Monday, July 22, 2013

MAN’S STORY, Feb. 1963: the good, the so-bad-it’s-good, and the gonzo (Part 2)...


My previous post here featured stories from the February 1963 issue of MAN’S STORY that were illustrated by three of the great pulp illustration artists who worked for men’s pulp adventure magazines in the 1950s and 1960s: Norm Eastman, John Duillo and Norman Saunders.

Today, such painted illustrations are probably the best-known and most popular elements of vintage men’s pulp mags.

In those periodicals, artwork was typically used for covers, interior illustrations for fiction yarns, and for the faux or heavily-fictionalized “true stories” that are another hallmark of the genre.

The editors generally used photographs, rather than artwork, for serious articles or personal reminiscences about 20th Century wars and battles, for hunting, fishing and travel stories, and for news-like articles such as exposés, true crime stories, Kinsey-style “sexology” reports, celebrity profiles, current event-related pieces, and advice or how-to pieces.

The February 1963 issue of MAN’S STORY includes some classic examples of the types of stories illustrated with photos.

My favorite is a sexposé (the shorthand term for a sex-related exposé) titled “OUR NATIONAL SHAME — SIN CAMPUS, U.S.A.”

As Stephen Colbert recently pointed out in a hilarious segment on THE COLBERT REPORT, the media has been “exposing” the sex lives of college students for many decades — and claiming, at any given point in time, that they’re wilder than ever before.

Colbert was riffing on an article published in the July 12, 2013 edition of the NEW YORK TIMES — “SEX ON CAMPUS: SHE CAN PLAY THAT GAME, TOO.”

He explained in his deadpan way that the NYT story contained the “breaking news” that women in college “enjoy the sex!”

The “SIN CAMPUS” story in MAN’S LIFE offers a similar revelation, telling us breathlessly:

     “The girl who receives her degree with her virginity intact is becoming a rarity.”

Of course, in my opinion, no genre has done sexposés or Kinsey-style sexology stories quite as entertainingly as men’s pulp magazines. 

One of the funniest parts of the “SIN CAMPUS” piece is its straight-faced explanation and defense of college panty raids.

The article portrays panty raids as a harmless, symbolic substitute for actual sex that should be tolerated rather than punished or discouraged, explaining…

“…the actual penetration into the girls’ dormitory has all the sex overtones of rape, but, legally and at worst, it’s only trespass. The bearing away of the delicate silken garment which once caressed the loins of the innocent co-ed is the hunter’s trophy. Actually, its very fragility and sensuality makes it a symbol of the maidenhead. Therefore, the virile attacker has taken the maidenhead...simply by carrying away a pair of panties!

Do the girls object? They hang their panties temptingly out of the window at the first rumor that a panty raid is to take place-offering the virginity! Of course the colleges object to this kind of activity on the part of their students. They have no choice but to condemn riot. However, many an educator breathes a secret sigh of relief that so much sex-generated steam has been let off with so little real harm.”

There are two other classic sex-related stories in the February 1963 issue of MAN’S STORY that are typical of men’s adventure magazines.

One is the confession-style male gigolo shocker “I PINCH HIT FOR TIRED HUSBANDS.” The other is a pseudo-scientific sexology advice piece about how men can improve their performance, titled “ARE YOU A LOVE WEAKLING?”

The latter is credited to Gabriel Morrell, M.D., which I suspect is a pseudonym for some professional writer who made ends meet by cranking out pulpy sexology stories, like writers Lawrence Block and Robert Silverberg once did back in the day. (To see examples of theirs, check out my previous posts “Lesbians in Men’s Adventure Magazines”  and “Lesbians on the Prowl.”)

One of the best stories in this issue is about the legendary fighting musicians who held the line against a German attack during a pivotal World War II battle near Salerno, Italy in September 1943.

Titled “PLAY MY DIRGE ON PICCOLO PEAK,” it’s credited to Ex-T/5 [meaning former Technician Fifth Grade] Ben Lake “as told to” occasional men’s adventure mag writer writer Mark Brand.

I don’t know if Ex-T/5 Lake was a real person or if the story is a fictionalized account by Brand. But the battle at the hill dubbed “Piccolo Peak” was definitely real.

The hill got its nickname when US Fifth Army Commander Lt. Gen Mark Clark ordered the regimental band to help defend an American position there that was on the verge of being overrun by Germans.

The grunt’s-eye account of that battle in MAN’S STORY is well-written and graphic. At one point, it’s literally gut-wrenching:

“I pump lead into two more Krauts as they try to overrun us. But I’m not quick enough to get a third who sinks his bayonet into Kobinsky’s chest. I swing my rifle around and jab it into the Kraut’s groin. He screams, yanking his own blade out of Kobinsky to finish me. He has the bloody thing raised over my head. I can’t get my weapon out of his groin. In desperation I pull the trigger. The force of the charge sends him rolling down the hill, his entrails spilling out of his pants like a slimy worm. . . .”

Like most men’s adventure magazines published from the early ‘50s to the mid ‘60s, this issue of MAN’S WORLD includes several “cheesecake” photo spreads (a.k.a. glamour or pinup photos). Such photos featured models who were scantily-clad, but generally eschewed blatant nudity.

Nude photos started to become increasingly common in men’s adventure magazines in the late ‘60s, after various court rulings shot down most of America’s puritanical censorship laws and men’s adventure mags were desperately trying to compete with more explicit men’s bachelor magazines and hard core porn mags.

The most notable model in the February 1963 issue of MAN’S STORY is Swedish blonde Annette Dahl. Dahl was a minor celebrity in Europe who sang in jazz bands and starred in the 1970 Belgian film L’ÎLE AUX COQUELICOTS (THE ISLAND OF POPPIES) with the popular singer-songwriter Salvatore Adamo.

No trace of the other two models, Dina Frank and Barbara Taut, showed up in the Google searches I did, even though Dina is said to have been a “busy actress” in the text used for her photo spread.

The ads in this issue of MAN’S STORY are the usual assortment found in low budget men’s pulp adventure magazines: “self-improvement” ads for correspondence school courses, baldness cures, trusses, body building training, and so forth; ads for sexy books and sex manuals, nude photos, stag films and lingerie; ads for the latest gadgets; and, ads for cheap real estate in fast-growing states like Florida and Nevada.

My favorites in the February 1963 issue of MAN’S STORY are ads for:

  • the E-Z Formulas guide to treating “plain window glass so YOU CAN LOOK OUT through it, but the person on the other side CAN’T LOOK IN AT YOU” (Apparently targeting peeping pervs);
  • the “girlie coloring book” (I’m not quite sure who the target audience was for that one.); and,
  • famed stripper Lili St. Cyr’s fabulous, memorably-named “Scantie Panties.” (Who wouldn’t like those?)

Along with the gonzo stories mentioned in my previous post (like “TRAPPED BY THE SLAVE TRADING NYMPHOS OF THE NILE” and “THE LAST RIDE OF THE REBEL JOY GIRL CAVALRY”), the stories and ads shown in this post make the February 1963 issue of MAN’S STORY one of my personal faves.

If you’d like to read it for yourself, click this link to the MensPulpMags.com virtual newsstand or the image below to download a high resolution PDF copy of the entire issue.

Coming up in the next post...Well, I don’t know yet. But I do know it will include more cool pulp art, stories and retro pop culture artifacts like those featured in this post and in the WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! anthology.

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

Click this link or the image below to download a PDF copy of:

MAN'S STORY, February 1963

1--MANS-STORY-Feb.-1963-cover--conte

Saturday, July 6, 2013

MAN’S STORY, Feb. 1963: the good, the so-bad-it’s-good, and the gonzo (Part 1)...


One of the most common words I see associated with men’s pulp adventure magazines published in the 1950s and 1960s is lurid

The Oxford English Dictionary defines that word as “presented in vividly shocking or sensational terms, especially giving explicit details of crimes or sexual matters.”

I think anyone who calls old men’s pulp mags “lurid” today probably hasn’t read any.

The stories and artwork featured by magazines in this genre were generally more “shocking” and “sensationalistic” and “explicit” than what appeared in most mainstream media during the ‘50s and ‘60s.

But that was then.

When it comes to crimes, sex, violence and language, the typical content of even those magazines on the sleaziest end of the men’s adventure mag spectrum — the subgenre called “sweat magazines” — is considerably milder than that of many of today’s mainstream publications, TV shows and movies, let alone what’s on the Internet.

In fact, when read from today’s perspective (or at least from mine), many vintage sweat mags seem more campy and humorous than “lurid.” 

Consider the February 1963 issue of MAN’S STORY magazine...

MAN’S STORY was one of the longest-lasting sweat mags published by the Reese Publishing Company, Inc. It ran from February 1960 to December 1975.

It’s one of those politically-incorrect periodicals that regularly featured Nazi bondage and torture cover paintings, and the February 1963 showcases a great example by the grandmaster of Nazi B&T artwork, Norm Eastman.

In this Eastman cover, an iconic scantily-clad blonde is being tied up with rope on top of a flaming brazier by a Nazi soldier.

Meanwhile, another evil Nazi prepares to brand the poor girl with a red-hot branding iron shaped like a swastika.

The model for the blonde was probably either Eva Lynd or Shere Hite, two of Eastman’s favorite female models.

I lean toward thinking it’s Eva, though when I asked her about it in a recent email exchange we had, she said she wasn’t sure.

The Nazi wearing the helmet is based on the favorite male model of Eastman and many other illustration artists of the era: Steve Holland, the most famous male model in the realm of mid-20th Century pulp magazines and paperbacks.

Eastman probably used himself as the model for the bare-chested fiend with the branding iron.

This grand guignol style illustration goes with the story “THE FLAMES OF AGONY FOR FRANCE’S FETTERED NUDES.”

The story is credited to Jim McDonald, who seems to have been a regular contributor of BDSM stories to men’s pulp mags published by Reese and it’s affiliate EmTee Publishing.

It’s also possible that “Jim McDonald” was a pseudonymous “house name” used for such stories penned by various pulp writers who were stringers for Reese and EmTee.

The “FETTERED NUDES” yarn is one of several in the February 1963 issue of MAN’S STORY that involves bondage and torture. In two, the victims are female. In another, the torturee is male.

The other tale with female victims is titled “TORTURED VIRGINS FOR THE MONGOL MONSTER.” The text is credited to Craighton Lamont, another Reese regular (or an amazingly appropriate-sounding house name).

The artwork is uncredited, but looks like it may have been done by John Duillo, an artist who did many interior and cover paintings for men’s adventure magazines.

The sex-related passages in the “MONGOL MONSTER” story and others in this issue, and in similar men’s sweat mags of the early 1960s, are not what would now be called “explicit.”

They’re somewhat like sex-related scenes in mainstream movies from the same era. Suggestive, but not really explicit either in what they describe or in the choice of anatomical language.

For example, when the lead distressed damsel in “FETTERED NUDES” gets groped by leering Nazis, the text says:

“She felt their torturing hands probing the soft intimacies of her body. She willed herself to think of Charles.”

Descriptions of violence and torture in sweat mag stories go a bit further. They’re on the level of what began to be shown in horror movies in the 1960s.

In fact, men’s sweat magazines clearly helped inspire some of the Grindhouse horror and “Naziploitation” films of the '60s and ‘70s. However, they fall short of what’s shown today in modern “torture porn” movies like Saw and Hostel.

The campiest B&T yarn in this issue is “TRAPPED BY THE SLAVE TRADING NYMPHOS OF THE NILE,” a faux true story that uses the old “as told to” gimmick to suggest that it’s non-fiction.

In this gonzo masterpiece (which features an initial two-page illustration that my friend, pulp art maven Rich Oberg, told me may also be by John Duillo), a manly American oil company employee gets captured by a mysterious group of women in Egypt.

During the course of the story he is staked-out, whipped with a riding crop, tormented with knives, ravished multiple times by said mysterious ladies and then put on a slave block to be sold.

It turns out that his fiendish tormentors (who are all, coincidentally, amazingly hot-looking and horny) are doing a little fundraising for the coming Fourth Reich by selling both male and female slaves.

It’s one of the those so-bad-it’s-good men’s pulp yarns that I may have to include in a future volume in the WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! anthology series.

And, if I ever do a volume that features sexy Civil War stories, I’ll have to include another story from this issue: “THE LAST RIDE OF THE REBEL JOY GIRL CAVALRY.”

That story is credited to Chuck McCarthy, yet another Reese regular (or house name).

Unfortunately, as usual in the Reese magazines, the artwork is uncredited. But Thomas Clement, another illustration art maven I know and creator of the great American Art Archives site, has IDed it as a Norman Saunders illustration.

It’s quite an illo and quite a story. Yessiree! Brave, barely-clothed Rebel babes on horseback, taking on Union troops — and winning. (“Don’t kill them too quick!” says their leader Connie, in the caption.)

In my next post: more cool, crazy and campy stuff from the February 1963 issue of MAN’S STORY, including some of the culturally-interesting and kooky ads from the back pages, like this one for the “DESTINY LEAGUE,” a precursor of today’s online dating services.

In the meantime, if you want to read the whole issue yourself, click this link or the image below to download a high-resolution PDF copy of the entire issue in the MensPulpMags.com virtual newsstand.

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

Click this link or the image below to download a PDF copy of:

MAN'S STORY, February 1963

1- MAN'S STORY, Feb. 1963, cover & contents