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Vintage comic book ads that were too good to be true!
12:20 pm

Pop Culture


I was never going to be Spider-Man—no matter how I tried to swing from washing lines or scale neighborhood walls or tumble out of trees. My enthusiasm for imitating Peter Parker always ended in disaster and bruised limbs. Obviously being a superhero was not all it was cracked-up to be. And when I thought about it further it seemed a rather silly career option—there was no pay, no pension plan, and the insurance premiums, well, they had to massive. Before hitting double-figures in years I’d given up on joining the the Avengers or the Justice League and was happy just to read of their incredible adventures in the pages of comics.

Being born and raised in Scotland meant an intermittent supply of such comic books capers. Most of these magazines way back then were brought over to Glasgow as ballast on cargo ships delivering goods and produce from America and beyond. This premium ballast would later be sold in the likes of a wee crammed kiosk near Queen Street Station, or the local newsagent and grocer (McGregor’s) in Blairdardie. Yet, the pleasure of the action-packed panels in every Spider-Man or Batman, was equalled (and often bettered) by the thrill of the adverts for toys, goods and services posted in every issue.

America was known as “the land of plenty,” and going by the vast range of toys and goods advertised, this seemed to be true. Toys were not only plentiful over there but cheap, bewitching and utterly exotic. Coins to hypnotize your friends. Sea monkeys that could live in a goldfish bowl and be trained to perform tricks! X-ray specs guaranteed to make everything see-thru. A Polaris submarine—more than seven feet long—which I dreamt of traveling in along the Forth-Clyde Canal, avoiding the ghostly weeds, the garbage, discarded shopping trolleys, and the imaginary gangsters—pale, bloated and tethered to weighty blocks of concrete. But of course I knew—just like my failed attempt to imitate the web-slinger—that these adverts of youthful dreams were equally illusory and would always seem far, far better in print than ever in real life.

These are the ads I salivated over most—and to be frank a part of me still does hanker after them.
This was top of my list as must have.
Kinda looks like that monster from ‘Night of the Demon.’
I eventually bought a rubber skull mask from a joke shop—it gave me… er… minutes of fun.
More comic book ads, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Good… and long’: Blaxploitation ads for Winston cigarettes, 1970-1973

The term ‘Blaxploitation’ was coined by NAACP head/film publicist Junius Griffin in the early 1970s to describe the genre of African American action films that followed from the examples set by Cotton Comes to Harlem and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, but the term certainly could have had other applications—racially targeted marketing that sought to move destructive commodities like malt liquor and menthol cigarettes to underclass populations has long been, and justifiably remains, a highly contentious matter, and is inarguably more literally exploitative than any “exploitation” film. compiled a lode of eye-popping examples from a print campaign for Winston cigarettes.

After World War Two American tobacco companies started to explore new markets to maintain their not insubstantial prosperity. The growth in urban migration and the growing incomes of African Americans (called at the time the “emerging Negro market”) gave the tobacco companies what was sometimes called an “export market at home”. Additionally, a new kind of media started to appear after the war when several glossy monthly magazines including Negro Digest (1942, renamed Black World), Ebony (1945) and Negro Achievements (1947, renamed Sepia) began to be published.

These relatively expensively produced magazines were far more attractive to the tobacco advertisers than the cheap ‘negro’ daily newspapers of the pre-war era, with glossy pages and a far wider national distribution. The magazines meant for a purely African American audience also meant that advertisers could produce adverts aimed and featuring African Americans away from the eyes of white consumers.


“Rich.” “Long.” Got’cha. Wink wink.

The juxtaposition of aspirational fashion, rogue-ish male confidence, and burning cigarettes carries an unmistakable message so old it’s hardly worth spelling out. The longing looks from the women in the near-backgrounds aren’t terribly nuanced in their subtext, either. But all the problematics of death-dealing aside, these are objectively awesome photos, amazing snapshots of a time and place when African American culture was asserting a more prominent place in the US mainstream. Airbrush out the cigarettes (or don’t) and change the captions, and these would be amazing menswear ads, too.


More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Vintage horror film lobby cards through the decades
09:23 am


horror movies
lobby cards

Freaks vintage lobby card, 1932
Freaks vintage lobby card, 1932
As Halloween is quickly approaching I’ve pulled together some pretty cool eye-candy to help feed your inner ghoul - vintage “lobby cards” used to advertise horror films from the last seven decades. The use of lobby cards can be traced back as far as 1910 (The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale houses a collection of cards from silent westerns from 1910-1930).
Dracula's Daughter vintage lobby card, 1936
Dracula’s Daughter vintage lobby card, 1936
Frakenstein vintage lobby card, 1931
Frankenstein vintage lobby card, 1931
Many lobby cards came in sets of up to twelve cards to help promote the film. In some cases, avid collectors have shelled out loads of cash for vintage lobby cards, such as the card pictured above for the 1931 film Frankenstein which sold at an auction this past summer for over $10K. But most of the cards in this post can be had for more reasonable sums via eBay or Etsy. I’m especially fond of the B-movie lobby cards from the 50s and the 60s that celebrated oddball films like 1956’s The Indestructible Man (starring Lon Chaney Jr.), or the impossibly strange sounding The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), and I think you will be too. Happy viewing, creeps!
Magic lobby card, 1978
Lobby card for the 1978 film, Magic
Many more macabre lobby cards after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Anti-capitalist artist trolls Kellogg’s and Tony the Tiger AND IT IS DARK and EPIC

A couple weeks ago the most amazing thing started to percolate around social media, but then it was apparently stopped by lawyers from Kellogg’s. The “amazing thing” I refer to is the ultra-elaborate trolling—allegedly orchestrated by the brilliant Finnish anti-capitalist artist Jani Leinonen—of Kellogg’s and their Tony the Tiger mascot.

For generations, kids the world over have grown up eating Kellogg’s sugary, nearly nutritionless breakfast cereal and getting positive reinforcement from Tony’s “They’re GRRRREAT!” catchphrase, but some of the child actors who were actually in these commercials have apparently had tragic difficulties later in their lives.

Each new video that appeared saw Tony addressing the problems—via the use of his simplistic catchphrase basically—of a prostitute, a brutal cop and a suicide bomber.

Here’s the first one, launched on October 7th:

What Leinonen (I’m pretty confident he’s the mastermind)—whose “School of Disobedience” show is currently on exhibit at the Finnish National Gallery Kiasma—has done is, well, as I said before, ultra-elaborate trolling. Culture jamming of the Banksy or Ron English school and of the highest order, not only in terms of the wit employed, but in how perfectly this prank was pulled off. What you are about to see aren’t some amateurish commercial parodies, they are as professionally realized as something that you might see on Saturday Night Live, or indeed, as any “real” TV commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. I used to work at a commercial production studio in New York that specialized in mixing live action and animation, usually in the employ of selling sugar to children, natch, and lemme tell ya, back then this would have taken a small army to pull off. This guy is a maniac! I really admire his dedication and work ethic. He might want to destroy capitalism—but Jani Leinonen is anything but lazy. He must be the hardest working anti-capitalist around.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch The The’s innovative ‘Infected: The Movie’ music video album, 1986
11:11 am


The The
The Infected

In 1986 the well-nigh un-Google-able musical outfit known as The The, the thinking person’s dance band formed by English musician Matt Johnson, released its second or third album, depending on whether you want to include Burning Blue Soul, which came out in 1981 as a Matt Johnson release but which the headstrong singer later requested be reclassified as a The The release so that his devotees could find them on the same CD shelf in stores. The new album was called Infected and could boast of a rather unusual promotional gimmick. At the height of MTV’s clout in the music world, The The released a series of videos that covered the entire album. (How did nobody else think of this?)

According to Billboard, the movie had a budget of $500,000 and shooting occurred in London, New York, Peru, and Bolivia. The directors included Tim Pope, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, Alastair McIlwain, and Mark Romanek. This was an impressive group—Christopherson, of course, was a co-founder of Throbbing Gristle; McIlwain was an animator who had worked on the movies Pink Floyd: The Wall and Heavy Metal; and Tim Pope had directed a bunch of videos for the Cure and was also the “helmer” responsible for videos by Talk Talk, Soft Cell and Siouxsie and the Banshees as well as the medieval-ish video for “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats. Romanek’s resume in 1986 was the thinnest of the bunch but he won a bunch of awards for videos in the 1990s for Nine Inch Nails, En Vogue and Madonna and eventually broke into feature film, directing the critically lauded Robin Williams vehicle One Hour Photo and the Kazuo Ishiguro adaptation Never Let Me Go.

Be that as it may, how Johnson was able to secure a $500,000 video budget (in 1986 dollars) for a musical act that then, now, and at all points in between was something of a connoisseur’s fave strikes me as an incredibly impressive bit of persuasion on his part. Additionally, the article noted that promotion for the album would include “the The video nights at rock clubs in 30 major cities in early December.” Anyone reading this ever attend such a thing?

That Billboard article features a rare instance of a non-errant triple “the,” which I’m guessing came about as the result of a bar bet between journalist Jim Bessman and a colleague. Here’s a shot of that hot syntactical action (see the top line):

After wordplay geekery of such elevated quality, describing anything about the movie itself hardly seems worth the bother, which isn’t a dis on the movie. Infected: The Movie (IMDb calls it The The: Infected) doesn’t have a plot or any over-arching themes or narrative elements: it’s just eight videos that cover the eight songs on the album.  During the part of the shoot that occurred in eastern Peru, a local Indian guide introduced Johnson to some of the hallucinogenic substances used in their rituals.

According to Wikipedia,

The video for “Mercy Beat” captures a scene where during filming the crew were attacked by a rally of Communist rebel fighters, angry at the appearance of what they considered Western intruders. Johnson confirmed that the scene was genuine and unscripted, and admitted that at the time he was “so high”, recalling the madness that had ensued: “Someone produced a snake which I was grappling with, and I hate snakes. A monkey bit me, and then me and this guy, who I’d only just met, cut each other and we became blood brothers, rubbing blood over each other’s face, stuff like that.”

The video for “Slow Train to Dawn” features Neneh Cherry, who also appears on the track, tied to a railway line while Johnson operates the train bearing down on her. Pope, director of that video, later said, “I hate that one. It’s pretentious and kind of stupid.” (He’s got a point.)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bizarre 1984 TV commercial from New York’s legendary Danceteria nightclub
03:12 pm


Rudolf Pieper

Danceteria was arguably the most influential and important club in New York City in the 1980s. Any musician who mattered played there, and it was featured prominently in the movies Desperately Seeking Susan and Liquid Sky. I spent a little while going through this intriguing collection of Danceteria flyers, and came upon the following names: the Fleshtones, Madonna, Sonic Youth, Marc Almond, Sade, Alien Sex Fiend, the Smiths, Cocteau Twins, Gene Loves Jezebel, Diamanda Galas, Beastie Boys. On December 16, 1982, A Certain Ratio played Danceteria with Madonna opening—she was at the time employed as the club’s coat check girl. It’s a place with that sort of pedigree.

The two main figures at Danceteria were Rudolf Pieper and Jim Fouratt. Pieper was German, and it’s his accent you hear in the crazy commercial embedded below, in which he calls himself “the head bimbo of Danceteria” and supports Esperanto as the language of the club and claims to oppose the inclusion of a Belgian ethnic group called the Walloons unless they “dress fabulously,” of course. Oh, and “exiled Latin American dictators have free admission here, every night.”

John Argento, who was instrumental in the club’s move from West 37th Street to 21st Street in 1982, says, according to Trey Speegle’s blog, this about the commercial:

What can I say? Low budget, public access TV… Rudolf does the voice over, reiterating long standing door policies such as ‘Latin American Dictators get in for free’…’Walloons only if they’re dressed fabulously.’

I remember him doing the voice over in the fourth floor DJ booth… I believe the soundtrack was from the movie La Dolce Vita. A difference of opinion then, the choice of music looks like the right thing to have done now.

One might ask, why would a club that was as successful as Danceteria was at that time even bother with a commercial? Why would they need it? Jim Fouratt, who was the talent booker for the club, remembers it as “a nightmare of lies and intimadation [sic],” in effect an effort to displace Fouratt’s role in the club as well as other ventures like Interferon, which failed. Here’s Fouratt’s account, typos included:

I was sent this commercial for Danceteria .. it comes from an ugly period. I had been locked out of the club on 21st and my average normal business accounts were frozen because my business partner had accept the offer of Alex Delorenzo of the son of mobster and real estate mogul offer to work with his protege John Argento who he had invested over a million dollars into a failed club that was to replicate the Original Danceteria . It ws called Interferon. (good grief) .It failed . Delorenzo called me and I brought putting to the meeting . I forgot the history of putting Germans and Italian together (sorry) , Argento and Delorenzo’s son-in-law had cleared a block of rent regulated tenants in the East 50’s so Delorenzo could raze and build. They had used every kind of intimadation to frighten the hell out of the tenants. Delorenzo wanted to reward them and Argento said he wanted to open a club on 21st in a building Delorenzo owned (it was a dead street at the time). He did . It failed We made a deal and one of the points was Argento was not to be involved .; Delorenzo wanted to protect his other business realtons and insisted Argento be icharge of all the day deliveries .. including liquore , napkins, etc the cash items and the cleaning and removal of the trash. We agreed once it was agreed the Argento would have nothing to do with the club other than his janitorial job I sued Delorenzo for contract violation (yes sued Godfather like business family ) and sued Rudolf for fiduciary betrayal.. it ws a nightmare for six years . This commercial was to establish Rudolf as Danceteria honcho.. he had been telling people I had AIDS .. and that is why I wasn’t there . The real reason was greed .. i was told I was paying talent too much money .. and the club when I was they was a hige hit. Trust me I would neve have approved a commercial .. we did nto need it ..and my door policy insured a fabulous safe mix of people and my bookings were the best in the universe (ok hyperbole) ... this is nto the place to go into just what a nightmare of lies and intimadation .. but since this video has turnes up ... I wanted to put it in context… and no i did not nor do have AIDS or am I HIV +. ...

Golly! Who would have thought that such an innocent-seeming and campy commercial could have that kind of darkness behind it?

It was edited by Danny Cornyetz, who went by the name Dee Cortex. Experience some primo 1980s oddness below:

via Trey Speegle

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
JUST what you’ve been waiting for: Kmart’s piped in music 1988-1993 is now online
11:30 am




Just when you thought you’d heard it all when it came to collector specificity—“I only collect Beatles original press on Vee-Jay!” “I only collect sealed Firestone Christmas records!”—something like this comes along and leaves you in kind of minor awe. There’s long been a collectables subset that’s coveted private press records and tapes meant for distribution only among employees of a certain business. Broadcaster April Winchell shares rather a lot of such unintentionally comical material on her completely amazing MP3 sharity page; highlights include the infamous 1979 McDonald’s flexi-disc and a KFC “inspirational” pep-talk. This is related, but I’ve never heard of anyone doing it before. Via Chart Attack:

Mark Davis worked behind the Service Desk at the Naperville, IL Kmart in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Every month, corporate office issued a cassette to be played over the store speaker system — canned elevator-type music with advertisements seeded every few tracks. Around 1991, the muzak was replaced with mainstream hits, and the following year, new tapes began arriving weekly. The cassettes were supposed to be thrown away, but Davis dutifully slipped each tape into his apron pocket to save for posterity. He collected this strange discount department store ephemera until 1993, when background music began being piped in via satellite service.


22 years later, Davis has done the world the extreme favor of uploading all that material to It’s amazing how quaint so much of it seems now. This compilation of pharmacy ads, for example, is full of really straightforward, just-the-facts announcing; the total absence of any heavy emotional manipulation like we’re subjected to in ads now is conspicuous here to the point where these almost sound robotic:

This call to action to visit the paint department was from the turn of the ‘90s, but with the exception of some sfx near the beginning, it sounds like it could have been scripted and recorded in the early ‘60s. Advertising sophistication grew much more rapidly than this in that time period, I wonder how Kmart could have been so stuck in the past.

Here’s an example of something less specific, an hour and a half of music and ads. It’s pretty strictly formatted: one blandly soothing contemporary pop/jazz song, one call to action, repeat repeat repeat. There are more than 50 of these, again, at


Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Behold the National Pork Queen! Vintage photos of bizarre beauty contests & queens
08:21 am


beauty queens
beauty contests

Elmira Humphries, Miss Radio Queen - 1939
Elmira Humphries, Miss Radio Queen - 1939
From “Miss Beautiful Ape” to “The Diaper Queen” of Chicago in 1947, there there are a seemingly endless variety of strange beauty contests that have been crowning queens since early 1900s.
Miss Beautiful Ape contest, Century City, California - 1972
Miss Beautiful Ape contest, Century City, California - 1972
Take for instance the “Miss Beautiful Ape” contest that was held in Los Angeles back in the early 70s. Put on by disc jockey and television personality Gary Owens (whose golden pipes announced the comedy variety show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In) in Century City, the contest was a promotion vehicle for the Planet of the Apes film franchise. The winner of the contest, Dominique Green (contestant number two on the far right) was awarded a role in the fifth (and final) Planet of the Apes film, 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

Naturally, all of these “contests” were means for some sort of revenue generating scheme, and not so much the prestige associated with being crowned “Miss Diaper Queen” (contestants were required to wear cloth diapers), “Miss Lube Job” for the local auto repair shop or “Miss NRA” for which contestants sported a huge fake “tattoo” of the National Rifle Association blue eagle emblem on their back. In some cases, NRA contestants placed a stencil of the emblem on their backs while sunbathing so the logo could be displayed by way of their tan lines. Wow.
Miss NRA contestants being judged in Miami, 1930
Miss NRA contestants being judged in Miami, 1930
Contestants in the Miss NRA contest in Miami, 1930s
Miss NRA contestants with blue eagle NRA logo tan lines, 1930
More images from bizarre beauty contests of the past, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Love Letters From Craig’ serves up ‘casual encounters’ as read by a robot

Love Letters From Craig” is the delicious brainchild of an Amsterdam-based company called Cartelle that appropriates and recontextualizes posts from the “casual encounters” section of Craigslist, certainly one of the steamiest (and frequently, most X-rated) sections of the well-known free personals website.

Those Craigslist posts basically consist of people spelling out the exact kinky thing they’re looking to do with a stranger, using a curiously encoded manner of communication—most messages feature at least 1 or 2 acronyms whose meanings aren’t immediately obvious. On “Love Letters From Craig” those messages are read aloud by a robotic voice of the type you might hear emanating from your GPS, while images of items signifying sex and/or oral stimulation (disembodied boobs, a lipstick, a glazed donut, a lollipop, cherries, bananas, pills, etc.) blandly float by. The formal register lends even such attention-getting phrases as “love making out, mutual oral, rimming, toys, spanking, w/s, shower play” an odd kind of dignity.

Cartelle is calling this strange exercise in voyeurism “a romantic exploration into the perversions of modern-day digital hookups.” According to Cartelle, “The contents are not moderated and completely automated, only enhanced by sensual porno beats and tasty, sexy visuals.” “Love Letters From Craig” scrapes new content from the Craigslist servers on an hourly basis.

I don’t know what it all means, but I find watching it strangely mesmerizing.

via Kill Screen

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cheeky vintage ashtrays featuring nude ladies and racy pinup models
10:34 am



Vintage ashtray, 1950s
Back in the 40s, 50s and throughout the 60s and beyond, hotels, diners and and other establishments (especially casinos) used ashtrays as a means to advertise their business. In many cases, the middle of the ashtray contained an image or illustration of a scantily clad and sometimes nude pinup model. As it had also become more acceptable for women to smoke, ashtrays also evolved into beautiful ornate sculptures in order to appeal to female smokers.
Nude woman ashtray, 1950s
Ashtray with nude woman, 1950s
Vintage topless woman Art Nouveau style ashtray
Vintage topless woman Art Nouveau style ashtray
As I mentioned, the idea to put an image of a nude woman on an ashtray was quite the thing for a few decades, and there were a few cool designs. Such as what is often referred to as a “nodder” in the collectable world of vintage ashtrays (below). Contrary to popular belief, I’m no ashtray expert, but if I understand it correctly, nodders generally hail from Japan and were made of ceramic or porcelain. Parts of the piece are movable (as with the legs of the nodder below) and have a hollow core in which to deposit your spent butts in, but by far my favorites are the pinup novelty ashtrays that bore the names and numbers of a local divey hotel or tavern looking to attract new customers.

“Nodder” style ashtray, 1950s
If you find these kinds cheeky chachkies appealing, they are fairly easy to find on auction sites like Etsy and eBay. Some of the more rare nodders are on the spendy side running a couple of hundred dollars a pop, while the super kitschy pinup ashtrays can be had for around $20 - $50 depending on the state of undress of the illustration and its condition. NSFW images follow, but that’s part of the fun now, isn’t it?
Travel Inn Cafe, Harmony, MN pin-up ashtray
Travel Inn Cafe, Harmony, MN pin-up ashtray
Aleman's Club Rodeo, California nude pin up ashtray
Aleman’s Club Rodeo, California nude pin up ashtray
Many more nudie ashtrays after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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