Posts Tagged ‘Girl Next Door’

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.

The Girls of Summer: Carrie Enwright, Miss July 1963

June 21, 2010


Photographed by Ron Vogel.

I’d like to juxtapose the original text that accompanied Ms. Enwright’s Playboy gatefold appearance with some excerpts from a review of The Playmate Book (Taschen, 2006) by Joan Acocella, a writer whose work I like and find thought-provoking.


Hugh Hefner, the founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy, always said that his ideal for the magazine’s famous Playmate of the Month, the woman in the centerfold photo, was “the girl next door with her clothes off.”

(Acocella, Joan. “The Girls Next Door: Life in the centerfold.” Review of Gretchen Edgren’s The Playmate Book. The New Yorker. March 20, 2006.)

Okay: agree.


In other words, he was trying to take his readers back to a time before their first sexual experience, a time when they still liked their stuffed bear and thought that a naked woman might be something like that.

(Ibid.)

Mm. Mainly disagree.

It’s my opinion that the prose and pictures, especially in the early years, treated the reader as a fellow experienced swinging single dude, talking man-to-man. We have talked before about how the pictures are composed to have an implicit male presence, like the reader is the model’s partner and has only just stepped out of frame, maybe to take the picture he’s looking at. Take the following as an example:


Picnic laid out with thermos and two cups. Hello.

Like the best of mid-July days, Carrie seems to be destined expressly for the informal, easygoing pleasures of life, and is, as a consequence, a refreshingly unaffected companion.

“I am,” says [Ms. Enwright] in thoughtful self-summation, “a very healthy, well-adjusted, fun-loving kind of girl.”

(“Summer Idyl.” Playboy, July 1963.)

A non-threatening introduction, yes, but pretty come-hither. Not exactly teddy bear fare — and neither is the pose particularly “cuddly.”


There is one basic model. On top is the face of Shirley Temple; below is the body of Jayne Mansfield.

(Acocella.)

Somewhat disagree. I believe there was slightly more variety in the Sixties and Seventies than Ms. Acocella sugests, but I admit I am omitting the portion where she talks about some of the noteworthy veers from the norm (Joni Mattis, yay!) and I don’t want you to think she didn’t acknowledge that in her review. Please be aware that she did. Don’t want to look all biased.


[Playboy draws] simultaneously, on two opposing trends that have … come to dominate American mass culture: on the one hand, our country’s idea of its Huck Finn innocence; on the other, the enthusiastic lewdness of our advertising and entertainment.

(Acocella.)

Agree. Yes. 100%. That is its appeal, that the magazine attracts that dichotomy in American consumerism and in our own idea of beauty, sex, and ourselves.


Hence the surprise and the popularity of Playboy. The magazine proposed that … sex for sex’s sake, was wholesome, good for you: a novel idea in the nineteen-fifties.

(Acocella.)

Agree. This also undermines the beginning sentence with its teddy-bear going-for-innocent-investigative-interest suggestion, but I’m okay with undoing that assertion because I disagreed with it.


“I don’t much care whether I eventually live in a mansion or in a tree house, so long as the man I’m married to is fun to be with.”

(“Summer Idyl.”)


[As the pin-ups progressed] We get the great outdoors: Playmates taking sunbaths, unpacking picnics, hoisting their innocent bottoms into hammocks. Above all, we get youth.

(Acocella.)


Most of them have chubby cheeks, and flash us sweet smiles. At the same time, many of these nice little girls are fantastically large-breasted. Strange to say, this top-loading often makes them appear more childlike. The breasts are smooth and round and pink; they look like balloons or beach balls. The girl seems delighted to have them, as if they had just been delivered by Santa Claus.

(Acocella.)

Ha! Somewhat agree. That Santa. He always knows. But this shoot and Cheryl Kubert are both good examples, just as recent citation on this journal, of gatefolds that featured a model mainly not smiling. Ms. Enwright even keeps her mouth closed.


What is so bewildering about [modern vs. old-school] Playboy centerfolds is their [the modern ones'] utter texturelessness: their lack of any question, any traction, any grain of sand from which the sexual imagination could make a pearl.

(Acocella)

Very Strongly AGREE.


[Hef's] father was an accountant, his mother a Methodist disciplinarian. He has said that there was never any show of affection in his house. One suspects that there was likewise little evidence of jazz or hors d’oeuvres -— pleasure for its own sake. This is what he set out to sell: an upscale hedonism, promoted by the magazine’s articles and ads as well as by its nudes.

(Acocella.)

Agree, but not sure that it matters.

“For a while I was cashier at the Hollywood Paramount, which was my closest fling with the movie business. Then I worked as a salesgirl in a candy store. Trouble was, I have this terrible sweet tooth and pretty soon I was eating more candy than I sold.”

(“Summer Idyl.”)


“Right now I’m living with my mother and studying like mad to take my state boards in cosmetology. My most active hobby involves artwork, from making seed mosaics of Siamese cats to painting wild, wild oils. I get excited over my finished products — but then, I’m not critically minded.”

(Ibid.)


“I’m crazy about progressive jazz, lasagna, and playing practical jokes on people I like.”

Hell, yeah, lasagna and jazz! This girl is all kinds of easygoing and wonderful. Practical jokes, eh? such as what?


“I have been known to secretly put in cold mashed potatoes as the bottom scoop of someone’s root-beer float, which is a terrible thing to do, but fun!”

(Ibid.)

I have never done that nor even thought of it. Holy god, I can’t wait to do this. She is a comic genius and I am trying this, stickety-stat!


Bookworms are hottttt … even when they are only pretending for a photoshoot.

“I am not the type who always has a book going. I rarely read novels, but occasionally I get on a self-improvement kick, the most recent of which was plowing through Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action.”

(Ibid.)

I don’t know why, but I feel like the editors forced her to say she read it all when maybe the truth was that she only started it. Just a feeling. I’m about to talk about why they might’ve done that in a second.


“I love Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra … — oh, so many more. I’m very congenial toward most performers, and I enjoy nearly all.”

(Ibid.)

Again — wonderful taste. You find that so often in the Sixties write-ups, though, that the girls are prompted to talk about foodie foolery, jazz, politics, photography, and art. I’m not sure when that fizzled out, but it has. And I can totally admit that probably 30% of it was bullshit and only 7 out of 10 of these girls knew what they were talking about (if they even said it to begin with) or collected Bird and bebop on vinyl and the like, but I still feel good about the fact that it was important to the editorial staff for their vision of the ideal Playmate that these intriguing, intelligent statements seem true. Ms. Acocella addresses this:


That, in the end, is the most striking thing about Playboy’s centerfolds: how old-fashioned they seem. This whole “bachelor” world, with the brandy snifters and the attractive guest arriving for the night: did it ever exist? Yes, as a fantasy. Now, however, it is the property of homosexuals.

Today, if you try to present yourself as a suave middle-aged bachelor, people will assume you’re gay.

(Acocella.)

Ha! and again, I have to say agree, not in that groovy archaic pursuits are strictly the male provenance of neato gay guys (I like any man that goes for records and cares about dorky esoterica) but, yeah, society-wide, that would be the humorous judgment in the sense of stereotyping.

You know. Like when Bart and Millhouse tried to be Playdudes. That was hilarious. All pimped out in smoking jackets up in the treehouse.


“Too much of the time I use my heart and not my head. I’m really a very gullible girl. I wish on first stars and believe in miracles.”

(“Summer Idyl.”)

That is very sweet and touching. It is not full of trying-to-be-sexy artifice, nor is it overly cloying or disingenuous.

“Of course it’s a trite observation, but what I want most in life is happiness. What else is there?”

(Ibid.)

And who can improve on that desire? Well-wished, Ms. Enwright, and I hope she found her happiness. That’s not trite: it’s natural.

What Ms. Acocella observes in the unnaturally smooth, airbrushed featurelessness of the current crop of sexless-and-vaginally-shaved-for-maximum-Barbie-resemblance centerfolds mostly found on the newsstands today is resonantly true.

I guess what I’m saying is this: Yeah, there may have never really been a sophisticated scotch-sampling bachelor like the ones to whom Hef designed the magazine to appeal, and there may never have really been a girl next door with her clothes off that just happened to discourse freely on jazz LP’s and modern art while whipping up beef bourguignon in her skivvies, but isn’t the fantasy of that time period, quaint as it may seem now, so much more touching and oddly innocent than the weird highly-structured and false fantasy being sold today?

It is to me.

The Girls of Summer: DeDe Lind, Miss August 1967

June 16, 2010

The lovely and talented DeDe Lind has come up several times before, and I am totally pumped that she gets her own post! She is an amazing woman who is sweet, funny, and deservedly popular.


Photographed by Mario Casilli.

This picture has been to Vietnam and the moon and its friendly, upbeat subject just keeps on truckin’. Read on and find out more about the single most popular centerfold model in the history of Playboy!

How did she get that gravity-defying figure? Spaghetti, of course.

Early in the evening, DeDe turns to the kitchen and her principal avocation, with a flair and success in cooking that does the Swedish and Italian roots of her family tree proud. “Like Mom’s, my best main course is a spaghetti dish,” DeDe says.

(“DeDe Girl.” Playboy, August 1967.)


For a quiet woman, DeDe is not without opinions. “I don’t see how we can get out,” she says of the war in Vietnam. “But — perhaps because I’m a girl and I’m young? — The thought of losing our young men way over there is awful.”

(Ibid.)

Maybe it was that anxious empathy, her sunny spirits, confession of shyness, or maybe a little something to do with the sweet rack and all these adorable girly-girl pictures? — Whatever the cause, DeDe Lind holds the honor of being the undisputed most popular Playmate of all time. She received more mail than any other Playmate before her time and since. Get it, girl!

This popularity was out of control with the soldiers serving overseas in Vietnam. I think a large part of it was her genuine, outspoken empathy for their plight. Dudes seriously flipped out over DeDe Lind, begging relatives to send multiple copies of the magazine in case something happened to their first copy, and writing DeDe truckloads of fan letters. I think that’s actually really cool and a unique and touching cultural phenomenon.

Similar to the pinups in WWII, when young men are far away and fighting for something that 90% of them probably only realize when they get there is far more huge, truly random, and more complex than they possibly imagined, and their comrades are dying around them, I know it’s cliched, but I think it is very valid to get the idea that you have something to fight for. And if that comes from a centerfold of a plucky young gal smiling sweetly in a men’s cardigan, yellow hairbow, and nothing else, then I say go for it!

Ms. Lind’s popularity was such that she has even been to space! True story, non-fiction — on NASA’s Apollo 12 mission in 1969, the nine astronauts who performed the second manned lunar landing in the history of humanity, thank you very much included DeDe’s centerfold in the Yankee Clipper command module. They labeled it “Map of a Heavenly Body.” Hilarious, true, and freaking AWESOME. Nous allons a la lune!

What’s intriguing is that Playboy really massaged the facts of Ms. Lind’s truly interesting life at the time. Yes, everything she says is true, about loving horses and Catalina Island, etc, and all her sweetness and good cheer are genuine, but it was more like a sin of omission. They sort of didn’t mention she was married and had a child.

That often gets thrown around like it is some type of evidence of the magazine’s hypocrisy, but I don’t believe Playboy has any obligation to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about anything, let alone the private lives of the Playmates. Hef was striving again and again with the centerfolds for the Girl Next Door who happens to be naked, and it was a great opportunity for a lot of these women, like marvelous Ms. Lind, to get a jump on their careers — why bum out all those soldiers, for example, using Ms. Lind as an ideal woman in their minds for whom to survive, with all the details?

sidebar: I don’t know if this is an outtake or an airbrushed elaborate fake or what, but that is pubic hair like two or three years before that actually made its wispy, hinted-at debut in Playboy magazine, and almost four years before a Playmate of the Month fully flashed the carpet. If you have knowledge of this shoot and know what’s up, please explain, because I’m pretty surprised.

Says Ms. Lind in a more recent interview about having been in Hollywood during the swinging late 60’s but not being much of a participant:

“I did marry very young. I had a baby. I was a mom. I never got into the hippie or drug scene. … I dated Bobby Fuller. I also knew Jan and Dean. I wouldn’t go so far to say I dated Jan, but, I was friends with him. So, those are the kind of pop stars I liked. They were a little bit cleaner-cut. More American, Apple Pie.”

(“De De Lind Interview.” James, George. Undated.)


Q – Do you remember any film roles you turned down that maybe later you were sorry you turned down?
A – Yes. There was a movie called ‘Candy’. I actually turned it down. I pretty much had the part. The idea of me at the time portraying a young girl sleeping with all actors — it didn’t sit well with me. (Laughs). Because of that I really didn’t want to do the movie.

(Ibid.)

I was just thinking about doing a Movie Moment on Candy. This clinches it. A famous piece of well-shot, mostly-failed camp, the sort-of-satire’s cast includes Ringo Starr, James Coburn, Sir Richard Burton, and Marlon Brando. And Ms. Lind was right, it was mainly a scandal and flopped, to boot, so good on her for deciding against it. I can’t see someone so sweet and shy having been happy to be part of that glorious and vulgar, hot mess. You’ll see what I mean when I do the Movie Moment. Look for that sometime this week or eventually, maybe! I know myself too well to make promises with actual dates in them. Lord, I am such a lazy person.

Besides hanging out with good pal the lovely and talented Lisa Baker at their place in Boca Raton, Florida, DeDe continues to model and appear at Glamourcon and related events. And I’m happy to say she definitely retains that sunny sense of humor that is clever enough to send up the genre in which she models. Dig that shot above, which comes from her dedelind.com: “Look, Ma, no gag reflex!” Very funny.

You may see more of Ms. Lind’s present doings on her official website or hit her up any ol’ time on the myspace (current mood: amused ), on which some of her top friends are Janet Lupo, Julie Michelle McCullough, and naturally Hef.

Special edit from Ms. Lind: “My Centerfold did not go to the moon. My 2nd. Calendar Photo (Nov. 1969) holding a que stick topless went to the moon and back with Dick Gordon. That photo sold at auction for $17,511.00 this Jan. 2011.” Thanks for the clarification!