Sunday, October 06, 2013


Gusto, October 1957-8x6

From Movie Morlocks

Posted by Richard Smith on March 8, 2013
Don’t get me wrong — cinemania will always be my favorite mania… but I do understand and appreciate other kinds of madness and passion. The compulsion to collect vinyl, for example (records, I mean, not pants) or for following the Grateful Dead, or for owning first editions, or for reading and even owning original copies of the men’s magazines that proliferated on America’s newsstands after World War II. I know, you hear “men’s magazines” and you immediately think Playboy or Gent or Hustler but I’m not talking about skin mags. No, I mean men’sadventure mags, monthly collections of pulp fiction, he-man tales of derring-do (did you even know it was spelled that way?! Five hundred years later and we’re still dancing to Chaucer’s tune.) that were popular with the generation of American males who had come home from conflicts in World War II and Korea with an unquenchable taste for two-fisted tales of bravery, resolve, vengeance, lust, greed, cunning and every other quality Ava Gardner looked for in a husband. Before porn wormed its way out of the back room and onto the high shelf, before Hugh Hefner arranged the marriage of Joe Sixpack and Rosie Palmer, before they became obsessed with their manscapes and their electronics and their microbrews and how to grill the perfect steak, American men thrilled to the ephemeral offerings of such established and fly-by-night publications as Man’s Life, Man’s Look, Real Men, For Men Only, Sir!, Stag, Battle Cry, Argosy, Adventure, True Adventures, Adventure Life, Escape to Adventure, Saga, Rage, Gusto and many more. (Experts in this field tend to disagree but one estimate of the total number of men’s adventure magazines that came and went between 1950 and 1980 runs to 150.) Running low on word count (all the better to read in the donnicker) but high on testosterone, these tales ranged from true war chronicles of courage behind enemy lines (Robert F. Dorr’s “Bayonet Killer of Heartbreak Ridge”) to EC Comics-style cautionary tales of the awful wages of sin (Harlan Ellison’s “Death Climb”), to exposes purporting to take the reader into the throbbing demimonde of casual sex (Gilbert Nash’s “Beat Girls: Worshippers of Zen and Sin”) to gonzo revenge-of-nature stories about humans pitted against a proactive and predatory nature (“Weasels Ripped My Flesh,” the classic Man’s Life story penned by the pseudonymous “Mike Kamens,” whose identity was never revealed and remains to this day… unknown.) If your fists aren’t curling just by reading this, you should just stop reading now.

If, however, this kind of thing seems right up your alley, you’ll probably want to get on eBay and start bidding on remaining issues of these long-MIA magazines. Assembling a small collection would probably only run you a few hundred or thousand dollars… orrrrrr you could just pop down a double-sawbuck for Weasels Ripped My Flesh! Two-Fisted Stories from Men’s Adventure Magazines of the 1950s, ’60s, & ’70s. Put out by the California-based independent publisher New Texture, this concordance collects two dozen of the stories that first appeared between the lushly-illustrated covers of assorted men’s adventure magazines, among them Walter Kaylin’s “Bar Room Girl Who Touched Off a Tribal War” (first published in Male Main June 1966), Bruce Jay Friedman’s “Eat Her … Bones and All” (Gent, December 1954), Robert Silverberg’s “Trapped by the Mau Mau Terror” (Exotic Adventures, 1959), Vic Pate’s “Chewed to Bits by Giant Turtles” (Man’s Life, May 1957), Jim McDonald’s “Grisly Rites of Hitler’s Monster Flesh Stripper” (Man’s Story, March 1965), Ken Krippene’s “I Married a Jungle Savage” (Sir!,November 1962), Joanne Beardon’s “I Went to a Lesbian Party” (All Man, May 1964) and, of course, the title track, Weasels Ripped My Flesh (Man’s Life, September 1956).  If the title sounds oddly familiar, it may be because Frank Zappa cadged it for the title of a 1970 Mothers of Invention album, and its title track, making it one of those classic titles that has been referenced more often than actually read. Unavailable for years, the story leads this collection, like a dogface taking point, like Korean war hero Donn F. Porter, “The Bayonet Killer of Heartbreak Ridge,” whose story is also told here for the first time since it was published in Man’s Magazine in October 1964.

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