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Of Skinheads, Suedeheads and Knuckle Girls: The gritty novels of Richard Allen
05.25.2017
04:02 pm
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In the 1960s the New English Library, a British subsidiary of the New American Library, had been plodding along churning out westerns and science fiction novels, but after approximately 1970 the imprint stumbled on a new audience that would make it lots of money. For young men who grew up in Britain during the era, the New English Library was an endless source of high-octane pulp fiction about the rough and tumble of the urban street.

The name applied to the genre eventually came to be “bovver,” as in “bovver boys” or “bovver boots”—it was a corruption of “bother”—but many also simply think of them as the Skinhead books. They were geared toward a working-class youth audience and saw opportunities in the mostly white subcultures that were coming into being at the time, skinheads, punks, bikers, and mods, with attention also paid to girl gangs. Using photographic covers for automatic authenticity, the books crammed as much telltale detail of “the life” as possible. Many readers were certain that the author must be “one of them”—which was not really true.

As Harry Sword wrote in his memorable VICE story about the publishing company from 2014 “The New English Library was the maniacal king of pulp publishing in 1970s Britain.” “Maniacal” was an apt descriptor: One of the hallmarks of this new type of fiction was that books were churned out at an incredibly fast rate. Sword quotes Mark Howell, employed by “the NEL” in the early 1970s:
 

That damn delivery schedule was the most driving force I’ve ever met in publishing. You just had to get it out there—it was breakneck, insane. I started a series called Deathlands, and the first writer I gave it to had done a wonderful first story and was given the green light—and spent his entire advance on heroin, which, back in those days, was not unknown. It was crippling for some, but most of our writers were addicts of the typewriter, and one of the glories of this was that it was a conveyer belt—we thoroughly addicted our readers. It was endless repetition stemming from unresolved anomaly.

 
The most successful books of the NEL were the Skinhead series, which focused on a “misanthropic 16-year-old thug” named Joe Hawkins. The Skinhead books were incredibly violent and trafficked heavily in racism, rape, robbery, and gang beatings. To read one of the Richard Allen books was to enter a world of “cold rain, futility, bad sex, spilt blood and stale beer” set in an indistinguishable series of East London tenements.

The books were credited to “Richard Allen” but the identity of the author was actually James Moffat, a Canadian-born author who cold generate 10,000 words a day and published roughly 300 books over his long career. He died in 1993 at the age of 71.

As Howell says, “We had a market who were always hungry for more. The James Moffat Skinhead books sold in their millions.” The first novel of the Joe Hawkins series, Skinhead, was published in 1970. A year later the book Suedehead came out. Those two books as well as Skinhead Escapes were reprinted in 2015 by Dean Street Press.
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.25.2017
04:02 pm
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Death is My Lover: The Decadent Erotic Art of Takato Yamamoto (NSFW)

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Some artists keep their lives hidden so the focus remains solely on their work.

Takato Yamamoto appears to be such an artist.

Outside of Japan, there is little known about Takato Yamamoto other than he is a Japanese artist who produces beautiful, dark, exquisite paintings of sex and death. Type his name into any search engine and up will pop the words “beautiful,” “dark,” “exquisite,” “sex,” and” death.” 

There is also the standard paragraph biography:

Takato Yamamoto was born in Akita Prefecture (Japan) in 1960. After graduating from the painting department of the Tokyo Zokei University, he experimented with the Ukiyo-e Pop style. He further refined and developed that style to create his “Heisei estheticism” style. His first exhibition was held in Tokyo, in 1998.

Yamamoto tags his work “Heisei estheticism.” But this doesn’t really mean much. It’s just a nominal title for something created during the Heisei period. The Heisei period started on January 8th, 1989, with the death of Emperor Hirohito and the ascension of his son Emperor Akihito. It’s little more than a descriptive time frame like saying Shakespeare’s work is Elizabethan drama. The “estheticism” bit references the Aesthetic Movement, which believed in “art for art’s sake” with an emphasis on “the visual and sensual qualities of art and design over practical, moral or narrative considerations.”

The Heisei period is supposedly about the promotion of peace. Yamamoto’s response to this is not only simply aesthetic but also decadent as in the Decadent art movement of the late 19th-century. The French author and pioneer of the Decadent movement, Charles Baudelaire described “decadence” as a preference for what is beautiful and exotic, a literal surrendering to the fantastical. This could be a description of Yamamoto’s work. A closer look reveals there are also some other influences—some Art Nouveau and more than a hint of the Symbolists.

Let’s start with Yamamoto’s mix of sex and fantastical horror which suggest the Decadent paintings of Félicien Rops. The pig motif recalls Rops’ Pornokratès. While his imagery of death contained within the embrace of love recalls Rops obsession with women as potential destroyers—an obsession born out of his fear of syphilis. Add in some other Decadent themes like vampirism, torture, disembowelment, the old favorite of young girls in bondage, and some delicate homoeroticism featuring some beautiful whey-faced androgynous boys, then we have the full checklist.

Then there is Yamamoto’s intricate and exquisite style which recalls the illustrative work of Art Nouveau artists Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke.

All of these clues reveal a highly cultured and intelligent artist creating his own distinctive and, let’s be frank, deeply personal style through the prism of past artistic movements. It’s post-modernist pick ‘n’ mix. Part graphic novel, part Decadent fantasy, part Heisei esthetic, wholly Tamako Yamamoto.
 
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See more of Yamaoto’s work, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.25.2017
12:21 pm
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‘Female Trouble’ dolls and other imagined retro toys based on John Waters films
05.25.2017
10:01 am
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Divine as “Dawn Davenport” doll
 
Opening today at La MaMa Galleria at 47 Great Jones Street in Manhattan (and there until June 24) is “Lost Merchandise of the Dreamlanders” a show featuring shouldabeen toys and other fake retro “merchandise” based on characters and situations from the films of John Waters:

Do you remember eating Divine breakfast cereal or sleeping on Pink Flamingos bed sheets when you were a kid? Neither do we, but you just might upon viewing this oddball array of rare collectibles. Lost Merchandise of the Dreamlanders is a showcase of kitschy and ironic retail items based on the early films of Baltimore director John Waters. Discover forgotten toys, home decor, and seasonal artifacts featuring familiar Dreamlander movie personalities. Presented in the spirit of a Sunday morning garage sale, the exhibit revels in the strange, nostalgic appeal of the 70s and 80s.

The Dreamlander exhibition is the brainchild of Tyson Tabbert, a sculptor at New York’s Asher Levine fashion house, who looked into officially licensing some of John Waters characters for the toy market a few years ago, but found that this probably wasn’t in the cards:

“I was initially able to contact someone at Warner Brothers to discuss the possibility of making the figures legit. But the possibility of licensing them was, as I interpreted it, slim at best.”

Undeterred, Tabbert got some artist friends together to create some of the products he had in mind for an art show. Everything in the show is a period piece (ahem) designed to look like vintage toys. There’s even a bedspread! Tabbert self-financed much of the work, which also includes plastic Halloween masks of Connie and Raymond Marble from Pink Flamingos, a Desperate Living tea service and a metal ashtray inspired by Lobstora, the giant lobster that rapes Divine in Multiple Maniacs.

If you are looking for some officially licensed Divine swag, there’s an online Divine shop that sells T-shirts, tote bags, pins and other stuff.

 
The final scene from ‘Female Trouble’
 

Taffy’s parents, Dawn and Earl (both played by Divine) meet cute in a tableau inspired by a scene in ‘Female Trouble’
 

Metal Lobstora ashtray
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.25.2017
10:01 am
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Pigeon caught smuggling ecstasy pills in tiny little backpack
05.25.2017
09:15 am
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Well here’s something you don’t hear and see every day: A homing pigeon—normally used for carrying messages—was apprehended by Kuwaiti custom officials as it was crossing over from Iraq. The pigeon sported a tiny bird-friendly backpack with 178 narcotic pills inside of it. According to the reports I’ve read online, some sources are saying the pills were ecstasy while others reporting it was ketamine.

One burning question I do have is how exactly did the Kuwait custom officials capture the bird? That would seem almost impossible to do. Also, what’s next for the bird? Do they set it free or is there some type of jail for birds that smuggle drugs?


 
via BBC, Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley
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05.25.2017
09:15 am
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Fifties fetish model Tana Louise and her sky-high shoes
05.25.2017
08:46 am
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Burlesque performer and fetish model Tana Louise surveying her collection of shoes back in the 1950s.
 
After enjoying success as a popular burlesque dancer and stripper, Tana Louise (not to be confused with actress Tina Louise, aka “Ginger” from Gilligan’s Island, though we’ll get to her later) would truly find her calling by becoming a fetish model and columnist for Exotique magazine.

Exotique followed in the dominatrix footsteps of cult fetish magazine Bizarre, though it didn’t really focus on BDSM and instead featured models clad in corsets and sky-high heels. Acquiring the moniker of the “Cincinnati Sinner” after she allegedly clubbed dancer Emerald Forest in the head while she was sitting in her dressing room, Louise’s bad-girl persona fit in perfectly with Exotique. The assault story was published by Billboard in 1950—Louise denied it ever happened—and this only helped enhance that aspect of her appeal. Exotique publisher Leonard Burtman, considered by some to be the father of the modern fetish business, was so impressed by Louise that he not only made her the primary model for Exotique during its short three-year run, he also married her. Later, and in accordance with his then wife and his magazine’s love of stilettos, Burtman would also produce the pioneering fetish film, 1962’s Satan in High Heels.

Often photographed by the great Irving Klaw, Louise’s column in Exotique “From Me to You” was essentially a primer for “readers” of the magazine for her photo shoots. Most revolved around the process of getting into her leather gear and insane fetish footwear. Though she bore a distinct resemblance to a woman who is arguably the most famous pinup model ever, Bettie Page, the similarity would end up working against Louise during her career. Another issue Tana faced was a lawsuit initiated by actress Tina Louise that accused the model of using the similarities of their names to help promote herself, though it is unclear if the case ever made it to court. It wouldn’t take long for Burtman to tire of the raven-haired model, and sadly, after they divorced sometime in the late 1950s, Louise faded into obscurity.

Later in the 1960s, Tana would briefly resurface along with another burlesque dancer, Mara Gaye. The girls claimed to be in charge of an exotic fashion mail order company called “Tana & Mara” that was rumored to only be a promotional scheme for the two models/dancers, as they allegedly didn’t actually have merchandise to sell, and were merely making money from the sale of the catalog itself which cost two bucks an issue. As there is no shortage of images of Tana Louise from the 1950s, below you’ll find several shots of the gorgeous, sometimes blonde model showing off her fierce fetish footwear below. Dig it.
 

 

 
More Tana Louise and her high, high heels after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.25.2017
08:46 am
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50 ultra stylish lobby cards from the hip world of 1960s American cinema
05.25.2017
08:37 am
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Drugs, counterculture, spies, and a hundred other elements that help define the word “cool.” Here’s a collection of lobby cards from American films that were used to promote their release in West Germany from 1965-1969. Included in this collection: What’s New Pussycat? (1965) starring Peter Sellers and Peter O’Toole, spy spoof Our Man Flint (1966) starring James Coburn, outer-space sex comedy Way…Way Out (1966) starring Jerry Lewis and Connie Stevens, Francis Ford Coppola’s coming of age film You’re a Big Boy Now (1966) starring Elizabeth Hartman, romantic slapstick comedy Luv (1967) starring Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk, and Elaine May, comedy crime film The Happening (1967) starring Faye Dunaway & Anthony Quinn, satire The President’s Analyst (1967) starring James Coburn, drama–thriller Bullitt (1968) starring Steve McQueen, psychedelic sex farce Candy (1968) starring Ewa Aulin, comedy Don’t Just Stand There! (1968) starring Robert Wagner and Mary Tyler Moore, musical Finian’s Rainbow (1968) starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark, drug comedy I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968) starring Peter Sellers, comedy cult classic The Party (1968) starring Peter Sellers, counter-culture drama The Sweet Ride (1968) starring Michael Sarrazin and Jacqueline Bisset, The Swimmer (1968) starring Burt Lancaster, sexual revolution Three in the Attic (1968), Jacques Demy’s The Model Shop (1969) starring Gary Lockwood and Anouk Aimée, romantic comedy The April Fools (1969) starring Jack Lemmon and Catherine Deneuve, drug thriller The Big Cube (1969) starring Lana Turner, and depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) starring Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin.
 

What’s New Pussycat? (1965)
 

What’s New Pussycat? (1965)
 

Our Man Flint (1966)
 
Tons more after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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05.25.2017
08:37 am
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My grandfather is on the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ album cover and here’s the story


From the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ photo shoot
 
The Summer of Love hasn’t begun. There’s LBJ at Expo 67, thanking God for putting the U.S.A. next to Canada instead of, say, Pakistan or Greece; there’s Cher modeling the short-cut pantsuit. There’s Robyn Hitchcock saying goodbye to his late grandmother with a little help from Brian Eno, and there’s my father, Gary, not yet 18, hearing Peter Bergman announce on Radio Free Oz that his own father, Huntz Hall, is pictured on the cover of the Beatles’ new album.

In the original photo shoot for the album cover, Huntz appeared next to Leo Gorcey, his co-star in hundreds of Dead End Kids, East Side Kids, and Bowery Boys movies, or “pictures,” as he would have said. (Though Leo isn’t in in it, I’m partial to Looking for Danger, in which the Bowery Boys lend Uncle Sam a hand by impersonating Nazis in North Africa.) But Leo asked for money, and Peter Blake airbrushed him out. Huntz, bless him, did not ask for money, so he stands alone in the back row between a Vargas girl and Simon Rodia, whose head seems to be growing out of Bob Dylan’s. Lined up in front of him are Karl Marx, H.G. Wells and Paramahansa Yogananda.
 

 
Now, some smart aleck will claim FEAR settled the balance when they conspicuously thanked Leo, but not Huntz, in the liner notes of More Beer, another album that is close to my heart. This game of one-upmanship will only end in triumph for my mighty clan and tears of shame for the rest of humanity. He can deny it all he likes, but Rick Nielsen of John Lennon’s onetime backing band Cheap Trick bit gramps’ style. And it was Huntz, not Leo, who shared the stage with Duke Ellington, busted a hang with Alice Cooper, and accompanied Ken Russell to a Sex Pistols show during the filming of Valentino. After which these candid shots of Huntz posing with members of THOR at a Travelodge in 1983 seem hardly worth mentioning. Q.E.D.!

It is strange and puzzling to see your grandfather on the cover of a Beatles album. When you are on the playground 20 years after the Summer of Love and you tell your school chums your grandfather is on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s, they respond that you are wrong and he is not. Juvenile rock scholars immersed in the backstairs literature of the Satanic panic tell you about the “Paul is dead” clues, so you lie awake all night wondering: My God, what was peepaw’s role in all that? And the title of the NME compilation Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father had an unusual resonance.

The biggest puzzle was Huntz’s appearance. Squinting in the daylight, wearing a tarboosh, a green djellaba and a red velvet scarf, he looks more like a carpet dealer standing in the Jemaa el-Fnaa at high noon than a Depression-era NYC tough. But, at last, I have discovered the solution to this puzzle: he is not wearing any of those things. Thanks to the good work of the Sgt. Pepper Photos blog, I now see that cover artist Peter Blake’s source was this black and white group shot of the Dead End Kids, with Huntz in familiar attire.
 

via Sgt. Pepper Photos
 
While Blake says the Bowery Boys were his choice, my father—who has contributed to a forthcoming book of essays about the crowd on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s whose name I do not yet know—thinks the pot bust that sent Huntz to jail in 1948 must have endeared him to the Fabs. (Though he was exonerated, I can confirm that Huntz was a lifelong slave to the ruinous vice of marijuana abuse. He may have been a comedian, but take it from me: there is nothing funny about watching a loved one support a $2-a-day drug habit.)

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.25.2017
07:06 am
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Electric Kool-Aid Cuckoo’s Bus: Go further with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters
05.24.2017
01:51 pm
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In 1964 Ken Kesey published Sometimes a Great Notion, the follow-up to his smash novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; in order to meet certain obligations in New York City, Kesey decided to use a psychedelically-painted school bus as his means of getting there from the West Coast. The bus, of course, was called Further or, if you were in the mood, Furthur.

It was all a great romantic quest to make known the benefits of LSD, at a time when the drug was not illegal in the United States (that wouldn’t last long), and only a couple of years after Cary Grant, of all people, had been touting its benefits in the pages of the New York Herald Tribune and elsewhere.
 

Timothy Leary and Neal Cassady on the storied bus Further
 
Tom Wolfe chronicled the memorable trip in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, but if you’re looking for a more audio-visual account of the journey, you could do a lot worse than Tripping, which appeared on Channel 4 in Great Britain on August 7, 1999.

Kesey called the whole idea of their magic bus “an American glyph,” which is interesting. As Kesey says, Further was a powerful symbol of a vehicle that will pick you up and safely transport you to a place where your mind will be expanded.

Go further, after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.24.2017
01:51 pm
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That time Nirvana snuck into a TV studio and made video magic
05.24.2017
12:40 pm
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In 1989 Sub Pop released Nirvana’s first album Bleach, and word of the (at the time) startlingly heavy and catchy masterpiece recorded with a tiny budget got around the indie underground rather quickly. I was late to that game—I remember I spent the summer of 1990 playing the shit out of Soundgarden’s Ultramega OK and Mudhoney’s first album and it wasn’t until September that a friend gave me this album I absolutely had to listen to: Bleach. Then that dominated my CD player for the next year or so.

A few months before that, on March 20, 1990, Nirvana took advantage of a relatively empty Evergreen State College campus (the institution is lovingly known as “TESC”) during Spring Break to “sneak into”—not sure how literally to take that—the campus TV studio and record some footage. What that session produced was experimental, heavy as shit, and generally quite interesting.

According to Jon Snyder, the director of the session, Cobain’s intention at that moment was to put together a VHS tape for fans to buy: “The original concept was to do stuff in the studio, then go to Aberdeen and shoot a bunch of other stuff and turn it into some hour-long thing they would sell to fans.”

Knowing that the studio was equipped with a green screen for chromakey work, Cobain brought along some videotapes with amusing and/or scary footage to project over/behind the band playing. Such a simple idea, but the execution was unexpectedly effective. For “School,” the footage was a montage featuring ‘70s heartthrobs Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett as well as a random assemblage of informercial-type clips and footage of high school students. For “Big Cheese,” Haxan: Witchcraft through the Ages provided the doomy backdrop.

For the second rendition of “Floyd the Barber,” which pops up around the 20-minute mark, the backdrop was primarily footage of Cobain’s own art projects and dioramas. Camera operator Alex Kostelnik recalls: “He had broken dolls, dolls on fire, or stuff like in Toy Story where the dolls are all put together wrong.”

Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.24.2017
12:40 pm
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Illustrations of films by Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, Ridley Scott & more from Cinefantastique


The cover of Cinefantastique magazine featuring an image of Asia Argento, a bunch of blood and a razor blade with a job to do. The image is based on her father’s 1996 film ‘The Stendhal Syndrome.’ Illustration by David Voigt.
 
Originally the long-running film magazine Cinefantastique was just a little fanzine that was compiled with the help of a mimeograph machine in 1967. A few years later it became a highly regarded proper magazine known for its use of lustrous photos and exhaustive critical analysis of films by a team of writers that included the founder of Video Watchdog Tim Lucas along with future Stephen King collaborator, writer, and director Mick Garris. The vision of Cinefantastique publisher and editor Frederick S. Clarke was to ensure that the magazine was a category killer when it came to its approach in the treatment of cinema, taking the art of scrutinizing a film to a new level by providing expansive articles that expertly dissected every aspect of a movie instead of churning out fluff pieces like their competitors.

Another aspect that set Cinefantastique apart was the indulgent use of color photography in its layouts and covers. In addition to the use eye-popping photos, the magazine often featured creative illustrations on the cover done by various artists such as Roger Stine, sci-fi illustrator Barclay Shaw, John Carl Schoenherr (who created the iconic cover illustration for the dust jacket art of Dune), and Andrew Probert who is best known for his colorful contributions to the 1985 film Back to the Future and 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Some of the magazine’s more memorable illustrations were done by Stine and his cover for Cinefantastique that featured a surreal image of Sissy Spacek dripping in blood in 1977 (Volume six, Number one) won the artist critical acclaim. Cinefantastique still maintains an online presence as well as offering access to their extensive back-catalog of interviews and retrospectives. Physical copies of the magazine are also pretty easy to come by. Some of the images that follow are slightly NSFW.
 

Cover by Roger Stine, 1982.
 

1981.
 

The infamous “Carrie” cover by Roger Stine, 1977.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.24.2017
11:58 am
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