Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tell Your Children!

I was pleasantly surprised when doing some poster archeology the other day, and discovered this: A Swedish daybill ("stolpe") for Mom and Dad, under the title Din Kropp är Din ("Your Body is Yours"). Kroger Babb's revolutionary "sex education" roadshow picture gave many exploitation greats their start in the business as it toured America in the 1940's (and of course the same fearless young showman later brought some Swedish sensations to the US!). Babb's strategy was to set up tents outside cities, whip up interest in the shocking scenes to be seen, and do segregated screenings for men and women! The ticket take was part of the profit, but even more was had with the "educational booklets" as evangelized by the "eminent hygiene commentator" Dr. Elliot Forbes, in a rousing speech during the intermission. There were literally dozens of "Dr. Forbes" traveling the country, and one of the was none other than Colonel David F. Friedman, later to revolutionize the exploitation film world himself together with Herschell Gordon Lewis, through the early "nudie cutie" Lucky Pierre, and even more important, the first "gore movie", Blood Feast. When Friedman visited Gothenburg for the Something Weird 2000 tour in 1999, he regaled the audience at the Draken Cinema with a full Forbes routine, and always with an eye on the bottom line, he thoughtfully brought some pamphlets to sell too! I have not seen them but I am sure Swedish-language books were also printed - it was part of the business model - as was, as is apparent from the Swedish poster, sex-segregated screenings. And just as in America, the main selling point is the sensational final reel, containing "the miracle of birth"! I wonder who the Swedish Dr. Elliot Forbes was, and if there perhaps was another one working the country side while the film was playing at the China Theater in Stockholm?

For the full story on Mom and Dad, I recommend Joe Bob Briggs' excellent essay Kroger Babb's Roadshow, and his book Profoundly Disturbing.

Apparently this was not an isolated event. I also excavated this Swedish one-sheet for Test Tube Babies, a rather more blatant piece of smut masquerading as education. A racy poster for "the sensational American film about artificial insemination", and I wonder what exactly the people in the inset photographs have to do with such a clinical procedure? Anyway, it is good to know that Sweden had its fair share of "fearless young showmen", even though they did not quite approach the mastery of Babb himself.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Oh, man. Those are fantastic finds and especially the second one, to me. It's a beauty. All the Babb paper is a must and a treasure to come across!