This book will appeal to fans of the wilder fringes of the popular culture of the 1960s and 1970s. The sleazier magazines found on U.S. newsstands in that era were another world. This first volume of Brinkman's two volume overview is divided into four sections devoted to : soft porn magazines; sexploitation film magazines; magazine coverage of outlaw bikers; and trash film director Ed Wood's fiction and non-fiction writing for magazines. Brinkman writes about these magazines with a fanatics eye for detail and an enthusiasm for their weirdness. I wish he'd been able to include larger illustrations and more in colour. There are four pages of colour reproductions of magazine covers. The rest of the illustrations - covers, page spreads, etc. are black and white and many of the covers are small. But this is enough to illustrate and to whet the appetite. If you want to see large colour reproductions of the covers of these kinds of magazines you can find them on the net. In fact the Bad Mags Facebook page is worth following if you want to see a flood of great pulp magazine covers.
One of the things I like about sixties sexploitation films is that many of them are mind-blowingly eccentric. When audiences were paying to see nudity and they didn't really care about the context in which it occurred, it could have a liberating influence on film-makers. They could put any weird idea that was passing through their head up on the screen. It didn't matter. People would pay to see the film either way. And, apparently, this same principle applied with many of the girlie magazines of that era. They had to contain a certain amount of text in order to demonstrate that they had literary or educational value. Just pictures was not allowed. But since the words weren't what most people were buying the magazines for, they could slap together any nonsense they wanted, and many did. Brinkman gives plenty of choice passages of bizarre insanity. In the late sixties the magazines gave a lot of coverage to the hippies (after all hippies liked to get naked) and LSD use. And it sounds as if those producing the magazines were under the influence of such chemicals themselves a lot of the time. In some cases the photos and artwork would get psychedelic as well with jumbled photo and clip art montages being common. Here is an example from 1970. It comes from a magazine called Eve. It is the intro to the magazine apparently published beneath a close-up photo of a spread vagina :
"On the short river of mankind, 1900 was a ripple ago. Christ writhed screaming that you were both man and god, just downstream. But your next 30 years shall equal mankind's progress of the preceding 30 million. What will you be like then, when humans near maturity as a species, when we contact the higher intelligences of the universe, when you know your eternal soul as well as your toes? What will nudism mean then...what will sex be then? Fading grey from the knowledge of good and evil, the nothing-sins, Eve outstretched her arm through the morning mists...and time froze on earth. Life and death, until sin was paid for. You are the last of the debtors, and your sentence is served. Eve holds her hand to you...shall you embrace her flesh or grab the apple?"
The next section deals with the magazines devoted to sexploitation films. This will be of interest to fans of these films, but really we are in similar territory to the other soft porn magazines as the saucy photos were the main point of these magazines, so some magazines would attribute a bunch of photos to film that didn't exist, a lot of coverage was of short loops rather than features, many photos were published with no captions to say what film they were from and, when real feature films were covered, it tended to be many of the same ones over and over again. Still it is fun to read about this lurid magazines and see some of their covers.
The section on outlaw bikers compares the sensationalistic media coverage of these groups with later magazines such as Colors and Easyriders which were a mouthpiece for the bikers themselves. Brinkman has a particular fascination with actor, director and motorcyclist Titus Moody who provided and posed in a lot of nudie photos for the soft porn mags, was a major source of stills for the sexploitation movie magazines and was a friend of the bikers, directing a very early half hour documentary about them - Outlaw Motorcycles (1966). There is a short essay on Moody at the end of the first section of the book.
For Ed Wood fans, the last section of the book is a must. Wood directed his last movie - a hardcore porn film called The Young Marrieds in 1971. But from the late sixties into the mid-seventies he wrote scores of porno paperbacks and articles and short stories for sleazy magazines. Judging by some of the extracts from his magazine stories included here he sometimes wrote very well in the sensationalistic pulp style. The subject matter of his stories if often pretty gross - sex-crazed monsters, rape, necrophilia... Brinkman also gives some coverage to appearances in the trash magazines of Wood associates Vampira, "Bunny" Breckenridge, Criswell, Rene Bond and Lynn Harris. Of particular interest is a gossip magazine story involving Vampira, voodoo and the death of James Dean and a story in a joke tabloid about Lynn Harris growing a giant black penis.