The Best of the World’s Worst

Stan Lee

With only the universal constant “Bad Taste + Good Marketing = Big Money” to guide them, Rhino has found its niche—and they’re working it with the same thoroughness and determination as the most rapacious clear-cutting or strip-mining juggernaut.
The Best of the World’s Worst marks Rhino’s entry into the arena of the printed word, and it’s a title that seems almost too perfectly suited to the task. Although the book is credited to Marvel Comics mastermind Stan Lee, a team of over 20 less-famous researchers actually did most of the work, scouring all of the available literature and then some (The Guinness Book, The Book of Lists and even Statistical Abstracts of the United States) to present the lowest of the low, from “The Worst Mass Killing of Civilians” to “The Worst Addiction to Hamburgers.” Who needs the thrill of victory when the agony of defeat is so much more satisfying to snicker at, as long as it’s at the expense of others?
As arbitrary as some of the categories are (“The Worst Reason for a Married Couple To Stab One Another,” “The Worst Costliest Album”), much of The Best of the World’s Worst is surprisingly funny. Funny, that is, until you make the mistake of actually reading any of Stan Lee’s “entertaining one-liners” that unfortunately follow every anecdote. Guess they had to let him do something in order to use his name on the cover, but these italicized cheap shots are so embarrassingly bad they make the gangly guy that hosts America’s Funniest Home Videos seem like a comedic genius in comparison. ‘Nuff said? DB

Publisher: General
Paperback: 191 pages

Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend

Karen Essex and James L. Swanson

Among the many books available on the memorably beautiful Bettie Page, this one is written with her cooperation, providing a unique glimpse into her childhood and early adult years before and after she became a model. The resurrection of the icon of Bettie Page over the last 10 years and the assimilation of her image as a pop culture phenomenon is also thoroughly examined. Her own insights and reflections on her life provide a poignant foil to the pop culture myth of Bettie Page and her enduring allure and influence in style and fashion. The numerous illustrations depict the canon of Bettie’s actual work (including many of her classic bondage poses, nude beach poses and swimwear modeling) and contemporary derivative art, fashion and invented scenarios inspired by her vulpine body, raven hair and captivating smile. Forward by Bettie Page. MM

Publisher: General
Hardback: 288 pages

Va Va Voom! Bombshells, Pin-Ups, Sexpots and Glamour Girls

Steve Sullivan

A veritable Plutarch’s Lives of “Bombshells, Pin-Ups, Sexpots, and Glamour Girls,” this book is a compendium of feminine pulchritude, lushly illustrated with hundreds of suggestive black-and-white and color photographs. The author’s thorough research clearly documents both the life stories and all of the major media appearances of his subjects. This surprisingly serious study of the fates of variously famous, notorious and nearly forgotten women ranges from the depths of the downwardly mobile, the dead, the washed-up, the forgotten, the bankrupt, the drug-addicted and the recovered, to such heights as fame as a still-respected sex symbol; an older exercise maven; working actresses; employment in late-night TV, or porn; coverage in magazines; the conventions, periodic revivals cult followings; and posthumous fame.
This book is a social history of the sexual mores, the exuberance and the darker side of post-war America. Va Va Voom! captures the irony that some women like Julie Newmar can achieve fame, happiness and success spanning decades while others like Marilyn Monroe achieve more fame through their unhappy lives and tragic deaths. The anecdotes alone are positively riveting. For example, it tells of stripper Candy Barr’s associations with Jack Ruby, Mickey Cohen and Hugh Hefner; Tempest Storm’s career as a stripper and Bunny Yeager’s transition from pin-up to photographer. A must-have for any aficionado of popular culture or any man who reached puberty between World War II and Vietnam. MM

Publisher: General
Paperback: 200 pages

From Rags to Bitches: My Glamorous Life

Mr. Blackwell

“Mr. Blackwell holds nothing back in this intriguing account of his life and loves. The real story of the man behind the infamous ‘Worst-Dressed List’ is an incredible one, filled with glittering characters and star encounters, sacrifice and suicide attempts, hard work and disappointments, spanning more than 50 years of Hollywood glamor.”

Publisher: General
Hardback: 384 pages