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.

1 comment:

James Reasoner said...

I don't know who Grant Freeling really was (he could have actually been Grant Freeling; stranger things have been known to happen), but he wrote a couple of Western movie novelizations, LAWMAN and SOMETHING BIG. There's also a paperback called HELL'S BRIGADE, edited by Charles Goodman, an anthology of Vietnam War stories most likely from the men's magazines, and apparently Freeling wrote at least one of those. I believe Charles Goodman must be Chip Goodman, who was Martin Goodman's son or nephew, I don't remember which.