Vintage Pin Up: Gene Pressler



A History Of Ecstasy

we throw the
expression ‘ecstasy’
around pretty easily….

You see it in
movie posters,
comic books,
social media, etc,
like it’s really not that
much of a big deal.

But in the ancient world,
— they took that dealmaenid
very seriously, indeed.

This lady ,

featured in a photograph
from 1903,

… represented a prime
example of how our
Edwardian age great-grandfathers thought
that the classical
predecessors had
defined it.

If you invited one
or two of these ladies
for an evening of fun,
you were liable to in
for more than you
might have bargained for.

But, I guess it depends
on your idea of fun, though.

She’s what they
called a “Maenad” —

— and her idea of a good time
makes anything the average
college kid on Spring Break
does look like a church picnic
with bingo following.

it sort of was a
church picnic of sorts:

Followers of the Greek god Dionysus
(the Romans called him ‘Bacchus’) —mae

— ladies like these would
drink, dance, sing, rave
and generally carouse
to their hearts content —

during a religious rite that
has come to be called a “Bacchanalia”.

Today, when you hear that term,
you might think ‘Mardi Gras’ —

Or you might think ‘Orgy’.

And neither of those terms
would really live up to
a Maenad’s standards–

Even their name tells you something —

“Maenad” means “women in ecstasy”.

They liked to conduct their activities in the nude,
— or clothed in only
a fawn skin —

And according to Euripides,
they’d carry on like this
for days on end.

But before you start
recruiting Maenads
for your next kicky weekend,

I guess I’d better
warn you, brother —

There were NO MEN allowed.uhoh

Their rituals were open to women only.

And any man who happened
to try and crash their party was dealt with,

well, rather severely.

As in ,
— torn apart, shredded,
and eaten.

I guess when these girls
said ‘no trespassing’,
brother, they meant it.

Frazer, in the Golden Bough,
thought that the Maenads
were not only drinking heavily
at their ceremonial soirees,

— but under the influence of a powerful drug.

In all probability, that drug would have been basidiomycete —

— derived from what we today
call psychotropic mushrooms,
like the ‘Fly Amanita’.

The plant causes intensemaenad
euphoria, hallucinations,
and delirium–

very similar to the descriptions
of the Maenad’s conduct
in ancient texts, is known
to grow in that part of the world.

– and could very well
also been the mythical ‘Soma’ referenced in other materials
about ancient ceremonial drugs,
and in the Indian Rig-Vedas.

Now, of course,

I like my mythology maenad_
with more than a
smattering of smart-ass
and sex mixed in,

— but if you’re really
serious about reading
up on Greek Mythology,

I’d recommend you start
with my friend
Aquileana’s site.


HOY !!



The Postcard Art Of Bernhardt Wall

damnthingI always find that vintage postcards
are even more interesting,

— when you know
something about the artist.

You’ve probably noticed,
from time to time,

a group of cards
from a particular era
that share a very
individualized style,

and wondered about
who created them and why.

American born artist
Bernhardt Wall
was called ‘The King of Postcards’, bernhardtwall

at least in the United States,
between 1910 and 1940–

— based on the fact
that he created more
than 5000 different designs,

mostly light hearted
and humorous —

Bernhardt was more
than a postcard artist.

Much, much more.

He also was very heavily involved
in American defense efforts
during the period between 1898 and 1918…

gasAlready a working lithographer,
he volunteered for service
in the Spanish-American war in 1898,

—- and upon his return took up the study of etching full time.

After education at the
Buffalo Art Student’s League
and an apprenticeship
under William Auerbach-Levy,

he soon proved himself a prolific,
versatile, and creative artist…

and he produced a large body of
propaganda during World I.

His cards really do have
a very special recognizable quality– bite

— no matter what the subject or genre —
you can usually spot a Bernhardt Wall creation.

there’s a sentimental aspect and tone
reflected in his note cards, for instance ….

and a charming style to the way
he draws his dogs in the cards with animals.

Children with wide eyes and sweet demeanors
characterize many of his cards used for Valentines…..

but his Halloween cards have a weird creepiness
that belies the era from which they come.

sassyRarely do his characters
seem more than a tiny bit suggestive,

and they also have an innocence and simplicity
that is easy to relate to.

The majority of his work was published by Valentines and Sons,

— but he also created drawings and canvases for Gibson Art,
Illustrated Postal Cards,
and several others.

Especially talented as an illustrator and engraver,

he was also a keen reader, writer, and historian –

His historical works included publications such as:andrewjackson

“The Invitation to Gettysburg”,

“Following General Sam Houston”,

and “Windjammer”.

A book that he personally printed
and bound himself featured his etchings
of Indians, cowboys and the frontier U.S.–

It was called “Under Western Skies”,

…… and it was extremely well received at the time.

He is known to have created etchings
of many past famous personages, including:austin

Andrew Jackson,
Mark Twain,
Thomas A. Edison,
Abraham Lincoln,
Walt Whitman,
Stephen F. Austin
and George Armstrong Custer.

There is a particularly large collection
of these in the archives of Texas A&M University,

— those dealing with the Alamo,
and other aspects of frontier history,trooly
are especially popular with students poring through the stacks….

Much of this archive is also online at:


Others are also out there–

Wall was a very popular and busy guy!

Muscleheaded Blog frequent readers will probably remember–

(probably, maybe not)

— the post that dealt
with the whole ‘September Morn’
art work controversy– september

and how some postcards were issued mocking the hubbub,

— with sarcastic humor and good grace —

Yes, number four
on that post was an original Walls !

And so is this one.

You can find that post here.

Bernhardt Wall died in Sierra Madre, California in 1956-

— and, by then,

had created a huge body of work
in many aspects of publishing and art.manwants


modern audiences usually have their
first exposure to Wall’s work
through his very interesting vintage postcards….

And why not?

Great art is art that resonates with people —

Whether they be today,
or hundred years from now.

And I think Wall’s work lives up to that standard, and more.

Although I’m not sure about his spelling…….




Rah Rah Earl Christy

rootforthehometeamA lot of folks like
to collect sports memorabilia,

….. whether it be from the professional leagues,
semi-pro, or
college level teams.

Among the favorites in
the U.S. are of course,
basketball, football,
and baseball.

I’d rather follow
the cheerleaders.

And yes,

there have been sports memorabilia
issued about pep squads and the like —

Oh sure,

— you probably had
a ‘Debbie Does Dallas’
poster on your bedroom
wall at one time —

I know I still do.

But that’s not really3
what I’m talking about here.

(I got nothing at all to say
about the Dallas Cowboys,

…. at least since Tom
Landry was coach,

and we can always discuss
porno movie posters at another juncture… )

Previous to the 1940’s,

— the most popular kind of collectible dealing with cheerleaders had to do with colleges.

it’s all about school spirit, ya know.

Raah raah,
sis boom bah,
and all that.

Actually, a very famous pin-up artist got his start doing these kinds of pieces–

for postcards, cigarette
cards, and the like…

Earl Christy.1

Born in 1882, in Philadelphia,
he was drawing at a very early age.

He was only 17
when he sold a series of illustrations
of ‘All American College Girls’ —

(featuring mostly
Ivy League colleges )
to the Atlantic City Boardwalk Picture Company.

These were eventually published as collectible cards
by the J. Hoover and Sons Calendar Company,
also of Philadelphia.

(if you look closely,
you might also notice that ole Earl
mighta had a thing for ermine and exotic furs. )

Christy was a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts in 1907 —

During his time there,

he obtained a commission
to draw another series of ami
feminine college boosters
for publication as postcards —

— this time by the U.S. Postcard Company.

These, published in 1905,
became his first widely
distributed work —

and the popularity of
those cards
became quite a boon
to Christy’s career.

He went on to create
some classic pin-up art,

and created covers
and illustrations
for some of the 1930’s era
most iconic magazines,

Modern Screen,
Pictorial Review,
Popular Songs,
Radio Stars,
Screen Album,
and Screen Romances.

Widely regarded for
his stylized, romantic style,

his work has appeared
on media ranging from:

posters to sheet music,
pulp magazines to boxes,
jigsaw puzzles to programs,
coasters to cups,
advertising to china,earlchristy
textiles to textbooks.

Christy died at age 78,
after a prolific
artistic career,

and is remembered as
the illustrator
who created the image
of the 1900’s
‘All American Girl’.


! HOY !