I’ve fallen down completely on the job of keeping up the journal, mainly because I’ve got so many dogs in the fire that I don’t know where to begin to express my feelings about them. Besides being an outlet for emotions, this so-called thought experiment was supposed to be a project that would force me to write something every day, and I have not been doing so. I’ve let feeling Ways About Things totally overwhelm me and paralyze my writing. That changes today.
The one thing that can always get some creative and otherwise positive juices flowing for me is writing about the Playmates, so welcome to Spring Fever! They say April is the cruellest month, but I am going to do my best to make it the kindest every ding-dong day. Starting ……. now.
Venus in argyle.
Photographed by Mario Casilli and Gene Trindl.
This adorable cardigan and knee-socks sporting model is Miss April 1967, the lovely and talented Gwen Wong. I think her photoshoot was really a great one.
Just well-lit, and done so with a striking ambience, not with a lot of artificial lighting, with makeup and styling that is kicky but not overly fetishistic, just a very fun and natural shoot — and, most admirably to my mind, I think it is delightfully and matter-of-factly progressive given the time and place (Cold War America at the end of the Korean War, heightening of the conflict in Vietnam, pitch of the Red Scare, a time when there was still a lot of “otherization” of the unfamiliar, etc) in which it appeared. I wish I could say the same for the text which accompanied the shoot, but overall it is not so bad that Edward Said is calling out hits or anything.
The credit of first Asian-American Playmate of the Month is sometimes erroneously given to Gwen Wong. While Ms. Wong has many awesome merits of her own, she is not, in fact, the first Asian-American gatefold model.
That honor belongs to Margaret “China (rhymes with Tina)” Lee, who was Miss August 1964 and performs the memorable striptease which runs over the credits for Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?. As further old school and timeless comedy cred goes, China was married to the great Mort Sahl from 1967 to 1991. She also dated Robert Plant.
I think this is as “typical” as the photoshoot got. That’s pretty cool in my book, all appropriate due given to the temporal setting.
But enough about Ms. Lee. I should give her her own entry one of these days, and we’ll cover that then. Don’t let me forget. Back to Gwen Wong, who justly deserves the attention.
Born in Manila during the latter part of World War Two … Miss Wong is, in fact, a startlingly beautiful blend of six nationalities: Chinese, Scottish, Spanish, Australian, Filipino and Irish. (groan) Playboy, April 1967.)
(“Spice From the Orient,”
As you can see, Ms. Wong lists Filipino among the handful of her ethnic identities and it’s clearly stated she was born in Manila, which dramatically undermines the claim to the title of first Filpino-American Playmate made by Playboy in the lovely and talented PR (Miss November 1988, name removed at model’s request)’s write up some twenty-one years later.
If you followed NSFW November, you may remember [model’s name removed at request] as the lovely lady whose entire entry I accidentally spent describing the Thrilla in Manila fight (aka Frazier-Ali III) instead of talking a single bit about the naked girl in the pictures around the text.
I promised then, after I was done gushing about the greatest boxing match in history, that I would try and mention the other another day. That day is now and once again, this is probably not how she’d have hoped that to go — citing someone else as the real titleholder of her one noteworthy (at that time) characteristic. Sorry, kiddo, but who can deny the awesomeness of Ms. Wong?
So when I’m done with this entry on completely radical Gwen, I’ll try and work up some brief copy on the other’s bummer choices in dudes with which I can totally emapthize to appear later in the week because it turns out she’s all kinds of a quite interesting in a glass-ceiling-busting, con-man-choosing kind of way (we ladies must trailblaze). Yet again, most likely not the way anyone would’ve like to be immortalized in google’s search returns, but what can you do!
An expert cook, Miss April is equally adept at whipping up wor shew opp, scungilli or boeuf Bourguignonne. “Cooking has almost become a mania with me,” she says. “I collect cookbooks the same way people collect LPs.” Before becoming a Bunny, Gwen studied painting and ceramics at California’s El Camino Junior College. (Ibid.)
“Frankly,” she says, “most modern art confuses me, although I wouldn’t classify myself as a traditionalist. I try not to be swayed by other people’s opinions when visiting a gallery, but that’s not always easy. I like to think if a canvas is good I’ll know it — because, well, I’ll feel it.” (Ibid.)
Special K and I were at her Humboldt orientation this weekend and it happened to be the Arts! Arcata night on Friday, so while she was attending a mixer for incoming freshmen, I slipped from the campus downtown to the Arts! events so as not to be That Guy hanging around outside waiting for the kid they are chaperoning and embarassing the crap out of said kid.
The work being shown at various galleries and makeshift exhibitions inside boutiques and bars was a real mix of media as far as form, but the content and thrust of the work was generally what I think can be termed “modern” art. Some of what I saw really resonated with me, while there was other work to which I felt zero connection. But I don’t think subjectivity alone can explain why some people buy certain modern art.
I’d like to think that everyone who buys a piece buys it because they love it, but I doubt that’s so. I think there is a combination of snobbery and peer pressure, too, from other collectors and from people in the business. I hope to never buy something because I’m told it’s cool. So what I’m saying is, I understand where Ms. Wong is coming from with her statement.
Miss Wong is also a jazznik and prefers the singing of Morgana King and Ella Fitzgerald among at least a score of recording artists she admires. (Ibid.)
“Jazznik.” That is somehow quaint. Besides being a textbook great in jazz history, Mo King would also go on to feature in the Godfather movies as Carmella Corleone, second wife of Don Vito Corleone and mother to Fredo, Connie, and Michael (and I guess kind of, you know, a foster mom or whatever to Tom Hagen), positively double-cementing her perpetual place in my heart. Well-called, Ms. Wong!
According to the wiki, Ms. Wong is an artist these days. She specializes in body-casting. The wiki entry on her calls it that, but I’m more familiar with the term Lifecasting. Body casting makes me think of, like, broken hips and stuff. Bad scene.
Anyway, this has been your inaugural edition of Spring Fever! and I hope you enjoyed it.