A Look Back @ Men’s Digest

I have been, and will in the future, been reading books published in the 1960s by Camerarts, under their Novel and Merit imprints.  I was curious about their magazines Men’s Digest, Best for Men, and Rascal, so picked up a few copies on eBay.  One of them was Issue 54 from 1964…

It contains seven short stories (many only 2-3 full pages, or about 2K words, maybe excerpts from books), a couple columns and one feature article. One story is by Robert Bloch, “Red Moon Rising” and one is ny Con Sellers, “Passion Thief.”  (I am on the search for the two issues that interview Orrie Hitt.)  There are photo spreads of semi-nudes throughout, some models I recognize from Novel Books covers — artwork too (the art for the Con Sellers story is the same for a Herb Montgomery novel.)

It started out as The Men’s Digest, digest size, up to issue 40 or so, then went to full size as Men’s Digest.

The stories have the same feel as the books — first person tough guy, noir, sleaze, good entertainment with little artistic value.  That is, men’s fiction. The Con Sellers story in Issue 54 of Men’s Digest starts off:

She hated his guns. It was plain in the curl of her rich lips, the tautnessof her full body.

It didn’t bother Ken Corey; it never did. As long as he got what he wanted, the hell with how other people thought about it. And right now, he wanted this girl. (p. 7)

All three of the magazines are packed with fiction, a good market for writers at the time.  They just didn’t have publishers like this anymore.  Is that a good or bad thing?

Many of the sleaze book publishers also had periodicals — Nightstand/Cornith had Rogue and various nudie digests, Brandon House put out low grade smut rags…Playboy and Penthouse had ventured into books, films, and cable shows, but none of them lasted much (there is Playboy Radio on XM.) — they may have been too big to have a book arm work.

Ah, the vintage sleaze days…what does it mean to be nostalgic for stuff that was around before I was born?  Maybe because I wasn’t alive and growing up with this time, and the era, that I have an obsessive fascination for it all…the same some become meta-nostalgic, say, for the Roaring 20s, the Elizabethean era, the Civil War, orthe Age of Reason.

But I feel I know this stuff well…must have been from a previous life.

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