Your Miss August 1968 was the lovely and talented Gale Olson, who as you can see didn’t need cheesecake poses and a strained, pageanty smile to turn in an adorable and upbeat photoshoot for this issue of Playboy.
It’s really interesting how some of the playmates are capable of keeping the material erotic instead of porny. I don’t know that I can pinpoint the exact difference … but I look at this shoot, and I look at something like the gatefold of Miss November 1995, Holly Witt, and I feel like Edwin Meese quoting Justice Potter Stewart about classing porn: I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.
Kind of funny since he was describing the opposite; Meese made his referential remark in regard to the history in America of attempts at distinguishing sexually themed content from straight-up obscenity. I’m kind of talking about the reverse. Either way, it’s a dicey issue. Reagan appointed Meese in 1985 to head the Meese Commission, also called the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography, who published their report in 1986 to lip-smackingly salacious public interest. Everyone loves a good witch hunt, am I right?
I mentioned all these shenanigans once back in November when we talked about the experiences of Miss November 1986, Donna Edmondson, the Virgin Playmate who got hit with a steamy little shitstorm of media criticism. As though it were her fault. The Meese Commission’s report on pornography had the moral majority howling for naked people’s blood and she got caught in the middle. And don’t get me started on what happened fifteen years later — as we still live in a nation of, if not puritans, then at least sweaty hypocrites — to sweet Lindsey Vuolo, Miss November 2001, with that publicity-seeking, accusatory, diminishing misogynist Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Ugh.
I almost didn’t include this shot because it wasn’t very sharp or high-quality, but then as I contemplated it, I decided I actually liked the hazy quality, and the visible wrinkles in the image became dear and touching to me. There is something incredibly personal and human about the almost sad little private story one must conclude has lead to its well-worn threadbareness. Someone scanned this one with love, having either held on to it themselves, or acquired it from someone who had, for a long time. That idea is interesting as hell to me. What would someone make of the objects — letters, pictures, cards, old shirts — that you have secretly packed along with you to every new home in which you live, all these years, because of an emotional value, an identity-establishing familiarity, that far exceeds those objects’ original costs?
I do not want to use the word sentimental, per se, because these can be things that you keep for the gut, visceral reaction they can still incite. These are things that are part of the rhythms of your mind and body that I’m talking about, things worth holding on to because they are become part of how you operate. A roadmap to the art of you being “You” is this small collection of things so beloved that calling them cherished diminishes their import. These objects which represent long-passed moments or ways of feeling are part and parcel of the entirety of your experiences, your past, your emotions and stomach acid and sweat.
Things that have lasted longer than the relationships from which they came or phases in your mode of dress and hairstyle. To everyone else, because these objects are mixed in with other items, there is no shine or particularity about them. Only you know.
It is so incredibly personal and private, but the plain fact is that it will be gone through and picked over, someday, that collection of your private, true “belongings.” Because you’ll be dead, and those things that mean so much to you, those talismans of purpose and associative emotional properties won’t mean anything to anyone anymore.
I apologize. That was really downbeat. I’m getting close to a hard-hitting deathiversary (if you will) and I get all fucked up over it. Still. No need to drag anyone along.
Whew! Hot cross buns, enough with the self-audit, and enough with the needless sex-in-America history lessons as I retread ground I have already indignantly covered. Sorry — let’s get on with Ms. Olson!
The Olsons, who now live in Costa Mesa, are a large, closely knit family. “Having six brothers and three sisters really teaches you a lot about sharing things, materially and emotionally,” Gale says. Our August Playmate hopes one day to raise a family almost as large, but that won’t come about until she first fully satisfies her penchant for adventure.
(“Star-Spangled and Starry-Eyed.” Playboy, August 1968.)
“Last year I decided to become an astronaut, so I called the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Houston to find out qualification requirements.” Gale spent enough time being briefed on the phone by NASA officials to acquire four pages of notes. “So far, things are turning out fine for me,” she reports.
A model (36-22-35) of American femininity, Gale (who delivered talks on girl scouting over German television) stays in shape by practicing ballet and exercising, and plans to study Tahitian dancing next year.
I have said before that we superfly Girl Scouts are a bombass bunch. Take it to the bank.
Photographed by by Stephen Wayda and Barry Fontenot. Very close to the same pose!
And thirty-one years later, the readers were lucky again when Ms. Olson’s daughter, the lovely and talented Crystal McCahill, above, was Playmate of the Month for Playboy’s May 2009 issue.
It’s a different kind of Darwin Award: the Playmate gene, passed from mother to daughter, ensuring survival of the fittest and constant attention from males of the species. Examine the evidence before you in the curvy form of Crystal McCahill, the 25-year-old daughter of Miss August 1968 Gale Olson.
(“It’s Crystal Clear.” Playboy, May 2009.)
“I think every girl who has the figure for it wishes she could be a Playmate, and I’m no exception,” said Gale in her Playmate interview. “All I can say is, I am lucky!” Yet when luck strikes twice, it seems less like luck than destiny. It has happened just once before, when Miss December 1960 Carol Eden saw her daughter Simone grace the Centerfold in February 1989.
Says the Illinois-born Crystal, “I remember telling my brothers and sisters, ‘I’m going to do that one day. I’m going to do the exact same pose.’”
A fun-loving, positive, and thoroughly modern gal, you may follow Ms. Olson’s present doings on the twitter.
This picture is one of my favorites from the shoot. From a strictly aesthetic point of view it may possibly eclipse for me even the swan-butt ones. I love the movement and the colors in this composition. The impact of the yellow in all those little flowers around her is joyful and riotous, and her closed eyes imply a savoring of the moment. There is nothing forced or deliberate in this picture. It’s excellent.
The cover was photographed by Mario Casilli and Caroll Baker. The pose and styling of the model, Aino Korva — Miss Universe Denmark 1963, and first-runner-up in the 1963 Miss Universe pageant (in which Peter “Dr. Strangelove/The Pink Panther” Sellers was one of the judges!!), making her bid the closest a Dane has ever come to winning the title — are strikingly similar to the centerfold of Miss July 1967, Heather Ryan. I’m saving the lovely and talented Ms. Ryan for later this month. But you’ll see what I mean then.
As with the post on the lovely and talented Miss March 1967, Fran Gerard, I must throw up huge thanks to Fabrizio, an awesome and generous moderator over at the vintage erotica forums, which are free, well-moderated, full of fun, and they won’t give your computer any wack infections or the hantavirus. Grazie, bello♥!, and, to the rest of you, run — don’t walk — to the site. Enjoy!