Friday, September 12, 2008

Men's Adventure Magazines In Postwar America

A Recommendation -- And A Warning

City of Branded Women! Fire Ants Ate Me Alive! Bring Me Every Maiden in Mexico!

I recently bought a copy for "Men's Adventure Magazines in Postwar America" published by Taschen. I got it as a gift for my wife, and she loves it for all the glorious over the top artwork and cover lines. Stuff like: "Terror of the All-Girl Posse and Their Necktie Parties!" and "Satan's Pigs Ate Us Alive!" and "I Gave My Legs To The Maggots Africa!"

It's full of true LMAO (laughing my ass off) material. The book reproduces hundreds of men's magazine covers and the artwork is just as lurid as the headlines on each page (see above). The GREAT thing about the artwork is this: really great female bondage imagery is incredibly common on these covers, generally involving very, attractive, scantily clad or half-naked women.

And the bondage imagery is just as lurid as everything else. But I have discovered two things about the book, one positive and one negative, that the publisher isn't likely to tell you (because they probably wouldn't have noticed).

In all the 117 images of women in bondage in Men's Adventure Magazines, there are only FOUR images of women gagged -- two over the mouth gags, one cleave gag, and one cleave gag in the process of being applied. (There are also two images of women handgagged.)

Absolutely weird. If this is a representative selection of covers, it means there must have been some sort of bias against gag imagery in the late 40s through the 60s (after which the genre died out, more or less). I mean, I'm sure the phrase "bound and gagged" was in use prior to World War II. So why were the women almost always drawn bound but never gagged?

I have no idea. It boggles my mind.

But that's not the only boggler in this collection of cover art. Out of the 117 bondage covers,* only TWO show women with hands bound in front, and not tied to anything. Either the woman's hands are tied TO something, or they are tied behind her back. The default seems to be, tied behind her back.

Otherwise women's hands are tied to an incredible variety of things: Jeeps, stakes, posts, wagon wheels, ship's rigging, stone idols and, well, more. The women are tied in elbow yokes, wrist-ankle ties, hogties, suspended by the wrists, tied to poles for carrying .. it's all good.

But the thing is, there must have been SOMEONE ... a lot of someones ... saying you can't tie a woman's hands in front and leave it at that, because it only happens twice in all those covers.

I have NO IDEA how this happened. Is it a selection bias on the part of the editors at Taschen? Censorship? A widespread sense that this is what readers want? What?

I thought maybe the publishers and/or artists understood that tying hands behind is a lot more dramatic than tying hands in front, but how is it that they "got" a subtle point like that and DIDN'T get the visual appeal of gags?

Like I said, a boggler.

If anyone knows the answer to these questions, let me know. I'm off to look at covers offering, "I Was Trapped in a Beatnik Brothel," and "The Desperate Raid of Wilson's Lace Pantie Commandos!" and "I Survived the Electric Snake Torture!" And if you ever want to know where Frank Zappa got the title for his "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" album, where here's where you can find out.

I guess what I'm saying is, even if you're a gag snob and the covers aren't that exciting to you, they're still damn funny.

If you're not a gag snob and you like bondage, you, like me, are really going to enjoy this book.

*There are many images of men in bondage in Men's Adventure Magazines as well. I didn't count those.

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