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‘Grindhouse Girls’ of the 50s and 60s: An eye-popping set of sexy black & white trading cards

A trading card from the ‘Grindhouse Girls’ set put out by Rigomor Press in 1992.
This set of sexed-up trading cards featuring strippers and exotic performers from the 50s and 60s was put out in 1992 by Rigomor Press who also put out a few other controversial trading card sets such as Incredible True Life Murderers in 1991 and The World’s Most Hated People in 1992.

The Grindhouse Girls set contains images of well-known adult performers such as Blaze Starr and Maria Villa who performed her exotic act with a snake. The black and white images are a fantastic throw-back to when adult performers used pasties, big hair, and kooky gimmicks to sell their sex appeal. Best of all, like many other vintage trading card sets, when you flipped the cards over you could assemble a giant puzzle—but instead of scene from Charlie’s Angels, you get to put together a picture of “Goddess of the Jungle” Naja Karamuru who was considered to be Brazil’s answer to Jayne Mansfield. Karamuru was a superstar of the burlesque scene back in the 50s and 60s and like Maria Villa, she shared her stage with a number of snakes including two pythons and a cobra. I’ve included images of all twenty cards from the set which occasionally come up for sale on auction sites like eBay if you’re interested in acquiring one for yourself. Though there isn’t any real nudity, strippers and pasties generally equal NSFW.


More ‘Grindhouse Girls’ after the jump…

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Ass-kicking ‘Faster Pussycat’ heroine Tura Satana during her younger days as a burlesque dancer

Bad girl rule-breaker Tura Satana’s name is pretty much synonymous with the film that propelled her to fame as the ass-kicking, man eating “Varla,” Russ Meyer’s 1965 Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. And if you know anything about Satana’s background you already know that she lived up to one of her famous lines (which I’m riffing on here) in the flick by never trying anything. She just did it.

Born Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi in Hokkaido, Japan in 1938 (or 1935 according to some sources) both of Satana’s parents were performers. Her father (who was part Japanese and part Filipino) was an actor who appeared in silent films. Satana’s mother performed in circuses as a contortionist and was of a mix of Native American and Scottish descent which further contributed to Satana’s exotic and unique look.

After moving to the U.S. in 1942 when Tura was only four, she and her father were sent to an internment camp in California for Japanese-Americans where they lived for two years until they reunited with her mother in Chicago. As the feelings of resentment toward the Japanese were still high following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 Tura (as well as other U.S. residents of Japanese descent) was the object of harassment and routinely subjected to bullying at school. At the age of ten Tura was brutally gang-raped by a group of teenagers. Despite her age and the horrific magnitude of the crime the five assailants were never prosecuted for the despicable assault. As a response to help protect his child, Tura’s father apparently tutored her in various martial arts such as Aikido and Karate so that she would always be able to protect herself. According to Satana herself for her portrayal of Varla she drew from the internalized rage from her rape which would further immortalize her face-smashing character in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.

Tura Satana as ‘Varla’ in Russ Meyer’s ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’
At thirteen, her parents entered her into an “arranged” marriage with a family friend John Satana that would end only nine months later while Tura was starting her career as an exotic dancer. Not long after her marriage ended Satana found her way to the city of broken dreams, Los Angeles and was quickly discovered while performing her special blend of burlesque dancing mixed with martial arts moves. She got her first acting role in the 1959 ABC television series Hawaiian Eye. This led to many other acting roles one of which was with one of Satana’s rumored love interests, director Billy Wilder in 1963’s Irma La Douce and a role that same year opposite Dean Martin (where she played a stripper) in Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed. And if super-groupie Pamela Des Barres is to be believed (detailed in her 2008 book Let’s Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies), it was Tura herself who taught The King, Elvis Presley (another of Satana’s boy toys) his signature dance moves. 

Satana ditched her dance routines when California changed the laws governing exotic dancing which allowed clubs to require dancers appear topless and instead turned to straight jobs such as nursing, and in her later years even working as security detail for a Hilton casino in Reno, Nevada under the name “Tura Jurman” after marrying former police officer Endel Jurman in 1981. I’ve posted a variety of incredible photos of Satana from when she was known as “Miss Japan Beautiful” (a nickname that would follow her throughout her career) that were taken during her days as a burlesque dancer for you to oogle below. I’ve also included footage from Tura showing off her dance moves in the 1973 film The Doll Squad. Naturally since this is Tura Satana we are talking about, please assume that many of the images that follow are NSFW. Much like the woman herself.

Tura Satana in ‘Burlesque Magazine’ when she was only nineteen, 1957.


More Tura! Tura! Tura! after the jump…

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Ingenious 1930s burlesque queen, the great Sally Rand
01:49 pm


Sally Rand

Actress and burlesque star Sally Rand and her giant bubble.

I haven’t been out of work since the day I took my pants off.

—Sally Rand.

Though Sally Rand is famous for her “fan dance” which she debuted at the Chicago World’s Fair in May of 1933 in which the petite performer used two pink seven-foot ostrich fans strategically to “cover” what appeared to onlookers to be her nude body, she is equally well-known for her beguiling “bubble dance” which Rand brought to Chicago when she returned in 1934.

A show flier advertising Sally Rand’s famous ‘bubble dance’ at the Paradise Cabaret in New York.
Born Harriet Helen Gould Beck in the small town of Elkton Missouri, Rand left home in search of fame and fortune and joined a carnival. It would be one in a long line of jobs in the entertainment business that Rand would hold during her career. Calling herself “Billie Beck” Rand took a job with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as an acrobat, which eventually led to another more serious job with a theatre company where the young aspiring star would play opposite to future (and then nearly unknown) Hollywood superstar Humphrey Bogart in a “summer stock” production. Rand would then go on to hook up with the great Cecil B. DeMille who convinced her to change her name to “Sally Rand” and would open the door to many roles in silent features for the determined young performer.

Later on in the early 1930s Rand would start performing her “fan dances” and ultimately her “bubble dances” and her performance at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair would mark one of many times Rand was arrested for “indecent exposure” though she had been painted by makeup guru Max Factor, Sr. in a new body paint he had formulated for Hollywood screen stars. When it comes to Rand’s bubble dance the back story is quite interesting, as well as a fascinating reflection of how ingenious Rand was when it came to keeping her fame firmly intact. When she came up with the idea of incorporating a bubble large enough to hold her inside she actually had to have one created for her.

Using her own money Rand began the exploration and development of a 60-inch bubble that she would use on stage as a prop along with her nearly nude body (which was likely cleverly concealed in a bodystocking or other crafty camouflage) and a large troop of dancers. I’ve included some incredible photos of Rand pictured with a formerly live swan, her bubble and the lightening bolt body makeup created by Max Factor for you to oogle, as well as some vintage video of Rand performing with her giant bubble.

Since we’re talking about beautiful naked ladies and bubbles and such, many of the images that follow are slightly NSFW.


More after the jump…

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Satanic strippers: Vintage burlesque performers dance with the devil
10:35 am



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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The Combat Zone: A look back at Boston’s mythical dens of sleaze

The Naked i cabaret in Boston's old
The Naked i Cabaret in Boston’s old “Combat Zone.”
I grew up in a small town just outside of Boston called Somerville. And like pretty much like any other teenager, I worked quite hard at the craft of getting into trouble as often as possible. I ran with a crowd that was comprised of teenage losers that enjoyed passing the time stealing beer from delivery trucks. As far as you (and my parents) know, I (mostly) never did anything more than drink said stolen beer under train track bridges while underage.
Combat Zone, 1974
Combat Zone, 1974.
But when it came to a right of passage in Boston, if you were a late teen or mostly of legal drinking age in the late 80s, you hit up Boston’s Chinatown after last call to eat food full of MSG and drink “cold tea.” In Boston, (and perhaps where you grew up, too), “cold tea” was code for “beer” (usually flat) that you could order slightly before or after closing time that was served up in white teapots in certain restaurants in Chinatown. Of course, after a night of youthful boozing, we would occasionally have enough “beer balls” to walk through the red light district of Boston that bordered Chinatown known as the Combat Zone. I remember one particular night when, after a couple of pots of cold tea, someone dared me to sprint through the Zone alone as fast as I could, which I did. Because what could go wrong when a blond teenage girl decides to run through the seediest part of town full of peep shows, dirty book stores, prostitutes and pimps?

Although widely considered a place of ill-repute, the Combat Zone’s history is important to Boston for many reasons. Specifically, thanks to its “relaxed” approach to adult oriented pursuits, the Combat Zone was also home to a wide variety of drag clubs and gay bars frequented by Boston’s LGBT community. Which is in part why in 1976 The Wall Street Journal dubbed the area a “sexual Disneyland.” In other words, there was something for everyone in the Combat Zone. And that wasn’t always a bad thing. In 2010, an art exhibit at the Howard Yezerski Gallery showcased photos taken in the Combat Zone from 1969 - 1978. Many of the images from the show as well as others taken during the Zone’s heyday, follow.
A sign outside the Combat Zone riffing on a famous line from JFK's inaugural address
Combat Zone, 1978
More Beantown sleaze, after the jump…

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Happy 22nd birthday to the legendary 88-year-old burlesque queen Tempest Storm!
09:23 am


Tempest Storm

Cheers to all the Leap Day babies, for they stay forever young! Some notable Leap Day birthday celebrants who may be of interest to DM readers include the mononymic Brazilian illustrator Jaguar, the extraordinary experimental hip-hop artist Saul Williams, and the serial killers Aileen Wuornos and Richard Ramirez. But today, we’re concerned with an iconic burlesque artist with a redundant stage name: Tempest Storm. Born Annie Banks 88 years ago on February, 29th, 1928, she celebrates her 22nd birthday today.


Along with Blaze Starr (RIP 2015), Storm was one of the performers who sat squarely atop that great last gasp of American burlesque that existed on the west coast in the mid-1950s, when cinematic expressions of the form like Striporama, Varietease, and Teaserama brought a tame form of striptease to New Yorkers and hinterlanders, where many actual strip clubs had been put out of business by social puritans. In person, though, it was anything but tame: Storm distinguished herself not just with a massive chest (though obviously that would hardly have been a demerit), but with a larger-than-life persona and outsized stage moves which not only bolstered the flagging form, but which spoke directly through the decades to the burlesque revival currently ongoing. From Rachel Shteir’s Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show:

In the South and the West, a flamboyant striptease was emerging. The woman epitomizing this style was Tempest Storm. Beginning in the early 1950s at the Follies Theater and the El Rey in Oakland, Storm stripped and did highly exaggerated bumps and grinds. Journalists described her as “a force of nature,” as they had Ann Corio in the 1930s, but here the phrase was meant to be even less glamorous and more parodic. “The ‘Storm’ Returns,” one of Storm’s posters read. Storm wore a leopard-print bra in pinup photos and even considered recording an album, which she wanted to call Stormy Weather.

Born Annie Blanche Banks in Appalachia in 1928, Storm escaped into stripping from a turbulent home life. She fled an abusive father at age sixteen, and after a few years’ worth of detours and marriages, came to Los Angeles after the war. She first stripped at the Follies Theater at the end of 1951, under the name Stormy Dan. Quickly, she changed it to Tempest Storm. In keeping with the national trend of “oversized” strippers, Storm’s appeal relied less on grace or charm than on her dimensions. A 1955 Playboy pictorial, “Tempest in a C-Cup,” did exactly that.

More Tempest Storm after the jump…

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Senior citizen strippers: Burlesque beauties decked out and working it for the camera
10:08 am



La Savona, Indianapolis, Indiana (2012)
Last week the death of burlesque legend Blaze Starr reminded us all of a far cheekier era of stripper—an anachronistic kind of T and A, with a little more glam and giggle to it than today’s Las Vegas-style bottle service strip clubs. It’s easy to crystallize someone like Starr in our memory as a young bombshell, taking it all off for roaring crowds, scandalizing politics with the Governor of Louisiana (and probably JFK, too), but we should always remember—there is life after pasties! For her book Legends The Living Art Of Risque, French photographer Marie Baronnet captures the fabulous ladies of mid-century burlesque in all their mature glory.

Although I do appreciate Miss Toni Elling and her “hey, fuck it, I’m old” ensemble, the majority of the women featured remain gloriously glam, with sparkles, feathers and cheesecake pouts. There are some ladies who actually took it all off for Baronnet, but in the spirit of the vintage striptease, I’ve kept the selections pretty safe for work. Mostly it seems to be about muscle memory; there is a kind of sexual performance that these women still know how to work for the camera.

Camille, Fort Pierce, Florida (2000)

Stephanie Blake, Simi Valley, California (2013)
More senior citizen strippers after the jump…

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The amazing, unpublishable burlesque pop-up book
10:22 am


Peter Larkin

Peter Larkin, 88, was, in his day, a Tony Award-winning production designer, who, in the mid-‘50, took top nods for his work on Ondine, The Teahouse of the August Moon, No Time for Sergeants, and Inherit the Wind. He’s also a highly-informed burlesque aficionado. In 1994, he illustrated the book The Best Burlesque Sketches, and in the twenty years since, he’s been mocking up a pop-up book on the subject, with the delightful working title Panties Inferno. The Paris Review published a series of photos of the mock-ups, along with a detailed interview with Larkin.

I started doing pop-ups in 1994. My early ones were pretty crude. I had to figure out the engineering, if that’s what they call it—but I had fooled around with pop-ups before, because I used to make theatrical models for stage sets, so with my experience that wasn’t too difficult. I was a good draftsman and with a drawing board and triangles I could figure it out. You have to use the motion of opening the book to power the whole thing. Nowadays, there are guys who use string and elastic—all kinds of strange things in there, which as a purist, I would say aren’t exactly pop-ups. There’s also a certain amount of tumescence involved there. It’s sort of phallic, the pop-up. Why would you make a book that things popped up out of?

The book is arranged as if it’s a whole evening of burlesque, from start to finish. It always ended with a really awful production number. They got a set of steps—stairs—and covered it with some kind of sleazy material. Then there were all kinds of strange things.

Sadly, due to the complexity of Larkin’s pop-ups, the sheer expense of producing it has led publishers to deem it unpublishable. Mr. Larkin, again, is 88 years of age, so someone please tell him about Kickstarter, and quickly!





More wonderful images and animations at The Paris Review.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Looking for a ton of burlesque matchbook covers? Well, you can stop looking.
‘How to Undress in Front of Your Husband’: the exact opposite of a feminist film

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Looking for a TON of burlesque matchbook covers? Well, you can stop looking.
10:56 am



Judging by their web site, The Match Group seems a fairly run-of-the-mill custom matches concern. Need your logo on a matchbook? They’ve got you covered. You want match boxes instead, you say? Relax, Mr. Connoisseur, it’s all good. Here’s a great excerpt from their About page:

With over 25 years in the industry, company founder, Joe Danon began his career as the North East Regional Sales Manager at the prestigious Universal Match Corporation. He then went on to become the National Sales Manager at Maryland Match Corp. for 13 years. His passion and devotion to the historic importance, whimsy and efficacy of match advertising is unrivaled. His devoted and loyal clientele have long benefited from his “Love of Light,” graphic design expertise and unparalleled product knowledge.

Notice the bit about “historic importance?” The Match Group not only offers over 25 years of hard-won experience in the world of matches, they keep an informative blog full of historical information and trivia about matches and matchbook design, and they’ve maintained an exhaustive Pinboard to assemble an impressively massive trove of design samples from all across the web. It’s broken down into 65 categories. That’s not a typo. But what I’ve elected to share here is a selection from their Burlesque/Pinup collection, because this is the internet, and since they don’t have a set of cat matchbooks, boobies win. (I’d suggest also perusing their “Matches as Art” board, though.) Obviously, little of this is going to be safe for work, but I’ve made an effort to keep the more graphically risqué stuff (read: nipples and buttcracks) for later in the post.





More after the jump…

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‘Get ‘Em Off,’ a wonderfully ‘educational’ British burlesque documentary from 1976
11:07 am



The mid-1970s might have been the perfect era to make a documentary on exotic dance. It was a time when striptease was still often a playful and creative form, with strong vestiges of vaudeville in the forefront—some of the routines shown here are truly marvelous—but modern enough to be unabashed by a little straightforward good-time smut. Directed by one William G Walters for Harold Baim Presentations Limited, Get Em Off is unquestionably a product of the ‘70s. Garish colors, ostentatious costume and awesomely sleazy psych-funk music are all deep in this celluloid like a stain—my kingdom for a soundtrack album! The narration, by a pair of middle-aged presenters named Kenneth Macleod and Hugh Scully (yes, the Antiques Roadshow guy), is HILARIOUS, often even intentionally so.

Something neat I noticed—the book a young gentleman is leafing through in the first shot is Richard Wortley’s terrific A Pictorial History of Striptease: 100 Years of Undressing to Music. Like the film, it was also a 1976 release, and it’s excellent. Fortunately for scholars of the burlesque, it can be had quite inexpensively at Amazon.

You can watch it below in its entirety, but do I actually even need to tell those of you at work to wait until you get home? Examples of the art form are shown plentifully and unflinchingly, so there’s COPIOUS skin to be seen herein. You’ve been served notice. If you’d like to own it, Get Em Off is included in this Baim anthology DVD.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
This will flip your lid: Jayne Mansfield’s wild exotic dance in ‘Primitive Love’

Jayne Mansfield’s exotic dance from the 1964 mondo documentary Primitive Love. The blissed-out dude playing the plastic bucket embodies everything I aspire to be: Buddha nature in overdrive.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment