Take a look at any collection of pulp fiction novel covers and you’ll spot patterns. Understandable, of course; cheap, derivative stories only need cheap, derivative art, quite often bearing little if any connection to the contents of the pages within. Scantily-dressed women feature a lot, naturally, but you’ll also spot other trends too: the smoking gun pictures, the bound-and-gagged women pictures, the ravishing redheads, the sultry brunettes, the innocent-looking blondes.
And armpit pictures.
Yes, nothing sells a pulp fiction novel better than gratuitous armpittery. I imagine. Just what is the allure of armpits? The following cover images come via https://www.flickr.com/photos/56781833@N06/ but probably don’t really help to explain just why the imagery is so prevalent in the genre.
The Emerald Bikini
A story of a man’s escape from the drab routine of married life through a girl whom he possessed completely, and whose wanton sex appeal turned a southern town into a frenzy.
There’s a reason they don’t make bikinis out of emeralds any longer and it’s not just because it triggers a frenzy of greed in a southern town probably suffering economically because, well, it’s a southern town; no, that reason is chafing. Chafing leads to stretching. Stretching leads to armpit-exposure. Armpit-exposure leads to temptation. Temptation leads to adultery.
Also: emerald bikinis are prohibitively expensive. That’s another reason.
A teaching degree was needed… and the subject was sex.
Prexied by a beautiful tramp…
Financed by tainted millions…
Guided by an international boudoir expert…
Staffed by a free-loving faculty…
…The shocking story of a plush campus, where co-eds received a liveral education.
An educational pulp fiction novel and not just because it’s set in an education facility. Let’s count the other ways:
- Do you know what the name for exposing your armpits to other people is? You do now. It’s harling, apparently. Where do you go to learn to harl? Harling college. How do you entice someone you’re attracted to? You harl like you’ve never harled before.
- Tramps prexy. Okay, I don’t know what that word means but it’s possibly explained in the book. And I’m hoping it’s the American definition of tramp and not the British one because we don’t have beautiful tramps over here. Our ones have matted beards and smell of wee. Oh, and I really hope that to prexy doesn’t mean to cause someone to wrinkle up their nose as you pass because you’re encased in a cloud of odours that only tramps – British definition – and maybe your gran if you haven’t checked in on her for a while have.
- It used to be possible to be an international boudoir expert. I don’t recall that option when discussing careers at school. I’d have probably still gone into computing but options are nice and it would have given me pause for thought.
The Scuba Set
For the first time – A scathing novel unmasking the sensual excesses of today’s aqualung elite!
Armpit-exposure (I’m not sure I can get used to calling it harling) isn’t just limited to the bedroom; it’s not even limited to dry land! In The Scuba Set Laura Ingstrom joins the aqualung elite and flashes her oxters underwater. Does she attract the attentions of mermen? I don’t know. Is the book full of seaman puns? I don’t know. Do the aqualung elite still exist? I don’t know.
The shocking tale of a pretty college girl imprisoned by perversion, and the man whose body held out her one hope for escape….!
Just what is the perversion that imprisons the heroine of this pulp fiction novel? Erotic charades. Tempting fellow college students in with a harmless game of charades then landing a night of same-sex sexual exploration through a clue that sounds like thespian while thrusting an exposed armpit out there without a care? That’s a sin in sororities! It’s an oddly-specific bible they follow where the commandments are concerned. The American education system is very puzzling to the rest of the world.
The Girl Who Kept Knocking Them Dead
She led two lives and they came to one violent end.
When Hampton Stone – quality granite suppliers across three states – sponsored pulp fiction novels there was an outcry over what many saw as a betrayal of the values of the family-run business but the move was a calculated one from the company as they used the format to promote women’s health, an area of business they would soon enter into under the name Hampton Holesome when granite houses fell out of fashion. Sadly, the book’s premise of deadly armpit smell countered by Hampton Holesome Ladies’ Deodorant was not as successful as hoped as women generally didn’t buy these books. Perhaps they were busy flashing their armpits all over the place. I don’t know.
Even before she got on the staff Eve knew she would be taking more than dictation.
Yes, Eve knew there’d also be dealing with complaints from resort guests, trying to organise a better laundry deal as the cost of washing towels was skyrocketing, arranging transportation and hotel accommodation for the resort manager when she attended resort conferences, and managing the stationery cupboard. None of that made for a good cover on a rather tedious novel, though, so her part-time job on phone sex lines as Armpit Annie was the more obvious choice.
The Highest Bidder
She was a modern-day Mata Hari who sold her specialised services to…
Only in the world of pulp fiction writing could a female spy have a specialised service of showing off her armpits to international fiends with odd fetishes. You have to imagine that this apparent allure crosses gender boundaries which does make you wonder if Ian Fleming ever toyed with the idea of James Bond getting secrets out of Blofeld with a suspiciously sexy stretch.
Dagger of Flesh
Violence was his business- women his pleasure.
Dagger of flesh? A flesh dagger? Oh! Got it! This book is probably called Dagger of Flesh because young men in the 1950s and 1960s didn’t want to be seen buying something called Penis. Those young men in search of titillation were more than happy to be seen picking up crass literature with a convincing transvestite showing off “her” underarm area, though. It was a difficult time to be a purchaser of homosexual pulp and the publishers had to be creative with their covers.
One night with Nikki was like a lifetime.
Said night like a lifetime with Nikki for men started with breastfeeding, being dressed for school, receiving a diploma on graduation, trying to make babies, being given several demeaning jobs, developing a drinking problem after repeated failures, having all their money taken, then getting kicked out. Quite an evening.
Is it realistic to believe that men would really go through all that just because Nikki showed them her armpits?
Wherever she fled, violence followed!
Luckily for her she knew the ancient martial art of Arm Pit which made her more than a match for men and women alike, able to disarm opponents from across the room with just the merest flick upwards of her upper limbs.
She looked soft, helpless and desirable, but Sam Durell knew she was more deadly than an assassin’s bullet.
A bullet will simply kill you. A woman with control over her arms can rip your heart out and crush it slowly while you’re still living. Yeah, Sam Durell knew this and that’s why he initiated the Helene protocol designed to push laws through congress limiting what women could do with their arms, requiring them to read literature about their arms and the dangers they posed before getting an arm-raising licence, and enforcing a three-day cooling off period for women wanting to raise their arms in order that they might decide to do something else instead, like get dinner ready and run the vacuum around the house.
Way of the Wicked
She bought success and power – with passion.
Sadly, the armpit-showing protagonist also brings highly flammable nightwear to bed with smokers leading to long scenes in the burns ward. The wicked element in the title of this pulp fiction novel is nicotine-addiction.
Tonight it’s Me
She was a different kind of woman.
She had an armpit and she knew how to use it, just like all women. Where she differed was in the projector that – aptly enough – projected from her rear allowing her to show films on the wall behind her. She was very popular in the town in which she lived ever since the only cinema had burned down mysteriously but it took a while to show the latest movies because ingesting whole reels of film caused her gastric discomfort.
Death was the first mate.
I’ve been on a few cruises but never one that featured half-naked men in scuba gear. Of course, this novel was written during the great era of the aqualung elite and cruises were different then. The ships were smaller; they had wooden steering wheels on the deck; the crew uniforms were awesome; the armpit-exhibitions were designed to distract passengers from the otherwise lousy entertainment. I’d say things have improved. Except for the uniforms.
Call Me Deadly
Some men are born women. Some women are born men. The heroine of this pulp novel was born a Deidre but she soon realised nature had dealt her the wrong hand and she set out to take control for herself. Learning lessons in the sleazy armpit-exposing cafés of north Africa she soon becomes the deadliest woman in Marrakesh. But deadly women have a way of attracting deadly men. And bead-curtain salesmen who don’t like to take no for an answer.
Object of Lust
A novel that probes secret motives:
– Of men to possess,
– Of women to be taken!
Marian Dewitt fled the man who had saved her from drowning. Did she fear his passion – or fear her own?
He lived a lonely life in the mountains until that day he heard a woman screaming from the river that ran past his hut. He saved her from drowning and dried her clothing with his hot breath. She displayed her gratitude in the only way she knew how: she showed him her armpits.
Her husband owned a booze joint, but she was a lush for lust.
A cautionary pulp tale describing the failure of a caring husband’s business by the woman he loves when her alluring armpit activities destroys the profits of the family bar. You’ll love what she does with her arms. You’ll laugh at how the patrons respond. You’ll cry when Barry the bartender has to pour away yet another vodka and tonic as the owner’s wife gets distracted by her armpits once again. You’ll wonder why she’s holding a brush on the front cover when it clearly says she likes to use a comb. You’ll get annoyed enough to write a letter to the publishers. You’ll get frustrated when nobody replies.
Perry Mason Solves the Case of the Baited Hook
If you like pulp fiction stories where you don’t know if the subject of the story will be successful or not in his or her endeavours then you’ll probably want to give this book a wide berth. If you like minor subplots involving a life drawing art class then the one in this novel featuring an armpit-specialist model named Cathy takes place on pages 92 through 94.
Beyond the Forest
A man and a woman destroyed by “love”.
Pay careful attention to those quotes. A relationship in a wood cabin in the middle of nowhere between a woman with armpits and a man who gets aroused by women with armpits is something, but it’s not love. It might be harlophilia but I’ve become less convinced that harling is the right word as I’ve written this post since it hasn’t appeared in the title of any other book.
Paprika… the Gypsy Trollop
She consorted with peasants… and married a prince.
Understandably so, since if there’s one thing that princes like it’s trollops. And if there are two things that princes like it’s trollops and gypsies. And if there are three things that princes like it’s trollops and gypsies and gypsy parents who name their children after things they find in their kitchen cupboards. And we all know by now that everyone likes armpits. The result is a thrilling and passionate tale as Paprika leaves her sisters Self-Raising Flour and Chinese Five Spice to live among the aqualung elite of royalty.