Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Soft Skull
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.9 X 0.8 inches | 0.75 pounds

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About the Author

W. Scott Poole, who teaches at the College of Charleston, has written widely about American history, horror, and pop culture, including most recently in his award-winning history, Monsters in America , which received the John G. Cawelti prize from the Popular Culture Association and was named among the Best of the Best by the AAUP for 2011. Monsters received nominations for the Bram Stoker and the fan-sourced Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. Poole is a regular contributor to Popmatters and his work has appeared in the Huffington Post , Religions Dispatches and Killing the Buddha . He has been a guest speaker at [email protected] and has collaborated on films for the History Channel, PBS, and, most recently, the Banger Films project, Satan: The Movie . He blogs at his website,


W. Scott Poole has written a fascinating and illuminating socio-sexual history of the last half decade of American Pop Culture . . . W. Scott Poole explores deftly and accurately the history and the politics of both feminism and 'the outsider, ' the parts of America pushed to the curb but yearning for acceptance, love, and financial success, the 'new and shiny' promise of the (supposed) post war era. Poole has done a great job in bringing such a variety of disparate pieces into a singular whole, and this book should be bought and read by anyone interested in the unspoken history of Hollywood, and the darker story of our culture. --The Examiner

Poole is as concerned with the larger social changes afoot in mid-century America and uses the Vampira narrative to approach the second half of the 20th century from a fresh, and new thought-provoking perspective . . . [Vampira] provides an interesting and singular window into a time in the nation's past that can hardly be over-examined, especially as so many of the battles described are still being fought and it can often seem as if some of the hard-won gains of the era are slowly being given up. --Charleston City Paper

This pioneering book is a tribute to the change that Vampira incited and the awakening that so many unknowingly received from her presence. --Santa Fe New Mexican, Pasatiempo

Poole goes to great, and effective, lengths to identify the attempts at social engineering that fostered specious notions of maleness and femaleness in the name of governmental control and selling the American dream. But the most impressive thing (besides his impeccably researched historical insight) is his understanding of Nurmi and her character in that context. --Delirium Magazine

Finally, Poole lovingly gives Vampira her due. --Booklist, starred review

Pop culture critic Poole sure knows a monster when he sees one. He continues his macrocultural exegesis in this microquasibiography and cultural (especially the 1950s) explication of TV's first and most revelatory horror host . . . This stone-cold winner belongs in every American studies collection. --Library Review, starred review

Scott Poole has the chops, the Hollywood savvy, and the horror genre's insider smarts to write a killer book on Vampira. I'll be first in line to grab a copy. --Jonathan Maberry, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner and New York Timesbestselling author of Assassin's Code and Dust & Decay

Horror hostess, bondage goddess, Charles Addams cartoon comes to life, Vampira was every first-generation fanboy's wet dream. Scott Poole takes us on an unforgettable ride through the overlapping underworlds of B&D magazines, Hollywood noir, and early political liberation movements that inspired actress Maila Nurmi to challenge a postwar culture bent on stifling women's choices, bodies, and desires. This book is a subversive masterpiece. --Sheri Holman, author of Witches on the Road Tonight and The Dress Lodger

W. Scott Poole's last book, Monsters in America, was a dazzling work of cultural history: smart, funny, subversive and wildly entertaining. He showed a special gift for playfully saying serious things. His new book is even more wonderful. The life of Maila Nurmi, better known as the late-night TV hostess Vampira, is a great, strange story in itself, but also allows Poole to explore our attitudes about sex, death, fear, and difference. 'The Lady of Horror' was famous in the 1950s, but she is a remarkable symbol who connects backward to Poe and forward to Goth. She is as American as the Statue of Liberty. --Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters and Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America

Vampira is up there with Vincent Price for lovers of the macabre, an icon whose shadow and influence lingers long after death. She's not only important to modern children of the night for being the first TV horror host, but as the original 'Glamour Ghoul'; whose style has inspired generations of Goth Girls to adopt the sexy undead look as their own. But there is more to her story than her ability to look good screaming, and Scott Poole, whose writing on the dark side of popular culture has proven to be some of the smartest, sassiest com-mentary on American society around, is the man to tell it. --Liisa Ladouceur, author of Encyclopedia Gothica

An expert critic of pop culture, W. Scott Poole is one of the finest historians of all that is wicked, salacious, and sexy in America. Poole's previous award-winning books on monsters and the devil in movies, comic books, and television have revolutionized how we think about evil and culture. Now with Vampira, he plans to wow us again. By looking into the life and times of Maila Nurmi, the former stripper turned television's dark goddess of sex and death, Poole unveils a new side of midcentury America, the 'American century'; in which we too often forget the steamy, scary, and sensational. --Edward J. Blum author of Reforging the White Republic and The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America

Scott Poole is, in my view, the finest (certainly the wittiest and most crafty) scholar working in this area and by far the most persuasive. Vampira represents a way to talk about fifties culture, especially about the political and moral pressures exerted then and what costs ensued. Scott Poole has shown how brilliantly he can unearth cultural fears and desires, both dangerous and heartbreaking, by analyzing what passed itself off as entertainment. --James R. Kincaid, Aerol Arnold Professor of English at USC and author of Erotic Innocence and Annoying the Victorians