Its 1972. Smut, murder and death on the streets as well as the killing fields of Vietnam. …..
Art Chantry (email@example.com ) :
This is the valentine’s day, 1972, issue of the legendary SCREW magazine (cover by “Babe” – a pseudonym?). It was a cheap tabloid newsprint sex mag, the equivalent of a “rolling stone” of sex. This issue hit the boxes (i seem to remember it sold in newsboxes on the street) a few months before I graduated from high school. So, this was the world I entered, smut on the streets, murder and death in Vietnam , drugs and madness on the “home front”. Within a year all my friends became ‘jesus freaks’ and gasoline ran out and we were standing in line for hours to buy 3 dollar gas. Thank god for Screw.
It was edited by the legend, Ralph Ginzburg,( correction Al Goldstein ) the man who also published a short-lived magazine called “eros”. Eros was a hard bound (a hard ‘book like’ cover, a style of magazine for the more sophisticated subscriber that was a brief fad in the 1960’s) and intellectual look at sex, as if psychology today were an erotic journal. It had the very best illustrators and photographers money could buy, and it was also designed by one of the greatest american art directors of all time, Herb Lubalin. It’s still a classic of graphic design history.
Because it was sold ‘subscription only’, it ran afoul of the post office laws and Ginzburg was prosecuted under the law for ‘distributing obscenities through he mail’. the main point of interest in the debate were photos of a white woman and a black man posing in an erotic photo study. Really tame by today’s standards, but a sensation back then.
the resulting battle fought by ginzburg is legendsry, with him eventually losing as a “pornographer” and doing jail time. After he was released he immediately began a publication called “fact:” that documented liberal free speech legal battles and their history (particularly his own). The design (also by lubalin) is yet another classic and beautiful publication for the design history books. ralph ginzburg not only set the model for larry flynt, he also pushed forward the boundaries of magazine design by a quantum leap.
Then he started ‘SCREW”. like i said, it was a sort of “rolling stone magazine” for sex. it’s actually a great read and very dirty and also very smart. It’s not classic smut, but actual discussions about sexuality. I guess you could say that it’s not “smut” so much as it’s “about smut.” The publication declined as the 70’s wore on and it basically “became smut.” It was a sad end to a glorious effort.
The main reason i want to show it here is that, once again, Goldstein attempted to use his new york connections in the design world to attempt to push magazine design a few notches. The first thing he did was hire a young hot shot designer as the new art director. his name was “Steven Heller.” yes, THAT Steve Heller, the noted design writer and historian who has published over 100 books on the history of graphic design. (his latest is a monograph about alvin lustig, that blind designer i talked about in an earlier essay in this effort. buy it today. it’s great.)
the first thing steve did was hire his mentor and pal, milton glaser to design the logo/masthead for the magazine. yup, MILTON GLASER designed that logotype there. amazing, huh? he actually turned the middle bar of that cap “E” into a little penis poking into the “W”onder what “W” stands for???) what dirty old man, eh? uncle milty? who knew!
shame on you Stevie and Milty and Ralphy! (giggle!)
Jeff Christensen: After “Fact”, Ginzberg started “Avant-Garde”, again with Lubalin as designer, which lasted from 1968 until he had to serve his 8-month sentence for the “Eros” conviction in 1971. When he got out, he put out a tabloid version of Avant-Garde that nearly made him go bust, but media genius that he was, he started “Moneysworth”, an investing mag, made a mint and got to retire at age 55. All this per Heller’s 2006 NYT obit of Ginzberg. Goldstein, briefly homeless, was ensconsed in an apartment by Penn Gillette, ran for Prez in the 2008 “Erection.