BAD MAGS 2 - by Tom Brinkmann
Volume 1 - Publisher SOLD OUT!
Volume 2 - AVAILABLE NOW!
The Flip-Side of Popular Culture As Seen Through Magazines and Tabloids!
The main reason I wrote Bad Mags was because I wished I had had something comparable when I started looking for and collecting these magazines--a guide if you will. Because Bad Mags attempts to cover such a large selection of subject matter any chapter included in it could have been its own book. Bad Mags is not a complete listing of the magazines and tabloids covering these particular subjects (if such a thing were possible), but is an attempt to give a more complete picture of what was published concerning them at the time.
Beyond that Bad Mags is a book devoted to strange, bizarre and peripheral magazines because the back alleys of the publishing industry have been little explored in print. In most cases there isn't any information readily available, limited only to the information given in the periodical itself.
I would hope that this latest contribution to the few available books and articles on this subject matter will spark more of an interest in it, and lead others to help put into higher focus the very blurry picture we have so far. With more of this material becoming available to a wider range of people via the internet it makes sense to me to try and sort out their history as much as possible.
Bad Mags is a compilation of titles, each one a small time capsule from hither and yon, that ended up under my scrutiny. A few of these magazines I purchased at the time they hit the newsstands, others I bought as pulp curiosities and collector’s items on eBay and elsewhere.
I have focused on the amusing, sleazy, sexual, violent, and sensational weirdness that found a home in these peripheral and adult mags with occasional excursions into both the tabloid and the main stream press.
It is a carnival of covers, ads, photos and art from the adult magazine rack sideshow of the last half of the 20th century. But, with so much written about the film equivalents of these mags, it was time to take a closer look at the printed side of the coin. This is what I have attempted to do and hopefully have succeeded by adding another facet to the information already available.
Looking at and reading the magazines and related material for this book I noticed a few themes running together in the subjects of the adult mags, Ed Wood, Manson, outlaw bikers & hippies, and the general countercultural soup that was boiling in and around Los Angeles, and more specifically the San Fernando Valley, from the late ‘50s into the early ‘70s. In other words, many of these mags came out of, and were created in, that same milieu.
The birth of the modern “Sexual Revolution”––as far as magazines are concerned––could be attributed to the milestone publication of the first issue of Playboy in 1953. Many of the magazines included here cover the gamut of this revolution in free sexual expression, from its infancy in the ‘50s to its maturity in the ‘70s, focusing more on its wild adolescence in the later half of the ‘60s and the early ‘70s––mainly because that’s when it got the most interesting. To carry the metaphor further, it reached puberty with the introduction of pubic hair into the nudist magazines, and eventually in the mainstream girlie mags around 1971 thanks to Penthouse. It lost its virginity with the explosion of hardcore films across the country a year or so later following the release of Deep Throat and the publication of Hustler in 1974 with its gynocologically eye opening spreads.
Some of these periodicals vaguely concerned themselves with the social movements at the time such as the Women’s Liberation Movement, the burgeoning hippie and outlaw biker sub-cultures, communal living, nudism, the occult, true crime, the Vietnam War protests, and more. Others went for pure shock value, and succeeded. Considering what’s openly available on the stands today, with high-octane computer graphics, information overload, desktop publishing and an “anything goes” attitude, much of this might seem dated and tame, but seen in the context of the time it was published, it was revolutionary and bizarre. Many of the publishing companies were more or less fly-by-night, or changed their names and addresses enough to confuse, if they even listed them to begin with. Others published with several different company names from the same address. Photos, articles, stories, and even whole layouts would pop up years after their original publication, in other mags, by seemingly different publishers. Many of these mags would have to have been purchased by mail order or at an adult book store, i.e., you would have had to go out of your way to find them. This contributed to their charm, as they were surrounded by the aura of the forbidden! You didn’t find most of these publications at the local candy store, and the ones that made it that far were most likely one shots, or a few issues at best––if you blinked, you missed them.
Twenty to forty years down the line, trying to straighten out and make sense of these much neglected publications isn’t exactly as easy as one might think. The first step was to find out that they existed in the first place, as I had no idea some of them did until I encountered them on the internet. The internet has become the best tool for uncovering and recovering these curiosities from all the nooks and crannies they have been secreted in throughout the years, bringing them before a wider audience. In fact, this book would not have been possible without the internet. Obviously someone collected these at the time, but no one has really paid much attention to them in print.
Alan Betrock's many excellent publications from Shake Books shed some light on the more newsstand oriented scandal and gossip mags and were an inspiration for me. I’ve tried to stay away from overlapping his work, although in some cases it was unavoidable. The adult slicks and even some hardcore porn are represented here as they have not really been delved into before. I’m sure in the future the chic, hardcore, fetish porn of today will seem just as antiquated as some of the publications in this book. At the same time, some of the magazines herein are strangely not outdated, but were ahead of their time in their concerns and subject matter.
The sheer number of titles and subject matter is overwhelming, enough to fill many volumes if only listing them, let alone writing anything about them. Much of what was published as adult slicks was of little or no interest, being just pages of soft or hardcore porn with inane blurbs or no text at all. Admittedly a lot of research has yet to be done to complete the picture. This is my drop in the bucket. Feel free to contribute your own.
This web site went online on June 6, 2004. I hope to keep it as a work in progress, adding info and images with hyperlinks and new pages. For more detailed descriptions of some of the magazines featured here read: BAD MAGS Volume 1 - now SOLD OUT from >Headpress/Critical Vision and BAD MAGS 2 is NOW AVAILABLE. Click on ON the RACK in the menu bar above to see the cover of my new zine - ON the RACK - which covers the tabloid output from Chicago - and order it. And, Keep An Eye Out For BAD MAGS EXTRA!
This site was last updated October 13, 2012.
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