Friday, March 08, 2019

'I Crushed the Dope-Crazed Sex Smugglers'

Now, the obvious assumption the casual viewer of this 1963 Man's Exploits would make is that the cover illustration makes reference to the 'We Saved the Blonde Beauties from the Piranha Horror..." caption.  But does it?  I mean, where are the piranhas?  That's a snake menacing those two whipped and bound young women in decorous states of undress.  One of whom is a redhead, rather than a blonde. The illustration could equally fit with 'The Brutal Red Spy Master Who Tortured his Mata Haris!', or even 'I Crushed the Dope Crazed Sex Smugglers'.  After all, you'd have to be dope crazed to be tying up women, whipping them and throwing them into tanks with water snakes.  There's also a good chance that it is a 'generic' cover, chosen precisely because it could, at a pinch, fit several of the stories being plugged.  Indeed, men's magazine covers were often re-used by different magazines in the same stable, usually years apart, when they more-or-less fitted one or more stories in a forthcoming issue.  It was an obvious way to cut costs.

Whichever story is being illustrated, the cover is pretty typical of its era and genre.  All the popular elements are there: the girls in their underwear, their brutalisation by villainous men, the bizarre method of torture and/or execution, even a whip.  The somewhat stiff and unnatural posing of the female characters is also typical - possibly dictated by the prevailing dictates of newsstand 'decency' of the day.  The artists were probably under orders not to have them writhing around in any manner that could be construed as sexually provocative or, even worse, implying that they might be enjoying their ordeal. (Interior illustrations tended to be much less restricted, with plenty of bare breasts on display).  The slightly bemused, rather than terrified, expressions they wear are also pretty much typical of these illustrations.  Most men's magazine covers of the era enacted variations on this theme: often the torturers were uniformed Nazis, variously freezing, incinerating or covering in molten gold buxom underwear clad beauties.  Animal menaces like the snake were also popular and included everything from mink to gorillas.  Sometimes a male would be rescuer would feature, either themselves captured and forced to watch the deprivations being carried out on the women, or sometimes seen sneaking up on the unsuspecting torturers as the go about their business.  Whatever the variation, no matter how bizarre the scenario, the underlying theme of misogyny was constant.  These were men's magazines, after all.

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