The ad is from a March 1981 issue of Teen Magazine.
Gee, I wonder why this didn’t catch on?!?
The ad is from a March 1981 issue of Teen Magazine.
Gee, I wonder why this didn’t catch on?!?
New York magazine’s music critic Jody Rosen posted this gem on his Twitter and added, “...priceless period piece unearthed yesterday by a friend packing for a move.”
Man, how times have changed since 1988. My favorite “hints” and tips are:
1. Do not run from the room. This is rude.
2. If you must back away, do so slowly and with discretion.
15. Do respect her Individuality. She is a lesbian, but she is also Mary, Pam and Lori…
‘Gay Girls in Trousers’ from an era when “gay” meant “happy” or “carefree”...
Usually, the prurient fodder of the past is merely the quaint cheek of the present, but this 1903 “article” from Vanity Fair (a short-lived trashy mag unrelated to the Condé Nast publication of today or its 1913 to 1936 predecessor) just screams Dangerous Minds—“Bifurcated Girls” is downright tawdry! First of all, the term “bifurcated,” meaning “split in two,” has some distinctly labial implications. I think the last time I referred to a woman as “bifurcated,” it was in reference to a pair of yoga pants that appeared conducive to very intimate frictions; to me, the term implies a cleft right up to the fundaments. But while it’s hard to imagine the social vulgarity of an inseam that remains a safe and comfortable distance from the vulval cleft, it’s the overtlesbian subtext that steals my heart.
The “spread” itself (no pun intended), is has a distinctly Russ Meyer kind of vibe, with models engaging “tomboyish” behavior like “rough-housing,” and spanking—you know, just the sort of normal stuff that totally platonic and heterosexual lady-friends do! There’s one man in the entire shoot, but his presence feels very, very incidental, with only a handful of women even acknowledging him. (“Oh him? That’s Jeff. He’s cool.”) And if you’re not sold on the obvious Sapphic symbolism, please note the photo depicting a femme-ier lady actually pulling a giggling bifurcated woman out from under her bed.
Dian Hansen, author of the fascinating History of Men’s Magazines series, believes this issue of Vanity Fair to be the foundation of American girlie mags, and the single pampered man in the midst of some kind of gender-bending trouser orgy seems to support her claim. But I like to think a few actual girlies-who-like-girlies got a kick out of it—there’s some solid cleavage and thigh on display!
More “Bifurcated Girls” after the jump…
“Peace is Tough,” Jamie Reid
While perusing the YouTube channel of the fine and friendly folks at Troma Entertainment (the geniuses behind such subversive classics as The Toxic Avenger, Surf Nazis Must Die and Class of Nuke ‘Em High), I came across a very different kind of B movie, the John Wayne-hosted “docu-drama,” No Substitute for Victory, and believe me, it’s way more disturbing than anything Troma ever put out. The structure is a pathos-rich tapestry of on-the-ground footage, interviews with soldiers, talking heads and military uppers, newsreels for “political context” (to show the impending threat of communism), and emphatic rallying from The Duke, himself. It opens with gunfire from a helicopter, then Wayne’s absurd drawl, setting the mood for the film in no uncertain terms:
“Ladies and gentleman, a long time ago, Abraham Lincoln made a statement; ‘To sin by silence when you should speak out, makes cowards of men.’ It’s time we spoke out about Vietnam, and the most obvious, yet the most ignored threat ever faced by free people in the history of the world. The street demonstrators demand that we get out of Southeast Asia so that there will be peace. Where do they get the idea that there’ll be peace just because we quit?
We can’t stop the war by givin’ up, and we sure can’t settle anything by tryin’ to bargain with a winning enemy at the peace table.This was a war that was going on a long time before Vietnam, and will go on whether we pull out or not. We can’t stop the war by giving up, and the way it is now, we’re not programmed to win, because of the politicians and civilians that we’ve let stick their nose in it.”
It then cuts to a soldier who was stationed in Vietnam, but now flies helicopters commercially. He opines that he “was there to fight the communists, and try to win. But our politicians wouldn’t let us.”
Then back to Wayne, who asks, incredulously, “What kind of a war is this that we’re not supposed to win?”
It’s a mesmerizingly vulgar little piece of work, with no more subtly or insight than a chain email forwarded from a Fox News-watching senior citizen. Director Robert F. Slatzer was also a B movie director, though with none of the wit or acuity one might see in a Troma film—his 1968 biker girl film, The Hellcats, is most famous for being skewered in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. To give you an idea of how contrived his direction is, there’s a brief speech by Sergeant Barry Sadler himself, while his hit, “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” plays in the background. It’s the sort of corny nationalist twaddle that you could laugh at a lot more easily if there weren’t a body count.
John Wayne with Marines in Vietnam, 1966
Of course, it’s fairly predictable that John Wayne, the archetypal all-American “man’s man” cowboy do a little bit of right-wing agitprop, but it’s worth noting that Wayne famously “deferred for [family] dependency reasons” during World War II. He said he’d enlist after a couple more movies, but he never seemed to get around to it. He did, however, manage to make thirteen films while the war raged on, many of which dealt with the subject of war—that’s kind of the same thing, right? (It’s also worth noting that at the time of this film’s release, 1970, public support for the war was rapidly waning, even among the white working class “hard-hat” types who were arguably Wayne’s audience.)
But John Wayne’s “performance” in No Substitute for Victory feels very little like a rote recitation of bellicose talking points. His colloquial disgust with “the reds” is downright overwrought, even histrionic at times, despite his characteristic folksy anecdotes and turns of phrase. I believe his faith in the righteousness of the war was genuine. Then again, he was an actor, and chickenhawks always crow the loudest.
Anyway, I was always more of a Lee Marvin girl
Via Troma Movies
I’m a sucker for the British period drama Call The Midwife. The show has its corny moments admittedly, but it’s fascinating to watch how pregnant women, midwives and nuns living in the poor East End of London during the 1950s dealt with safe childbirth in the era before epidurals, C-sections or even adequate sanitary conditions.
So when I saw these fabric wombs dated around 1760 I was immediately transfixed and interested. Pioneering midwife Angélique Marguerite Le Boursier du Coudray created the fabric wombs as a teaching tool:
In 1759 the king commissioned her to teach midwifery to rural women to reduce infant mortality. Between 1760 to 1783, she traveled rural France, sharing her knowledge with women. During this time, she is estimated to have directly trained 4,000 students.
Du Coudray invented the first lifesize obstetrical mannequin, called “The Machine.” Various strings and straps serve to simulate the process of childbirth. The head of the infant mannequin has a shaped nose, stitched ears, hair drawn with ink, and an open mouth, with tongue.
While they’re semi-creepy to look at, I’m sure they saved a lot of lives.
Barry Nelson, the “original” James Bond, seated at left
Although this will probably not come as too much of a surprise to fanatical James Bond fanboys, the very first time 007 was portrayed onscreen it was by an American actor named Barry Nelson! Yep, a Yank James Bond, as seen on a live 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale that was part of a CBS adventure series called Climax!
For the live CBS broadcast, Ian Fleming was paid just $1000 for the rights to his novel. Co-starring with Nelson as the villainous “Le Chiffre” was none other than Peter Lorre, whose typically weasley malevolence is the real reason to watch this (as always, Peter Lorre is great in this role). There’s a “Felix Leiter” character, but he’s the British agent and he’s called “Clarence.”
To add to this topsy-turvy Anglo-American sacrilege, Nelson’s not-so-suave Bond (he’s just terrible and horribly miscast) is referred to as “Jimmy” several times! Jimmy! (When Casino Royale was made into the 1967 spy movie spoof, Woody Allen’s character, the wimpy nephew of David Niven’s Sir James Bond, was also called “Jimmy Bond.”)
This production was presumed to have been lost since its original 1954 live telecast, until an incomplete version on a kinescope was uncovered by film historian Jim Schoenberger in 1981 and aired as part of a TBS James Bond marathon. Eventually the entire show was located (minus a few seconds of credits) and MGM included it as a DVD extra on their release of the 1967 Casino Royale.
An urban legend persisted for years that following his death scene, Peter Lorre got up an walked to his dressing room, unaware that he was still in the shot, but this was debunked by Snopes.com. (The story had more than a grain of truth in it, this DID actually happen, but it was on a different live televised episode of Climax!)
Ah, PEZ, you bewitching sweet Austrian treat with your collectible mechanical pocket dispensers. Is there any trend or franchise you can’t coopt? The fantastic dispensers pictured here came out in 1968 and were created to tie into the “Flower Power” of the Summer of Love that had just happened a year earlier. (1968 would be a considerably darker year, but the dispensers still fit in fine.) There was a “flower” design and a “hand” design; both featured eyeballs. [Could these have inspired The Residents to adopt their trademark eyeball masks?]
According to Nina Chertoff and Susan Kahn in Celebrating PEZ, the flower flavor didn’t go over very well:
When psychedelic eyes were produced in the 1960s, [Eduard Haas, founder of the PEZ company] insisted that the candies be flower flavored to tie in with the “flower power” theme of the times. Their taste was unpopular, and they were finally pulled off the market.
Oh well. Wikipedia lists “Flower” alongside “Chlorophyll Mint,” “Coffee,” and “Yogurt” as one of eight “retired” PEZ flavors. Aren’t you curious what it tasted like?
They came out in 1968 and there was a limited reissue in the late 1990s—available by through a mail-in offer only—but I can’t tell the difference. Experts can, I presume. An original “Psychedelic Hand” model with a black hand can go for more than $500.
You can buy a pretty groovy mug with a “psychedelic PEZ” motif on it.
I know this is a total cliché, but here’s a Christian song in the new wave style called “Love Dispenser” with a stop-motion animated video, done with PEZ. It’s actually not bad!
As we near the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death—the Nirvana leader killed himself on April 5, 1994—this morning the Seattle Police Department released two new crime scene photographs that give gruesome glimpses at his final moments. His body was found on the morning of April 8, 1994 by an electrician named Gary Smith who had been hired to do some maintenance work at Cobain’s Lake Washington home. One photo shows Cobain’s wrist with a hospital ID bracelet, while the other shows his lifeless Converse-clad foot beside a box of bullets:
If you are of a certain age, it’s likely you’ll recall where you were when you heard the news. Thousands of grieving young fans in Seattle felt the need to be together to try to make sense of what had occurred. In “Stupid Club,” this fascinating short documentary from 1994, we meet several of them and it’s pretty interesting stuff, historically, sociologically speaking, whatever. Some of it’s sad, some of it is just goofy.
Worth noting is that the title “Stupid Club” refers to something that Cobain’s mother said in the wake of his suicide:
“Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club, I told him not to join that stupid club.”
Conspiracy theorists at the time—well, at least the ones not claiming that he had been murdered by Courtney Love—speculated that the “stupid club” his mother Wendy was alluding to is the “27 Club” of dead rock stars who never made it to to the age of 28 (Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Canned Heat’s Alan Wilson) but she was most likely referring to two of Kurt’s uncles, and a great uncle, who had killed themselves.
Thank you kindly, Reginald Harkema!
Granada Television produced this fascinating TV time capsule “It’s So Far Out It’s Straight Down” as a special part of their Scene at 6:30 series. The program focused on the young counterculture / hippie scene in London and features Miles, the Indica Gallery and the editorial board of The International Times underground newspaper. Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti are seen at the International Poetry Incarnation and we are taken to The UFO Club where Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd are playing a live version of “Interstellar Overdrive” (Also heard on the soundtrack is an early version of their “Matilda Mother,” then called “Percy The Ratcatcher” and “It Can’t Happen Here” by The Mothers of Invention).
Paul McCartney is a talking head interviewee (although not framed as such) in the studio, intelligently discussing the nascent underground scene. Macca was an active part of the London underground, financially supporting the Indica Gallery and bookstore—he even built the bookshelves himself—and IT. McCartney, the Beatle who soaked up cutting-edge culture and avant garde influences long before the rest of them did, is seen in four segments during the show, and as a wealthy, intelligent and well-respected person representing the counterculture to people who might fear it, as you’ll see, he knocks the ball straight out of the park:
If you don’t know anything about it [the counterculture], you can sort of trust that it’s probably gonna be all right and it’s probably not that bad because it’s human beings doing it, and you know vaguely what human beings do. And they’re probably going to think of it nearly the same way you would in that situation.
The straights should welcome the underground because it stands for freedom… It’s not strange it’s just new, it’s not weird, it’s just what’s going on around.
“It’s So Far Out It’s Straight Down” was broadcast in March of 1967, so it’s pre-Summer of Love. The time seems so pregnant with promise. This is the exact moment, historically speaking, when pop culture went from B&W and shades of gray to vivid color. If you put yourself in the mind of a kid from the north of England watching something like this on television during that era, it’s easy to see how this film would have brought tens of thousands of young people into London seeking to find these forward-thinking cultural movers and shakers to become part of “the happening” themselves.
Alternate history is a fascinating genre of fiction. You have your anachronistic nostalgia, like steampunk, but that tends to be largely aesthetic, and I’m not that into parasols or goggles. (Also, the glorification of less technology tends to overlook some really inconvenient historical realities, like how inefficient steam power actually was.) I prefer my alternate histories to be horrifying dystopias, and “what if the Nazis won?” certainly fits the bill. There are some critically acclaimed novels based on that very premise—Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, Robert Harris’ Fatherland, and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, but this has to be the first time a video game has been set in a world where Hitler triumphed.
The Wolfenstein video game franchise has produced nine editions in total (the original in 1981), all of which are based on fighting Nazis. The latest incarnation, Wolfenstein: The New Order, takes place in the 1960s, where the player navigates a Nazi-controlled Europe in hopes of launching a counter-offensive against the regime. What appeals to me, of course, is the custom-made soundtrack—the “commercial” below is for a compilation of the 1960s “Nazi pop” that will play throughout the game.
The pre-order for Wolfenstein also includes a package of “artifacts,” like postcards and military patches, but it’s the soundtrack that really establishes the mood for a game. There’s prom-worthy slow-dances, bubblegum pop, growling rockabilly, beach-blanket bingo surf rock, and even some Teutonic psychedelia. You can listen to the whole thing here. I feel like the fact that I speak absolutely no German actually frees up my ear to recognize the attention to sonic detail.
Via A.V. Club