Bill Graham and Ed Leja do an absolutely beautiful job with this spread. Check out especially the use of color and warm, ambient light in the exterior shots — just gorgeous and really striking. I wish the same could be said for the write-up, because Ms. Smith (not her real name but I will refer to her by it) is a fascinating, ambitious, creative and exciting woman, but it is not at all reflected in the text that accompanied her gatefold. It is one of those write-ups. The ones that make me resort to made-up epithets and food-item-substitutes for swearwords. Pop a dramamine and check it out:
I adore her expression in this picture. A lot of her shots from this spread feature an almost amused, frank and confident openness on her face. Almost catlike, almost equally curious about the lens as it is about her.
The delights of yachting are too well-known to require exhaustive comment here, but potential yachtsmen should be apprised that it’s possible to find a First Mate for a trim craft who is a trim craft herself.
(“Ship Shape.” Playboy, July 1960.)
Such a one is Miss July: Teddi Smith, a nubile native of Van Nuys, California. Weekdays she works as a receptionist, but every weekend, she undergoes a sea change and turns into the sweetest of sailors, manning a tiller with the best of them and showing the coast line’s shapeliest pair of sea legs in the process.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, what a pile of yam fries and appleslaw! Worse than usual, even — bleah. Can you believe that sassy molassy? It’s possible they did it because Ms. Smith’s birthdate was September of ’42 and, as this gatefold appeared in July of ’60, and experience tells us the spread was photographed well ahead of its publication and distribution, then, barring some fuzzy math, Ms. Smith was rather obviously at least six months under 18 at the time of this shoot.
If that makes you feel hinky, just scroll past this gal, but do remember that in plenty of states in the U.S.A. at that time, 17 (and, in some states, younger) was the age of consent, so call me old-fashioned or statutorily perverted but I’m kind of live-and-let-live ambivalent on this one.
I know, I know: the argument is, what I just said was wrong about justifying the pics via the ol’ “but that was legal consenting age back then” line because what if it was, I don’t know, horrific nudie pics from the 1800’s of a 12 year old Apache girl getting dp’d by evil cowboys or some shit, right? Sure, there was no consenting age then but holy jesus I would be as outraged as anyone to know of such a thing, absolutely. Dreadful, expository, predatory garbage like that, reflective of only darkness and pain and violent degradation, should of course not be disseminated no matter what. That would be awful, yes. Straight abhorrent child porn. I am not arguing that at all!
But I’d pray that those cases are hopefully rare (I couldn’t sleep if I thought they abounded, so please do not tell me if you know otherwise) and you do have to draw a line somewhere with pornography laws. Look at this spread: Miss July looks happy, openly participatory, and at her age was not exactly a novitiate to puberty.
I knew exactly what I was doing at 17, as I suspect most folks of either gender do now and always have at just that age. My feeling is this: 16 is pretty dang sketchy, headed proportionally toward screwed-up based on the further the wooer is from that age, 15 is sailing in to some deep “this is really wrong — you should seek help” waters and 14 and < is straight-up NOT COOL, go directly to jail and do not collect $200. But, really, 17-18? Meh.
Hot fricasse, am I going to get arrested for saying all that? This may get edited later when I got time to look up laws. Eek… So, back to Teddi Smith and this spread: what happened was two years earlier Hugh Hefner had landed in hella hot water for using an underage girl in the magazine, despite her mom’s permission — the mother ended up prosecuted, too, under contribution to minor delinquency laws.
Elizabeth [Ann Roberts]’s pictorial was a significant one in the history of Playboy because she was only 16 at the time her photos were taken. Her pictorial was titled “Schoolmate Playmate.”
She literally had a note from her mother giving her permission to pose, but both Hugh Hefner and Roberts’ mother were arrested and charged by Chicago authorities with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charges were eventually dropped on the grounds of lack of evidence that Hefner had known her true age.
My conjecture is that following that debacle, the understandably gun-shy editorial staff may have figured it was best to roll with a meaningless “nothing to see here, folks” line of purple prose that had nothing to do with Teddi, so no one would be too curious about her when the gatefold went to print. I’ll assume that is why the write-up blows when she is so cool a chick who deserves such better explanation.
Anyway: I’m trying to be in a good mood about humanity and “Ms. Smith” went on to do lots of really cool and interesting stuff, so let’s focus on that (and the eye-popping colors captured by Leja and Graham in this pictorial) and never speak of that awful, awful write-up again.
After this shoot, Teddi Smith went on to work as a bunny at the original Chicago Playboy Club, like so many of the rad gals we’ve highlighted over the months, and also posed for a number of Playboy covers throughout the 1960’s. Click on any cover below to see it large. They are beautiful and frequently clever, good examples of cover work from the magazine’s heyday.
After winding down her long and successful modeling career in the late 1960’s, Ms. Smith concurrently received her education and embarked on extensive and fascinating travels, including spending some very special time in Tanzania.
Inspired by the crafts of the native Tanzanian women with whom she lived, Teddi Smith became interested in the integration of tribal weaving with modern textile and organic decorative arts. This was while she was working in a research camp with scientists who were following and studying the habits of elephants. Totally awesome — but get this.
She also made and kept a candelabra that she fashioned out of a lion skull. Um, who’s a BAMF? Teddi Smith is a BAMF! Crazy-rad!
I know, right? Totally eleventy gajillion miles away from the hot fudge pickles about yachting and secretarial work suggested in her fluffy write-up! Today, “Teddi” is in the creative decorative professional field and was formerly headquartered in New York City. It appears she is semi-retired now, I’m sure well-earned. A woman who can make a candelabra out of a lion’s skull in Tanzania can I’m sure make a silk purse of the slummiest sow’s ear in a loft in Hell’s Kitchen — I’m sorry, “Clinton.” (Gentrification makes me laugh with a mouth full of blood.)
She now maintains offices in Texas and San Miguel Allende, Mexico. Teddi is on the right in the above picture, getting friendly at a B&B with Tootsie the parrot, a kitten named Harle, and a lovely German shep called Chespita. You can see she has not lost her sense of adventure or her frank, direct gaze at the camera. To the left of Ms. Smith in that picture is a Topanga, CA-based woman who is also active in textiles and decorating.
Edit: Scratch that, reverse it. Teddi’s on the left (our left) and Miss Carpets is on the right (our right). I am an adult and freely admit I still do not know my left from my right. I mix them up all the time.
If you like, and have ginger ale handy in case your stomach gets rocky, you can click above and below to read the carrotsticks and shenanigans of Teddi Smith’s original gatefold. The b&w shots are very good and the writing I guess is not that bad. It’s not “redundant-clumsily-worded-psychosexual-teenage-fantasies-by-a-crazy-virgin-cat-lady-from Utah” bad (subtle vampires-suck dig — booyakasha), just not up to very high par. Enjoy!