Tuesday, December 19, 2006


100 years ago, women were thrilled by Redbook magazine's romantic stories about dark and mysterious men, exotic perils from the orient, women in danger, sublimated passions and heaving bosoms. The stories were illustrated by marvelous pictures like these.

Often the heroine watched as powerful men struggled over her virtue, or were reduced to helpless tears by their love for her.

The pictures, like the stories, were often shrouded in fog which left room for the reader's imagination to fill in the details. I love these art noir drawings by Gayle Hoskins, Frank Street, E. Ward and Leone Bracker.

Today, Redbook has replaced illustrations with bright, clear photographs. The articles are in sharper focus as well. There's no ambiguity in titles like 35 Sexy Places to Touch Your Man, or Get In The Mood in 5 Minutes. Recently, Redbook provided instructions for sex in an airplane bathroom the way GM might describe maintenance on an internal combustion engine ("For maximum maneuverability, stand with one leg on the toilet with your man embracing you from behind.") Despite the new candor, Redbook's modern readers don't seem any closer to meaningful truths than their great grandmothers were 100 years ago.

I'm not sure whether it's better to have a sharp picture of a fuzzy concept or a fuzzy picture of a sharp concept. Choose your fog.


Blogger lotusgreen said...

"choose your fog" .... great line




12/20/2006 5:25 PM  
Blogger shellywan said...

Beautiful!! i totally thought they are from Sherlock Holmes books!!! ^0^

thank you! Great find!

12/21/2006 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw, com'mon lotusgreen. The pics are fab, the text clever and a little saucy. (I loved the "for maximum maneuverability..." Did you lift the text David, or make it up?) A little irony makes it even better. It's just too delightful!

I was intrigued by the second picture. The woman's coat lifting in the wind mirrors the gargoyle like creature behind them. Interesting topic and approach David!


12/21/2006 11:33 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Lotusgreen, Redbook has had many different incarnations over the past century as the taste of the American housewife has changed.

American men rely on Redbook at the supermarket checkout counter to help them understand the mysteries of women (kind of like women rely on Letters to Penthouse to understand men). If you are now telling me that Redbook is an unreliable guide, I don't know where we would turn next.

12/22/2006 8:17 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Anonymous, I am not making up any of these quotes. Flipping through a recent issue of Redbook, I was struck by another great line: "a woman can conquer any man if she can conquer her gag reflex." Redbook readers from 100 years ago would have been horrified, but at least they would have been literate enough to catch the (unintended) double entendre.

12/22/2006 10:22 AM  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

see--the last time i picked up redbook, the only tip it might give a man would be how to turn on the oven if the little lady was having her hair done just before dinner.

12/23/2006 2:42 AM  
Anonymous pcp said...

OMG, David!! Did Redbook really say that? I 'bout fell off my chair laughing! (Ahh, yeah, just relax honey, it'll be all right.)

12/23/2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger jonnyspace said...

Cool Illustrations!

12/28/2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger A. Riabovitchev said...


12/30/2006 5:27 AM  
Blogger Adam M Botsford said...

Those old illustrations are astonishing!! They remind me of the artist who did the kingdom come series for DC comics.

1/07/2007 7:19 PM  
Blogger jordan wan said...

it's really cool!

Makes me think of some Joseph clement Coll pen and ink illustrations!


1/12/2007 7:52 PM  
Blogger jordan wan said...

Is there a site or book where I can find more of these images?

1/12/2007 7:54 PM  
Blogger chris miller said...

We have some similar foggy scenes on the walls at the Palette and Chisel (done by early members, c. 1900)

They're fun -- but I'd just as soon be looking at stills from a good film noir of the 30's or 40's.

1/13/2007 10:26 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home