Saturday, August 13, 2022

Men's Adventure Quarterly #4 Jungle Girl Issue

Men's Adventure Quarterly
(edited by Bob Deis and Bill Cunningham) has been an interesting publishing experiment, giving us glossy profusely illustrated collections of stories from men’s adventure magazines of the late 50s to the early 70s combined with “true story” articles from those magazines and lots of photographs and magazine covers. And published as real books, not ebooks. Rather inexpensive as well considering the luxurious format.

The spy issue, #2, was pretty enjoyable but #4 is the one I was looking forward to. This is the Jungle Girls issue. And who doesn’t love jungle girls?

A large part of this issue is devoted to Jane Dolinger and that’s fair enough. She was an exceptionally interesting lady. At the age of 19 she got bored with conventional society and took a job as Girl Friday to adventure writer Ken Krippene. It was the beginning of a life of constant travel to exotic and often dangerous locations. She eventually married Krippene and she quickly set about building a successful career for herself as a travel and adventure writer. She wrote quite a few books and countless articles for periodicals including men’s adventure magazines. She had her share of real adventures. She wrote about these adventures and in keeping with the spirit of men’s adventure magazines her articles were a mixture of fact and fiction. She understood what these magazines wanted and if adding fiction to the fact helped sell the articles she was happy to do so. She also had a parallel career as a nude model. She and Krippene discovered that they got more for their articles if they were accompanied by photographs so Krippene took photos of Jane having dangerous and exciting jungle adventures. They further discovered that if Jane was nude or semi-nude in the photos they’d get paid even more. Jane was happy to oblige.

Most of the first half is taken up by articles by, or about, Jane Dolinger. Her piece The Jungle Killers Who Fight for Women is the most fun. She’s in a village in the amazon when it gets raided by neighbouring headhunters out to steal women. If the villagers don’t repel the raiders Jane is sure to find herself carried off into the jungle as booty, and she will be raped and enslaved. This piece has a delightfully overheated quality to it.

You might at first be disappointed that there are only four stories in this collection. In fact Jane Dolinger’s several articles are at least semi-fictionalised and they’re in the same breathless overheated style as the actual stories so you’re not really missing out.

And those four stories are mostly enormous fun. There’s plenty of action, loads of semi-naked women (with wonderfully lurid illustrations to make sure you know what half-naked jungle girls look like) and there’s always some sex. One thing that jungle girls all have in common is that they’re driven mad with lust at the sight of handsome American adventurers.

The fiction part of the collection begins with Leonard Kelcey’s The She-Wolf of Halmahera. An American butterfly collector finds himself added to the collection of a beautiful but evil vampire jungle girl. She not only drinks her blood, she also forces him to satisfy her womanly lusts. A crazy story but great fun.

Don Honig’s Yank Explorer Who Ruled Guatemala’s Taboo Maiden Love Tribe is about tough cynical Nick O’Hanlon who is looking for missing British archaeologists. O’Hanlon really is breathtakingly cynical. It’s the wife of one of the missing men who offers him the job and he accepts on condition that she sleep with him.

Deep in the jungles of Guatemala O’Hanlon discovers a lost tribe of Mayan Indians and he ends up as the sex slave of their queen and her handmaidens. And the queen’s male sex slaves tend not to live all that long. Another great story.

J. Archibald Collinson’s Borneo’s Topless Army starts with A Vietnam vet taking on a job in the jungles of Borneo. The partner of a Chinese trader has died and his dead body has to be retuned to his home village. The Vietnam vet will have to battle a tribe of half-naked female warriors intent on stealing the body. And he encounters another half-naked female whose intentions he isn’t sure about. Even after he sleeps with her he’s still not certain if he can trust her.

This tale has all the lurid thrills you could ask for.

A.V. Loring’s Forbidden Amazon Female Compound is the weakest story in the collection. The premise is fun. An American engineer finds himself in a genuine amazon village. A tribe entirely made up of women. Men who approach the village are killed except for one month a year when the women invite men in to mate with them. The problem is that the plot doesn’t go anywhere, there’s very little action and there’s very little of the steamy sexiness we expect.

These stories were of course written at a time when authors didn’t have to worry about political correctness. This is part of the appeal. The political incorrectness is off the scale in most of these tales (and Jane Dolinger is pretty politically incorrect as well in her articles). Of course the many illustrations and photographs in this volume are also outrageously politically incorrect. I’m assuming that if you’re bothering to read a review of a collection of stories from men’s adventure magazines you’re no more bothered by this than I am.

The volume concludes with a selection of gorgeous cover illustrations and a detailed look at the Marion Michael phenomenon. Marion Michael caused a sensation with her sexy 1956 German jungle girl movie Liane, Jungle Goddess. She was billed as the new Brigitte Bardot. Her career went nowhere after that but for a brief moment she was everybody’s favourite sexy jungle girl.

This book is definitely a must-buy for jungle girl fans and for anyone interested in lesser-known aspects of 50s/60s pop culture. It’s gorgeously presented and the three best stories really are top-notch and outrageous. Highly recommended.

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