“This kid approaches me to request music lessons. He wants to learn guitar and become a music star. Little Charlie is so lazy and shiftless, I doubt if he’ll put in the time required to learn. The youngster has been in institutions all of his life first orphanages, then reformatories, and finally federal prison. His mother, a prostitute, was never around to look after him. I decide it’s time someone did something for him, and to my surprise, he learns quickly. He has a pleasant voice and a pleasing personality, although he’s unusually meek and mild for a convict. He never has a harsh word to say and is never involved in even an argument." - Alvin "Creepy" Karpis on Charles Manson's interest in music
MOBS AND GANGS
Vol. 2 No. 1
Stories, Layouts and Press, Inc.
Publisher: Myron Fass
Associate Publisher: Irving Fass
Editors: Ken Diamond, Shelton Ivany, Bruce Foster
Art Director: Joseph D'Amato
Cover price: $1.50
I always want to take a shower after looking at a Myron Fass magazine. There's something about the rough looking, unsophisticated appearance of the things that remind me of spending time in a dive somewhere off the midway playing poker with a group of greasy, beer-bellied losers. Still, it is this exact same thing that makes them endlessly fascinating.
Take for instance today's offering. There's nothing savory about mobs, gangsters, rape and murder. But the subject matter is as compelling as a bright shiny thing to a crow; we are helplessly drawn to it... well, I am, anyway.
This is the second of four issues of MOBS AND GANGS, the last known number being published in June 1978. Judging from the bared breast shown on the cover it is quite likely that this title found itself stuffed in with the men's adventure magazine section of the newsstand. And what starts off with a pretty basic "true crime" magazine, the type of which was both ubiquitous and popular in the day, it descends quickly into cheesy, titillating fare that seemed to be aimed solely at readers of the perverse.
All one has to do is browse through the pages of advertising: the inside front cover -- innocuous enough with WWII memorabilia for sale -- is fairly typical. But not far into the issue are full-page ads for porno films, "sex aids", and not one, but two "electronic everything" love dolls. Also typical of Myron Fass titles such as this, are the number of photos that accompany a couple of the articles with posed shots of bare-breasted, near-naked girls in the midst of being threatened, beat up and violated.
The lead article is the story of Alvin Karpis. Nicknamed "Creepy" because of his unsettling stare, Karpis was a "member" of the infamous Ma Barker gang of thieves and murderers. During his stretch in prison, he bumped into one Charlie Manson and the two were said to have struck up a friendship. Karpis learned that Manson had delusions of grandeur as a pop music star and fed his fantasy by teaching him the guitar. Karpis didn't think much of the prison pipsqueak's obsession, but at least it was something for him to do. There is no mention of Manson in this article and it ends with Karpis "living out his days" in Canada after being released. The truth is, he emigrated and died in Spain after his stay in Canada.
Another article, "The Hottest Ice In Town", is about a California beach bum who went by the name of "Murph the Surf". Jack Roland Murphy was also a con man and murderer and has the dubious distinction of taking part in the largest jewel heist in history. Along with a pair of accomplices, he lifted the J.P Morgan collection of the famous Star of India sapphire, the Eagle Diamond and the de Long Ruby from New York's American Museum of Natural History. The geniuses of crime were apprehended three days later. The famous caper was later filmed by AIP and starred Robert Conrad, Don Stroud (as Murph) and Donna Mills. At 80 years of age, today Murphy is preaching the ministry to prison inmates.
Other articles with titles like "Never Rape a Gangster's Gal" and "Female Savages - A Girl Gang Member", round out the issue. A pulp curiosity if there ever was one.
So, without further ado, here is the first part of MOBS AND GANGS in all its tarnished glory. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go wash my hands.