BARBARIANS ON BIKES
published by New Texture (2016)
Edited by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle
available in both softcover (which I’m reviewing) and in a deluxe hardcover edition with 20 extra pages and higher-quality paper
There’s always something interesting, unexpected, and exciting happening at New Texture. Just when you think you’ve got them pegged, they’ll throw you a curve with a gospel album, or a children’s book, or the memoir of an urban teacher….but it all somehow fits together, filtered through the unique curatorial consciousness and the keen eye of Wyatt Doyle (he’s also a superb photographer, and we’ve used some of his works for KSE album and book covers).
BARBARIANS ON BIKES is an entry in NT’s Men’s Adventure Library, and co-editors Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle have previously worked on collections of sensationalistic, exploitative fiction from the pages of “Men’s Magazines” of the 1950s through the 1970s. This time around, they focus on the art and the ballyhoo of extreme biker-oriented covers and stories from such trashy magazines. This is quite an interesting genre….it combines the pulpy, seamy side of cheap detective magazines with the racy color and adolescent fantasy world of the “adventure” pulps of earlier decades, mixed with the imagery and tone of the “roughie” exploitation films. It’s the perfect reading for some small-town guy working at a tire shop looking for an escape from the drudgery of dirty ten-hour work days and going home to a grungy furnished room he’d be embarrassed to bring a date home to….or the 18-year old stuck in the army overseas or in some isolated post in the rural US separated from family and friends and needing a cheap thrill that won’t require him to later get a shot of penicillin.
Deis and Doyle have assembled 100+ pages of sweaty, colorful, violent, sleazy images and taglines from an underbelly of American publishing that does not get celebrated yet filled a void in many lives for decades. It’s wall-to-wall over-the-top Biker Sleaze from an era when people still read “fiction” (whether or not it was being passed off as first-person reportage or memoir).
I’m too young to have been much of a reader of this stuff during its heyday, but I did get to own a few as a child, which I kept somewhere in my closet. At the “Convenient Food Mart” down the street from me when I was 8-11 or so, I would buy comics with the covers ripped off from the store’s “private” backroom for a nickel, or even less. These were books that merchant sent back the covers on to get a credit from the publisher, and they were supposed to destroy them, but the temptation to make a few extra illicit bucks by selling them to regulars who’d keep their mouths shut was too great (these small shop-owners work on a small profit margin) As a kid who was a regular customer, a known quantity to the merchant, someone who bought comic books but had little money (I always paid in change), I was the perfect mark for the “hey kid, I’ve got some cheaper things in the back room here, want to take a look” sales pitch. The comics were in one pile or box (it’s too long ago to clearly remember), but maybe ten feet from there were the “adult” trashy mags like TRUE ADVENTURES or MAN’S CONQUEST or FOR MEN ONLY. I know I was too young to buy, or even look at these things, but a few times when I was left alone in the back room to forage through the comics, I did slip one of these in with my comics, and when the clerk tallied up my total, he saw them and never said a thing. Just charged me my sixty-two cents, or whatever. I later traded these ripped-cover men’s sleaze mags to someone for comics while in junior high school, but I do remember that they had a grungy, forbidden quality to them….and I was so young, the adult content meant little to me. I preferred the action to the sex at that age.
Looking through this collection at the covers that managed to capture so much action and so much promise, it’s amazing what your fifty cents would buy. Like a carny or an exploitation film, your money would take you into the world behind the curtain, and like those, the product often did not live up to the hype, but that did not matter. For a brief period, you’d gone over some imaginary line into a realm of danger.
Hardcore porn and explicit gore films pretty much killed this genre by the mid-70’s, and these mags used to glut the flea markets and seedy junk stores of the 1980’s. I probably skimmed past hundreds if not thousands of them looking for Charlton Comics or old issues of CREEM, but now, like so much that was once thought to be disposable, the mags are actively collected, people talk online about assembling complete runs of various mags, etc.
However, no need to dirty your hands or bid on Ebay…..the cream of the genre has been collected here in all its noisy and garish glory. With so many outrageous titles on every cover, you can create your own stories in your mind: PLEASURE CABIN GIRLS OF THE HIGH SEAS SIN ROUTES; RAMPAGING OUTLAW ANGELS AND THEIR LOVE-BLAST MAMAS; THE BIKE BRUTES; TEEN KICKS OF THE HELL-ON-WHEELS SEX SET; DEATH RUN THROUGH BLOW-UP ALLEY.
In an attractive, quality 8×11 format with eye-popping color and outrageous combinations of sleaze-and-violence terms mixed together in the story titles, this book definitely delivers a lot of bang for your buck. It certainly gets MY highest recommendation.
The publisher’s announcement for the book can be found here: newtextureblog.blogspot.com/2016/09/barbarians-on-bikes-unleashed-in-two.html
And after reading that write-up, you can go directly to Amazon and order a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Barbarians-Bikes-Motorcycle-Adventure-Magazines/dp/1943444153/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474596972&sr=1-1&keywords=barbarians+on+bikes
It also makes a great gift. I may well buy a copy or two for the 1960s-1970s sleaze-loving friends in my life. Another winner from New Texture’s Men’s Adventure Series, and there are some more fine editions in the series coming in the next year….stay tuned!