Thursday, April 16, 2009

Broadway Nights, August 1929

As a follow-up to The Mutual Burlesquer, here’s a girlie pulp I scanned a couple weeks back but just got around to reading in the last couple days. I got this August 1929 Broadway Nights from a gentleman who discovered it during a recent remodel of an exterior garage. It seems that it was shut in the wall space during the original house construction which completed in the same year as publication. The pulp was in pretty rough shape and is the only girlie pulp I’ve ever paid less than a dollar for (.99). Thanks to the wonders of photoshop, though, I’ve replaced all the wavy, discolored, and brown paper with a uniform paper texture and turned out a nice enough scan. I don’t see too many examples of this title hit the market, and they are often expensive, so this was a nice opportunity for a scan of this title dealing with life on Broadway.

As I haven’t posted on my love for girlie pulps here yet, let me just say they are one of my favorite kinds of magazines. Sure, on one level, they were the pornography of the era. You see a lot of the surviving copies with the photo sections torn out (for those titles that had photo sections), and you also see a center crease often, where these mags had been folded in half and secreted away in some pocket somewhere. That the carpenter of the seller’s 1929 house saw fit to “hide the evidence” speaks to the fact these were indeed naughty. Often sold under the counter, these smoosh pulps were the target of censorship groups and faced increasing pressure as a sterner morality of the mid 30s came into play.
On the other hand, it’s very hard for a modern reader to consider these filth. The art deco nudes are tasteful and the tittilating stories are quite breezy and innocent by today’s standards.

I’d argue that there’s a free spirit in these magazines, too, that point to a time when perhaps it was possible to look on such magazines as an embodiment of a modern embrace of playfulness and sexuality. Many of the artists and writers and editors of these magazines were women, and I think there is a feminine sensibility at play in many of the stories and jokes. There were breezy and playful stories in some of the pulps before the girlie pulps, and there were also art and model magazines that trafficked in tinted nudes. When publishers experimented with adding stories to the photomags or alternatively adding a photo section to the story mags, they had great successes. As censorship cracked down in the 30s these magazines carried on, some of them dropping the photos to become more acceptable. I find the entire package very inviting. The covers are a wonderful type of pin-up art, and the line drawings that pepper these magazines are one of my main attractions. The stories are generally fun, and a number of talented writers worked in the genre. Add in some cheesecake and joke pages and you have a nice varied and brisk read bound to bring a smile…I’ve scanned a number of these and plan on scanning many more. Judging from their appearance on the market, many issues of these titles are quite scarce, and there are others I’ve never seen. These pulps are not among those on microfilm at the Library of Congress or are they housed in library collections. This is the sort of “low culture” it’s incumbent upon fans and appreciators to preserve. Institutions cannot be trusted to preserve all parts of the people’s library. The stories and illustrations are great, but even the sociological data contained in the ads shouldn’t fall by the wayside. Ads for birth control, sex education booklets, dating services, etc. speak to a whole world of anxieties and commerce that you might not see in other publications. Indeed, some of the publishers of these pulps also helped distribute condoms and adult novelties through the network of newsstands, burlesque clubs, second hand bookstores, etc. Anyways, on to today’s pulp…

Scrollable Image

The scan of the entire issue can be found here .

I don’t know who the cover artist is for this issue. I’ve looked at the covers for Broadway Nights, Real Story Book, and Ginger Stories (all King pulps) and recognize Otto Greiner as a regular contributor, but I don’t think this is him.  I’ve heard figures that as many as 95% of the original paintings for the pulp covers are gone forever, so all we have to go from are cover scans for much of this material. Hopefully more and more higher resolution images will hit the web, the thumbnails that seem to get passed around are fairly worthless in terms of artistic appreciation. Oops, off on a tangent again.


Jack Woodford is the most famous author here, but I didn’t really like his story here. I thought the opening story was fairly interesting in that it’s a reportage piece looking at the customs of circus and carnival hoochie coochie dancers and their mates and distinguishes these girls from other performers in their workplace and attitudes toward customers. “Lady of the Bright Lights” and “Babe of Broad’s Way” are both serial installments. “Must Chorine Have a Past?” is a confession story of a dancer that knows the score and pertains to the kisses for gifts or favors economy that seems to drive much of these young girls’ thoughts. The best entry is probably “On the Up and Up” regarding a showgirl and her partner that must con a horny old geezer of much dough in short time. Can the con go over before the old man makes any unreasonable demands? Read and find out…

Samples. The interior illustrations just might be my favorite part of these pulps, some are amazing and some not so much, but I like the whimsy of even some of the most amateurish drawings in these magazines. When man first took his art to cave walls, I have no doubt the womanly figure was among the first things sketched, heh heh.

Always love a girl and pet. Monkeys especially


Cheers and enjoy, I will get a couple more examples of this type of pulp up soon. My scanner bed sees all sorts of pulps, magazines, books, newspapers, and comics, but these girlie pulps have really captured my interest, so they will see a disproportionate representation here – I usually like to scan them as a reward to myself for scanning items that might not be so exciting to me personally...

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