Generals, marines, lawyers, coach drivers, politicians, and even artists! These were “Les Femmes de l’Avenir,” or “Women of the Future,” as imagined in a series of 20 postcards from the turn of the last century.
See on coilhouse.net
Generals, marines, lawyers, coach drivers, politicians, and even artists! These were “Les Femmes de l’Avenir,” or “Women of the Future,” as imagined in a series of 20 postcards from the turn of the last century.
See on coilhouse.net
Collecting vintage smut, as I do, I know who Vikki Dougan is; but I’ve been surprised a number of times by both the lack of recognition this iconic beauty has and the lack of information about her. So, ever obsessed as usual, I set out to correct the situation.
Vikki Dougan: you may not recognize her from the front, but you likely recognize her backside — hence her nickname, “The Back”.
A particular prominence was assigned, for instance, to ads which featured a young actress named Vikki Dougan. In memoirs of the period, individual ads featuring Miss Dougan are traced from house to house in ways that recall the hunt for a respectable provenance which plays so large a part in the authentication of Old Master paintings. Of an Esquire photograph of Miss Dougan, Richard Hamilton remembers: “I first saw it decorating a wall in [Alison and Peter] Smithson’s home. I gained my own copy from a student’s pinboard in the interior-design department of the Royal College of Art. Lawrence Alloway gave me the data on her; the photograph had impressed him sufficiently to make him regard it as a file-worthy document. It turned up again recently as one of a group of pin-ups in a painting by Peter Phillips.”
Her images were not only collected by English pop artists, but even inspired works, such as Richard Hamilton’s $he (1958-61).
This biography attempts to fill in some of the blanks about Vikki Dougan.
Before she earned the notorious nickname (and a plethora of puns), Vikki Dougan was born Edith Tooker in New York in 1929, to her parents Wilber and Mary (nee Dougan) Tooker. Legend says that in 1946, at the age of 16, she becomes both a Miss Rheingold finalist (but is disqualified for being underage) and the wife of a William Symons, the owner of a local photo studio.
Vikki’s big break came in 1948, when she (as Vikki Stappers Dougan) won the eighth annual New York Skate Queen competition. In promoting the ninth annual event, the following was mentioned in Billboard (April 2, 1949):
The purpose of the event, a joint promotion of Empire and The New York Journal-American, is to select an ideal girl roller skater and glorify her for a year. Judging will be based on charm, beauty and personality, with no points whatsoever for skating skill. Contestants must only appear on skates. …Professional skaters models and actresses are banned.
(Vikki, as Queen, and finalists followed up in 1949 by heading the “first ever” fashion show, sponsored by the Roller Skating Institute of America (RISA), in which they modeled “30 attractive rink costumes, loaned for he occasion by the Lence Company,” according to Billboard, March 1949.)
Winning the 1948 skating title would launch Vikki’s pretty face and figure into work as a model — and into gossip Walter Winchell‘s gossip columns, linked to DJ Art Ford. Note that in this 1948 “Look Pink” ad for cosmetic company Cutex, she is even credited — but as Vikkie Dougan, “New York model and prize-winning skater”.
In 1949, Vikki Dougan the “’48 Beauty Queen of Figure Skating” is featured in a comic-strip-style ad for Camels cigarettes, meeting Betty Lytle, one of America’s top-ranking women’s roller skaters. (Skates would be sold with Lytle’s name.) This appears to be the last mention of Vikki Dougan the skater; probably to great relief of Lytle, Dougan, and everyone else.
All this attention unsettles her husband, Bill Symons. At some point after their daughter Debbie is born in 1950, he is said to have walked-out on their marriage. Dougan gets a divorce in Mexico and (per Winchell’s column in February of 1952) Vikki establishes residency in Florida while working as a cover girl at Ciro’s, in Miami Beach. Also about this time, she is signed to agent Louis Shurr.
In the October 26, 1953, issue of Life, Dougan appears not only on the cover, but in the feature article Careers Aplenty: Vikki Dougan models, acts, designs, mothers. In this article, Vikki is listed as 21 years old and is accompanied in the photographs by her three year old daughter, Debbie. The Life article lists Vikki as having started in modeling at age 13 (as Deirdre Tooker), studied at Betty Cashman studio, and appeared weekly in Jackie Gleason’s TV show — along with the clothes designing, mothering, etc. Life also mentions that Vikki “once caused a stir in fashion circles by using wigs to change her appearance and help her get more modeling jobs” — something also featured in Life (July 28, 1952).
March 29, 1954, Dorothy Kilgallen mentions Vikki Dougan in her column:
Vikkie Dougan, the pretty blond model who made such a hit with Frank Sinatra in Florida recently returned to New York to discover that thieves had cleaned out her apartment. They took her dresses, jewelry, mink coat… and black wig!
May 28, 1954, there are the gossip reports that Vikki, “the young model, who made the cover of Life recently” had posed as Miss General Electric earlier that day.
Dougan continues to model (including the 1955 Flexees lingerie ad and on the cover of the George Shearing Quintet’s Velvet Carpet LP), be seen on Gleason’s show — and be mentioned in the gossip columns. In 1956, it was rumored that Gordie Hormel asked her to marry him. She appears as a show girl in Back From Eternity. On April 27, 1956, Winchell On Broadyway reports that Vikki Dugan, “the ‘Away We Go’ gal with the Jackie Gleason show”, signed with MGM. Or did she? On December 21, 1956, Dorothy Kilgallen reports that Dougan “is the first girl to be signed to a Batjac (John Wayne) contract since Anita Ekberg was given her big opportunity.”
In January of 1957, there are reports that Dougan has a role in The Great Man. (She would play Marcia, the new receptionist.)
March 29, 1957, Erskine Johnson‘s Hollywood Today column is titled Vikki Dougan Reverses Trend And Backs Into Film Career:
February 13, 1957, Hedda Hopper reveals that she, Louells Parons, and Hub Keavy are to “pick Miss 8 Ball of 1957. The choice has narrowed to Venita Steenson, Carolyn Jones, Vikki Dougan, Kipp Hamilton, and Adrienne Alison, all beauties. But we’ve go to decide on one, O, dear.” Vikki Is New Ca-rear Girl In Hollywood, by Lee Belser, is so full of puns that they couldn’t publish this on April Fool’s Day and instead published it on April 2, 1957.
Through this time, Vikki “The Back” Dougan makes the rounds in men’s mags, including pictorials in the April 1957 issue of Nugget.
May 7, 1957: Hollywood gossip columnist Harrison Carroll reports that Vikki has been made queen of the California Chiropractic Association’s “Perfect Posture Week.”
In Clothes Make The Act — And The Actor (Oakland Tribune, May 19, 1957), Lloyd Shearer writes a piece that seems to be tailor made for getting The Back out of negative press. In his article, Shearer begins by discussing this “new trend in show business” whereby talent draws on fashion and “practically any female “name” can earn “5,000 a week and up if her attire clicks with the press.” The piece appropriately finishes with Vikki Dougan & her dresses, stating that it was Milton Weiss (Hollywood publicist who’d worked with Anita Ekberg) who was, umm, behind Dougan’s look.
His first move was to have three expensive dresses made for her — without backs. He then titled his client “The Back” and had her appear at previews and parties in her plunging creations. Soon local photographers zeroed in on Miss Dougan’s bare spinal column, and gagsters began originating such cracks as, “Vikki Dougan makes the best exits in town.”
Finally Vikki was banned from someone else’s preview party because her backless formal was drawing too much attention. The incident received proper press coverage. Today Vikkie — born Edith Tooker in Brooklyn — is riding toward fame on the strength of her clothes, what there is of them. It’s a trend, all right.
You might not want to put too much stock in that story tho; it changes, as you’ll soon see.
However, Dougan’s back does make a splash, landing her tail in the June 1957 (Vol. 4, Issue 6) of Playboy.
As noted in that issue of Playboy, the photo that really started it all was a wirephoto which came from Dougan’s appearance at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 1957 awards banquet. On July 10th of that year (some Old Guard Hollywood retaliation, perhaps?) Mike Connolly reported in his column, “New Hollywood game called True Or False: Guessing whether Vikkie Dougan got her idea for backless dresses from watching and old Marlon Brando movie…” (In reference to Sophia Loren in A Countess from Hong Kong.)
The Playboy feature was followed-up quickly by a pictorial in Esquire (August 1957).
Around this time The Limeliters would record a song by Cal Grigsby (pseudonym for Malvina Reynolds and Lou Gottlieb) entitled Vikki Dougan, in which they sing of Vikki’s “callipygian cleft” and beg her to “turn your back on me”.
These photographs (undated, circa 1950s) taken by Life staff photographer Ralph Crane capture America’s love-hate with Vikki Dougan & her notorious backside.
In October of that year, press for Hollywood Queens Of Tomorrow, including an AP photo — in which Vikki is not shown from the back:
Fifteen young actresses for whom stardom is predicted wait to go on stage in Hollywood Friday at the fifth annual Deb Star Ball, sponsored by the Hollywood Make-up and Hair Stylists. Several thousand movie people were in the audience at the Palladium. Left to right: Joan Blackman, Peggy Connolly, Patricia Craig, Vikki Ddougan, Dolores Hart, Diane Jergens, Barbara Lang, Ruta Lee, Jana Lund, Carol Lynley, Erin O’Brien, Joan Tabor, Joyce Taylor, Rebecca Welles and Gloria Winters.
Ten days later, Vikki Backs In, Helps Maxie Promote Ice Cream Breakfast (by George Flowers, Independent-Press-Telegram, October 20, 1957).
On the 21st of that month, Vikki the starlet appears at the annual Publicists’ Association Ballyhoo Ball. This is the famed party where Greta Thyssen had a cheetah on a leash, Joan Bradshaw brought a lion, and Errol Flynn and Maura FitzGibbons were arrested on drunk charges; Vikki “Lady Godiva” Dougan was on an artificial horse.
The November 1957 issue of Modern Man carries photos of Dougan (by David Sutton).
December 22, 1957, Dougan uses giant scissors for the ribbon-cutting opening of a Safeway Market in Tarzana.
In 1958, Dougan attempts to change her image. It is noted; but still does not please. On March 24, 1958, Harrison Carroll accuses Dougan of wearing “a shapeless sack (looked like a nightgown) over a satin sheath.” On March 27, 1958, Vikki Dougan was reported to be at the Oscar Award Ceremonies — but still not pleasing anyone:
A bizarre note was added by eager starlet Vikki Dougan, who arrived in gaudy makeup and flapper costume.
Poor Vikki can’t win!
In his June 2, 1958, column, Earl Wilson asked Vikki “about the alleged practice of Hollywood gals calling guys for dates.”
“No, but suppose you’re going with an actor and you say after a premiere, ‘I’d like to go to Mocambo’ and he says, ‘But I can’t afford it.’ So you say, ‘I don’t want to embarrass you but couldn’t we go it I paid the bills?'”
It happened to her, she said, “and strangely enough, if men accept it, they resent it.” Vikki said she may be a sexbomb in the papers but she’s had three dates in a year. “The men you go with want to get married,” she added. “The trouble is, they never say when.”
Meanwhile, photos of her continue to circulate in the various men’s mags.
May 23, 1959, Harrison Carroll uncovers Dougan professional and relationship news.
If she listened to Lili St. Cyr‘s estranged husband, Ted Jordan, actress Vikki Dougan soon will be displaying even more epidermis than in those backless gowns that used to make Hollywood night clubbers gasp.
Jordan, who just started to date Vikki, tells me she would be great in a genteel strip act.
“She reminds me so much of Lili,” he says. “They have the same nose and mouth, the same beautifully arched back. Vikki is not quite as tall as Lili, but, otherwise, their measurements are about the same.
“And I heard Vikki sing. She’d really do great in night club work. I know the ropes and I could help her.”
I checked with Vikki. She’s not convinced, but she’s listening.
Despite roles in three other films (The Tunnel of Love, The Rebel Set, and Here Come the Jets), Vikki’s career clearly wasn’t moving forward enough. (As if the helpful offers from Jordan didn’t tell you that!)
The backslide was noticed.
In October of 1959, “Remember Vikki Dougan?” is the headline. Not only has she fallen out of the press, but apparently work of any kind. She, and her nine year-old daughter, have been living off a $40 weekly unemployment check for the past eight months.
A similar article runs in November of that year, in which Dougan says the reason she wore a backless dress in the first place was to avoid posing “in bikinis and other cheesecake.”
The ever-helpful Erskine Johnson’s got Dougan’s back again at the tail-end of January of 1960, allowing the actress to spin more tales about her notorious backside.
February 22, 1960, Vikki Dougan (misspelled “Vicki Dougan” in the photo caption) is one of the judges for the Miss Pasadena Contest.
But then crickets chirp and Dougan disappears until August 28, 1960. Then photos of Vikki and former Texas Christian football player tuned actor, Jim Sweeney, appear over the AP and are widely picked up — primarily because he places the diamond engagement ring (along with a friendship ring) on the toe of her left foot. Days later, on September 3rd, she (as Edythe A. Tooker) marries James R. Sweeney; he’s 25, she’s 24.
The Pacific Stars & Stripes reports that “Vikki Apparently Needs No Direction” on the set of Peter Gunn (The Candidate episode). (September 16, 1960; photo of Dougan with caption about her appearance on Peter Gunn from San Antonio Light, October 23, 1960.)
Dougan appears in episodes of Michael Shayne (Murder Is a Fine Art) and Sea Hunt (Amigo) in March of 1961. But it’s rather silent, again, until November 20, 1961, when promo photos and pun-y lines about Dougan doing the twist at New York’s Peppermint Lounge appear.
On November 26, 1961, Walter Winchel reports that Vikki had “told chums she will sue Leo Guild for including her in his soon-due book Hollywood Screwballs which mentions Oscar Levant, Bing Crosby, F. Sinatra, and Jayne Mansfield, who aren’t suing.”
September 9, 1962, columnist Connolly quips, “Vikki Dougan, who used to pose in backless gowns, is slamming out a slim volume of verses to be titled “Purple Mud.” Vikki tells me it will be a backless book.” (If anyone show me a copy — or even prove it wasn’t just a joke, please do!)
January 18, 1963 Vikki appears in Los Angeles court to divorce Sweeney, claiming he deserted her after going through her $10,000 savings. The divorce is granted and she accepts a $1 per month alimony.
On June 3, 1963, Earl Wilson reports that Vikki plans to open up a Hollywood barbershop for men.
“Remember Vikki Dougan, Hollywood’s gift to the world of backless dresses? She just signed for a feature role in Hootenanny at MGM,” reports Connolly on July 22, 1963. (She did appear in 1963’s Hootenanny Hoot.) But that didn’t pay the bills; August 11, 1963, Wilson says, “Backless Vikki Dougan now works for a cosmetic company.”
In its January 1964 issue, Cavalier runs a “The Back Is Back” pictorial which features 12 nude photos of Vikki Dougan. Dougan initiates a lawsuit against publisher Fawcett, stating that she posed nude for photos for Playboy, but later backed-out, and they did not have her permission to publish them.
There are a few scattered gossip “spottings,” but nothing much of note until February 22, 1967, when Harrison Carroll reports:
Despite the fact that she took along four wigs, my scouts spotted actress Vikki Dougan at a Houston prizefight with famed attorney Melvin Belli. And they looked just as affectionate as they did recently at Scandia. Can’t blame Melvin. Vikki is a beauty. Understand the two also were in Chicago together and visited Hugh Hefner.
Also in 1967, she would appear in Hotel. And there were reports Dougan, along Sugar Ray Robinson, was part of the cast of Tony Randall & Mickey Rooney’s Las Vegas rendition of The Odd Couple at Casear’s Palace.
In November of 1969, the Fawcett/Cavalier lawsuit is settled out of court. Vikki says the magazine paid her $75,000 to settle; Fawcett Publications, Inc., says it didn’t pay that much.
March 21, 1974, Earl Wilson’s It Happened Last Night column focused on “Shutterbug Respect” and mentions that Vikki Dougan (still haunted by her notorious back-side views) “has joined the profession.” (The profession of photographers, that is.)
And after that, Vikki Dougan seems lost — save for those who fell in love with her image. Along with inspiring pop art, Vikki and her sexy back would be the inspiration for Jessica Rabbit.
Here’s a 2009 interview with Dougan, in which she dishes about Jessica Rabbit and Sinatra:
I’d love to know more, so, if you know something — if you know Vikki! — please do share.
The Road To San Jacinto, by L.L. Foreman, a genuine Pocket Book Western (#824). Cover art by Carl Mueller, depicting a buxom woman holding a gun to the threat of at least four men wearing those white hoods synonymous with the KKK.
Why were Dain and Cleo hunted like animals? Why were they constantly forced to hide? Only Cleo could answer. For the secret was hidden in her birth — and she dared not reveal her dangerous heritage to the man she loved!
I should be finishing up my draft of a biography of a rel life pinup, but Silent Porn Star has me obsessed with vintage plaster nudes. You know I love and collect pinups, right? (Most recently evident in my inclusion in Pin-Up Queens: Three Female Artists Who Shaped the American Dream Girl at Collectors Weekly.) Including the more risque ones. So why not the 3-D sculpture variety? (Not to mention, I already have a rather serious large vintage chalkware collection these could slide right into.)
[Because I have that other very in-depth, heavily researched article to wrap-up, this is going to have to be a short — though heavily image laden — post.]
There are the most expected Grecian and classical knock-off pieces, to be sure; and the cheap circus and carnival types, with crude or less-polished looks too.
But among them — and pricier by far, are more the art nude and pinup varieties.
Some of them appear to have been handpainted — by the consumer. (Something you can still do today.) But others were clearly sold as final works.
In Dan Goodsell‘s collection, “‘Nudist Scamps’ statuettes; charming, well-posed girls who resembled Fred Moore’s famous pinups in 3-D. These are attributed to a Verdan Lolayne of Hollywood, California. Later called(or acquired by)’Rick’s Figurines’.”
According to a past auction listing at WorthPoint, one of these vintage figurines had a paper tag on the bottom that reads “created by d bensinger hollywood california 1945 manufactured by rick’s figurines.”
Paper labels, rather than embossed or impressed markings on the plaster itself, may be more than partly to blame for us not knowing who designed and/ or manufactured these pieces.
Some of the pieces are, however, marked. This vintage “Hawaiian” nude chalk ashtray is marked “Plastic Arts” and is signed “Gillette” with “The Best Lei In Hawaii” on the base.
What separates all these vintage pieces from the coveted pieces currently under obsession from the above is what also the most alluring about them. The vintage plaster or chalkware figurines have little fabric skirts or loincloths which may come on as modest cover-up, but which really reveal the most about human nature. Most men refer to their dolls as “action figures” and these pieces are no different. No, we’re not talking sex dolls here; but they certainly offer more erotic masturbatory appeal than the others. For before you even know what lies beneath, even when you assume it will be the usual and disappointing smooth generic V, you just have to do more than just look at these figurines — you have to brush the fringe aside with your finger tip and get a look. Surprise, these vintage pieces show the genitalia!
Oddly enough, for vintage pieces depicting “exotic” or “sepia” female beauties, the pubic mounds are sans hair.
Aren’t you just dying to flip the grass skirt made of string aside on this vintage piece by what appears to be Ferguson Studios?
Not all of the pieces with “skirts” or “clothing” were as explicit. This vintage “hula girl” simply has the “smooth V”. However, she is a much more crude piece in terms of all-over quality, including the skirt.
I’m not sure if the lace skirting on vintage plaster wall piece is original, or what it hides…
Ditto this marked piece from Canon Art Statuary U.S.A.
This piece, in an Art Deco style, is less risque, but she has a real string bow.
Quick collectors’ notes:
* Most all appear to hail from the 1940s and 1950s.
* Size range appears to be between 7 and 17 inches.
* The more pinup style pieces and art nude poses range in price from $30 to $60; the more beautiful and fine the piece, it may even reach $100. The more explicit pieces are range from $100 – $200.
If anyone can add more the story of these vintage smut collectibles, please do let Silent Porn Star or I know!
Found inside a 1940 Nabisco Shredded Wheat cook book, a page for fathers. Don’t worry, it means all men. All men were called “Father” or “Daddy”, even by their wives. And grown men who weren’t married parent? Oh, society wondered what was wrong with them. While we’re stating at this, the sepia-toned photo makes it appear as if Father is on a cordless telephone. (The opposite page promotes the “new” salted Triscuits.)
I’ve often viewed sexual objectification as a passive-aggressive thing. As in the human being objectified (most often a woman) is passive to the aggressive actions (usually from men). What clinches the deal and makes it textbook passive-aggressive behavior is how the perpetrators are so insistent in their disavowal and sullen in their complaints of being misunderstood. These vintage watches (from martonmere at Etsy) are the perfect illustration of such sexual objectification of women. Note how the male penis is the automaton, moving up and down as the watch ticks, while the females remain unmovable, unfazed, objects to receive. (Not to mention, the watches need winding, and this whole subject winds me up!) More on these sort of watches here.
The post title isn’t a typo; it’s more like a pun. See? Via.
Back when I was a kid and I didn’t understand intellectual property such as sales & marketing slogans; hence, I never understood why Kellogg’s didn’t just come right out and have Tony The Tiger say that Frosted Flakes cereal was the tiger in your own tank. I was reminded of this upon sight of this vintage Tony The Tiger stuffed toy.
To me, a tiger was a tiger — and really just as cute. (Don’t you just love the Exxon tiger on this glass pitcher?)
And fuel was fuel, even if cars had less “taste” to worry about.
I sill feel rather the same way today about both tigers and fuel. Even with a better understanding of slogans, marketing, and intellectual property. That knowledge, combined with my usual obsessive streak, has since led to the discovery that it was Kellogg’s who first unleashed their tiger (in 1951). Exxon’s tiger arrived in 1959. So perhaps it was Exxon executives who ate cereal and felt the connection between breakfast fuel and gasoline for cars.
Another woman for the women’s pages is Miriam Baker Nye. Known simply as “Miriam” — often used just like that, in quotes — she wrote a regular column for rural women entitled From the Kitchen Window which ran from 1953-1981 in the Farm Weekly. (The Farm Weekly was a publication of The Souix City Journal and Journal-Tribune newspapers of Souix City, Iowa, which served “all Siouxland.”) This scan of page 16 of Here’s How The Farm Weekly Serves You presumably shows the regular header for her columns.
Her recipes and ideas from that column would later be published in book form in Recipes and Ideas “From the Kitchen Window” (1973). (If there aren’t any copies at Amazon, check eBay.)
She would also author But I Never Thought He’d Die: Practical Help for Widows (1978) after the death of her husband, Carl Baker. (Three years after Mr. Baker’s death, Miriam would marry Methodist minister Reverend John Nye and become Miriam Baker Nye.)
As a feminist, I obviously take issue with a woman professing “I’d like to be your little homebody.” And there she sits, knitting socks, with the ever-present female-as-feline domesticated cat.
Since these little vintage Valentine’s Day cards were, then as now, passed out in schools all over the USA, it’s only natural that you’ll find some cards not only signed by boys but presented to boys. Still, the fact that Edgar signed this gender stereotype card to Ralph makes me take pause…
This literally is how gender stereotypes have been passed along — and it’s just another example of the rote mechanical nature of boys getting the task of forced Valentines sending over with.
A vintage die-cut Valentine greeting card that children passed out to one another in school, featuring a Native American mother and child — and including racist, stereotypical, “Indian” puns.
I’d like to make a reservation on you to be My Valentine! We have heap fun!
Interestingly, there are two signatures on the back; proof that someone had trouble spelling their name. Dennis or Denise? I am not certain.
No, not that Hustler; these are vintage toys shown in a Billy & Ruth catalog from 1930.
I never can wait to share things, and this time of year is difficult enough for me — so you get this gem weeks early. Reading simply, “With Good Wishes,” this antique postcard features the roly-poly heads of women inside the 1908 — the numbers look a lot like floating coffins. Floating coffins of women’s heads, featuring lots and lots of hats. Thankfully, this was a few years before the Titanic; but it doesn’t really minimize the creepiness, does it.
Copyright 1907, The Rotograph Co., N.Y.; card number appears to be I 5 339.
Found at Exit 55 Antiques; may still be available there, and they will ship, so call them if interested.
UPDATE: Harold Ackerman, the man who runs Rotograph.org, was kind enough to identify this postcard as XS 339; my interview with him is here.
In Movie-Struck Girls: Women & Motion Picture Culture After the Nickelodeon, by Shelley Stamp, we learn more than just the roles of women in films or behind the camera — we learn about women’s role as patrons of cinema.
The book is an eye-opening look at a long ignored part of American film history — and an astonishing look at the history of women as media consumers.
Stamp spent over ten years researching for this book. She studied trade journals, fan magazines, ephemera, and many official documents and records at the National Board of Censorship Archives in New York City, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles, & the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Many of the films she reviewed are no longer readily available, let alone circulating, but can be found at the Library of Congress & the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
It sounds like a huge undertaking, & I thank her for it. ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ presents a wealth of information that I had never known before.
Movies began with the nickelodeon, and as such, movies were not places for proper or even improper ladies to be. In the early 1900s, when films were being moved from temporary places with projection onto sheets & walls, and cinemas were being built, many in the business of film, began to reconsider women. This was a purely economic move. For if these new developments, these more expensive buildings, were going to pay for themselves & gain profits to pad pockets, the new movies must include women as patrons & gain their approval.
Why? In ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ the author reminds us of an America where women were seen as the keeper of the family morals. Neither little Johnny Jr. nor Johnny Sr. would be allowed to go to such places if Mother didn’t approve. In order for women to view movies as more than sordid places where her family wouldn’t be caught dead, these new cinemas would need to gain the respect of women. The best way to do that, would be to show women, fine respectable women, how respectable & fine the theaters were. It was thought that if women would give the theaters a try, and continue to come, their physical presence would elevate the standing of film viewing.
So, movie theater owners began to court women as patrons.
They did so via premiums & tie-ins & in addressing the decor of the cinemas themselves. As a marketing person, I enjoyed the conceptions about women, and how they would lure them into the movie-going fold — with many of the tricks still employed in the movie trade today. As a woman, I felt more than a bit bitter to see what they thought…
As Stamp illustrates, cinemas were designed with appeal to women in mind. They were located near shopping and offered services such as package holding with hopes of luring women into the buildings. The buildings themselves were decorated to attract the feminine. It was suggested in industry publications that cinemas ought to have lobbies, with plenty of mirrors, to encourage female patrons — by appealing to their vanity. They thought ‘what woman doesn’t want to see herself & parade for others?’
But then, they complained that women didn’t know how to behave properly: they talked, they interrupted the absorption of the movies themselves. The very women they encourage to be vain, to come to the theater to be seen, these women didn’t want to sit quietly in a dark room full of others who were not paying attention to them. These women who were, by societal standing, to ‘dress’ for these public events, they wore hats that blocked views. And so even while courted by the film industry as valuable assets to ensure the viability of films as safe, moral entertainment for families, the industry mocked them in articles & cartoons. The debate within the industry as to the need for women, how to both cater to while educating them to achieve their purpose, was entering full swing.
But this was only the industry side of the debate; Next, Stamp shows us society’s debates.
In the early 1900’s, the most popular films were vice films, & in the teens, a major societal concern was The White Slave Trade. Sensational white slave films were made during this time, to warn folks of the dangers to their women. Conflicting with the as-billed-educational-films messages, cinemas brought women-folk out into public where they could easily fall prey to such ills as the white slave trade. Debate centered around the irony. Other debate focused on the films themselves, and censorship issues were raised. And to make matters worse, women seemed to enjoy such films! Oh, how could such tender beings watch & enjoy such lewd filth such as scenes from brothels?!
Obviously, women enjoyed the films from the same points of fascination as men, but as the author clearly reminds us, there is more. Adding to the fascination, was the fact that women themselves has seen little of ‘the world’ — even if that ‘world’ was part of their very own city. Through movies, women vicariously saw their nation. This alone would make these films riveting for women.
Again, as movie houses were public gathering places, classes mingled. Not only were there the fine upscale families as so recruited by theater managers, but along with them, the working class — including single women. Single women moved about the theater as patrons, both in danger & dangerous themselves. A woman alone could end up in the slave trade, or she might mingle with gentlemen of good standing… In fact, theaters often hired pretty, single young girls to be ticket sellers, ushers, cigarette girls etc. This was seemingly at odds with the motives of ‘women adding respectability’ and elevating the idea of theater, but it was a lure that worked. But the independent woman, even if only a work-class-girl, is dangerous. Much debate centered around the appropriateness of such places for women & families.
Since the elevation of cinema depended upon the stamp of approval from women, including materials & promotions designed to engage them, the talks about women’s roles in film viewing were discussed by women. Given the general fear of ‘those darn suffragettes,’ encouraging women to debate the social & safety issues of women viewing film — in the context of women viewing educational films about civil matters — seemed a dangerous thing indeed.
The film industry needed to ‘clean up’ the entertainment, so they began to focus on films aimed at women, with stories & formats they knew — Enter the serial film.
The industry coordinated film with print versions of stories in newspaper & print publications. Again, these were often aimed at women, but then came the ‘oh no!’ cry, as women did in fact enjoy the adventure stories. It is at this time that film gave rise to the very popular female star. She was now revered for both her on-screen & off-screen antics. So much so, that young women everywhere started dreaming of being a movie star themselves!
To counter act the scary notion of independent women, adventure serials, & vice films it became routine to mock independent women, with notions of becoming a movie star, or worse, civic ideas. The author clearly shows examples, such as a 1916, The Motion Picture Classic cartoon with the following poem to illustrate this concern:
“When our dear grandmas were girls,
They’d smile and smooth their pretty curls.
Look in the mirror then & say
“Oh, will he think me fair today?”
Today the girlies everywhere,
In the mirror gravely stare;
“Am I fair enough,” they day,
“To be a movie star some day?”
But poetry would not be deemed enough. There would also be many films to lampoon the suffragette.
Mainly these films attempted to show how crazy things would be if women could vote. Movies depicting women taking over government & leaving men’s needs behind darkly illustrating the dangers present to men were made, but more often, comedy was used. Cross-dressing men & women exchanged roles, with only love ‘saving’ the women from their folly. Ironically, it seems to the reader that perhaps these movies did more favor to the opposition than to their own cause.
The suffragist movement noted the power of cinema. If educational films were popular, and women not only allowed but encouraged to attend, why not make propaganda films of their own? Both the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) & the Women’s Political Union (WPU) made films to both rally women to the cause & to educate resistant men & women. Sadly, many of their films seemed to falter at romantic notions. In order to make the female stars appealing, less threatening, most often the female lead would succumb to love & home, happy with her vote, but definitely not claiming civic responsibilities.
In ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ you learn all about these long-hidden details of American film history & it’s collision with turn of the century American values — including titles, studios, stars, organizations, & political figures. For a person who adore film & is a passionate feminist, this is a great read. Why it’s as thrilling as those old adventure serial films!
Stamp does a great job of presenting this long ignored part of film — and women’s — history. It’s definitely an academic read, which means it is meaty enough for those who want to further search for clues, artifacts & films themselves. It may not read like a novel, but it’s so fascinating & full of details, it won’t disappoint. Fans of film, especially silent films, cannot call themselves educated in the subject unless they know this history. And women, well, we start to see a much larger image emerge — our complaints regarding women in the media have much deeper roots than we previously knew.
Play with the paper, undress a gal. Circa 1950s. Multiple copies available here.
As a feminist and collector of women’s history, I am completely head-over-heels in love with this old sterling silver chastity charm featuring panties and a lock. No key, of course. *wink*
Barefoot dancers performing in front of the Thom McAn store. Via.
She’s dressed for that sort of success. Via.
EBay seller LadiesOnFilm carries a large number of vintage risque and nude images from publishers of adult magazines from the 60’s through the 90’s. It’s rather clear that many of them are the unused outtakes; but then, I guess “outtakes” are in the mind of the viewer.
It’s funny how often the “bad” pictures seem more natural than the “good” pictures. I find this photo of Carol Newell (by Ron Vogel, 1968) charming. It’s how a woman sits on the stairs, relaxed, not worrying about the planes of her face and the contours of her body… There’s no arching of her back while pointing her toes. That’s how the real girl next door sits.
The women struggle to look natural in odd poses. While the props are often dated and hysterical, it’s the desperate poses for the sake of sexual puns which are far funnier. I can just hear the photographer saying, “That’s it, that’s it, baby. Now just crawl along the floor and choke that plaster snake statue…”
I’m not saying that no simply nude woman has ever taken a bad photo, but they are far more beautiful than those photographs which overreach — either in physicality or in attempts at innuendo.
Another example of beleaguered and belittled secretaries as sex objects: vintage cocktail napkins.
But instead she lost her panties. (Insert bawdy laughter and snickers here.) A vintage naughty novelty chalkware ashtray which, if money were no object, would be added to my collections (both the “women’s” collection and my chalkware collection. Signed and dated copyright 1952, J H Fuller. Available for sale here.
So you’ve decided to get rid of your books… Sometimes it’s just a matter of making some empty space on the bookshelves; sometimes you want to fill the empty space in your wallet or checking account. If you are realistic, you can achieve a bit of both at the same time — if you aren’t on some sort of quick deadline.
The first thing to decide or know is your goal.
Are you trying to make money? Is the money just to be used to support your reading habit (to buy more books) or to become a bookseller (and make a full or part-time income)? Are you just trying de-clutter your living space? Do you need to divest yourself of your books in a short time-frame?
In a hurry?
If time is a constraint, say you need to get rid of a lot of books before you move in a few weeks, there’s always your local used bookstore. They may not pay you much for the books, but, if they take all your books, you will get your space back.
You can also donate used books. Along with thrift stores, there are many other places to donate books, many of which will allow you to take a tax deduction for them. Hospitals, women’s and children’s shelters, nursing homes, groups that work with the homeless — many charities take books. Prisons even take books. Generally speaking, anything with “adult” themes (i.e. erotic fiction, and, sadly, in many cases, books on human sexuality) should be pruned from your collection prior to donation.
If you have the time and transportation, you can do a combination: take your boxes into the used bookstores, have them pick what they want to pay for, and then donate the remainders.
Not in a hurry or just a reader with a few books to get rid of?
Readers may be more interested in swapping books. There may be local groups in your area; you can check sites like FreeCycle to find them. And you can also use online sites such as BookMooch, PaperbackSwap, and even BookCrossing.
So you’ve decided to sell your books…
Next, you have to decide what kind of books you have (simply used books or more valuable works) and then determine which is the best place to put them in front of the appropriate bibliophiles (readers, collectors) — while keeping in mind how quickly you need them to sell.
Some sites, like eBay, which offer the auction format, are designed to have quicker sales. Other sites, like Amazon, Abe, Etsy, and eBay stores, allow books to be listed for longer time periods. Some sites, like Abe and Alibris, are known for specializing in books.
Along with online marketplaces, there’s also creating your own site. PayPal buttons offer easy purchasing. Blogging software, like WordPress, now offers ecommerce plugins. These options require you to drive your own traffic to get sales; but the rewards can be greater in terms of control and profits.
Are your books worth anything?
When it comes to the sale of anything, the value the item has is determined by the marketplace. Simply put, the buyer buys at the price he wants to pay; a wise seller knows what is fair to ask. Three general rules on book values are:
1) The newer and more popular a book is, the less value it has. Just try to make money of a mass market Twilight paperback; they are everywhere and have little value right now.
2) Older books value lies in having a popular interest (a larger number of people looking to buy it) and in being rare. Yesteryear’s Twilight sensations may still have no value because so many copies were printed and sold — and still can be found. But, with vampires, horror, and the occult still being a popular interest, older books in these areas may be worth quite a bit, providing the book is still a good story and/or is a rare find.
3) Condition is always an issue. The less legible, intact, or as originally issued (dustjackets, etc.), the less value the book has.
It’s important to research your books in terms of prices as well. Using BookFinder can help you find an idea of what a book may be worth. I say “may be worth” because you’re going to get not only a wide array of varying book conditions (which will affect price) but the prices you’ll see listed are asking prices. Who knows how long those books will sit there for sale at those prices, if they will even sell? FadedGiant helps book sellers by providing a database of prices realized (prices sold for) in antique, vintage, and collectible books. It’s important to note that the FadedGiant service is limited. It does not have every old book in the database. Their sold listings will not tell you anything about the condition of the books. And any prices realized will be but a snapshot of what the books was worth at that time. But FadedGiant and BookFinder are great ways for the novice to get an idea of price range; what titles, authors, and attributes are most desirable; and where different sorts of books are being sold. Many professional booksellers use a combination of sales outlets, real world and online, to maximize profits selling their books.
Multiply this work by the number of titles you have, and you can see how the time adds up!
What costs are there?
Seller fees. Each online sales marketplace has a fee structure. There are fees for listing items, fees for when items sell, and sites like PayPal, merchant accounts, etc. have fees for handling the sales transactions. Depending upon which sales platform(s) you use, you’ll have a mix of these costs. Knowing them upfront means you can more accurately set your book prices so that you profit from the sale after fees are taken out or paid.
Shipping costs. Shipping costs include boxes and mailers, packing tape, shipping labels (the ink and paper you print them on), and other items for packaging. There’s also fees for shipping insurance and tracking options which many sellers must use to protect themselves during sales transactions. If you don’t properly calculate and charge for those shipping costs, it can really eat at any profits you may have.
So can the time it takes to ship items. A lot of sites won’t let you add-on a handling fee to your sale, but let me tell you, if you list a lot of books it can take hours from your week or even your day to pack and ship the books you sell.
Additional time factor costs. Along with the time invested in research, there’s time listing your item. You’ll want to not only to give all the usual information (title, author, publication date, etc.), but you’ll want to mention any interesting features (is it illustrated, signed by the author, a first edition, etc.) and you’ll need to describe the book’s condition (is it written in, is the binding sound, etc.). Per the site’s rules, you may need to photograph or scan at least the cover. Sometimes, when you list an item online you’ll have a lot of questions to respond to from potential buyers or interested bidders. And then there’s the time spent organizing your books for sale. (You have to be able to find a title quickly to answer questions and to ship it.) This time can add up surprisingly fast.
If, after all this, you find you are only getting a dollar or something for your book, it may not be worth your time to sell books online.
What else do I need to know?
Seller feedback and rating systems. When you are new to selling online, it takes awhile and to build feedback ratings. Generally speaking, the more valuable the books you have to offer, the more important the feedback etc. is going to be to potential buyers. Often, a new seller will start out selling some of their items at lower prices just to start earning good ratings from buyers. It can also help to be a buyer at the site as well, as that will help build positive feedback for you as a member.
Promotions. Most successful sellers online now promote their listings, stores, and websites via blogs, social media, etc. Traffic online is like traffic in a store; the more people who stop by to see what you have, the more likely you are to have sales. But learning how to effectively market yourself and promote your goods online is a whole other set of skills — and, for many, another learning curve.
If you don’t feel you have the feedback (or the time to generate the feedback), if you feel this is too much to learn, or if selling your books is just a one-time event you don’t feel is worthy of investing so much time in, there are other options.
There are people and companies willing to sell for you, such as eBay consignment shops. And there are dealers and others who may buy books directly from you.
You can post your offerings on places like Craigslist; walk your books into antique shops, used book stores, etc.; or sell to book dealers and those who manage estate sales. If you have a large number of books to sell, and they are not overly rare or otherwise valuable, this most likely will mean selling to local dealers in your area. But there are dealers, estate agents, and even auction houses which will make long-distance deals as well, provided your books are worth either party paying for the shipping costs.
Remember, dealers, used bookstores, antique shops, and the like are only going to pay you wholesale prices for your books. “Wholesale” means at a lower price than what the books will eventually sell or retail for to buyers and collectors. That means you will not get the top dollar from book dealers and other such folks. That’s only fair; look at all the work they are doing to get it! Plus, you’ll have cash in hand, while they will be waiting for the books to sell to get their share.
Impossibly long legs don’t bother me — when they are part of fashion illustration. As Slip of a Girl writes, “Illustrated ads do not run the risk of starting or perpetuating body dysmorphia or forms of self-hating body loathing because we know they are illustrations — no one looks like that. But we can pretend to…”
The female depicted as feline, while cliche, isn’t a real bother either; women have relationships with cats, like it or not.
But perhaps the best thing about this vintage ad is what I learned: Kiraz made dolls. Fashion dolls based on the artist’s Les Parisiennes series, to be precise. What Kiraz himself calls the “effigies of his work made by Birgé-Jopo”.
Often called Poupee de Kiraz or Les Parisiennes dolls by Kiraz, these 15 inch tall French fashion dolls seem to have only been made for one year, in 1967. That makes these little gems difficult to find. And playing hard-to-get does so turn me on as a collector. I am now on the look-out for these vintage vinyl fashion dolls from France. The ones with the round faces, cat’s eyes, and impossibly long and slim legs. So period. So fascinating.
All images via GGSDolls.
When I grabbed this Romper Room Colorpillar toy, I had vague memories of the Romper Room TV show…
But not enough, apparently. A quick look at the Wiki entry and it turns out this toy is most fitting for this political season.
First, there’s the whole problem with children’s television shows and hosts pitching product during shows. Romper Room was the first target of the newly formed watchdog group Action for Children’s Television who leveraged the power of an threat FCC threat into ceasing “host-selling”.
Then there’s the whole Romper Room abortion scandal.
In 1962, the hostess of the Phoenix franchise of Romper Room linked her own name with that of the ongoing controversies over abortion. Sherri Finkbine, known to television viewers as “Miss Sherri”, sought hospital approval for abortion on the ground that she had been taking thalidomide and believed her child would be born deformed. Finkbine made a public announcement about the dangers of thalidomide, and the hospital refused to allow an abortion, apparently because of her announcement and its own fear of publicity. Finkbine traveled to Sweden for the abortion. Upon completion, it was confirmed that the fetus had no legs and only one arm. The incident became a made-for-TV movie in 1992, A Private Matter, with Sissy Spacek as Finkbine.
I guess this really is an educational toy — if you research it, rather than play with it.
In terms of memories of the show, as I said, they are fuzzy. Not all warm and fuzzy; just not clear. Also according to Wiki:
The hostess would also serve milk and cookies to the children, with prayer offered before eating. The famous Romper Room prayer went “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”
Now that’s the prayer I remember saying. But that’s really odd, because our home was not a praying home. Perhaps this praying business is why I don’t recall much of the show… Perhaps when my folks found out prayer and indoctrination was part of the program, they switched the set off. That is something I will have to ask them.
When I spotted the cover of the Fifty Shades magazine leering at me from it’s in-your-face product positioning in the check-out lane at a local grocery store, I immediately broke out into a grin of disbelief. Here? In Fargo, North Dakota?! How utterly fabulous!
In a world where human sexuality is taboo — and women’s rights to have it is steadily shrinking, I was so giddy with the mere idea of the magazine sitting on display so blatantly, so defiantly, that I pounced on a copy. And unable to contain myself, I dared to speak aloud.
“I bet you’ve seen a lot of these leaving — and with old ladies like me,” I said to both the male cashier and the bag boy precisely at the moment the cashier was scanning the publication.
The cashier managed to avoid eye contact and comment via hyper-focus on his check-out duties. The bag boy, caught off guard, looked to see what I was speaking about as it was handed to him and he awkwardly, loudly, replied, “Umm, we must have just got these in; I haven’t seen them before now.” Followed by profuse blushing as his brain caught up with what his eyes were reading.
It was rather anticlimactic.
Even though I’m not sure what I was expecting or hoping for.
But if buying this magazine was anticlimactic, it was a major disappointment to read it.
Filled with pages of uncredited “articles” which were so bland it would make the much disliked and even hated Cosmo seem intelligent, Fifty Shades just left me feeling sad, yet again, about the sad state of magazines for women.
In Underwary, feminist platitudes serve to bolster mocking men — while focusing primarily on male pleasure: “It’s your body,” “Men don’t understand lingerie,” “He will blow it,” “Instead of letting him navigate the world of satin and lace all alone, surprise him and say you’re going shopping together. He’ll think you look great, you’ll feel great, and everyone will benefit. (But mostly him.)”
Oh, and don’t forget to exercise and diet too.
Because it’s important for women to focus on their appearance even during fantasies.
Now, I’ve never ready any of the 50 Shades books, so as an ethical reviewer I can’t say anything about how “true” the magazine is to the “steamy series”. But that won’t stop me from having an opinion — an educated opinion — regarding the reaction to the books.
As a woman, I’ve not only taken a rather long road to my own personal sexual discoveries and satisfaction, but along the way I’ve uncovered and pondered our historical and cultural cues regarding sexuality — these being, largely, the reasons it was such a long road. And as a collector, I’ve been documenting this as a part of women’s history as well. The short story is that this whole Fifty Shades thing is not new. Not in terms of books; not in terms of shock and backlash either. We have a lot of dumb rules and taboos about gender and sex (NWS).
For those reasons, this Fifty Shades magazine will not be tossed out but rather saved as part of my collection. As will my scarlet letter “A”. (I got mine! Did you get yours?) The difference, obviously, is which one I believe in, like, admire…
The biggest question then is, do I leave some sort of notes about that so that my kids or future people know why I saved these things, what kind of person I was?