Valentine Vixen: Barbara Ann Lawford, Miss February 1961

Miss February 1961 was the lovely and talented Barbara Ann Lawford. This shoot (with a few exceptions) has not got much of a story but it does have a really crisp, consistent feel to it, with some great colors and a stark simplicity that dovetails nicely with Ms. Lawford’s clear, elegant Black Irish features.


Photographed by Mario Casilli.

The textures of the garments in the pictures are really, really clear — look at the weave on that sweater — and their kind of warm nubbiness makes a nice constrast to the simple lines and cool, white-and-beige color scheme of the shoot. The red of her lips also stands in contrast to the ambient colors and light in the pictures, contributing to the overall unity of effect. Also, there are breasts.


TURN-ONS: Dogs, hot fudge sundaes.
TURNOFFS: People who judge without knowing.

(Playmate data sheet)

One of the features in this issue of Playboy was a short story titled “Come On Out, Daddy,” written by Bernard Wolfe. Wolfe was quite an interesting guy — he was a war correspondent for several science magazines, a Merchant Marine, and the personal secretary/bodyguard to Leon Trotsky during his time in Mexico. A prolific writer, he covered both fiction and non-fiction topics, and collaborated with jazz legend Milton Mesirow on Mesirow’s autobiography Really the Blues. Like a real-life version of Kurt Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout,* Wolfe was best known for his reams of genre-busting speculative fiction.

His most famous and significant contribution to the literary world is his science-fiction novel Limbo (1952). Set in the 1990’s, Wolfe’s novel is the first book to describe a dystopian futureworld where cybernetics mean that humans and machines not only interact, but are symbiotic, with the limbless having robotic enhanced prosthetics, the aim being the creation of a superior hybrid species which would be overlords to the unenhanced.


This is my favorite picture from the shoot.

Pretty next-level shit for 1952, eh? Penguin Books wrote on the jacket of Limbo’s reprint in 1961 that it was “the first book of science-fiction to project the present-day concept of ‘cybernetics’ to its logical conclusion.” According to the wiki,

Wolfe added heavy doses of Reichian sexual psychology, Trotskyite sociology, and Conradian literary themes like exile and primativism. Thus, Limbo is an early example of the New Wave movement in science fiction.


Of recent years there have been some signs of a raise of interest in Wolfe who is now being read as a precursor of cyberpunk. The dustwrapper to the U.S. first edition promised the reader that Limbo was “a novel of action, suspense, adventure, science fiction, and sex.” For once this description does not overstate the case. [Limbo] includes with intself among other genres the novel of espionage, journal, dystopia, and narrative of scientific experiment. It covers an extraordinary range of texts from ribald jokes up to summaries of brainmapping and the origins of game theory.

(Seed, David. “Deconstructing the Body Politic in Bernard Wolfe’s Limbo.” Science Fiction Studies 24.2 (July 1997): 267-288.)


Am I crazy or is that all-covered-up cover model the ONLY lovely and NOT talented little looker Joni Mattis, Hef’s special lady and social secretary for Mansion West who is infamous in the Empire for not baring all in her November 1960 gatefold appearance?

Besides appearing as the gatefold model in February of 1961, Barby Lawford returned to cover model for September of the same year. I’m not sure if she did more modeling work after that or not: so far I am coming up goose eggs on my “what is she doing now” searches. I will come back and edit if I find out!




*The real Kilgore Trout was named Theodore Sturgeon, and he died in 1985; I know that. I am just sayin’.

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