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Saucy Movie Tales Pulps + Octopus, Scorpion, Doctor Death, Dr. Yen Sin, Strange Detective
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18 posts in this topic

On 6/15/2024 at 11:25 AM, Kramerica said:

Wow. Great stuff :headbang: Back in 1936, what establishments did you visit to purchase such literary treasures? I can't imagine it was easy to find stuff with nudity on the cover.

Under the counter I suspect. If they knew you…

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While pretty tame by today's standards, I imagine a lot of places had risque pulps and nudie magazines behind the counter, though maybe places that catered to a largely adult male clientele, like tobacconists, sold them more openly. No doubt they also had more limited distribution, but at 25¢ rather than than to 10-15¢ most pulps sold for they were probably still profitable. Interestingly crackdowns by moral crusaders using existing laws suppressing vice, put a temporary end to most legal publications showing nudity in either photographs or illustration by the 1940s, not loosening up until the 50s. So you can find pinup mags with nude photos and pulps with risque illustrations from the 1930s, but they don't exist much from the 1940s, except for a few nudist magazines that argued (not always successfully) that they were promoting healthy lifestyle choices and not appealing to prurient interests. 

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On 6/15/2024 at 9:25 PM, rjpb said:

While pretty tame by today's standards, I imagine a lot of places had risque pulps and nudie magazines behind the counter, though maybe places that catered to a largely adult male clientele, like tobacconists, sold them more openly. No doubt they also had more limited distribution, but at 25¢ rather than than to 10-15¢ most pulps sold for they were probably still profitable. Interestingly crackdowns by moral crusaders using existing laws suppressing vice, put a temporary end to most legal publications showing nudity in either photographs or illustration by the 1940s, not loosening up until the 50s. So you can find pinup mags with nude photos and pulps with risque illustrations from the 1930s, but they don't exist much from the 1940s, except for a few nudist magazines that argued (not always successfully) that they were promoting healthy lifestyle choices and not appealing to prurient interests. 

 

MEME PULP RACK.jpg

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On 6/15/2024 at 8:25 PM, rjpb said:

While pretty tame by today's standards, I imagine a lot of places had risque pulps and nudie magazines behind the counter, though maybe places that catered to a largely adult male clientele, like tobacconists, sold them more openly. No doubt they also had more limited distribution, but at 25¢ rather than than to 10-15¢ most pulps sold for they were probably still profitable. Interestingly crackdowns by moral crusaders using existing laws suppressing vice, put a temporary end to most legal publications showing nudity in either photographs or illustration by the 1940s, not loosening up until the 50s. So you can find pinup mags with nude photos and pulps with risque illustrations from the 1930s, but they don't exist much from the 1940s, except for a few nudist magazines that argued (not always successfully) that they were promoting healthy lifestyle choices and not appealing to prurient interests. 

Not to muck up the sales thread here (with some fantastic specimens and congrats to whoever got that first Saucy Movie Tales :golfclap:), but I think you are very much on point that the girlie pulps weren't always behind the counter as is commonly supposed.  A lot of the more risque covers were featured more toward the early to mid-30s, but I've seen a number of photos with girlie pulps on display even mid to later 30s.  Usually they are up a little higher or more inconspicuous, but they're still out.

1935

UnknownNewstandmid-1935girliepulpsondisplay.png.3b23fede1f6d65afa922e838473f1eee.png

1937

UnknownNewsstandmid-1937girliepulpsondisplay.png.b4849fb6ecf41e67d47d66bbd8c4bc43.png     UnknownNewsstandlate1937girliepulpsondisplay.png.c7d35d9da0b68fdd39b6ef4535ff3191.png

And, yes, girlies were sold behind the counter, too, as circumstances (and community standards) would dictate, and I've even heard of them being sold in speakeasies or by cigarette girls in burlesque houses, etc., but some of these magazines had pretty good distribution (Pep Stories/Spicy Stories/Gay Parisienne/Snappy).

You're spot on about vice suppression starting up in earnest in 1937 in New York, but sometimes I wonder if some of it had as much to do with the booming popularity of Spicy Detective and that line or perhaps even the over the top macabre of weird menace that came in in the mid 30s after peak naughtiness :yeehaw: in the girlie pulp covers had already happened. 

By late 37-38 you're already seeing the sunset of the girlies.  A lot of the girlies that managed to linger on were reprint mags *definitely* sold behind the counter and often only at second hand bookstore sorts of venues.  There's a concurrent wave of "leg" mags that shift away from mostly fiction to mostly photos, but the photos aren't nude like had been previously (Silk Stocking Stories, Movie Merry-Go-Round, Real Screen Fun, Sheer Folly, Reel Humor, High Heel Magazine).  There's also a switch in body type from skinny flappers or voluptuous fleshpots to all-American Jane Russell long legged sorts of bods.  Maybe some of this wasn't so much about suppression of vice as a change of tastes (shrug)

The funny thing is I've seen a couple retrospectives from around 1950 where publishers of the day getting haggled for their slightly naughty pocket mags or burlesque photos pointed back to the girlie pulps to say "look what they got away with 20 years ago" :D  Similarly, in the 1970s the newsstands got pretty naughty even in the mainstream as polite society's tolerance for sex again shifted towards a more accepting place.  You see some crazy stuff in the tabloids that were for sale right there at the grocery checkout.

 

Edited by Darwination
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