Charley Jones Laugh Book Magazine Vintage Sleaze Story Finally Told
Finally! Since the web was created, folks have looked up Charley Jones Laugh Book to find nothing. Not that much is deserved. Although it ran monthly for decades, it managed to publish very, very little of merit! Leaning more toward the “vintage” side of “vintage sleaze,” Charley still managed to fit in plenty of gams with the gags, and once he figured out it was legs which sold the magazine, he used them frequently.
Charley Jones Laugh Magazine started in 1943, and the origins, as with most of the vintage sleaze, begins with what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation” but forgot to mention what voracious consumers of patriotic published poon the boys were. Charley actually started publishing in 1933, but it was wartime when he found his true calling (which was bad jokes, bad cartoons and the illusion of sex.) His first magazine was “Downtown Wichita” which even Charley called a “tattle-tale sheet.” Laugh book later became one of several titles he published. Another, which was popular with the service boys, was the “Latrine Gazette” which he claims 2 million draftees came to know.
The Latrine Gazette actually was successful enough for the Army to PURCHASE it and distribute it to their recruits. “LISTEN-UP SOLDIERS! Put down that Latrine Gazette and GO DIG ME A HOLE” Later, Charley realized he could double his income with the same content if he put another cover on the magazine, which he did and sold to the Navy! Same jokes and raunch, different title! So the Navy got “HEADliners” instead of the “Latrine Gazette” but if they met in a foxhole, they’d have known the same jokes. I suppose this was the first example of Pentagon redundant spending.
Alas, the war wouldn’t last forever, so Charley set his sights on the civilian trade and “Laugh Book” was born. Charley hired the former sales manager for “Autopoint Pencil Company” and together they brought their vision of a small sleazy digest to the Stoll Distribution company in Chicago and left with an order of 20,000 copies. Soon it was national and at one point, 54,000 copies were printed. Otto Stoll of Stoll publications was behind “Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang” and other notable endeavors, but not long after Laugh Book switched to Hearst.
The rag continued to operate out of Wichita, Kansas despite their national reach, and on their 20th anniversary moved the operation to…HIS OWN HOME! The number of employees had dropped from 11 at the peak to just two…Charley and Ceora K. Raymond, who was the editor. Talk about streamlined operations! Charley could just reach over from his divan and approve the content (just like Hef does today with Playboy!)
The standard issue was some 60 pages…a few sexy photos from the syndicated Earl Wilson column, cartoons by Jack Lohr, Bill Power, a whole lot of standard clip-art, a spicy cover and jokes. My favorite part was the “letters” section. Unlike the Penthouse letters later on which would inspire a whole generation to imagine getting boffed in the laundromat by the off-duty cheerleading squad…most of the letters to Laugh Book consisted of “I am enclosing a check to cover an order of 45 copies of your wonderful magazine to give to my friends” and “Your magazine made me laugh so hard, I am enclosing a money order for 100 back issues”
BOBO AND THE TIJUANA BIBLES
Tijuana Bibles didn’t come from Tijuana…they came from small-time organized crime figures who wouldn’t even qualify as buffoons in a Jimmy Breslin book. Think smaller and north of the border. We know this because Senator Estes Kefauver and his legal eagle Mr. Bobo made it public record in the 1950s.
In this story, the good guys are no smarter than the bad guys. Not only is Bobo’s name appropriate, Kefauver is the politition who hated comic books so bad he nearly put them out of business. What kind of fellow investigates Comic Books? Never mind he was actually right..It turns out later plenty of the artists creating those degenerate “pre-code” comic books WERE drawing smut on the side, but that is beside the point.
As for Bobo, he was later chastised for stealing stag films from the senate investigative collection and screening them for fraternities in Georgia.
Here is the setup: A senate hearing room, Kefauver presiding, as his legal minions prepare to grill a major player in the Tijuana Bible business. Your tax dollar steno errors intact.
Mr. BoBo. When you speak of “Maggie and Jiggs” books, Mr. Chumbris, I think you should explain what a “Maggie and Jiggs” book is.
Mr. Chumbris. Yes. I mentioned earlier, when I was explaining the different types of pornography, the “Maggie and Jiggs” books are two- by- fours, they are books 2 inches by 4 inches; they are also known as 8 pages, because it contained 8 thin pages. They are caricatures they are cartoons. They usually take people from the comic strips or famous movie stars, and they portray them in very lewd, perverted acts…Not only Maggie and Jiggs, but almost every known legal comic strip in the business, their characters are being stolen and placed into these filthy lewd books.”
I couldn’t describe them better. Except I would use the phrase Tijuana Bible or 8-pager, as no one younger than Estes Kefauver knows who the hell “Maggie and Jiggs” were. They were famous enough to be satirized in a filthy little book, many times and in every imaginable position, and that’s all we need to know.
Clarence Meade Barnes is a 42 year old Pittsburg, PA worker for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. His garage was raided. Clarence had been asked by Lew Saxton to store some of his stuff while he went to the Vet hospital (or the “Graybar Hotel”…it isn’t quite clear and it appears Saxton spent time in both.)
Okay, Mr. Bobo? Bring in Mr. Barnes.
Q. Then did you go to the veteran’s hospital to see him?
Q. Explain your conversation there, and what he asked you to do in regards to this material.
A. He asked me to take it into my home and keep it there until he was released by the police. Also, to manufacture novelty named “Maggie and Jiggs” with no price given on manufacture. He said he would take care of me. That was the first visit, and on the second visit, he wanted me to manufacture French Ticklers, still no price given.
Q. Did you agree to do this?
There you go. Purveyors of perversion caught with the goods THAT CLOSE to turning the nation’s children into deviants. By the way, French Ticklers didn’t come from France either.
Later the committee goes on to discuss sums of money changing hands over the Saxton/Barnes transactions which amounted to $12.00 for one payment and the transfer of $40.00 for another.
These Senate hearings were about $52.00? The committee hearings cost me more than the entire Saxton/Barnes transaction!
Little books, little figures, and just one true story from the annals of smut.
Tijuana Bibles are filthy. Too filthy to show here or even on my blog Vintage Sleaze, so you know they have to be bad. We are talking cartoon mouths stuffed with penises and cartoon pudendas with the same. All rendered in primitive drawings which depict our most famous actors, sports figures, funny page characters and politicians. (Including in one case a randy Mahatma Ghandi…and he clearly seems to have had enough protein to participate.) See? Filthy. Even reading my not quite clinical description makes one cringe.
Eight-pagers were popular from the 1930s to the 1950s. They were passed from hand to hand anywhere men and boys congregated.
Remember Bazooka Joe bubble gum? The little comics inside were drawn by Wesley Morse and so was the World’s Fair “fast ride” eight-pager shown here. Most of the artists remain anonymous. A shame, as so many men learned tricks from them. Almost as many men learned satire from them.
There is a young artist in the Midwest bringing them back. Cre Hunter draws them exactly like the real thing but even filthier. Do not search them up unless you are an adult wearing goggles and gloves. The targets are now contemporary blowhards. To date the artist has not drawn Ghandi.
The illustrations here come from the Victor Minx collection. Selected are particularly grungy copies, as it illustrates their long life…passed from hand to hand much longer than the sanctioned “share” period on your Kindle.
by Jim Linderman
Jim Linderman of DULL TOOL DIM BULB is a Grammy-nominated collector, writer and historian. He also writes about smut on Vintage Sleaze the blog. His forthcoming book “HEROES OF VINTAGE SLEAZE” will tell the untold history of smut in America.
Party Records on 78 RPM, Ray Bourbon and a Role for Johnny Depp Vintage Sleaze
Party Records! No, not the Redd Fox, Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts or Rusty Warren and her Knockers Up discs…I mean Party Records of the elusive 78 rpm kind. A fascinating, actually incredible part of our sound recording recent past. Look into it and you’ll be scrambling to find your own wind-up victrola and scouring auction lists from record dealers for your own copies (and you can file them in one of the ungainly sleeve books like the logo for “Party Records” above)
What exactly ARE they? Well…though it might be better for me to refer you to the experts (hyper-linked here) the genre consists of somewhat jazzy, old-timey double-entendres sung by performers from the underground of their time…clubs, speakeasies and gatherings of women smoking while wearing pants and men dressed in gowns with exaggerated movements. This was scandalous indeed, and as you will see no less than a few performers and promoters were actually arrested for their Sophie Tucker like dirty sung ditties.
Who is a fan of party records? Well, cartoonist R. Crumb for one. He has recreated them for his Cheap Suit Serenaders discs, including the questionable “My Girl’s Pussy” which needs no explanation.
One of the prominent party records companies (of which there were dozens) was the eponymous “Party Record Company” above. Carol Chapelle (who suggests you “shake your can” while attesting she “won’t give it away” is a good example of the artists on the label…she recorded some ten sides of similar titles in 1942. The Party Record Company ran for a few years before being absorbed by the Musicraft company. Musicraft, so as not to confuse patrons, kept the smiling goon logo but reversed it to indicate, I suppose, their dramatic new direction in song. It must have been dramatic, as label owner president Paul Puner was arrested for pornography in New York! This information comes from the highly crazy and recommended site “The Blue Pages” which is the Encyclopedic Guide to 78RPM Party Records. On it, David Deihl documents the extraordinary history of the genre in painstaking detail…and what a history it is.
From the Blue Pages, we learn the Let’s Have Fun label shown above was apparently a bootleg label! (and you thought it started with Dylan!) There is no artist or performer indicated, but I have listened to both sides and they are so good someone would have claimed responsibility…but the listening public was so hot to get their hands on the latest scandalous song, it didn’t even matter who was screaming it…or who owned it.
Who was the most prominent (or at least most interesting) performer of the genre? Ray Bourbon (or Rae Bourbon…but believe me, it isn’t the vagaries of his NAME which are remarkable) Ray did have other names, in fact a ton of them, but he clearly had two genders. Ray started out as a man, then a man in drag, then apparently as a woman, since he re-emerged after the well-publicized Christine Jorgensen sex-change operation and claimed to have had the same procedure, but some think he faked it.
Ray Bourbon’s story, too incredible and extensive to relate here (including a trip through Texas with a trailer containing 70 dogs, a murder trial and more) is told on the truly amazing website for Ray Bourbon (see below.) I mean…JEEZ. The amount of research, information and scandal on this site alone will keep you busy for hours.
So will his discography. HUNDREDS of recordings, all scandalous and outrageous, on dozens of labels. I guess you could call Ray a “billion hit” wonder.
Scholar Randy Riddle has compiled the Bourbon story HERE and not only is it recommended, it is a MUST. I mean, where have i BEEN? More importantly, where have the publishers been? This is a story crying out for your kindle…and instead we are giving books by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Hulk Hogan?
Ray was arrested by the FBI, wrote a novel he published titled “Hookers” and met Mae West. Isn’t that enough? And Hollywood gives us sequels of sequels? Johnny Depp is known for taking on challenging quirky roles…Hey Johnny? Have you considered Ray?
Just remember 78 records break as easily as the heart of any kid on Glee…so be careful with them. Records worth collecting are records worth protecting!
by Jim Linderman
Randy Riddle Site HERE
Blue Pages HERE
Two “Party Record” 78 RPM recordings and Folder Jacket, circa 1942 Collection Victor Minx
Justin Kent Eddie M…
By Jim Linderman