Category Archives: Vintage mug shots

Small Town Noir: the possible book

Katie Payne Mug Shot

Vintage photographs are all the rage these days. Hell, vintage everything is big, it seems. There are some websites that do vintage images better than others. One site I stumbled accidentally across several years ago and which I have continued to visit on a regular basis is called Small Town Noir. It features old police mug shots from the former American industrial town of New Castle in Pennsylvania and the stories of behind them. What I like most about Small Town Noir is it’s just that. The person behind the site, a man called Diarmid Mogg, doesn’t post images of big time criminals in New York or Chicago. His subjects are ordinary people and he examines their hopes, dreams and frustrated plans, their small town crimes, and how these brought them to the attention of the police.

Now he’s trying to turn his website into a book and he needs people to pledge to buy it here. I reckon it’s a great idea and I’m going to support it. I thought other Pulp Curry readers might be interested in knowing more about Small Town Noir and when Diarmid asked whether I’d be prepared to help him publicise his project by doing an interview with him, I was more than happy to oblige.Read more

The two faces of the femme fatale

Matilda Devine, criminal record number 659LB, 27 May 1925. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW

Ann Savage from the 1945 film noir classic, Detour

The femme fatale is a staple character of crime fiction and film. Last weekend, I got a glimpse of the reality behind screen and literary presentations of female criminality at an exhibition into Australia’s famous female criminals, currently taking place at Geelong’s National Wool Museum.

You don’t have to have a PhD in cultural studies to realise that our fascination with women as deviants is deeply rooted in conceptions that stretch back to the Bible (Eve, anyone?), fairy and folk tales. The exhibition, Femme Fatale: The female criminal opens with a quote by Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso from 1893 that epitomises this worldview: “The born female is, so to speak, doubly exceptional, first as a women and then as a criminal. This is because criminals are an exception among civilised people and women are the exception among criminals… As a double exception, then, the criminal woman is a monster.”

The exhibition includes a pretty grim history of the illegal or backyard abortion industry, the women who often ran it and the police who profited from protecting it. This includes some amazing police crime scene photos (not for the faint hearted) of the premises in which back yard abortionists operated.… Read more