The case of the GIANT eight pager!
Everyone with a gutter-mind knows about the mini-comic eight pagers which I discuss here from time to time, this being number 10 (or so) in the series. Less known is the GIANT version, the world's largest Tijuana Bibles. The one above is "One Night of Love" but what does love have to do with it. Laying a standard sized "Toots and Casper" on top allows me to show the thing in all its censored art deco glory and illustrate the size. Not quite an oxymoron, but "giant shrimp" still...and not only was it bigger, it violated the terms being SIXTEEN pages long. A "double issue" so to speak.
Like all the Tijuana bibles, it carries no copyright and I could reproduce the whole thing, but since this is a family site by even Edwin Meese standards, I'll demure. Needless to say, it is a rip-roaring tiny tour-de-force, with something to offend every nationality, persuation and level of hygiene. Even miniature details like the pictures on hotel walls are inappropriate. Lampooned are the rich, swarthy and old.
The Adelman book "Tijuana Bibles: Art and Wit in America's Forbidden Funnies, 1930s - 1950s (linked at right) misses this one, but it does reproduce a few other sixteen pagers. Included are Betty Boop in "Flesh" Amos and Andy in "Tight Spot" and "How One Wife Made it Pay" drawn by Wesley Morse, who later drew the bubble bum inserts Bazooka Joe. Among them are Mae West in "The Hip Flipper" which had a hefty ten dollar price and further pushed the limits of the genre by running 32 pages! As that is close to a billion dollars in today's exchange rate, no wonder the big-uns are rare.
Adelman claims some 50 or 60 sixteen-pagers were produced.
A Little and a Big Tijuana Bible both circa 1930 Collection Victor Minx
How did Gene Bilbrew, the "Picasso of Porn" and talented fetish artist who died in Times Square of an overdose hook up with Charles Mingus to illustrate a record sleeve? At this point, I have no idea and even very little speculation. From what I know about Charles Mingus, he wasn't a drug user, but certainly the jazz and art scene in New York in the 1950s was a fairly small universe, and they could have easily known some of the same folks. Mingus was also quite well-known to chase the ladies, and not all of those he caught were avid church-goers. He even claimed to have partied with 26 prostitutes in one "sitting."
There WAS a Jazz vocalist named Kitty Bilbrew who was born the same year as Gene Bilbrew in Los Angeles. Kitty Bilbrew became Kitty White when she married songwriter Eddie White. Could Kitty Bilbrew have known (or even been related) to Gene Bilbrew? Both had West Coast musical roots. Kitty's mother was AC Bilbrew, who organized gospel singing groups in Los Angeles and also recorded in the 1950s. Gene Bilbrew also performed in a singing group as a young man, a Los Angeles based doo-wop group known as "The Basin Street Boys" but he left the group to pursue art. Could these Bilbrews have connections not yet documented?
Gene also had a friend Bill Alexander who did record label illustrations for Roy Milton's label around the same time.
In another coincidence, Charles Mingus was born only a year earlier and also grew up in the Central Avenue area of Los Angeles. Certainly speculation, and not even too well-grounded. But then Bilbrew is not a common name, and one imagines the African-American Bi-coastal Jazz and Art scene was a fairly small world.
The only thing now known for sure is that Eugene Bilbrew, quirky vintage sleaze artist, did the above illustration for Charlie Mingus, Jazz master. It is a curious footnote to both of their careers indeed. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to write.
Charles Mingus Debut Label 7" EP #450 record cover, 1954.
Text by Jim Linderman
REVISED AND EXPANDED EDITION OF THE DANGEROUS YEARS AVAILABLE SUMMER 2011
Your guess is as good as mine. No stranger to eccentric manipulations of cheesecake (see Gals Gams Garters) what a fella alone with his collection of paper dolls still manages to surprise and boggle me. What was going on here? A big gaggle of doodled-up pinups, each decorated with a pair of dots, red lips and a smile. For those of you who think I'm weird, no, I didn't make these but I did position them on the scanner. They were found in a big box of clippings and cutouts from numerous men's magazines of the 1950s. Outsider art of the vintage sleaze kind! Email to your favorite shrink.
Collection of cut-out cheesecake photographs, each embellished by hand with red marker. circa 1960. Collection Victor Minx
Cartoonist Vic Martin was obviously from "The Greatest Generation" as the phrases you'll find when looking up his work are "Infantry Humor, Army Fun, Private Dopey, Khaki Capers, G.I Joe" and the like. After the war, Vic became a beatnik and drew for Magna. He also published in Sick Magazine and anyplace he could. Work appeared in crappy paperback anthology volumes like "Words Fail Me" and "Bookends." In other words, whoever would pay him. A Journeyman.
Later in the 1970s Vic drew a series for sleazy Wildcat Magazine called "Wildcatman." He also had some work published in nylon magazines like Black Satin. For a time Vic even drew LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE! But not very well...The Lakeland Ledger of February 24, 1974 quotes an editor of the Annie syndicate saying "What do I think of Martin's style? Eucchh!" Later a cab driver says "Have you seen what they have done to Orphan Annie? She looks like she's being drawn by a vegetable." You don't put reviews like that on your resume. How many people will go down in history as the guy who ruined Little Orphan Annie?
Vic Martin's women were always round and curvy. They got even rounder and more curvy later in his life. His last work, as near as I can tell, was drawing the "Joy Gorge" and "Titanic Tina" strips for BUF Magazine. Tina was, well...Gigundo. I believe the vernacular for fans of this magazine is "fatty chasers" but I like to think of them as just being ahead of their time...have you checked the average size and weight charts for Americans lately? Today Vic's women would be average. BUF officially stood for "Big Up Front" but in their short history they went to big behind then to big everything. Let me tell you, I learned about more than comics while researching Vic. The folks who read BUF and Titanic Tina were "big" on acronyms and "big on big." BBW I knew...but there are Big Beautiful EVERYTHINGS. There aren't enough letters in the English language to accommodate all the BB things these fans of folds favor! You can see some of Vic's work for BUF on the Dimensions Magazine site but it is for grownups.
In November 1995, BUF ran an article titled "A tribute to Vic Martin" which leads me to believe he left the planet around then. The artistic legacy of Vic Martin may be best summarized by his auction records. In 2005 when an original work of his sold...the description read "Interacial Busty GGA" I guess that would be a BBBBW GGA.
SEE DULL TOOL DIM BULB BOOKS CATALOG HERE
I connected with bookseller William Smith a few years ago. He had posted a wonderful hint on building some bookshelves. I thought, "that's generous." Taking the time to share something which to a bookseller must have been both personal and important. I appreciated it, and have grown to appreciate him more since.
William has an outstanding website full of books for sale and much more. Of course, I look at the sleaze books, being a ham-fisted mug without class, and some splendid examples of primitive lurid titles from his site are above. But Mr. Smith, who calls his business "Hang Fire Books" has a full line of books....art, architecture, music, photography, you name it. Since he picks in Brooklyn, he literally has the world at his doorstep, and one can tell he delights as much in finding an obscurity as I do. But he sells them!
The Hangfire Books slogan is "Epic Battles in the Salvation Army, Homeric journeys to the post office."
He is a "value-added" bookseller...that is, he knows his material and he willingly shares the information. If a book like one of those above was written by a hungry REAL writer with a pseudonym, he'll tell you who he was. If a title affects him in a particular way, he will take the time while cataloging it for sale to tell you why.
We are all getting trapped in a circle in which cyber robots tell us similar titles "we would enjoy" and a bookseller like William can help us escape the narrow confines.
William leans towards the unusual and curious, as any serious book hound should. His prices are low. His service is high. He will reasonably repair and restore your rare paperbacks. He will trade. (I'm not kidding!) He has a fabulous set of links. He is honest and entertaining and his website/blog/bookstore is the same.
He sells books which will NEVER be on kindle. That is unless Amazon some day decides to load two different editions of "Stiles History of Bundling." He is all rigged up with the latest systems and such, so shopping is fun. Check him out.
Outstanding original photographs taken by Rudolph Rossi (and used in the Camera Club Girls book) are now available as high-quality prints, in any size you choose, at affordable prices. Really Affordable! The prints can be ordered from ARTSLANT HERE and are available framed or unframed. Have a look! Tell your designer friends.
Growing up in the Sixties, there were literally 50 magazines on the top two racks of the local newsstand with pinups. Wrapped in cellophane frequently. Boys would slit them open when the proprietor wasn't looking. The "staple in her stomach" gag was common. The places men changed oil, rotated the tires and buffed out dings always had a few hanging around. I don't miss those days in the least, nor do I intend to romanticize paper dolls. The few still being produced look like frosted hair Dallas Cowboy cheerleader rejects, and going back to the earlier ones is not really a treat either. They all look contrived and shallow, with strategic props, unreal colors and women you know just didn't age well. After a few years of nightclub fame, most of them probably had difficult lives and debt like everyone else.
Today the closest thing left is Maxim and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. From literally thousands of titles at one time, we've gone to a handful, and they are likely hurting. I suppose the Womens Movement took the first shot and the internet croaked them for good.
Marilyn Monroe in the middle of Hugh's first Playboy probably runs neck to neck with Betty Grable for the dubious honored "most famous pinup of all time". The first Playboy with Marilyn as sweetheart of the month in mint condition is worth thousands of dollars. But the most RARE pinup? Bettie? Meet Satan.
Satan Magazine ran for only six issues in 1957. It wouldn't take a marketing genius to question the use of the title...so I guess 6 issues is surprising. "Charlie...SATAN is here!" In 1957 it was probably hard enough to sneak a pinup magazine home without it being named after a fiendish diabolical despot with horns. The unofficial and short lived slogan was "A hell of a good magazine."
Satan didn't have a very large print run to begin with, and so the few copies existing today carry a steep price. Figure in the number which were tossed, destroyed, buried (or as intended, ripped apart and nailed to the garage wall) and you have virtually none left to go around. That is why you'll not find this pinup on the web. Until now. And then I'm only putting up her face.
Of course, I have cropped it, but not because the photo is too "bold." Far less is shown than the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. (seriously) It is a classic of horrible taste...Bettie is surrounded by mink coats and her shapely figure is covered with jewelry. There is indeed a staple in her stomach, and what looks like a ruby in her naval. Paste diamonds are applied as pasties. Slathered in stones. The epitome of a gold-digger. She poses not demurely, but there is no need for the Hope diamond. She is called "Satan's Angel" a title they used for each of the 6 centerfolds. (Others who share the demonic honor include Judy O'Day and Tina Louise).
The caption reads "Mink, jewels and Betty Page--what a combination. Even SATAN, that old reprobate, is tempted by the scene!" The photograph is credited to Charles Kell. It is accompanied with several black and white photographs, also seldom seen, of Ms. Page primping, trying on the jewels and having a drink before the work. Spare text claims "SATAN had a lot of fun working with Betty Page. She's such a buoyant girl...when she heard the Royal Command of the Prince of Darkness, she dropped everything and came arunnin'. A face, figure and a happy Southern drawl, that's the proper recipe for an angel."
Bettie Page also posed for a Playboy centerfold, as a naughty Santa for the Christmas issue dated January 1955. It is hard to find an original of that one too, but compared to this two-page spread, it is common as a bedbug just south of the Port Authority Building.
Original centerfold pinup 1957 collection Victor Minx
Jim Linderman is the author of Camera Club Girls: Bettie Page, her Friends and the Work of Rudolph Rossi available at Blurb.com.
In 1952, Time magazine ran a story on Meyercord, the decal corporation mas grande. At the time, the company had been in business over 50 years. Among Meyercord's fine product line were these sticky hot-cha-chas. As you can see on the nice and worn reverse, the suggested use for the colorful cuties was "Decorations for the Walls." Well, I don't know about that. I think pinup dames on a calendar is a better idea, as one paper doll a month seems about right, and I'd hate to spend my time scraping off Bubble Girl or Miss Blondie Mascara. On the other hand, they WOULD look great on my Bicycle! I am not suggesting Meyercord's largest product line was gummed gal transfers. At the time, a single airplane required 2,700 decals! All those "DO NOT TOUCH" signs, you know. So it was a big, sticky business. Don't forget to smooth out the bumps.
"Lick my Decals Off Baby" was a Captain Beefheart LP back in the day. I do not know if he sings about these, but it is a powerhouse. The promotional film made for album was accepted into the permanent collection of Museum of Modern Art.
Original Sheet of Meyercord Pinup Transfer Decals, circa 1950 Collection Victor Minx.
Vic Green is so obscure, it hurts. I don't mean when I laugh, although there are a considerable number of good laughs in this booklet. Imagine a slightly warped Bill Mauldin and you'll be close, although Mauldin was certainly closer to the action, as Vic was back home in Texas. On the other hand, Mauldin didn't do dirty jokes like Vic!
As you can see, Vic produced and sold a series of his splendid sleazy cartoons to servicemen overseas during the big one. Not only that, he made it easy by also producing mailing envelopes which could go right to the soldier. I suppose there are so few around today because they would have been passed from lonely soldier to soldier like a rare piece of actual toilet paper...and in my mind's eye I can see groups of them peering over the lucky recipient's shoulder as he read it first. Vic also wrote and printed some songs for the boys, each to be sung to a familiar tune, so all the troops could join in, and I am sure they did. Can you imagine what a treat it would have been at mail call to receive a digest-sized envelope full of gags from home like this?
Victor couldn't have made much money on these pamphlets, but I am sure he made ANY soldier who received one very, very happy indeed. There were heroes on the home front as well, and in his own, special, talented way, Victor Green was one of them. A bit racist, but then there seems to be plenty of them around still. Best yet, Vic was trippy, quirky and berserky!
Victor J. Green had a Sunday comic strip for a few years after the war called "Willie Dee" which baseball and Birmingham, Alabama documentarian Boyd Nation calls "loathsome" so at least he had that going for him! Any art which evokes a response is good, and "loathsome" is certainly a response. I found a website selling a clipped copy of the original strip from 1949...for a dollar. Fortunately, Allan Holtz on his Stripper's Guide site has printed a few, and the best information by far about the artist is found on his site (scroll down to the end). As has happened to me with some forgotten artists, family members found his post and sent in some biographical information, and Vic sounds like quite a guy, as if you couldn't tell from the illustrations. He sold comics to the Houston Post, where he lived his whole life. Imagine Houston in the 1940s. The entry I find indicates he lived from 1915 to April Fools Day, 1989. How good is that?
He also drew and printed a giant souvenir Texas dollar bill! I'm going to find one.
Vic Green's Left-Overs Number One 1945 Collection Victor Minx
BOOKS AND $5.99 EBOOOKS BY THE AUTHOR OF VINTAGE SLEAZE THE BLOG
ARE AVAILABLE HERE
It occurs to me that I have never used this forum to plug, pitch and shill my little art project Gals Gams Garters. Here's the story, and if you like dumpster diving, it is a story you will enjoy. In the early 1960s, a student attending Virginia State University was doing just that, digging in the trash. He turned up a giant scrapbook put together by a fellow who obviously loved the leg. Maybe a little too much. Anyway, I don't judge...but when given the opportunity to buy the scrapbook, my money was green! Even though our anonymous friend with a fetish is long gone, the book he (or his horrified heirs) thought was gone too is republished as an art project. Mine! Gals Gams and Garters doesn't reproduce the entire book, there were 75 pages or so...but is it a nice little book with lots of spicy vintage sleaze and a wonderful testimony to scissors, tape and obsession. Click on the link above to see more. A fun thing, and my own little attempt at bringing back the quirky era of things that look filthy but aren't. Sorry...not available on Kindle!
Cooch and Crime in Calumet City! Bumps, Grinds and Sleaze Smile Faces in the Sin City of the Midwest! Vintage Sleaze
One way to deal with a sullied and tainted reputation is to simply change your name. West Hammond, Illinois did just that in hopes you would forget Al Capone was running the town during prohibition. Along with Capone's rotgut homemade booze, the town was famous for gambling and hookers. In fact, it gained the name "Sin City." So in 1923 the city fathers voted to change the town's name to Calumet City. (Swipe hands, problem solved, plant some flowers along the sidewalk and welcome the families)
It didn't work out so well. Booze continued to flow...maybe that's why the cops "turned a blind eye"...they were so drunk themselves on the poison swill they couldn't see to make an arrest. Legalization of alcohol after prohibition didn't help either...the speakeasies just became legal and the joints continued to spring up like weeds. At one time, Calumet had more liquor licenses per capita than ANY CITY IN THE COUNTRY!
State Street, the strut of drug dealers and prostitutes was notorious and thriving. Not all the clubs were dives...Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker and "tasteful" stripper Gypsy Rose Lee played the larger clubs. In a modest quote from the Fraternal Order of Police of Calumet City own website, they proudly claim "It is scarcely an exaggeration to say the Cal City was a rough-hewn precursor of Las Vegas."
Tura Satana began her career as a "burlesque dancer" in Calumet City, Illinois at age FIFTEEN. You can look her up if you don't know who she is, but you read Vintage Sleaze, you should already know.
She wasn't alone..."dancer" Anita Lapouchok testified before the U.S. Senate in 1962 about the most horrendous things done to burleskers in the Chicago enrirons. Alleged hoodlums Joey "Doves" Aiuppa and Joseph May were quizzed as well. May owned the "21" club and the Follies above. I'm not sure if he owned the others, but they certainly shared the same commercial artist. The senators were stymied...but the jig was up. There was a sleazefest going on, and the address was anywhere, State Street, Calumet.
In 1973, Calumet came up with another idea. SMILEY FACES! That's right! Reformers hoping to seize their property values back from the sordid past painted two huge water towers with smile faces. One of the towers was used on the back of a Dead Kennedys album cover, and it was also seen in the film Natural Born Killers. Not quite the image they were hoping for, but it was also hard to take a drug dealer serious in the shadow of a giant smile face, so they seem to have worked.
The website "Sin Strip of Calumet City" attempts to document and bring back the memories of sleaze gone by, but a tear comes to my eye looking at the demolition of the Whiskey Go Go, and even sadder is the "slide your cursor game" which allows you to see the Zig-Zag tavern disappear before your very eyes! From Beer on Tap to Dandelions on the curbs in seconds. Despite that...yes guys, you can crib these ads for your site.
George Wolfe's Touring Tesse was a dizzy redhead nearly always fixing her stockings near men somewhere around the world. She was also a cover girl for WHAM!, a digest sized gag book from the esteemed publishing house of Magna Publications. Magna operated out of Times Square in the 1950s. Other titles in their line include "Pack o Fun" "Nifty" and "Zip" (But not the only "Zip"...the other one was a splendid rag produced by Timely Publications, a Humorama title, 12 blocks north at the same time. The latter Zip didn't even TRY to do color, but Magna's Zip did, and they let the shades bleed all over George's work.
Wolfe is better known for his work on the 1960s, but he was drawing cartoons as early as the 1930s, for Click Magazine, the Saturday Evening Post and Esquire. In the 1960's he had a strip called "Pops" who I presume was one of the guys ogling Touring Tessie's luscious legs years earlier. Pops ran in 125 newspapers at one time. Wolfe passed away in Glen Rock, New Jersey at the age of 82 in 1993.