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Sex signals: Trashy illustrations from vintage ‘Frederick’s of Hollywood’ catalogs


A page from one of Frederick Mellinger’s famous ‘Frederick’s of Hollywood’ catalogs. Mellinger is pictured, with what I imagine was a permament grin, just below the word ‘SEX.’
 

“I never listen to Paris designers . . . they don’t dress women for men.”

—Frederick’s of Hollywood founder Frederick Mellinger on what made him successful.

 
You have to give Frederick’s of Hollywood founder, Frederick Mellinger a lot of credit. After lying about his age, Mellinger scored a gig at a women’s “intimate apparel” company when he was only fourteen. The veritable dream job quickly helped acquaint Mellinger with the ins-and-outs of the mail-order business though he would later be fired from his job for suggesting that the company add *gasp* black undergarments to its catalog. During a stint in the army Mellinger became hip to the existence of the “pinup girl.” His new awareness would end up being a tipping point for the young entrepreneur who headed to New York City to open the first Frederick’s headquarters in 1946 right on Fifth Avenue which he dubbed “Frederick’s of Fifth Avenue.” Within a year’s time, Mellinger moved his base of operations to Hollywood Boulevard.

I’m sure most of you out there are at least somewhat acquainted with what Mellinger would end up calling Frederick’s of Hollywood. Those three words are undeniably synonymous with girlie garments like push-up bras, crotchless panties, and other skin-tight delights, many of which were black. While he was still doing business in New York, Mellinger couldn’t get a magazine or newspaper to run illustrated ads for his racy garment because they considered them to be “pornographic.” Once he relocated his headquarters to Los Angeles and opened the first of what would eventually become 160 retail locations in 1947, everyone from exotic dancers to bored housewives started snapping up his enticing designs. Then, while on a business trip to France that same year, he bore witness to his first bikini-clad woman. Mellinger brought back as many French bikinis as he could which he promptly sold without effort back in Hollywood. Then something happened that would prove to be a linchpin to Frederick’s future success that involved the cops and one of their bikini-loving fans.

A lucky girl who happened to score one Mellinger’s French bikinis was arrested on Venice Beach while wearing it and was charged with “indecent exposure.” The papers went wild and widely published stories accompanied with scandalous images of the poor girl being cuffed and stuffed into a police car. Orders for anything and everything from the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog went through the roof, and it would be almost 40 years until the company would post their first ever loss in 1984. Through it all, it was Mellinger’s determination to continue to push the boundaries of lingerie design that led to, among other things, the invention of the thong panty and edible panties. Well done, Mr. Mellinger, well done.

When I came across the illustrations used during the early days of Frederick’s, I had not seen them before. Most likely since I mostly associated the catalog with the real-life model sleaze of the 80s. The discovery has led me to pursue the acquisition of one of their vintage catalogs that pre-date the mid-70s, which are sadly hard to come by these days. So, for the time being, we will all have to live vicariously through the images below, some of which are NSFW.
 

1954.
 

 
More sexy stuff after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.21.2017
09:16 am
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‘How to Train a Wife’: Retro sexist silliness from vintage girlie magazine ‘Eyeful’
11.23.2016
10:57 am
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Bettie Page on the cover of ‘Eyeful’ magazine.
 
One of the best parts of my gig working as a writer for Dangerous Minds is the fact that I get to share things that I love with all of you groovy readers. While I honestly don’t have a favorite topic (though it’s probably a toss up between Black Sabbath and vintage Van Halen), I really do love writing about vintage magazines. I’m still a huge connoisseur of tangible media and whenever I can I like to pick up old magazines—a trick I learned from a successful colleague of mine. It’s an exercise that almost always leads to me stumbling on something I can blog about.

Such is the case with today’s post about Eyeful magazine which got its start back in 1942 purporting to be a vehicle for the cause of “Glorifying the American Girl.” Publisher and journalist Robert Harrison, who would later launch “the most scandalous scandal magazine in the history of the world,” Confidential, promoted the magazine using the following words “Gals, Gags, Giggles.” Someone being a fan of at least one of those three things is a pretty sure bet. Harrison’s come-on worked and the cheeky magazine would have a nearly thirteen-year run under Harrison’s reign as one of New York’s most successful publishers. Another reason Eyeful was a hit was the fact that most of their models were burlesque dancers who clearly knew how to make the image of a housewife or “girl next door” be sexy and appealing without showing any actual nudity.

Of the numerous famous faces who graced the cover and appeared in silly sexist pictorials inside the magazine was the iconic Bettie Page who, according to the book Bettie Page Confidential by Bunny Yeager appeared on and in Eyeful while she was still working as a secretary on Wall Street trying to save money for acting lessons. Awww. I’ve included images of covers of Eyeful that feature actual photographs which were not as common as the classic illustrated covers that routinely appeared on front of the magazine. I’ve also posted some tongue-in-cheek humor pictorials from Eyeful such as “How Strippers are Hired” and “How to Train a Wife.” Har har har. If you are a collector of girl-centric magazines, copies of Eyeful are pretty easy to come by.

As I mentioned previously, although there is no actual nudity in the images that follow, they are still fairly NSFW. YAY!
 

 

A picture from inside ‘Eyeful’ magazine.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.23.2016
10:57 am
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The Reich Stuff: The grim Nazi propaganda magazine aimed at women


An issue of ‘Frauen Warte’ a Nazi magazine marketed to women, 1940.
 
Frauen Warte (or “Women’s Worth” at least when translated using Google) was a women’s interest magazine put out by the Nazi party starting in 1935. Published twice a week Frauen Warte was full of recommendations and “advice” on how to properly raise children so they would be strong enough to “defend their fatherland with their lives,” how to clean and maintain their homes, and fashion advice that fell within the Führer’s tastes of respectability. Frauen-Warte even went so far as to include specific sewing patterns for clothing for women to make for themselves and their children. In more than one issue during the magazine’s run, a school set up by the Nazi party called the Reich Brides’ and Housewives’ School in Husbäke in Oldenburg was discussed in great, rather enthusiastic and misogynistic detail.
 

A page from ‘Frauen Warte’ detailing the activities at the Brides’ and Housewives’ School in Husbäke in Oldenburg.
 
Brides and aspiring housewives (according to Nazi doctrine a woman’s place was to get married, have children and care for their family) would attend the school for a period of six weeks during which they would learn various skills to help them succeed as they embark on their “careers” as housewives, such as cooking, sewing, how to properly decorate their homes, creating and maintaining a household budget, and of course, how keeping their hardworking German men “comfortable” when they comes home from work. During this time women were also told to adhere to the following guidelines in order to ensure they would emulate the “ideal” German woman:

Women should not work for a living
Women should not wear trousers
Women should not wear makeup
Women should not wear high-heeled shoes
Women should not dye or perm their hair

Various articles in the propaganda masquerading as a magazine included such topics as “The Expert Housewife of Today,” the bleak sounding “Ready to Die, Ready to Live” (whose focus was to encourage women to propagate even during wartime), and “Strength from Love and Faith” that stated that all Hitler really wanted for his birthday was for his followers (in this case specifically women) to work hard. To reinforce Hitler’s feelings about the role of women, the failed painter and leader of the Third Reich even wrote for the rag about the importance of a woman’s role when it to the advancement of the Nazi’s quest for global domination.

What a man proves through heroic courage, the woman proves in eternal patient suffering. Each child that she brings into the world is a battle she fights for the existence or nonexistence of her people.

This feel-good article finishes up with a passage seemingly straight from Satan’s own playbook requesting that anyone reading the magazine (which had a circulation of 1.9 million readers by 1939) follow Hitler “on this path through the raging fire of war.” Which as we know was what the Germans figuratively and quite literally did. A large volume of detail including covers of the magazine, numerous articles and photos from the magazine (which you can see in this post) have been cataloged by Randall Bytwerk, a Professor Emeritus of Communication Arts and Sciences Calvin College in Michigan in the German Propaganda Archive hosted by Calvin College’s website. Issues of Frauen Warte published between the years 1941 and 1945 (which put out its last issue shortly before the Nazi’s unconditionally surrendered in France in May that same year) can be seen over at The University of Heidelberg website. If this is of interest to those of you that collect these kinds of artifacts copies of Frauen Warte are fairly easy to come by online.
 

1939.
 

1939.
 
More good housekeeping tips from the Nazis, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.28.2016
09:14 am
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‘Hell Drivers’: Wild vintage images of fearless car stuntmen
09.20.2016
10:46 am
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Lucky Teter (or perhaps one of his stuntmen) jumping over a truck, 1930s.
 
Back in the early 1930s a man by the name of Earl “Lucky” Teter formed a troupe of eager thrill-seeking stunt-drivers for his daredevil extravaganza “Lucky” Teter’s Hell Drivers. It would mark the first time that a traveling “auto show” would put on as a “traveling” attraction.
 

Ward Beam’s signature ‘Dive Bomb’ or ‘T-Bone’ stunt, 1920s.
 
Inspired by the balls-out stunts by Ward Beam’s “Thrill Show” from the late 1920s who in addition to performing a wide array of stunts also played a bizarre game involving speeding cars and a giant ball called “auto pushball” or the Jimmie Lynch Death Dodgers who were getting started during the 1930s as well, Teter began trying to perfect his own “ramp to ramp” style stunts that had him hurtling over several cars or a city bus—a stunt that would ultimately take his life in 1942. Though his career was tragically cut short when his car failed to jump two Greyhound buses, Teter was the first person to coin the name “Hell Drivers” which would go on to be used by many other groups of adventurous automobile enthusiasts who would continue on with the legacy established by both Teter and Beam. Speaking of the crash-happy types of drivers here’s a want-ad that was posted by Beam in the Amherst Bee (a New York based newpaper) on August 6th, 1931 that will give you an idea of what it took to be a part of Beam’s “Congress of Daredevils.”

Wanted: Single man, not over 25 years, to drive automobile in head-on collision with another car at the Albion Fairgrounds in connection with the Congress of Daredevils on August 19. Must crash with another car at 40 mph and give unconditional release in case of injury or death. Name your lowest price. Write B. Ward Beam, Albion, N.Y.

I’ve been to exactly one demolition derby/car stunt show in my entire life and I was completely fucking terrified the entire time. That said, the images in this post don’t look much like what I lived through but they are still full of high levels of reckless and eminent danger, or in other words good old-fashioned family entertainment. Loads of pictures of the Death Dodgers, Lucky Teter in action and more pre-Dukes of Hazzard fun with cars follow.
 

A driver for Jimmie Lynch’s Death Dodgers driving through a wall of flame.
 

Lucky Teter.
 
More thrilling photos (and film footage) of these old school automotive daredevils, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.20.2016
10:46 am
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Get in the ring: Vintage images of female bodybuilders and ‘strong women’ showing off
09.02.2016
10:35 am
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Strong woman and acobat Louise Leers (aka Luise Krökel), 1930s.
 
Some of the images of the badass strong women in this post date all the way back to the very early 1900s however the female “strong woman” was an attraction as long ago as the early 1700s where women such a the “Female Italian Samson” and the “Little Woman from Geneva” would perform impressive feats of strength such as bearing massive amounts of weight on their backs or effortlessly hoisting several men in their arms.
 

The ‘Great Sandwina’ aka, Katie Brumbach.
 
Sometime in the late 1800s the appearance of strong women became more prevalent in sporting events and were also a common attraction in circuses where they would showcase their superhuman strength. This in turn paved the way for other rule-breaking girls such as female wrestlers and bodybuilders. One of the best known super women was Katie Brumbach called the “Great Sandwina.” Hailing from Vienna, Brumbach’s parents were also circus performers and it would appear that she was the combination of her father (who stood 6’ 6”) and her mother (who was herself a strong woman of sorts, sporting biceps that measured 15 inches around). She not only inherited her parents physical prowess and she performed with them, as well as many of her fourteen siblings. Brumbach would go on to wow audiences by lifting her husband (who reportedly weighed 165 lbs) over her head with only one arm and 300 pounds of weights with both. In her later years Brumbach joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a powerlifter where she snapped iron bars with her bare hands. At the age of 57 she was still able to pull to hoist her husband above her head with only one arm.

Another notable strong woman Kate Roberts went by the intimidating name “Vulcana.” In addition to her muscular build and ability to lift heavy weights (allegedly 181 lbs with one arm) she has some fascinating superhero-style folklore attached to her. In addition to saving a couple of drowning kids, Roberts dragged an unfortunate would-be purse snatcher who tried to steal her handbag all the way to the police station by herself. According to various historians Roberts also freed a wagon that had become stuck in a ditch in front of a crowd of awestruck Londoners. I’ve included images of other kick ass women in this post such as Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton (who was a notable member of the “Muscle Beach” crowd in the 1940s), and Joan Rhodes who enjoyed bending iron rods with her teeth and breaking nails with her bare hands.  There’s also a video of Rhodes showing off her strength in a cabaret act called the “Iron Girl in a Velvet Glove.”
 

‘Vulcana’ (aka Kate Roberts).
 

Abbye ‘Pudgy’ Stockton.
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.02.2016
10:35 am
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Nostalgic images of drive-in movie theaters
07.08.2016
10:15 am
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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…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.08.2016
10:15 am
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Satanic strippers: Vintage burlesque performers dance with the devil
05.03.2016
10:35 am
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Actress Marian Martin and a burlesque cape featuring our pal, Satan, 1930s
Actress Marian Martin in a Satan-themed burlesque cape. Martin actually played a dancer named ‘Pinky Lee’ in the 1943 film, ‘Lady of Burlesque’ which was based on the novel ‘The G-String Murders’ written by strip tease queen Gypsy Rose Lee. Martin was not a burlesque performer, but her costume is in the satanic burlesque spirit of this post.
 
Of the many fun things that comes along with being a part of the diverse compendium that is Dangerous Minds, those rare days when my feet hit the floor, and I have no idea what I’m going to write about that day, are not among them. Which is why I try to stockpile posts concerning the guy who should have built my hotrod, Satan, for those kinds of days. Because let’s face it—Satan is a big crowd pleaser among DM’s readership.
 
Burlesque performer Diane de Lys in a publicity photo for her show
Burlesque performer Diane de Lys in a publicity photo for her show ‘The Devil and the Virgin,’ 1953.
 
I hate to admit it, but sadly I know very little about the world of burlesque despite having a few friends who actually work in the field professionally. So the discovery that dancers back in the 1920s and 1930s (and beyond) used an unusual prop—a costume that was split into two distinctly different styles that was used for a “1/2 and 1/2” style of dance performance was sort of new to me.

One side would feature a “normal” kind of stage dress, and the other could be anything from a man or a maybe a gorilla (apparently, after King Kong was released in 1933, the popularity of girl/gorilla acts skyrocketed. Go figure). Or in the case of the images in this post, Satan himself! That said, I’d personally love to see this trend return to the burlesque stage (if it hasn’t already). Many of the photos you are about to see also feature burlesque performers all dolled up like the devil dating as far back as the early 1930s. They are also slightly NSFW. YAY!
 
H/T: To the burlesque treasure trove that is Burly Q Nell.
 
Burlesque performer with satan costume/cape
 
Devil and the Dancer, 1932
Early 1930s.
 
More devilish dancers and their demonic debonair dance partner after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.03.2016
10:35 am
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Intimate photographs of post-war Paris
02.11.2016
10:07 am
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A young Parisian couple dancing to Bebop in the Bebop Cellar at Vieus Colombier
A young Parisian couple dancing to Bebop in the Bebop Cellar at Vieux Colombier, 1951

“I had fun throughout my lifetime, building my own small theater”
—French photographer Robert Doisneau

 
When he passed away at the age of 81 in 1994, photographer Robert Doisneau had amassed a collection of 450,000 negatives that captured Parisian and French history throughout his 50-some odd years as a photographer.

Tarot card reader and occultist, Madame Arthur, Paris, 1951
Tarot card reader and “occultist”, Madame Arthur, Paris, 1951
 
A female worker at the Ouvrière de Renault, Boulogne Billancourt (the Renault car factory)
A female worker at the “Ouvrière de Renault”, Boulogne Billancourt (the Renault car factory)
 
At the age of nineteen, Doisneau took a job as an assistant to modernist photographer André Vigneau (who spent much of the early 1930s taking photos of fashion models, surely a dream job for a young, aspiring photographer). In 1934 Doisneau accepted a position as a photographer at the Renault car factory. Due to his habitual lateness to his day job, Doisneau was fired—an event that launched his career as a freelance photographer that would last for nearly his entire life.
 
One of Robert Doisneau many photographs of the gargoyle statues of Notre-Dame
One of Robert Doisneau’s many photographs of the gargoyle statues of Notre-Dame
 
Le Pendule (The Pendulum), 1945
“Le Pendule” (The Pendulum), 1945
 
Les potins d'Elsa Maxwell (Parisian gossip queen, Elsa Maxwell) 1952
“Les potins d’Elsa Maxwell” (American gossip queen, Elsa Maxwell, pictured in the center), 1952
 
A young Parisian couple dancing at Au Saint Yves, Paris, 1948
A young Parisian couple dancing at “Au Saint Yves”, Paris, 1948
 
While Doisneau’s name may not be familiar to you, his photograph “Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Town Hall)” is one of the most popular—and romantic—photographic images of the entire 20th century. His famous photos of the gargoyle statues that adorn Notre-Dame (one of which is pictured above) should look familiar, too. Doisneau’s post-war images, taken during the 40s and 50s captured candid moments shared by the collective residents of Paris. From members of high-society at parties, to its vagabond “tramps,” street performers, elegant circus clowns, to passionate Parisian youth dancing to “Bebop” in the clubs of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter.

To say that Doisneau’s photographs are stunning, would be to vastly understate the fact that his images easily rank as one of the greatest contributions to the curation of 20th century French history. Doisneau’s work has been the subject of several books such as, Robert Doisneau, by Jean Claude Gautrand and, Robert Doisneau: A Photographer’s Life, by Peter Hamilton. I’m sure you will enjoy perusing the remarkable images that follow.
 
Les Megots (
“Les Megots” (“Butts). A “tramp” harvesting tobacco from used cigarettes in an alleyway in Paris, 1956
 
Coco Chanel,
Coco Chanel “Aux Miroirs” (The Mirrors), Paris, 1953
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.11.2016
10:07 am
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Stanley Kubrick: Photographs of New York from the 1940s
12.01.2011
06:11 pm
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image
 
Before he began directing films, Stanley Kubrick was a photo-journalist with Look magazine, starting his career in 1946, and was, apparently, their youngest photographer on record. Kubrick snapped over 10,000 pictures, sometimes hiding his camera in a paper bag to achieve a more intimate and natural image.

Kubrick’s photographs of New York in the 1940s, have the look of gritty movie stills from some imagined film noir, revealing intriguing personal narratives, for which the viewer can compose their own script.

A selection of Kubrick’s photographs are available to buy from V and M, with proceeds going to the Museum of the City of New York.
 
image
 
image
 
image
 
More of Kubrick’s photographs, after the jump…
 
Via Flavor Wire with thanks to Tara McGinley
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.01.2011
06:11 pm
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