The Power Of The Female Voice In Silent Film

Over at (one of his) sites, Dakota Death Trip, hubby posted this fabulous old ad. While you might think it’s an advertisement for a woman, Clara Kimball Young, it really is promoting a film, 1920’s The Forbidden Woman (not to be confused with 1948’s Forbidden Women, which allegedly stars women recruited from a Los Angeles whorehouse).

Why is Clara Kimball Young such a focal point? Because back in the day, women ruled the box office!

As I wrote in my review of Mick LaSalle’s Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood (my review is fine, but NWS ads in sidebar):

In the 20’s and early 30‘s women dominated at the box office. Women were the biggest stars, featured month after month on the covers of fan magazines (it was a rare month indeed when a male face turned up on the cover!), and society was fascinated with women in general.

If you’re curious about the historical role of women in and out of film, how they once held all the power and how it was taken from them, read LaSalle’s book.  And then read Movie-Struck Girls: Women & Motion Picture Culture After the Nickelodeon, by Shelley Stamp. (Here’s my review.)

Also related, my post on female celebrity pitch women at the turn of the (last) century: Julia Marlowe, Selling Stuff From Head To Toe.

Sex Sells… Swans

A recent study may have found an increase in ads using sex to sell, but using sex to sell has been around a long long time. Perhaps the study didn’t go back far enough? The study looked at 30 years of magazines, but this promotion for Pliofilm, featuring a sexy nude woman behind the see-through Pliofilm shower curtain decorated with swans and flowers, was published in the 1930s. Which begs the question… Who the hell was this targeting — men or women?

Ye Olde Comfort Hip Corset Truly Chaffes

An antique advertising or trade card for the “Comfort Hip” corset by Helm, Snorf & Watson of North Manchester, Indiana.

I’m not sure if we’re supposed to sing it… But this is how the sales “poetry” reads:

How dear to my heart is the “Comfort Hip” Corset,
A well moulded figure ’twas made to adorn,
I’m sure, as an elegant, close fitting corset,
It lays over all make I ever have worn.
Oh, my! with delight it is driving me crazy,
The feelings that thrill me no language can tell;
Just look at its shape, — oh, ain’t it a daisy!
The “Comfort Hip” corset that fits me so well.
The close fitting corset — the “Lock Claso” corset–
The “Comfort Hip” corset that fits me so well.

It clings to my waist to tightly and neatly,
Its fair rounded shape shows no wrinkle or fold;
It fits this plump figure of mine as completely
As if I’d been melted and poured in its mould.
How fertile the mind that was moved to design it,
Such a comfort pervades each depression and swell,
The waist would entice a strong arm to entwine it,–
The waist of this corset that fits me so well.
The close fitting corset,–the “Lock Clasp” corset–
The “comfort Hip” corset that fits me so well.

Of course I will wear it to parties and dances,
And gentlemen there will my figure admire!
The ladies will throw me envious glances,
And that’s just the state of affairs I desire;
For feminine envy and male admiration
Proclaim that their object’s considered a belle.
Oh, thou art of beauty — the fair consummation —
My “Comfort Hip” corset that fits me so well.
The Five-Hook corset — the “Lock Clasp” corset–
The “Comfort Hip” corset that fits me so well.

If this is to be sung, the reason I cannot sing along isn’t because I don’t know the melody; the phrase about desiring “feminine envy and male admiration” coupled with referring to one’s self as an object makes me gag.

“Look Like A Chick For A Change”

An ad promoting more “feminine” fashions found in a 1974 issue of 19 magazine. Because, you know, ladies dasn’t wear pants.

Diana Pooley Ltd. must have been like Laura Ashley was in the 1980s; the option for “non-feminists” who eschewed being anything other than a lady in a man’s world. Fashion choice is one thing, but forcing such gender ties to fashion… Well, I often wonder if the Pooleys and Ashleys of the world are ever embarrassed to see their old ads.

Vintage ad scan found at Emmapeelpants at Flickr, where she calls it “Brilliantly patronising and rude.”

Filter, Flavor, Color Too With Glamorous Vanity Fair Cigarettes

Ahh, the great marketing movement of making things pink to sell them to women… This time, ladies, turn in your pink lungs for pink smokes.

Also available in pastel blue, for that oxygen deprived look.

According to Behind The Smoke on Flickr, the Vanity Fair cigarettes were only around for five years, at which point they were replaced by the Vogue Color cigarettes, which contained an assortment of five colors.

Beauty After The Atomic Bomb?

Advertising based on fears — especially the female fears of beauty, “catching” and “keeping” a man — are nothing new. This vintage print ad for Dorothy Gray captures those horrors.

However, this vintage TV commercial for a pre-cold war cold cream preys on more than beauty fears. Circa the 1950s, this commercial for Dorothy Gray Cosmetics boasts how the cleanser removes two and a 1/2 times the radiation of other cleansers. No word on how much radiation is left behind or even it it’s enough to kill you…

What Every Young Girl Should Know

Boys like girls who make Seven-Up “Floats”

What every young girl should know is this: Nobody can resist a 7-Up “Float”! Want to see? Put a scoop of his favorite ice cream of sherbet in a tall glass. Tilt the glass, and pour chilled, sparking 7-Up gently down the side. The fresh, clean taste of 7-Up works a special magic with ice cream. And don’t forget a 7-Up “Float” for yourself! P.S. Boys like 7-Up — girls like 7-Up — for regular thirst-quenching, too. Take home a case of 7-Up so you’ll have plenty on hand. You like…it likes you!

Hey, look, it may be sexist, but it also tells girls how to avoid giving boys head — on their 7-Up “Floats” (forever in quotes) and later, their beers.

Copyright 1960 by the Seven-Up Company; via.

Whatjamacallit Wednesday: How Do You Get Kitten Hips? And Why Would You Want Them?

Kitten hips. No, not the furry kind — the “lithe young American” kind, as described in this vintage girdle ad published in Harper’s Bazaar, 1946.

You feel and look as if you’d just stepped out of a success course when you step into Carter’s “Mouldette.” The entire beautifully molded back is made with new synthetic elastic. Carter’s own Sweetheart panel flattens the tummy. Every seam’s a scheme to give you that lithe young American look.

You can find these ads on eBay.

Watch Where You’re Putting That Coke Bottle, Bub

Product placement matters. Accident? Or subliminal phallic ad designed to make men and a few free-swingin’ women take immediate action?

The seller’s description:

[V]intage original 1950s double sided Coca-Cola – Coke soda fountain sign with its original aluminum frame. This is an outstanding antique original example the artwork is of course by Gil Elvgren, a pretty circus pin up girl performer on a trapeze with text that reads “Now! For Coke – Take Plenty of Coke Home”.

Spotting Memories In Retro Radio Ads

Still nostalgic thinking about the old days in Milwaukee radio, I’ve been hanging out consuming The Halcyon Daze (I prefer using the “classic” interface for navigation, in case you visit here, Scott Beddome — aka rock’s Scott “The Kid”). I’m particularly smitten with this post of 1984 TV commercials for radio — especially this classic WKTI spot:

Not only does it feature Reitman & Mueller, and the Booze Brothers — but that’s Warren Wiegratz on the keyboards!

Having stalked Oceans for years, I’d know. My Oceans following began in 1984 or so, when my biological sister’s foreign exchange “French sister,” Christine (Oh, so tempted to talk trash about Christine and her visit; but I will behave.), came to stay with us and she wanted to hear a jazz band. So my parents took her to Sardino’s. After an early crush on Duane Stuermer (somewhere around here I have signed ticket stubs from Duane, and, possibly, his brother Daryl), I eventually forged a friendship with drummer Ernie Adams — who’s dad, it turned out, worked with my mom. Small world. It became even cozier when Ernie and and dated; but I don’t like to kiss and tell. *wink*

Of Tailgators, Radio & Retail

This is a vintage WKTI Tailgator pinback from 1983, featuring Old Style beer. It’s mere 1.75 inches, but oh the size of the memories it unleashes…

If you’re of a certain age — and from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area — you remember this era of WKTI, Reitman & Mueller — and the uncomfortably named Jim “Lips” LaBelle.

Thinking of WKTI reminds me of the days our family ventured into the retail business. We bought into the Just Pants franchise, running the Just Pants store at Southridge Mall, then a Taubman Mall (Taubman married and divorced from Christie Brinkley, a rather too present icon of my life, helping me date nearly anything).

Our biggest Just Pants competitor was the County Seat — and Kohl’s department store (which bled we specialty jean stores to death by using Levi’s and Lee denim loss leader sales). Anyone else remember the days of denim walls so high, sales staff used ladders to reach the goods? That’s the pun behind this sexy Just Pants ad — it predates when we had our store (and I doubt we would have ran the ad ourselves, even if it had been in the creative pool of franchisee options.)

Anyway, in that era we not only often played WKTI in the store but we special ordered and custom hemmed Bob Reitman‘s black boot-cut Levi’s. Yeah, we were that cool.

Back then, we not only played whatever radio we wanted in the store, on July 13, 1985, we played the Live Aid broadcast in the store. I called in from the store to donate, getting myself an official Live Aid t-shirt. (They were out of my size, so I received a size small which wouldn’t have covered The Girls and so it has remained safely packed away all these years.)

Now, WKTI is WLWK, “Lake FM.” (Reitman’s still kicking it on air with his weekly show, It’s Alright, Ma, It’s Only Music.) And, ironically, Lake FM sounds almost like an auditory time capsule of the Reitman & Mueller days. I know, I’ve listened to the station when I’ve traveled home. Old habits die hard and my fingers still “dial” to the stations I recalled. Not that any of them are there anymore.  Lazer 103, QFM, LPX… All long gone. Apparently, after I moved from Wisconsin, the radio station marketplace went to hell. I’m not the only one who’s more than nostalgic; check out 93QFM: The Halcyon Daze for Milwaukee Rock Radio DJ Stories.

This got me thinking about the other radio stations & DJs… And the connections to retail.

Marilynn Mee, aka Jackpot Girl, part of Bob And Brian’s morning show on Lazer 103 (Mee may still be on WKLH?), was someone I met quite often when I was working at the Estee Lauder counter at Gimbels. Mee was pals with Pam, who worked Lancome. I envied Mee her wardrobe of all things.  But then, if you’ve ever had to wear the cosmetic girl garb, well, you’d understand it. Hard to feel 80-‘s glam when you’re wearing a turquoise smock-tent, no matter how fab your face and hair look. (Despite the fact that Marilynn and Pam partied with rock stars, I was the good girl who found herself knocked up; an entirely different subject, and I’ve digressed too much already.)

Because I’m all nostalgic about radio…

My first radio love was WOKY — and AM station that then played top 40 pop stuff. It came in loud and clear on my red ball Panasonic R-70 transistor radio.

I would turn the volume up and dance madly in the back yard. My most vivid memory is of cranking up Billy Preston’s Go Round in Circles and dancing on top of the old wooden picnic table. So not safe, I’m sure, even if you weren’t dancing yourself dizzy goin’ round in circles. Ahh, those were the days, though.

Image Credits: Vintage 1970 Just Pants ad via Ads-Things4Less. Panasonic photo via ebyauctions.

The Bachman Pretzel Bikini

Hey, edible underpants, you had competition… The Bachman Pretzel Bikini.

Just $2.50 for a “classy” and “sassy” two-piece bikini of “velvety non-woven material.” I can’t imagine you could swim in it. Nor can I imagine wanting a crunchy edible item of apparel — which the words “pretzel bikini” rather imply. Perhaps non-woven means edible? Plus the obvious “good enough to eat” cliche, which the pretzels then lend to the women, and kids, who wear it…

In any case, what’s the use of such a novelty item that “can be worn several times before you discard it”? Pure schtick promo, that’s definitely in bad taste no mater how you look at it.

Via this post at Found In Mom’s Basement.

Make Up For Breasts?

No offense to Mr. Vargas, but I think he misunderstood the task… This vintage ad was for “Twin Make Up,” not makeup for “the twins.”

The original artwork by Alberto Vargas goes up for sale at Heritage Auctions on September 30, 2011.

ALBERTO VARGAS (American, 1896-1982)
New Jergens Twin Make-Up, advertisement poster, 1943
Mixed media on board
18 x 14 in.
Signed upper left

Crunk, Talking Genitals & Childish Fashion Crimes (or, A What I’ve Been Reading Link Round-Up)

Just a good old fashioned link round-up — yee-haw!

1.) At The Crunk Feminist Collective, a thought provoking post on self care for the feminist or liberal activist:

Talk about crunk. Bambara gives the side eye to the notion that you can attack capitalism, racism, or other systems of dominance out in the world without challenging those same systems (especially hetero-patriarchy) within one’s own relationships. That, in fact, leaving your own house “out of order” not only jeopardizes but it, in fact, undermines both your potential for good work and your potential for intimacy and happiness. Indeed, for me, Bambara’s call for us to essentially get our ish together charges us to recognize how important—how revolutionary—it is for us to love (and love on) each other and ourselves fiercely and fearlessly.

I started a group for just this sort of thing at Bliss Connect. It’s called Seeking Progressive Social Bliss; so far it’s a circle of one. *sigh*

2.) I was meaning to write about the horrible Summer’s Eve “Hail To The V” Campaign, but then Stephen Colbert did this:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Vaginal Puppeteering vs. D**k Scrub
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

I felt nothing could really top that. (Especially as I have a thing for puppets. Really!)  However, I highly recommend this post about the hideous ad campaign at Sociological Images. It’s especially good to show those who don’t understand satire; it’s a mental illness, you know.

3.) As I’ve oft complained about the sexualization of children, especially when it comes to clothing (NWS), I found this bit of fashion news across the pond fascinating:

The review, conducted by Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers Union, was published in June. Bailey’s report, ‘Letting Children be Children,’ looked at cultural influences on children and children as consumers but particularly significant for the clothing sector was its examination of clothing, products and services for children.

The report stated that the marketing of “sexualised and gender-stereotyped clothing, products and services” for children were “the biggest areas of concern for parents and many non-commercial organisations contributing to the review.”

[sic]

As the report was published, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) unveiled a set of guidelines governing the design, commissioning and marketing of clothing ranges for children under 12 years old.

The article continues to discuss the practical and impractical issues involved. As citizen of the USA, I’m left wondering if such clothing prohibition is the answer. After all, the problem isn’t the garments glutting the market; it’s the consumers with horrible judgement who pay for clothing in such poor taste. At what point does the law need to protect us from our bad choices? Or, more pointedly, at what point does the government need to protect children from the bad choices of their parents?

Image Credits: Via eBay. (You’d have already seen it if you visited my Tumblr.

Vintage S & M Restaurant Ad

This ad from This Week In The Land of the Smokies and The Southern Highlands dated May 1963 (yes, for the month of May, despite it’s “This Week” title) is for the S & M restaurant in Gatlinburg.  In case, you know, you’re traveling and looking for a place to stop and munch.

I’m not sure if this place still exists (let me know if it does), but here’s what it looked like:

And, because I am amused by such things, note in these two vintage postcards, how the similar the cars in the lot are. (The last one appears to be the color version of the photo used in the ad.)

Trophies For Misogynists

Vintage ad for wall-mounted female human heads reads:

“Stuffed” Girl’s Heads! Only $2.98

Blondes, redheads and brunettes for every man to boast of his conquests…the first realistic likeness of the exciting women who play an important part in every man’s life…and one of the nicest qualities is that they don’t talk back! Accurately modelled to three-quarters life size of real galls and molded of skin-textured pliable plastic, these heads are so life-like they almost breathe. Saucy glittering eyes, full sensuous mouth and liquid satin complexion, combined with radiant hair colors give astonishing realism to these rare and unique Trophies. Blonds, redhead or brunette mounted on a genuine mahogany plaque is complete and ready to hand on the wall for excitement and conversation.

Not a lot leaves me speechless. But here I am.

Found at The Immaculate Consumption.

Advertising & Affiliates: The Basics

At some point, everyone working on the Internet faces decisions about advertising and affiliate programs. Some people even start a blog for this “passive income,” believing that it’s as easy as setting up some links and then sitting back to let the income stream in; but that’s not necessarily what happens…

So I’ve got a white paper on the subject. It’s based on my 20+ years of working on the web; priced at $7, that’s less than 35 cents a year!

This white paper is written mainly for bloggers & website owners, to assist them in evaluating affiliate and advertising programs. However, it will also help those looking to purchase advertising &/or promote their own affiliate programs by helping them to understand the sorts of concerns they may encounter along the way.





“Give Your Wife An Extra Head For Chirstmas”

An ad from 1969 that likely couldn’t be published today:

OK, so it reads “an extra head,” not just “extra head” or just plain old “head,” but still, ad execs today would just know what we’d be reading into the buzzing gift of a Lady Remington.

Lady Remingtons, by the way, were quite popular gifts, judging by the number of them found at garage sales, thrift stores, etc. So this ad may have sent just the right message after all. *wink*

It’s Like A Pucci In The Face

If you have difficulty being a woman and knowing what you want, you can blame it on Emilio Pucci‘s death.

In this vintage lingerie ad for Pucci‘s Fiore Festa line for Formfit Rogers the text boasts, “How does he know what women want before they know themselves?”

Because women are such fickle stupid creatures, we don’t even know what we want to wear.

Even if all we do is shop.

Right?

It’s true; I have conflicting responses to vintage lingerie advertising. But who doesn’t?

(And if you don’t, then we should talk!)

Image via devocanada.