The 6 Most Insane Covers in the History of Old Magazines

"Stag mags" were lifestyle publications in a time when "puberty" was an affectionate nickname for the draft and women could only vote if they balanced on a man's shoulders so it could be said that they technically had a penis between their legs. Stags were also called "sweat mags," and had names like MALE, REAL MEN, and KEN FOR MEN, because sexuality, like time, is a circle, and if you go too far straight, you find yourself right back at gay again.

Their covers were universally badass: stubbly, desperate men absolutely destroying nature, callously drawn minorities, and the flimsy shirts of women with equal frenzy. Their titles were always spelled out in brutal, hard-edged fonts with gigantic consonants you could peel off the page and use to bludgeon a communist to death.

And their teaser headlines promised grand tales of intrigue, murder, eroticism, and intriguingly murderous eroticism -- which is too bad, because we'll never actually read the stories they were teasing. Stag mags were cheap throw-away publications that did not stand the test of time, and most of their contents are impossible to find these days. All we really have left are these ridiculous cover scans. So we'll just have to deduce, to the best of our ability, what those headlines are so desperately trying to tell us in between their uncontrollable bouts of Testosterone Tourette's.

This installment will focus solely on ACTION FOR MEN magazine. And you're probably just going to have to trust me that these are all real, unless you want to type "action for men" into your browser and learn all about the best ways to get plowed by a trucker in the bathroom of a Red Robin.

#6. White-Girls Are the Scourge of the Earth

Basic logic dictates that the cover illustration has something to do with one of the teaser headlines, right? This one is probably depicting some part of "Jet Stream Joy Girl" -- an insurmountably random slurry of English that would be more at home on the back of a cartoon-themed Japanese vibrator. And while the promise of Vespa-riding harlots gunning down hippies at the baggage claim is certainly intriguing, it's the little headline at the bottom right that I keep coming back to.

If you had the balls to suggest a copy editor to the hard-bitten, J. Jonah Jameson-esque manager of one of these magazines back in the day, I'm certain you'd find that your smug liberal college education had been smacked right out of your face before you even finished the sentence. But still, the phrasing there -- "'Avenging Angel' of Africa's White-Girl Massacre" -- is so clumsy that it leaves the sentence open to two completely different interpretations. Somebody is avenging a massacre of white-girls that took place in Africa, or else somebody is avenging the massacre that white-girls have enacted upon Africa. And judging by the cover -- those scantily clad trollops pulling drive-bys on the bleary-eyed customers of Delta 443 -- I'm inclined to believe the latter. Those murderous white-girls went too far this time, and now it's up to Hell-Diver O'Shea to avenge the dark continent the only way he knows how: with his penis.

Hey, they don't call him "Hell-Diver" because he "goes deep" in the ocean.

#5. Sex Crimes and Doubloons

Everything in this magazine is naked and in trouble. Look at those headlines: from "The Nude Captives of Guerilla Island" to "The Cycle Nymphs Who Stalk America." This is apparently the special Pantsless Crime Edition of ACTION FOR MEN. Hell, even inanimate objects aren't making it out of this issue with their orifices intact. They ain't just pillaging that treasure, friend ...

I'm not making any tasteless jokes here. Treasure rape is a serious crime. Every 12 minutes, somebody puts their dick in a crown and says, "Kneel before the king!" Please, donate what you can now. Here's Sarah McLachlan:

"In the aaaarms of an aaaangeeeeel ..."

#4. Just a Literary Beard for Porn

Well, this seems straightforward enough: The cover is just depicting a thrilling tableau of wartime escape complete wi- wait, what's that in the upper right?

Well, I suppose that's straightforward enough, too: This is a story about pornography. "Dr. Cream and the Nighttime Girls of London" is the most clear and unabashed porn title since I Am Going to Fuck You IV: The Fuckening.

No, don't Google that; I know it sounds awesome, but trust me: The Fuckening takes that no-nonsense approach throughout the entire film. Just 45 straight minutes of quietly unhappy missionary beneath a coverless duvet.

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Robert Brockway

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