I’m finally paying attention to Metal Box, even though I’ve known about it for almost 30 years. When I was in high school, I walked into one of my favorite record stores, and on the new-arrivals wall sat something that looked like a film canister. It turned out to be a new record by Public Image Limited. I only knew about PiL because I knew about the Sex Pistols.
Metal Box caught my eye because I’m a collector at heart, and after picking it up and taking a closer look, I knew the thing would be worth something, some day. Since it was an import, and the records were really was housed in a metal container, it was expensive — way beyond the means of a typical, 17-year-old collector. And while I loved Never Mind The Bullocks, I wasn’t so sure about anything PiL recorded…so I passed. Until 4 Men With Beards reissued Metal Box a few years ago. I immediately snatched it up, but never broke Metal Box out of its metal box…until now.
Isn’t it great to “discover” something wonderful…even though you’ve kinda known about it a long time?
I like to fire up my record player while I write, and I finally pulled Metal Box for a listen. I’m no music critic, but I think I have pretty good taste, so I’ll just tell you Metal Box is timeless. Which is to say it sounds as fresh and exciting as it did when it was made over 30 years ago…in the same way Never Mind The Bullocks stands the test of time.
I didn’t start collecting smut until I started peddling it. I didn’t care about porn’s history until I was directing it, and when I started directing, I started collecting vintage smut — the Robert Harrison publications (especially with Driben covers: Titter, Beauty Parade, Flirt, Wink; loose vintage photos too, especially Bettie Page (who doesn’t love Bettie?).
So one day I’m arm-deep in a box full of loose photos in a favorite San Francisco Honey Hole (a good scout never divulges spots to score), and I pull a few pictures I liked. Then, I check the back to see how they’re priced. Which is when I discover the very best vintage photos I’ve ever found, and not cause they’re Bettie…or they’re priced too cheap. After I spent hours picking, and I wound up pulling maybe 50 pictures.
(Take a quick look at the bottom of today’s blog entry, then scroll back up.)
Each picture (herein referred to as “Nolans”) was numbered and date-stamped in black ink (the 1.50 was the store’s price). Then, in red ink, we get owner information (maybe too much for a porno collection? As if Mr. Nolan actually thought someone would return his pictures if lost/stolen?!) Below that, in pencil and in almost perfect penmanship, either an odd sort of description for the girl/post/photo or some dialogue formated like a movie script: you can read the one I showed you. Then, below that, denoted with a small red circle (in pen) a sort-of categorical note. And, below that, the very most important information of all: the model’s name.
Don’t you wonder if “Joyce” — the model in our photo — had the same daddy issues…the same addiction issues…the same over-bearing, religious, right-wing whacky parents…the same abandonment issues…the exact same kind of issues todays’ models have?
The best part of this story comes when I’m paying for my stack of pictures: “What do you know about this guy David C. Nolan?” I asked. The store clerk didn’t know much. “You don’t have any more of these laying around, do you?”
I was out of luck.
“Did you guys have a lot of these?”
The clerk looked up at me and said, “there’s a whole lot of Nolans floating around. We got them from the flea market down in Pasadena a while back, and the person we bought them from said he’d been selling them for years. Apparently, when Mr. Nolan passed, his wife went down to the basement for the first time to see what was down there. The basement was strictly off-limits to her, so he dies, she goes down there, and to her horror she discovers files and files of these.”
“Files and files?” I repeated.
The clerk looked up at me and said cooly, “Three hundred thousand. Give or take.”
My draw dropped. “You mean like…a quarter million Nolans?”
The clerk nodded his head. “She was so embarrassed she didn’t even sell them. She just gave them to the first person who agreed to haul the whole lot out of her basement.”
I didn’t know whether to gasp — or laugh. I think I did both. “And each one of them had the same kind of information on the back?”
The clerk nodded his head.
“But it must have taken at least 5 or 10 minutes a picture to number and stamp them, and then come up with these whacky sayings, and then label them as to whether or not the girl shows beaver…and then finally add the model’s name. And do it all really neatly.”
The clerk nodded his head.
I left and headed next door for some of the finest fish and chips San Francisco has to offer.
When I sat down to listen to Metal Box and write this, it didn’t even occur to me to Google “David C. Nolan” and see what else I could find on one of The World’s Greatest Perverts until right now. So if you Google just his name, nothing but lawyers and LinkedIn shit. If you add his name and “porn collection” or “vintage smut” or “porn” — still nothing. Take out all that and plop in his address on Webster Street…and BINGO!
So, in addition to the girls you could only buy from the back of Titter and Wink and Beauty Parade and Flirt, Mr. Nolan really, really, really liked Marilyn.
But that’s about it, really. Nothing more that I can find about the mysterious pervert David C. Nolan. If my San Francisco sales clerk is correct — and they’re experts in the vintage smut arena — I can’t believe there aren’t more people writing about Mr. Nolan’s oddly-fascinating inscriptions on the back of vintage girly pics.
Or, maybe I’m the only one as whacky as him who gives a shit.
The blogger who found the Nolan’s Marilyn collection first speculates Nolan himself shot the photos, and after dismissing that says “….others are convinced David C. Nolan was a publicist, as the backs of the images contain quotes and vital information, although, these are not typical statements and remain unattributed.” She also thinks, “I can only assume David C. Nolan was a lonely man whose obsessive behavior became evident while labeling his Marilyn Monroe collection. There is sadness in this activity that isn’t dissimilar from the life of the actress portrayed in these photographs.”
If only she knew about the quarter-million other pictures in Mr. Nolan’s collection.
So here’s my take: David C. Nolan was a white collar pervert (doctor, lawyer, CPA, ad man) who was stuck in a miserable marriage and spent way too much time sitting in his basement working on his picture collection: work that included labeling and cataloging and filing…and finishing it off with something very special.
Additional masturbation fodder.
I’ll go ahead and add impeccable masturbation fodder (both in penmanship and with wit and humorous double-entendres) which pushed his buttons in ways only David C. Nolan knew how to push; cause, after all, that’s what masturbation is all about.
Pushing your own buttons.
And no, he wasn’t addicted to porn…cause that’s impossible; however, being addicted to Avoiding-Your-Wife-At-All-Costs is a whole other matter.