Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gene Bilbrew: Picasso of Porn

Just got in a new batch of vintage porn & I'd like to share...

Gene Bilbrew, like his classmate at the Art Student's League, Eric Stanton, is birthed from the age of Madison Avenue media culture that also illegitimately birthed Mad Magazine. Bilbrew, Stanton, Mad, they all share an apparent sensibility both in straight up line and color style, ie- amusement park caricaturishness and garish colors, as well as a subversive twist on mainstream advertising style. But Bilbrew's similarity to Mad Magazine doesn't bear a simple wink and nudge, but is rather located just this side of the sexual deviant wing of Bellevue. And I don't mean this in a bad way. I just mean it's "edgy". Obviously aware of his "underground" status, lettering is done in a purposeful home-made style like the afterthought $5 price tag on "ToGetHer" or "Frustration" where the lettering seems to have been done with white-out (had it been invented).

Bilbrew's women are oddly drawn cardboard cut-outs, billboards gone awry, collages made from random scraps laying around the drawing board, with dimples and creases almost randomly applied to buttocks, legs, underarms or whatnot... a seemingly mental ward folk-art fetishizing of female bulges and creases assembled into a superwoman of the mind. Compared to Stanton, Bilbrew's men look more sinister, more menacing, more lecherous, his women more depraved, wanton, and perhaps they get kickbacks from the STD clinic down the block. I feel like putting a condom over my head just talking about him! BILBREW.... It just conjures yeast.

Love the exquisitely penned lacy detailing to the undies on the left, while the corset to your right is a piece of architecture straight out of the Futurama exhibition at the '39 Worlds Fair.

This group is all from the late 50s, many printed right here in Brooklyn, by Rainbow Publishing, B & B Press and Kinney Publishing. They did not exactly run a shop with their name on a shingle... rather, they sold "discreetly" through finer retailers in the Times Square area. Publishers and retailers were constantly dodging the law, in Justin Kent's case (a nom de plume you see on a couple of these), he was held as a material witness for a month after police raids on Times Square shops! There's an interesting article by Jay A. Gertzman HERE.

The format is straight up octavo, 8 1/2 x 5 1/4 inches, or an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet folded, larger than the usual 12mo sized pocket paperbacks that is the format of most pulp fiction, which is mostly where you find Bilbrew's art. These were the early days of illegal porn. Before Ginzberg's Eros. When much the dirty stuff was still being imported from France!

Anyway, hope you dig these illos as much as I do... if I find out more about them at the Long Island Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend in Garden CIty (see sidebar -->) I'll add (or subtract if appropriate) to this post.

Go HERE to see what is said to be a Bilbrew self-portrait...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Greek-out with Jeffrey Cyphers Wright...


As time trickles through the Chambre des Deputes

The tendrils of my nose crinkle at its acrid passage

Time empties out the notion of authenticity

Time, you are a nervous imposter

You can remake yourself in the blink of an eye

Rodin pestering Phidias, Nestor attesting to glory

Time loves the one who knows love

I guess you had better guide me through the ropes

I dreamed a white robe walking to Morgantown

My broken watch weeps in a false spring

I wake bound to the railroad tracks

Emily Bronte sitting beside me on a wasp nest

We wait inconsolably in our vast ardor

As time trickles through an excess of small delay


Come on down to my boat, baby

Ready to flame the lawless airbrake

Ready to dazzle the bedraggled marmadukes

Ready to fray the nightie of Big Foot

Tell me about it, Hermes

Chupacabre to the rescue

Because we have yet to reinvent the past

Ink from the pen the filthy sun begging

I woke as a carpenter measured my remains

Ready to rip the bark off the stars

And claw my way in looking for grubs

A psychotropic melody strips the veneer

Scrolling down Emily Bronte’s heart

Ready for anything you can see clearly now


Astarte walks through the Negro streets at dawn

I said a hey babe, you are everything you are to me

Let’s throw some darts at the imagination farmers

Taketh my hand and lead me on

Exult in your originality, phantom grafter


Astarte lies under the stars in Bernadette’s dream

Camilla threw her javelin across the Tiber

May spins its wrecked gentians across your path

I wake in the fugitive tunnel glow

Emily Bronte [mug shot] dying for sanctuary

Deserted abruptly Time’s raft pitch and toss

This is what they say about you, Astarte

The lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove

*Shoshone for sandy place

"Jeff Wright", as he is known to Hollywood insiders, published the famed Cover Magazine from 1986 - 2001... 80 issues! (as a publisher of a much humbler print endeavor, I'm floored!) He's a terrific poet, curator (reading series at the Bowery Poetry Club, La Mama, etc.), and general man about town. He can even be found in various East Village Gardens beckoning fairies from flowers with the sweet nectar of verse and a puff of pixie dust... or maybe the pixie dust was just in the 80s... he even has a wiki entry... so hello posterity!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010