Silk stocking magazines…just the name is so evocative!
I’ve written here before how I’m always fascinated walking around Manhattan and remembering what occupied a particular space long ago. For example, this decrepit building at the northwest corner of 46th Street and Eighth Avenue housed a fantastic video store, DVD BLOWOUT, that sold obscure cult movies like stuff from Something Weird Video in addition to its hardcore porn; and next to it was the Full Moon Saloon, a place where I did a good amount of drinking back in the day…
This is what has replaced it: shiny, tall, and a hub for tourists.
I also remember, when I pass by an Asian noodle shop near the southwest corner of 49th St. and Eighth Avenue, that long ago in the 70s its space was occupied by a used magazine store, where I first came upon these magazines (scans taken from my own copies, some of which I’ve sold at memorabilia shows):
I recall asking the slender gray-haired middle-aged guy behind the counter near the door what these magazines were. I had never seen these publications before, packed with the nylon-sheathed ladies of the late 40s and 50s. “They’re called ‘silk stocking magazines,’ ” he said. Amazingly, they were only $2.50 or $3.00 a piece, so I bought three or four. Now they go for about $25 a piece, even in just good, not necessarily, great condition. They’re hard to find. BEAUTY PARADE, TITTER, FLIRT…these are the titles of the mags in which Bettie Page and other popular models frequently appeared. They were published by Robert Harrison, who later in the 50s went on to great notoriety with the scandal-mongering CONFIDENTIAL magazine.
Little did I know that my lifelong quest to collect vintage girlie mags and endless pinups had begun! I still have the copy of FLIRT, which I bought in 1977 from the late Art Amsie, the dealer and collector who was a cornerstone of the pinup revival, and who even photographed Bettie Page himself. It’s a mint copy which I’ve only looked at a few times, wanting to keep it in as perfect condition as possible—not because it’s worth so much, I probably couldn’t get more than $100 for it; it’s just nice to have an issue so well-preserved from so long ago, when most of them are so fragile they fall apart as you turn the pages. You can read my profile of Art Amsie here.
You can see how un-seriously these mags were treated by some folks before the interest in pinups was renewed in the early 80s. The price $3.00 was casually scrawled on the gorgeous Peter Driben-painted cover of TITTER, along with the date!
If you’re interested in seeing more of these covers and the insides of the mags, look on Amazon here for a Taschen book called 1000 PIN-UP GIRLS, and your orbs will get their fill of the fillies! Note their variant spelling of “pin-up.” Me, I always spell it “pinup.” 😉