Oh bugger it. I’m not giving up this blog. Not when the world wide web has stuff like this that one must make a note of and share.

Girl wearing shred of something from January 1936 cover of Spicy Detective

Sex in Detective Fiction – Do’s and Don’ts (1935) 
by Frank Armer, publisher of Spicy Detective magazine

(with notes and emphases from yours truly)

  1. In describing breasts of a female character, avoid anatomical descriptions. (NOTE FROM ME: I feel this is a good tip, no matter what you’re writing)
  2. If it is necessary for the story to have the girl give herself to a man, do not go too carefully into the details. You can lead up to the actual consummation, but leave the rest up to the reader’s imagination. This subject should be handled delicately and a great deal can be done by implication and suggestion.
  3. Whenever possible, avoid complete nudity of the female characters. You can have a girl strip to her underwear, or transparent negligee, or nightgown, or the thin torn shred of her garments, but while the girl is alive and in contact with a man, we do not want complete nudity.
  4. A nude female corpse is allowable, of course. (NOTE FROM ME: I love the ‘of course’. As though female corpses are in the habit of popping up in the nude while men are more inclined to dress up and die/ get killed.)
  5. Also, a girl undressing in the privacy of her own room, but when men are in the action try to keep at least a shred of something on the girls.
  6. Do not have men in underwear in scenes with women, and no nude men at all. (NOTE FROM ME: Which means men in detective stories can just take off their shirts. And hats, given it’s from the 1930s. I’m most intrigued by this disinclination to show men in underwear. Did the actors refuse? Were they afraid of being judged?)

Let’s not forget what a brilliant name this magazine had: Spicy Detective. I’m imagining Hindi  (Masaledaar Jasoos), Bengali (it probably should be Roshalo Goenda but I like the more literal Jhal-jhal Goenda) and Marathi (Zanzaneet Jasoos) editions of this publication. Thank you, Lists of Note.

6 thoughts on “Detected

  1. this advice hasn’t gone out of date i think. I really dont like reading about sex in detail. It feels more invasive than watching it on screen. Like someones grubby hand is swirling around in my brain,

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