May Flowers — Joanne Arnold, Miss May 1954

The lovely and talented Joanne Arnold, Miss May 1954, first appeared in Playboy’s March 1954 pictorial “Sex Sells a Shirt.”

Click to enlarge the shots and read the story, it’s actually a really interesting little piece with a kicky, fun insight in to 1950’s advertising. Far more risque than you might expect. The PR folks for Hartog were some skilled and creative dudes.

However. Please do not tell me to watch Mad Men.

I know it’s, like, all cool and retro and sexist and clever, but I just don’t feel like getting in to it. Yet I keep getting told to. Everyone wants me to watch it. I can’t swing my arms without hitting someone who’s saying, “E, you have to watch Mad Men. You’ll love it. Also, stop hitting me with your swinging arms.” I say, Never! to both!

Ms. Arnold was a hit with readers as the Hartog “keep your shirt on” girl, but Playboy did not pick her as Miss May because of that (they did feature her the following August, which we’ll get to). There was no such linear relation between her appearance in March and her gatefold in May. Two totally separate things, as it ends up.

Purchased from the Baumgarth Calendar Co.

The kind of wonky centerfold shot is, like the centerfolds from most of ’53-54, a purchased photograph. And, like Marilyn Monroe’s and several other of the first “sweetheart/playmate” gatefolds, the photograph was purchased from the Baumgarth Calendar Company.

The one on the right is hands-down my favorite.

I was sick of having no photographer credits on all the Baumgarth shots, and I wanted to know more about the John Baumgarth Calendar Co. so I took the light rail down to Googlytown.

I was hoping to find out specific names of photographers other than Tom Kelley, who did Marilyn’s picture, but when I googled “Baumgarth Calendar Company,” my own goddamned site was the second link. Also the fifth. I’m not the mayor of Playmate Googlytown — but apparently I’m something like an alderman. Frustrating.

Here’s what I know. The “company” was run out of Melrose Park, Illinois, a suburb on the west side of Chicago. However, not only can I find zero way to get in touch with the now-defunct company’s former employees, it turns out that besides the rare occasion of hiring a dude and arranging their own photoshoots, they also, like Hef in the first six months of Playboy, mainly purchased photos from private photographers.

The thing is, the centerfold picture could have been shot by anyone and the credit kind of doesn’t matter anyway. In May of 1954, the Playmates did not have names listed or anything like that.

Keep in mind, this was only the sixth issue of Playboy to even hit newsstands, and the magazine was still finding its feet.

Like a new struck foal stumbling around in the brave new world into which it has been thrust: Aww. The adorable, stumbly, delicate colt that we call “skin rag.”

Anyway. This particular month’s centerfold was, like, an isolated, anonymous picture. It’s possible no one at Playboy was even aware the model from the Hartog feature and cover had been the purchased photo of Miss May until a few months after the fact. They did know by the following August because they mention it in her second official appearance in the magazine, which I’m about to explain.

The rest of these gorgeous shots, however, come from a spread shot by superfly BAMF Peter Gowland entitled “Gowland’s Cool Pool.” The piece appeared in the August 1955 issue of Playboy, by which time the practice of credits had entered play and Ms. Arnold was cited as the model.

Scan of the article which accompanied the spread.

She also appeared as the cover model/mermaid for the same issue, a shot taken by Gowland and painted on and embellished for a little under the sea come-hither adventure.

This scan is of the newsstand edition; in the subscribers’ mailed edition, her nipples are not painted over, I have heard.

But SPEAKING of her nipples —

Ms. Arnold has a third nipple on the underside of her left breast. When I first read that I made a loud, “Pfft” noise of disbelief, and, browsing through my pictures, thought, “No way. I never noticed that and she’s all moley to boot: this is probably folklore based on a regular beauty mark.”

But then …

Click to enlarge it … it’s clearly nipplish and not a mole. I was surprised.

Lo and behold and hell and goddamn — seems she does, indeed, have a supernumerary nipple.

All right, all right — I’ll king you. Sheesh.

No idea where that shot came from, Ms. Arnold was a very successful and busy men’s magazine model in her lovely heyday. I just wanted another splash of color … and to make the tacky “king me” joke.

What is she going to do when big hats go out?

I stole that joke from Gypsy. My funny is just not operating at full capacity today. (Hangs head, Charlie Brown music.)

I guess the theme of the photograph is that, like, men are toys to her? Is that the idea? Or is she a big, scary giant about to eat them?? I could go either way. Giant’s more exciting but I’m pretty sure the former is more accurate.

By the way, that’s called vore porn. Jonohs linked me to some a while back. Ridiculous. Normally I am the last one to judge a kink for obvious reasons, but when I saw CG animation of giant women totally eating dudes, I said, “No. Ridiculous. You are being ridiculous.”

I say again: if you get off on fantasies of enormous women crushing you and grinding your bones between their gigantic teeth and then digesting you slowly in their acidy stomachs, you are ridiculous.

I’m sorry, but I needed you to know how I feel. And please don’t link to vore in the comments. I won’t go. I neither wear clown shoes nor dwell in Florida. Keep that nasty shit in your favorites folder.

As her career progressed, Ms. Arnold starred in a string of cheesey B-movie popcorn flicks. This is my favorite poster.


“Don’t get frank with me, young lady.” So much sassy molassy! I hate it when young people are frank! … I just think frank was a bit of a mild word to use on a poster with so many exclamation points.

Questions for discussion:

  • Do supernumerary nipples have sensation? Please get back to me quickly.
  • Is vore porn ridiculous? Be specific.
  • If you had a girl gang, what would you call it?

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  • 7 Responses to “May Flowers — Joanne Arnold, Miss May 1954”

    1. TERI REES WANG Says:

      That third little nipple keep coming and going through out the shots…
      What’s up with that?… Are you sure that is was it is?…

      There are some beautiful poses…and a striking jawline, beauty marks and all.

    2. Pryor Says:

      Outstanding! I mean, of course, Miss Arnold (still alive at 80, says Wikipedia), and this whole blog entry. As for that nipple, I once knew a guy who had four of them. I’m grateful to report that the subject of sensitivity never came up–we were teenagers a looong time ago, at a time when we wouldn’t have considered the possibility. What innocent dips we were.

      Thanks also to Wikipedia, I now know that “vorarephilia” is the official name for vore porn, which I’d never heard of (and I thought I’d heard it all). It’s even more ridiculous than the disembodied cigarette in the “Girl Gang” poster, and if I had a girl gang, I’d probably be too preoccupied to name it. There–discussed!

    3. emily Says:

      I think this page is so awesome to find. “Joanne Arnold” is my grandmother, I am her only son’s 2nd daughter. There are so many things I didn’t know about her till I came across this… She’s always just been “grandma gloria” to me.

      Thanks for putting this all together! These are gorgeous photos. Shouldn’t be a surprise that she’s still gorgeous.

    4. Robert Says:

      Girl gang thought…

      I was visting the Houston Railroad Museum, and was told during the tour (I was the only person) that the abandoned passenger car we were walking through had been taken over by a girl gang and each member claimed a room by writing her name on its door.

    5. Jed Leyland Says:

      I though May Flowers only brought pilgrims. Er…Janet Pilgrim ? 😉

    6. mickey Says:

      1. I do not know the answer to this long ago asked question, but, I am throwing in on “yes” they must have at least some sort of typical nipple sensation. “Typical” and “nipple” actually sound nice together, even though, as a male, there is nothing “typical” about a nipple. All nipples are special and wonderful and distinct. Hooray. Nipple quip. Sorry, is it a shrink thing or a vocab thing to think of the first words that come to mind after “nipple?” And, if “quip” and “typical” are in there, what would a shrink say this says about me? … sorry…

      2. Vore porn. Not heard of it before. As you have described it, ridiculous certainly seems like an appropriate description. Yet, even though I have ZERO fantasies about being eaten by giant women– I do have to admit– -seeing- giant women does seem kinda cool. I always find giant women to be very interesting. I am an average 5’11” dude and when I see beautiful women who are taller, even significantly taller, I am often quite interested by them. Such locker room talk would include “I would climb her like a tree” or “take me to the Amazon,” well, maybe in 1950, but I’m a bit boxy and square. Anyway, in my discussions with tall women they often seem to both like and hate their height. They like how they can intimidate smaller women, and most women being rather small, yet hate how they can, in turn, intimidate smaller men. A tall and large woman I know went so far as to make sure to wear heels to work but never on a date. Anyway, I’m not sure what a shrink would say about the tall glass of water fetish but it would probably have something to do with mommy issues or some such uncomfortable, hopefully very inaccurate nonsense. Anyway, tall ladies, -I- don’t care– you are gorgeous and amazing. The pipsqueaks are great, but you have so much more to offer. Strong, regal, proud. Warrior women fetish, maybe. Whatever, it’s a spectrum, it’s all exciting. But, I don’t want to be eaten.

      3. I’ve not thought about having a girl gang before, but, as a fantasized rock impresario I have often thought up different “girl groups.” The other day I was imagining a rockabilly group called “Double Dee & The Girls,” totally going to staff it with roller derby chicks. Again, maybe it’s that idea of warrior women, I dunno. The hetero male can be pretty childish and lame. But, as a gang, something menacing… How about The Vicious Cycles, like, menstration and motorcycles and– bad attitudes. Someone will write in and tell me to keep my day job. There was my spacy surf rock group The Estronauts. Maybe Prince could have “Prince and the New Estro Generation.” The Estrogeneration is actually the name of an annual playlist I make with female only artists. Well, not much very “menacing” going on. Alright, I’ll stop. Again, please forgive…

      A last note about Ms. Arnold. Absolutely lovely. Statuesque and a fine specimen of womanhood. If I was lost at sea I would pass up passing ships to wait for her and, um, Sebastian? Very beautiful and I wish her long life and continued health.

      And, as usual, E.’s writing– beyond entertaining. I always appreciate your sassy molassy. Hope your studies and so forth are going well and look forward to your writing in the future. I’ll keep checking back and thank you.

    7. The First (and Sixth) Playboy Playmate Margie Harrison Says:

      […] career is that she was a fairly popular pinup calendar girl. She did a lot of shoots through the John Baumgarth Calendar Company of Melrose Park Illinois. This company apparently purchased photos from amateur photographers and […]

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