Archive for the ‘Playboy’ Category

Flashback Friday — Valentine Vixen: Cheryl Kubert, Miss February 1958

November 2, 2012

The bulk of this post originally appeared on February 5, 2010 at 9:04 am.


Photographed by Mario Casilli.

First up is the lovely and talented Cheryl Kubert. In going through my files to prep this entry, I realized I’d already saved several pictures from this shoot here and there for the last year, so I’m pretty pumped to share.

It’s not a cute or even particularly “themed” shoot at all, but Ms. Kubert has an almost accusing serenity that makes what would be standard shots if it were any other model seem more arresting and beyond ordinary than their composition would dictate.

It’s the eye contact, I reckon. She has deep eyes. The downward cast of her chin, the unparted lip, the steady gaze; she seems so solemn. It makes the shoot feel heavy, but in a beautiful, ruminating, kind of sad way. She has this kind of practical but somewhat unhappy sincerity to her expression and posture, an unvarnished and troubled vulnerability. It’s moody.

The written copy that accompanied this pictorial is absolute drivel. I mean, just pure shit. Its more pun-ridden and meaningless even than the b.s. that they printed up for Marlene Callahan, and that is saying something, believe me.

The strangest part about the article is that, besides being empty apple fritters and pretty nonsense, the endless stream of non sequitirs about Scandinavian idioms seemingly have almost nothing to do with the pictures.

The write-up, titled “Playmate on Skis,” describes skiing in great detail and alludes to its history in Scandinavia, which is well and good, but in the pictures Ms. Kubert is mainly not around snow whatsoever; furthermore, the article lays no claim to her being of Scandinavian descent. Just a poor job all around. Banana boats and baloney sauce, Playboy, I’m sorry. Thankfully the pictures are unique, sensitive, and artistic.

Okay, I just spent fifteen minutes hard-searching and I found the above missing link. ONE SHOT of her with skis in addition to the centerfold (which is generally shot separate from the rest of the pictorial spread). Pfft. And if that is not a fake scene outside the window, I’ll eat my hat. Total cheezits (I’m trying to swear less this year and I’ve found that food items make handy and amusing euphemisms).


(The nude Jayne Mansfield spread will come up again in several days, actually. Really interesting story, but we’re focused on Ms. Kubert right now. Keep your shirt on.)

I can only conjecture that Cheryl Kubert was a stage name, because there is pretty much nothing known about her prior to her centerfold appearance or what she did following, other than that she had appeared in a bit part in the film Pal Joey in 1957.

According to the Playmate Book, Ms. Kubert died April 25, 1989 of apparent suicide. Because Playboy did not keep data sheets prior to September of 1959, it is not known how old she was at the time of her appearance in the magazine or her death. It makes those deep eyes seem much sadder to know that. R.I.P.





edit: I was sitting here trying to think where I had just seen the name “Kubert” recently, and finally remembered that yesterday’s Daily Batman of Catwoman and Batman throwing plates at each other in the Super Dictionary (Warner, 1978) featured art work by the cartoonist Joe Kubert. Found his official website and have fired off a quick email using his “contact” form, inquiring if he is related to Cheryl Kubert or has heard anything about her before. It’s a longshot, but I’ll let you know what comes of it.

edit 11/2/12: In the original post, the following comment was left

John Hawksley Says:

Hello, I was Cheryl’s husband and we were married at the time of her death(may 28,1988) Cheryl Kubert was her real name. Born in Los Angeles, went to Fairfax High School. We had one child(Rachel). She was 50 at time of her death. She was a glamour lovlie in Ken Murry’s Blackouts and she did extensive modeling, traveled with U. S. O troupe and was a member of SAG and SEG. She had the heart and the looks of an angel. She could sing, play the piano and dance. If you need anymore information you can text me. John

Thank you for the further info, Mr. Hawksley.

edit 11/2/12, 2.0: The late Joe Kubert, comic legend, also corresponded with me briefly in regard to this post. He passed on in August, and I am not sharing because I believe death negates privacy, but merely because I never shared originally. As with Mr. Hawksley’s comment, I meant to go back and edit again, but the time gets away from you.

Dear E,

Thank you for your email and your interest. To my knowledge I am not related to a Cheri [sic] Kubert. She looks like someone I would not have minded knowing! Please continue to read, write, and care about comics. You may also share a link with your readers to The Kubert School.

Regards,
Joe

The Kubert School, based in Dover, NJ offers students a high quality and challenging education in Cartooning and Graphic Art.” They also have correspondence courses.

This has been your Flashback Friday.

R.I.P. retread — Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Happy Holidays from Cynthia Myers, Miss December 1968

November 5, 2011

Been buried in academic work, but I needed to throw out a quick, sad retread of Ms. Myers’ “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” post. Beautiful, adventurous Cynthia passed away yesterday of undisclosed causes, per Hef.

R.I.P., Ms. Myers (9/12/50-11/4/11).


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

“Wholly Toledo!” is the name of the article that accompanies the pictorial for the lovely and talented Cynthia Myers, Playboy’s Miss December 1968. Her wildly popular centerfold shot her to stardom among the troops in Vietnam, and a pinup of her is featured in the film Hamburger Hill. She has been a teen model, a television personality, played a lesbian songstress in one of the most famous camp films out there, and become an unwitting space cowgirl in her 60 years on this planet. Buckle up, because here we go!



Cynthia wrote to Playboy a few years ago, informing us that she’d like to be considered as a centerfold beauty. Assistant Picture Editor Marilyn Grabowski answered with a reminder that our Playmates must be of legal age but that Cynthia should keep in touch. She did just that.

Well, kind of.

The shoot was in June of ’68, and Ms. Meyers was born in September of ’50, but Playboy waited until Cynthia was comfortably 18 to publish her pictorial. It had become common practice for the magazine after the scandal with Elizabeth Ann Roberts.

In fact, the most recently featured “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” playmate, the fantastic Susan Bernard, was also 17 at her photoshoot and saw her spread published after she turned 18.

Posing underage for Playboy is not the only common ground between Ms. Bernard and Ms. Myers. While Ms. Bernard was featured in Russ Meyers’ cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, today’s special gal starred in his 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

I promise to have a full-out Movie Moment for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of these days. For my friend’s recent 31st birthday, I sent him a picture of the cast of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with him tagged as Dolly Read and me as Cynthia Myers. I explained that I originally had me as Dolly and him as Cynthia, but I switched it because it was his birthday.

You know Roger Ebert wrote it? I don’t think he ever gets to criticize a movie again.

Cynthia is pictured reading a five-year-old palmistry pamphlet about what the following year once held for her because she placed a large credulity in psychic phenomenon.

“I’ve known since I was 15 that I’d be a Playmate. It’s almost as if this had been fated to happen.” Cynthia’s penchant for precognition can be traced to her early teens.

(Ibid.)



“A junior high school friend of mine in Toledo,” she says, “was a nut on palmistry, astrology and even reading tea leaves and crystal balls. Like most people, I thought is was just a bunch of baloney. But when I began reading about prophets like Edgar Cayce, I began to realize that there are strange spiritual forces in the world undreamed of even in The Playboy Philosophy.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Myers, I think you’d be surprised by what the Playboy philosophy can dream of.

In 1994, it was revealed that a picture from Ms. Myers’ centerfold pictorial was among several that crafty NASA jokesters have launched in to space over the years. Ms. Myers, together with Leslie Bianchini, Angela Dorian, and Reagan Wilson, was snuck in to the checklist for the Apollo 12 mission that was placed in astronauts’ suit cuff on their trip to the moon in November of 1969. Ms. Myers specifically took her space journey with astronaut Al Bean.

Don’t forget: Describe the protruberances.

Boobs : Geeks :: Horse : Carriage. I think it’s kind of funny and sweet.

And the gals didn’t just go up in the lunar landing module: they straight moon walked. The astronauts found their pictures while fulfilling their extravehicular (read: outside the module on the lunar surface) mission duties on the moon itself.


Pete Conrad got Miss September 1967, Angela Dorian, (“Seen any interesting hills and valleys?”) and Miss October 1967, Reagan Wilson (“Preferred tether partner”). Al Bean got Miss December 1968, Cynthia Myers (“Don’t forget — Describe the protuberances”), and Miss January 1969, Leslie Bianchini (“Survey — her activity”).

(“Playboy Playmates pranked into Apollo 12 mission checklists.” January 13, 2007. BoingBoing.net.)


Conrad told us in 1994: “I had no idea they were with us. It wasn’t until we actually got out on the lunar surface and were well into our first moon walk that I found them.” Bean recalled: “It was about two and a half hours into the extravehicular activity. I flipped the page over and there she was. I hopped over to where Pete was and showed him mine, and he showed me his.”

(Ibid.)

A large, color version of the shot of Cynthia that was smuggled up to the moon in the Apollo 12.

Lest we forget, the lovely and talented DeDe Lind, Miss August 1967 and, like Cynthia, one of the most popular Playmates in the magazine’s history, also rode shotgun on the Apollo 12 mission. She was in the control console, her picture labelled, “Map of a heavenly body.”

I always feel compelled when talking about the Playmate pictures and NASA to bring up the fact that my sorority’s badge is on the moon. Neil Armstrong put it there for his wife. It’s my sorority’s badge and it is on the moon. The moon that is in space. Sorry, but I get pretty cocky and excited by that. Tell a friend.

This much more recent picture of Ms. Myers just might get her kicked out of the Red Hat Society.

Can our prescient Playmate predict anything about her future? “I’m going to be an actress,” she says simply. “Notice I didn’t say ‘I’d like to be,’ but ‘I’m going to be.’ I don’t know how good I’ll be as an actress, but I’ll be one.”

(“Wholly Toledo!” Playboy. December 1968.)


Judging from her track record as a prophetess — and from her already abundant attributes — we’d like to venture a prediction of our own: Playmatehood should be just the beginning for the remarkable Miss Myers.
(Ibid.)

Playmate Revisited: Shannon Tweed by George Hurrell, with bonus Classic Hollywood photography blatherings

June 28, 2011


Lovely Ms. Tweed gets the Veronica Lake treatment from a celebrity photographer.

Backstory: In the still-building comments on my sadly meager original Shannon Tweed entry, from the heady days of NSFW November when I was still relatively new to this game, reader Jed Leyland* suggested this morning that I chase down and post up what I could find from a shoot Shannon did with the legendary George Hurrell.

Here it is!


The new actresses don’t have the sense of posing that the old stars did. There’s no one around to train them. That’s why Hollywood seems less glamorous. But Shannon is different. She knows how to pose and what to do with herself. What surprised me more than anything was her nice personality — the kind of personality that has an intellect to go with it. I was quite impressed with that.

(George Hurrell on Shannon Tweed.)

The lovely and talented Ms. Tweed posed for Playboy Italia in February of 1984. Her spread was photographed by George Hurrell, on whom the article mainly focused.



«George Hurrell, famoso fotografo statunitense, non ha perso il pelo (dei suoi cappelli, della sua barba), ma nemmeno il vizio — che nel sui caso e senz’altro una notevole vurti — di roncorrerre con l’obiettivo il fascino femmininile, per catutrarly e renderlo fermo nel tempo, assoluto.»



«Nelle fotographie di questa paging potete vedere , attualissima playmate degli anni ottanta. Hurrell l’ha ritratta, nella sua inquieta e moderna bellezza, come trenta, quarant’anni fa andava a caccia del fascino segreto, quasi raccolto in una cornice antica del sex-appear, appena accennato ma no nper questio meno pruriginoso, di attrici che sarebbero restate nella storia del cinema. Anche per merito sui, occhio discreto e innamorato che chon le sue “ispiratrici del momento” sapeva creare un sodalizio, quasi un legame sentimentale, queste foto riescono a uscire dalle pieghe del tempo per restituirci un fascio che credebvamo di allora e che invece e anchi de adesso, incredibilmente attuale.»

What’s that? Unlucky enough to have grown up without smatterings of Italian and a certain gameness for descrying cognates? No sweat. Let’s hit the babelfish, shall we? I love living in DA‘s future.


«George Hurrell, famous American photographer, has not lost the hair (of its nails head, of its beard), but not even the defect — that in on the case and senz’ other a remarkable one vurti — of roncorrerre with l’ objective the femmininile fascination, for catutrarly and rendering it firm in the time, absolute.»




«In the fotographie of this paging you can see, most current playmate of years eighty. Hurrell it has ritratta, in its restless and modern beauty, like thirty, forty years ago it go huntinged of the secret fascination, nearly collected in an ancient frame of the sex-appear, as soon as pointed out but not nper questio less pruritic, than actresses who would have remained in the history of the cinema. Also for merit on i, discreet and fallen in love eye that chon its ” ispiratrici of the momento” it knew to create a society, nearly a sentimentale tie, these photos succeed to exit from the folds of the time in order to give back a bundle to us that credebamo then and that instead and anchi de now, incredibly they puts into effect.»

Clear as mud now, jes? Honestly, you get the gist, I wager. Thanks, babelfish! I had originally intended to show the above pictures as proof that Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed were still going strong and sometimes folks get it right, isn’t that affirming?, but in the interest of accuracy I gave “gene simmons and shannon tweed” a quick googly-moogly, and apparently they’re having problems. So that sucks. Different direction required.

George Hurrell was one of the premiere Hollywood photographers for the glamour portraits and studio stills of the 1930′s-40′s. He is particularly famous in classic Hollywood portraiture for his “north light,” seen here applied to Anna May Wong.


Anna May Wong, photographed by George Hurrell.

He achieved this dramatic effect chiefly with the use of fresnels (which we’ve defined and discussed before in the 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies post on my fave-ohs, Twelve Monkeys) placed on a boom well above and only slightly in front of the subject.


Joan Crawford photographed by George Hurrell for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1932.

This bright, diffuse key light, along with some artsy post-treatment of his negatives, created the glowing planes with deep contrasting shadows and illuminated, heroic facial lines in his shots that basically define Art Deco photography and made his name. Joan Crawford adored him (above and below) because his luminous portraits revealed — or maybe created — a softness in her that few other still photographers were capable of capturing, which ran as a nice counterpoint to the brassy, hard women she played, to say nothing of her reputation as a handful on set.


Joan by George, 1933. By applying the north light and having Joan cock her forehead with her hand, probably to break up the imposingly symmetrical lines of her face, Hurrell creates a sort of softer, aw-shucks face that catches the light and interests the eye. I think, at least.

Hurrell preferred his subjects wear as light of makeup as possible, to avoid cakey, pale faces from the fresnel key lighting, which tends to magnify pores and unevenness. As his technique progressed, he especially liked the subjects to be rubbed with a thin, consistent layer of baby oil. The baby oil gave a uniform, glossy surface for the fresnel lights to suffuse, creating a burnished glow when combined with the contrasting natural shadows from the planes of the face.

See how shiny Jean is? Otherworldly, thanks to the north light, the oil, and Hurrell’s radical retouching techniques. This became the defining “look” for MGM’s glamour publicity shots of their stars. Hurrell’s contract with MGM didn’t last long despite the support of Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg; a fallout with a publicity department head resulted in Hurrell dramatically leaving the studio after serving there for three years. Though he continued to photograph almost exclusively for MGM throughout the next decade until contracting with Warner Bros in 1938, Hurrell mainly worked as a freelance, independent contractor.

The look wasn’t flattering on everyone — check out Greta Garbo above. While Anna May Wong’s baby oil-rubbed features work beautifully with the north light, Garbo looks harsh and washed-out. Not surprising that she fomented a close working relationship instead with Hurrell’s gentle contemporary, Clarence Sinclair Bull, who was “head” of the publicity still department at MGM for over four decades.

Maybe another day I’ll do a post comparing Bull, Hurrell, and … I don’t know, Leo Fuchs? I just dig this kind of thing. I mean, I did all this shit completely from memory and it seems crazy not to start using this knowledge for, like, a book or something.


Goofy girls — we are a Thing! (outtake from Shannon’s PMOY shoot, 1982).

Anyway, I’m over all this. I want to go eat a sandwich and watch the Giants game. Probably why I will never write that book: too much of a goof who keeps better track of eating sandwiches and watching ball than using her education for her profit. While I was writing this entry, I was drinking Diet 7-up from a licorice straw the entire time, but different straws every 5 minutes or so because when they start to get hard I like to eat them. This is all true. Super-mature and put together. Call me!

*Joe — “Of course we’re speaking, Jedediah. You’re fired.” Kane? Yes? Do I get a gold star?

Girls of Summer: Susan Denberg, Miss August 1966

June 26, 2011


Photographed by super amaze-balls Peter Gowland!

Miss August 1966 was the lovely and talented Susan Denberg, a cult hottie of yesteryear who is somewhat obscure today but still beloved by vintage sci-fi and Hammer horror film fans. Who do I know who is in to that stuff? It’s on the tip of my tongue …

Oh, right. Me. Let’s do this!

Ms. Denberg was born Dietlinde Zechner in Bad Polzin, Germany on August 2, 1944, nine months and seven days before V-E Day, when the Allied forces accepted the Germans’ surrender on May 8 (an inauspicious date in my book if you remember my apocalyptic ramblings).

I’m saying it was probably not the best of times to be born in Germany, what with how the country was going to be totally defeated and carved up in, like, a year. The Zechner clan beat feet to Austria (…better?), where Ms. Denberg grew up working in her parents’ appliance stores in Klagenfurt.

In her Playboy write-up, she is cited as being “born and bred” in Klagenfurt. The discrepancy could be due to a misunderstanding or wanting to downplay her German heritage for some unguessed-at reason. I think most likely she was Austrian to begin with and moved to Klagenfurt so young that it was not a big deal.


Suspect is wigless, I repeat, wigless.

Susan Denberg, our striking Miss August, joins a long and lovely line of Playmates whose centerfold appearances have preceded their cinematic debuts — a comely clan that includes such gatefold delights as Jayne Mansfield (February 1955), Stella Stevens (January 1960), Donna Michelle (December 1963), Jo Collins (December 1964) and Sue Williams (April 1965).

(“Picture Playmate.” Playboy, August 1966.)


Susan, a honey of a blonde, will make her filmic bow this fall in the celluloid version of Norman Mailer’s recent best-selling novel An American Dream.

No. Not a best-selling novel. Considered the least of Mailer’s fiction works, actually. A misogynistic bundle of bullshit — and that’s coming from me. So I’m not just whistling “Dixie.”

An American Dream is a 1966 movie based on a 1965 novel based on a series of installments in Esquire about a man and the women he kills and screws before he slouches off in to the sunset, perhaps to mine the meaning of existence, perhaps to die of an overdose of modern society. Its one mercy is that it is short. I may be oversimplifying to avoid talking about it more. Sorry.

An American Dream is a Mailer-adapted picture, sadly too crappily, or perhaps too quickly, executed to be called camp, about Stephen Rojack, a former war hero – turned also-run politician – turned call-in talk show host who murders his rich-bitch wife and basically goes on a postmodern movie-length bender with Janet Leigh (story as old as time — we’ve all been there). He spends the film in a pingballing search for the meaning of existence via sex, drugs, murder-rap evasion and jazz, pissing off underworld gangsters along the way. The story does not so much end as “halt” in what amounts to a lot of, to quote a deservedly better praised writer, sound and fury, signifying nothing. Mailer’s original source material has marginally greater depth — but only marginally.

Ms. Denberg plays Ruta, the luckless harpy Mrs. Rojack’s German maid. In his March 14, 1965 New York Times review of the book, Conrad Knickerbocker said of Ruta’s character that she “must have attended charm school with Ilse Koch.” For those who don’t know, Ilse Koch is the “Red Witch of Buchenwald,” an infamously horrible Nazi war criminal on whom Ilse, She-Wolf of the SS is super-obviously based (except Koch was not hot — and she has spent way longer burning in hell).

Koch was a fat, genuinely evil brunette who tortured and murdered interred Jews for pleasure at one of the most horrible concentration camps the earth has ever known. Ruta is a slightly mercenary, lithe blonde sexpot who is willing to screw her boss’s husband if it will get her ahead. Absolutely nothing in book or film merits Knickerbocker’s sensationalist comparison, other than both women being German. Disgusting and not at all funny, if that was the attempt. Bleah.

But then what do I expect from a rave review of a randomly constructed crock of self-indulgent shit? Knickerbocker praised the book as a modern masterpiece and said people who didn’t like An American Dream wouldn’t like it because they wouldn’t want to admit that it speaks to the true soul of America and what-have-you. All like, J’accuse, bourgeois pigs! You don’t like it because you’re judging it, and you’re judging it because you don’t understand it, and you don’t understand it because you’re afraid to.

Cool story, bro.

Yeah, there’s always been a lot of so-called values getting touted around that are hypocritical at best and hollow, tarnished, destructive compulsions at worst. But that’s not my soul, and it’s not the soul of most people I know. Most people weren’t and aren’t rich, disaffected, murdering alcoholics — most people were and are just trying to hold a job, find some love, and eat dinner. Like, Jesus. What a hopeless and lackwitted thing to assert. Not to mention, if you do want a story about rotting American dreams and rich, murdering, alcoholics, why don’t you just pick up a little timeless piece of exponentially greater writing called The Great Gatsby?

In the book, Rojack sleeps with Ruta after killing Deborah, then pretends to discover Deborah’s body and tells Ruta she must have committed suicide. In the film, Ruta tries to seduce Rojack after his initial fight with Deborah, but he doesn’t go for it. Then he returns to the bedroom to fight with Deborah again, which is the fight that results in her death.

I assume the change in “he-did,” “he-didn’t,” with Ruta from novel to film is an effort to make Rojack’s character seem more sympathetic in the movie, in much the same way that making Cherry (Leigh’s character) in the film be Rojack’s fallen-on-bad-times childhood sweetheart from before he “made it” — versus her role in the source material as a trashy torch singer that he just meets that night — is supposed to make Rojack’s affair with her, begun the day after he murders his wife, more reasonable. There is also the little matter of Rojack allowing his wife to slip from the balcony of her own drunken accord, falling to her death only to then be further run over by a mafioso’s limo in the movie, rather than Rojack strangling her and throwing her body over the railing himself, the corpse falling to the street only to then be further run over by an et cetera’s et cetera, in the book.

Ugh. I spent forever talking about a thing I don’t like. I guess spite is as strong a writing motivator as enthusiasm. So let’s get back to enthusiasm. Fun fact follows.



For a while … it appeared as though Susan might not be Susan at all by the time [An American Dream's] release date rolled around. As part of a nationwide contest to find a nom de cinéma for its latest ascending starlet, Warner Bros. offered a $500 award for the winning entry and received 5,000 name suggestions from cinemaphiles throughout both hemispheres before wisely deciding to leave Susan — name and all — exactly as they’d found her.

“Some of the names submitted were pretty far out,” recalls Susan. “But the funniest entry of them all was Norma Mailer.”

(Ibid.)

She just doesn’t look like a Norma.

The main thing of it is, on the set for An American Dream, Ms. Denberg worked with Star Trek‘s George Takei (Sulu), Warren Stevens (Rojan, “By Any Other Name”), and Richard Derr (Commodore Barstow, “The Alternative Command” and Admiral Fitzgerald, “The Mark of Gideon”). Plus An American Dream’s director, Robert Gist, was involved as a director for TOS.

Ms. Denberg subsequently appeared on the then-fledgling sci-fi series Star Trek as Magda Kovacs, one of the three mail-order bride hopefuls voyaging to Ophiucus III with honey-tongued con man and Venus drug purveyor Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd (Star Trek: TOS. “Mudd’s Women.” Season One, Episode 3. Originally aired October 13, 1966.).

On their way to Ophiucus III and being tailed by Kirk and co., petty criminal Mudd pushes his little class J ship too hard and breaks down in the middle of an asteroid belt. The pursuing Enterprise has their own shields up and throws them hastily over Mudd’s ship as well, but three of their lithium crystals are destroyed by this shield extension. Scotty beams Mudd and his passengers aboard the Enterprise just as the ship is struck by an asteroid and obliterated.


Eve McHuron (Karen Steele), Ruth Bonaventure (Maggie Thrett), and Magda Kovacs (Ms. Denberg).

The Enterprise plots a course to mining planet Rigel XII to replace the lithium crystals. It is revealed that the alluring women are being made more beautiful by the illegal Venus drug, which Mudd doesn’t want Kirk to find out. Mudd further wants to screw over Kirk and get back to peddling wives on Ophiucus III so of course the logical solution is for hot chicks to seduce Kirk; first Magda and then Eve. (Neither bid succeeds in the final aim but he gets flirty action in the short run.)


Magda without the apparently beauty-enhancing Venus drug. Rough.

Long story short, Magda and Ruth marry miners from Rigel XII over subspace radio (and you thought internet hookups were risky), who are concerned when it turns out they’ve been fleeced by a con man and druggies, and Eve marries their boss, Ben Childress. It is also discovered that the Venus drug’s efficacy lies completely in the mind of its imbiber: the ladies appeared more beautiful because of their confidence in the drug and not any transformative elements of its composition, which is a good thing because the scenes of them not under the influence made them look pretty deliberately rough. Also, the miners don’t negate the marriage as a fraud when they find out the chicks are hot again, plus they like companionship or whatever. Still waters run so deep.

Ms. Denberg next appeared in the 1967 Hammer horror film Frankenstein Created Woman, alongside perennial Hammer favorite Peter Cushing. The film is lucky number four in the production company’s Frankenstein series.

Frankenstein Created Woman finds Baron Frankenstein (Cushing) awakened from a sort of cryogenic sleep by companion Dr. Hertz and his lab assistant Hans, the latter of whom is shortly executed by guillotine for murdering an innkeeeper following an altercation with local toughs.

Distraught over his gruesome death, Hans’s disfigured and paralyzed ladyfriend Christina (Ms. Denberg), whose father Hans was wrongly convicted of killing, kills herself.

Baron Frankenstein resurrects Christina’s body in the same way he was resurrected by Hertz and Hans, but gives her Hans’ soul and not her own. See, Frankenstein has become concerned with the question of whether the soul leaves the body at the moment of death, and if not can it be separated from a body, and if so can it be preserved and transferred to a different body after being divorced from its original corpse, and what would the consequence be for consciousness, and all sorts of similar metaphysical things pondered over as only Frankenstein would do. (The guy is simply a maniac for severing and swapping stuff around. You cannot stop him.) You get the gist.

The resurrected soul of Hans in Christina’s body results in a confused consciousness, driven by compulsions of revenge against Christina’s father’s actual killers (the three local toughs with whom Hans had fought earlier on the evening of Christina’s father’s death), for Christina’s part to avenge her father and for Hans’ to avenge himself. This is of course inexplicable behavior to the good doctors because the actions are based on information only Hans and Christina technically know, but which Dr.s Frankenstein and Hertz could have easily found out if they weren’t constantly playing God.

The struggle of living with an infant consciousness and two memories of bad shit and all the rest, and probably also Dr. Hertz’s cooking, drives Christina to kill herself again — but not before all three of the men who beat her father to death and pinned it on her lover have been murdered in return. The End.

It’s one of the most critically acclaimed Frankenstein Hammer movies because of the concern with metaphysics and the fairytale-like revenge structure, or so says the wiki. Later this week I’ll show you one of my most critically acclaimed Hammer flicks. It has nothing to do with Frankenstein, I’m afraid.

Ms. Denberg was the victim of a very weird rumor circuit beginning in the 1970′s. It was said for, like, two decades that the excesses of the Hollywood life were too much for Susan and that she either a) moved back to Klagenfurt with her parents but then killed herself, or b) took too much acid and was in a mental institution. These rumors were probably based on some stuff Susan said in the National Police Gazette in 1968.



“[I became] hooked on LSD and marijuana. It calmed me down, and I made such wonderful love. I needed LSD every day, almost every hour. I took all sorts of drugs when I was in Hollywood… I used to do wild, nude dances at parties held by big-time Hollywood stars.”

(The National Police Gazette. September, 1968. qtd. in Susan Denberg Biography.)

However, she did not die and is not in a mental institution conversing freely with invisible sentient orange juice (again, we’ve all been there).

These days, the 66-year-old Ms. Denberg is alive and well and presumably acid-free back home in Klagenfurt, where she is back to being good old Dietlinde Zechner. She has happily settled in to family life after her brief splash in films and television.

May Flowers: Dolly Read, Miss May 1966 with bonus “Showdown!” dishevelment

June 1, 2011

Thought this got out last night and just checked the main page and realized it didn’t. Sorry, dudes.

You are all like, Will the girls of summer be back this year, E? And I am all like, Well of course. What kind of shoddy outfit do you think I’m running here? But first, we have to close out the May Flowers.


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

This year’s last May Flower is the lovely and talented Dolly Read, Playboy’s Miss May 1966.


Britannia’s first Bunny-Playmate, Dolly Read, recalls excitedly the night she was spotted by staff photographer Pompeo Posar during her training stint as a Chicago Club bumper-pool Bunny. “He asked me if I would like to consider becoming a Playmate, and I thought it was a smashing good idea,” says Dolly.

(“Bunny From Britain,” Playboy. May, 1966.)


The former Miss Bristol Teenager had a budding stage career before opting for Bunny satin instead. She entered the Eleine Hartley-Hodder School of Drama at the age of eight and emerged an aspiring actress some ten years later.

(Ibid.)


Renting a flat in the Marleybone section of London, centerfoldom’s latest Commonwealth import saw several workless weeks before landing her first acting job in a local TV series called Compact.

(Ibid.)


IIt was sort of a feminine version of your own Valentine’s Day, says Dolly. “All I had was a walk-on part, but it seemed like the greatest role since Lady Macbeth to me.”

(Ibid.)



Soon after, she was signed on for her first film role in Kiss of the Vampire, and went on to play a number of “rather prosaic” video roles until Bunnydom beckoned.

(Ibid.)


Click to enlarge.

Dolly and her five British cottontail cousins arrived in Chicago last October. Each member of this sensational sextet–which includes Doreen Allen, Kathleen Bascombe, Joan Findlay, Catherine MacDonald and Magie Adam–won top ratings among 1000 entrants in last summer’s nationwide British Bunny Contest sponsored by Radio London.

(Ibid.)



Having since graduated from Bunny Training School and now completing a seven-month apprenticeship at the Chicago Club — with equal emphasis given to such curricular requirements as the Bunny Dip, tableside photography, tending the Playboy Club Gift Shop and Door Bunnying, bumper-pool playing and the extra-special VIP Room service.

(Ibid.)



This group will return to England shortly for the upcoming opening of the ultra-U London Playboy Club.

During off-hours, Dolly and her compatriots bunked in one of the Playboy Mansion Bunny Dorms and spent many fascinating hours fancy-that-ing most of the Second City’s sights. “Chicago’s a bit of all right,” reports the 21-year-old Miss May in her charmingly clipped British accent, “and Mr. Hefner’s house is a proper palace, but we’re all a trifle homesick.”

(Ibid.)


Dolly recently added several promotion trips for Playboy to her busy Stateside schedule, including visits to Michigan State University (“What I liked most about American college men is, they never let studies foul up their dating”), Great Lakes Naval Hospital and a trip to Boston for Playboy’s opening night there.

(Ibid.)


“I’ll start as the Door Bunny,” Miss May explains, “but eventually I hope to put in some time as a Croupier Bunny in one of the Club’s gaming rooms. More excitement there, you know!”

(Ibid.)

Dolly got even more excitement when she wung her way west to Hollywood. After appearing in the low-budget lesbian film That Tender Touch, Dolly landed the lead in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, one of the greatest camp films of all time. Written by Roger Ebert and directed by Russ Meyer, the film is unforgettable, and Dolly shines in it. Highly recommend. Depending on your cult film tolerance.


Favorite shot.

Ms. Read married Dick Martin of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In in 1971, then divorced him in ’75, and remarried him in ’78. They must have worked things out because they remained married after that until his death in May of 2008. She continued to appear in film and television cameos throughout the 1970′s and beyond.

You can try and hit Mrs. Martin up on the myspace (current mood: none), but it looks like she may not use it much.


Scans of the original spread. Click to see full-sized.

The similarity of the poses, lighting, and makeup in the following three pictures inspired me to finally do another “Showdown!” feature. So, pick your poison! Which “Dolly Read in dishevelment” shot rocks your socks?

One of these days we’ll have a full-on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls movie moment, but for now, enjoy this final screencap:

Catch you on the flip!

May Flowers — Joanne Arnold, Miss May 1954

May 11, 2011

The lovely and talented Joanne Arnold, Miss May 1954, first appeared in Playboy’s March 1954 pictorial “Sex Sells a Shirt.”

Click to enlarge the shots and read the story, it’s actually a really interesting little piece with a kicky, fun insight in to 1950′s advertising. Far more risque than you might expect. The PR folks for Hartog were some skilled and creative dudes.

However. Please do not tell me to watch Mad Men.

I know it’s, like, all cool and retro and sexist and clever, but I just don’t feel like getting in to it. Yet I keep getting told to. Everyone wants me to watch it. I can’t swing my arms without hitting someone who’s saying, “E, you have to watch Mad Men. You’ll love it. Also, stop hitting me with your swinging arms.” I say, Never! to both!

Ms. Arnold was a hit with readers as the Hartog “keep your shirt on” girl, but Playboy did not pick her as Miss May because of that (they did feature her the following August, which we’ll get to). There was no such linear relation between her appearance in March and her gatefold in May. Two totally separate things, as it ends up.


Purchased from the Baumgarth Calendar Co.

The kind of wonky centerfold shot is, like the centerfolds from most of ’53-54, a purchased photograph. And, like Marilyn Monroe’s and several other of the first “sweetheart/playmate” gatefolds, the photograph was purchased from the Baumgarth Calendar Company.


The one on the right is hands-down my favorite.

I was sick of having no photographer credits on all the Baumgarth shots, and I wanted to know more about the John Baumgarth Calendar Co. so I took the light rail down to Googlytown.

I was hoping to find out specific names of photographers other than Tom Kelley, who did Marilyn’s picture, but when I googled “Baumgarth Calendar Company,” my own goddamned site was the second link. Also the fifth. I’m not the mayor of Playmate Googlytown — but apparently I’m something like an alderman. Frustrating.

Here’s what I know. The “company” was run out of Melrose Park, Illinois, a suburb on the west side of Chicago. However, not only can I find zero way to get in touch with the now-defunct company’s former employees, it turns out that besides the rare occasion of hiring a dude and arranging their own photoshoots, they also, like Hef in the first six months of Playboy, mainly purchased photos from private photographers.

The thing is, the centerfold picture could have been shot by anyone and the credit kind of doesn’t matter anyway. In May of 1954, the Playmates did not have names listed or anything like that.

Keep in mind, this was only the sixth issue of Playboy to even hit newsstands, and the magazine was still finding its feet.

Like a new struck foal stumbling around in the brave new world into which it has been thrust: Aww. The adorable, stumbly, delicate colt that we call “skin rag.”

Anyway. This particular month’s centerfold was, like, an isolated, anonymous picture. It’s possible no one at Playboy was even aware the model from the Hartog feature and cover had been the purchased photo of Miss May until a few months after the fact. They did know by the following August because they mention it in her second official appearance in the magazine, which I’m about to explain.

The rest of these gorgeous shots, however, come from a spread shot by superfly BAMF Peter Gowland entitled “Gowland’s Cool Pool.” The piece appeared in the August 1955 issue of Playboy, by which time the practice of credits had entered play and Ms. Arnold was cited as the model.


Scan of the article which accompanied the spread.

She also appeared as the cover model/mermaid for the same issue, a shot taken by Gowland and painted on and embellished for a little under the sea come-hither adventure.

This scan is of the newsstand edition; in the subscribers’ mailed edition, her nipples are not painted over, I have heard.

But SPEAKING of her nipples —

Ms. Arnold has a third nipple on the underside of her left breast. When I first read that I made a loud, “Pfft” noise of disbelief, and, browsing through my pictures, thought, “No way. I never noticed that and she’s all moley to boot: this is probably folklore based on a regular beauty mark.”

But then …


Click to enlarge it … it’s clearly nipplish and not a mole. I was surprised.

Lo and behold and hell and goddamn — seems she does, indeed, have a supernumerary nipple.

All right, all right — I’ll king you. Sheesh.

No idea where that shot came from, Ms. Arnold was a very successful and busy men’s magazine model in her lovely heyday. I just wanted another splash of color … and to make the tacky “king me” joke.

What is she going to do when big hats go out?

I stole that joke from Gypsy. My funny is just not operating at full capacity today. (Hangs head, Charlie Brown music.)

I guess the theme of the photograph is that, like, men are toys to her? Is that the idea? Or is she a big, scary giant about to eat them?? I could go either way. Giant’s more exciting but I’m pretty sure the former is more accurate.

By the way, that’s called vore porn. Jonohs linked me to some a while back. Ridiculous. Normally I am the last one to judge a kink for obvious reasons, but when I saw CG animation of giant women totally eating dudes, I said, “No. Ridiculous. You are being ridiculous.”

I say again: if you get off on fantasies of enormous women crushing you and grinding your bones between their gigantic teeth and then digesting you slowly in their acidy stomachs, you are ridiculous.

I’m sorry, but I needed you to know how I feel. And please don’t link to vore in the comments. I won’t go. I neither wear clown shoes nor dwell in Florida. Keep that nasty shit in your favorites folder.

As her career progressed, Ms. Arnold starred in a string of cheesey B-movie popcorn flicks. This is my favorite poster.


via.

“Don’t get frank with me, young lady.” So much sassy molassy! I hate it when young people are frank! … I just think frank was a bit of a mild word to use on a poster with so many exclamation points.

Questions for discussion:

  • Do supernumerary nipples have sensation? Please get back to me quickly.
  • Is vore porn ridiculous? Be specific.
  • If you had a girl gang, what would you call it?

  • May Flowers: Cindy Fuller, Miss May 1959

    May 8, 2011


    Photographed by Bunny Yeager.

    Sinuous Cindy Fuller was, until quite recently, a secretary in a quiet, Dickensian little law office in Boston, Massachusetts.
    (“In the Swim.” Playboy, May 1959.)

    It really was Dickensian; her employer was cheap on coal and ink, ran a ring of pickpocket orphans, and was a double agent for the French Revolution. Bad scene. So glad she got out.


    My favorite shot of Cindy Fuller ever — it actually comes from a different Playboy feature.

    It was in the hope of becoming a professional swimmer that Cindy left the bastion of the Brahmins for the balmy, baskable Florida clime.

    (Ibid.)


    Her aquatic talent, plus her stunning looks, make her a natural, and just before putting this issue to press, we learned that Cindy had won an assignment with the Water Follies.

    (Ibid.)

    You are like, “What are the Water Follies?” and I am like, “I don’t know either.” Let’s find out together. Walk with me to a place I like to call Googlytown. No, we don’t need to take the car. It’s close enough to walk. Jeez, City Boy.


    Runner-up for favorite shot.

    The International Water Follies appear to have been started by synchronized swimming and water sports entrepeneur Sam Snyder.

    Billed as the “world’s longest traveling aqua show,” … the group included swimmers, divers,comedy divers, and water ballet swimmers.

    (Synchronized Swimming: An American History. Bean, Dawn Pawson. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2005: p. 11.)

    Interestingly, according to Synchronized Swimming, Snyder was in Boston prior to moving the Follies to Miami (p. 14). This is interesting because Cindy was a Bostonian gal. Stay with me. The outfit he ran in Mass. during the 1930′s was called Sam Synder Productions of Boston, and it seems to be shortly after that that he hit FL for the first time, where the St. Petersburg Aquabelles performed.


    After taking a break for the second World War, Snyder hit up the Bay Area in my Norcal neck of the woods, starting synchro programs in San Francisco and Oakland. Not long after, he took the production to Miami as Sam Snyder’s International Water Follies (p. 43).

    Interest in synchronized swimming and watersports shows was strong enough both domestically and internationally that the Follies made it in to Billboard.

    Sam Snyder’s Water Follies will mark its 25th season as it readies for a tour of the United States due to start next month. … Unique this season is … a new gimmick in water shows [with] the introduction of surf boards and small canoes in production numbers.

    (“Snyder Readies 25th ‘Follies’; Plans Recording.” Billboard. March 4, 1960. p. 135.)

    Mr. Snyder also recorded the singers whose music he used in his show and released their albums under his own label. I am coming up goose eggs on when his ambitious productions finally ceased, but if I ever find out, I’ll come back and let you know.

    And that’s the story of the International Water Follies.

    Ms. Fuller says she was the first Jewish playmate (we’ve talked about the contention for that title before), and she may well be very correct in that claim. After the Water Follies, Ms. Fuller also danced at the world-famous Copacabana in New York. Today, she goes by her married name, Cindy Fuller Martino, and is a professional artist.



    Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find 10 pages devoted to a lively Miami party attended by Cindy and four other lively ladies.

    Group shots and an article scan from “Playmate House Party” and “Bunny’s Honeys,” special features Playboy ran in May 1959 and September 1959. Click to enlarge. The latter, “Bunny’s Honeys,” was an article about photographer Linnea “Bunny” Yeager, an amazing o.g. and female trailblazer in the pin-up world. Give her wiki a spin. You’ll be glad!


    top, L to R: Janet Lupo, Miss November 1975; Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974; Cindy Fuller, presently featured; and the I-can’t-believe-I-haven’t-featured-her super-rad Helena Antonaccio, Miss June 1964.
    bottom, L to R: Janet, Helena, Cindy, and Bebe. Adorable.

    The above pictures come from the amaze-balls fantabulous Helena Antonaccio’s personal website, and were taken during production of Vh1′s “Rock of All Ages,” which aired in November 1999. Featured were Miss Antonaccio, Miss Fuller, Janet Lupo, and Bebe Buell. What a lineup of special, timeless gals! Super-cool.

    Knock-knock: Who’s there? Still alive and quick explanation with bonus preview of coming attractions

    April 1, 2011


    via
    .

    Don’t tell anyone I did this but … unannounced hiatus has been due to Lent: wanted to see if I could give up something that was actually hard not to do this year. It is way tougher than diet coke or dessert, from which I’ve also been abstaining. But I didn’t give up smoking or bloody beer — I’m not completely crazy.

    In the meantime, a preview of coming attractions:


    La Maschera del Demonio/The Mask of Satan/Black Sunday/The Black Mask (Mario Bava, 1960).

  • Some actual in-depth Mario Bava Movie Moments. It’s a scandal that I only did, like, one. I’m such a hack. Super-sorry. Feel free to browse the complete Movie Moments or Movie Milliseconds category while I’m gone and take a stroll down memory lane.
  • Even more Men Aren’t Attracted to a Girl In Glasses, Sk8 or Die, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys, and Hot Men Bein’ Hot of the Day.

  • May Flowers — E’s favorite Miss Mays of yore. Pictured below is the lovely and talented Cindy Fuller, Miss May 1959. Other May Flowers will include Dolly Read and Anna Nicole Smith (posing as “Vickie”). Like, are you simply all kinds of psyched?

    In the meantime, remember that all the past spotlighted Playmates in the journal’s various projects have now been placed in their own Playboy category for your streamlined browsing pleasure, as well as to make it even more convenient for Hef to one day sue the everloving crap out of me.

  • Liberated Negative Space is a given.
  • Haven’t forgotten about the Bond Girls project. Name will be “Naughty Girls Need Love, Too,” because the best Bond Girls are the bad ones. Ow! (Please do not talk to me about Miss Moneypenny. I will clap my hands over my ears and sing the Goldfinger song, and you don’t want to hear that, believe me.)


    via
    .

  • Milton May: a month of quotes and insights on the antiheroic nature of Satan from that uniquely dogmatic, blind, old-timey charmer, John Milton (Paradise Lost).
  • And finally, in Teevee Time news, the Simpsons will get their own category, along with screencapped scandalous moments from a mystery shuck-and-jive sitcom of days gone by at which you will just have to guess.


    via
    .

    …. And at which you have now guessed, correctly, unless you did a lot of tranqs in the last fifteen to twenty years. Don’t do drugs, kids. Don’t be like Carol Brady. Not ever.

    All in all, I’ve been storming along, barbituate-free, like a Lent-observing bat outta hell and I got a lot of dogs in the fire — I’m looking forward to a strong return as soon as Easter has passed. As you can see, I will be back with a bang in a few weeks. This has just been a “can I even do it?” excercise to flex my muscles of restraint.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to see a man about a Giants’ game.


    via.

    Don’t you dare.

    Catch you all on the upcoming flip side!

  • Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Jean Cannon, Miss October 1961

    February 5, 2011


    Photographed by Ron Vogel.

    The lovely and talented Jean Cannon was Playboy’s Miss October 1961. According to a source I trust from Kalamazoo, Ms. Cannon was enticed to pose partly out of pique with her husband, who said she was “too ugly” to be a Playmate.

    The only thing about that story that doesn’t quite totally ring true for me is that she was already working as a Bunny and I think you must rate yourself at least decently attractive to apply for that job, don’t you? But maybe I’m way off base.

    Besides the gorgeous photography by Ron Vogel, my favorite thing in this spread is the case of Jeannie’s disappearing, reappearing, cheek-switching beauty mark. In the above picture, the mole is on her right cheek (viewer’s left).

    In the above picture, it has moved to her left cheek, or the cheek on our right as we look at the photograph. Is it a case of reversing the photograph? Or was makeup retouched and the mole accidentally moved to the opposite side? We’ll never know.

    And here, in one of my favorite shots from the spread, she has no mole at all. At least that we can see. Much like the case with Miss July 1957, the lovely and talented Jean Jani, it’s really a tiny little continuity error but kind of fun to examine.

    I like this shot best because it is not as posey as the others. I don’t know if Vogel caught her getting ready to pose, or in the middle of speech, or what, but it is for me the most natural expression of the bunch.

    A gorgeous composition — and a wonderful addition to my ongoing series of Playmates topless in silly cropped pants (why are they so often red? I don’t know but I love it) — but a very tense expression from Ms. Cannon. Sad face. Then again, according to her write-up, she had a lot on her mind.


    Nature-loving (and clearly loved by nature) Jean Cannon’s natural habitat is any reasonably shady glen, except when she’s water-skiing, showing her prize-winning pooches or boning up on the hippest way to crack the Hollywood enigma (she’s a stage-struck emigree from New York’s very “in” Neighborhood Playhouse).

    (“Nature Girl.” Playboy, October 1961.)


    While we’re not usually enthused over rambles through the greensward, the prospect of prospecting for dryadlike Jean would send us into the California woods faster than Apollo pursued Daphne.

    (Ibid.)

    Okay, so here’s that backstory since I know you’re dying to hear all about classic Greek mythology right now.

    Apollo, who is roundly a dick in almost every story about him — ask Cassandra; I assure you she thinks he’s a real motherfucking asshole — mocked Eros, the tiny cherubic assistant of Aphrodite, for carrying a bow and arrows, since he wasn’t a warrior like Apollo (picture this as a Lucas type taunting exchange). Eros took offense and made two arrows, one of lead and one of gold.

    The golden arrow strikes love in the heart of whoever it hits: the lead one does the opposite — it causes the stricken person to hate the object they see next.


    The above shot is my favorite of the pictures from the standpoint of color and composition. And, holy cow, a ghost of a smile. It’s a Very Special nakey miracle!

    Eros shot the nymph Daphne with the lead arrow and Apollo with the golden arrow. Apollo fell madly in love with her, but she despised him. Daphne already had many suitors but preferred not to get married at all, which makes me wonder if the original story didn’t have shit to do with arrows in the first telling, and was more in the vein of stories about Artemis or Atalanta.

    In any case, they got in a race (like Atalanta) and as Apollo gained on her, Daphne begged her father, the river god Peneus, to save her from having to be with Apollo. So she changed in to a laurel tree. Apollo was still in love with Daphne depsite her transformation (those kinky greeks) and gave the tree his special protection and powers of eternal youth, which is why Bay laurel leaves stay green.

    /backstory.


    Jean as a Bunny at the L.A. club, right.

    Doe-eyed Jean hasn’t met a satyr on her sylvan romps, instead speaks warmly of silver birches and her pet poodles (she brings out the beast in anyone). But the satyr’s loss is our gain, all 38-24-37 inches, so join us in a birthday toast to our sable-haired October Playmate, a tempting twenty this month.

    (Ibid.)

    According to the Playmate Book, Ms. Cannon was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2002. She passed away at the age of 64 in November, 2005. R.I.P.

    Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Lynn Karrol, Miss December 1961

    January 20, 2011


    Photographed by Frank Eck.

    The lovely and talented Lynn Karrol was Playboy‘s Miss December 1961.


    If you’re looking for a girl with both feet on the ground, look elsewhere, for December’s air-borne miss, Lynn Karrol, is smitten with the life aloft – at least part of the time.

    (“She Floats Through the Air.” Playboy, December 1961.)


    Platter party. Hey-o!

    She’s a lissome 22-year-old ex-Pittsburgher transplanted to Manhattan, has held a pilot’s license since she was 16 and has recently taken up the exhilarating sport of skydiving (she’s logged nine jumps so far).

    (Ibid.)

    I always figured why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?, but the thrills I generally seek are of a totally different nature, so I’m essentially unqualified to comment.


    Miss Karrol’s somewhat singular avocation has not been plucked out of thin air: her father owns a small flying field on the edge of Pittsburgh and Lynn returns there several weekends a year to perfect her technique.

    (Ibid.)

    I did always want to learn to fly, both a plane and a helicopter. I can ride a motorcycle and drive a boat already, so, the way I see it, once I knock out flying, I’m that much closer to being the first full-out Bond villainness.

    I do not count Elektra King because she was acting out against her daddy and was initially partnered up with that schmuck Renard: what I’m envisioning is a self-motivated woman who has solely built up her empire with the express intent of world domination, with no Y chromosomes helping other than, you know — stress relief.

    Speaking of which, the Bond Girl project is already 100% in the works! I am keeping this promise: been collecting pictures, quotes, and trivia already, and I’m probably going to buy Maryam d’Abo’s book this weekend. So do get back to me with anyone you want to see included, because February is not long enough to do all of the Girls. The most swaying arguments will have to include pictures.


    When she isn’t hitting the silk, she’s donning it – as a fashion and television model. Lynn acquired her mannequin’s poise at a Pittsburgh finishing school; after graduating, she stayed on to teach her newly acquired social skills (make-up, styling, speech, etc.) to fledgling models.

    (Ibid.)

    Maybe I have not yet met the right Pittsburghers, but I’ve just never pictured “Pittsburgh” and “finishing school” in the same sentence. “Keep your pinky finger in the air while you eat cheesesteak sandwiches and holler ‘Jagoff!’ at the ref in the Steelers game, ladies. Always. It’s Continental.” Then again, I’m sure people would say the same of cotillion and pageants in my dusty corner of California and it still happens.

    Surprises are everywhere: diamonds in the rough.

    But how fun is the idea of a finishing school teacher who weekend skydives? I love it.



    AMBITIONS: To be the best in my field, in either television, commercials or motion pictures.
    TURN-OFFS: Rock ‘n’ roll, untidiness, rude cab drivers.

    (Playmate data sheet.)

    Rude cab drivers? Is that a Thing? Like if there was a group of people who did find that attractive, so much so that you’d have to let people know, “I’ll tell you one thing that does not turn me on, is those rude cab drivers,” and the people might respond thoughtfully, “Now, see, I kind of like that.” I’m not being clear. I guess I just mean to say that I’d think it goes without mention that rude people are generally not anyone’s turn-on. Doesn’t it? So I wonder if she’d recently had a bad run-in that was weighing on her when she filled out her data sheet.

    Once a guy was a horrible, horrible dick to me from in front of me at the ATM line and I’ve never forgotten. So I try to be extra-nice in lines on purpose because of how bad it was. Not even kidding — I don’t know if the guy was a mean drunk or was having the worst day of his life, or what. But the man I was dating at the time could tell you more if he hadn’t walked away while the guy was bitching me out. Later, when I asked him about it, he said, “I just knew if I didn’t walk away I’d yell at him or punch him.” I thought, what do you think I felt like doing? He placed such a premium on staying in control of his emotions that I was left to defend myself. And from then on I felt like I couldn’t count on him to stick up for me, like he’d always put himself first.

    Ms. Karrol mentions in the article that her ambition is to become a television and film actress. She certainly seems to have had both the raw materials (beauty and poise) and the drive for it, but I’m coming up goose eggs on credits.

    Whether her dream came to fruition under another name altogether is lost to the annals of the internet, but according to the IMDB, a “Lynn Karol” — one “r” — featured in the film Guadalajara en verano (Julio Bracho, 1965).

    The movie featured the Dean Reed twist song, “Don’t Tell Him No,” and I have no other information about it other than that the actual star of the film was o.g. luchadora Elizabeth Campbell, aka the Golden Rubi. Dang. Old school.

    Ms. Karrol / Karol returned to Playboy in 1964 to pose with none other than superfly jam-master Peter Sellers in a “Sellers Mimes the Movie Lovers” pictorial which parodied classic pairs from the movies. The article’s subtitle was “Peter the great creates antic take-offs on famous lovers of the silver screen.” Soon as I get my hands on scans, I’ll try to throw some of that up for you.

    Baby, It’s Cold Outside — Connie Cooper, Miss January 1961

    January 13, 2011

    For new readers from reddit, stumbleupon, etc.: always remember that you can click any picture, any time, to embiggen it.


    Photographed by Paul Morton Smith.

    Connie Cooper, real estate broker and Italian-American model (the best kind of model there can be), was Playboy’s lovely and talented Miss January 1961.

    So the source I usually use for the old articles, when I am weary of trying to make out the well-loved vintage magazine scans I find here and there on forums, is this French site that has only a couple of pictures from each spread but the entire write-up.

    Today when I went to check out the write-up for the fresh-faced Ms. Cooper, here, and hopefully pull quotes for this post, I instead got a full-stop-style page with a warning which read, “Ce site est suspendu à la demande expresse de Playboy.”

    No need to slip a Babelfish in your ear. It obviously means, “This site has been suspended at the express demand of Playboy.

    Um, shit?

    I’d just been bragging not long ago about how it had been, like, nearly a decade since I was sued (By who? Barbara Orbison. Say what? Here is that long story), and I am loath to end such a long and comfortable, litigacy-free streak.

    But, hey. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I organized all the Playmate entries in to a category (cleverly named “Playboy” — you’ll never catch me now, lawyers for the magazine named exactly that!) and, should I be contacted by PB Enterprises, etc., I’ll just pull the plug on the category. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

    Still, slightly nervous. So if you see all these disappear one day, now you know the reason why: I am a cowardly coward who cowers in my cowering corner. No, Miss Christie Hefner, ma’am, there are certainly no soldiers for freedom of the press here. Try Larry Flynt’s trailer. Anyway, on with the show!


    This being the month when resolutions are made, we thought we’d find a playmate who’s well on the way to fulfilling her own.

    (“Well-Developed Property.” Playboy, January 1961.)


    We landed a beauty in the person of Connie Cooper, a twenty-year-old from Southern California who has resolved to become a real estate broker.

    (Ibid.)

    Interjection: Sorry — I, too, hate when what should be perfectly wonderful, lightly NSFW pictures have a lame descriptive bug that I can’t get off them without disrupting the integrity of the shot, but I have this Thing that I’m doing where I’m collecting the vintage Playmates in ridiculous cropped pants and this so abundantly qualified that I couldn’t leave it out. If I can get enough shots, I’m absolutely making myself a deck of cards. Chances are looking decent-ish so far.


    Standing five-feet-five, and weighing 110, Connie’s own landscaping is, from north to south, an impressive 37-21-36. As delicate as a cloisonne figurine, her charms are at their best indoors, where her proclivities run to such things as collecting Oriental knick-knacks with which to decorate her mantel, and those big, fuzzy honeybears with which girls like to strew their beds.

    (Ibid.)

    Aww, a dolly who likes dollies, a pretty little toy who goes smack-smack-smack, kissy noises in the air. Whatever. And please note the studded wedding band and solitaire she is already sporting in the above shot? Ms. Cooper did indeedy get that real estate license and went on to independent success before leaving the game to raise her children. Wasn’t just nothin’ but stuffin’ up there.

    I empathize with the bent of the article, though; she has a genuinely sweet and naturally beautiful face, very unlike some of the Kewpie dolls that can hail just as easily from her period as today (so try not to get too high on that horse).

    I think it’s all in the model’s attitude: is she a model or just a girl? Chipmunk face and out-thrust chest? Girl. Introspective expression, limbs falling in a natural, lanky arrangement? Model. I usually find the models much more interesting, but the girls have their time, too.

    Ms. Cooper’s very modelesque photoshoot sets her apart from some of her sister centerfolds who ranked mainly in the false-lash and bazooka-boob mould popular during this time, making her look strikingly modern. It’s hard to believe this photoshoot took place nearly fifty years ago.

    Please don’t point out Ms. Cooper’s very slight resemblance in some shots to Leelee Sobieski, though, or you will seriously deflate my lady-boner. You know how some people just, I don’t know … the opposite of “do it” for you? It’s not her fault, and I’m unable to articulate why, but Leelee Sobieski is now and ever shall be my psychic cold shower. Thanks in advance for never mentioning her again.


    Original article accompanying the layout. Click to enlarge.

    TURNOFFS: Male drivers, female drunks.*

    OMG, opposite-sies! Like mirror twins! I know I am one, but I am forever ripping on female drivers. Ask Miss D! As for drunk men, they worry me at night because they can’t reliably take me some place after dark (I hate driving at night) — and, if it is day and they’re already drunk, they better have a damned good reason, like that it’s 5 A.M. and we’ve been up bonding and simply haven’t hit the hay yet.

    *Playmate data sheet.

    In conclusion, I’m nervous about getting sued, but I feel like some kind of Something is bound to come up eventually. None of the pictures have been mine, none of the magazine articles have been mine, but all of the hard-won research and writing has. Should push come to shove and an order come down that I remove the Playboy material from my site, that’s what I’ll miss the most.

    That and the naked ladies.

    Holly Jolly Christmas Day: Vintage funny business — all-occasion Saint Nicks

    December 25, 2010

    Gerry Gersten for Playboy, December 1966.

    Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Happy Holidays from Cynthia Myers, Miss December 1968

    December 20, 2010


    Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

    “Wholly Toledo!” is the name of the article that accompanies the pictorial for the lovely and talented Cynthia Myers, Playboy’s Miss December 1968. Her wildly popular centerfold shot her to stardom among the troops in Vietnam, and a pinup of her is featured in the film Hamburger Hill. She has been a teen model, a television personality, played a lesbian songstress in one of the most famous camp films out there, and become an unwitting space cowgirl in her 60 years on this planet. Buckle up, because here we go!



    Cynthia wrote to Playboy a few years ago, informing us that she’d like to be considered as a centerfold beauty. Assistant Picture Editor Marilyn Grabowski answered with a reminder that our Playmates must be of legal age but that Cynthia should keep in touch. She did just that.

    Well, kind of.

    The shot was in June of ’68, and Ms. Meyers was born in September of ’50, but Playboy waited until Cynthia was comfortably 18 to publish her pictorial. It had become common practice for the magazine after the scandal with Elizabeth Ann Roberts.

    In fact, the most recently featured “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” playmate, the fantastic Susan Bernard, was also 17 at her photoshoot and saw her spread published after she turned 18.

    Posing underage for Playboy is not the only common ground between Ms. Bernard and Ms. Myers. While Ms. Bernard was featured in Russ Meyers’ cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, today’s special gal starred in his 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

    I promise to have a full-out Movie Moment for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of these days. For my friend’s recent 31st birthday, I sent him a picture of the cast of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with him tagged as Dolly Read and me as Cynthia Myers. I explained that I originally had me as Dolly and him as Cynthia, but I switched it because it was his birthday.

    You know Roger Ebert wrote it? I don’t think he ever gets to criticize a movie again.

    Cynthia is pictured reading a five-year-old palmistry pamphlet about what the following year once held for her because she placed a large credulity in psychic phenomenon.

    “I’ve known since I was 15 that I’d be a Playmate. It’s almost as if this had been fated to happen.” Cynthia’s penchant for precognition can be traced to her early teens.

    (Ibid.)



    “A junior high school friend of mine in Toledo,” she says, “was a nut on palmistry, astrology and even reading tea leaves and crystal balls. Like most people, I thought is was just a bunch of baloney. But when I began reading about prophets like Edgar Cayce, I began to realize that there are strange spiritual forces in the world undreamed of even in The Playboy Philosophy.”

    (Ibid.)

    Ms. Myers, I think you’d be surprised by what the Playboy philosophy can dream of.

    In 1994, it was revealed that a picture from Ms. Myers’ centerfold pictorial was among several that crafty NASA jokesters have launched in to space over the years. Ms. Myers, together with Leslie Bianchini, Angela Dorian, and Reagan Wilson, was snuck in to the checklist for the Apollo 12 mission that was placed in astronauts’ suit cuff on their trip to the moon in November of 1969. Ms. Myers specifically took her space journey with astronaut Al Bean.

    Don’t forget: Describe the protruberances.

    Boobs : Geeks :: Horse : Carriage. I think it’s kind of funny and sweet.

    And the gals didn’t just go up in the lunar landing module: they straight moon walked. The astronauts found their pictures while fulfilling their extravehicular (read: outside the module on the lunar surface) mission duties on the moon itself.


    Pete Conrad got Miss September 1967, Angela Dorian, (“Seen any interesting hills and valleys?”) and Miss October 1967, Reagan Wilson (“Preferred tether partner”). Al Bean got Miss December 1968, Cynthia Myers (“Don’t forget — Describe the protuberances”), and Miss January 1969, Leslie Bianchini (“Survey — her activity”).

    (“Playboy Playmates pranked into Apollo 12 mission checklists.” January 13, 2007. BoingBoing.net.)


    Conrad told us in 1994: “I had no idea they were with us. It wasn’t until we actually got out on the lunar surface and were well into our first moon walk that I found them.” Bean recalled: “It was about two and a half hours into the extravehicular activity. I flipped the page over and there she was. I hopped over to where Pete was and showed him mine, and he showed me his.”

    (Ibid.)

    A large, color version of the shot of Cynthia that was smuggled up to the moon in the Apollo 12.

    Lest we forget, the lovely and talented DeDe Lind, Miss August 1967 and, like Cynthia, one of the most popular Playmates in the magazine’s history, also rode shotgun on the Apollo 12 mission. She was in the control console, her picture labelled, “Map of a heavenly body.”

    I always feel compelled when talking about the Playmate pictures and NASA to bring up the fact that my sorority’s badge is on the moon. Neil Armstrong put it there for his wife. It’s my sorority’s badge and it is on the moon. The moon that is in space. Sorry, but I get pretty cocky and excited by that. Tell a friend.

    This much more recent picture of Ms. Myers just might get her kicked out of the Red Hat Society.

    Can our prescient Playmate predict anything about her future? “I’m going to be an actress,” she says simply. “Notice I didn’t say ‘I’d like to be,’ but ‘I’m going to be.’ I don’t know how good I’ll be as an actress, but I’ll be one.”

    (“Wholly Toledo!” Playboy. December 1968.)


    Judging from her track record as a prophetess — and from her already abundant attributes — we’d like to venture a prediction of our own: Playmatehood should be just the beginning for the remarkable Miss Myers.
    (Ibid.)

    Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Merry Christmas from Susan Bernard, Miss December 1966

    December 15, 2010

    The lovely and talented Susan Bernard was Playboy’s Miss December, 1966.


    Photographed by Mario Casilli and Bruno Bernard.

    Like Valentine Vixen Cyndi Wood, Ms. Bernard came from a Hollywood family and, though she was only eighteen, she already had a few credits under her little-looker (5’3″) belt when she appeared in Playboy.


    Just before this Christmas Playmate pictorial went to press, our Yuletide miss called us from the Coast with the news that she’d won the ingenue lead in Stranger in Hollywood, a new dramatic film with a tentative title that doesn’t describe Miss December at all.

    (“Growing Up Glamorous.” Playboy, December 1966.)


    Susan Bernard’s been an Angeleno for all of her 18 years and is the daughter of top Hollywood glamor photographer Bruno Bernard (Bernard of Hollywood) and actress-director Ruth Brande.

    (Ibid.)

    In fact, her father had worked for Playboy in the past, and took pictures of his daughter for this spread.

    Ms. Bernard has said that, when she posed for Mr. Casilli, who was a former apprentice of her father’s, it was the first time she’d been nude in front of anyone other than her mother. She has also cited the fact that, though the article does not touch on her faith background, she is probably the only Jewish playmate to have been posed in front of a Christmas tree. (The title of first Jewish playmate, period, is too contested to touch.)


    Favorite.

    The house has always been filled with theater and movie people,” Susan says, “and after I decided that acting was really for me, my parents encouraged me at every step.”

    Brunette and brown-eyed Sue [was] featured on dozens of puppy-and-little-girl calendars as a youngster.

    (Ibid.)


    Acceptance in the talent program at the Film Industry Workshop at Columbia Studios followed Sue’s first film role, a small part in a shot-on-location desert flick.

    (Ibid.)

    I need to gleefully interject that that on-location desert flick was a little number you may have heard of from EVERYWHERE in the world of camp, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.

    In the Russ Meyer B-movie classic, Ms. Bernard portrays Linda, an innocent girl traveling with her boyfriend who is intercepted, drugged, and kidnapped by Haji, Tura Satana, and Lori Williams as Rosie, Varla, and Billie, respectively. The evil trio of strippers kill her boyfriend Tommy, played by Ray Barlow, and haul Linda along as a hostage on their next fiendish caper.

    Not to be missed.

    Prior to Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (do you have any idea how much fun that is to type out? so many exclamation points!), Ms. Bernard also appeared on television in 1963 as a young character called Beverly Fairchild in the popular American soap opera General Hospital. She was 15 at the time. In 1969, Ms. Bernard starred in the lesbian-themed film That Tender Touch as Terry Manning. Though the film is very tame by today’s standards, some of the material was very groundbreaking for the time.


    Miss December’s private life makes a striking contrast to the image of an in-demand girl running from studio to stage. Even in the busy Bernard household, Susan’s managed to establish a balcony retreat for work on oil portraits of people she likes, among them the dates who take her to her favorite beaches and the cozy restaurants she prefers to gaudier showbiz scenes.

    (Ibid.)

    I think that resistance to the “scene” in Hollywood really shaped her as an artist and a person with a real brain and will. She has some pretty solidly cemented cult status, and is still an active and a classy lady, though she keeps out from in front of the camera these days.

    That shot up there actually came from the next year’s calendar. They stuck her in as March. My guess for this reasoning? The lion next to her on the hearth. You know. “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb.” You think?

    Scans of Ms. Bernard’s original layout. All of the at-home b&w shots were taken by her father. It is to his memory that Ms. Bernard currently devotes herself. She has so far produced three books about his body of work and maintains a beautiful site called Susan’s Salon, where you can send her messages and go through pictures her father took in the halcyon days of Bernard of Hollywood.


    Being the daughter of one of the most famous photographers in Hollywood, I felt I was the most photographed child in America. With this came the privilege of experiencing Hollywood history. My Salon will bring you the stories my father loved to tell and my cherished memories.

    (Susan’s Salon.)

    I totally encourage you to check it out. Very cool.

    I think all in all this has been a pretty kickass, standout Playmate entry. Especially if you are in to pin-ups, old Hollywood, and B-movies, which it is my expreience that those usually go together. Hope you feel the same!

    And, because I can’t help myself, some caps of Sue in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Sorry, in my cursory search, I couldn’t find any stills with Tura Satana, and I’m too lazy to dig it up and take screencaptures myself. Enjoy them anyway?



    Finally, an absolute trifecta of perfecta, from left to right in the recent shot below: Ms. Bernard; my b’loved Julie Newmar; baby burlesque legend Dita von Teese.


    via madhatter on the vintageerotica forums.

    Too much amazing for one photo.

    Movie Moment — 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies: Die Hard

    December 14, 2010

    Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988.)

    New York cop John McClane gives terrorists a dose of their own medicine as they hold hostages in an LA office building.

    (the imdb)

    This was the first action movie I ever saw. The second was Total Recall. I watched them both on VHS on the same New Years’ Eve day with my cousins. Absolutely no action film has measured up for me, since. How could it? Even though it’s made most other action movies pale in comparison, I still wouldn’t trade those four-or-so hours for the world.

    The movie is based on the book Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. Nothing Lasts Forever is a sequel to The Detective, which was made in to a film in 1968 with Frank Sinatra as Joe Leland, the McClane character’s original name. Originally, Nothing Lasts Forever was going to be adapted as a sequel to Commando (?!), but after hanging out in development hell for awhile, it was repackaged as a sequel to The Detective, and then eventually tooled as a standalone picture.


    In 1975, author Roderick Thorp saw the film The Towering Inferno. After seeing the film, Thorp had a dream of seeing a man being chased through a building by men with guns. He woke up and took that idea and turned it into the The Detective sequel, Nothing Lasts Forever.

    (the wiki)



    Best. Absolutely best.

    In the source material, it is not his wife but McClane’s daughter Steffie Generro (not Genarro) who is in the building, which is the Klaxon Oil Company national headquarters. Also, instead of posing as terrorists while really planning a good old-fashioned heist, Gruber and co. in the book really are terrorists. They are specifically members of the Rote Armee Fraktion, or Red Army Faction (sometimes called the Baader-Meinhof group), a German terrorist organization of the 1970s through 1990s.

    The change from Gruber’s group being legit RAF terrorists to only using terrorism as a smokescreen for their intended purpose, director John McTiernan says, came because he wanted the film to be lighter and have “joy” rather than dark political overtones.

    Taped to the fuse box is a pinup of Pamela Stein, Playboy’s Miss November 1987. The crew stuck it up there as a joke and Willis’s reaction to it is allegedly the real deal, so the choice was made to leave it in. For more on Ms. Stein, she was an entry in my NSFW November project of 2009: read all about it.


    William Atherton does what he does best in this movie: play an asshole. In this case he’s reporter Richard Thornburg. The king douche from Ghostbusters lays it on thick, even going to Holly’s house and telling the McClane children that their parents are going to die. Do they have any last words they’d like to share with them? Small wonder that the first thing Holly does when she sees the aptly named Dick is punch him.

    If someone told my kid I was going to die and asked her what her thoughts on that were, they’d better consider themselves lucky if, once I got out of danger, I restrained myself to just a punch in the face.


    The “yippie kai yay” phrase is a reference to the theme music for Roy Rogers, who McClane tells Gruber was his preferred screen idol growing up, in the face of Gruber’s disdain for McClane’s lone wolf heroics. The line made it in to the AFI’s top 100 list, coming in at 96 on the 100 Greatest Movie Lines of all time.

    The contact info for the Nakatomi building is actually the numbers (at the time) for Fox Plaza, where the film was shot. The extended cut of the film also contains a short scene which explains a plothole: the FBI tries to cut power to the building once they take over the “terrorist” negotiations. In the extended cut, McClane, hiding in the men’s bathroom, asks Al what’s going on and he explains that the FBI is in charge now and it’s part of their operating procedures.

    The building’s power getting cut does not work according to Gruber’s plans. He’d hoped that the power being out would help him to crack the seventh and final lock for the safe (remember, earlier on Theo had warned Gruber that the circuit for the final lock could not be severed locally, precisely to prevent their kind of activity); deciding to go back to the drawing board, Gruber has computer whiz kid Theo connect to the emergency power supply. This is why when the power comes back on without this short backstory in the theatrical cut, the first thing we see is an FBI agent, and it’s why later the FBI takes out the power to the whole block instead of only the Nakatomi building, which does deactivate the seventh lock mechanism.

    The “yippie kai yay” line isn’t the only American Film Institute keeper: Hans Gruber was listed as #46 on their 100 Years, 100 Villains list. What is it with the AFI and lists? Pretty soon it’ll be all like, “The AFI’s 10 Greatest AFI lists,” and the special will show famous actors and directors somberly describing the first time they accidentally stumbled on a televised broadcast of the 100 Best Movie Songs and couldn’t find the remote, so they watched it all.


    The filmmakers introduce a gratuitous and unnecessary additional character: the deputy police chief (Paul Gleason), who doubts that the guy on the other end of the radio is really a New York cop at all.

    (Roger Ebert. “Die Hard.” July 19, 1988. Chicago Sun-Times. He only gave the movie two stars.)


    As nearly as I can tell, the deputy chief is in the movie for only one purpose: to be consistently wrong at every step of the way and to provide a phony counterpoint to Willis’ progress. The character is so willfully useless, so dumb, so much a product of the Idiot Plot Syndrome, that all by himself he successfully undermines the last half of the movie.

    (Ibid.)

    Entertainment Weekly named this the best action film of all time, showing those uptight pinky-raisers at the AFI that anyone can make an arbitrary list. What do you call my 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies? Completely made up is what I call it, because I’m the one who sat down and made it up.


    Gruber being dropped because McClane unfastens Holly’s watch totally stuck with me for life. I’m not saying that it is singlehandedly responsible for my vertigo, but it’s on my arbitrary list of suspects (running gag alert). Some of that surprise is genuine: director McTiernan had Alan Rickman dropped a full second early in the count in order to capture an expression of truly spontaneous shock and fear. Worked.

    To wind things down with the dewy promise of what’s-to-come, I’ve got super-great news for anyone who likes news that is super and great: a fifth Die Hard film is in the works, with Willis attached, and shooting is expected to begin in 2011. Personally, I liked Die Hard With A Vengeance best of the sequels, but I would not kick Live Free or Die Hard out of bed. Your thoughts?

    Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Linda Vargas, Miss December 1957

    December 8, 2010


    Color work by Herbert Melford, b&w by Mike Shea.

    Lithe as a cat, a satiny, black, unblinking cat, and restless as a cat, too, is lovely Linda Vargas.

    (“Siren in Search.” Playboy, December 1957.)

    When I end up with that many commas in a sentence, I try and revise it to a less awkward phrasing. But the older I get, the faster and more loosely I play with comma rules, anyway, so I should shut my critical piehole.

    She stalks Chicago’s foggy lake-front streets, wanders alone through the labyrinthine corridors of the Art Institute …

    (Ibid.)


    … sits by herself sometimes in a club, listening to the muted wail of a trumpet as it weaves through her consciousness like a caress.

    (Ibid.)

    A trumpety caress? Anyone who’s ever seen a spit valve emptied finds that simile as gross as I do.

    I’m sure you’ve noticed by this point that this write-up is not much of a write-up, but instead is a little noir vignette from a writer with much higher aspirations than “What were you like growing up? Have you always known you’d one day take your clothes off for money.” This frustrated, anonymous Playboy pencil-pusher produced sort of a weird poetic-prose character capsule and not an article about Ms. Vargas at all.

    The work would have been very at home in a mystery magazine from the same era, maybe Dime Detective or even something higher brow like Ellery Queen, but it’s weirdly “off” for Playboy. It goes on:

    Self-involved and unsatisfied, Linda searches for a purpose and fulfillment that she herself cannot define.

    (Ibid.)

    Wow. But don’t get any ideas that she’s a loner —

    — She knows how to please a man when she wishes.

    It is by choice, of course, that she spends much of her time alone, for Linda is beautiful and she knows how to please a man when she wishes. But most often she prefers her own contemplative company and the search.

    (Ibid.)

    When a writer uses “for” in lieu of “because” in anything but write-like-Nathaniel-Hawthorne-for-charity situations, it sort of sets my teeth on edge. Let’s see if we can find out some actual facts about Linda Vargas and not this murky, radio-serial voice-over malarkey.


    This one is my favorite.

    A troll through the wiki finds no individual entry for Ms. Vargas, but does describe her on a list of 1957 Playboy appearances.


    Vargas, who began modeling when she was a teenager, had a steady career before and after her Playmate appearance as a model and bit actress.


    Frequent Playboy photographer Peter Gowland used images of her in many of his instruction books.

    The Gowlands and their fun and important contributions to the history of cheesecake have been explored here, before. Super-cool connection.

    Wiki may have let me down, but good ol’ Java’s Bachelor Pad thankfully had more to add.

    Linda Vargas didn’t have the most successful career as a glamour girl, nor is she remembered except by the most ardent Femme Fatale fan, but she was one of those rare models who had that spark that made her pictures come alive.

    (“Femme Fatale: Linda Vargas.” Java’s Bachelor Pad. 2007.)


    Linda Vargas, as happened with most models in the glamour era, was compared to already famous actresses/models. In this case the comparison was to Ava Gardner, even though that seems like a bit of a stretch.

    (Ibid.)

    Agreed. A resemblance to Ava is cursory at best. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually think that with the limpid eyes and fuller mouth, Linda is more arresting than Ms. Gardner.

    On the other hand, Ava Gardner had such a star presence that it’s hard to separate her just-plain-picture from my associations of the animation she brought to the roles she played onscreen.

    As far as current star resemblances go, Linda Vargas looks a lot like Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd, though, wouldn’t you say?


    Original article scans.

    Vargas started modeling when she was 15, was the cover model and centerfold in the December 1957 issue of Playboy, and was pretty much done with modeling by the mid 1960′s.

    (Ibid.)

    Haven’t got the least clue what she’s up to these days. Coming up total goose-eggs on searches. If you know anything, drop me a line. I’d saved the bathtub picture of her, like, four years ago and was looking forward to a more complete Linda Vargas entry. So let me know — I hate unfinished business.

    Baby, it’s cold outside: Showdown! — The three faces of Miss October 1957, Colleen Farrington

    November 27, 2010


    Photographed by Peter Basch.

    La donna é mobile. Women are changeable. The write-up for this lovely and talented Playmate of the Month (and surprise celebrity mother) featured her in three different hair colors: blonde, brunette, and redheaded. Browse through the spread and pick your poison!


    Time was you could make a date with a brunette on Wednesday and, when you picked her up Saturday night, be certain a brunette would be waiting for you.

    (“La Donna È Mobile.” Playboy, October 1957.


    These days, thanks to quickie hair-dyes, your brunette may have metamorphosed into a redhead or a boysenberry blonde.

    (Ibid.)


    Click to enlarge any ol’ pic, any ol’ time, but I strongly recommend the one on the right up there. It’s great. She was a lovely ham in this spread.

    And just what in the name of easter baskets would a boysenberry blonde look like? Did the person who wrote that ever even see a boysenberry? They’re so deep purple that they’re virtually black. Strawberry blonde is a shade, yes. Boysenberry blonde? Not so much. Those two things do not work together.

    I find the pairing weird and it makes me curious to see such a thing in real life. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible outside of food coloring on a junior high girl. Back to the likely made-up story of quickie hair dyes and their metaphorical relationship with the vagaries of the vapid gender.


    This sign of the times was dramatized for us recently when photographer Peter Basch sent us a test shot of prospective Playmate Colleen Farrington, a New York TV model*.

    (Ibid.)

    *In fact, Colleen was at this time modeling on television and doing high fashion on runways. She worked frequently with designer Oleg Cassini, who would go on to permanent international fame in about three years as Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite designer and the architect of her “look” in the Camelot heyday.


    My favorite shot of the spread.

    We found her a pert, well-turned brunette, and we wired Pete to go ahead by all means. When the first Playmate photos arrived, however, Colleen (having dyed her crowning glory for a TV show) was a blonde.

    (Ibid.)


    We liked her better the other way, so she obliged by becoming a brunette again and Pete, in a puckish mood, persuaded her to try a temporary head of red, too, in the interest of utter confusion.

    (Ibid.)


    On these pages, therefore, Colleen is available in three smart decorator colors. Which do you prefer?

    (Ibid.)

    Red, over here. I’ll put the poll at the bottom for easy voting.

    I’m curious to see how this one comes out. I think the red suits Ms. Farrington, who sometimes went by Ms. Prince, best, but then again, the pictures of her with red hair are the best done in my opinion, too, so that could be clouding my judgment. If she’d been blonde in the pink corset by the bar pictures, maybe my feelings would be different.

    As far as that series of this shoot goes, I’d spotted and saved it a few years ago, just saving it as Colleen Farrington 1, 2, 3, etc. When I started putting together pictures and bios for these winter posts, I was pumped to see I’d be able to include her.

    Then when I found her original spread, I was tickled by the prospect of a poll for which hair color was the most pleasing to readers. I’ve been meaning to return to the idea of regularly putting up Showdown!s and this was a perfect opportunity to get back in the swing. Not only that, but Ms. Farrington had one more surprise up her lovely sleeve —

    — She is the mother of unbelievably beautiful and talented actress Diane Lane.

    I’m sure you’re thinking what I’m thinking — this amazing fact means that Colleen Farrington was, at one time, the mother-in-law of The Highlander. I know, right? There can be only one! Amazing!

    Just kidding. I realize not everyone’s life is built around tangentially relating the science fiction/fantasy films and television of their youth to everything they experience, and I’m trying to recover from that shock. I’m sure you were thinking how beautiful mother and daughter both are. And they are.

    Ms. Farrington married acting coach, partner to John Cassavetes, and unlikely cabbie Burt Lane and the couple had Diane in 1964. They divorced when the baby was only 13 months old and Ms. Lane lived sometimes with her mother and sometimes with her father until she was 15, when she emancipated herself from her father having already sadly written her mother, living in Georgia at the time, off following some unfortunate family fallouts. They had kind of a bumpy period that I don’t think it’s fair to get in to, but they are reconciled and all is well.

    So, back to the poll and how mobile we donnas are: Which of Colleen Farrington’s ‘do’s rocks your world?


    Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Inaugural Edition featuring Stella Stevens, Miss January 1960

    October 27, 2010

    Welcome to the Inaugural Edition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!”

    The lovely and talented Stella Stevens made a great name for herself in movies and on television after posing as Playboy‘s Miss January 1960.


    Photographed by Don Ornitz and Frank Schallwig.

    Stella Stevens, an eye-filling inhabitant of Southern California, was summoned thence from Tennessee to test for the lead in a film about Jean Harlow, but the movie never came off and bella Stella had to content herself with so-so assignments in Say One for Me and The Blue Angel, films in which she appeared fleetingly and rather out of focus in the B.G., which is script talk for background, not Benny Goodman.

    (“Dogpatch Playmate.” Playboy. January, 1960.)


    While the Playboy lensman was snapping away, the phone rang, and on the other end was great and giddy news for Miss Stevens — she had plucked one of the acting plums of the year, in the film version of the hit musical, Li’l Abner, playing Appassionata von Climax, the role created on Broadway by Tina Louise.

    (Ibid.)

    I have no idea why the Dane is there in that shot, nor why the article is titled “Dogpatch Playmate,” but I want a Great Dane so badly. Or an English mastiff. Or a Newfoundland. Maybe a horse or a big gorilla. Something bigger than my boyfriend.

    Just kidding. I don’t have a boyfriend. But I desperately want one. It’s actually really bumming me out. My husband says I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but what does he know.*

    *Entirely a humorous bit with no truth in it. Except for the stuff about the dogs. I don’t just “want” the biggest dog possible, it’s like I have to have it. This is not a joke: I spent at least an hour and a half on the internet last night looking for bombass adoptable giant dogs. I don’t know where this is coming from.

    Stella’s turn as Appassionata in Li’l Abner was followed by roles in films such as The Battle of Cable Hogue, The Nutty Professor, and The Poseidon Adventure. Ms. Stevens also did an incredible amount of television, appearing in Bonanaza, Riverboat, and Ben Casey, among many super-famous vintage television series —

    — including, germane to the last post, Wonder Woman. Ms. Stevens portrayed Agent M./Marcia in “The New Original Wonder Woman,” the made-for-TV-film that would become the pilot episode of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, which aired November 7, 1975.

    Marcia is the secretary to Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s rescuer and a Navy pilot during WWII, following the comic plotline. Marcia is (gasp!) a double agent for the Nazis and tries to get Diana killed by sneakily having someone else attempt to machine gun her to death while she is onstage doing her “act.”

    Those kinds of shenanigans will simply not be stood for. That Marcia totally needs tied up.

    Ms. Stevens did not appear in subsequent television movies or the final series that was spun out of them, but she was probably too busy to notice. She is a true working actress, the kind of performer with at least one or three credits for every year they are active.

    As the 60′s, 70′s, and beyond progressed, Ms. Stevens continued to act, appearing in popular television series like Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Highway to Heaven, and Magnum, P.I. in the 1980s. Nineties credits include The Commish, Highlander (helllll yeah — cue Queen’s “Princes of the Universe”), and Nash Bridges.

    Through the years, Ms. Stevens may’ve stayed beautifully built but it is almost definitely her wacky sense of humor which saved her from landing at the bottom of the “pretty girl” bit-part scrapheap. She ably held her own opposite comedic talents like Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, and Slim Pickens. That picture above is an outtake that appeared in The First 15 Years, which wonderfully captures Stella’s sense of the absurd even in a serious, nerve-wracking situation. Love it.

    And she has not slowed down. Last year, she lent her voice to the documentary Dante’s Inferno: Abandon All Hope, performing the role of Speaker for the Thieves in the 8th Circle of Hell. The 8th Circle is described in Bolgia 7, Canticles XXIV and XXV; the thieves are pursued by reptiles whose bites cause nasty transformations in them, which not only hurt but prevent the thieves from ever knowing the comfort of a steady, protective and genuine identity, a state of flux and anxiety which is the perfect punishment for the security they stole from their victims in life — identity theft, basically: Sr. Alighieri was ahead of his time, as usual.

    You can look for Stella Stevens next in 2011 or ’12 as Jill in The Human Factor, an in-development film project to which Michael Madsen, Danny Trejo, and Charisma Carpenter are also tentatively attached. Get it, girl!

    edit: Looking closely, I’m not so sure that picture with the dog is even Stella Stevens. Someone want to help out?

    edit 2.0: Astute superfly Gridley says the article is titled “Dogpatch Playmate” because Dogpatch is the name of the fictional town in which Li’l Abner takes place. Thanks!

    Flashback Friday — Advice on friendship, feminine power, and finding your tribe: NSFW Drew Barrymore

    October 15, 2010

    This post originally appeared on on November 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm.


    “I also love to explore what defines who you are, and friendship, and how you love to rock out with your best friend and cruise and drive and listen to the Ramones and play air guitar, and yet at the same time, they will come and slap you when you’re acting out of line. I love the themes that I put on the poster: ‘Be your own hero’ and ‘Find your tribe.’ Those are two things that are really important in my life.”

    (interview with the AV Club’s Sam Adams, October 1, 2009, for Whip It)


    “I love empowering women, and I love women that are capable. The one thing that I’m not crazy about are women that feel like they have to be a man to live in a man’s world, or that men have the upper hand. These women have this bitter chip on their shoulder, and that’s not really sexy. I like girls who have got each other’s backs. …

    … I don’t like cattiness, either. I hate seeing women be rude to each other. Oh God. I don’t like man-haters, and I don’t like back-stabbers. I like chicks who can fuckin’ rip it up, pull shit off, and want to go for a beer with each other at the end of the day!”

    (“Whip It! interview with director Drew Barrymore,” Chris de Salvo, The Scorecard Review, September 30, 2009).

    edit: When I posted this the first time, I had not yet seen Whip It. I watched it a couple months ago with Lo-Bo and Miss D and I thought it was great. From a critical standpoint, sure, I’m not stacking it up against Once Upon A Time In the West or The Godather: Part II, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t qualify as “great” in my book. You’re definitely not going to see some special release of it in the Criterion Collection, all fancy with laurel leaves around the names of the writers or anything, but it’s a fun flick whose cast is piled high with my favorite kind of women: flaky, unique, and funny.

    It’s got a great noisy riot grrl soundtrack, too. I work out to a lot of songs from it. That’s right, she writes and she takes care of a bangin’ body. Call me.

    Girls of Summer: Jan Roberts, Miss August 1962

    October 6, 2010


    Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

    Miss August 1962 was the lovely and talented Jan Roberts, who began as a bunny at the Chicago Playboy Club. At the time, it was usually the case that a centerfold may be offered a job as a Club Bunny. Though it would later become common for Bunnies to progress to a gatefold as Playmate of the Month, Ms. Roberts was the first to do it.


    With this issue we present a neat twist on the customary Playmate-to-Bunny progression: she’s ingenuous Jan Roberts — the first (but undoubtedly not the last) Playmate to be discovered among the hutch honeys already decorating club premises. Like hundreds of beauties from every part of the U.S. and several foreign countries, Brooklyn-born, Toledo-bred Jan stormed Chicago specifically in hopes of landing a job at the Playboy Club.

    (“Bunny Hug.” Playboy, August 1962.)


    Her credentials (executive girl Friday for the Juhl Advertising Agency of Elkhart, Indiana, and honor graduate of a two-year medical technology course in the same city) were impressive enough to earn her a Bunny berth. Although the lissome — 39-23-35 — arrangement of her 120 compact pounds on a five-foot-five frame tends to belie it, Miss August prefers mental exercise to physical.

    (Ibid.)

    But she’s so pretty. What could she possibly need to think about?

    [Ms. Roberts] thrives on chess and bridge bouts, reads omnivorously (mostly books on mathematics and theology), dabbles in graphology, and earnestly paints landscapes which bear, she believes, “an unfortunate resemblance to my favorite foods — spaghetti and cheese blintzes.”

    (Ibid.)

    Hell, yeah, EAT SPAGHETTI!


    She can’t abide a sloppy pad, views beatniks with suspicious brown eyes, loves shoot-’em-up war flicks, feminine frills and Louis XVI antiques.

    (Ibid.)

    I like war movies too, but I wonder what was so objectionable about beatniks? Someone needs to dial Ned Flanders and make a lovely lonelyhearts hookup.



    Jan regards her current welcome-to-the-club duties with honest satisfaction. “I’m interested in a show business career,” she says. “As a Bunny, I’m already leading a show biz kind of life. It’s a big step on the way up.”

    (Ibid.)


    WHAT I LIKE IN MEN: Good manners, men who are good and kind to everyone, a sense of humor.
    WHAT I DISLIKE IN MEN: Wise guys.

    Ah, hahaha … wise guys. I have the cutest picture in my head, please come along with me on my mental image: Ms. Roberts in the trademark Club Bunny outfit, saying, “Oh, a wise guy, eh?” and windmilling her arm around to punch a Stooge. Chain-reaction hijinks ensue.

    As for her show biz ambitions, if that sought-after career progressed, it was under a different name. I tried Jan Roberts, Janice Roberts, and Janet Roberts on the imdb and came up empty. Then again, there is always the stage, yes? Or maybe her (by her account) cheese blintz-like and spaghetti-like landscape paintings took off. She has a sweet face and an endearingly semi-rabbity grill; I’d hope good things for her.

    The colorblocks in this picture are frigging awesome. Such a great and articulate, high-brow art critic I am, yes? Did I just blow your mind? Lovely. “What do you think of this piece by Basquiat?” “I think it’s frigging awesome!” Then I crush a beer can against my forehead. Sorry, college degree.

    Seriously, though — my favorite shot of the spread, because of the colors.

    This issue of Playboy featured a piece by Arthur C. Clarke titled, “World Without Distance.” Clarke is the author of seminal sci-fi novel 2001: A Space Odyssey; togther with Asimov and Robert Heinlein, he was known in science fiction circles as one of the Big Three. At the time his piece was published in this issue, Clarke was living in Sri Lanka (long story — another day). For some years, he had been contributing speculative articles and essays to various magazines about how developing technologies would effect lifestyles in the coming decades and centuries.

    In fact, he had a specific timeline for when he predicted certain innovations would come in to use, ending in the year 2100: as an example, he … for lack of a better word, “prophesied,” that a “global library” would be in use by 2005. People would be able to access this library from anywhere and have information at their fingertips. The articles and essays were eventually gathered into a book which Clarke titled Profiles of the Future, published in 1963. “World Without Distance” is one of those essays.

    There was also an article in the August 1962 Playboy called “The Prodigal Powers of Pot,” by Dan Wakefield. I came up goose-eggs in my search for the full text of Mr. Wakefield’s article, but HollywoodFiveO‘s review that it’s “an article so dry and boring we were unable to finish it even after huffing copious amounts of the demon weed,” is enough to discourage me from further research.

    However, it is a good opportunity for me to mention that two dear old friendohs, Jedi K and Marvelous Mr. C, will be performing in Reefer Madness in October, and if I’m not front and center, it means I’m frozen in carbonite. Actually, even if I’m frozen in carbonite, I might persuade Cinder and Milo to tote me along anyway.

    To celebrate, I’ll be sure to squeeze in a Reefer Madness Movie Moment for both the original scared-straight piece of propoganda and the recent film adaptation of the campy musical which my friends will be putting on. It’s an interesting time to stage it in my gret stet of Californny, what with a proposition on the ballot in our upcoming election to legalize marijuana.* I predict they’ll pull in a fun and hopefully big crowd.

    *It’s a square and unpopular opinion but, while I am neutral about marijuana as a recreational, albeit presently illegal, drug, I do not think its legalization will prove even at all to be the prompt financial panacea the yaysayers would have me believe, and that the difficulties of properly legislating its sale and distribution will ultimately prove more costly than the budget woes it proposes to solve; further, the proposition in its present form does not yet have a solid enough plan for implementing the legalization nor setting up a more specific system for local governments to go about filtering the monies to appropriate and needy civic channels to suit me. A really bad punster would say I find the idea “half-baked.” I merely say, take your time, rethink what it is that you want to accomplish, and come back to me with something I can consider solidly getting behind. My state has been propositioned to death. This is a big issue — give it the careful crafting it deserves if you want to succeed and be helpful.

    That was all in small print because a) I don’t like bringing politics up on the journal; and b) every time I timidly speak against the proposition, people seem to think I am opposed to the drug itself and shout me down with tireless explanations of how it’s not dangerous and people are way better drivers on pot than alcohol (this latter argument actually comes from my uncle, a former cop in Idaho who stuck in his oar on a recent family vacation when he was chagrined to learn that I was probably going to vote no on Prop 19).

    I don’t much care about the drug part. Seems to me like people are going to smoke whether it’s legal or not. That’s not my concern at all. What I care about is hasty-pudding legislation that I fear couldn’t pass a Pinto, let alone a majority vote in a state where the people who actually come to the polls are, statistically, retired persons who are, statistically, more conservative voters, and who would likely not vote “yes” on this proposition even if there were rock-solid figures showing that the tax revenue from the legalization of marijuana would go to blind limbless orphans, early-bird buffet discounts, and a television channel that shows all Matlock, all day. They’re still going to punch “no.” This legislation needs to be airtight and even though it’s trying, my feeling is it is not quite there.

    Even if it passes, things have become so persnickety and partisan here that it is bound to get held up for years in appeals and counter-measures. Don’t get me wrong, I have hopes for my government in the future, but all I see right now at federal and state levels is a morass in which nothing can get accomplished.


    Gesa Meiken photographed by Mario Casilli.

    Man! Not only is that all downer stuff, but I actually do hate talking about politics on the internet. I may come back later today and delete all that. Anyway, Arthur C. Clarke and a smiley blonde — even an apparent square like myself can’t vote no on that!