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The Whatsisname Collection

August 26, 2009

A number of years ago there was a place called A&S Magazines on 40th Street behind the Port Authority, which sold used magazines. One week I went in there and they had this particular collection of magazines, boxes and boxes of them, which they were selling quite cheap, because they had all been defaced. A gentleman in Connecticut had been buying magazines- mostly men’s magazines- for several decades, from the forties to the early seventies- and deconstructing them. He would take them apart, and then he would make a new magazine from the remnants of several, arranging the pages to highlight certain stories and downplay others. He would staple the pages back into the cover, and then he would cross out whatever stories weren’t in his version with a wax pencil. Finally he would stamp his name on the cover and number the whole thing, presumably for his “library.”

Even though vintage, these oddly shaped, crude reassemblages really wouldn’t appeal to many people. Obviously I bought as many as I could, somewhere between three and four hundred- they were quite cheap, especially for a source of reference and inspiration that has been so central. Being a sensible person, I took apart his assemblages, and put the pages into plastic binders, where I could study them properly.

On earlier covers from the fifties, the defacement is quite severe, with very little text left.Picture 16
Picture 14

But towards the end of the sixties, when text-heavy covers become more common, the wax-pencil corrections are gone, as if he’s acknowledged the futility of his task. It’s funny about his name stamp, too- I can’t read it. Buechel? Breskol?

Picture 15

These magazines seem both innocent and sinister now. And the randomness of their presentation in the “new author’s” version accentuates the confusion.

Picture 33

Picture 32

I’ll be scanning more of the pages and covers and putting them here: http://mkupperman2.wordpress.com/magazines-the-whatsisname-collection/

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13 comments

  1. Those are freakin’ brilliant. Thanks for sharing them


  2. I think another reason they were so cheap was because the owner of A&S died and his son didn’t know what to do with the business.


  3. Amazing. Thank you very much for writing about it.

    Where do you keep all these boxes though? Your other half must be very tolerant.


    • Separate studio! She’s not that tolerant of mountains of old paper… and rightly so…


  4. These are outstanding. Y’all might like this collection of old trash novel covers – if you can get hold of a copy, there’s some ace illustrations in it: http://tiny.cc/sTByy


  5. Those are so awesome. I love stuff like that. I wish they still made magazines like that…a daring mishmash of sex, monsters, war, and space adventure for the sophisticated gadabout!

    Thanks for sharing them! :)


  6. Amazing stuff.
    To echo the comments above, thanks for sharing them!


  7. […] Michael Kupperman’s collection of mutilated men’s magazines of the fifties and sixties. […]


  8. These are great Michael. I don’t know about deassembling deassemblages though…


    • If you could’ve seen them you would’ve understood…


  9. Wow… It’s the kind of thing I’d do with artistic purposes, but this guy seems to have done this with some kind of practical purpose. I wonder what he meant to achieve with that.

    Thanks for rescuing these from being recycled into toilet paper. They’re priceless.


  10. If I’d known about this when I was doing Sex Collectors I would surely have found a place for it. We should communicate more often.


  11. Loved A&S. Love these. Good question Daniel, would love to be able to discern the thought process behind these, or if whatshisname carried over his “creative impulses” into other parts of his life.

    Book? Yes please.



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