Tuesday, July 5, 2022

National Lampoon July 1974

National Lampoon
July, 1974
In modern vernacular, the July, 1974 issue of the National Lampoon can safely be labeled as one of the most 'transgressive' yet issued, although back in '74 it simply would've been regarded as another instance of 'sick' humor from editors Henry Beard, Tony Hendra, Brian McConnachie, and Sean Kelly.
The issue's major theme was food, or more precisely, the lack of it. The main feature is Famine Circle, a satire of the venerable magazine Family Circle. The articles in Famine Circle make fun of starving Indians and Africans. Definitely not politically correct humor !
Things really take a turn for the grotesque with the 'Doggie-Wogs' article by Bruce McCall.

The article showcases a portfolio of fake correspondence from the advertising firm of Yessman, Flummox, and Bolt, Inc., with Aggravated Foods, an American pet food company, that proposes to convert starving Indians ('wogs') into dog food (!). 
Along with the comic content, we get advertisements to remind us that Kris Kristofferson is a gritty and true-to-life singer-songwriter. And there's a new band on the scene, called 'Kansas', made up of six 'Topeka Jayhawks'.
There you have it. Transgressive humor that would certainly not ever see print nowadays....... 

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Book Review: Earth in Twilight

Book Review: 'Earth in Twilight' by Doris Piserchia
2 / 5 Stars

'Earth in Twilight' (156 pp.) was published by DAW Books as Book No. 458. The cover art is by Wayne D. Barlowe.

This is the first time I've read a novel by Doris Piserchia (1928 - 2021), who was quite prolific during the 1970s and 1980s.

'Twilight' is a comedic homage to Brian Aldiss's 1962 novel 'Hothouse' (aka 'The Long Afternoon of Earth'). It's unclear if Aldiss was aware of this, or gave it his approval. Having read 'Hothouse', I found the plot of 'Twilight' to be a bit more intelligible than if I was unfamiliar with Aldiss's novel.

'Twilight' is set on the far-future Earth of 'Hothouse'. The entire terrestrial surface is swathed in vegetation, including trees miles high. A small population of mutant humans, relying on stone-age weapons, struggles for survival against the hostile plants and animals infesting the jungles. Protruding from the forests are immense, miles-high 'spires' that once housed the Earth's 'genuine' humans, who moved to the stars eons ago. Now the spires, once the repositories of an advanced civilization comprised of millions of people, lie abandoned and coated with dust.

As the novel opens an astronaut named Ferrer Burgoyne lands atop one such spire; he has been sent from the colony world of Laredo with instructions to survey the state of the planet. Things do not go well for Burgoyne and he finds himself stranded on this steaming and fecund Earth, reliant on the aborigines for his life and welfare.

But Burgoyne can't wallow in self-pity, for Laredo, intent on colonizing the Earth, is going to spray the entire planet with a potent herbicide. Can Burgoyne and his allies stop the insidious plan for global extinction ? Time is running out............and the journey to the communications spire will be a hazardous one........

I'm not a fan of comedic sci-fi, so I found 'Earth in Twilight' to be underwhelming. In the novel's favor it's only 156 pages in length, which makes for a very quick read. But the need by the author to keep the gags and chuckles coming at a high rate of speed means that the plot has a frenetic quality, and I never felt much of a connection with any of the characters, the most interesting of which is a sentient amoeba (!?) with a nihilistic mindset (!?). When the story's denouement arrives, it is reasonably satisfying, but I finished 'Twilight' with no great desire to read Pichercia's other novels, particularly if they, like 'Twilight', are excursions into humor.

Summing up, if you are a fan of Robert Sheckley, Ron Goulart, and Douglas Adams, then you may find 'Earth in Twilight' entertaining. All others can pass on this novel. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Huntsman from Bizarre Adventures

by Archie Goodwin (script), Michael Golden (art), and Steve Mitchell (inks)
from Bizarre Adventures No. 28, October 1981
During its run in the late 70s and early 80s Marvel Preview and Bizarre Adventures customarily published standalone, tryout stories. So it was that the October, 1981 issue gave us 'Huntsman', written by Archie Goodwin, with art and inks by Michael Golden and Steve Mitchell.

Goodwin borrowed elements from the 1976 film Logan's Run, with the 'huntsmen' substituting for the 'sandmen' who were featured in the film. For all that, the storyline holds together, and the artwork showcases lots of Zip-A-Tone, which I'm always fond of........

Monday, June 27, 2022

Tired of Slaving Over a Hot Stove ?

Tired of Slaving Over a Hot Stove ?
from the July, 1974 issue of National Lampoon
Litton Industries, Inc, introduced here yesterday a new microwave oven with a variable cooking control that matches power levels with various cooking tasks. It enables the user to vary power from 65 to 650 watts. The new counter top unit, produced by Litton's Microwave Cooking Products division, will carry a price tag of $469.

-The New York TimesSeptember 20, 1974

In '74, microwave ovens still were too pricey for most households ($469 was a lot of money in 1974 dollars. A gallon of gas was 53 cents, a gallon of milk $1.57, and a first-class postage stamp 8 cents), but dropping prices would make them commonplace in many households by the decade's end.

Leave it to the National Lampoon to satirize this new cooking technology, in a gruesome fashion...........   

Friday, June 24, 2022

Like an Eagle by Dennis Parker

Celebrating Pride Month, June 2022

'Like An Eagle' by Dennis Parker
Here at the PorPor Books Blog, we like to observe Pride Month by reviewing media that celebrates the LGBTQ Experience.

For June, 2022, we're going to take a look at an iconic actor and singer, Dennis Parker (the stage name of Dennis Posa) who came to fame in the 1970s as an adult film star, and the singer on one of the greatest disco albums of the era, Like An Eagle (1979). It's a strange and peculiarly melange that could only have come about in the 70s.

Dennis Posa was born in 1946 and grew up in Freeport, NY. After graduating high school he studied at an art college in Philadelphia, became interested in acting, and supported himself in a variety of odd jobs.

By the mid-1970s Posa, now using the stage name 'Wade Nichols', was working as an actor in adult films.
Wade Nichols (Dennis Posa / Dennis Parker) in a still from the 1977 film Punk Rock.

The apogee of Nichols's porno career likely was the 1979 film Love You, which was directed by John Derek and starred Annette Haven. According to Derek's wife Bo, she was responsible for almost all aspects of the production aside from directing. 

In the summer of 1976, Nichols was one of a number of adult film actors and actresses in New York City who signed up for an 'erotic' photo shoot organized by film producer Ed Rothkowitz and photographer Joseph Del Valle. Looking to cash in on the success of the book The Joy of Sex, Rothkowitz assembled the photos into a book, titled Joys of Fantasy: The Book for Loving Couples, which was published by Stein and Day in 1977. 

Rothkowitz combined the photos with 'sensual' poetry and prose from a number of contributors, foremost among them Civ Cedering Fox. Fox (1939 - 2007) was born in Sweden and later moved to San Francisco, where she grew up. She gained notice as a poet, novelist, children's book author, artist, and songwriter during the 1970s and 1980s.
Civ Sedering Fox, 1970s

Below, I've excerpted some of more tame images from Joys of Fantasy. There is the classic 70s emphasis on soft focus', widely used in that era as a means to reduce the sleaze factor in favor of imagery that was considered 'artistic'. It's Nichols / Parker / Posa sporting the quintessential 70s mustache in the photos below.

Circa 1976 Posa caught the eye of the French producer and music magnate Jacques Morali, who was always looking to transform his boyfriends into disco singers. Unsurprisingly, in 1979, Posa, under the name 'Dennis Parker', recorded Like An Eagle, a disco album, on Casablanca Records. The title track was released as a single and made into a video

The song is pretty good, if you ask me. And indeed, the entire album is an overlooked gem of Disco Dynamite ! I defy you to listen to it and yet resist the overwhelming urge to boogie.

Also in 1979, Nichols / Parker / Posa got a mainstream role as a supporting character in the soap opera Edge of Night, and discontinued his porno career. 

Sadly, in the Spring of 1984, Posa's health went into decline and he eventually had to leave the show. He died on January 28, 1985, at age 38, from AIDS-related causes.