Thursday, July 22, 2010

“Lustful Bushwhackers,” a “Heroic Orgy” and Lili St. Cyr’s answer to the question “Are Strippers Oversexed?”


In my last post I featured cover art done for the magazine Untamed by Ed “Emsh” Emshwiller, who is more widely know for his great science fiction cover art.

In tonight’s post, we’ll take a look inside an issue of Untamed — Vol. 1, No. 5, dated September 1959.

Untamed was a short-lived men’s pulp mag published by Magnum Publications, Inc., a company owned by Irwin Stein, who also published horror and science fiction magazines and was a co-founder of Lancer Books.

The cover painting for the September ‘59 issue was done by the prolific pulp illustrator Leo Morey (1899-1965).

Morey was born in Lima, Peru. He worked as a commercial illustrator in Buenos Aires as a young man, then emigrated to the United States in 1926.

Over the next four decades, he provided cover and interior art for a long list of classic pre-World War II pulp magazines, Golden Age and Silver Age comics, vintage science fiction magazines and men’s adventure magazines (a.k.a. the postwar men’s pulp magazines).

Morey’s cover for the September 1959 issue of Untamed is literally a bodice ripper. It’s for the cover story “The Lustful Bushwhackers Of Yellow Creek.” As this title and Morey’s painting suggest, those evil, bushwhackin’ varmints were both robbers and rapists.

But that story is topped by another one that’s featured on the cover with the coverline (i.e., cover headline): “The Heroic Orgy of Ray Harrison.”

Inside, it’s titled “THE ORGY THAT WON ME A SILVER STAR.”

This is a purportedly true World War II story “by ex-Pfc. Ray Harrison,” who claims he got the medal for his, um, service in France.

In the table of contents for this issue of Untamed, the “Lustful Bushwhackers” and “Heroic Orgy” stories are in the “TRUE ADVENTURE” section.

Personally, I suspect the events in “Lustful Bushwhackers” took place in the same alternate Wild West as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo.

And, Harrison’s “orgy” story seems to be set in the parallel universe where Hogan’s Heroes exists.

You didn’t know an orgy could somehow be heroic? Well, you’re just not reading the right stuff. I’ll remedy that by letting you read Private Harrison’s yarn for yourself. Just click here to download the entire story in PDF format.

The page-spanning interior illo for Harrison’s piece is another painting by Leo Morey. Morey also did the artwork for both of the stories in the “UNTAMED FICTION BONUSES” section of this issue.

The first one — “Murder Is a Two-Sided Triangle” — was written by the famous science fiction writer Algis Budrys (1931-2008). Like many sci-fi greats of that era, Budrys also wrote stories for men’s, mystery and detective mags. His story in the September 1959 issue of Untamed is a classic noir-style piece of fiction with a totally unexpected twist in the very last sentence. The other featured “fiction bonus” in this issue of Untamed is a horror-tinged tale titled “The Thing That Stared” by Paul Sloane (which I think is a pseudonym, but don’t know who for).

The “UNTAMED GLAMOR GALLERY” includes three fairly tame cheesecake photo spreads. But the best photos are in the piece titled “Are Strippers Oversexed?”

Several of the ladies featured in this one were top Burlesque queens back in the day, most notably: Lili St. Cyr (“The Queen of Burlesque”); the former “Our Gang” child star Shirley Jean Rickert, who went on to become the striptease artist billed as Gilda, the Golden Girl; and, Jennie Lee, “The Bazoom Girl” (aka “Miss 44 & Plenty More” and “The Biggest Bust in Burlesque”).

Here they are. (Yer welcome.)

If you click on the JPEGs above to enlarge them, you can read the answers these legendary striptease artists gave to the question “Are Strippers Oversexed?” They’re in the captions next to the photos. My favorite is the answer given by the great Lili St. Cyr (bottom left in the third page in the series). She said:

“Strippers are no more oversexed than so-called movie sexpots. We’re artists, perhaps more than they.”

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

Further reading about the Queens of Burlesque and the art of striptease…

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A rare LSD story from 1956 – “I WENT INSANE FOR SCIENCE”


There are several noteworthy things about the August 1956 issue of Man’s Magazine (Vol. 4, No. 7, published by Almat Publishing Corp.)

One is the great action cover painting, showing an American GI battling a machete-wielding Filipino bandit.

It was done by Tom Ryan, a talented illustrator who went on to become one of America’s most renowned painters of cowboy and Western art.

Another notable feature of this issue is a rare early article about LSD, brilliantly titled: “I WENT INSANE FOR SCIENCE.”

Of course, the drug LSD — lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as LSD-25 or just “acid” for short — was popularized during the psychedelic Sixties.

It became famous/infamous in those years as a popular recreational and “mind expanding” drug.

In the 1950s, however, not many people were aware of LSD. It was known primarily to certain pharmacology experts and psychiatrists, the Central Intelligence Agency and some human guinea pigs used in early LSD experiments.

The CIA started testing LSD during the Fifties in secret “mind control” experiments, code-named MK-ULTRA. One of the agency’s test subjects was future novelist and Merry Prankster Ken Kesey, who helped make LSD a cultural phenomenon in the following decade.

Psychiatrists at a number of mental hospitals were also doing experiments with LSD in the Fifties. They were intrigued by the fact that it caused hallucinations and other effects similar to schizophrenia. By giving LSD to “normal” people, they hoped to understand this mental disease better. They also tested drugs that counteracted the effects of LSD and thus held potential for the treatment of schizophrenics.

The CIA’s MK-ULTRA project wasn’t exposed publicly until the 1970s. But there were occasional articles in the popular press about the more well-intended psychiatric experiments with LSD during the 1950s.

The article in the August 1956 issue of Man’s Magazine is an interesting example. It’s about a doctor who took LSD in one of those experiments.

The doctor is called “Dr. Robert H----” in the article, to protect his identity. It’s written as a first-hand account, in the old “as told to” style that was common in men’s adventure magazines, as well as in vintage confession, crime and detective mags.

However, the photos used for the story do not show Dr. H----.

They show another doctor, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer of Emory University, a pioneer in “orthomolecular psychiatry.” Ironically, in the 1970s, it was revealed that Pfeiffer was also one of the scientists who conducted secret research with LSD for the CIA's MK-ULTRA project.

According to the caption for the photos used in the Man’s Magazine article, LSD-25 gave Pfeiffer “a schizophrenic reaction to Rorschach ink-blot test.”

The second photo showing him laughing seems to indicate he enjoyed it.

Dr. H---- , who told the story of his own experimental acid trip to writer William Michelfelder, didn’t find his LSD experience so amusing. 

It’s sometimes hard to figure out if an “as told to” story in an old men’s pulp magazine is true, partly true or total fiction. But based on the level of detail in the story and on Michelfelder’s involvement, I think this one is at least based on fact.

Michelfelder was a serious writer. He was a journalist for the New York World-Telegram and Sun in the 1950s. He also wrote books, including a 1960 expose about the medical profession and two novels: A Seed Upon the Wind (1954) and Be Not Angry (1960).

Instead of laughing like Dr. Pfeiffer, Dr. H---- ends up screaming during his LSD trip. That’s not too surprising given the conditions.

He’s dosed with the drug in a small, cubicle-like room in a mental ward, where he can “hear the monotonous cries of the deranged.” He is required to lay down on “a slab.” And, the researcher who gives him the LSD also gives him the dire advance warning that he “will undergo a full-fledged psychotic experience.” Not exactly the best circumstances for a good trip.

Dr. H---- does indeed have psychotic reactions over the next several hours, including some wild hallucinations involving sharks and a purple cat that looks like his fiancée, Trixie. All the while, his “senseless gabbling” and screams are carefully observed and taped.

Eventually the poor doc comes down. He didn’t have any spiritual revelations or fun during his trip. But he’s proud to have done his bit to expand the horizons of psychiatry. “It was a small favor to extend to thousands of Americans who live in a troubled darkness not of their own making,” he says.

As noted in the latter part of the article, research like Dr. H---- was involved in actually did lead to a better understanding of schizophrenia. It also lead to the development of new drugs that were found to be effective in treating some schizophrenics — and, later, freaked-out Hippies on bum acid trips.

The article mentions the drug Frenquel, which worked fairly well but was eventually proven to be less effective than a similar drug — Thorazine.

While we’re on the subject of chemicals, I’ll mention one other thing in the August 1956 issue of Man’s Magazine that caught my attention.

It’s an advertisement for CY-BEX capsules, a super-duper concoction of “hair foods” and vitamins which supposedly could restore hair growth and “stop that balding trend.”

The headline promises:

       “BETTER HAIR THRU BODY CHEMISTRY...a completely different plan of hair stimulation.”

When I took a close look at the photo and illustration in that ad, my first thought was “WTF?”

I’m still not quite sure what the photo and illustration are intended to depict. Check out these close-up views and see what pops into your mind… 

CY-BEX capsules were made by a company called Basic Remedies, Inc., located in Monmouth, Oregon. Apparently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration thought the company’s ads about the hair-restoring properties of CY-BEX capsules went a few claims too far. In 1962, Basic Remedies was busted by the FDA for false advertising. (A fate that befell some other companies that ran ads for baldness cures in men’s magazines in the 1950s and 1960s.)

If you’re interested in the Man’s Magazine story about LSD, “I WENT INSANE FOR SCIENCE,” you can read it for yourself. Just click here to download the entire story in PDF form.

And, if you’re into drug history nuggets, you may also like my previous posts featuring vintage men’s pulp mag stories about cocaine and marijuana (“When cocaine grew on trees” and “The REAL scoop on Reefer Madness”).

But remember, kids. Don’t do drugs. Just say no. Etc...

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

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July reading for fans of men’s adventure magazines…


Ah, yes. Fourth of July weekend. A nice long weekend that most hard-working American men enjoy.

And, after the barbecues and fireworks are over, some men like to relax with a drink and catch up on their reading.

If you were a man back in the 1950s, 1960s or early 1970s, you might have been reading some of the latest men’s adventure magazines on July 4th weekend.

By the early 1950s, the men’s adventure mag genre had taken recognizable taken form and there quite a few good ones to choose from.

For example, on July 4th, 1953 you might have been reading the latest issue of ACTION magazine, with the great elephant attack cover painting by artist Joe Szokoll.

The Korean War had been going on since 1950 and was still not officially over, so that “police action,” Commies and “Gooks” were hot topics.

Inside the July ‘53 issue of Action, there’s a story about how some traitorous former U.S. pilots were flying MIG fighters for the Communist Chinese and a helpful (now very politically incorrect) article on “HOW TO KILL A GOOK.”

On July 4th weekend in 1953, you might also have been reading the July ‘53 issue of Male magazine, which featured a hard-boiled Mike Hammer detective story by Mickey Spillane.

Or maybe you were checking out the July 1953 issue of AMERICAN MANHOOD, with the cool cover painting of Indian warriors by Tom Beecham.

A few years later, in 1957, you could have been reading “The Yankee Gunslinger Who Rustled a Harem,” the cover story of the July 1957 issue of FOR MEN ONLY.

The cover painting done for that classic Yank-hero-saves-harem-babes yarn is by James Bama, the great Doc Savage paperback cover artist.

On July 4th weekend in 1957, you might also have been kicking back with the July 1957 issue of MAN’S WORLD, which has a wild piranha attack cover painting by Jim Bentley.

By the early 1960s, some of the more outré men’s pulp magazines were on newsstands (or under the counters).

On the Fourth of July weekend in 1963, you might have been perusing some of the wild stories and artwork in the July issues of WILDCAT ADVENTURES and WORLD OF MEN.

Both feature the kind of notorious Nazi bondage cover paintings that helped give men’s adventure magazines the nickname “sweats magazines.” (In both cases, the artists are uncredited.)

Flash forward to July 1967, “the Summer of Love.” (Or should I say flashback?)

A typical men’s adventure magazine reader wasn’t into that Hippie-dippy, peace and love stuff. He was reading something like the story “Ambushed by the Viet Cong” in the July 1967 issue MAN’S MAGAZINE.

The Vietnam War was intensifying and Commie “gooks” were a common topic again in men’s adventure magazines. This time they were Vietnamese.

Stories involving evil Nazi’s were still popular, too. For example, the July issue of MAN’S TRUE DANGER featured the book bonus “Blood Orgy for the Swastika,” plus a story about ex-Nazis who lured an innocent GI into a “lust-mad circle of degenerates.” (This is one of the series of covers featuring make-believe paperbacks discussed in another post on this blog.)

By July 4th of 1975, the men’s adventure magazines genre was almost extinct.

A few of them were hanging on. But they had changed to try to survive competition from the growing flood of explicit porn magazines.

The last of the men’s adventure mags still included some action, adventure, war and “sexposé” stories and still had some excellent pulpy interior illustrations. But they were sandwiched in between nude photo spreads. And, the painted covers that were a trademark of the classic men’s adventure genre were gone.

Below are the covers of the July 1975 issues of SAGA and FOR MEN ONLY. These were two of the best men’s adventure magazines in previous decades. By 1975, they had become more like “stroke mags” than men’s adventure mags. Both ceased publication in 1977.

Flash forward to today.

For fans of men’s adventure magazines, these may actually be the true good old days. Thanks to eBay and other online sites, we can buy copies of men’s adventure magazines dating from the earliest years of the genre to its last gasp in the late Seventies.

And, on this July 4th weekend, after the patriotic parades, barbecues and fireworks are over, I’ll be relaxing with a drink and reading some of my favorites. Cheers!

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


Speaking of James Bama, if you like this blog you want this book…

James Bama: American Realist


Written by Brian M. Kane with an introduction by the great Harlan Ellison

Friday, July 2, 2010

“Hemingway R.I.P. Day” on the Men’s Adventure Magazines blog


The legendary American writer Ernest Hemingway loomed large in men’s adventure and bachelor magazines of the 1950s and 1960s.

In the minds of many men of that era — and perhaps in his own mind — ‘Papa’ Hemingway was the epitome of a manly man. Almost a superman. Except, of course, he wasn’t bulletproof.

On this day exactly 49 years ago, July 2, 1961, Hemingway committed suicide with one of his favorite shotguns at age 61.

So, I am designating today “Hemingway R.I.P. Day” here on the Men’s Adventure Magazines blog.

If you’re a regular reader, you probably know I am a big fan of the book that focuses on Hemingway’s image as reflected in vintage men’s adventure and bachelor magazines — ALL MAN! Hemingway, 1950s Men's Magazines, and the Masculine Persona.

It was written by David M. Earle, an Assistant Professor of English at University of West Florida in Pensacola. Earle is one of the foremost experts on 20th Century modernist literature, vintage magazines and Hemingway.

I’ve written about Earle, his book All Man!, and his research on Hemingway and vintage men’s magazines in past entries on this blog.

In honor of Hemingway R.I.P. Day and for those of you who missed those previous posts, below are some excerpts and links to the complete entries.

You may or may not like Hemingway's books and stories, his penchant for killing big animals and big fish, the generally dismal way he treated his wives, lovers and kids, or his boozy, bullying personality. But he was undeniably a literary giant and an intriguing cultural icon during the heyday of the men’s adventure magazines.

So, tonight I’m drinking a toast to him. Here’s to you, Ernest! Requiescat in pace.

An interview with David M. Earle, author of the new book All Man! Hemingway…

All Man!, by Dr. David M. Earle, is a fascinating new book that provides a unique perspective on men’s adventure magazines.

It traces the evolution of Ernest Hemingway’s giant-size public persona as reflected in vintage magazines, especially the men’s adventure and bachelor mags of the 1950s.

In doing this, Earle also provides fresh insights about the roles that men’s adventure and bachelor magazines played in the lives of World War II veterans and other men, especially in the Fifties.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Earle and ask him some questions about All Man!

Here’s the first part of that interview...

As your book discusses, a lot of the Hemingway myth was reflected in the men’s magazines.

EARLE: Yes. And, Hemingway’s public image itself parallels the conflict between the romantic myth of the 1950s as “the Golden Years” and reality of those years. The men’s magazines of the era offer an excellent window into exploring this conflict, both of the culture and of the man.

So, that’s how you started studying men’s adventure magazines?

EARLE: I had actually done research on prewar pulp magazines and vintage men’s magazines for my previous book Re-Covering Modernism, which was more of an academic work. After that, I wanted to write a book for a wider audience that explored postwar men’s magazines. And All Man! was the fun and logical result. I initially started collecting men’s bachelor magazines, since they often published highbrow modernist authors, like Hemingway, William Faulkner and James Joyce, and I teach courses about modernist literature. But, as I collected, I came across more and more well known authors, particularly Hemingway, in the men’s adventure magazines. Indeed, there were so many examples by and about Hemingway that I saw there must have been something deeper going on in the culture and with Hemingway as a figure of masculinity.

What’s one of the most interesting things you learned about men’s adventure magazines in writing All Man!?

EARLE:  The most concentrated exploration of men’s adventure magazines that I make in the book, and which I find pretty enthralling and novel still, is how they offered veterans of World War II a means to deal with and categorize both their wartime experience and the difficulties of returning to United States. They returned to a society that was, for a large part, unaware of exactly how horrible their experiences had been. The bloody realities of the war had generally been censored by the government and avoided by the press.

(Read the rest of the interview...)

Talking with Dr. David M. Earle about men’s magazines…

In between activities in his busy schedule, David was kind enough to answer some more questions I asked him about his book All Man! and vintage men’s magazines.

I started by asking him about a Hugh Hefner quote he cites in All Man!

In 1953, when Hef launched Playboy, he said it was a magazine for “urbane fellows who were less concerned with hunting, fishing, and climbing mountains than good food, drink, proper dress, and the pleasures of female company.”

Hefner’s quote is a pretty good description of one general difference between the vintage bachelor magazines and the men’s adventure and outdoor sport magazines, isn’t it?

EARLE: Yes. Playboy and the hundreds of bachelor magazines that followed in its wake were all about the fantasy of upwardly mobile bachelorhood, emulating the life of leisure. In contrast, the men’s adventure mags were decidedly blue collar.
     Whereas the bachelor mags had articles and ads about leisure wear for a summer cruise, the men’s adventure magazines had ads for correspondence schools and offered stories and articles that confirmed masculinity in a different way — not by constructing a fantasy bachelor’s world, but by showing man in perilous and extreme situations, triumphant. And, again, the locals of these were as far away from the pressures of suburbia and the day-to-day job pressures as possible.
     So, I guess if I had to really draw a reason behind the distinction between the bachelor and men’s adventure genres, I’d say it is economically based, though of course neither readership was mutually exclusive.

What do you think men’s adventure magazines tell us about the changes taking place in gender roles during the 1950s and 1960s?

EARLE: Wow. Huge question. Really, what we see in the men’s adventure mags is the other side of the pressures on women to conform to a social role reflected in the domestic magazines of the day, like Good Housekeeping, etcetera. In both cases, these magazines offered very extreme, very conservative roles for men and women. The most obvious reason for this, at least in the case of the women’s magazines, was a pressure to get women back in the kitchens after their empowering work in factories during World War Two. But it was also the economic and suburban boom that put pressure on having a family in the years after the war. 
     Of course the men’s magazines are very, very extreme in their portrayal of gender roles. Whereas women’s magazines advertised the love of an “all pink” kitchen and men as the master in the house, men’s magazines fought a fear that American suburban culture was too feminine, and was feminizing the men. And while these magazines are incredibly fun, they also often have a really troubling misogyny in them. Jem, a bachelor magazine called “the magazine for masterful men,” is perhaps the worse, but some of the adventure mags aren’t too far behind. That’s why there are so many stories in them about dangerous women: the dominatrix female Nazi guards and Amazon women — like the “Love Queen of the Pygmies” story you recently featured on your blog. At the same time, it’s why there are also many stories of women in peril who are helpless or just sex objects, hence having a man save them in the story confirms masculinity.

(Read the rest of the interview...)

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