The Swinging World of Men’s Magazine Advertising

You know what’s the worst part of working in marketing (I know, I know–the Tenebrous Bills need to get paid somehow, folks)? One can never see advertisements and not analyze their awfulness, and if one has a particularly snarky bent of mind (guilty!), one’s life in contemporary America becomes a whirlpool of spleen that spins and inextricably tangles the horribleness of the advertisers with the stupidry of the General Public. I’m more concerned with the 66/100th of Ivory Soap that isn’t “pure” than with their insipid former tagline. It concerns me deeply that people are making haircare purchases based on the SCIENCE depicted in their advertisements. Show a motherfucker wearing goggles and a serious expression pouring junk from a beaker onto pretty much anything, and the General Public is enslaved by the specter of TROO FAKTS.
Before I get all “Our Advertising, Ourselves” up in here, let’s discuss the horrors of advertising in vintage men’s magazines, shall well?
Drafting, Fingerprinting, SEX CALLS!

The ad mats in the July 1981 issue of MEN Magazine create an anthropological wonderland, capitalizing on the insecurities of its turgid reader pool by offering a potent cocktail of cheap porn, dubious job opportunities, flashy jewelry, and hypnotism. LOTS of hypnotism–at least three full page ads, on my initial flip-through. I find the montage above to be particularly revealing–when you’re done lining your pockets from your lucrative fingerprinting job (CAREER OF THE FUTURE), go home and make some SEX CALLS. Barring that, Drafting and a Free Photo Book can be acquired.

Strong Arms, Chemical Tattoo Removal, Bill Troubles
If you’re having BILL TROUBLES (for being a fool and PAYING for an Electro Pocket Pussy instead of ordering one of the free love dolls advertised elsewhere), perhaps chemical TATTOO REMOVAL would offer a path to financial solvency. Barring that, the flesh solvency will certainly follow. Because–dude, that sounds like the worst idea EVER.
Mark Jewelers
Once you’ve achieved wealth as a result of your new job, why not treat yourself to a 10 karat gold symbol of your newfound fortune? While I *do* think the RED BARON ring is pretty fucking boss, I think STAR WARRIOR or DIAMOND ZODIAC probably makes the statement you’re looking to convey.
The Magic Power of Witchcraft
If all else fails, there’s always witchcraft. Who wouldn’t listen to Gavin Frost, BSc, PhD, DD, Archbishop of the Church of Wicca from New Bern, North Carolina with its headquarters in Salem, Missouri (yer doin it rong)? Look at his photo–he’s totally rocking the 1970s Satanist thang, with his pointy beard, heavy gold chain and black turtleneck. That’s a look that says “trust me baby, I was in ‘All the Colors of the Dark.’” If that’s not enough, just read the testimonials–ANDY DISSOLVES A GALLSTONE using nothing but the tremendous power of witchcraft! Dissolution of accreted bile aside, this pamphlet promises to teach you how to MAKE TIME RUN FORWARD AND BACKWARD. I’m pretty sure that could be successfully employed against those dopes who invested their cash in a boring old drafting career from a few ads earlier.

Horror Rises from the Garage (Rock, That Is)

I like my horror music like I like my horror movies–cheap, loud and weird. I’m sure you feel the same way, so take a moment to enjoy these clips while I work on getting you folks some fresh new content.
Deadbolt – “Down in the Lab”:

Gein & the Graverobbers – “Camp Blood”:

Psycho Charger – “Channel 13” (bonus points for Eric Pigors art):

Cult of the Psychic Fetus – “In My Coffin”:

The Erotic Bondage Art of Georges Pichard

Pichard - "Ulysse"
In the annals (hee) of kinky comix, there are a few artists who stand head and shoulders above the crowd. Milo Manara needs no introduction, and we’ve discussed my love of Guido Crepax and John Willie in posts past. An artist who I feel doesn’t get nearly the adoration and (in)famy he deserves is French artist Georges Pichard.

Pichard began his career in 1946 with illustrations in mainstream publications, eventually moving into comic strips and then producing his first erotic work, “Blanche Epiphanie,” in 1967, beginning what would be a 40-year career in naughty books. Late in his life, he taught at l’Ecole des Arts Appliques in Paris (where he had been a student). Pichard died in 2003, leaving the world with a tremendous legacy of erotic art.

Pichard - "Marie Gabrielle"
Pichard’s work is characterized by impossibly voluptuous, dark-eyed women who frequently find themselves in bondage ranging from the flirtatious to the gruesome. In my opinion, the artist is at his best when he’s at his most grotesque, eschewing the boundaries of what most would consider to be arousing.
Pichard - "Marie Gabrielle"
His technique is precise and beautiful, employing fluid line-work and pointillist shadows. His pages are often separated by clever forms of architecture, like the gothic arches and Valentine hearts found throughout “Marie-Gabrielle,” a story of bondage and discipline set largely within a convent of sadistic nuns.

Pichard - "The Countess in Red"
Pichard - "The Countess in Red"
Panels like the above, from his “Countess in Red” which details a sexually-charged retelling of the Countess Bathory legend, show his talent for juxtaposing extreme S&M imagery with more traditional sensuality.

A Series of Tubes That Leads to More Pichard:
If anybody was looking for a very fine birthday present for me (you have till October 5th), one of these original Pichard pages would make a suitable tribute. Just sayin’. Podcast #1: "Alucarda", Lugosi and Tenebrous ME

If Nate Yapp of wasn’t such a goddamn charming sonofabitch, I, much like Admiral Ackbar, would have been able to identify a trap when I saw one. I guess it’s a good thing for you folks that my life continues to be Gullible’s Travels, because I was lured into an exploration of the frequently-analyzed and thoroughly-awesome Mexican horror film “Alucarda.” Leave it to the glossy allure of New Media to lull me into a sense of geeky hyp-mo-tism!

Take a listen, and be treated to thirty-three minutes brimming with morsels of excitement like:
  • Boris Karloff’s awesome haircut
  • Panty-moistening art deco architecture
  • Incestuous necrophilia
  • Subnormal is the NEW normal
  • Blood-drenched lesbonic hottness
  • Why “Alucarda” is not a nunsploitation film
  • Psychic battles with gypsies
Thanks again to Nate for inviting me to chit-chat, even knowing what an arrogant, long-winded bastard I can be. He’s good like that.

Evilution [2008] and Basement Jack [2009]

Hey interpals–can we talk for a minute? Cos I’ve got a problem. A really frustrating one that I think I need to talk about, in an “I’m paying this therapist by the hour so bitch better earn her keep” sort of way.
It’s like this…
A while back, I watched two particular independently-produced horror films. It’s pretty clear to me that the filmmakers have a great deal of love for the genre and plenty of blood, sweat and tears went into making these films a reality. But they’re just plain not all that terribly good. And I feel guilty slamming them because there are redeeming moments in both films (well, one more than the other, but we’ll get to that) as well as one character who–quite frankly–deserves a WAY BETTER motion picture vehicle for his awesomeness.

CRINGE at the cavalcade of caucasian graffiti!
OK, sure–it’s part of the recovery process that I name the films out loud. I’m talking about
“Evilution” and “Basement Jack,” both of which were written and in-part-produced by Brian Patrick O’Toole. Let me begin by saying that I think it’s rad that someone can come up with a concept, pull together the money to finance the production of said concept, and then go out and promote his final product in a passionate manner. I… just sometimes… well, I wish the final products were something I could embrace like a fabric-softener mascot and recommend to all my pals.
YAWN at the roving hordes of messy extras!
Alas, such is not the case here.

“Evilution,” plainly put, is un-good. Un-good in a way that makes me a little embarrassed. It’s a zombie-outbreak story set in a low-income urban high-rise that was scripted by someone who has clearly never lived in a low-income urban setting and whose vision of said is informed by a combination of early-1980s sit-coms and a Beastie Boys video. I’m just going to stop my review here and say that there is a desperate need for some kind of permits if a filmmaker wants to create A) a story set in a low-income urban setting or B) a zombie movie. Permits for A can be earned ONLY if the writer demonstrates some sort of firsthand knowledge of the setting (having watched “Boyz in the Hood” does not count) and there are actually NO PERMITS issued for B. The project is forced to languish in bureaucratic limbo until the filmmaker gives up and substitutes… oh, I dunno, ANYTHING in the place of zombies in his or her story.

“Basement Jack” fares better in my estimation, mainly due to the fact that, while it is still partially set in the same low-income urban high-rise, there are no wacky gang members and one can mostly forget that the movie is supposed to be partially set in a low-income urban high-rise. It also has zero zombies, instead playing to the old chestnut of the indestructible psycho killer, whose Hot Topic buckley wardrobe you can usually almost ignore.
I’m being harsh–let me reel myself in as I’ve been giving myself too much snark-lead. “Basement Jack” is a fun (if fluffy) stalk-and-slash in the familiar 1980s mold, but in place of A Group Of Teens Out Of Their Respective Elements, there’s a good cop and a plucky female trying to convince their community that there is a killer on the loose, and both of these folks do a creditable job in their roles. Lynn Lowry is on hand via flashbacks as the abusive mom who sends our psycho killer (the titular Jack) over the edge into a life of hacking slashery.
I know–you’re still not seeing a need for the kind of internal conflict I’m grappling with. That’s why I need to talk this out, and baby, my hour ain’t up yet.
There’s a gleaming, shining beacon of excellence in both these movies–a character so excellent that I’m kind of pissed at myself for not having imagined him. A character I would like to pound many beers with, who possibly in some ways resembles the kinds of guys I used to date, only way, WAY cooler and who would never, EVER cry when he was pulled over for speeding.
That character, Damen und Herren, is THE MANAGER. As portrayed by Nathan Bexton, THE MANAGER is a nattily-attired gent with a creepy wit who functions as the superintendent of the low-income high-rise that figures so prominently in these films. In a touch I will confess is rather nifty, said building is named The Necropolitan (I would pay extra to live in a building named thusly). What makes THE MANAGER so fucktastically awesome, you ask? Let’s discuss!
  • OUTFITS. OK, f’reals–did the same costume designer who created the Juggalo-esque serial killer ALSO create THE MANAGER’s costumes? Cos he’s WAY better dressed. I’m going to assume (whether it’s true or not) that this is a subtle commentary on goffick fashion, or perhaps the eternal struggle between the Big Pants Brigade and the Vampyyyyres.
  • EYEBROW ARCHING. We’ve discussed the importance of a good eyebrow-arch to a proper screen villain, and THE MANAGER knows how to arch an eyebrow with the best of them, amping up his sinister appeal. Studies have shown that, mathematically speaking, forty percent of Vincent Price’s appeal rested in his fierce eyebrow-arching abilities.
  • GEEKY COLLECTING TAKEN TO ELEVEN. THE MANAGER has his own private collection of ghoulish relics, including weapons used in crimes, occult ephemera and poisons. Classier still, these items are showcased in old-school glass-fronted cabinets. I’m actually turning a most unbecoming shade of green due to envy right now.
This super-est of supers, with his say-something facial hair, penchant for pocketwatches, and museum of macabre artifacts, deserves his own film. Allegedly, there is a third film in the works from the folks who brought us “Evilution” and “Basement Jack” that will feature THE MANAGER in a prominent role. And yes–I will be in line to see it when it’s released, due to the triumph of hope (and perhaps masochism) over reason.

Countess Bathory Painting

"La Comtesse Bathory dansant sur le corps de ses victimes" by Roland Bathory

Roland Cat, “La Comtesse Bathory dansant sur le corps de ses victimes”

Gouache, 1966

Source: “Le Musee des Supplices,” Roland Villeneuve, 1968
This appears to be a very early piece from artist Roland Cat’s oeuvre, because everywhere else I find a reference to him, it looks like he’s best-known for fantastical landscapes. I’m definitely digging the kinky figurative landscape represented here.
The book in which I found this particular painting is one of my beloved possessions–a leather-bound French tome whose title loosely translates to “The Torture Museum,” it’s like one of those good old Time-Life Education books on the occult cranked up to ELEVEN. Do I read French? Nope. But I am extraordinarily fluent in the international language of Weird Art.

The Horrors of Men’s Fashion – Lew Magram, Shirtmaker to the STARS!

I am temporarily failed by the English language. This advert that I found in the June 1973 issue of “Oui” (purchased for that Ken Russell article that made me SO ENVIOUS of the Flying Maciste Brothers for reading) is just so filled with wrongness that I’m going to have to take a moment to compose myself before continuing.
Witness this full-page spread for LEW MAGRAM–SHIRTMAKER TO THE STARS:
Lew Magram Ad - June 1973

Now that I’ve had a moment to collect my thoughts and experience a sense of relief tempered with disappointment that this ad was not published in eye-searing color, I’ll discuss my favorite elements.

Lew Magram Ad - June 1973
THE DENIM BUSINESS SUIT. Not to be confused with the Redneck Tuxedo, the Denim Business Suit will allegedly take one from work week to weekend. I guess in the days when one could smoke in the office and smack insubordinate lady-workers on the bum without the threat of a termination and lawsuit, it was probably all right to wear an all-denim suit with a disturbing bib-tie and checkered hypno-shirt.
Lew Magram Ad - June 1973
THE DAMASCUS KAFTAN. Available in HIS and HERS! Also has an adorable pointy hood. Brave enough to wear horizontal stripes? Then surely taking the step over the line to psychedelic wizard-dom is but a small one.
Lew Magram Ad - June 1973
THE SOHO BODYSUIT. This can only be described as the satanic spawn between a Dr. Thaddeus Venture “speedsuit” and a circa-1986 Frederick’s of Hollywood teddy. In short: unsafe at any speed.
A quick perusal of the Lew Magram online catalog leads me to believe that, while the Magram Look remains as scatter-brained and bizarre as ever, males of the species are now safe from the unholy hand of the SHIRTMAKER TO THE STARS. More’s the pity, eh?

Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror [1972]

My approach to movie-watching–in case you hadn’t noticed–is fairly haphazard. I have a rough list of Stuff That’s Relevant to the Tenebrous Interests, and when a particular film seems to fit that bill, I snap it up for future watching. It’s a damn good thing that I have reliable friends who’ve got my best interests in mind who tend to say things like: “Hey doofus–I know you’ve been digging these Paul Naschy flicks, so why don’t you go ahead and check out his first film which also happened to be a staple of such monster kid klassic teevee shows as Chiller Theatre?” If this incredi-pal happens to be the Abominable Dr. Gregg, he goes ahead and ships me a DVD of “Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror” in order to educate and illuminate me (that Abominable Dr. Gregg is some kind of all right, isn’t he?).

It’s easy to see why “Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror” was a drive-in hit in America–though it came late in the second flowering of the monster movie, there were dozens of creature features playing on screens across the country, involving everything from the giant rabbits of “Night of the Lepus” to the urban vampire shocker “Blacula.” Capitalizing on the horror craze and short exactly one Frankenstein movie, film distributor Sam Sherman snapped up the rights to Paul Naschy’s first film (made and originally released in 1968), “La Marca del Hombre Lobo,” slapped a little prologue explaining the title onto the preexisting movie, and voila! A monster mash was born.
Much like me, audiences in 1972 got over their initial dismay at the marked lack of reanimated cadavers in the story because–quite frankly–“Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror” has everything BUT the kitchen sink in it (if the kitchen sink was a resurrection-obsessed mad scientist). Set in typical-yet-EXCELLENT (some things bear repeating, after all) Naschy style somewhere in a dark-forested, superstition-haunted, dirndl-outfitted Mittel European country, the film tells the tale of Polish nobleman Waldemar Daninsky who falls in love with an eighteen-year-old countess, gets werewolfized, and ultimately has to save his woodland community from his own full-moon-inspired rampages. Oh yeah–and there’s a masked ball, some Satanism, a couple of gypsies, several forays into graverobbing and a sinister vampire couple.
Still no mad science–but you don’t really miss it, do you?

There’s so much to love about Naschy movies–the star’s overwhelming sense of his own awesomeness, the stable of exotic babeage, the creaky gothic horror settings, and most importantly THE MONSTERS! Much as I’m open-minded towards contemporary reimaginings of the medieval creep brigade of vampires, shape-shifters, and various undead baddies, I have a special love for classic monsters, much in the same way that you never forget Your First. Naschy’s reverence for the Universal thrillers is evident, and while the effects work may be a little hokey and the plot propulsion may not be terribly sophisticated, it’s clear that Naschy wants his audience to have as much fun watching his performance as he had creating the story. He’s making latter-day fairy tales in the most unapologetic way possible and his enthusiasm saturates every frame. Even when the movie gets a little (or a LOT) silly, there’s never the feeling that Naschy believes his *audience* is stupid–they’re co-conspirators in his monster glee!
The potential down-side to Naschy’s appetite for old school horror cliches is that… well… let’s calls ’em like we sees ’em: his werewolf movies are pretty much the same story told over and over again with small tweaks. So let’s discuss the tweaks that make “Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror” so eminently watchable, OK?
1) A ludicrous love triangle. In tried-and-true storybook style, Daninsky (quite literally) waltzes into Janice’s life during a masquerade party and the teenager is instantly smitten, casting aside her significantly-less-barrel-chested boyfriend, Rudolph. Later in the film, when Daninsky saves Rudolph’s life during a werewolf attack (and is fatefully bitten by the beast in the process), Rudolph seems to topple head-over-heels for the darkly brooding muscle-count himself, taking on a manservant role and trying to protect Daninsky from harm. This Daninsky-worship would carry throughout Naschy’s films, with the werewolf-slash-nobleman’s milkshake bringing persons of both genders flocking to the yard time and again.
2) Kickass sophisticated vampires. I like vampires–but I specifically like monster vampires and Draculas. Dr. Janos Mikhelov and his boobalicious wife Wandessa (remember that name, Naschyfans!) are prime examples of this latter flavor of bloodsucker. Improving on the already-excellent “bleh bleh” cape-wearing cartoon we all know and love, Dr. Mikhelov and Wandessa are black magicians who are seeking to harness Daninsky’s curse for their own nefarious needs! Let me take a moment to salute the cheekbones of actor Juli├ín Ugarte, who plays Dr. Mikhelov. I kinda wish he was in every movie–remember how much he en-rad-ened the boringer-than-it-ought’ve-been Italo-thriller “All the Colors of the Dark” with his presence as the taloned cult leader? Take a good gander at that photo above, interpals–that’s gonna be me and Baron XIII in 10 years (although the Baron might have to stand on a box to be that tall).

3) Cleavage. What this movie lacks in nipples, it makes up for in creamy, quivering inter-bosom chasms. Just when I thought the movie had hit a sad note with the inevitable-yet-still-untimely demise of the barefoot gypsy girl, it gave me Wandessa in her startlingly structured gowns.
4) Monster fights. Man vs. werewolf, werewolf vs. werewolf, and ultimately vampire vs. werewolf. When presented with two new action figures, the first thing a little boy will do is make those plastic bastards fight. It is with the same youthful joy that Naschy presents us with several such grapple-matches between supernatural fighters.
For the kind of megadose of Vitamin M(onster) that the Halloween-season-loving kid in all of us craves, “Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror” truly delivers the goods.

Six-Gun Geishas and Rock ‘N’ Roll Courtesans: Zane Fix of

The woodblock-inspired ink paintings of visual artist, musician, and all around colorful individual Zane Fix have completely stolen my heart. Informed by Fix’s fascination with subjects as diverse as Japanese legends, street fashion, and theatre and suffused with a unique sense of humor, his fluid-lined images have been an eye-catching feature at the Union Square artists’ market in New York City for several years.
My favorite pieces are his portraits of women–all of whom are glamorous, but whose attitudes range from flirtatious to kinky to outright aggressive. It doesn’t hurt that the gun-slinging, culture-crossing vixen in the image below could be a sister to Meiko Kaji’s Matsu from the “Female Prisoner Scorpion” Pink Films:

Rice-paper prints of Zane Fix’s art are available directly from the artist at his website at very reasonable prices (hooray for accessible art!). I know my prints look hella-fierce here in the Apartment of Erotic Horror–don’t your walls deserve some brightening up as well?

Death SS: Even METTUL Is Improved by the Strategic Addition of a Mummy

Interpals, I have a confession to make. I am not, and have never been, a fan of KISS, and frankly I hold the members personally responsible for a significant episode in Childhood Disappointment. Just look at KISS (I mean, look at them by going to Google Images or something, cos I am not going to besmirch my blog with their image): they look like awesome monsters to a naive child, with their grease paint and leathers. In a Just World, they would sing mainly about Frankenstein and haunted houses, perhaps with a soupcon of Satan. But no–they mainly sing about “rocking.” I can barely express to you what a bummer this discovery was for me once I finally got to hear their music. At least I would later be comforted by the unabashedly macabre tunes of Alice Cooper and King Diamond.
But still–the Coop and the King are but individual men, and one man cannot be expected to simultaneously embody the characters Starchild, the Demon, the Alien and the Kitty-Cat. It would be DECADES before I would stumble across something to make up for the hole in my soul left by my KISS-related disappointment.
Thank a dark deity that this emptiness has finally been filled by THESE GUYS:

THESE GUYS, dear friends, are Death SS, an Italian heavy metal band. I don’t want to disturb my image of them with the more recent Marilyn-Manson-esque costumery they’ve cultivated. In fact, I’m not sure I want or really need to know anything more about them than the following facts:
  1. They appear to sing about monsters and Satan (perhaps adding significantly more than a soupcon of said, but I’m giving a free pass).
  2. They hang out with topless chicks.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, they are dressed as monsters. Not “characters that are kinda similar to monsters but a mime version of same,” REAL FUCKING MONSTERS.

It’s like someone finally realized that Gene Simmons’ appearance kicked the most ass out of the entire lineup of KISS and said “golly, wouldn’t THIS be vastly improved if we were ALL the Demon?” And then some other guy was like “yeah I want to be a werewolf” and then another guy was like “OH SNAP I get to be a werewolf” and thus something beautiful and pure was born.

At least that’s the way *I* imagine it.
But I know what you’re thinking. You’re all, “sure, Kate, but DO THEY ROCK but not in a literal and boring manner?”
In a word, YES. Witness: