Vintage Men's Mags #24: French Fantasies

Perhaps it began as tall tales told by GI's who painted a picture of France as a den of iniquity, a land of beautiful women with no inhibitions (not like these prudish gals in the States).  According to our young servicemen, France was an entire country of enchanting prostitutes, burlesque beauties and saucy exhibitionists.  

How this all began is anyone's guess.  France has always been associated with love & lust, so I guess a transition into a mythical Pleasuredome wasn't a far stretch.  Certainly, places like the Weimar Republic were more worthy of being called bastions of debauchery; however, they had long since lost their luster, whereas France still retained its titillating allure.

If France was ground zero for vice, then it is only natural that the playboys and swingin' bachelors would gravitate in that direction. Indeed, you'd be hard pressed to find a men's magazine that didn't hop on that French bandwagon in at least a few pages - if not the entire issue.  I'd like to share with you some covers of men's rags that illustrate my point.

Also, I simply have to share this epic piece of poetry from a 1956 issue of Escapade (v01 n06). Emily Dickinson be damned, this is beatnik tomfoolery at its finest.   I don't know who this Harry Roskolenko is, but I nonetheless pronounce him King Beatnik. No doubt he smelled of cloves, wore shades and played the bongos.  Viva la France!

By Harry Roskolenko
Cafes dance their bastard images
Sculpting pallid diversions of flesh;
A complex nightmare, darker, perverse,
Superintends these alleys of tension.
At any hour's emotional chart,
The cafes whine their fleshy desolations;
So many architects have built this dream.
So many arts enhanced this innocence ...
These streets, ancient in depravity, carve
Analogies in darkness..
Brutal as truth, as depth to black,
They glow erotically.
Midnight's exotic aspects embrace
The escalator line of women; like barber poles
They motor on thin ankles
Bulging the fat authority of whores.


  1. Ce manifique!

  2. Ooh La La!

  3. I wonder how many of these women were actually French.

    Also, I really like the bra on the blonde (with brown underneath, someone's stylist did a lousy dye job) on the cover of French Lace.

  4. Even in the 19th century, the English saw France as a land of sexual adventure. There was some justification for this (looser laws on pornography and brothels, for example), but it was basically a case of "They do things differently Over There." Englishmen travelled to France and cut loose, then hopped back across the English Channel if things ever got uncomfortable. American inherited their pornographic cliches from the English.

    Incidentally, a stock character in French novels of the period was the sexually sadistic and depraved Englishman on vacation.

  5. I used to date a Russian girl that looks like the French Spice issue with the TV on it.. good old days.. pancakes a plenty my friend!

  6. Is it just me or is the head on the first girl getting measured way too big for her body?

  7. In the words of James Bond, 'I'll have the fries . . . French fries."

  8. What is funny is that my folks used to spend a lot of time in France and the guy who showed them around came to the states for a visit and he ended up asking where all the loose American women (he had read about on the internet) were. This was in the 00's. The times they are a change'n.