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Teenage Sophia Loren was deemed ‘too provocative’ to win the title of Miss Italy, 1950

The path to success is often circuitous, filled with detours, wrong turnings, dead ends and log-jammed highways. Perseverance and a great desire to succeed are requisite. Where one starts off is sometimes far removed from where one arrives.

Sophia Loren was a mere fifteen-year-old when she stood in line with the other young girls hoping to win the glittering prize of Miss Italy in Rome 1950. The Miss Italy beauty contest was devised as a “pick-me-up” for the defeated and beleaguered Italian nation after the Second World War in 1946.

Many of those early Miss Italia winners and contestants became well known in Italy and abroad. In 1947 alone there were four contestants who later went on to Italian entertainment fame: Lucia Bose (the winner that year), Gianna Maria Canale (second place), Gina Lollobrigida (third), and Eleonora Rossi Drago (fourth).

In 1950 the competition was broadcast live on radio. This was the year Miss Loren made her appearance under the name Sofia Scicolone.  However, the teenage beauty was considered “too provocative” to win the contest and the judging panel awarded Miss Loren the specially devised title of “Miss Eleganza 1950.”

Maria Bugliari won the title of Miss Italy but her success was small potatoes when compared to the long and brilliant career Sophia Loren achieved as an actress from then on.
More early photos of Sophia Loren, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Absurd propaganda postcards warning men about the dangers of women’s rights, early 1900s
02:29 pm


women's rights

Here’s a collection of totally ridiculous vintage postcards and posters dated from around 1900 to 1914 warning men of the dangers associated with the suffragette movement and of allowing women to think for themselves. I think my favorite is the postcard where the woman is pinching the man’s ear and forcing him to clean the home. The nerve of her to request such a thing!



More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Nostalgic images of drive-in movie theaters

The giant stone ‘marquee’ on the first drive-in movie theater in Camden, New Jersey that opened on June 6th, 1933.
83-years ago this week (June 6th, 1933 specifically) the very first drive-in movie theater opened for business in Camden, New Jersey. Originally conceptualized and patented in 1933 by entrepreneur Richard Hollingshead who astutely recognized that despite the failing economy (the Great Depression was in full swing) people were still going to the movies and would cut back on basic necessities such as food for the opportunity to escape their bleak day-to-day existences in a dark theater for a few hours. Hollingshead’s outdoor theater cost only a quarter a car (plus 25 cents for each occupant) and the sound from the speakers broadcasting the films to the 400 car capacity lot were so loud that they could be heard miles down the road.

A print advertisement for Richard Hollingshead’s new drive-in theater in Camden, New Jersey.
According to a historical reference noted by the University of Michigan not everyone was happy about Hollingshead’s invention of the drive-in—and aparently a group of teenage girls actually took to protesting its creation as it put a big dent in the booming tween babysitting business since families were now bringing their infants, toddlers and young children along in the car to see the latest celluloid offerings from the comfort of their car. Drive-in theaters started to proliferate all over the country from Massachusetts to New Mexico and by 1942 there were 95 drive-ins with locations in 27 states. Ten years later there were approximately 5000 drive-in movie theaters in operation across the U.S. When the decade of spandex and neon otherwise known as the 80s rolled around drive-in theaters began their decline thanks to urban sprawl and technological advancements such as cable TV and the cheaper price of that in-home movie machine, the VCR.

These days (and according to an article published in 2014) there are still 338 drive-in theaters in operation including one of my favorite haunts in my younger days, the 67-year-old Weir’s Beach drive-in in New Hampshire. Tons of images of drive-ins from the past follow.

West Virginia, 1956.

A ‘carhop’ at the Rancho drive-in, San Francisco, 1948.
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Lick my boots: Vintage photos of women wearing kinky boots
01:06 pm


boot worship

A few days ago I posted some vintage photographs of dominatrices in all their dominant glory. But what I really dug about those historical images was… the boots. Those incredible mile-high lace-up boots! I should probably be upfront and confess that I don’t actually know all that much about boot fetishism or boot worship and its history, but looking at the photos, I could easily see that boot fetishism went wayyyyy back. In fact, the first historical reference to boots as a fetish object dates back to Émile Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin in 1868. I had no idea.

If you dig any of these vintage boots, I noticed that a lot of these are available to purchase on eBay. Sadly, most of the sizes are really small. Women had smaller feet back then, I guess. Still, I’m sure that you can find exact replicas or something similar in larger sizes if you look hard enough.



Nanette Rockwell
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Criminal Class: Surprisingly cool Aussie mugshots
11:24 am


mug shots
Sydney Police

Herbert Ellis sits with his arms folded waiting for his photograph to be taken. He’s perched on a chair, back against a wall, legs apart, wearing a three-piece suit, a white shirt with stud collar, a knitted tie and a slick Fedora. Ellis could be a guest at a dinner party, the groom’s best man at a wedding, an actor on a film set, or a model showing off the latest cut for a fashion spread. He looks cool, almost smiling at some private joke, seemingly at ease with what’s going on all around him.

But looks can be deceptive. Ellis has just been yanked off the street by two cops. They arrested him in connection with a burglary. Ellis is a “suspected person.” He has a reputation as a housebreaker, a shop breaker, a safe breaker, and receiver of stolen goods. Herbert Ellis is a criminal. He’s having his mugshot taken at the Central Police Station, Sydney sometime around 1920. As soon as the cops pulled in a suspect they took their prints and flashed their photo against a wall. Most of the time, the arrestees did not pose according to the positions of the latest standardized mugshot. Instead they sat or stood, wore what they liked, kept their coats and hats on and even smiled at the camera. As Peter Doyle curator of the Justice and Police Museum, Sydney, Australia notes these men and women “recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension.”

Ellis had a string of petty convictions to his name including “goods in custody, indecent language, stealing, receiving and throwing a missile.” His MO was noted as:

...seldom engages in crime in company, but possessing a most villainous character, he influences associates to commit robberies, and he arranges for the disposal of the proceeds.

He was nicknamed “Curly” down to his thinning hair and “Deafy” as by the time this picture was taken he was stone deaf.

Most of the criminals photographed by the New South Wales Police Department between 1910 and 1930 were taken in the cells of the Central Police Station, Sydney. The mugshots documented the various men and women arrested on charges as diverse as theft, larceny, violence, or procuring an abortion. The photos look unlike most other standard mugshots and could easily be portraits of family, friends or actors on a set.

B. Smith, Gertrude Thompson and Vera McDonald, Central Police Station, Sydney, 25 January 1928.

Special Photograph no. 1608. This photograph was apparently taken in the aftermath of a raid led by CIB Chief Bill Mackay - later to be Commissioner of Police - on a house at 74 Riley Street, ‘lower Darlinghurst’. Numerous charges were heard against the 15 men and women arrested. Lessee Joe Bezzina was charged with ‘being the keeper of a house frequented by reputed thieves’, and some of the others were charged with assault, and with ‘being found in a house frequented by reputed thieves’.

The prosecution cast the raid in heroic terms - the Chief of the CIB, desperately outnumbered, had struggled hand to hand in ‘a sweltering melee in one of the most notorious thieves’ kitchens in Sydney’. The defence, on the other hand, described ‘a quiet party, a few drinks, some singing ... violently interrupted by a squad of hostile, brawling police’ (Truth, 29 January 1928).


Hampton Hirscham, Cornellius Joseph Keevil, William Thomas O’Brien and James O’Brien, 20 July 1921, Central Police Station, Sydney.

Special Photograph no. 446. The quartet pictured were arrested over a robbery at the home of bookmaker Reginald Catton, of Todman avenue, Kensington, on 21 April 1921. The Crown did not proceed against Thomas O’Brien but the other three were convicted, and received sentences of fifteen months each.

More Antipodean mugshots and arrest details, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Killers, crooks and vampires: Thrilling pages from Penny Dreadfuls

The “penny dreadful” was the name given to an incredible publishing phenomenon that flourished in Victorian Britain between the mid-1830s and the early 1900s. The penny dreadful or “penny blood” was a luridly illustrated booklet or magazine—usually of some sixteen pages in length—filled with sensationalist tales of highwaymen, murderers, cannibals, bounders, vagabonds, vampires and thieves. 

The first known penny dreadful was published on Saturday April 30th, 1836 under the title The Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads and Murderers. The cover featured a fight between a gang of ne’er-do-wells—led by Grimes Bolton, a notorious robber and cannibal—and a group of gamekeepers. The success of The Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads and Murderers led to an unprecedented range of similar publications which reached their height around the mid-1860s.

Originally penny dreadfuls focussed on thrilling tales of adventure but through time these fell out of fashion as the audience demanded increasingly lurid stories. These magazines hit pay-dirt with tales of true crime (Jack the Ripper being the best known subject) and grotesque fantasies of such creations as the murderous Sweeney Todd—the Demon Barber of Fleet Street; the bloodthirsty Varney the Vampire or the demonic urban legend of Spring-Heeled Jack—The Terror of London.

The penny dreadful ushered in a new era of publishing—launching a whole range of magazines and periodicals that benefitted from new printing technology and from the markets opened up by the penny dreadful. Political and educational serial publications similarly benefitted from the pioneering work of penny dreadfuls. But it wasn’t all money-making business. Before the Education Act of 1870 introduced free education for all, the penny dreadful can take some credit for encouraging generations of young men and women to read.

As tastes changed, the penny dreadful dropped in popularity—the now literate audience wanted more nuanced and stimulating tales. However, the genres it launched (horror, detective and true-life crime) continued and flourished under writers like Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells.
More pages from penny dreadfuls, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Photographs of Marilyn Monroe doing yoga
10:51 am


Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is putting my sad self to shame with her yoga poses shot back in 1948. She’s making it look easy here, but it’s actually not so easy if you’re a beginner. You have to work and gradually stretch yourself into these poses. It can take some time for your body to become this limber.

I’ve read that Marilyn Monroe was a devotee of yoga, but I’ve never seen that much photographic evidence for it. But here she is in all her yoga glory. And of course, looking stunning while posing.

From what I could find online, Indra Devi, who many consider to be the “The First Lady of Yoga,” claimed to have taught Monroe the life of yoga. But according to Wikipedia that seems to be untrue. There is zero proof the two women ever even met. Apparently there’s a popular photo of Indra Devi and Eva Gabor training together in 1960 and it’s often mistaken for Monroe.



More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Vintage photographs of dominatrixes
11:41 am



Here’s a gallery of vintage photographs of women dressed in dominatrix gear. Not all of the women pictured were necessarily dominatrixes by trade, some were no doubt fetish models for BDSM-style magazines back in the day. I’m digging the costumes, hairstyles and… the boots. Just look at those kinky boots!

I tried to keep this as safe for work as possible. But, you know, it might be a tad NSFW-ish because of the topic.


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Before Pere Ubu, there was the Robert Bensick Band—a Dangerous Minds premiere
10:34 am


Pere Ubu
Robert Bensick

All who’ve dipped their toes in even the shallow end of early punk lore know the famous trajectory of the early scene in Cleveland By God Ohio: first, there was the proto-punk band Rocket From the Tombs. They were weird and combative and completely out of step with normality, and it couldn’t last, so they split. That fissure produced that amazing yin and yang of Ur-punk—the bratty, gutterbound Dead Boys, who burned bright and flamed out fast; and the forbiddingly arty, brainy, and belligerent Pere Ubu, who still exist to weird out the normals today (they’re on tour right now, in fact).

But that’s only half of the story. Of the first lineup of Pere Ubu, only singer David Thomas and guitarist Peter Laughner were Rocket refugees, and Laughner, sadly, didn’t even live to play on Ubu’s debut album. Guitarist Tom Herman and drummer Scott Krauss came Ubu’s way from a now utterly obscure weirdo outfit called the Robert Bensick Band. Bensick was a veteran of a handful of bands that included various future Ubus and members of the under-documented Laughner band Cinderella Backstreet, and in the mid-‘70s he assembled from those sources a band of like-minded rock ’n’ roll misfits to record what he intended as a magnum opus, the never-released French Pictures in London.
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Blow-out: Bizarre sci-fi looking vintage hair dryers from the early 1900s
06:32 pm


hair dryers

A massive hair dryer from 1934.
Some of our readers will recall a time when it seemed like a good idea to strap a plastic bag to your head (when it was still wet mind you) then hook it up to a large device that would blow hot hair into said bag in order to dry your hair. Sometimes I really do believe it is a fucking miracle that more people born in decades preceding the 1970s didn’t die after putting hot plastic bags on their wet heads. Even as a kid back in the 70s I thought on more than one occasion that I was going to come out with a perfectly red ring around my skull after sitting under a soft-bonnet style hair dryer. But that never happened. Thanks, Mom!

A drawing of the first hair dryer invented by Alexandre Godefoy in 1888. 
Some of these space-aged looking contraptions date as far back as the early 1920s and could be found in public bath houses. In 1930, German hair care company Wella debuted a motorized dryer that looked like it was straight out of a scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (pictured directly below). Others are just too wacky for words but as a girl with long hair—I get it. Before the advent of the hair dryer women would dry their hair by a fire (yikes!) or just let it dry on its own. The first hair dryer originated in 1888 in a beauty salon in France owned by Alexandre Godefroy (pictured above) that attached to a pipe for a chimney or a gas stove and blew hot air through a giant alien-looking metal helmet. In the words of those Virginia Slim ads “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” when it comes to hair maintenance. Lots of images of far-out looking hair dryers of yesteryear follow.

Wella’s first motorized hair dryer from 1930.


More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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