Archive for the ‘Spring Fever!’ Category

Giving the people what they want, 3rd edition — and a special shout-out to a lonely heart

July 6, 2010

Giving the people what they want: in which I glance over my blog stats, spot the trends in what brings you party people of the internet sliding on down to my place, and accordingly and with mutual thanks throw you some bone(r?)s.


Farewell and adieu to you fair Irish ladies.

First, a shocker. With mixed emotions I must report that the rack of Miss Megan Mullally is no longer the sheriff of Googlesearchy Town.* The first two editions (1, 2) of “Giving the people what they want” were dominated by amused-but-puzzled nods to the bafflingly large number of searches for the diminuitive Will and Grace star’s cleavage which lead droves of folks to my door. Megan held her own, beating out for many months running distant contenders such as “Drew Barrymore naked,” and “lesbian kiss,” which I would have thought any such phrases would easily eclipse “Megan Mullally’s breasts,” her “boobs,” her “topless” and variations therein and they never did. Until now.


*(By Googlesearchy Town I mean the searches that people enter in google to land on this journal — wordpress keeps track and ranks the most popular for me)

Top searching honors now rest in the tiny but mighty vintage hands of busty, bespectacled aspiring astrologer, the lovely and talented Fran GerardPlayboy’s Miss March 1967, the self-help loving little looker whose cups runneth over.


The lovely and etc Ms. Gerard. For Science.

With 5,909 searches since her relatively recent appearance on the journal in March, Ms. Gerard beats out Megan at 2,503 since her inaugural boob-airing last September. Well-played, Ms. Gerard!


Sweet, lovely and talented heiress to generations of hot Italian culinary genius, Amber Campisi.

Rising Star Awards must go to three special up and comers. First, the talented family gal Amber Campisi (Miss February 2005); next, beautiful and tragic playmate and poet Marlene Morrow, aka Persephone (Miss April 1974) — whose gripping story has justly been getting attention from a number of outside sites linking in, enough so that her sister Landi was able to find this blog and send us an optimistic update on Marlene’s present condition about which I’m thrilled, check that post’s comments to get the latest — annnnnnnnd Yvonne Craig, BATGIRL!; all of whom are beginning to trend up the stats list with great and deserved speed. I look forward to what the next edition of “Giving the people what they want” will bring!


The very special Marlene Morrow/Marlene Pinckard/Persephone. Please, please read the account of how Paul Zollo found her with notebooks of poetry and an envelope holding her centerfold photo, living on the streets in L.A., and consider following the non-profit links which follow the write-up?

Finally: Quick note to the person who has found this blog by searching google three times in the space of the last two weeks — with “only assholes” in quotes so’s as to make maximal use of boolean exceptors — for the exact phrase “‘only assholes’ fall for me“: In case you ever come back a third time, I’d like to hope you hit this entry.


Vintage hottie Yvonne Craig has suited up!

First, you probably keep landing here because I frequently tag what I consider to be interesting graffiti with the words “only assholes write on walls” a la cult classic Rocky Horror. So I am sorry for the “only assholes” mix-up. But, more importantly, I am genuinely really sorry that you feel like only assholes fall for you and I wish I could make it better. I’m sorry that you’ve felt that way strongly enough to search the phrase three different times recently. I hope the next person you date is not an asshole. I hope that he or she is really nice to you — no, not just nice, because that is mealy-mouthed and hollow. That is a bullshit expression of my actual sentiment and is weak tea compared to the depth of my empathy, here. Okay:

I hope that that next person you date is genuinely amazing to you, like I pray that their very existence makes you believe in a loving God and you see the echo of your love for them in all the shapes of nature, and you don’t just love him or her but admire and value them, and that you curl your toes when you think of him or her even while driving and that they fill you with so much passion and love that you would kill tigers for them without a blink and you stay together until you die in each other’s arms after fantastic geriatric sex.


Scroll to bottom for caption.*

I hope that the grace of his or her presence in your life is like a lightning strike that inspires you forever after always to strive to be a better person, to laugh with surprise at an unexpected joke they make when you are having an argument, to give new ideas a thorough-think-through and peek behind closed doors; I hope in short that he or she deserves every drop of the deep well of love you were created to share and renews your faith in all the anonymous fellow upper primates all over our world with whom we must trek in our stewardship of this nutty mudhole in order to improve our karma and with every go ’round perfect our souls.


ByTim Weber and Sue Noble via environmental graffiti.

Good luck to you.

*Long caption to second to last shot: The dish ran away with the spoon but what can you do? They have opened a comic book store in the City and on rare nights off they like to order dim sum and watch TVLand; the comic shop is honestly not doing so well, their apartment is super-tiny, the bride’s mom won’t take their calls, their used car’s a/c is on the fritz, and they have never been happier.

Spring Fever!: Marlene Morrow, Miss April 1974 — or, “Persephone.”

April 20, 2010

The lovely and talented Marlene Morrow was Playboy’s Miss April, 1974.


Photograph by Larry Dale Gordon.

Like fellow 1974 Playmate of the Month and friend Bebe Buell, Ms. Morrow dated Todd Rundgren, and Marlene is related to no less than three different United States presidents: Washington, Monroe, and Madison. But there is much, much more to her gripping and moving story. Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).


Marlene is also a very interesting person. Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Osaka, Japan, where her father was a baseball player on a Japanese team. From there, the family moved to L.A., where Marlene grew up. “Believe it or not,” she says, “up until the time I was 13 I wanted to be a missionary.” She gave up that idea and settled on the notion of being a housewife with a load of kids. But that’s been postponed indefinitely, now that her career is spiraling upward.

(“This Year’s Model.” Playboy. April, 1974. )


So groovy. My fave of the shoot.
But for now, Marlene is satisfied with her life in London — visiting pubs and going out with Englishmen, whom she finds vastly different from American men. But does she plan to make London her home? “Someday,” she says, “I’d like to buy a trailer and just travel around the world for a whole year. Is that crazy?”

(Ibid.)


I’M ALWAYS: Dreaming. Still, I wish I wasn’t so serious about life all the time.
WITH MY PLAYMATE FEE: I plan to settle myself in an apartment in Los Angeles and enroll in acting and dance school.
AMBITIONS: To be successful with my modeling and to study acting, and to have a nice home with about four children.

Now that the things she said in her interview at the time are out there and still resonating in your mind, I’m going to get to the main thing of this entry. Marlene Morrow’s real surname was Pinkard.

In a google search for her, I found an article by Italian-american author Joan “Strega,” in whose mother’s Encino shop Marlene worked after moving to L.A. Ms. Strega had done a similar google search and was meditating on her shock and dismay to find recent pictures of Marlene taken in Los Angeles.

It seems that Marlene did stay in L.A., but she did not become a famous model or actress. Nor is she happily married and settled in to a nice house with about four chidlren. Marlene now goes by “Persephone.”


Marlene, aka Persephone, in April 2006.

Persephone is homeless, and currently missing. She lived as recently as four years ago with a few others on the streets of Los Angeles, where she journaled, wrote poetry, and carried with her in a manila envelope a photo of her former centerfold.

The above recent photograph was taken by Paul Zollo, a musician, journalist, and photographer who was strolling around Los Angeles and met Persephone and some of her friends at the corner of Yucca and Cahuenga. Below are highlights from his very moving story of how their encounter went.


“Persephone and Bert.”

At the intersection of Yucca and Cahuenga I saw her – she was sitting on the sidewalk with a guy named Bert Rental. I presumed at first that Persephone & Bert were a couple because they were sitting alone when I first approached them on Yucca near Cahuenga in Hollywood, very close to where I lived for more than 20 years. They both let me know they were homeless, but that wasn’t really an issue.

Persephone was crying, weeping profusely in fact, and explaining that there was a suicide, and she had a grandson she loved, and she had a husband who had disappeared, and “many contracts” that she was ignoring. She didn’t explain what kind of contracts they were.

I asked many times to take her photo, and she said, “No, I’ll GIVE you a photo — a good one — because I look like shit now, because I’ve been CRYING FOR TWO WHOLE WEEKS.” She repeated this like a sad mantra. She started crying intensely, and Bert seemed very uncomfortable with this, and I told her it was cool to cry, and she said, “NO — it’s NOT cool.” And I said all I meant is that it’s okay to cry. And then she wept openly, and then wiped the tears away and laughed with pure joy. And then alternated between laughter and tears.

[She] did show [me] a Playboy centerfold from the Sixties of a blonde woman named Morrow who she said was her. And it did look quite like her, and I believe it was her, and she said that now she dyed her hair dark. I asked her if she knew Hefner, and she looked at me with an expression that said, “How could I not know him?”

[She said] that everything was terrible – she’d been waiting for her husband for days, and he had yet to appear. That she had a grandson she hadn’t seen in too long. Then embraced me with all her heart and told me I was “precious.”

Then she opened a journal of her reflections and poetry, written in a florid script, and asked me to read it aloud, which I did to the best of my ability, as it was hard to make out, but it was about the mythical Persephone, the Goddess of Innocence and the Queen of the Underworld.


I received a message from a fellow flickr-artist [who] had looked her up on the net and discovered a photo of former centerfold Marlene Morrow, at some former centerfold convention or something, taken in 2002. He sent me a link to the photo. I didn’t think there was any chance it could be her.

But then I saw it. And it was haunting. It hit me like cold water in the face first thing in the morning. Because it was her face. Unmistakably.



This is the picture of Marlene at Glamourcon May 5, 2002, to which Mr. Zollo refers.

[I have been] receiving messages from Bebe Buell, who also was a Playboy centerfold – and a good friend of Marlene’s. Together we are hoping to find her. Last I saw she was on the street. If you can help us find her, let me know.

Bebe added more to my tale of Marlene, which follows — Bebe said both she and Marlene dated Todd Rundgren, and that Todd wrote a song about her which is on his “Something/Anything” album, called “Marlene.”

Bebe called and said, “I couldn’t sleep all night after reading your words about Marlene. I am ready to get on a plane to come and find her.”


A final entreaty and heartbreaking epilogue from Mr. Zollo:

I had hoped her life would improve. Sadly, I was wrong. Received a long and sad message from her daughter today telling me Marlene has been attacked on more than one occasion and has lost all her teeth.

Why the world treats some of its children like this is beyond me. She is someone beloved by many. If you know where she is, or have seen her, let us know.


Mr. Zollo is on the myspace and the flickr.

The irreplaceable Ms. Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974, sweet and loving model, actress, and singer in her own right (not to mention mother to equally cramazing and talented Liv Tyler — they are beautiful inside and out), is still seeking to get in touch with Marlene, with whom she was close in the 1970’s. Ms. Buell said that she was told in the early 2000’s that Marlene was looking to talk to her and she lost track of time and did not follow up. She is understandably guilt-stricken about that now and is hoping fervently to find Ms. Pinkard. If you know how to find Persephone/Marlene Pinkard/Marlene Morrow and Ms. Buell has not already heard from you, you may contact her through her website, bebe-buell.com. Please. Contact Mr. Zollo or Ms. Buell any time with any information you have, really.

*(Also, if you follow the link to Ms. Strega’s thoughtful and poignantly articulated story about discovering that Marlene had become Persephone, Ms. Buell’s comment is the first: it includes an email address where she can be reached if you have info about Ms. Pinkard/Persephone. I didn’t want to put it in this entry without her permission.)

If this story has had an impact on you the way it did on me, I’ve hit the charity rating websites pretty hard and come up with a good solid list of some non-profits that you can volunteer with or donate to. Most are national and international so that you can help from no matter where you live, but I made sure to particularly include some charities that may directly affect Marlene’s everyday life, headquartered in LA and environs. All of the charities are top-rated, up-and-up organizations.

Alpha Project for the Homeless

National Alliance to End Homelessness

National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression

Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest)

Habitat for Humanity

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger (don’t forget that besides outright donating, you can alternately buy the Nice Jewish Guys calendar that I spotlighted way back on Calendar Girls day to support this great organization)

Salvation Army, Western Territory

This one is my personal favorite, and has several different ways you can help Marlene and people in similar positions to hers.

Homeless Health Care Los Angeles 213-744-0724
advocacy
online donation
volunteer
–and this last one I can’t stress enough: DONATE YOUR OLD CAR AND RECEIVE TAX DEDUCTION POTENTIALLY WORTH MORE THAN YOUR VEHICLE PLUS FREE GOOD KARMA FOR LIFE!

Okay, so think about all that? Thanks!

Spring Fever!: Gloria Windsor, Miss April 1957

April 15, 2010

The lovely and talented Gloria Windsor was Playboy’s Miss April 1957. I’ve had this picture saved on the ol’ compy for a couple years now, actually, because I am delighted by the expression of demented glee in the centerfold. Cracks me up. She is a tiny blonde rocking some powerful Crazy Eyes, and I’m down with that. Seriously, look at her smile. She looks one bump away from straight-up maniacal. I love it!


Photographed by Hal Adams.

The article which accompanied this spread was so, so full of obvious lies that I’m afraid I actually vacillated about even partially reproducing it here. It’s that cheesey. Not only that, it shrouds “Ms. Windsor” in total mystery. Who the heck knows what her name, occupation, age, and temperament really were? The answers are certainly not to be found in a bunch of chili sauce and curly fries riddled with cringe-inducing lines like:

‘ When in the course of human events (which sometimes includes buying a fancy chemise for a dear friend’s birthday) we discovered blonde, brown-eyed Gloria Windsor behind the counter of a lingerie shop, we said to her, “Let us take you away from all this.” ‘ (“Winsome Windsor,” Playboy, April 1957.)


… We explained that we meant to take her away only long enough to shoot a Playmate photograph, something that could be done on her lunch hour. After a brief exchange of coy dialogue which we won’t bore you with here, she consented.

If you’re going to spew … find Garth’s hat. Please don’t do it in my Yankees cap.


The idea of the spread is that they’ve got her trying on the items for sale in her shop — that’s pretty cute and actually fair enough. But why then do they talk in the copy specifically about taking her away from the shop to do the shoot? Chicanery.

Anyway. That article is absolutely ridiculous, and that was just a small sample of it. Dudes, first of all, I loathe it for giving credence to the groundless and terrible assumption that lingerie salesgirls are secretly all a bunch of highly suggestible sluts who can’t wait to shed their suits and model their wares for you. I was a proud Bra Specialist for Victoria’s Secret for two years and have always taken issue with this sterotype, which, believe me, even lonely trophy-wife-type women seem to believe, judging from how they’d constantly call us in to the fitting rooms to “adjust” and “help” them while flashing scary boob jobs and spray tans at us and trying to drop slang and hints about meeting for lunch and cocktails. I like to call them “afternoon bisexuals” — it’s all fine and good to go out to lunch and make out with a like-minded girlfriend while sipping Cosmos and discussing highlights, but when it comes time for the real meal, dinner? You bet your ass they’re going straight back to the man who buys the steak.


Click to enlarge a scan of the original article. If you can stomach it.

New patrons also liked to slyly approach and ask where the “good” stuff was — edible panties, furry handcuffs, etc — at which point I had no choice but to commiserate with them that we sold merely “foundations” garments and did not have “good” stuff. Then I’d tacitly endorse a few places around town which did.

But that does not mean that all lingerie salesgirls have any knowledge of even the most basic workings of sex: assume that what you see is what you get and the girl in that Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s of Hollywood nametag is just a young woman surrounded by silk underwear which comprises her entire world and nothing peripheral to the use of said underwear is included in her purview. Yes?


Those sparkly gold pants are amazing. My favorite photo from the shoot.

Those who know me might be tempted to point to my lingerie collection and the continued expansion of said wardrobe as evidence of the Victoria’s Secret merchandise/salesgirl’s character relationship — to you I say, corollation does not imply causation. You can’t argue with that, suckas, because it is math.

But what really grinds me about this puffy little article stuffed with fluff is the advancement of the idea that you could do the whole of a Playboy photoshoot on one’s lunch hour. That is the apex of a shysty and misleading shenanigan.

Come on — we have already learned that the b&w shots are usually done separately from the color and on totally different days from Swingin’ Miss February 1968, the lovely and talented and openminded Ms. Nancy Harwood, remember? It took absolutely days to shoot a centerfold spread; hell, it takes up to and sometimes over a week even now and that is with the advent of digital photography, even. Shot on the lunch hour, indeed. That is all total folklore. Fairy Tales and Oral Tradition 101, required course reading, right there. Depend on it. Calling bullshit on that one from a mile off.

That last shot did not actually make it in to the original April 1957 spread, but rather comes from The First 15 Years book. The compilation of 178 centerfolds from the magazine’s earliest history was a Playboy Newsstand Special which came out in 1983. Today it goes for $75. Its success lead to the printing of The Second 15 Years in 1984. Many of those who disapproved of then-modern porn and decried the so-called corruption of morals during the 70’s and 80’s were accustomed to hounding Larry Flynt and Deep Throat and were quite surprised by the success of the The First 15 Years, but I just think it goes to show an old adage that I have always lived by. Ready for it?

PSA: Dudes like boobs.

Doesn’t matter if they’re on a gal whose photograph was taken yesterday or on a woman in a picture who is probably now dead or a grandma, if they are boobs, they are worth a second look. It makes no difference to the gentleman looking at the picture if the hair and wardrobe above and below the boobs are out-of-date — he is not wishing the woman with boobs was wearing more stylish clothing, he is wishing there were no clothing on the woman with boobs at all.

Smart porn purveyors know this and, if they are savvy gents like Hef, have held on to their old photos featuring those wonderful cash cows we call boobs and will play that card from time to time, right about the time they are sure the woman in the picture with boobs in question is too old or living a life too removed from the time of the picture’s taking to raise a protest. So, ladies, when you pose for naughty pictures and they assure you that the negatives will be destroyed, they are probably lying. Did You Know?

On a quick review, this entry is really full of revelations, from afternoon bisexuals to nudie photoshoots taking time to Victoria’s Secret’s lack of “good” stuff and all ending with the earth-shattering truism that dudes like boobs. Y’all please excuse me while I blow ya minds.

Spring Fever!: Inaugural Edition feat. Gwen Wong, Miss April 1967

April 13, 2010

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.

(“Spice From the Orient,”
(groan) Playboy, April 1967.)

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.)

So true.

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.