Thursday, May 30, 2013

Men's Mag Roundup: Sex Circuses, Female Barracks, and Hooker Stalags

The October 1971 issue of Male contains one of the best men’s adventure stories I’ve yet read: “Raid on the Nazis’ Sex Circus Stalag,” a “true book bonus” WWII pulp mini-masterwork by Grant Freeling. It bears some similarities to Mario Puzo’s “Barracks of Wild Blondes” in the April 1968 Man’s World, but I enjoyed Freeling’s tale even more. Puzo’s story was very good, but Freeling really delivers a fun and lurid tale with more action, sex, and Nazi-killing. Plus it’s slightly more risque; obviously the censor constraints had lessened in just a few years, to the point where even the nipples are drawn on the busty, half-dressed women in the splashpage illustration.

Taking place in July 1944, “Sex Circus” more than lives up to its title and illustration, except for the “stalag” part. Our hero is Frank Becker, an OSS agent whose left hand was chopped off by a Gestapo sadist on a previous mission. Freeling instantly captures a pulp air with Becker posing as a German officer as he rides on a train with a real SS officer, one who too is missing a left hand. Becker puts a dagger on his stump and kills the Nazi; his mission is to take this man’s place as the head of the Fontaine Circus, a French circus taken over by the Germans that now goes around with their infantry, providing thrills and women.

Becker looks enough like the slain German to pass for him; the main element was the missing left hand, but other than this intriguing opening scene Becker’s amputation doesn’t have much to do with the plot. The Fontaine Circus we learn features twenty gorgeous young girls who, in addition to performing in the circus, are also the most skilled prostitutes in Europe, and three of them are secretly Resistance agents. Arriving at the circus Becker meets up with one of them: Brigitte, a contortionist, who immediately tells Becker they’re going to have sex – she’s slept with enough real Nazis that it will be a pleasure to sleep with a fake one! And as a contortionist she promises an unforgettable time.

Becker’s two other female comrades are Yvette, a redhead with “massive breasts” who serves as the circus’s “human fly,” and Lena, an elephant trainer whose physical attributes aren’t elaborated on. She gets the best scene in the story, though, commanding her elephant, Francois, to lay down on a car full of Gestapo agents! But it’s the women who do the majority of the work, using their convenient poses as prostitutes for the circus: Brigite sneaks an infrared camera (“inside of a body cavity”) into the local castle that serves as Nazi HQ and takes photos of wall reports – with her toes – while she has sex with a German officer.

Yvette’s scene is just as fun, with her screwing and then drugging a Nazi cryptography expert, and then scaling the castle wall outside his window to a loft area where she can take intel photos. When discovered, she chops the dude in the throat and hurls him out the window to the abyss below. The finale is also great, with Becker setting the Gestapo up on “what promises to be the greatest afternoon orgy of the war,” and then Brigitte driving a jeep as Becker, with a vise on his left stump to better grip his submachine gun, mows them down. Plus he later escapes with a truck filled with wild and hungry circus animals, periodically stopping off and letting them loose on German fortifications! All told, a great, fun story, long and entertaining, and I’ll be looking for more of Freeling’s work.

“The Truth About Black and White Sex” by Hugh Hettrich, PHD, is really in touch with the early ‘70s vibe, an article posing as “research” conducted by Dr. Hettrich, speaking to white men who have slept with black, Hispanic, or Asian women. (Indian women are not counted because they’re technically of the Caucasian race, you see.) Hilariously pre-PC, we learn from these guys what the female reps of these three races are like in bed, and, even more hilariously, “how their sex life has benefited” from sleeping with them! I got the most chuckles reading the Asian portion, given that my wife is Malaysian Chinese.

“Manhunt in the Amazon Jungle” by Charles Kennan is a fast-moving revenge tale about a guy named Ron Goodwin who has gone down to the Mato Grosso region of Brazil to kill Kunkler, a jewel prospector/pirate who killed Goodwin’s brother. Goodwin works his way through each of Kunkler’s stooges before finally dealing death to Kunkler in the same way Goodwin’s brother was killed – tying him down on an ant hill. “Texas’s Bloody Treasure War” by Archer Scanlon is along the same lines, about a trio of Americans (two girls and a guy) who are looking for Pancho Villa’s fabled lost gold when bandits attack them, rape the woman, and leave them for dead – they track the bandits down but don’t kill them, just take their weapons.

“Cycle Nymph” by Larry Powell is a “special fiction” piece that caters to the then-popular biker scene. Our narrator is Pretty Boy (called that because he isn’t, of course), a biker mechanic who runs into Chance, an up-and-coming professional racer who screwed Pretty Boy over years before. Chance is now hooked up with “the blonde,” a stacked looker who Pretty Boy instantly deduces gets off on racing action. Pretty Boy eventually gets a chance to prove his theory, screwing the blonde on the race track after giving her some thrills in an impromptu race. The sex scene is actually a bit explicit, more indication that writers and artists were able to get away with more in these mags by the early ‘70s.

“World’s Wildest Sex Club” by George Younger is another piece very much of its time – the “taped transcripts” of a “Male reporter” as he’s sent to the Soho district of London to research some fabled new club where sex is for sale. Instead he meets up with a virgin hooker(!) whose skills lay in the oral department, and after a session or two she sets him up by telling him she can get him into this fabled club in exchange for 200 pounds; instead she takes the money and runs. Otherwise the story has nothing to do with the title or the photos.

The October 1962 For Men Only is from the earlier days of the Diamond line, when Noah Sarlat was still the editor. I picked this one up for the “Untold Story of the Red Army’s Female Barracks” cover story, hoping it would be something along the lines of the material in the Sarlat-edited Women With Guns. Credited to the no doubt fictional Matyas Kodaly, this first-person narrative is pretty boring and underdeveloped. Matyas is a member of the underground in Budapest, and as the story opens he and his comrades are in the midst of torturing one of the “Soviet Amazons” who have descended upon the city; we learn that this particular one took part in the burning of one of the resistance members’s family.

The story then becomes more of a standard action-piece fare, with background on how Matyas started up the resistance movement and how they fought against the Commies. The female soldiers only enter into the narrative arbitrarily, as Maytas suddenly reveals that the resistance’s ultimate goal was to get rid of Colonel Novikanya, aka “the Bitch of Budapest,” who commands the female garrison. An unpleasant finale ensues as they kidnap her after monitoring her activities and then tie her to a statue, setting her on fire. The end.

“Colonel ‘Flip’ Cochran’s Daring Glider Ambush” is a popular history piece by Glenn Infield, an author who later went on to a bit of a cottage industry churning out senastionalistic, men’s mag-style books about the Nazis. I’ve had one of his books for about twenty years now, and have been meaning to read it since then: Hitler’s Secret Life, from 1981. Anyway this story is about the Pacific theater of the war, and how Flip Cochran got his start with the “air commandos” and the tactics he taught them. A bit bland, and more of a “real” piece of WWII reporting than the pulp I wanted.

The longest story here is “Hardboiled Doll,” by Nick Quarry, an exceprt from Quarry’s 1958 novel Hoods Come Calling. There’s also “The Frankfurt-To-Hell Ordeal of Hitler’s Flying Death Trap” by AA Hoehling, which turns out to be an excerpt from Hoehling’s much-less-sensastionalistically-titlted book Who Destroyed the Hindenburg? Finally Leo Guild’s “Hollywood Sex Scenes You Never See” (an excerpt from the book Hollywood Screwballs) shows how the Censor was still making unbelieveable demands on filmmakers even in the early ‘60s.

As the cover of the January 1977 Action For Men attests, men’s mags gradually became slick Playboy-esque skin rags by the end of their existence. However they’d still run the occasional pulp piece amid the sex articles, and this particular issue features “The Breakout Bastards of Hooker Stalag,” a five-page story by Joe Dennis. I picked this one up because I was curious if, given that the magazines themselves were more explicit by this point (the nudie photos within are full-frontal), then would the WWII pulp tales also be explicit?

“Hooker Stalag” actually is – mentions of “throbbing organs” and “quick climaxes” in the sex scenes place it outside of the more-conservative pulp of earlier years. However for all that the story is mostly subpar, playing out like an episode of Hogan’s Heroes as written and directed by Bob Crane himself. The “Breakout Bastards” are a group of American and British POWs in Stalag 3Z in the final months of the war; they are under the watch of Colonel Streichmann, a German very much in the Colonel Klink mould – he is chummy with the prisoners and orders that none of them are to be harmed, as he wants to be in the Allies’s good graces once the war comes to its inevitable end.

Streichmann’s latest plan to keep the prisoners appeased is to bring in some hookers. After “balling their brains out,” the Breakout Bastards, under the leadership of one Sergeant John Fargo, continue with their plans for escape – the prisoners of Stalag 3Z are notorious escapees, having broken out of several stalags in the course of the war. Fargo and team use the whores as bait, luring one German away from a guardhouse (the whore wants to kill him, but Fargo insists on just knocking him out) so the Bastards can get past the guardhouse and tunnel their way out. A forgettable story, but it was interesting to see how these tales had changed so much toward the very end of the men’s mag genre.

“Trucker Mob Who Took Over Nevada’s Brothel Row” by Ken Lanier “as told to” Martin Crawford is a goofy narrative tapping into the redneck trucking fad of the time, and is all about a mob that takes advantage of a Nevada whorehouse and the trucker who defends the whores. Even more explicit is JD O’Hare’s “special fiction” piece “The Snatch,” a short rip-off of John Fowles’s The Collector about a guy who “collects” women and keeps them handcuffed in his apartment so he can screw them when he wants. Nasty and off-putting, it suffers from an atrocious ending where the woman, after being freed, comes back because she learned to love it!

The other stories here are mostly sex research articles, from hooker interviews to informationial pieces on “orgasm extenders” and the like. Even the letters page is completely sex-focused, with guys writing in to let the editor know how their girlfriends like to screw or whatever. In a way it’s kind of sad to see what had happened to men’s magazines – the days of stories like those collected in Women With Guns were unfortunately long gone.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Black Eagles #1: Hanoi Hellground

The Black Eagles #1: Hanoi Hellground, by John Lansing
September, 1983  Zebra Books

I used to always see copies of this long-running series on the racks of the local WaldenBooks store when I was a kid, but it looks like these days the Black Eagles series is relatively forgotten. I had a few volumes back then but never read them; the series was set during the Vietnam War, and I much preferred the “modern” men’s adventure series. However the covers were great and basically designed to capture a young boy’s attention: awesome paintings of headband-wearing skulls with weapons crossed behind them.

I’d read that someone named Patrick E. Andrews mostly served under the house name “John Lansing,” but Mike Madonna recently told me that this first volume was actually written by Mark Roberts. Well, I instantly had to read it. I hoped for another blast of Soldier For Hire-style patriotism and commie-bashing, and for the most part that’s exactly what I got. However the impact was dilluted over the 330+ pages of small print – I really have no idea why Zebra Books insisted on making their series novels so damn long.

The Black Eagles is the name of a CIA-backed squad of special operatives formed during some unknown part of the Vietnam War (I had a hard time figuring out when Hanoi Hellground took place). They are formed around Major Robert Falconi (don’t you love those convenient last names for protagonists?) and are made up of Americans from each branch of the US military as well as soldiers from South Vietnam and even Korea. First though a little more information on the series, courtesy Stephen Mertz:

That series was a Bill Fieldhouse operation. I don’t recall if Bill actually wrote any of the books solo but he did develop the series, and then farmed out those titles to his buddies. Lansing, by the way: my favorite of Bill’s work is a series of novellas that appeared in Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine from 1979-1982, about a US Army CID officer in Europe named Major Lansing. There’s 10-12 stories in that series and they’re all worth tracking down. MSMM was a digest but in reality was the last of the pulps, with a “Mike Shayne, private eye” story in every issue. It’s a place where a handful of us then new guys (me, Fieldhouse, Lansdale, Reasoner, etc) were first published regularly.

Knowing this helped explain the acknowledgements page, where author “John Lansing” thanks WL Fieldhouse (“a gifted creative artist”), Michael Seidman (“a terrific editor”)…and Mark Roberts (“scribbler extraordinaire”)! This might be the very definition of post-modernism, an author thanking his own psuedonym. Anyway I believe this was the only volume of the series Roberts wrote, and it’s a strange thing because throughout it tries so hard to be what it’s not: namely a big and bloated piece of “war fiction,” complete with unecessary and digressive backgrounds on each and every one of the many, many characters.

This first volume lays the groundwork for the series. Falconi is called away from his already-successful strike force to helm another one, this one a multinational squad that will report to the CIA and handle black ops affairs. The first target is sort of like the Nazi pleasure castle that was the target of The Dirty Dozen -- a pagoda deep in ‘Nam that is run by the depraved General Song, a pleasure palace where all of the lurid needs of the NVA elite can be met in private. The focus though is Song’s recently-acquired Russian descrambler, which allows him to intercept Russian and American coded broadcasts or something like that. This detail was a bit vague, but anyway it was a MacGuffin so who cares.

Roberts really fills some pages with background on the many characters who are assigned to the Black Eagles. The only memorable one is Andrea Thuy, a pretty young Vietnamese lady who hates the VC and lives to kill them. Thuy is basically insane but this is only hinted at by Roberts; she was raped as a teen and her family slaughtered, and now she finds joy in murdering the commies. She even gets off on using her looks to ensnare them, happily relating a story to Falconi of how she once got a high-ranking VC on a date and then took him back to his place and, instead of giving him the offered blowjob, instead emasculated him, put a dagger in his heart, and then stuffed the severed organ in his mouth! All of this related, by the way, on Falconi’s and Andrea’s first date!

Falconi and Andrea you see take an instant shine to one another, and Roberts delivers one of his gut-busting sex scenes between the two. Nothing as hilarious as in Soldier For Hire #8, but still pretty great. In fact there are a few graphic sex scenes in Hanoi Hellground, like an endless scene midway through where General Song enthusiastically screws a young VC-lovin’ gal in his pagoda. (The girl is later blown away by Andrea when the Black Eagles storm the pagoda, which I actually found a little off-putting, given that she was just some innocent kid who had nothing to do with anything…plus she was just standing there nude and confused when Andrea wasted her; another sign of Andrea’s insanity, perhaps).

Anyway once a lot of jump-training goes down the team finally undertakes the mission. HALO-jumping into the jungles of Vietnam they slowly work their way to Song’s pagoda. Even here during the mission Roberts still intersperses background info on the characters, which really makes for a slow read. The assault on Song’s pagoda is well staged (despite the aforementioned bimbo-killing), and again much like The Dirty Dozen, with the Black Eagles mowing down undressed VC and NVA who are in the midst of all sorts of shenanigans. Song meanwhile manages to escape.

The only thing is, the pagoda-assault takes place just a little over halfway through the book, and there’s still a long way to go until the end. The rest of Hanoi Hellground is anticlimax of the worst sort, comprised of the Black Eagles trying to track down Song and also escape Vietnam. It just goes on and on, finally culminating in a good action sequence as the Eagles attack an NVA base, taking on superior numbers with their advanced training. But it’s too little too late, and besides which Roberts just ends the novel like he hit his (unwieldy) word count and said to hell with it – Falconi and squad just barely getting on some US ‘copters and taking off to safety.

So it’s muddled and digressive, but on the whole Hanoi Hellground still offers quite a bit of Mark Roberts’s patented goofiness. Such as…

Pointlessly-detailed gore as Black Eagle medic Malpractice blows away a VC he was just trying to save:

He saw the movement via the corner of his eye and ducked away from the Viet Cong’s knife thrust. The blade missed him by more than an inch. Malpractice drew his issue .45 Colt auto while the VC tried a backhand slash.

Muzzle blast singed off the Viet Cong’s eyebrows and crisped the skin around the entry wound. Hot gasses, added to hydrostatic shock, bulged the would-be murderer’s eyes until one popped free of the socket to dangle on his powder-flecked cheek. His head seemed to explode and bits and pieces of the ungrateful Cong splattered on Malpractice’s hands, arms, and face.

“Shit. Now I gotta clean up,” the medic complained.

Dialog that would make Stan Lee cringe, followed by more gore, as a VC tries to get Andrea Thuy to help the Cong effort:

“…Throw down your arms and join us in the struggle.”

“Not likely, son of a snake,” Andrea returned coldly.

“You are a betrayer of the masses! A camp-following whore! Daughter of a diseased sewer rat!” he screamed on, adding more insults.

“I am an orphan whose parents where killed by the Viet Minh. Whose refuge was destroyed by the Pathet Lao, who also raped me. All in the name of liberation. You are a traitor and the son of a traitor. The excrement of a leper smells sweeter than your foul, lying breath. You are going to die in the name of liberation, but you will be no martyr. No one will know your name.”

Slowly, deliberately, Andrea shot him in the groin. The man squealed like a wounded pig, dropped his rifle and clawed at his bullet-ravaged genitals. Massive shock blocked out the nerve passages and Captain Muc sat down abruptly, stunned and immobile. Again Andrea took aim and shot him in the stomach. Then she turned the selector switch to full auto and emptied the magazine into his face.

Headless, the ambitious Muc became truly anonymous.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Men's Mag Roundup: Mario Puzo

Before he achieved mega fame with The Godfather, Mario Puzo cut his teeth on men’s adventure magazines, where he doled out many stories under the name “Mario Cleri.” Sadly none of these stories have yet been reprinted,* and it’s a wonder some publisher didn’t come out with an anthology post-1969 to capitalize on Puzo’s sudden fame, something like Women With Guns but solely comprised of Cleri/Puzo stories. But then it seems such men’s mag anthologies dried up in the early ’60s, anyway.

Puzo’s story in the December 1967 issue of Male is “Yank Agent Who Penetrated The Nazi High Command’s Love Swap Circus,” an “extra-length” tale. Once again we have a story that sort of follows the illustration, captions, and photos – which by the way are staged shots of barely-dressed women standing around while a Nazi looks them over! (According to the credits at the back of the mag, these photos are actually from the 1966 French film Is Paris Burning?) The captions meanwhile state that the story is about “a palace of twisted pleasures…crammed with top-ranking Nazi overlords and their depraved wives and mistresses.”

Actually it’s the hero who creates this “palace,” not the Nazi overlords – and it’s a lavish apartment suite, not a palace at all. Bill Southegate is an American Military Intelligence agent whose mission is to figure out where German infantry divisions are disappearing to in late 1944. Military strategists figure that Germany’s about to make one last push in their failing war effort, so likely these missing divisions will play a part in that. Southegate is interrogating captured German Intelligence officers when he discovers that one of them is a dead ringer for himself. This officer is from a small town and was en route to his new orders in Berlin, where he was to serve on the official staff.

Southegate’s instant plan is to pose as this guy and take his place in Berlin. Born and raised in Germany, Southegate has a native’s grasp on the language. However according to his transit papers the officer also had a wife; after a quick call British Intelligence sends in a dropdead gorgeous female operative named Gaby (her undercover name; Southegate never learns her real one). Puzo gives us just the story we want when, as soon as she meets Southegate, Gaby insists that they have sex, so Southegate won’t later get jealous when she “sleeps with all the German officials in Berlin.” The ensuing sex scene doesn’t immediately fade to black; it’s not outright hardcore, but it’s there, moreso than such scenes in earlier men’s mags I’ve read.

In fact sex plays more of a focus here than regular action, as Southegate soon discovers that the Nazi high command likes to have parties where they swap wives. Gaby, a “nymphomaniac” as far as Southegate is concerned, is up for it, and within their first few nights in Berlin they’re already sleeping with other couples. Southegate rents out an apartment that has a two-way mirror, and behind it he sets up cameras and microphones. He records the ensuing orgies, but of course nothing intel-worthy comes out in the material he secretly films and tapes…I mean, why would the Nazis discuss their war strategies while screwing each other’s wives? Southegate obviously isn’t the sharpest agent in SHAEF.

When a Gestapo officer appears in the apartment during the latest orgy, Southegate realizes the jig is almost up. First he has Gaby seduce the guy into the hidden room (which is soundproofed), and there they kill him – nice gore here as Gaby shoots him in the ear with a small pistol and Gestapo brains splash everywhere. After this Gaby entertains three men in a separate room while Southegate searches their briefcases, finally getting the info he wants. When asked later what exactly she did with those three men, Gaby will only say, “We weren’t playing Monopoly, that’s for sure.”

The climax sees the duo escaping Berlin as the Germans come after them, but again there isn’t much action, playing out more on a suspense angle. All told though it was a fun story, if not a great one. Puzo’s writing is as quality as the other writers in these Diamond-line magazines, with strong characters and zero POV-hopping, though it must be stated that this story is rife with spelling and grammatical errors. I wonder if this was Puzo’s doing or if the copy editor was at lunch – speaking of which, it appears that Noah Sarlat was no longer the editor of the Diamond magazines at this time; George Fox is now credited as the Editorial Director.

Other stories: “The Mob Goddess 2000 Mafia Gunners Couldn’t Kill” is by Burt Stewart and about Anna Hoegerova, aka the Black Tulip, who got her start smuggling and now commands a global underworld empire. The story trades between straight-up fiction and psuedo-factual background detail. “I Was An Office ‘Passion Lottery’ Girl” is by Lynn Hughes “as told to” Arthur Alexander; a goofy first-person narrative by a girl who gets a job in a Manhattan ad agency where all of the higher-ups like to have sex parties. This one is graced with lots of funny staged shots of 1967 go-go girls sitting around in offices in their lingerie.

There’s also “China Bomb” by Richard Tregaskis, a “True Book” excerpt of the 1967 novel of the same title; this one’s about a war reporter who hooks up with a squad of American commandos as they hunt down the titular weapon of mass destruction. The story takes up a goodly portion of the magazine, but I skipped it, figuring maybe I’d just read the actual novel someday and not this condensed version. “All Night Date with Cindy” is by Eugene Joseph and is a funny story very much in the mold of Blue Dreams, about 36 year-old Joe Scott and how his life falls apart when gorgeous and flirtatious 17 year-old “jailbait” Cindy Whitlow moves in with Scott and his wife. She wants it, he’s afraid to give it to her, frustration and comedy ensues.

“Sgt. Jim ‘Red’ Zale’s No-Quarter Attack on the Cong’s Torture Compound” is by Erik Broske and is a Vietnam War tale that once again doesn’t have much to do with its title. There’s no “torture compound,” but the story is pulpy enough. Green Beret Sgt. Zale witnesses a VC assassination squad take out a few village elders and vows to track down the squad leader. This is the infamous Kuong, who pulp fiction-style wears a bambo half-mask over the left side of his face, hiding the hideous scarring of an old wound. It’s all like something out of the later Black Eagles series as Zale uses a young, VC-supporting kid to bait Kuong, with Zale launching a one-man war on the assassination squad. Pretty good and with some colorful gore.

Puzo’s story in the April 1968 Man’s World is a “Booklength extra,” and it really is quite long, like novella-length. Titled “Barracks of Wild Blondes,” the actual story has nothing to do with the title, but at least the illustration and photos share common elements (and once again the photos are taken from Is Paris Burning?). Seriously, there are no “barracks” here, but at least there’s a blonde – if only one, and not even a “wild” one at that. Aside from the discrepancy between title and tale, the story is very good.

Frank “Dutch” Munro is yet another Intelligence agent protagonist; his mission is to parachute into France and act as a clown in a French circus that has been commandeered by the Germans, a circus that tours with an infantry division so as to provide the troops some entertainment. Puzo captures a pulp flair immediately, though, opening with Munro murdering a Nazi-supporting French clown and then having sex with a gorgeous French circus dancing girl right there beside the corpse!

The girl is Antoinette, and we learn in the flashback that she’s a member of the French Resistance. Munro is the sole American working with them in these weeks before D-Day; his assignment is to take out the German beach defenses in this region of Southern France to aid in the Allied invasion. But first to prove himself he must murder Panuche, a lecherous drunkard of a clown who is an avid Nazi supporter and informant. After six months training as a circus clown(!), Munro is sent to France, and after staying with a family of farmers (where he sleeps with the busty daughter) he hooks up with Antoinette, who poses as his cousin so as to get him a job as Panuche’s back-up on the German circus.

Munro and Antoinette have an instant chemistry, but she’s obviously jealous that Munro would stoop to sleeping with that “cow” back on the farm, so constantly puts off his advances. After Munro proves his worth, murdering Panuche in cold blood, Antoniette finally sees that he is “truly a man.” As she helps paint up Munro’s face like Panuche’s in the conveniently-hot cabin car of the circus train, Antoinette unhooks her bra “so that her breasts, strawberry tipped, milky white and full” hang in Munro’s face, and unable to take it anymore he grabs a handful and the two go at it. Once again Puzo doesn’t shy from the details here.

Munro plans to go on stage as Panuche, for that night the circus is giving a performance for high-ranking officials right outside of a German beach defense position. Munro’s performance is so good that Captain Gruber, the German in command of the circus, instantly realizes he is an imposter – Gruber you see is a self-described “expert on clowns!” Another quick Nazi-killing and Munro and Antoinette can proceed with their plans. Here the story’s illustration comes into play, as Munro straps Antoinette and another pretty dancing girl to the spinning Wheels of Fortune – the Germans turn out in force because they believe two lucky winners will get to have sex with these women.

Instead Munro hurls some grenades from beneath his table and blows away more Gestapo with a submachine gun. More action ensues as Munro escapes with the Resistance members, firing at pursuing Nazis with an anti-tank cannon in the back of his truck. But in a goofy ending Munro finds himself in the most danger when they get to that farm back in the country, and Antoinette and the “cow” are together…Munro knows he’s in for trouble once these girls get hold of him, so he arranges for immediate departure. This was a fun story with good action and dialog.

Other stories here are “No-Holds-Barred Duel with Australia’s Man-Butcher Legion,” by Tim Gogarty; this one has a great title and art but the story is lackluster, about a dude named Pat Duncan who goes hunting for opals in Australia but runs afoul of crooks and a bloodthirsty tribe. “Health Club Tease” by Alex Austin is hilariously mistitled, as it has zilch to do with the title or the art – it’s about a married guy who meets this young chick at the bowling alley and the two start an immediate affair. The humor gist comes from the fact that they always have to screw in the cramped confines of a car. I mean, the girl isn’t a “tease” at all! “Death-Dive Attack on the Cong’s Torture Beach” by Henry I. Kurtz is another misleadingly-titled story; there’s no “torture beach,” just a string of GIs being tortured by the VC, and air cav captain Steve Pless flies in to the rescue. Okay, but nothing spectacular.

*Puzo’s story “Six Graves To Munich,” from the November 1965 issue of Male, was later expanded into a novel of the same name and published as a mass market paperback by Banner Books, as by Mario Cleri; it was adapted into a film titled A Time To Die in 1982, but Puzo had nothing to do with it. Six Graves To Munich was reprinted under Puzo’s own name in 2010, and one of these days I intend to read it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Men's Mag Roundup: Call-Girl Temples and Amazon Queens

This is another men’s mag story I’ve wanted to read for a while – “Hitler’s Call-Girl Temple” by Hans Felix Albrecht, originally published in 1962 in A-Ok For Men but reprinted in this January 1970 issue of Adventure For Men. (In fact I suspect that most of the stories in this issue are reprints.) This story is masterful pulp, the sort of “fake history” these men’s mags excelled at. We are informed that prior to the war years the Nazis set up a Temple of Aryan Motherhood in Berlin, a four-floor structure overseen by “The Hindu:” an incense-filled abode of gorgeous German women who willingly gave themselves to the men of the Third Reich, all to propagate the Aryan seed.

Once again though the story title and captions mislead: we’re told that none of these women were call-girls, as there were too many regular women who wanted to give themselves to the cause. So the floors were always filled with visitors and their women, but the most special chamber of all was The Grand Celestial Couch of Aryan Blessedness, where highest members of the Reich were treated. One day in 1937 the Temple received a very special guest – Hitler himself, who brought along his own bedmate: a gorgeous young thing whose father disagreed with Hitler’s political views.

Albrecht informs us that Hitler could only get off on abuse, and thus is sexually excited as the girl struggles against him. But when she wisens up and starts to act like she wants him, Hitler wilts. He stands there like a bufoon as the girl ridicules him, then finally he grabs from the Hindu “the dagger of honor,” which we’re told men would use to carve a swastika on the bosoms of women they’d just had on the Celestial Couch. Hitler uses it to slice up the girl, then orders his men to kill her. Albrecht then flashes back to an earlier point, where we’re told that Hitler once had a thing for a pretty young Jewish girl named Sarah, and wanted to ask her out(!).

The story approaches slapstick as Hitler’s pals urge him to ask Sarah on a date…and when later Hitler tries to sleep with her, she resists. He again gets excited during the struggle, but again wilts when Sarah turns the tables. After this Hitler once again calls in his blackshirts, forcing Sarah to perform “unnatural sex acts” on each of them while Hitler watches. Hitler then clubs the girl on the chin with the butt of a revolver…the end! My friends, this particular men’s mag is the first I’ve read that seems to have an intentional sense of humor, and the following stories are just further indication.

“African Harem Beauties Turned Free!” by Charles V. Nemo is a psuedo-factual article about 800 wives who are now free in the Congo, filled with photos probably stolen from National Geographic. Then there’s “All You Can Eat and Drink – For Free” by Loy Warwick, a “funny” how-to on crashing parties and whatnot; the story seems like it would’ve been more appropriate in The New Yorker. “The Colonel Who Made $600 Million Queer” by Carl Sifakis is another humorous piece, about a Russian counterfeiter hired by the Nazis to help destroy England’s economy with fake pounds sterling.

“Assert Your Masculinity” by Betsy Compton is another inentionally humorous piece (at least I hope it is), about how “if a girl’s a tease – slap her in the face!” It’s filled with anecdotes about how teasing girls just need some light smacking to learn that a man’s in charge! “A Look Through the Window” by James D. Lee is a first-person piece about a drunk college sophomore who panty-raids the girls dorm; he’s careful not to wake up “old maid Miss Huff,” the girls dorm monitor. He gets in a first-floor window and the gal inside is already awake, and tells him to get in bed with her; after having stolen the nameplate on the door and stumbling home he discovers he’s just slept with Miss Huff herself! “Lusty Mistresses of Stud Island” by Gus Farrell is about black magic women on Bay Island who ravish men, and the narrator went their once, got used, and now wants to go back – he ends the story by asking if anyone wants to go along with him!

Then there’s “I Sold Girls to the Arab Slave Traders” by Rene Plankin, a very misleadingly-titled story recounted by the fictional Plankin, who we learn is an investigator hired to find a missing French girl who apparently is being sold on the Arab slave market. The short tale is all suspense, with Plankin meeting up with slavetraders and discussing terms before he is found out and must fight his way to freedom. There’s no slave-girl scene or slavemarket scene, so again we have a writer not capitalizing on the story’s lurid potential. The longest tale here is “My 20 Years with Moscow’s Secret Police” by Mikhail Antonov, straight-up torture porn as Antonov recounts various sadistic means he’d use on prisoners; the author also insinuates that the Communists actually carried out the Holocaust and leaked the photos as a smear campaign against the Nazis. More intentional humor: the editors compare the importance of this story to the publication of Dr. Zhivago!

Now we’re back into quality (and long) men’s mag tales – the “Diamond” line was probably the highest-quality of these magazines, all of them edited by Noah Sarlat, who gave us Women With Guns. This first Male annual, from 1963, is massive, well over 100 pages and packed with long, fully-developed stories and great art. However I tracked it down for a story that isn’t even mentioned on the cover: “The Amazon Queen Who Ruled An Experimental Sex Outpost,” by Martin Faas. I mean, what a title!! I discovered this gem via the fantastic Lynn Munroe Books site, where a scan of the story’s splashpage is posted:

But here once again we have a story that doesn’t match (or live up to) its title or captions. It’s my sad duty to inform you that the “experimental sex outpost” angle isn’t even mentioned in Faas’s story, and the Amazon queen, Ilse Todt, is nowhere mentioned as once having been a “Nazi love camp doctor.” Indeed it is her brother Otto who was a doctor, in a concentration camp! Our hero is Harry Remick, an engineer exploring the Mato Grosso region of Brazil in 1947. He encounters Otto and Ilse Todt; Ilse comes to Remick’s bed that night and some good lovin’ ensues. Ilse is sort of a proto-hippie girl, very free-spirited and fun loving; she is in fact the exact opposite of the Nazi She-Devil I expected.

Otto however is a stone cold Nazi and, a few months later, Remick stumbles upon the kingdom he has erected deep in the Mato Grosso. It’s a full Nazi compound with giant swastika, concentration camps, and an army of Calapolo Indians, each of whom is armed with submachine guns and who have swastikas etched onto their metal armbands! (The bit about Ilse using them to “create a new master race” is another element that only exists in the captions and not the story itself.) Ilse is happy to see Remick, goofing around with her playful sense of humor and then later screwing him while a few native girls watch – Ilse wanting to show them how it’s really done.

But Remick is sickened by Otto, who apparently plans to use the Indians as live test subjects. Turns out Otto arranged for Ilse to sleep with Remick so as to ensnare him – Otto knew that eventually Remick would come down here looking for her, as he’d want her again. And so Remick has fallen into his trap: Otto needs Remick’s help to melt gold or something. Remick is kept imprisoned and is even given his own Calapolo bride – after Otto has had ceremonial sex with her in front of the congregation.

Once Remick discovers that the Indians had a ruler whom Otto kicked out, he tracks the man down and works it so that he can return in triumph to the people, who then turn on Otto and kill him. Ilse is spared, and the two part ways, Ilse returning to Germany – again, there’s no indication that she’s “evil” per se, other than going along with Otto’s whims. The story by the way is adorned with “actual photos” of Remick and Ilse – obviously misappropriated shots of random people. Sounds like the sort of thing you could get sued for these days.

The feature story is “Imprisoned For Six Months in Japan’s Secret Female Garrison” by Richard Gallagher, who gave us “Five Greek Girls to Istanbul” in Women With Guns, my favorite story in that anthology. And here too his writing is masterful and fun. This is an extra-long tale, longer even than the typical “true booklength” Male stories, and originally appeared in the June 1960 issue of Stag.

Lt. Amos Brennan crashes his one-man sub during a naval assault on Okinawa in April 1945, and washes up on Kori Shima island, which it turns out is home to the “secret female garrison” that is the Iwasaki women’s contingent. One of the women stabs Brennan in the arm with her bayonet, and she’s about to use him for further practice when her superior pulls her away. (Brennan later dubs the girl “Bayonet Betty,” as she’s always chomping at the bit to further slice him up.) Brennan discovers that the island is filled solely with women – and per men’s mag tradition, we are informed that they’re “ample-breasted for Japanese girls.”

In charge of the garrison is the beautiful Sergeant Homma, a refined type who speaks English and enjoys conversing with Brennan; we’re informed that she likes to wear boots, shorts, and “a tunic too tight and too open to be considered military.” She is somehow related to the General Homma who ordered the infamous Bataan Death March, but won’t elaborate. Gallagher treads the line between pulp and reality; Brennan’s life doesn’t become an orgiastic excess of one ample-breasted Japanese gal after another. Instead the women construct a cage for him, one that is hoisted up off the ground each night. During the day his allotted task is to saw wood while one of the women stands guard, her rifle trained on him.

Only gradually does the pulpier stuff come into play. As expected, Homma comes to Brennan one afternoon and tells him she wants him to wash her back. Homma is very military and professional and in the same matter-of-fact tones she then informs Brennan that she wants him to make love to her. Brennan, sensing that he is in a contest of wills with her, takes Homma roughly, which she appears to enjoy. After which she gives Brennan the rest of the day off! After that it’s back into Brennan’s human-sized birdcage, with the occasional run-in with one of the guards – Gallagher provides an entertaining fight between Brennan and Bayonet Betty, who basically beats the shit out of him with judo and akido.

Gallagher’s style is great, as is all of the writing I’ve so far read in the Diamond line of magazines. No POV-hopping, good characterization, good dialog, good action. When the Americans finally show up on Kori Shima Gallagher provides another entertaining action sequence, though as expected per men’s mag tradition the Japanese ladies can’t fight for a damn, some of them shooting in the wrong direction – but then, Homma informs Brennan that the Iwasaki contingent is made up of common women, not soldiers; a last-ditch Japanese attempt to bolster the army. Also, this is another story graced with photos of random people who are supposed to be our characters!

The other WWII stories in the mag are very air warfare-focused, which admittedly isn’t much my thing. There’s “Destroy Cologne at Midnight” by Len Guttridge, about the RAF strike on that German city, and also “Deadly Twins” by Martin Sol, about a pair of ace pilots who have a running bet on who can shoot down the most Germans. There’s also “The Strange Navy Flyer Who Carried His Gunner Across New Guinea,” by Frederic Wakeman, the unwiedly title of which aptly sums up the (very long) story – which in fact turns out to be an excerpt from Wakeman’s 1960 novel A Free Agent.

On a non-war angle there’s “Border Nymph” by Nick Quarry, the narrative of a private eye as he hunts down an elusive “Indian” girl; this one’s an excerpt from Quarry’s 1960 novel No Chance In Hell. Finally we have some various articles and cheesecake layouts; one of the articles is titled “Those Single Girls Who Like To Fool Around With Married Men,” another one whose title aptly sums up the article, which is filled with a psychologist’s comments on why certain girls go for married men…an informative article which unfortunately fails to answer one very important question: Where can these girls be found??

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Firefight, by Richard Parque
August, 1986  Zebra Books

This is another book I discovered through Mike Newton’s How To Write Action-Adventure Fiction. Newton dismissively mentioned the book in passing, poking fun at the obvious Rambosploitation of the cover and also the ripoff nature of the protagonist’s name – Montana Jones. Yep, that’s really the name of our hero. And at least Zebra went all the way with it, as the back cover actually states: “Montana Jones picks up where Rambo left off!”

This is a big novel, too big for its own good, and for the most part it’s plodding and boring. Another thing worth noting is that it actually takes place during the Vietnam war – actually, right as Saigon falls in 1975. This is something the back-cover copyist conveniently overlooked, making the novel sound like a retread of Rambo: First Blood Part II. In a way it is, but whereas the Rambo story got right to the action, Firefight takes forever to get to its central plot: namely, that Montana Jones, who kicked some shit in ‘Nam in the late ‘60s, now must get back there to find and rescue his wife, who he has believed to be dead for the past seven years.

First though a word about the author. A few paperback originals were published by Zebra in the ‘80s under the name Richard Parque, all of them dealing with Vietnam. This is the first of them I’ve read, and I’m uncertain if Parque was a real person or just a house name. I can say though that the writing here is suspiciously similar in some ways to Ryder Stacy, so I wonder if “Richard Parque” could be yet another psuedonym of Jan Stacy and/or Ryder Syvertsen? At any rate the book is copyright Richard Parque, so maybe it’s a real guy – but still, the rampant POV-hopping, the goofy action scenes, the cardboard characterization, the lame and cliched plotting: all of it is just like anything you’d read in Doomsday Warrior.

But man, the book is really dumb. It attempts to cover every base – you like Westerns? It opens with Montana back in…yep, Montana, where he runs a cattle farm and busts broncos. There’s even the cliched scene where some local stooges attempt to hassle him, and Montana beats them all up. There’s also sappy stuff as we see that Montana is trying to raise his son, a seven year old boy who Montana knows needs his mother, or any mother figure – but Montana, despite being like a walking mountain of muscles and a babe magnet, has yet to settle down with another woman, as he is still in love with his missing or dead wife, Hanh.

There’s espionage stuff as we revert to ‘Nam, where Montana’s old squad member Mustang Zimmer (seriously, Parque named his two main protagonists Montana and Mustang, and yeah, you can confuse them real easily, especially given that they’re basically clones of each other) now works for the CIA and is busy setting up Montana. In a too-convoluted and contrived subplot, Mustang (arbitrarily referred to as “Mustang,” “Jerry,” or “Zimmer” in the narrative, which makes things even more confusing) sets up a network of his spies to foil Montana into coming back to ‘Nam. To do so he cables a telegram to Montana, and all it says is “Please help.”

Montana falls right into Mustang’s hands – for whatever reason, Montana immediately believes the telegram came from none other than Hanh! After leaving off the kid with someone Montana hops on a plane bound for the Philipines; from there he hopes to catch another PanAm flight to ‘Nam. On the plane he’s hit on by a groovy stewardess, a Filipino lady Parque doesn’t even bother to name until after she’s been in the narrative for like 30 pages. Also on the plane is Mustang, and the two old Marine pals marvel over this “chance” meeting.

Mustang served under Montana in the war, and here they reminisce over some heavy shit in Nam Dinh, during a heavy firefight in which Montana had to call in a napalm strike on his own location. After this cataclysm Montana, now stranded from his squad, was left for dead in the jungle, only to be discovered by Hanh, a pretty local girl who came across him. Here develops an actual touching but cliched story of how Hanh would care for him, taking him to her peril through VC territory to an American base.

Only Montana refusing to let go of the girl’s hand prevented him from being separated from Hanh forever. We learn that after this they were married, and a year later, after bearing a son, Hanh disappeared one day while visiting the local market. Once his tour of duty wrapped up, Montana headed home, and now seven years later he still loves Hanh and will do anything to find her – hence he spurns the groovy stewardess’s advances. Mustang hits on her, though, and there passes an interminable stretch of pages as the three of them shoot the shit.

Because let me tell you something – Parque sort of sucks as an action writer. The title and cover photo have you expecting Rambo, but instead the novel just plods along. I mean, we are well over 200 pages in and Montana still hasn’t gotten to Vietnam…and when he finally does get there, more interminable pages go by as he wonders how to get to Nam Dinh, a province that’s overrun by VC. The whole novel really is just a sequence of elaborated scenes that ultimately go nowhere and have no further impact on the narrative – the endless bit with the stewardess just being one case in point, as she’s never even mentioned again.

But the ‘Nam stuff is really patience-testing. It starts off well, with Parque capturing the chaos of Saigon as the VC are closing in. The Americans have mostly pulled out and the city is filled with former US-supporters who are desperate to escape the communists. Here too is another go-nowhere subplot where Montana promises to help find a Vietnamese family’s daughter – this entire plot is forgotten and never again mentioned. Instead more time is spent with Mustang, who is still successfully fooling Montana.

A bit of emotional content develops with Montana’s interractions with a teenaged Vietnamese girl he saved years ago, when she was a child. She’s now nearly an adult and she’s in love with Montana…yet she’s also an undercover agent, working unbeknownst to Montana for Mustang…and there’s this confusing part where she sets up Montana to be killed by her VC boyfriend, but Montana turns the tables and kills the VC bastard…and meanwhile the girl was really helping Montana all along…anyway it ends abruptly as do all of the other subplots, with the girl kissing Montana goodbye and telling him she’s moving to France…!

Finally Montana gets a ride to Nam Dinh…that is, after yet more page-filling in the form of this garrulous and disgusting barfly who also secretly works for Mustang; this is another of those pointless bits of subterfuge that makes no sense. What exactly this guy’s objective was is never satisfactorily explained, but really it seems he’s there moreso to fill pages as he drinks and farts and belches, allowing his pretty Vietnamese girl to mop up his sweat. Anyway this guy eventually hooks Montana up with a flight to Nam Dinh, and once Montana arrives there the novel finally gets going, 250 pages in.

Montana heads out into the jungle with his Stetson hat and an M-16…gets in a brief skirmish with some natives…and then runs into, you guessed it, Mustang! Now finally Mustang reveals to Montana that it’s been a setup all along; a Vietnamese general is imprisoned in a VC camp in Nam Dinh and “only” Montana can help free him – the bullshit reason being that Montana briefly lived in the area with Hanh, so he knows the place like the veritable back of the hand. Montana is understandably pissed, but Mustang dangles the carrot that supposedly a woman fitthing Hanh’s description is being used as a nurse in the camp.

This action scene is okay, with Montana a one-man army, mowing down VC. And it turns out Hanh was here, but she’s gone. So Montana huffs it alone into the jungle after freeing Mustang’s general…and then Mustang shows up once again to escort Montana on his fool’s crusade. Seems he rightfully feels a little responsible for Montana being here, and so wants to help him find Hanh. More page-filling ensues as they traipse through the jungle…and they eventually come upon a group of women working the rice fields, and one of them’s Hanh!!

Turns out she was abducted by the VC that day seven years ago; they indentured her to work in their camp as a nurse. Escape was impossible, and the VC also promised that they would murder Montana and the boy if she tried to contact them. More actual emotional content ensues as the Montana and Hanh reconnect (I guess I’m just a maudlin sap when it gets right down to it – either that or it was just nice to see the cardboard characters turn into, I don’t know, styrofoam characters at least). So then the entire buildup of the damn novel was rendered moot, as Hanh wasn’t even in the friggin’ Nam Dinh prison after all – the climatic location the entire 250+ pages of the narrative had been building up toward!

At least it all leads to one last action sequence, as the four of them (Hanh bringing along a girlfriend to help out – and one who true to expectations ends up falling in love with Mustang) commandeer a PT boat and blitz their way across the border. There’s a bit of tension here as you do hope they’ll make it, and Parque really rubs it in with lots of scenes of Montana and Hanh happy just to’ve been able to see each other “one last time.”

But come on, you know what kind of ending the story’s going to have – however Parque doesn’t bother to wrap up any of his loose ends, like the missing Vietnamese girl Montana promised to find, or the reunion of Hanh with her son back in America, or even the groovy Filipino stewardess, who no doubt waited and waited and waited for either Montana or Mustang to show up in Manila for the date they promised her.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Men's Mag Roundup: Nazi She-Devils

The cover sums up this post’s theme – Nazi She-Devils!!  Jackboot Girls was okay for what it was, but as I said in that review, the Nazi She-Devils made a greater impact in men’s adventure magazines. Most “sweat mags” showed Nazis torturing busty women in various contraptions, but occasionally the tables would turn and it would be the women dishing out the punishment. This April 1960 Man’s Life is a perfect example – I’ve wanted to read this story for years, ever since I first saw the cover in Taschen’s Men’s Adventure Magazines (the first edition of the book, which had a “sweats” chapter). Finally I bit the bullet and bought the mag, and luckily I didn’t pay too much for it…unfortunately, this is one of those cases where the actual story does not live up to the cover.

“Trapped in the House of Nazi Dagger Girls” (what a title!! And one I will rip off someday) is another of those “as told to” b.s. first-person narratives; in this case the “teller” is Dean Caswell, and the writer is Robert Moore. The story is unfortunately short, despite being the cover feature – but then, I’ve been spoiled by the “True Booklength” features in the Noah Sarlat-edited men’s magazines, like the ones collected in Women With Guns. The story opens as that cover scene occurs, with a busty and half-nude blonde German woman attempting to kill Caswell with a bayonet – not a “Nazi dagger” like in the cover. And also, the blonde and her fellow women are either nude or dressed in lingerie, not the buttonless, swastika-adorned uniforms of the cover.

These women, you see, are not “Nazi Dagger Girls” at all – they are in fact prostitutes, brought here from Germany to keep a battalion of SS troops happy. (Damn those misleading titles!!) Caswell is part of an Army force moving through France in late June of 1944; they’re pinned down by SS artillery outside of a town. Word comes down that a nearby hotel is filled with women, and Caswell’s sarge wants to go see them. He brings Caswell along as his “good luck charm,” and after some fighting (there’s more gunfire action than Nazi Dagger Girls, unfortunately) they finally get into the hotel, which is filled with women, nude or in lingerie.

Caswell’s sarge goes for one, and another comes out of the shadows for Caswell – and then brandishes a bayonet. Here the story resumes from that opening scene, with the blonde trying to kill Caswell and calling for her fellow whores to help; more of them come rushing out with clubs and knives. Then a total copout ending occurs as a US-ordered air strike knocks Caswell cold, and he wakes up beneath “piles of entangled limbs.” All of the poor Nazi Dagger Girls were killed in the bombing – and plus the sarge is dead, too, his throat slit. The end.

The other stories here also aren’t up to snuff – there’s one about a “Manhunt” that’s a total ripoff of The Most Deadly Game, another first-person narrative about some dude being hunted by a crazed Arabic “great white hunter;” the dude is saved by a harem of women (of course) and escapes to safety. There’s another first-person “as told to” story about another dude almost getting eaten by a crocodile while fishing, but it was lackluster. There were also two Westerns and a feature about how the air defense system sucked, circa 1960, but I skipped them.

This January 1963 True Men Stories is more like it. Another incredible cover, and another mention of “Dagger Girls” as a feature story. Once again though, they aren’t referred to as such in the actual text (indeed, they’re referred to as “Nazi butcher-bitches!”). The captions for the story’s illustration refer to them that way, stating that the “Dagger Girls” were an “elite corps” of Nazi warrior-women created by Ilse Koche. However, absolutely none of this is mentioned in the story itself! Anyway, “Last Days of Hitler’s Depraved Dagger Girls” is by Joseph Andrews and concerns the plight of Sergeant Matt Pool, captured three days after D-Day and put in a German prison compound (aka a stalag). Eventually, due to his frequent attempts at breaking out, he is sent to the infamous Kitzingen stalag.

This prison is overseen by vicious Commandant Gruber and his beautiful blonde wife, Erna. The story opens with a nude Erna offering herself to Pool, who spurns her. Why? We learn in backstory that Pool has been told that Erna likes to tempt the Allied POWs with her body, and then just as they’re about to do the deed a bunch of Nazi goons rush in and beat the poor POW up. Anyway due to his effrontery Pool succeeds in having himself made Erna’s personal slave, and we quickly learn that as the weeks and months go by she is the one who begins to “quiver” at the sight of him. After purposely letting his hand slip while bathing her, Pool succeeds in knocking down Mrs. Gruber’s defenses, and the two go at it (only implied, no dirty stuff).

Things get dumb as Pool holds Erna’s indiscretions over her head; if she treats him and his fellow POWs badly, he’ll run to Commandant Gruber and blab that Erna screwed him. Life in the stalag becomes pleasant for a while, but as the war goes on and Germany loses, more men are needed at the front. Hence, the stalag has a shortage of guards. A new batch finally arrives…and Commandant Gruber is stunned to find that they are all women! These are the “Dagger Girls” of the title, though again none of them are described that way; we’re just informed that some of them are former inmates or various rabble-rousers, but they’re all devoted Nazis and hate the Allies.

The story now veers into sweat-mag territory as the women run roughshod over the male prisoners. Erna becomes their leader and ousts her husband, after which she runs the stalag – and takes sweet revenge on Pool, whipping him nearly to death. After his recovery Pool sees the hell the stalag has become; on his first day out of solitary he’s called forth and Erna hops on his back, lashing at him, riding his shoulders like a horse as she mock-jousts with another of the women, who also rides a POW’s shoulders. Things get nice and lurid with lots of lashings and beatings…though at least Erna’s sure to take Pool back to her room after this, to clean him up and “take him.” (Though this is what hurts Pool the most – that the women are taking the men, when it should be the other way around!)

When Pool’s best bud gets his head blown off point-blank by Erna, our hero has finally had enough; he attacks Erna and a fight ensues, remarkably just like that depicted on the cover painting. The other women start fighting the POWs, and at that moment the Army arrives, having battled their way this far into Germany. Pool manages to use Erna’s own blade on her, slicing her jaw open, and we flashforward to after the war, where we learn that two years later Erna Gruber was sentenced to death as a war criminal. The end. Not bad, nice and lurid though without too much bite – though again it was a bit of a miss for me, as I would’ve preferred to read the “elite corps of Dagger Girls” story the captions referred to.

Other stories in the issue: “Dealey’s Way” by Gene Channing, about a devil-may-care commander’s struggle to rescue a downed pilot; “Epidemic” by Martin Baine, a sensationalistic take on the legend of Typhoid Mary; “Taboo Vengeance” by Ray Thorne “as told to” Paul Olsen, a super-goofy account of some river-explorer who runs afoul of jealous husbands in Pakistan in a village where everything is on stilts; and finally “Our Army’s Terrifying Electronic Horror Weapon” by Robert Laguardia, a story Joseph Rosenberger would’ve really gotten into – a pseudo-factual article about a button-sized device that can be sewn into a person’s head (complete with gory b&w photos of actual people with their heads being cut open and sewed up), turning them into veritable Manchurian Candidates.

Another great cover, another great title – “The Hell-Plot of the Nazi Nymphos!” (These men’s mag editors and authors really had a gift for titles, didn’t they?) This April 1966 issue of All Man though is unfortunately another where the story doesn’t live up to the title. Also I have to mention that the cover doesn’t illustrate anything that happens in the stories inside…in fact, “Hell-Plot,” by Vernon Gibney, is yet another tale about prostitutes. The story is woefully short and occurs in May of 1945, three days after the war has ended in Europe. This one’s a first-person account, as our narrator has been sent to Turin, Italy to discover what happened to the 150 various OSS and MI6 agents that were airdropped into Turin during the war, all of whom disappeared.

The story opens very lurid with the narrator watching as pretty women are hauled into the town square and gutted while a crowd watches and cheers. The narrator’s guide is the partisan leader, who tells him how these women, whores all, were actually employees of the SS. The entire story is basically background info as told to our narrator, which robs it of its pulp nature – there aren’t even any scenes where we see the hookers at work. Apparently though their modus operandi was to lure the parachuted-in agents to their whorehouse, telling them they were actually members of the underground resistance. Instead though they’d hand the agents over to the SS, who would torture them to death. Now they are getting their just deserts, gutted and murdered in the town square why the locals cheer. A strange, short, and nasty tale, this one kind of sucked.

“The Savage Warriors Who Like to Hear Men Scream” is by none other than Dean Ballenger, and guess what, it’s just a longer version of his tale “Strange Platoon,” which appeared in the January 1961 Action For Men. Same characters, same story – Sgt Hugh Therein is in Papua, where he is ordered to request the native Kulukuk warriors help fight the “Japs.” The story is the same as that earlier printing, only longer, with more dialog and the characters and plot better fleshed out. This leads me to believe that this version isn’t a rewrite; Noah Sarlat probably just edited Ballenger’s manuscript for publication in Action For Men, and after a little title-changing Ballenger later sold the original, unedited manuscript to All Man. Those crafty pulp writers always know how to make a buck.

The other stories are middling – “A Good Pirate Dies Rich” by Sam Fegler is straight-up adventure fiction, the narrative of a Korean vet who now runs a successful smuggling operation in Southeast Asia; “The Girls Yelled Rape!” by Al Popein, another first-person account, this one done in 1950s “juvenile” tones about a hoodlum and his gang who go on a panty raid in a girl’s dorm, where they get lucky (only implied), after which one of the girls for reasons unspecified screams “rape!” and the dorm guard comes in with revolver blasting. There’s also a cheesecake spread of some rather unattractive women and some other articles and stories that I skipped over. All told this magazine didn’t live up to its cover or feature-story title by a long shot.

Now that is a cover! And it’s safe to say if the Nazis really did have women who looked like that, they probably could’ve taken over the world without having to resort to murder or warfare. Anyway once again though the story inside this February 1972 issue of Man’s True Danger doesn’t quite live up to expectations: titled “The Nazi She-Devil Who Killed For Kicks!,” it’s by Jack Hunter, and it’s another of those first-person narratives that tries to pass itself off as the recollections of a real person.

Hunter is in a stalag on the France/Germany border, where he was sent after being captured after D-Day. The place is run by female commandant Elsa Brughoffer, who is described pretty much exactly like that cover painting, only she’s a more-expected blonde rather than a brunette. She wields a cat’o’nine tails which she uses to whip the hell out of everyone for her twisted pleasure. The stalag is made up of male and female Allied prisoners, and while performing his cleaning duties (Elsa is a stickler for cleanliness) Hunter meets a pretty female prisoner who tells him the women are tunneling their way out.

The Nazi She-Devil plays second fiddle as the narrative instead focuses on the escape. Also, the tale is quite short; we open en media res as expected with Elsa whipping Hunter’s female prisoner pal nearly to death, while the rest of the prisoners are secretly escaping. After filling us in on the backstory Hunter goes back to that opening scene and has Hunter rush out in a mad dash, snatch the whip from Elsa, and whip her half to death with it, leaving her a bloody mess as he and the girl escape with the others. Of course Hunter informs us that he eventually managed to score with the girl.

“Vile Shame of Jail-Bait Call Girls” by the awesomely-named Blake Bronston is another fake first-person “true account,” this time by a cop who infiltrated a club of execs and the wealthy who would meet once a month to bid on teenaged whores. This one’s mostly made up of long scenes of the guys sitting around and watching some teenaged girl strip down for their amusement, Bronston lovingly describing each detail while at the same time chastizing the men for their warped minds. Of course it all ends with the guys arrested and the girls sent to a reform school.

“Nude On Horseback” by Don Averone is another first-person WWII tale, about an agent sent into a town in France to rescue the beautiful Suzette, who we are told served as a mistress to “all of the high-ranking German officials in France,” but in reality was a secret agent. Now that the Nazis are defeated the townspeople are out for the blood of any who helped them, so of course Suzette is tops on the list, given that she was a “Nazi whore,” the people obviously not knowing her secret identity.

Averone comes in just as the nude girl is trussed up on a horse; what the townspeople plan to do to her is vague, but our hero rescues her and together they race off on her horse – Don only discovering later, and to his surprise, that he’s been hanging on to Suzette’s breasts the whole way. Hiding in an abandoned farm the two get cuddly but Suzette has grown leery and hateful of men; Don then forces himself on her! The story becomes like this twisted date rape fantasy…one with a happy ending, though, because after a full night of being screwed Suzette learns the valuable lesson that some men are good-hearted, after all.

“Passion Ship of Desire-Haunted Women” is by Neil Larsen, “as told to” James D’Indy; this one’s the “true account” of a guy who was on a small cruise ship that sank in 1958, and was stuck for five weeks at sea on a lifeboat with 14 women. Each night the women would take turns with him, and the goofy, wish-fulfillment tale is all about the rivalries that would ensue as the women would fight over who’d get to screw Larsen next.

I’ve wanted to read these particular magazines for a while, especially the issue of Man’s Life, but one thing I’ve learned is that in future I’ll stick with the “diamond” line of men’s mags, ie those edited by Noah Sarlat, as the stories in them are just better. All of the tales within these mags were just half-baked and underdeveloped. Great covers and titles, though!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Women With Guns

Women With Guns, edited by Noah Sarlat
April, 1962  Paperback Library

Noah Sarlat was the editor for several men’s adventure magazines, among them For Men Only and Male, the magazines in which the five stories collected in this paperback originally appeared. Sarlat appears to have been a genius in that he realized that "girls + guns = guaranteed sales," and this collection focuses on such stories. Unfortunately though the “girls with guns” motif is not the main focus of any of the stories, so the title is pretty misleading. On the plus side, all of the stories here offer up quality writing, with strong characters and plotting.

First up is “Warrior Women of Viet Nam” by Emile C. Schurmacher, which originally saw print in the March 1959 For Men Only. Like the other stories in the book this is a long one, nearly 40 pages of small print – the Sarlat-edited mags always ran a “True Booklength” feature in each issue, ie extra-length short stories (which of course were passed off as “true stories”), and this story as well as the other four were such features, hence the length. Anyway this story is unusual because it was written before the US involvement in ‘Nam, and occurs a few years after the French withdrawal.

Our hero is Sam Dallas, a square-jawed adventurer type who makes his living flying a cargo plane in Southeast Asia. He’s become friendly with a Eurasian prostitute named Nan Luke, who has told Dallas that there’s a lost cache of gold in the jungle. Dallas and his partner and Nan Luke head into the jungle and get the gold – the story opens after they’ve already snatched it and are flying away. Dallas’s plane breaks down midair and they crash into the jungles of ‘Nam. The story plays out here; after their crash Dallas and company are surrounded by pretty ladies who emerge from the jungle; they are the Hoa Hao, a legendary band of all-female warriors who live in the mountains and wage war on both the Communists and French.

Their leader, Repan Sirik, holds Nan Luke captive so that Dallas can help her distract a local warrior Repan and her warrior-sisters want to kill. Schurmacher doesn’t much play up the “women with guns” angle; Repan and her ladies hack up a few of their enemies with knives, but otherwise only one of them carries around a Sten gun, which she casually holds on Dallas to ensure he doesn’t bolt. Repan makes the expected advance on Dallas, who spurns her – he’s dedicated to Nan Luke – and Repan disappears from the narrative. Her comrades return Nan Luke to Dallas, and they escape into the jungle, the rest of the story playing out in summary as Dallas is only able to collect a small portion of the gold. All told, a sort of middling story, but the writing is good.

The second story is the weakest of the collection, despite having the best title: “Hitler’s Hustlers of Bremen,” by George Mandel (which I believe was a psuedonym of Neil Pritchie, or vice versa). This one originally appeared in the September 1959 issue of For Men Only and takes place in post-war Germany, in the summer of 1947 to be exact. Jim Wilbur of the CID goes undercover as an arms supplier to root out a smuggling and black market operation which is apparently funding a neo-Nazi movement.

The plot and title are good, but Mandel writes this thing like it’s a piece of literature, spending more time on description and character, so that it comes off as very plodding. Suspense and subterfuge play a bigger factor than action or adventure. Only a late development where we meet a widow who oversees a group of pretty gals who are all still Nazis has any of the sensationalism hinted at on the back cover of the book. But this sequence is over quick and besides once again it’s the men doing all the fighting – this story doesn’t live up to the anthology theme at all, and I’m certain Noah Sarlat could’ve found a more fitting story to put here.

The third story is the strongest, and of them all most lives up to the book’s theme: “Five Greek Girls to Istanbul,” by Richard F. Gallagher, from the April 1960 issue of Male. It’s 1940 and the Nazis have just invaded Greece. Morgan Farrell, a young American civil engineer living in Athens, is approached by some VIP local citizens; these rich families want Farrell to escort their daughters to Istanbul, where they can escape the Germans and move on to safer locales. Farrell takes the job, setting off through Greece with his five female charges, all of whom as you would expect are pretty, in particular two of them: Katina, who seems game to do whatever Farrell orders, and Persephone, a fiery beauty who is just as headstrong as her father.

This story exudes a machismo long since vanished from popular fiction: Farrell is, in our modern era, pretty much a dick, bossing the girls around and slapping them when he feels it necessary. For example, Persephone disagrees with him early in the journey. Farrell puts her over his knee and paddles her ass! And you won’t be surprised to learn that, after this, Persephone starts to see Farrell a whole lot differently…and in fact turns out to become Farrell’s girl, instead of the more-expected Katina. (Who herself has a run-in with Farrell…asking him one night which girl he’ll sleep with first, then kissing him, then pushing him away, and then Farrell slapping her twice. To which she replies, “I deserved that.” Imagine how it would play out in a movie, people!)

Gallagher, who it appears churned out a plethora of men’s adventure stories, really captures the vibe of a group of freedom fighters going up against Nazi bastards. Also this tale lives up to the anthology’s title, with the girls getting hold of weapons after Farrell kills a few Germans. There’s a fun scene where they are escaping from an SS patrol across an empty festival grounds; the girls appropriate a chariot and take off in it, firing at the Germans with Schmeisser submachine guns. After this though the girls fade into the background as Gallagher hooks up with Planko and his rebel army on the outskirts of Greece, and the story becomes a pissing contest between the two men as they try to outmatch one another in killng Germans. Still though, this was a fun story and offered pretty much all you could want in WWII pulp.

“Slaughter and the Sexton’s Daughter” is the next tale, courtesy Burton Shean. It originally appeared in the February 1960 Male and is another early WWII story, occuring in Denmark in 1940, just as the Germans have invaded. Dennis Norden, an American-born Dane, is returning home from Sweden, to which he fled five years ago after knocking up a sexton’s daughter. Word came to Norden that his aunt and uncle ran afoul of the Nazis and were killed for it, so he’s coming back to dish out a little revenge. And he gets off on the right foot, wasting a Nazi mere moments after arriving.

Norden runs into his old flame, Minerva, the sexton’s daughter. (The sexton by the way never even appears in the story!) She slaps Norden for running out on her, informs him that their child was given up for adoption, and says to hell with it anyway, she’ll join him in his war against the Nazis. Norden puts together a team of locals, dubbed the Norden Liberators, and they wage smallscale warfare on the Germans in that pulp fiction way that makes it all come off like fun – using the gals as bait to snare officers, sneaking toilet paper into German HQ with Hitler’s face on it, stealing a printing press and writing up news advances about their terrorist activities, etc.

Things get real when Minerva is killed by the Germans – once again a “woman with a gun” is quickly removed from the story. From there it continues on apace with Norden becoming increasingly vicious, even gunning down a parachutist who claims to be a British agent sent here to help the cause. (We learn at the very end of course that the dude really was a damn Nazi.) There’s also a memorable bit – one that the back-cover copyists surprisingly didn’t capitalize on in their misleading sensationalistic blurbs – where Norden gets some plastique that a comrade fashions into fake bosoms. The female members wear them on their way to work inside a German plant, then strip them off and set them to blow. So anyway, overall a fun story even though again it was another one that didn’t live up to the book’s theme.

The final tale takes us back to Southeast Asia: “The Violent Virgins of Laos,” by James Collier, originally from the November 1961 For Men Only. This one goes back to the pulpy adventure feel of the opening tale, but it’s a lot better, featuring more sadism and violence. As for the sex, it’s there, too, but like all of the sex scenes in the stories collected here they are over before they start, merely alluded to in an ellipsesed sentence, no doubt due to the years when these were written.

Anyway our hero this time is Sgt. Philip Jackson, a veteran of Korea who is here in Laos training locals how to fight against the Pathet Lao. The story opens with Jackson and his corporal Tuli already imprisoned and watching as the Pathet Lao leader executes some locals for Jackson’s “enjoyment.” (Humorously, the back cover incorrectly states that Tuli is the “woman with a gun” in this story!) Jackson is strung up to be eaten by a tiger unless he tells the Pathet Lao he will help them, but as these things happen a lovely female warrior emerges from the jungle and kills the Pathet Lao guard. She is from a “Meo village” and is against the Commies; she further helps Jackson free Tuli and together the three of them make off into the jungle.

The pulp stuff really comes to the fore when we learn there is a “sacred grove of virgins” where Meo women will go when they have a hankering, shall we say. Jackson gets wind of this and sneaks on a boat filled with the latest voyagers to the grove, and Collier intimates that Jackson and the Meo warrior-woman, Hak Soun, get friendly themselves. (Though again, it’s kind of hard to tell what with the bowdlerized writing). The Pathet Lao catch them, though, only for Tuli to show up to the rescue astride an elephant. He manages to knock over a temple in the process, and there follows a goofy but fun scene where an old monk keeps following the trio as they move on through the jungle – Tuli is certain the old man is casting a spell on them for destroying his temple.

The pulpy thrills continue as the monks force the trio up into the Tower of Silence, a tower prison alongisde a cliff with only one way out: a forty foot drop. As usual our hero’s resourcefulness saves the day; everyone strips, using their clothes to weave a rope. From there the tale becomes more standard, with the three of them constantly evading Commie patrols and getting in skirmishes, finally commandeering a boat and escaping. Hak Soun is used throughout as bait for traps – as are all of the other women in these stories, in fact. If there’s one thing I learned from Women with Guns, it’s that if you’re ever part of an invading army you should never follow after a pretty native woman, as more than likely she’ll be leading you into a death trap.

But it’s interesting really how the women are used throughout the book…other than a few instances where they gun down their opponents, the girls here are instead forced to use their looks and bodies to ensnare some horny enemy soldier, after which the men will do the dirty work of killing. This actually serves to put the women in more danger, as they are the ones who have to lure out the enemy; Hak Soun in particular has to do this for four different Pathet Lao soldiers in this story, and you know it’s only a matter of time before they get wise.

Another interesting thing here is that the male protagonists never end up with these native women; in each case we are informed at the end of the story that the dude headed back to America and never heard from the native woman again. I wonder if this is due to the traditional “man who can’t be domesticated” vibe of pulp fiction or if it’s more of a matter that these white American males can’t sully themselves with foreign women…at least not permanently. Anyway, it’s an interesting question, or at least seemed to be as I typed this paragraph.

Noah Sarlat edited several other anthologies of men’s adventure magazine stories, and I have picked up most of them, as well as others published under the names of various authors, so I look forward to reading more. I usually don’t like short stories and I much prefer novels, but these stories were long enough to provide sufficient plots and characterizations, so I really had an enjoyable time reading the book.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Men's Mag Roundup: Girls With Guns

I recently picked up a book titled Women With Guns (review coming up in my next post), a 1962 release comprised of men’s adventure magazine stories featuring women commandos. Before reading it I thought I’d re-read the men’s mags I have that contain similar “girls with guns” stories. The cover of this December 1973 Man’s Story sums up the theme perfectly, but unfortunately the scene depicted does not occur in any of the stories in the issue! My guess is it’s supposed to illustrate Jim McDonald’s “The Wild Raid of Gibbon’s Lace Panty Commandos,” but sadly there’s no scene in the story where the female commandos go into combat wearing nothing but their lace panties.

“Lace Panty Commandos” is actually a reprint, first seeing light in the June 1963 issue of Man’s Book. It’s a fun story, if a little too short, and written as straight-up fiction; none of that “as told to” first-person narrative garbage. The protagonist Gibbon is an American OSS agent with a background in rocket science…! He’s spying on a secret rocket installation in France and his backup is a group of hookers who happen to be members of the French Resistance – the reason being that the Germans cleaned out the village for V-2 rocket testing but brought in some whores for the scientists. One of the gals is named Helene, and she and Gibbon have a thing going on – here the “lace panties” appear briefly in a fade to black sex scene.

Helene convinces Gibbon that the women can handle his mission to destroy the Nazi rocket, so after some lovin’ they set off. They commandeer a German truck and infiltrate the test base, where follows the briefest of action scenes: one gal garrottes a Nazi until his head is nearly severed and Helene kills another with her dagger, which she keeps taped to her inner thigh. Gibbon meanwhile just stands around with a grenade. Only as Helene is dying at a fat Nazi’s hand does Gibbon hurl the grenade and destroy the rocket platform, knocking himself out as a result. He wakes up as they are making their getaway on the truck. Oh and by the way, Helene is dead. Way to go, Gibbon!

On a non-WWII angle there’s the goofy “Mafia’s Orgy Island Paradise.” This story is longer, the first person narrative of an investigator who is hired to find the niece of a famous businessman who apparently is a love slave on a mafia island outside of Sicily. The protagonist is an idiot, captured twice in this short story. With its stupid but lecherous mobster villains and lurid vibe it reads almost like a first-person installment of the Marksman. Turns out the businessman’s niece is here by choice but wants to escape. She gets threatened a lot by the fat mafia don who runs the island, but he doesn’t do anything…though it’s intimated that eventually he does, after she passes out. The narrator finally gets with it, escapes, and there’s a quick fight where he blows away a few goons, and then on the getaway boat the so-thankful-she’s-horny niece gives herself to our hero, even though she was apparently just raped.

And rounding out the stories in this issue is a “sweat,” something Man’s Story was known for (ie lurid tales to go along with their notoriously lurid covers): “Hand Maidens for the Blood Fiend of Toledo.” This one’s courtesy Chuck McCarthy, publisher Em Tee’s go-to guy for sick and twisted torture porn. This one’s about women being abused, defiled, tortured, and killed during the Inquisition, and it wasn’t my kind of thing at all – I prefer the more “fun” (but still twisted and lurid) men’s mag stories. (Regardless though I’ll be doing a roundup review of some “sweat mags” in the future, though!)

Another Man’s Story, this one from December 1974. “OSS Carter’s Death Doll Platoon” is the girls with guns story in this one, and it’s one of the best men’s mag stories I’ve read. Courtesy Jim Arthur (a ps of Jim McDonald?), it’s similar to “Lace Panty Commandos” but better. (I’m also betting it’s a reprint, but who knows.) In this one our hero is Mike Carter of the OSS Danish Section, bored at work in London until the day he’s called in to train twenty Danish beauties who have escaped from a castle in Hamal, north of Copenhagen; there they were the tortured prisoners of Schalburg, a twisted SS bastard (a redundant description, I know).

Carter trains the women first, taking a long time. The female leader, Lotte, complains that the girls don’t need this much combat training, and besides it’s taking too long. Not that this stops her and Carter from screwing, though; Lotte comes into Carter’s room one night to complain – wearing nothing but her robe, naturally – and one thing leads to another. The brief sex scene here is fairly graphic, intimating that Lotte gives Carter a little oral “stimulation” before they get to the main event. Usually these scenes immediately fade to black in men’s mags, so I was surprised it went as far as it did. Finally Carter and gals parachute into Hamal, where a good action sequence occurs. There’s even a bit of gore as girls are blown apart by Nazis.

There are more Nazis here than expected, so Carter and survivors are captured and put in a cellar in the castle, where Schalburg takes his time torturing the girls one by one. Carter’s across from Lotte’s cell, and while she distracts a guard Carter puts his arms through the bars and strangles the guy, holding his armlock until the man pisses his pants, which we are told is a sign of sure death; pretty lurid. There follows an anticlimatic escape with Carter shooting Schalburg and he and Lotte escaping into the night. This is another story that would’ve made for a fun novel – I’m still hoping someday to find an actual WWII novel that has the same pulpy tone as these men’s mag stories.

“The Nazi Monster Who Made War on the Maidens of the Maquis” is another WWII tale, but this one’s just outright torture porn, yet again courtesy the fevered mind of Chuck McCarthy. It opens with nude girl forced to goosetep into a torture room where SS freak Reickenbach manhandles her while trying in vain to jerk himself off. He slaps her around and then trusses her up and lowers her into a dank well filled with huge rats; corpses lay down there and the girl knows her time is limited.

From there the story takes on the tone of a “factual” article; Reickenbach we learn was in control of a prison in Paris where he tortured the wives and daughters of nobility. This story appears to have been actually written in 1974 as it’s a bit more rough in tone and description, even mentioning the specific parts of the female anatomy that Reickenback enjoyed torturing. Sick stuff and not to my liking, plus it’s not even a story, just a sort of recap of who Reickenbach was with a rundown of some of his practices, and then wrapping up by stating that he eventually ran afoul of Himmler, who sent him to the Russian front, and Reickenbach either was killed or ended up going over to the Russians.

The longest story by the way is “Helpless Virgins and the Night of the Slithering Horror,” a goofy tale about a snake-cult in Mexico. This one was super lurid and also featured a graphic sex scene (the story was almost narratively identical to “OSS Carter’s Death Doll Platoon”), bondage of a woman, and eventual escape – after the bondage and torture were lovingly described, of course. On the same note the issue also features “Rape Rampage of the Sex Cult Savages,” about a guy who hooks up with a cult, but this one was kind of dumb. There was an interesting sequence though where the narrative went over to second-person, something you rarely see (outside of Choose Your Own Adventure books, at least).

This March 1972 Man’s Conquest is an example of how the covers (and story titles) of these men’s mags can be so misleading. There is no story in this issue that features the cover image of two gun-toting gals. My guess is this is supposed to illustrate “Bring Out the Devil’s Angels of Slaughter,” but the actual story contains no such scene. Anyway this one’s another Jim McDonald special, and also another reprint, originally appearing in the April 1965 issue of Man’s Book. Anyway this is a “as told to” deal, Buck Danielson apparently the person relaying his first-person narrative.

It’s 1942 and a French Colonel who could help with the Allied invasion of Nazi Africa is on the fence over which way he’ll go. His mistress Annette Langois is kidnapped by the Nazis and put in a prison in France with 500 other wives, mistresses, and daughters of various French VIPs. Our hero’s mission is to sneak into the prison and break her out. The story opens as Buck’s halfway through burrowing under the compound; he emerges behind the prison shacks and watches as the women are rounded up in formation and the SS commandant comes out, a sadist in a monocle who calls forth three women for example punishment.

One of them of course happens to be Annette, who is pretty and blonde. She fights against the SS soldiers who grab her, and the commandant orders her to be whipped. Our hero avidly watches – sorry, I mean angrily watches – as Annette is stripped naked and put in this contraption that pulls her arms and legs taut, after which she is whipped by a weighted lash. Finally Buck snaps out of it, rushes from his hole, knocks out a Nazi, and then his Resistance backup opens up from outside the prison and they blow away more Nazis. Buck grabs up the whip and lashes the shit out of the commandant, knocking the dude’s eyeball out – a great moment as the commandant stumbles forward, right into the electrified fence!

After that Buck is “unsure of the events that followed,” a typical Jim McDonald copout of an ending, familiar from “Lace Panty Commandos,” where he skips over the climatic battle by having the narrator pass out or be so overcome by battle rage that his memory is now faulty. Flash forward to a successful escape, thirty women free, and during the few-weeks journey to Allied HQ Buck of course manages to score with Annette quite often; she becomes so enamored that he has to demand she go back to her French Colonel, so the war effort may go forth unheeded. So this is a “girls with guns” story only by way of the misleading title and cover; there is no point where Annette or any of the captive women pick up arms and fight against their captors.

Rounding up this review is my favorite men’s mag story I’ve yet read, courtesy the January 1965 issue of All Man. And what’s even better is that everyone can read it, as a few years ago Curt Purcell posted the entire story up on his Groovy Age of Horror blog. This fun and lurid story is everything I wanted Women's Battalion to be, and it’s a damn shame it was never fleshed out into a novel. But it manages to pack quite an entertaining and memorable story into its few pages.

Titled “Blood for the Love Slaves,” the story is by Paxton Prayle, likely a psuedonym. It’s about a camp of gorgeous women who have been corralled from around Occupied Europe with the purpose of training them (against their will) to become Nazi saboteurs. The story opens (as do most other men’s mag stories) with the action already in progress, as the women, under the command of Italian beauty Lucia, have turned their newfound commando learnings against their teachers. Prayle opens the story with a lurid tone (one he maintains throughout) as Lucia disarms a Nazi and then tells her fellow captives to “beat his brains out!” And the women – who we learn are clad only in their undergarments – beat the Nazi to death with such hatred that they get the guy’s blood and brains all over them.

From there we get a little backstory on who these women are. Turns out the “captive female saboteur” idea was a late-in-the-war brainflash of Himmler’s, who instantly ordered that beautiful women be rounded up and their families imprisoned; if the women refused to train or go on their commando missions, their families would be killed. Lucia was one of these women and she’s the main protagonist – this men’s mag story is a bit rare in that a woman is the sole protagonist, as usually these stories are told from the male point of view. As the German effort became increasingly hopeless, more soldiers were called away to the front lines, so that eventually there were only a few guards left at this female saboteur compound.

Lucia then starts off the revolt by killing a guard, and then unites her fellow captives against the remainder. Prayle again delivers some gore, with lots of blood and brains in the action scenes. He also retains the lurid tone by mentioning that the women are mostly naked, the camp commandant having ordered them to strip because “nude women can’t run away,” or something like that. (Just go with it!) After killing all the Nazis (but suffering a few losses of their own), Lucia and the rest of the women set off across Germany, using their commando and saboteur tactics against the Nazis as a sort of roving guerrilla force; we learn that they are so skilled that they’re blowing up bridges just a few hours after their escape!

This ending section is relayed like an article, detailing in summary the destruction wrought by Lucia and team and how they eventually found freedom, fighting their way into Allied territory. The rushed finale is just another indication of how the story would’ve benefited from being expanded into a full-blown novel; personally I’d love to read a pulpy WWII novel about scantily-clad Eurobabes waging savage guerrilla warfare on the Nazis, wouldn’t you? Since Prayle (whoever he was) never wrote such a novel, and it appears no one else did, maybe I’ll just rip off the idea and write my own someday. Oh, and that memorable cover by the way does not illustrate a scene in “Blood for the Love Slaves;” it must illustrate some other story in this issue of All Man, but since I don’t have the actual magazine I’m not sure.