Killers, crooks and vampires: Thrilling pages from Penny Dreadfuls
06.30.2016
11:46 am

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Amusing
Books
History

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gothic
publishing

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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.
 
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More pages from penny dreadfuls, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Marianne Breslauer’s gorgeous photos of queer, androgynous and butch women of the 1930s
06.30.2016
10:42 am

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Art
Feminism
Queer
Sex

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The photography of Marianne Breslauer is striking for both its intimacy and its subjects—women, usually of the sleek, chic and gender-bending variety, posed to optimum androgynous elegance. A bohemian Berliner by birth, Breslauer studied under Man Ray for a time in Paris and achieved some commercial success before returning home to an increasingly volatile Germany. As a Jewish artist working in an obviously queer milieu, Breslauer eventually fled to Switzerland and retired from photography early, eventually marrying a man and becoming an art dealer.

Among the many beautiful faces captured by Breslauer was her dear friend, Swiss writer, journalist and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, who she described as “neither a man nor a woman, but an angel, an archangel.” A libertine and rebel, Schwarzenbach defied her wealthy, Nazi-sympathizing family, funding anti-fascist publications and later supporting American unions at the height of the Depression—this is not to mention her adventures hitchhiking across India and Turkey, or the many lesbian affairs. Surviving addiction issues and a suicide attempt, Schwarzenbach nonetheless died at the young age of 34 after a fall from a bicycle, leaving behind a prolific body of work, 170 articles and 50 photo-reports.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Angelyne’s pink Corvette is up for auction
06.30.2016
09:30 am

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Movies
Pop Culture

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A vintage shot of LA icon Angelyne and her life-sized Barbie car, a pink Chevrolet Corvette.
 
According a listing on eBay platinum-haired goddess of self-promotion Angelyne (the real star of Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise in her role as the uncredited “auditioning singer”) has put her pink Corvette (one of at least ten Corvette’s that Angelyne has owned throughout her reign as the undisputed billboard queen of Los Angeles) up for auction.

The sweet ride comes with a removable top (because, of course it does) and Angelyne herself will even sign this hot pink rocket for the winning bidder. Here’s Angelyne talking about her love of all things pink and the aquisition of her ninth Corvette back in 2014:

I got my first one in the mid-eighties. This is my ninth one, and I’m going to get my tenth next year. I had a special paint made for me. It has a formula that is very hard to get because it uses a toner that they don’t make anymore.

Right now the bidding for the ultimate adult-sized Barbie mobile is at $12,111.00 and according to the listing the reserve has still not been met.
 

 
More images of the infamous LA blonde and one of her equally famous pink cars follow after the jump…

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When Can met Japan: David Sylvian and Holger Czukay’s wonderful ambient collaborations
06.30.2016
09:18 am

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Music

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The UK glam band Japan had a singularly interesting career—though influenced by the usual glam touchstones Bowie, Dolls, et al, their visual presentation directly predicted the New Romantic movement, and to this day the band is still somewhat incorrectly associated with that flamboyant scene, largely on the basis of similar haircuts. But Japan were more directly from the art-rock mold, experimenting with funk, electronics, and (surprise surprise) Asian musics. By 1982, as new-ro peaked, and the band was starting to climb from cult success to chart success, personal tensions broke them up. But the band’s singer, David Sylvian, continued as a solo artist in the avant-rock mold, collaborating with Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto, and releasing adventurous sophisto-pop albums inspired by jazz, prog, and contemporary classical.
 

 
On his 1984 solo debut Brilliant Trees, Sylvian was the beneficiary of vocal, brass and guitar contributions from Czukay, bassist of the long-running and influential Krautrock band Can. Though Czukay was a hired backup player on those sessions with no songwriting credits on the LP, the pair evidently found common creative ground. They’d record together in 1986, 1987, and 1988, those sessions ultimately becoming two wonderfully lush but little-known ambient LPs. Plight and Premonition, released in 1988, is a spooky and beautiful suite of two side-length songs (no points awarded for guessing that their titles are “Plight” and “Premonition”) in the Klaus Schultze vein, made with a combination of traditional instruments and manipulated radio sounds. Additionally, Czukay’s Can co-conspirator Jaki Liebezeit is credited with “Infra-sound,” which is science for “shit you can’t actually hear.”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment