Friday, June 18, 2010

"Amputated"-- Could a Sordid 1930's Comic, Be the Source of Bonnie Parker Rumor??

2010 has been a good year for Bonnie & Clyde revelations. To me, it's felt like Christmas many times this year. And just as I was about to reveal perhaps the most important 2010 B&C revelations to date, I open a seemingly innocent e-mail. I receive many e-mails regarding B&C, but this one captured my attention to the point-- I wanted to offer a post and comment concerning this subject right away. I've chosen to save much time here, by posting some useful links which delve into the fascinating and seedy world of Tijuana Bibles.

These anonymously drawn and sexually explicit short comic expressions, were apparently underground favorites for decades-- including the depression riddled years of the 1930's. These no holds barred erotic comics, not only provided spoofs of many existing comic strip characters-- but sometimes parodied true life individuals as well. It seems movie stars and other famous people, were fair game to be exploited as subject matter for Tijuana Bibles. Dillinger had one-- so did Cary Grant and Dorothy Lamour. Clark Gable, William Powell & Mirna Loy, Esther Williams, George Raft, Gracie Allen and Robert Mitchum-- were also targets of these sordid expressions. Even the affable Robert Young, had a Tijuana Bible title. This brings us to our topic for this post.

It's been made known to me, that a Tijuana Bible exists for Bonnie Parker. The cover art for this old time comic, has been cataloged along with other B&C media pieces-- however it's likely rare, to find an intact "adulterated" version of this B&C relic. This undated 8 page glimpse into racy 1930's consciousness-- is titled "Amputated". A PDF of this recently obtained original Tijuana Bible was e-mailed to me, along with the educational links posted.

B&C forums all have their own standards for content and discussion-- as I have standards here. Based on the raw explicitness of this comic material and out of respect for the Parker family-- I've chosen not to provide an open link to "Amputated" within The B&CHB. However as I support full disclosure concerning B&C materials, I will provide a copy of this Bonnie Parker Tijuana Bible in PDF form-- to all who e-mail me requesting one. And to be fair, a disclaimer is also provided. **Please note-- the content of this Tijuana Bible portrayal of Bonnie Parker is blatantly sexual and explicit. Some may be offended by it's content or depiction of Bonnie-- but all will be enlightened, concerning the survival of this historically relevant parody. There-- now with that behind us, I make these observations.

As I've often made a point to discuss B&C sexual rumor and innuendo-- in viewing this fascinating BP Tijuana Bible, I wonder where the openly torrid "Amputated" fits within existing rumors concerning Bonnie Parker promiscuity?? With this is mind, an intriguing question can be asked-- could a sordid 1930's comic, actually "be" the source of Bonnie Parker sexual rumor?? It's seems obvious, that "Amputated" clearly spells out the inference that Bonnie has trouble being satisfied sexually. Thus a link could be made between this spoof of Bonnie, and the rumors advanced over the years-- concerning her sexual appetite. To some, "Amputated" could be viewed as a damning reflection on Bonnie, but in real terms-- this 8 page piece of old style smut, may serve best to reveal itself, as perhaps the source of decades of rumor. So which came 1st, rumors to inspire "Amputated"-- or the underground comic itself??

After 76 years, there doesn't seem to be verifiable evidence to support claims of Bonnie being a loose woman. Maybe for some in today's reality driven world, where truth is often contrived-- these B&C rumors are convincing enough to count as fact. But the "facts" as I see them concerning B&C sexual rumors, are such that no empirical evidence seems available-- to support these innuendos which so many may wish to be true, but have not been substantiated.
You would think if facts could be shown to demonstrate these realities, someone would have made the case by now. Instead as if by osmosis, these rumors just seem to seep into our collective consciousness from sources unknown. There are clues (or maybe not)-- within obscure references which live within literary expressions and seedy cartoons. But I would ask-- where is the proof, the smoking gun-- the 1st hand testimony to back these B&C rumors which are professed?? It's truly not good enough, for these rumors to be touted as "reality"-- without any discernible source!!

I don't have a hard time believing that people in the past, would have been crass enough to spread these rumors-- without evidence to back them up. But I do have a hard time believing, that if there really was something to B&C sexual innuendo, that some evidence wouldn't have surfaced by now. Perhaps the opposite is indeed the reality-- no sources-- no truth-- just playful/hurtful rumor, created by a free and loose press, some crime rag, an underground cartoonist-- or a B&C author just to be sensational. But that never happens does it?? The true untold stories of Bonnie and Clyde, are always told straight up aren't they??

It's strange enough concerning these rumors of Bonnie promiscuity. But what about the rumor of Clyde being homosexual. Where is the proof for that assertion as well?? You would think that an author with the credentials of a John Toland, would diligently verify his sources for any info he used-- including rumors?? The fact that a Pulitzer Prize winner, didn't or couldn't defend innuendos he decided to include within his only book on the criminal element of the '30's-- may speak volumes, concerning these stories perhaps just being rumors. Toland's book The Dillinger Days along with it's B&C references, was published in 1963-- long after any notion of politeness or sugar coating would need to be employed. Where are the footnotes??-- where are the facts for these assertions??

Perhaps Toland was a closet fan of Tijuana Bible humor??-- or just ran with stories passed down from others who were?? Could a dash of Tijuana Bible "shock value"-- together with a pinch of sensationalized fodder, combine to form the recipe for 3/4's of a century of scurrilous rumor?? Is that what this is really all about?? Or perhaps there's something to all this scuttlebutt?? Were earlier literary references, passed down without regard for the truth-- or is the truth still unknown?? I"m still asking where is the evidence??-- which for these self perpetuating rumors, seems not to exist.

Many like to hang their hats on the gossip within this history, without caring to examine what is actually known. Yes the gossip is known too-- but should innuendo carry equal weight, as accounts documented from credible sources?? That's the nature of evidence vs hearsay. Some people seem to relish hearsay concerning B&C, and bandy it about-- as if excited over some new phone app. A fair question to ask of these individuals might be-- would "they" want hearsay to be the standard applied in court-- should they become involved in some issue where the truth needs to be known?? The B&C families would likely and unanimously support B&C-- which is understandable. But surely with enemies having been out there, if evidence "was" available to support nefarious activities for B&C-- doesn't anyone feel some real evidence would be known??

I wonder why there's not a Tijuana Bible for Clyde being gay, if that was so believed back in the day-- like the one for Cary Grant?? Wouldn't a Clyde Barrow homosexual rumor, have made for a spectacular and juicy underground Tijuana Bible?!? I would bet so. I don't know-- all of these rumors just seem perpetuated without any real source, as if by smoke & mirrors. So does that make these rumors less relevant??-- or should we be digging to discover the truth regarding these sexual innuendos as well?? Perhaps "Amputated" is the answer to this Bonnie Parker mystery?? It's hard to know for sure, but I guarantee you one thing-- with this post up, those interested in B&C sexual rumors will flock here. "Yea Baby"!! But even though this topic needs to be addressed, as I've asked before-- sex sells, but at what cost to B&C History??? My approach is to go right at these fascinations-- to make people think-- and question what standards of truth should be applied to this history?? I welcome your comments.


BarefootOkieGal said...

I think that most of the rumors about Bonnie being promiscuous come from people ASSUMING that a woman living in such close proximity with men MUST be sleeping with them. After the Grapevine killings, Bonnie was viewed as a murderer just as Clyde was, and I think that made her fair game for people to go on the attack; it must be remembered that although women were generally treated by the law as if they were less culpable than men were for the same crimes, once a woman had "crossed the line" into what was regarded as being a man's crime, I believe that woman was considered fair game for any rumor. In other words, because people believed Bonnie to be a cold-blooded killer, they allowed themselves to go ahead and imagine every other bad thing that she could possibly be (promiscuous, disease-ridden, a nasty cigar-smoking tramp) because obviously, if one commits one crime against society, that means they care nothing for any of society's conventions, in the eyes of some people.

Some people use Bonnie's poems to "prove" that she was a prostitute and that she had lived a pretty steamy life. It seems to me that Bonnie had a good ear for mimicry, and a good imagination, and my opinion that the poetry that was written depicting the lives of prostitutes and hard-bitten gun molls were written from her imagination as to the type of lives these girls lived, without any real-life experience behind them. It's a distinct possibility that Bonnie did know some streetwalkers; I believe that when she was working as a waitress, they may have been some of the "hard-luck" cases to which she was known to give free food or meals. In return she may have listened to their stories and attempted to put them into her poetry.

As far as Clyde being homosexual - if he were homosexual and anyone had any inkling, they would not have viewed him as any type of threat or master criminal - they would have viewed him as a sissy and he would most definitely have not have been the "leader" of the gang; no self-respecting criminal of the day would let a fairly small homosexual man tell him what to do!

I tend to believe W.D. Jones in his Playboy interview, when he had nothing really to lose by repeating old rumors - he didn't think Bonnie was promiscuous, and he definitely did not think Clyde was gay. In his opinion, Clyde was a dominant heterosexual man, and Bonnie was Clyde's woman, and no one would have dared to make any passes at Bonnie, as that would have been an ultimate sign of disrespect for Clyde, and I don't believe Clyde would have put up with that.

I'm not surprised about the Bonnie Parker comic book - they'd make those books about ANYTHING!!! (I have actually seen some of those books, and wish I had grabbed them up - I'll bet they're worth money to collectors, now!)

BarefootOkieGal said...

It seems to me that people published material of that type with only one thought in mind - "Let's filth it up so that folks'll find it titillating!" - an example would be of the books based on comic books; while they are based on "real" fictional characters of the time, their actions were straight out of the fevered imaginations of these early pornsters. In my opinion, these books that were based on a real, live person were not intended as accurate depictions of their behavior, but rather they were based on sheer fantasy and marketed to people who liked to imagine famous people (movie stars, well-known gangsters, and who knows? Perhaps politicians!) doing the nasty in many imaginative ways.

So - which came first, the fantasies or the rumors? That's still hard to determine. Still - it's interesting that Bonnie was considered a fair candidate for this treatment, but Clyde was not! If there were rumors of his being homosexual, those still may not have made it into this format; given the time and the attitude toward homosexual activities, I don't know if they would have published such a comic! (Except for private, "specialty" markets.)

I don't think this was ever intended to portray reality, but if it were available during Bonnie's life, it would have certainly added to her bad reputation in the eyes of the community.

BarefootOkieGal said...

Considering that EVERYONE was fair game for the trade (Joe Stalin? Yep! Mussolini? Yep!) it is surprising that Clyde would not have found himself depicted in a comic as was Cary Grant; physical attractiveness doesn't seem to have had a whole lot to do with it (Stanlin?!?!? Mussolini?!?!?) - however, it's interesting that there don't seem to be either heterosexual or homosexual "comics" starring Clyde! Apparently at the time there were nasty rumors about Bonnie, thus making her fair game for this comic (I googled it - it appears to have come out in 1932) and to me the lack of a similar Clyde comic might indicate that he was not considered "interesting" enough to warrant one; it seems to me that if there were any stories going around at the time about Clyde being gay, one of these comic-makers would have taken the story and put it to good use!

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hi Cindy--

There was that Cary Grant Tijuana Bible, apparently aimed at a homosexual reference titled-- Who's a Fairy? I believe Grant was rumored for decades to be gay. I seem to remember a reference made to his gay lover, upon the lover's death a number of years back-- which may have confirmed this rumor. So I would ask-- why not a Tijuana Bible for Clyde??

I agree with your assessment on Clyde concerning respect. Rick Mattix once told me, that gay men wouldn't have been respected by other criminals during that time.

I think the important thing regarding the Bonnie rumors, is to find their earliest verifiable source. The BP Tijuana Bible could qualify. As far as the 1932 date found on the Internet-- I believe that date must be incorrect. Bonnie's famous cigar smoking pose wasn't published until after Joplin in April of 1933. I would think the earliest that comic could have been done, was after April 13th of that year.

I'm searching for the earliest literary reference, which may not be Toland's book-- although I believe Toland's work went a long way toward popularizing these rumors.

Anonymous said...

What is the earliest date we know of that anybody offered any serious speculation that Clyde was gay?

BarefootOkieGal said...

When I googled "Tijuana Bibles" and "Bonnie Parker," I found the "Amputated" comic mentioned; I also found what I think are references to OTHER Bonnie Parker "comics" - Amazon refers to one called "Cut Out," although it has no information at all about it except that it is a "Tijuana Bible" and it has the information "Series F," although whatever that might mean! (Oh, surely it doesn't mean what first comes to mind...)

A. Winston Woodward said...

That's a good question, concerning the earliest date for B&C sexual rumors. Both Bonnie & Clyde sexual inferences, seemed in full swing by the 1960's. There do seem to be earlier references, however regardless of date-- no proof of such. Those who knew B&C best deny these assertions, and without evidence to the contrary-- apparently there's nothing to support these scurrilous innuendos.

John Toland's references to B&C within his 1963 book The Dillinger Days, were said to have inspired the '67 movie-- which "addressed" the Clyde rumor, by seemingly portraying him at best as having ambiguous sexuality. The Beatty movie re-established interest in B&C-- which had waned over the years.

If anyone has proof for either B&C sexual rumor-- I like you, would like to see it. 76 years later and speaking for myself-- I don't see any verifiable proof. The fact that people are fascinated with this-- fascinates me. What troubles me, is the seeming obsession of wanting these rumors to be true. More fact and less rumor, I feel makes for a good rule to follow.

A. Winston Woodward said...

A link to The Hideout is available here, blog right>> just below the closeup of the Krag-Jorgensen carbine with the red background. Never be without Frank Ballinger's Bonnie & Clyde's Hideout. Cindy, I hope your comment that belongs with this-- hasn't floated off into some deep recess of Cyberspace. Sometimes when I push the buttons around here, odd blog things happen. Sometimes they're my fault, but other times-- well you just never know.

BarefootOkieGal said...

I don't see The Hideout post - oh, well, strange things DO happen with computers!!!

While doing my latest batch of reading about Bonnie and Clyde, I read one of the books about the movie. It appears to me that it was decided by those in charge of the movie that Clyde HAD to be portrayed as having some sort of sexual problem or deviation, for what reason I do not know. (Maybe they felt that his having some sort of sexual problems would add a little spice to the movie - who knows?) At any rate, when I read the statement that they had originally intended to portray Clyde as gay or bi-sexual and then decided to go with portraying him as impotent, I decided that there probably hadn't been anything wrong with Clyde at all (as his contemporaries will testify) and that the folks involved with the movie made up a story out of whole cloth to add to the slightly "kinky" aspect of the whole movie.

Anonymous said...

Why would Clyde have Bonnie as his constant companion when he could have been riding around with a bunch of guys? He brought her home to visit her mother when she was homesick, he had Bonnie's mother's rabbit living in his car for some time, etc. He must have cared for her.

A. Winston Woodward said...

I don't think many could argue, there's doubt concerning Bonnie & Clyde's love for one another. And regarding these sexual rumors, on both counts-- unless someone can come up with some real evidence to support them, my feeling is they're just scurrilous innuendo without foundation.

Some just like to bash B&C anyway, and will use whatever semantic weapons or rumor is available to make their case. To me, there are plenty of real facts available to make claims either pro or con regarding these outlaws. I subscribe to the logic, that the truth concerning this history lies in between the extremes. I also prefer facts-- they mean more.

I feel one thing lost within the great rumors debate, is the love shared by B&C-- which likely caused the great fascination with them to begin with. Family members have characterized their relationship as a love affair. Bonnie could not be pried away from Clyde, no matter the passion or logic-- as her love for him seemed to encompass a greater more overwhelming passion, than that of those trying to stop it. I somehow can't see these rumors, fitting in to that reality.

Also, I feel just the fact of Bonnie riding with Clyde within the scope of this murderous Gang-- intrigued those reading about them all the more. To me, the legend of B&C is as much about their love-- as about their exploits.

BarefootOkieGal said...

Winston, I agree with you that the love between Bonnie and Clyde is the reason that their legend has lasted. I think it's pathetic that when a movie was made about their lives, it was so full of innuendo and scurrilous rumors and just plain lies, that it has perhaps caused the fact that they loved one another deeply to become buried in all the other speculation about why they were together.

A man who does not love a woman does not treat her so tenderly when she is seriously injured, putting himself at risk to bring a family member to help comfort her, and continuing to travel with her even though she could no longer walk without assistance. A woman who does not love a man does not willingly put herself in jeopardy of her life and her happy hopes for the future to spend a life living in autos or sleeping in the woods, eating food that could be prepared without cooking. Bonnie had very high hopes for her life with Clyde after he got out of prison, and those never materialized, but although she had to know her dreams would not all come true, it was enough for her to be with Clyde until the end.

Even their families acknowledged the deep and loving bond between them. Perhaps people who have problems seeing all sides of a story don't want to believe that there was love holding them together, and it's easier for them to believe that there was some type of unnatural bond - that Bonnie was a gold-digger who was in it for the thrills and the money and the men, or that Clyde was a homosexual who was managing to pass himself off by being with Bonnie. For myself, I choose to believe the facts as stated by the people who knew them best - Bonnie and Clyde loved one another to the death.

joe from Canada said...

In my opinion the Tijuana Bibles as they are so called are nothing more than just than just reading and viewing aimed at a specific audience. I truly do not beleive there to be any inbedded truth just pure fascination on the part of the author placing a famous name on the cover to increase sales satifying a certain readership need . Archie and Dagwood etc also had books. I guess the fascination is ever more increased when famous people were on the cover.

The question on B&C sexuality will never be answered. As far as Bonnie's love for Clyde, are we taking her desire not to seperate as love or her own need for notiriaty and fame. I stand to be corrected but when Bonnie died she did so as Mrs Bonnie Thorton and not as Bonnie Parker. If this love for Clyde was greater than anything else why did she not divorce her husband. She could have at least taken her wedding band off. She died with her wedding band on . I realize that getting a divorce is very difficult to obtain while you are on the run from the law, but there was a time period before joining Clyde that a divorce could have been gotten.
Why am I questioning the love they had for each other when everyone around them said they loved each other like no other. Because, it invokes discussion. It is said that actions speak louder than words- the ring remains a mystery to me, as it symbolizes another relationship. Maybe it truly was the Barrow-Parker Gang. Two seperate people fullfilling the same but seperate needs that came toghether.

BarefootOkieGal said...

Joe, you do raise some interesting questions. When you read Bonnie's letters to Clyde when he was in prison, you read her hopes and dreams and plans for the future - she begs him never to do anything again to get into trouble, and tells him that they should be happy, like other boys and girls are. She wanted him to get out and get a job and settle down and more than likely have some babies. There is no indication in her letters that she wants fame and fortune; she wanted a normal life with Clyde, and I believe it was due to love that she stayed with him although she came to realize that her hopes for the future would never be realized. Bonnie may have hoped someday for fame and fortune, but in a positive way - perhaps as a singer, or some other type of performer.

As to why she didn't divorce Roy - this is another example of what was probably Bonnie's misplaced loyalty. Although he left her for longer and longer periods, she continued to hope that he'd come home; once he was arrested, she expressed the thought that it would be wrong for her to dump him when he was in jail. At that point in time, Bonnie was not thinking of remarriage. She saw no real reason to go through the hassle of a divorce and the supposed hurt that it would cause Roy in prison.

As to why she continued wearing the ring - who knows? People wear or don't wear wedding rings for lots of reasons, and I don't think we will ever know why Bonnie continued to wear Roy's ring. For all we know, she wore it because Clyde had tattoos of other women's names, and she wanted to have some visible proof, if they got into a fight (and we do know that they did fight from time to time!) that she had also had a romantic life before she met him! Now, that's just my speculation on a possible reason for Bonnie to keep wearing Roy's ring, but we'll never know.

BarefootOkieGal said...

You know what I think would be interesting? To have a forensic psychologist analyze Clyde the way they do modern criminals; I'm currently reading a book about the forensic psychology of criminal minds, and I think that a trained forensic psychologist might be able to look at Clyde's crimes and his behaviors and perhaps come up with an idea as to WHY he acted the way he did. I think that he may have had a complex of some type, but I don't think it was a sexual problem - to me, some of his actions seem to fit the "short man" syndrome; men who are small are often very quick-tempered and take offense very easily because they feel they have to prove that they are a MAN, however short they may be. It may well be that part of the reason Clyde was attracted to Bonnie was because of her small stature - small as he was, he was able to lift her and carry her and have her lean his head on his chest.

I have read that Clyde's brother, Buck, was even shorter than Clyde - and that Buck was the one to initially get Clyde into trouble, stealing chickens and cars and the like. Another example of a short man trying to bolster his self-esteem by taking what he wanted, no matter who it belonged to? Buck has been described as being rather cowardly, unlike Clyde; if Clyde had been gay, I seriously doubt that his older brother would have let him be the head of the gang, no matter who was taller! (And Buck would have likely known or suspected something, if Clyde were indeed a homosexual.)

Anyway - the idea of having Clyde analyzed intrigues me!

joe from Canada said...

Hi Barefootokiegal

great response to my comments

joe from Canada said...

I guess it's Cindy that raises the point of analyzing Clyde for a possible "short person syndrome". I beleive as Marie Barrow indicated, Clyde wanted the nice things of life but did not necessarily want to work for them

BarefootOkieGal said...

You know, Joe (Yes, BarefootOkieGal and Cindy are one and the same - I don't much care what you call me, so long as you don't call me late for dinner, as my dad used to say!), I won't go so far as to say that Clyde was lazy - after all, he did hold a number of jobs, and supposedly was a good enough worker - but yes, he did definitely have champagne dreams and a beer budget! Considering how hard jobs were to come by when Clyde was of an age to get one, it doesn't surprise me that he turned to petty crime - lots of poor folks back then did the same thing. It does surprise me that he chose the life of an outlaw, because that's really no way for a lazy man to live comfortably! I think he got involved in crime, and then for whatever reason decided to make that his job. Maybe it was because the police kept hassling him and causing his employers to decide it wasn't worth the trouble to keep him on the job; maybe it was just because he honestly didn't know what else to do. One of his family members said something that really struck me - they were discussing what Bonnie and Clyde were going to do, since it had gotten to the point where they could not come back to a "normal" life. Clyde said they'd just drive until they got caught... just keep driving, keep coming back home to see their families, knowing that one day they'd be killed. Perhaps Clyde honestly had no plan to become a career criminal, and I don't think Bonnie would have chosen that life, either, but at some point in time, I believe they didn't have any plan except to stay alive as long as they could. From the accounts I've read, they never made all that much money from any one robbery, and at times they were literally stealing just so they could buy food or medicine. Their lives toward the end seem to me to be pretty unfocused, and I believe it's because they couldn't see any way out of the life they'd gotten themselves into. Sure, they could have gone to Mexico, maybe, or some state where they weren't known - but they didn't want to be so far from their families that they couldn't visit them. So they drove... and stole... and died.

It's a shame, because from what I've read, Clyde did have musical talent - he played the guitar and saxophone, and supposedly rather well; Bonnie would have loved to have been a singer or other entertainer. If they had met at some other time in their lives, before Clyde had gotten involved in crime as a lifestyle, who knows? Perhaps "Bonnie and Clyde" would have been remembered not as a pair of criminals who were literally shot to pieces before they were 25 years old, but as a Depression-era act featuring a small man and a tiny woman singing, playing, dancing and entertaining folks!

BarefootOkieGal said...

I just read "The Ten Fast Years of Ralph Fults" - very good read! The author, John Neal Phillips, raises the point that Mary O'Dare WAS a promiscuous woman, and he speculates that a lot of the tales of Bonnie's promiscuity may gotten their start because people got the two women mixed up in their minds. Considering how easy it is to get tangled up trying to figure out who was riding with Bonnie and Clyde at any given time, this explanation sounds as good as any other as to how the scurrilous rumors about Bonnie got started - simple confusion between her behavior and that of Mary O'Dare.

I also feel comfortable with Phillips' assertation that the Eastham raid may have been the only goal in Clyde's mind, and that once that was accomplished, he truly had no idea what to do with the time that was left to him. This fits in with my notion that their last months were pretty unfocused, with their only idea to drive and try not to get caught; they really had no plans, no plans for escape, no plans for any really big heist. It does seem that they were making plans to purchase land in Louisiana, and maybe if they had succeeded in that it would have fired them up a little bit with some hope for the future - but the impression I get is that toward the end, they were just resigned to their fate, but not resigned enough to turn themselves in and let the law separate them!

One excellent reason why Bonnie and Clyde never surrendered and agreed never to surrender - to surrender would mean that they would be separated for whatever time Clyde had left before they executed him. They did not want to be separated.