Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, creators of Captain America and other still-cool superheroes. One of his editors was the equally legendary Stan Lee. Stan created Spider-Man (among others) and later took over Marvel, turning it into the awesome Marvel Universe it is today.

Now to our featured story, “Shotgun Husband of the Long-Pig Amazons,” from the July 1959 issue of Ken for Men

A tasty teaser for this ripping yarn is shown on the cover, painted by the prolific pulp artist Charles Copeland. Inside are excellent duotone illustrations created for the story by artist Ray Johnson. (Duotone illustrations – black plus a color – were common in men’s pulp mags.)

It’s supposedly the “true” tale of an ex-RAAF pilot named Chris Hansen. In 1946, he and two buddies crash landed in the jungles of New Guinea.

One buddy was killed in the crash. Hansen and the other expendable buddy were captured by a tribe of cannibals (hence the use of the term “Long Pig,” a local euphemism for human flesh).

Amazingly enough, the tribe had a gorgeous White Queen plus a number of sex-hungry, white-looking mulatto nymphs. (Natch.)

The article includes what is said to be a pre-crash photo of Hansen and his buddies, next to a pic of the some of the guy cannibals.

Of course, as former Goodman editor Bruce Jay Friedman noted in his book Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos: Best Nonfiction, credibility-enhancing photos for the “true” stories in men’s adventure magazines were often just totally unrelated pics from some stock photo service.

Anyhoo, – ***SPOILER ALERT*** – the buddy who survived the crash gets butchered alive, then cooked and eaten. But Hansen gets lucky, in more ways than one.

Instead of ending up as dinner, he gets sexually harassed by the cannibal Amazon babes (as shown in the gorgeous duotone below), then makes a miraculous escape and lives to tell his tale – to Ken for Men magazine.

Hey, true or not true doesn’t really matter in the Men’s Pulp Mag Zone. The great artwork and cannibals + nymphs storyline makes “Shotgun Husband of the Long-Pig Amazons” a true men’s pulp mag masterpiece.

It would make a cool really Quentin Tarantino movie. In fact, Inglourious Basterds is a lot like a men’s pulp mag story.

Are you there, Quentin? Say the word and I’ll gladly loan you my prized copy of the July ‛59 issue of Ken for Men. (Love your stuff, man.)



Poster Art - Vintage rock concert posters and reprints

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Before men sang “Viva Viagra!”

How many times, while you’re chillin’ with your bro’s, singing the “Viva Viagra” song like those guys on TV, have you wondered what erectile-challenged men did before there was Viagra?

OK. But let's talk about it anyway.

Aphrodisiacs – both real and bogus – have been around, written about, advertised and sold throughout history. And, naturally, given the target audience, articles and ads about aphrodisiacs were common in men’s adventure magazines of the 1950s and 1960s.
An example I found particularly fascinating (from a historical perspective, of course) is an article in the March 1962 issue of True Men Stories. Its title is a featured headline on the cover, above the excellent cover painting of babes with killer dogs fighting Nazis:
"SAFE AND LEGAL SEX STIMULANTS: Where To Get And How To Use Them"

The article provides a quick overview of aphrodisiacs through history. It also discusses the dangers of various types of illegal sex stimulants some people used in the ‛50s and ‛60s. “Dangerous” drugs like marijuana. (Beware the Reefer Madness!). And, truly dangerous stuff, like “Spanish Fly.” (Yeah, I mean truly.)

Then, lucky readers of the article get the scoop on “safe and legal sex stimulants.” First, comes the prescription-required options. Those include having your doctor shoot you up with the male hormones androgen or testosterone, or with adrenaline or the drug reserpine.

Next there's a rundown of the “safe and legal” over-the-counter options. At the top of the list is...wait for it...alcohol!

“Now, whether you know it or not,” author Michael Davis explains, “the most readily available and quickly effective sex stimulant for any man is alcohol...[I]n moderate doses it raises the threshhold of erectile and ejaculatory reflexes, thereby intensifying the satisfaction derived prior to and during the climax.”

Yeah, baby! It’s Miller Time! And, it gets even better for men with manly tastes.

“Heavy foods, richly prepared and highly spiced have an immediately noticeable effect on sexual stimulation, and this is particularly true of those high in proteins.”

Like what? Well, “the very best source is meat, preferably lean, red beef.”

That’s right. So don’t even think about being one of those wussy vegetarians, buddy. In fact, the article warns that “a diet made up entirely of vegetables depresses the sexual desire.”

If you want to know more about the sexual benefits of alcohol, red meat and mainlining male hormones – and the dangers of the Killer Weed and Veganism – you can read the article yourself. Just click here or on the thumbnail image of the article’s first page, at right, to download and read the entire article in PDF format.

But be careful. Some of the legal things it recommends don’t necessarily sound “safe” to me. I’m just sayin’.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Robots want your job! Resistance is futile!

As the 1950s came to an end, the long, slow decline of manufacturing jobs in post-WWII America was starting to kick into higher gear. There were more and more automated manufacturing plants, programmed with those new-fangled Eniac-Brainiac computer things. They could assemble cars, appliances and about anything else faster than humans. Every year, more good-paying jobs were being taken away by the cybernetic scabs. Frakking toasters!

This trend was an understandable concern for the blue-collar working men who were core readers of men’s adventure magazines.

The November 1959 issue of Man’s Magazine stoked those concerns with an article highlighted in an inset on the cover.

Its ominous title: THE FRIGHTENING WORLD OF AUTOMATION. WILL IT COST YOU YOUR JOB?

The article mixes some real facts about “automation devices” and “electronic brains” with scary speculations about the hundreds of thousands of people they would put out of jobs in the near future.

Of course, one of its examples of a state-of-the art robot was “Elektro,” a man-like Westinghouse bot who “smokes, plays piano and has a vocabulary of 77 words.”

I doubt if most readers of Man’s Magazine were too worried about him. But other examples of tireless proto-droids and newly automated manufacturing plants paint a dim future for job-hungry humans.

The article does have an upbeat ending. “On the brighter side,” it concludes, “automation will never be universal. It is helpless in certain fields such as service businesses and all the professions. (Yes, even writers are safe.)”

Thanks for that ending.

Now I feel better.

Good night, Elektro.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Harlots, Nazis and killer fish!

Men Today was one of the spicier men’s adventure magazines. It is probably most famous – and infamous – for its gonzo Nazi bondage and torture covers, many of which were painted by the now famed pulp illustrator, Norm Eastman.

Former men’s mag editor Bruce Jay Friedman called magazines in this sub-genre “the leg shacklers” in his entertaining autobiographical book, Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos: Best Nonfiction (a must read for fans of men’s postwar pulp and girlie mags).

The February 1963 issue of Men Today is among my favorites in my own collection. The cover art is an over-the-top scene of Nazis dunking the quintessential scantily clad babe into a tank full of piranhas. Wild!

No wonder this is one of the covers featured in Adam Parfrey’s excellent overview of the men’s sweat mag genre, It's a Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, The Postwar Pulps(another must read).

In addition to having a terrific cover, the Feb. ‘63 issue of Men Today includes a set of stories that are pure pulp splendor. Just reading the table of contents of this one is a treat for fans of pulp stuff:

LOVE CAPTIVE OF CASTRO’S EXECUTION SQUAD HARLOTS
The she-demons picked me as their next victim.

“YANKEE DOG, YOU WALK – YOU DIE!”
We scream at the Japs: “Kill us, and get it over with.”

ONE TICK TO DOOM – THE BOMB SQUAD IN ACTION
Your job: Neutralize it and walk away in one piece.

LINDA’S OUR LOVE [cheesecake photos of the lovely Linda]

BRIDES OF AGONY IN THE CAVE OF HORROR
They screamed their tortures in the cave of living hell.

BORED HOUSEWIVES – SUCKERS FOR SIN
Vice racketeers are aiming their guns at your wife.

MME. DOLLY’S INCREDIBLE BAWDY HOUSE ON WHEEL
The canvas covered wagon hid a bevy of uncovered girls.

CANADIAN DELIGHT [more cheesecake photos]

SOFT MAIDENS FOR THE MONSTER’S DEVIL FISH
The extent of Weigel’s depravity was revealed to Marguerita.

HE-MAN, HOW DOES YOUR WIFE RATE YOU?
Now a doctor reveals how to attain marital bliss.

NO REST FROM PASSION – CONFESSIONS OF A NYMPHOMANIAC
I’m sick deep inside and the need drives me mad.

Whew! Now, THAT is a classic men’s adventure magazine!


History Channel DVD Pre-Orders

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The REAL scoop on Reefer Madness

A common article topic in the men’s postwar pulp magazines was illegal drugs.

Men’s pulp mag editors especially loved such articles when they combined drugs and sex. Many were sensationalistic exposes about how some drug turned men into sex fiends, or turned women into sex-crazed nymphos, or led to wild orgies, etc. Others were a bit more serious.

An example of the latter is a cover story from the December 1954 issue of Real magazine, “THE TRUTH ABOUT DRUGS AND SEX FEARS.” It’s especially interesting in that it talks about “marihuana” in a fairly rational way. (FYI, traditionally in laws and health-related articles and publications, marijuana is often spelled with an “h” instead of a “j.”)

Some drug-related articles in men's adventure magazines of the 1950s and 1960s were attributed to fictitious doctors or psychologists. The marijuana article in Real actually was written by a real psychologist, Robert Mines. At the time, Mines was Chief Psychologist at the North Carolina State Hospital in Raleigh.

The article does manage to combine drugs and sex. (Hey, it’s a men’s pulp mag.) But Mines’ discussion of marijuana is so rational – especially for 1954 – that an excerpt is posted on the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy website, a pro-legalization leaning source of historic drug and “drug war” information that’s often used by journalists and researchers.

In the article, Mines said...

Question: Is it true that Marihuana will sexually stimulate almost everyone who smokes it?

Answer: One of the leading authorities in this country on Marihuana is Dr. J.D. Riechard, Medical Director (retired) of the U.S. Public Health Service. Although the legends about Marihuana will probably die hard, his research has yet to turn up any evidence to support the commonly held views about it. He has never, for instance, found the slightest proof that any normal person will, after smoking Marihuana, almost instantly shed his usual moral standards. “And there is simply no indication,” he adds, “that Marihuana can cause a well adjusted person to commit a crime.”

“The people who do abnormal things after smoking reefers," one doctor dryly remarked, “are people who were abnormal in the first place – and when they smoke reefers, it’s a result of their abnormal leanings.”

Dr. Reichard has also found no evidence that the use of Marihuana increased sexual potency. As a matter of fact, he's found that far from stimulating a person, it has a quieting effect.

In preparing this article, I was able to establish contact with several addicts, all of whom substantially agreed with this – “When I smoke a stick, I just get dreamy,” a typical addict told me.

So, there it is: the REAL truth about reefer “addicts” and reefer madness – from Real magazine, “the exciting magazine FOR MEN.” (Real men, of course.)




Saturday, August 8, 2009

Manly men buy trusses and accordions

Adventure magazine was obviously a men’s adventure mag. The full title was ADVENTURE: THE MAN'S MAGAZINE OF EXCITING FICTION AND FACT. If that didn’t make it clear that this was an adventure magazine for manly men, the cover headlines for the articles made it crystal.

For example, the cover of the June 1954 issue of Adventure features these headlines:

“I Fought Typhoons and Pirates Around the World Alone”

“Trouble on the Trail” (an “Action-Packed Western Novelette”)

“Your African Safari: What Guns to Take”

Obviously, a pirate-fighting solo sailor would be a “real man.”

And, cowboys in the Old West? Well, yer darn tootin’, pardner. Manly.

And, of course, white bwanas who slaughtered African animals (with the help of native guides and big frakking guns) were Hemingway-level manly men.

I don’t know if Ernest Hemingway ever wore a truss, but many readers of men’s adventure magazines did. One telltale sign is that almost every issue had a truss ad or two, or three – or more.

Many men's mag readers in the '50s and '60s were blue collar workers. A lot had jobs that required heavy lifting. Hence a lot of them had hernias, A.K.A. ruptures. Back then, the use of surgical techniques to repair hernias was not as common or sophisticated as it is today. So, many hernia sufferers wore trusses – strap-on contraptions that provide support and (when they work) keep ruptures and the pain they cause from getting worse.

The June 1954 issue of Adventure includes a classic truss ad: a full pager about “The Genuine Brooks Air-Cushion Truss,” which wants you to “THROW THAT TRUSS AWAY” (that crappy one you have that’s not a “Genuine Brooks Air-Cushion Truss”). The ad copy written for it is pure pitch-writing poetry, as compelling as any “As Seen on TV” commercial.

I can imagine the late OxiClean pitchman Billy Mays shouting it out:

“Learn NOW about this perfected truss-invention for most forms of reducible rupture. Surely you keenly desire . . . you eagerly CRAVE to enjoy most of life's activities and pleasures once again. To work . . . to play . . . to love . . . with the haunting fear of Rupture lessened in your thoughts.”

“Literally thousands of Rupture sufferers have entered this Kingdom of Paradise Regained . . . have worn our Appliance without the slightest inconvenience.”

Holy Moly! A more comfortable, more effective truss that improves your work life, your leisure time and your sex life! If I had a hernia, I’d have to get that! The ad said all you had to do to get a step closer to the promised Hernia Heaven was to send in the coupon for the “Free Rupture Book in plain envelope.” (I'm not sure why it was sent in a secrecy-shrouded “plain envelope.” Was it somehow embarrassing for anyone to know you had a hernia back then?)

One of my other favorite ads in the June 1954 issue of Adventure is an ad for accordions. As a former accordion player in my youth, I just knew they were manly musical instruments.

Now you know. Real men wear trusses and play accordion!


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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crawling Death of Bad Luck Island

Stag was one of the most successful and long lasting of the men's pulp mags. It was first published in 1950 and ran in the classic men's adventure style format until 1969. Unlike most other men’s adventure mags, Stag didn’t go out of business when "girlie magazines" began to dominate the men's magazine market in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Instead, Stag went with the flow, added Playboy-style photos and transformed into a girlie magazine. It had a respectable run in that format until 1992. (Well, maybe "respectable" isn't quite the right word. Let's say "an impressive run.")

During it's men's pulp mag phase, Stag had some great painted artwork on its covers. One of my favorites is on the cover of the October 1955 issue. It was painted by Bob Schulz and is in the WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH category of cover art. It's Bob’s vision for an article titled "Crawling Death of Bad Luck Island."

It shows vicious crabs, with blood on their claws – blood from the wounds of a man who is fighting them off with his bare hands and a stick. Wow!

Of course, the “true stories” in some men’s pulp mags were actually pulp fiction, or semi-true at best. But Stag published a lot of real non-fiction adventure articles. The "Crawling Death" story could be true. Or at least semi. It does include some verifiable facts.

It takes place on the island of Trinidad. "Not the resort in the Caribbean," the author explains, but rather a lonesome isle "700 miles from Brazil in the middle of the South Atlantic."

It's a tale about post WWII treasure hunters looking for buried treasure they'd heard was on the island. The story does involve scary crab attacks. And, there really is a Trinidad Island off Brazil that’s said to have a hidden treasure somewhere.

Check it out in Google's digitized version of the 1906 edition of Chambers's Concise Gazetteer of the World. On page 706, it's the second Trinidad island that’s mentioned. The Gazetteer (I love that old word) says:

"Trinidad, a small Brazilian island in the Atlantic, in 20° 30' S. lat., and 700 miles E. of the coast of Brazil, reported to contain pirates' buried treasure. See Knight's Cruise of the Alert (1890)."

So, now, sit back and read the "Crawling Death of Bad Luck Island" for yourself. Just click on the image below to download the entire story in PDF format. Then tell me if you think it's a true story.

Crawling Death JPEG link to story



"Nothing cheap or sordid."

Sure, many of the covers, articles and headlines from the men's adventure pulp magazines were bizarre, lurid and un-PC. That's part of the fun of viewing, reading and collecting them today. But in terms of the types of material they used and how they dealt with sex, men's adventure mags are different from the “vintage girlie magazines” and far removed from porn mags.

Unlike girlie mags of the same era, the “cheesecake photos” in classic men's adventure pulp mags normally didn’t show fully exposed breasts, let alone full frontal nudity. In that respect, they're pretty tame even by the standards of the 1950s and 1960s. They're mild as Ivory soap compared to the more explicit girlie mags and hard core sex mags that developed in the 1970s.

Consider the photo spread at left, from the March 1962 issue of the men’s adventure mag, True Men Stories. No real nudity there. (And, none on this blog either. Sorry.)

By the late ‘60s, as men's adventure mags faced increasingly, uh, stiff competition from the growth of more explicitly sexy magazines, they did start including Playboy-style photos. But that trend signaled the beginning of the end of the classic men’s adventure format.

By modern Motion Picture Association standards, classic men's adventure magazines of the ‘50s and ‘60s would be rated somewhere between PG and PG-13. And, most of them were viewed that way back then.

The men’s adventure mags weren’t “dirty magazines.” Their images of scantily clad nymphs and sweaty bare chested men, their depictions of vicious attacks by (and on) animals, their blood-drenched war stories and even their bondage and torture illustrations were somehow deemed more acceptable than those, ahem, “under-the-counter” magazines.

For example, in the 1957 edition of Writer's Market, the editors of Man's Life said their magazine "uses material of interest to men, but nothing cheap or sordid."

There's a difference. Got it?

NOTE FOR VINTAGE GIRLIE MAG FANS: To learn more about that genre, check out Dian Hanson’s terrific “History of Men's Magazines” series. Below is a link to Volume 3, focusing on the 1960s.

History of Men's Magazines: 1960's At The Newsstand (Dian Hanson's: The History of Men's Magazines: Volume 3)

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