Friday, 24 March 2017

Something for the Weekend: Saucy Pulp Covers by Norman Saunders

This surprisingly revealing cover was for a nineteen thirties pulp US magazine. Painted by pulp art supremo Norman Saunders (1907-1989), it appeared as the cover for the December 1936 issue of Saucy Movie Tales.  The other covers here are all from 1936 and 1937.

So called because of the cheap wood pulp paper on which they were printed, pulp magazines flourished in the United States from the end of the nineteenth century until the late fifties. Typically, as the case with Saucy Movie Tales,  they were 128 pages long and were in a 7" by 10" format.

Some of the magazines focussed on different genres, such as adventure, westerns, detective, science fiction and romance but many included a mixture of genres. In theory, Saucy Movie Tales was supposed to concentrate on tales of starlets, directors and the movie industry, although they quite often included other subjects too.

The saucy/spicy sub-genre offered (mild, by today's standards) erotic stories and cartoons which meant that they were sold "under the counter". There were thrusting breasts, slim legs, firm buttocks and states of undress but no actual sex. 

The interior illustrations included bare bottoms and bare breasts but no pubic hair, of course, as that would have been classed as obscene, rather than saucy. In Saucy Movie Tales stories there were, of course, the perils of the casting couch, innocent ingenues and even rape. Some were comic and some merged with detective or even supernatural type stories. 

Romanian born publisher Harry Donenfield was the man behind Saucy Movie Tales, Pep StoriesSaucy Stories and others,  Norman Saunders had been working for another publisher, Fawcett, in Chicago, before moving to New York and Donenfield's magazines.

Not wanting to upset his previous publisher, in case he needed to go back there, he used the pseudonym  Carl Blaine (an artist friend's first name and Saunders' middle name) to use on the Donenfeld Publishing covers, hence the Blaine signature visible on these paintings.

Saunder's publisher, Harry Donenfeld, had just avoided a prison sentence having been charged by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice with producing obscene periodicals, including Spicy Stories and Pep Stories. These, unlike Saucy Movie Tales, included tasteful photographic topless, artistic nudes but the court decided that one image in particular, from January 1934's Pep Stories (below) wasn't tasteful but obscene, as the model's pubic hair was visible.

Too naughty for 1934!

This was the case that got the publishers of Playboy and Penthouse so worried nearly forty years later.  Donenfeld only avoided jail because one of his Romanian employees took the rap and said that his boss didn't know that he had inserted the picture into the magazine. A grateful Donenfeld gave the man a job for life with no requirement to actually do anything, when he emerged from prison.

Although, Norman Sunders would go on to paint many pulp covers, these ones were some of his earliest and were his most racy. Born in rural Minnesota, at the age of three his eye was badly injured and he needed multiple operations to restore the sight in his eye. After he recovered his sight he took to drawing. He turned down a scholarship to the Chicago Art Institute when he was offered the job at Fawcett Publishing,  In the early thirties he did some splendid pulp technology covers for Popular Mechanics, featuring seaplanes, flying tanks and such like.  I need to post some on my Pulp blog!

He was starting, as a freelance, to sell paintings to other publishers and by 1940 he had painted more than 400 pulp covers. By this time, Saunders was working in the conventional magazine (slicks) market but the war brought an end to this part of his life. He was drafted into the army and after some time in the military police was trained to paint military facilities with camouflage paint!

After the war he married one of his models, Ellena Politis, and having struggled with working with the slicks went back to pulp magazines, producing over 400 more cover paintings. His total of 867 pulp covers made him the most prolific pulp cover artist of all time. 

 After 1960, and his last pulp cover, he worked for trading card companies (he painted the original Mars Attacks cards), men's adventure magazines, and did comic book and paperback cover work. In the mid-sixties he did a lot of illustrations which featured dastardly Nazis, their female captives and the odd Nazi vixen, which I will look at another time.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Agnès Laurent

Agnès Laurent (1936-2010) was a lovely French actress who I remember as appearing in the title character in the British comedy A French Mistress (1960), which I saw at an impressionable age.

A French Mistress

Laurent made mostly French language films and by the time of her memorable turn in A French Mistress was getting towards the end of her short career.

After A French Mistress, she appeared in Mary had a little... (1961) regarded as the first British sex comedy, although, of course it had no sex and very little comedy.

After one more film, in 1961, her short five year film career was over. 

Un amour de Poche 

At the time, Playboy magazine liked to try and spot up and coming continental actresses and they featured her in their July 1958 issue.  She had just appeared in the film  Un Amour de Poche (1957), about a scientist who accidentally shrinks his lab assistant (Laurent) to the size of a small doll.

To save on special effects once shrunk Laurent remains inert, like a doll and is played mostly by...a doll.  At the end of the film the scientist's jealous fiancee throws shrunken/doll Laurent into the sea where the water and salt reconstitutes her into her full sized form once more. 

In these, for the time, rather racy publicity shots Laurent gambols in the sea with the actor who plays the scientist and the doll who plays her.



Monday, 6 March 2017

Linda Richie and Anna Lisa Hoffman at Virginia Water cascade for Penthouse

As promised in our post on Legatus' Wargames Armies, here we have Linda Richie posing at the cascade at Virginia Water, Surrey for the second ever issue of Penthouse.  I took the location pictures there yesterday but no naked ladies were in evidence, sadly.

At the time, Penthouse publisher, Bob Guccione, who took these pictures himself (as he couldn't afford a photographer) insisted on using models who hadn't posed for magazines before. He used to hang around outside secretarial colleges on the King's Road looking for likely girls.  

Quite a few of his Penthouse Pets in the first decade or so were British and posh (one was descended from former Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, one was a girlfriend of Prince Charles until gossip columnist Nigel Dempster outed her as a Penthouse Pet) although the magazine said that Linda was Scottish. 

Penthouse returned to the Virginia Water cascade for the November 1968 issue with Anna Lisa Hoffman.  It was either warmer than when Linda Richie was photographed or Anna Lisa was braver as photographer Amnon Bar-Tur had her in the water of the lake too.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Halloween

It's that time of year again when we need another sexy witch, so here is one by American pin-up artist Ren Wicks from 1964.  As you can see this particular witch disguises herself as an old crone whereas in reality she is a fetching redhead.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Something for the weekend...things I haven't done

The ladies of Oxford University Women's rugby team

Well, the Legatus has done quite  a lot of things in his fifty-six years but given the surprise expressed by my Foreign Office friend the other day that I hadn't been to a rugby match it got me thinking about some of the other things I have never done (there will be nothing to do with interaction with ladies in this post, you will be pleased to know, as I have done everything in that area).

The key thing with these is that they're not things I haven't done and would like to, they are things I haven't done and have no intention of trying!

So I have never:

1 Been to a rugby match.

I can actually see that rugby is a good game (unlike football, which is tedious) but I have never been to a match. Partly, it is because I have never been into the tribal elements of team sports.  I used to follow athletics quite closely (and I have been to quite a few athletics events) but it is still horribly drugs ridden so have largely given up on it, except for when the Olympics comes around.

2 Been to a cricket match

Now this is a key pillar of British (do they play cricket in Scotland or are all the pitches marred by caber impact craters) cultural history, so I should be in favour of it but, again, it is stupefyingly dull.  I have been invited to a couple of Test matches (in the UK and Bombay) but I turned them down. I went to the Oval for a conference earlier this year and even the sight of the pitch made me start to doze off. 

3. Played golf

I have played crazy golf on the Isle of Wight a few time with the family but it stresses me out as I have no hand to eye co-ordination.  I can't imagine trying proper golf, let alone watching it.  If you do take it up you immediately lose all your dress sense and start to look like you have stolen your clothes from a dead clown or Rupert Bear.  I once had lunch with the Council of Lloyd's in the eighteenth century Adam Room, which, curiously, tops Richard Roger's construction kit insurance headquarters, As we were sitting down, Lord somebody or other, who was sat next to me, asked if I played 'goff".  When I said that I didn't he ignored me for the rest of the lunch.  It was like saying that I wasn't a Mason in a construction industry event. 

On the subject of attendance at other sports events, I did once go to a football match (Arsenal, just before they moved to their new conference centre/apartment block, sorry, football ground). I was invited with my, then, ten year old son by a former General Secretary of ASLEF because he felt I was ignoring Guy's education. It was stupefyingly boring. Given I used to live in Wimbledon I did go there for the tennis once (dragged there by a girlfriend) and while I enjoyed the sight of tall, fit looking women in short skirts on court it is another tedious game and is, basically, sport for girls.

4, Been hunting, shooting or fishing

I don't really approve of bloodsports and anyway it is fabulously expensive.  My particular friend. Sophie, happily blasts away at all sorts of poor wildlife around the world but she is Canadian.  She also doesn't shoot anything she can't eat, which is where I would draw my ethical line.

5 Been to a pop or rock concert

Until I was seventeen the only non classical or jazz records I had were three Beatles records given to me by my aunt when she got married.  Although I have some pop on my iTunes, there is very little past 1985 (and most is sixties).  I never really got the hang of rock because most of it is so musically bankrupt.  I have about 450 rock tracks (out of 24,000) on my iTunes and more than half of that is Mike Oldfield (who I do like).  Again, like sports, I am not into the shared experience thing of going to a concert,  I don't like classical concerts either, mainly because I like to whistle along with the tunes (which is why I don't like Bruckner - it has no tunes).  I have been to three concerts in the last thirty years: Stacey Kent, Clare Teal (both jazz singers) and the Barry Gray concert at the Festival Hall where I got to chat with Gerry Anderson.

As I get older I am getting more and more resistant to the thump, thump, thump of modern music which seems to pervade Britain.  I am amazed, when watching the Eggheads quiz on TV, how almost none of the contestants can answer basic questions on classical music.  Do they not realise that pop music is all low grade, commercial juvenilia?

6 Been in a helicopter

I have been in far too many aircraft but I have managed to avoid those flying death traps, helicopters.  I nearly went in one once to get from Vancouver to Victoria but I pulled out at the last minute and went in a proper plane instead. I will never, ever, go in one of these!

7 Been in a hot air balloon

Flying is awful but sometimes you cannot avoid it but the thought of taking to the air in a piece of eighteenth century technology for recreational purposes (after all you can't go anywhere specific in one) is beyond me,  Oh look, an unexpected power line!

8 Been in a light aircraft

Both my children have flown light aircraft a number of times.  Charlotte flew upside down over Oxford once at the controls of an RAF trainer and she also did a free fall climb and dive (she had has quite a few flying lessons).  I turned down a lift in a light aircraft back from St Malo with a Royal Yacht Squadron member once, much to my wife's annoyance.  I also turned down a flight in a two seater Spitfire, owned by a friend of my father-in-law.  I was almost tempted by this but you know that these pilots who "want to take you for a spin" want to fly upside down and do loops.  The cemeteries of the world are full of light aircraft pilots and their passengers.

9 Ridden a motorbike or scooter

Driving a car on the roads is one of the most dangerous things you do regularly.  So why make it even more dangerous? Added to this, motorbike riders seem to think that the normal rules of the road don't apply to them but always get furious when some poor car driver knocks them off their naturally unstable conveyances, probably because they are trying to do something they shouldn't. 

10  Driven a van

I have more than enough problems driving a car (I hate it and let the Old Bat do all the driving) and my biggest stress points of the winter months are driving over to Eric the Shed's in the dark.  I probably only do about thirty minutes driving a week, so have very little road sense, can't parallel park and can't back into car park spaces.  Why would you back in anyway?  Surely you want to do the backing into the widest space, i.e, out, not into the narrow space.  It baffles me, this one.  In supermarkets, I always look for those triple slots, where you can leave a car's width on either side.  Trying to do any sort of manoeuvering where you can't see behind you and have a wide vehicle to deal with, as in a van, would be beyond me. 

11 Hired a car

Given my total lack of driving ability I wouldn't dream of hiring a car, which always seems to be an expensive, complex and stressful process anyway, as the rental people always seem to want to tell you that you have nicked the paint so they can charge you extra.  Good job I don't live in America, where they have no public transport!

12 Smoked a cigarette

Not once.  Ever.  Not even been tempted to try. They are just disgusting.  Sophie has been known to smoke a cigar, occasionally and, oddly, I don't find that smell to be as offensive as cigarette smoke. Wouldn't want to try one, though.  There are enough things that can go wrong with your body without significantly adding to the risk.

13 Taken any illegal drugs

Because they are even worse for you than smoking and also they are illegal.  Where do all these hip and trendy metropolitan people think their drugs come from?    Because, by taking them they are directly supporting organised crime, violence and murder.  Very hip.  Having spent a lot of time in Colombia and seen what the drugs trade did to the ordinary people of the country, this one gets me really cross!

14 Been caving

Recently, a friend went on one of these management team building courses where they had to go into a cave at night. Not a nice, open, hole in a cliff sort of cave but one of those wriggle through a tight gap ones.  I am very claustrophobic (I got about thirty feet into the Great Pyramid with Lady Brewer once and we both looked at each other and bolted for the open air again) so the thought of pot holing terrifies me.  I don't even like watching it on TV.   I asked if anyone had refused to do this and he said no.  I would have refused!

15 Been rock climbing, bungee jumping or abseiling

What do you think?  As you may gather, I am very risk averse (I was in a bad accident when I was small and spent a lot of time in hospital) and anything involving precipitous drops seems idiotic to me.  Some people are thrill seekers and get a "rush" from this sort of thing, I am told.  Many of them are dead. I went ski-ing once but it was cold, wet and dangerous.

16 Been camping

Honestly, I get uncomfortable if I have to drop down to a four star hotel, so the idea of sleeping in a tent seems ghastly. A couple of years ago my wife bought a tent and took the children for a few nights down to Hayling Island.  She put the tent on eBay as soon as she came back.

17 Been scuba diving

Actually, I have always wanted to try this but I am a poor swimmer and don't like being out of my depth.  Also, it's one of those activities that is more complex and technical than it appears, so my chances of drowning would be quite high!

18 Been white water rafting

Great opportunities for drowning or getting concussion while suffering motion sickness. Horrible!

19 Been on a roller coaster

Recent events at Alton Towers have shown how dangerous these pointless things are.  I get motion sick on a carousel so the thought of careering around on a vertiginous, narrow track maintained by bored students holds no appeal whatsoever.

20 Been go-karting

I don't like going fast in anything so being close to the ground on a tea tray with a lawnmower engine does not sound very appealing.  It's all a bit corporate team building, too.  I am not a team person!

21 Been paintballing

This also has more than a little of an IT consultants awayday about it.  Guy used to go a lot but it doesn't seem like very good value and can be painful.

22 Played darts

I would be completely useless at this and as darts seems to be popular in a certain sort of pub it is unlikely I would be found in an environment where it is going on.  I did go ten pin bowling once and my brother in law has a snooker table but I was as good at both as you would imagine.

23  Stayed in a youth hostel

I didn't go abroad on holiday without my family until I was twenty three and by that time I was earning enough to stay in proper hotels. I do not want to sleep in rooms with strangers, unless they are female and they have asked to be there!  I went on a car ferry to Jersey once and had a shared cabin with a stranger, so I went and slept up on deck.

24 Been to Iceland

Not the shop where third rate celebrities pretend to buy disgusting looking frozen desserts (although I haven't been there since it was called Bejam) but the country.  I haven't been to Cyprus, Bosnia, Montengro, or Macedonia either but the one European country I have no desire to visit is Iceland.  It's basically Mordor. A dark, grim, treeless nation inhabited by puffin eating cod snatchers in dubious sweaters who can't keep their volcanoes, fishermen or investors under control. Britain's new enemy in Europe.  

25 Played poker or bridge

As anyone who has played against me in a wargame can attest I have no gaming ability whatsoever, so card games are quite beyond me.  I used to play Sooty snap with the children but I wasn't very good at that either.  I also don't enjoy board games and always lose at them.  Basically, as a wargamer, I am a (blodgy) painter.

26 Learned to play a musical instrument

I am quite musical (I am told) but don't have the patience to learn a musical instrument   I don't enjoy learning how to do things.  If I can't do something straight away I lose interest. 

27 Ridden a horse

One of the most dangerous pastimes there is. Being in close proximity to large animals makes me very nervous.

28 Owned a pet

I never could understand the appeal of having an animal in the house which would then die after a few years.  I quite enjoy the visits from Harry the Cat next door but that is because we don't have to deal with all the slaughtered birds, mice, moles (this week) and rabbits he brings home to our neighbours  Basically, the only good animal is a cooked one.

29 Sung karaoke

Oh dear, that sounds like IT consultants awayday again.  This was arranged for a work Christmas party once, so I didn't go.  You only have to watch the X-Factor to see how many people think they can sing and can't.  Torture!

30 Been to a dance 

A slight rider, here.  I have danced (if you can call it that) on New Years Eve 1975, at Brasenose College Ball in 1980 and in the bar of the Reval Hotel in Lithuania with Swedish Anna (who I had just met) in 2006. I was very drunk on all three occasions. The thought of going somewhere with the sole purpose of dancing would be horrific. I don't enjoy dancing and, am very suspicious of men who do.  As my father used to say: "dancing is for women, children, homosexuals and black people".  Dancing is ridiculous and you look ridiculous doing it unless you are very, very well trained. Although I love Strictly Come Dancing, dancing is, fundamentally, about showing off and there is nothing worse than a show off! Fortunately, dancing in 1975, when I first tentatively did some with a girl called Debbie on New Years Eve seemed to involve gently jiggling up and down with your arms bent and your hands held up at shoulder level. Then came Saturday Night Fever which encouraged show offs all over the planet and, from then on, made dancing, particularly for men, an embarrassing minefield   I couldn't then (as I still can't) understand why dancing was supposed to be fun; it was totally ghastly.

It is often said (usually by people on Strictly Come Dancing, for example) that anyone can dance but I actually don't agree with this.  I think dancing is an innate ability, like being musical, having ability in languages, being good at maths or drawing. While you can improve a little through teaching, if you don't have that basic ability nothing that anyone does for you can help. It is best just to acknowledge your limitations, therefore! If you are no good at something you should not do it!

So,there are my thirty things in life I have no intention of trying!