Archive for the ‘Valentine Vixens’ 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.

Valentine Vixen — Nancy Jo Hooper, Miss February 1964

February 28, 2010

The lovely and talented Nancy Jo Hooper was, in addition to being a born model and Playboy‘s Miss February 1964, several other “Misses” as well. We will get there.


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

I say she was a born model because she knows what she is supposed to be selling here — but, like any good model, she is “selling” it by dint of excellent effort, and not necessarily because she “feels” it.

Though she oozes that kind of satisfied, curvy, cat-like sexuality that made Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor famous, Pompeo Posar said in the Playmate Book that, when he asked Nancy to give him a pose that was “a little more sexy,” she responded immediately, “But I don’t know anything about sex!” a disarmingly nervous and virginal response from a practical woman with some chutzpah and a good gift for acting, but a more bookish actual personality.


From the heart of the old Confederacy we recently received a pair of candid snapshots and a few hopeful words, enticing enough for us to send a staffer to Savannah to meet Nancy Jo Hooper, the walnut-haired 20-year-old who was to become this February’s Playmate. Hazel-eyed Nancy Jo has lived all her life with her parents and younger sister in the same Georgia town, so small that she asked us not to name it, because if six visitors arrived at once they’d cause a traffic jam. (“Georgia Peach.” Playboy, February 1964.)

Actually, I’m pretty sure that is bullshit and she was from Spartanburg, South Carolina. The small-town thing is true, but the Georgia part is a smokescreen, just like the name she is modeling under — it’s similar enough to her real facts to have the ring of truth, but is not quite the truth itself. Understandable subterfuge in a person trying to make a national name for herself under her real name. But I’ll get to there.


Now a telephone-company employee, this Southern bell ringer previously clerked in a drugstore, there heard Playboy purchasers tell her she was Playmate material herself.

Discarding daydreams of discovery, she took the initiative by sending us snapshots of herself, because, as she explained in a caramel drawl, “It occurred to me that no one from Playboy would ever find me here on his own.” (Ibid.)


Nancy Jo’s flight to Chicago for test shots marked her first airplane trip, and her first visit to any city besides Savannah. Soft-mannered, soft-spoken and shy (“I really enjoy walking alone in the park”), well-read Nancy Jo offers the sort of attractions that could once more set armies marching through Georgia. (Ibid.)

Also they would march to a second Civil War because of Nancy’s controversial positions on state’s rights and slave ownership. (Joke. I just thought the write-up got a little overreaching there.)


AMBITIONS: To become a wife and mother.
TURN-ONS: Shoes of all kinds.
TURNOFFS: Insincerity, rudeness.
I LOVE BEING A PLAYMATE: Because I’ll look back on it as an important experience of my youth.

(Playmate data sheet)


PLAY ME SOME: Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt.
GREAT FLICKS: “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights.”
THEY SAY I RESEMBLE: Sophia Loren. Do you think?

Always a fan of a Brontë-loving girl. And Satchmo, too? Right on! And yes. She looks like Sophia Loren. Keep that in mind as I go on, here. Because it comes up again.

Okay, so in a search for Nancy Jo Hooper, I ran across a post at “If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger (There’d be a lot of dead copycats),” to which I already link in my blogroll but I’m happy to provide a specific post link here. It was a critique of the lovely lighting and photography done in her spread.

A gentleman commented to that post that he was looking for Nancy for a class reunion. He said her real name was Nancy Ann Harrison, and she was from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Now, if you’ve been following the comments today, you’ll see I was way off base about thinking I’d turned up the modern incarnation of a former Playmate, although I am happy to report about it because I stand by being pleased to have discovered the work of the nonetheless wonderful Ms. L. F. (at whose request posts pertaining to her have been removed.) Sure, it ended up good because I got to read some new stuff and learn some new ideas, but I was understandably gun-shy about turning up a false lead again.

Being wrong is cool and it’s important because we are forced outside our comfort zones, given the opportunity to uncover something new and to show humility and the ability to learn from our mistakes, but, cheeseballs! I don’t want to always be the chump ringing in my buzzer only to stammer out the “incorrect” answer — being right sometimes is nice too.

So, I dug as hard as I could this time, much more strictly with myself than last time. And I turned up the following clipping from the Spartanburg, South Carolina Herald-Journal, an article dated July 8, 1962.

Yeah, she is the same girl, and yep, she still looks like Sophia — although the weight they give in the article is heavier than the one she listed two years later in Playboy. Either she went on a diet or the same fact-wrangler that invented her alternate name for her Playboy appearance also took liberties with her already-admirable figure.

Ms. Harrison placed as second runner-up in the Miss Dixie pageant; first place was Rita Wilson of Humbold, Tennessee (center in the above picture), and first runner-up was Susan Woodall of Weldon, North Carolina. There were twenty girls who competed altogether in the 1962 Miss Dixie pageant.

If you are like me and have been forced in your life, often against your will, to take your pageants seriously, or even if you are lucky enough to be unlike me and have never accidentally called the city of Patterson “a shithole” into an open mic during the Miss Apricot Fiesta competition, you may still be interested to read a little run-down of the Miss Dixie pageant rules.

Via the amazing Pageantopolis:

Miss Dixie (“Queen of the South”)

This southern states regional pageant was held annually during the Fourth of July holiday in Daytona Beach (FL) since 1946. It was held by the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce. It seemed to have been discontinued in 1968.

To be eligible for the Miss Dixie contest, the girls had to have placed first or second in another major contest and be from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas or the District of Columbia.

They must be unmarried & between the ages of 17 and 26. Eligible Southern beauties had until June 18 (2 weeks prior) to file their applications. From 1957 onwards, the first 20 successful applications were accepted for the pageant. There were a Top 7, from which the Top 3 were announced.

Each contestant was judged on five qualities: intellect (5%), personality (10%), appearance in evening gown (15%), talent (30%), and appearance in swim suit (30%). The judges each picked the girls they rated from first to seventh in each classification of competition. The girl with the highest cumulative point score became Miss Dixie. (source)

Nancy qualified to enter the Miss Dixie contest by earning the title of Miss Sun Fun South Carolina, a pageant held at Myrtle Beach. She came in second in the national competition about a month before the Miss Dixie pageant, on June 9, 1962 — the winner was Ginger Poitevint of Huntsville, Alabama. Nancy made an impressive showing at the Miss Sun Fun USA contest; besides being first runner-up in the pageant as a whole, she also took top honors in the Swimsuit and Photogenic categories.

As they are rather obviously the same gal, I can only conjecture that all that pretty airy nonsense about Georgia was malarkey the same way Nancy’s name was, although it’s easy to see how they came up with it. I assume the strategy went, keep the first name, Nancy, because it is common and easy enough to keep track of, then use Jo (like Jo-Ann) instead of Ann, though as far as Harrison instead of Hooper — actually, that one I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m out of gas on thinking I knew how this went!

Dig the little trumpet hand puppet — super-cute. I would like to as a final grateful thought link once more to Pageantopolis , without which most of this post would’ve been boring and impossible, and the site is really great and tons of fun — I think I am going to have to start featuring more links to the work and online scrapbook of the very fun Donald West. Thanks!

Valentine Vixen — Miss February 1955, Jayne Mansfield

February 28, 2010

Remember how Jayne Mansfield came up not once but twice over this month in the course of covering the Valentine Vixens, and I kept alluding to how she would appear later in her own extra-focused double-long entry later in the month? Totally keeping my promise right this second!

I have featured the lovely and talented Jayne Mansfield, actress, model and Playboy’s Miss February 1955, before as part of a “The Way They Were” feature, but here she is in her own right.


Photographed by Hal Adams.

There is so very much, true and untrue, written about Ms. Mansfield’s personal history vis-a-vis her men and her mammaries that I decided to try and stick with showing some rare pictures and lesser seen facets of the other, more real side of her personality, and try and feature some clever quotes from her.

Because, as with Pammy, I am totally effing sick of the persistence of the “dumb blonde” thing, and I feel like when people write about Ms. Mansfield, it is usually in passing reference to her body or to her fame only as a symbol of sex in cinema, and almost never dwells on what was beneath the surface of the image she spun in order to be a Hollywood “success.”

The measure of a woman, get it? Funny, yes. The pose is cute but no, that’s no way to gauge us. Here is a kernel of widsom from me to you; write it down and you will land yourself some foxy dates:

“A lady is always greater than the sum of her parts, no matter the greatness of some of those parts.” — E., Right Here, Right Now.

Take it to the bank! Don’t be intimidated. Get to know a woman, ask her about herself, remember the things she says, and you will very easily win her over. Okay? So back to Ms. Mansfield. A couple pithy quotes from the buxom blonde:

“A forty-one inch bust and a lot of perseverance will get you more than a cup of coffee—a lot more.”

and

“I like being a pin-up girl. There’s nothing wrong with it. When I’m 100 I’ll still be doing pin-ups.”

That last is a tough one since she died relatively young. Also,

“If you’re going to do something wrong, do it big, because the punishment is the same either way!”,

“Sure, I know men. Men are those creatures with two legs and eight hands.”

and, more seriously, on the subject of desegregation and Civil Rights,

“God created us equal and we’re not living up to it.”

Jayne was famously married to former Mr. Universe, wrestler and bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, but she was not above a pageant or ten herself. Here’s some fun stuff that I cobbled together from various sources about Jayne’s own beauty contest career.

From the wiki: “While attending the University of Texas, she won several beauty contests, with titles that included Miss Photoflash, Miss Magnesium Lamp and Miss Fire Prevention Week.” During this time, she was also married to her first husband, Paul Mansfield. She studied dramatic arts in Austin, then acting at UCLA when she and Paul moved out to the West Coast.

The wiki claims that the only title she ever turned down was “Miss Roquefort Cheese,” because she believed that it “just didn’t sound right.” A biography site I found included a more complete list of her awards, and here are my hand-picked-for-how-bizarre-they-are favorites of the titles Ms. Mansfield held:

Miss Tomato, Miss Negligee, Miss Nylon Sweater, Miss Freeway, Miss Electric Switch, Miss Geiger Counter (?!?!), Miss 100% Pure Maple Syrup, Miss 4th of July, and, last but most certainly not least, Hot Dog Ambassador (hell, yeah, hot dogs!).


This is my favorite picture of Jayne Mansfield — she is so enrapt in a conversation, mid-sentence and animated, that I think it must be the closest thing to what she really looked like. Because she had such a manufactured image, I find this candid touching.

Other fact you may not know about Ms. Mansfield: the famously blonde babe also made a bombshell of a brunette! Jayne got in touch with her “roots” for the film Single Room Furnished, the picture on which she was working at the time of her death. Adapted from a play by Geraldine Sanford for Jayne by her then-husband Matt Cimber (by the time principal photography in NJ was done, Cimber and she were split and Jayne was dating Sam Brody, her attorney, who died with her), the movie was very slow to be released and was tough to find for a lot of years.


Click any to see large. Each one is unthinkably GIANT.

The imdb summarizes it as

Three stories in one: Johnie (Jayne Mansfield) is married, but her husband deserts her when she becomes pregnant. She changes her name to Mae and takes a job as a waitress. She falls in love, but her fiancé leaves her just as they’re about to get married. So Mae changes her name to Eileen and becomes a prostitute.

I’ve heard it’s actually okay, but I haven’t seen it. Anyone?

Thinking about those final years, her slow decline and her sudden death, is a real bummer, so here’s a couple shots from a much happier time:


At the Pink Palace on her wedding day to Matt Cimber, aka Thomas Vitale “Mateo” Ottaviono, September 24, 1964.

So, since the above pictures have raised the topic — Oh, my. The Pink Palace.

“I’ll have to have a palace, of course. I may not be a princess, but I am a movie queen, and every queen should have a palace.” — Jayne Mansfield

The house has become a part of the lore that surrounds Jayne’s “story,” with most people focusing on the heart-shaped tub, the pink walls, the fur carpets, the fountain of pink champagne, and so on, as evidence of what a Barbie Doll baked in a vanilla cupcake frosted with glitter she was alleged to be. But here is the real deal. Ms. Mansfield bought the Pink Palace in November of 1957 for a cool $76k after some very shrewd real estate backdoor bargaining. A 40-room mansion smack on Sunset Boulevard, the house was built in 1929 by highly regarded Los Angeles architecht G.C. McAllister and had previously been owned by singer Rudy Vallee. It could have gone for much, much more than what Ms. Mansfield wrangled as the end price. But it gets better.


Jayne in the driveway of the Pink Palace.

You need to understand that Jayne was a very specific type of famous. She did not land in big moving pictures so much as her big moving boobs landed her in printed pictures. She was not rated and weighed to be serious in the manner of someone like Audrey Hepburn or even Marilyn Monroe, but you can bet your ass that “Jayne Mansfield” was absolutely a household name. That’s because she was an accessible gal who could move her some magazines. Rags like People and Star were born in this post-war Hollywood boom — men, average men, wanted to ogle star boobies, and women, average women, wanted to read about how they did their makeup, and Jayne was willing to provide both.

Jayne Mansfield created the brand of Jayne Mansfield, made herself worth knowing about before actually having a lot of star credits to her name. In this stroke of genius, in her complete creative control of a public image that made her famous mainly for being famous, she is sort of the fairy godmother of a Hilton or a Kardashian; hell, she wore a transparent wedding dress when she got hitched to Mickey Hargitay, and she was manufacturing wardrobe malfunctions and nip slips when Janet Jackson was still a twinkle in her mother’s eye. At the apex of her career, Jayne actually sold her used bath water by the bottle for $10.00 a pop. Walter Winchell said of her that she was making a career simply “of being a girl,” which the same can be said for a lot of D-listers these days. But I do feel the need to add that I believe Jayne was not as empty-headed and low-class as the current crop of celebutard and I think she had more tinfoil and hardboiled brains in her elegant hot pink pinky nail than Paris Hilton has in her whole spray-tanned size 00 body.


Jayne “crashes” the party.

One really famous instance of Jayne’s cleverness with public relations was at a party thrown for Sophia Loren in 1957. Jayne stole the show by showing up braless in a very low-cut dress. Oops! Some of her decolletage spilled out, and suddenly the event swung from being about the lovely new Italian broad on the block to be focused solely on the Jayne Mansfield brand (available at a newsstand near you!). Above is a famous picture of Sophia grimly bird-dogging the shit out of Jayne, although I think she also looks faintly amused. The arch of her brows is almost a tip of the hat to Ms. Mansfield, as if to say, “Cheap. But well played.” I love it. It’s a pretty famous picture. The picture reminds me of when she went on The Tonight Show and Jack Paar, the forerunner of Johnny Carson, introduced her by saying, “Here they are: Jayne Mansfield!”

“Fucking-a!, how does this boobs-and-the-media history lesson relate to the Pink Palace?” you are asking, and I am saying, “Hall and Oates!, have some patience — it relates directly, and can you please clean up that language?” Okay, so. Parlaying this common-folks’ notoriety and fame in to lucrative wheeling-dealings, Jayne made phone calls and dangled phantom photoshoot promises to area interior decorators, asking for samples to use in her new famous residence. Tantalized by the possibility of a potential publicity relations juggernaut, decorators delivered by the truckload. Thanks to her fame and their greed, the clever Ms. Mansfield managed to decorate the entire mansion with over $150,000 worth of free stuff.

Most of it was in pink, the signature color of her public persona. However, privately she once wrote, “I’ve been identified with pink throughout my career, but I’m not as crazy about it as I’ve led people to believe. My favorite colors are actually neutrals — black and white — but then who thinks of a movie queen in black and white? Everything has to be in living color.” You see what I mean about complete awareness of the image, the public face, and her creative control over it? So much more to her than met the eye. The pink thing must not have been created completely out of whole cloth, though; Mariska Hargitay, star of Law & Order: SVU and Jayne’s daughter from her second marriage to body-builder Mickey Hargitay, remembered well enough her mother’s association with pink and her time with her in the Pink Palace that, in honor of her mother, she wore a pale pink wedding gown and a pink-gold heart-shaped locket when she walked down the aisle in 2004 with her husband, actor Peter Summer. (Whoa, there is dust in here again…so ridiculous, all this dust.)

Since Jayne’s tragic not-decapitating death, the Pink Palace has been owned by Ringo Starr, patron saint Mama Cass Elliot, and Englebert Humperdinck. It was demolished November 9, 2002.

This is Jayne’s actual headstone, at the Fairview Cemetery at Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, where she was interred following her death June 29, 1967 (exactly thirty-five years before the death of my cousin Thomas which changed my life forever). There is a memorial cinotaph in the Hollywood Forever cemetery, but it has the incorrect date on it. This error is not the Jayne Mansfield Fan Club’s fault; true to loveable character, Ms. Mansfield had given out for many years the incorrect year of her birth in order to appear younger.


Pictures published in the mag from the set of this movie, Promises, got Hef and Playboy slapped with an indecency lawsuit and nearly shut them down — hot story for next time. Oooh, anticipation!

Besides her work on the screen and in print, a lasting legacy of Jayne’s tragic death in an automobile-tractor-trailer crash is the so-called Mansfield bar, a safety feature now standard on all tractor trailers.

The NHTSA began requiring an underride guard, a strong bar made of steel tubing, to be installed on all tractor-trailers. This bar is also known as a Mansfield bar, and on occasions as a DOT bar. (the wiki)

Over the course of her career, the lovely and talented (and, I hope I have convinced you, underratedly clever) Jayne Mansfield appeared in Playboy magazine over 30 times. You may visit Jayne’s star on the Walk of Fame at 6328 Hollywood Boulevard. As her gravestone says, “We live to love you more each day.” R.I.P., Ms. Mansfield.

Valentine Vixen — Pamela Anderson, Miss February 1990

February 26, 2010

Very, very special Valentine Vixen. The lovely and talented, and in my book unendingly wonderful with so much more to her than the surface by which she is constantly judged, Pamela Anderson was Miss February 1990. Pammy was only 23 years old, she had just moved to Los Angeles after living most of her life in tiny Comox, B.C, Canada, and her interview will just about break your heart.


Photographed by Arny Freytag.

She was discovered by accident while being her gorgeous and naturally attention-grabbing self at a simple sporting event.

Pamela took in a B.C. Lions football game in Vancouver and made a national spectacle of herself. Duded up in blue, the signature color of Labatt’s Beer, she caught the eye of a national-TV cameraman. Football fans all over Canada called the network to inquire about the sideline stunner at the Lions game. Next thing she knew, Pamela was a Labatt’s poster girl. (“B.C. Beauty.” Playboy, February 1990.)


To keep her wits about her, she kept a journal in which she recorded her experiences. “This is the beginning of a new life for me,” she wrote. She worked as a model and studied airline routes in her spare time. She got her certification as a travel agent, just in case her plans for an even bigger move didn’t work out. (Ibid.)

She kept up the journaling and also expanded to other writing, too. She used to be a regular contributor to Jane magazine back when I subscribed because I was, like, sooooo counterculture and didn’t need any typical beauty magazines (Jane is now owned by Glamour so in my face) to tell my oh-so-over-it ass how to catch boys and flutter my eyelashes, thank you very much, and Pam’s editorials cracked me up. She can be wickedly sarcastic, and turned most of her wit on herself, totally willing to mock the image but then turn around and reveal this sweet and sensitive side, too. Very cool.


She now studies scripts the way she once pored over airline schedules, and more than one casting director has told her she is sure to go far. This, though, is her first big break. (Ibid.)


“Hollywood people are dreamers. Always grabbing for something big. I’m a dreamer, too, so I guess I belong here.” (Ibid.)

Damn. “I’m a dreamer, too, so I guess I belong here.” Think about all the total shit she has been through, the complete Hollywood wringer that has spun her around and wrung her out again and again since she said that in 1990.

Dating abusive and disease-ridden scummy cads, overindulging in the sea of substances that surrounded her rock and roll lifestyle, getting out and keeping her kids clean, being lambasted left and right for her body, judged solely on her looks; having her every move under scrutiny and criticized constantly as if she is some empty-headed set of shellacked boobs and nothing more, when really she is this sensitive and hilarious writer with a huge soft spot for animals and abused children, it’s like — the crux of injustice. Man. Excuse me, I … I have some dust in my eye.

Pamela Anderson has been for many years a highly visible spokesperson for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Yes, I know PETA is not perfect. No, I don’t need to hear about it, because, like I just said, I know. Many nonprofits run in to choppy waters when they are closely investigated and PETA, because its beneficiaries cannot speak for themselves, comes under close scrutiny and is found lacking very often in public forums. Got it. But can we at least agree that it is really cool that Pam Anderson took on the mantle of ambassador to animals years ago and has stuck with it through thick and thin, both in her career and her cup size? I think that is admirable and demonstrative of her sensitivity and persistence.


Bardot and Pammy. Many similarities. Strong, opinionated blonde sex symbols under whose famously nice racks beat determined hearts of gold.

Since two legendary blonde bombshells and all ’round inconic sex goddesses are better than one, Brigitte Bardot and Pamela Anderson have now united to call for an immediate end to the Canadian seal hunt. (“Pamela Anderson and Brigitte Bardot Unite: ‘Love Seals, Don’t Club Them!'” 13 Feb 2008. PETA2 Daily Blog.)


This afternoon while visiting the Brigitte Bardot Foundation in Paris, Pamela filled in for Mme Bardot (who is ill and can’t travel at the moment) and held a press conference publicly condeming the seal hunt and everyone who wears or designs fur. (Ibid.)

The seal hunt, which runs from November through May, really is fucking gross and awful. If you live in one of the five remaining geographical areas that still have it, I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but holy hell, write a letter or something, would you? That shit is purely against God’s will, I’m almost positive. It’s got me all kinds of cussing in disgust over here.

The final quote from the interview with Playboy is really heartbreaking.


“I hope that when people see me in Playboy,” she says, “they’ll see more than the surface. I hope they’ll see a Comox girl reaching for a dream.” (“B.C. Beauty.”)

That is just exactly the way of it, you guys. So maybe the next time you are in a group of people and someone makes an allusion to Pamela analogizing her to trash or implying she is some blonde bimbo, perhaps you will remember that she is a sweet, poetic soul from a small town who has never meant anyone harm a day in her life, and you can step up like a gentleman hero and tell that hater to shut their ignorant piehole.

Valentine Vixen – Kim Farber, Miss February 1967

February 25, 2010

Besides being possessed of arrestingly modern looks (it is truly startling how easily this photoshoot could have been done in the cheap-and-chic, Ikea-styled apartment of some sweet young hipster last weekend), Kim Farber is also unique in the pantheon of vintage playmates because she worked nights as a “Theater Bunny” at the Chicago Playboy Theater before being selected as Playboy‘s Miss February 1967. To my mind, that gives her a very special position in the empire’s history.


Photographed by Stan Molinowski.

Playboy opened the sadly short-lived Playboy Theaters — notable for screening not exclusively the racier content you might expect, but also rare classics, indie flicks, and films that had been met with censorship in their attempts at playing nice with other distribution channels — in only a scant, lucky few cities.

So far I have only chased down for sure the origins and present doings of the sites in Chicago (more on that in a sec) and New York, where the theater was in Manhattan on W. 57th street.

I had a false lead in Corpus Christi, TX, but I went ahead and called and, believe it or not, one of the town’s own officially sanctioned websites has mislabeled the Harbor Playhouse Theater as the Harbor Playboy Theater: the venue is not now and has never been a Playboy Enterprises property. Simple typo which the city of Corpus Christi has yet to notice or rectify, but it gave the guy I asked about it earlier this afternoon a good laugh.

I ironed out the discrepancy (a google search turned up the town’s link to the theater under the name “Playboy” but yellow pages and all other sources called it “Playhouse;” I couldn’t let mysterious sleeping dogs lie!) by straight-up calling the theater and asking them myself. As I said, the guy I spoke to laughed heartily and said no way. I didn’t bother explaining that there were, at one time, Playboy Theaters, as the difference between cinema and stage work sometimes makes people whose life passion is working for actual factual live theaters a little uppity and superior about plays vs. movies, plus, why interrupt the flow of happy karma? I laughed too and thanked him for his time.

That’s not the only telephone digging I’ve done this week, actually. Several days ago, I also called San Diego Rattan to ask if there was any chance they were ever known as “House of Rattan,” the shop run by the mother of Miss February 1969, Lorrie Menconi (answer: again, no). The very confused woman on the other end of the telephone assured me the store had only been called “San Diego Rattan” throughout its history.

I then asked in as friendly and “sane” a way as possible if she had any idea what had ever happened to the House of Rattan (she did not, as she moved to San Diego from Redondo Beach in 1999 and had never heard of House of Rattan).

I said my Girl Scout leader grew up in Redondo Beach, and her daughter (my dear Sarah-fina) was born in Torrance; plus, a sorority sister from college was from nearby Rancho P.V., so we talked briefly about Redondo, the merits of Rancho Palos Verdes vs. Palos Verdes Heights — or “PVH,” as the cognoscenti call it — and how Girl Scouts used to have so many more badges for water sports. (Not the sex-and-urine, super-kinky kind, but rather the kayak-and-diving, woman-against-the-sea kind). She was mainly very confused and almost concerned, it seemed at the start of the conversation, about my rattan line of questioning, so I felt like I needed to regain emotional lost ground with friendly, “aren’t-I-so-normal,” bantery small talk.

She was not annoyed — she was very friendly and even apologetic for having no answers to my left-field queries — but I am pretty sure she thought I had some extra-special Things Going On upstairs. I did not drop the magazine’s name at any point in the discussion, keeping the conversation on a strictly wicker-outdoor-furniture, geographical-social-casting, and oh-these-Girl-Scout-times-they-are-a-changin’ basis, so maybe rabid rattan fans are a Thing and she was initially afraid she had one of them on the phone. I’ll never know!


It is part of human nature, observed an 18th Century British writer, that great discoveries are made accidentally. (“Ticket to Success.” Playboy, February 1967.)

Though many people have made remarks along similar lines, my guess is that the uncredited author of Ms. Farber’s write-up is probably referring to the Reverend Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832).

Rev. Colton more specifically said, “It is a mortifying truth, and ought to teach the wisest of us humility, that many of the most valuable discoveries have been the result of chance, rather than of contemplation, and of accident, rather than of design.” (Many Things in Few Words: Addressed to Those Who Think. Colton, Rev. C.C. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. (p. 39). via that there ol’ google books. take it for a public domain spin!)


Proof of this maxim is our valentine Playmate, Kim Farber, who was steadfastly taking tickets at Chicago’s Playboy Theater when she was pointed toward a gatefold appearance by a Playboy staffer who had gone to the theater and discovered that its prime attraction was not on the screen. Kim gratefully consented to pose for Playmate test shot. “Of course, I’d always wanted to be a Playmate, but once I got settled in my Theater Bunny routine, I never thought I’d get closer.” (Ibid.)


When she finally returns Stateside, Miss February hopes to pick up the thread of an apprenticeship in fashion coordination and design (“If I had my way, I’d drape the whole world in bright orange”), which she interrupted to become a Playboy Theater Bunny. “Before I commit myself to a career,” the dark-haired beauty explains, “I want to get some traveling out of my system.” (Ibid.)

I’ve got sadly no idea where the sweet and doe-eyed young gamine’s travels took her, in the end — Ms. Farber has either changed her name or vanished off the face of the earth, because if you have learned nothing else from my ramblings I hope you at least agree that I’m pretty all right with that there ol’ research — but I can happily tell you both the backstory of its inception and the denouement of what eventually happened to the Chicago Playboy Theatre. It’s an involved but very interesting story. Go potty now and smoke if you got ’em, cause here we go!

The Playboy Theater in Chicago was located at 1204 N. Dearborn Street. It began its life as the Dearborn Theatre in 1913. It was remodeled two decades later in 1934 by William and Percival Pereira. William, who ascribed the sterile and stark look of his architecture to his interest in science fiction, would go on to design the distinctive pyramid-shaped Transamerica Building in San Francisco, one of the most recognizable — and, next to the Lucy Coit tower, my personal favorite — features of The City’s skyscape.

The theater was sold, expanded, and given a much-needed facelift, when it re-opened as the Surf Theater in the 1940s. The new cinema boasted a seating capacity of 650. It remained the Surf Theater until September of 1964.


This is my favorite shot of the spread.

The Chicago Playboy Theater opened its doors at the end of September, 1964. Chicago was the home of Hef’s fledgling empire, and, in its heyday, was bustling with bunnies. There were Playboy clubs, hotels, restaurants, and the Theater, all along the famous Loop.

Besides being known for the unusual films it screened, the Playboy Theater was one of the hosting venues in the early years of the Chicago International Film Festival.

The theater changed hands in 1976, a year after Hugh himself blew irretrievably once and for all out of the Windy City in the wake of the dissolution of his long relationship with Barbi Benton. It was renamed the Chelex, and famed Chicago Sun critic Gene Siskel once wrote a scathing review of a film he saw screened there, concluding that the venue itself was so distracting that it made the film even worse; he said he sat near the back and had to keep his coat, hat, and even his gloves on during the movie because it was so goddamned cold.


This is another really, really good shot in my book.

The theater then changed hands again in 1979, and was renamed the Sandburg Theater, after Chicago native son and poet Carl Sandburg (“came in like the tide on little cat feet,” you know, that guy?). A well-regarded arthouse cinema-spot, as you might guess from the lofty name, the Sandburg mainly screened repertory and indie films.


My partner Albert Berger and I re-opened the Sandburg Theatre as a repertory house showing double features of classic films on May 22, 1979. Our opening week was a festival of Alfred Hitchcock movies. Although home video was starting to appear back then, most of these films could not be seen at that time except on television. We leased the theatre from famous Chicago real estate mogul Arthur Rubloff, who had developed much of the Magnificent Mile among other properties. (Bill Horberg. March 8, 2008. Internet post retrieved February 25, 2010.)


The theatre was shuttered when we took it over and in very poor shape. It still had the bunny logo design carpeting from the days when it operated as The Playboy, and a marquee with disco style lighting. (Ibid.)

When the tenure of the ambitious and admirable Misters Horberg and Berger came to a close in 1982, the theater was sold, condemned, and demolished. A Walgreens (another longtime and homegrown Chicago tradition) now stands on the spot.


I do believe that is Ms. Farber to Hef’s right, viewer’s left. Yes?

It was the 1,000th Walgreens to be opened and there was quite the to-do of it at a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony held at 9:00 a.m. on September 6, 1984, presided over by James Thompson, the governor of Illinois at the time. Interestingly, the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony was Cary Grant, whose own movies had often been screened in the Old Dearborn and Surf Theatre days of the 1930’s-40’s.

Grant graciously agreed to be present and speak because he was a family friend of the Walgreens (the article where I read this factoid lists his connection as being to “Betty,” but I think they meant Mary Ann, as no Betty as ever been an heiress or married to an heir of the Walgreens chain). Like Mr. Grant, Mary Ann Walgreen (née Leslie) has since passed away. She was very active in Chicago-area charities well before the time of highly visible CEOs and public relations folderol, which means she had no obligation to be so involved, and did it out of the goodness of her own heart. R.I.P. to them both.

Final fun fact: Before it closed its doors in 1976, the Chicago Playboy theater’s final booking was a double feature of Mel Brooks’ The Producers and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (“Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?”) Sounds to me like an excellent way to close the place down — if they were licensed for beer, to boot, then I need to get on time traveling, stat. That’s all for tonight, and I sure hope you’ve enjoyed this lengthy foray into the Playboy past.

Valentine Vixen — Nancy Harwood, Miss February 1968

February 24, 2010

In her Playmate interview, the lovely and talented Nancy Harwood, Miss February 1968, states views on the diametrically opposite end of the spectrum from yesterday’s first Valentine Vixen L.F. (Miss February 1970, all posts with references to whom have been removed from this site at the request of a different LF), but they ended up in virtually identical fields, showing once again that it is possible and even perhaps God’s intention in creating a species of such diverse intellects to achieve goals of peace and harmony no matter if there are little areas of difference between people. We can walk parallel paths and reach the same destination, and not imagine ours to be the only way home. Does this make sense?


Photographed by Bill Figge and Ed De Long.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian mystic who has introduced the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Mia Farrow Sinatra, among others, to the joys of contemplation, can also count Nancy Harwood among his followers. When Miss February faces the “altar” in her bachelorette pad in Burbank — it’s adorned with artificial flowers of psychedelic intensity from Mexico — she forgets not only the cares of a part-time college student but also the care-nots of a 19-year-old coming of age in Southern California. (“The Girl From Inner Space,” Playboy, February 1968.)


“It’s like getting high without drugs,” explains the pharmacist’s daughter — who got the message when she and many others, including pop idol Donovan, meditated with Maharishi recently at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium: “You could actually feel your neighbors going up, up and away!” (Ibid.)


Like so many of her tuned-in generation, Nancy grooves to the varied sounds of today’s many-splendored pop musical world — Hugh Masekela, Wes Montgomery, the Beatles, the Stones and Ravi Shankar. She also enjoys fraternizing with a variety of people at school, at the beach (“I used to go in for a lot of surfing, but paddling out got to be a drag”) or on Sunset Strip. (Ibid.)



I have a lot of friends with long hair, though I wouldn’t necessarily call them hippies.” However, Nancy informed us that abrasive contact with the “real” world is taking its toll on the flower children: “The Strip now has a lot in common with skid row — everybody’s just milling around and most of them are up tight. Last spring, people were turned on to one another; now, everybody’s on his own trip.” (Ibid.)


There is an appropriately forlorn but determined quality to this unusually clothed picture.

In my opinion, Nancy accurately pegs here the increasingly dissident years in the aftermath of the Summer of Love, which was 1967. You will hear the same complaint from other people — it was like that time was a golden hour that was never successfully recaptured, perhaps inevitably leading to the narcissistic solo drug benders of the seventies and subsequent desperately empty materialism and casual sex of the 1980’s. I honestly think we almost brought it back around in the 1990’s as far as caring about one another and giving a shit about the environment once more, but we lost it again somehow … I apologize to my daughter’s generation in advance for whatever comes next.

Another very unusual shot. They followed Nancy around to school and some peace rallies protesting the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. It’s not an experiment they tried much with the playmates, showing the reality of their lives, but it pays off with an idealistic gal like Nancy because that is part of her dimply but flinty-blue-eyed charm — the tinfoil beneath the icing of what you think is a cupcake but is actually a very determined young woman.


The more conventional side of Nancy’s education includes psychology and business courses at Los Angeles City College, a school she likes because of the diverse origins and upbringings of its students. Her ambitions are to model — Vogue’s Veruschka is her ideal — and to dance, preferably in films. (Ibid.)


According to her biography on her official site, Nancy put her classes to good use, and then some.

Nancy has been involved in human potential work for more than 15 years and is available for a personal coach. She is sought after as a coach because of her own experience and professoinal success. In her coaching, she integrates her extensive knowledge of body mechanics, diet, vitamins, and goal setting.

Due to her combination of brains, beauty, and free-love-based idealism and spirituality, Nancy was a tremendously popular Playmate during this time, especially with soldiers serving overseas during the Vietnam War.

Her feature was so popular that she received nine duffel bags of mail from American troops fighting in Vietnam in the following months. (official bio.)

Also,

She has remained a serious physical fitness buff, and has the same body weight and figure today that she had 25 years ago. (Ibid.)

The proof is in the pudding: check out the shots below!


DIG THE FABULOSITY!! l to r: Wonderful Helena Antonaccio (Miss June 1969), nothing-less-than-legendary star of the burlesque stage Tempest Storm, and beautiful flower child Nancy at Los Angeles Glamourcon in November of 2003.

Special thanks forever and always to the graceful, fun, funny, and all-around cramazing Helena Antonaccio for the above and below smashing shots of playmates and stage stars of yore in current action.


l to r: Nancy, Helena, and lovely and talented Connie Mason (Miss June 1963), Glamourcon 2003.

You must rush, rush, rush to Helena’s website and flock to her booth at any convention you attend. I can always count on the one-of-a-kind Miz A to Bring It when it comes to wonderful pictures. Bella, if you did not exist, I would have to invent you. *Muah!* ♥ (I get mooshy.)

Final present shot of Nancy:

Picture of Nancy at Glamroucon 15 by wonderful and hilarious J Greely, photographer of beautiful women and more recently zoo animals, who says, “I have nothing against naked women but I do object to clothed animals, so it evens out.” Check him out.

As a final awesome note, per her official site,

Ms. Harwood is currently President of the “original” Centerfold Alumni Association, which is composed of past Playmates and Centerfolds of the Month. These models are featured Playmates, whose dates of appearance range from August 1956 through June 1997.

Keep on rockin’ in the free world, Ms. Harwood!

Valentine Vixen — Cherie Witter, Miss February 1985

February 24, 2010

The lovely and talented Cherie Witter was a seasoned model by the time she posed for Playboy as Miss February 1985, and I’m happy to report she was born in the same neck of the deep dark crick gypsy needleleaf rainforest as myself!


Photographed by Richard Fegley and Arny Freytag.

Modeling takes, as Cherie would say, “a major amount” of dedication. Especially in an area that’s somewhat off the beaten track for the fashion industry. The towns where Cherie grew up — Marysville, Everett, Edmonds, Bellevue — appear only on fairly detailed maps of the hilly farm and forest land, lakes and seashores surrounding Seattle. (“Cherie On Top,” Playboy, February 1985.)


Although it’s a picturesque area, it hasn’t been a center of fashion since the boom days of the Klondike gold rush. Of course, few people today wear miners’ boots. And with the gold all but played out, people in Seattle have been forced to build ships and planes, catch fish and harvest timber. (Ibid.)

Erm, that’s a fairly inaccurate depiction of the history of the Pacific Northwest (did they seriously leave out Lewis and Clark? and how on earth was any part of the Klondike Gold Rush to do with fashion? it was dudes in flannel and gumboots, my friend, and whores in eight layers of clothes against the cold — read Call of the Wild, dumbasses), but I’ll take it.

The rest of my family being born where our deep roots lay, in Northeastern Washington and the very far north woods of Idaho, makes me very smug and proprietary about the Puget Sound — I believe only my cousin Richie shares the coast of Washington as our birthplace, among the, like seventy of us cousins and our kids. Rich was born in Marysville and I was born in Bremerton.

I found a very dicey and suspicious fan tribute page to Ms. Witter on the myspace which looked too scammy for me to link to, but I found her legit facebook and will share only that she now lives in a really gorgeous town further up the Puget Sound called Mukilteo. I’ve been through it only once in my grown-up memory, but it’s beautiful country — a lot of the landscape cinematography and ferry scene stuff for the American film version of The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2003) was shot around the area.

Knowing the proximity of Mukilteo to Bremerton, up in that there ol’ Sound, I decided to test Google’s ability to use the ferry system in its directions. The Sound consists of dozens and dozens of peninsulas and islands connected by a spotty system of bridges which span the “narrows” —our colloquial term for straits of water slim enough across so you can see one another’s buildings but deep and riptidey enough that if you drove you’d sink and if you swum you’d drown— but it’s often quicker to shoot around on the reasonably efficient ferry transit system.

Also, you can see orca whales. I’m not kidding. It’s amazing. They come right around either side of the boat in good-sized pods and circle and flip and do all kinds of shit. They are kind of show-offs. They scared the heck out of me when I was a kid because of their teeth, though.

So I typed in a query for directions from Mukilteo to Bremerton in Google and … FAIL. Google maps and driving directions, on the first shot out of the gate, told me to drive a crazy-stupid-lengthy route around I-5S to 16-W, the lonnnng way, from Mukilteo to Bremerton. This is extra stupid, because anyone who lives in the area will tell you Mukilteo is a pretty popular transport hub for the ferries.


If Ms. Witter weren’t so beautiful, this would hecka just look like one of those cheap Glamourshots from the mall, yes?

But I will give the site credit for eventually recommending the way I would’ve instinctively gone, which is to drive down to Lynnwood and Edmonds, take the Kingston-Edmonds ferry, get to the Kitsap Peninsula, then drive 104 to 3 into Bremerton. Duh. (Sarcasm.) Look, I don’t get to be “smarter” than google very often, so give me my moment! Speaking of smart, Ms. Witter had this to say about people’s perceptions of her intelligence based on her looks, an important lesson in not judging, no matter whether the subject of your judgment is, in your estimation “a dork,” or a beautiful idiot:


Oh my saltines, so dang adorable.

“I feel as if, at times in my life, I’ve been fighting what I have on the outside. I feel that, when people meet me, I don’t really have a chance to let them know what I’m about, or to prove that I’m worth knowning. And I don’t like having to prove that to people.

“But a lot of people who meet me are surprised. And they tell me they’re surprised; that’s what’s funny about it — they’re honest. They say, ‘I’m surprised, really surprised that you have not only your looks but you have something upstairs too.’ I like that.” (Ibid.)


What? She has a slicker on. Get off her back. Totally de rigeur apple picking attire. Perfectly normal.

In one of those great little coincidences that somehow abound in the small world of Playboy (the more you investigate the playmates, the more fun connections pop up), here’s a brief cross-pollenation note about the cover of Ms. Witter’s centerfold issue:


Also, please note the interview with then-29-year-old Steve Jobs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “the articles are interesting” is more than just a timeworn excuse for ogling titties.

The brain-asplodin’ly cute model posing in the chaps and spurs is the lovely and talented Julie Michelle McCullough, who appeared in the “Girls of Texas” spread in this issue of Playboy and returned a year later to headline her own spread as Miss February 1986. And guess who was on her cover that February issue one year later?


(you have already seen this picture but I’m posting it again for comparison’s sake)

Cherie Witter! I guess they have each other “covered”? Cherry pop tarts, I sure hope for all our sakes that’s the worst pun I make today. But no promises. Anyway, how about that? Pretty great. Stand-up comic and good-time gal Julie is one of my all time faves, so here’s another link to the feisty “funny bunny,” who, just like Ms. Witter and so many of the great playmates I’ve gotten to highlight this month, is walking and talking proof that beauty and brains aren’t mutually exclusive.

Valentine Vixen — Lorrie Menconi, Miss February 1969

February 23, 2010

Happy birthday to a very special Valentine Vixen, the lovely and talented Lorrie Menconi, Miss February 1969!


Photographed by Bill Figge and Ed De Long.

Tomorrow is brain-asplodin’ly cute Ms. Menconi’s 62nd birthday. Felicitazioni, bella!

The write-up which accompanied Ms. Menconi’s centerfold, titled “Tuesday’s Child,” focused on her birthday and the implications of her Pisces nativity. You know how I feel about zodiac-quackery (unless what I’m reading is painful, scathing, and insulting, I am highly skeptical), but how can I resist an Italian sister in pigtails? Flap-flap, quack-quack — let’s discuss the zodiac.



Astrologically speaking, Lorrie Menconi has her pretty head in the stars. “I was born on Tuesday,” our valentine Playmate told us, “February 24th 1948. That makes me a Pisces, so I think it’s perfect to appear in the February issue — it just has to be good luck. I guess you could call me a zodiac nut. But so many Piscean characteristics are true of me that it’s hard not to believe in it!” (“Tuesday’s Child,” Playboy, February 1969.)


Exhibiting a prime Piscean trait — talkativeness — Lorrie goes on: “Pisces is a water sign, which may explain why I’m so crazy about living in California. We moved to San Diego when I was very young, so I don’t know what it’s like to live away from the water.”(Ibid.)



“The beach scene here is terrific. But the mountains in northern California are great, too.” (Ibid.)


Damned skippy, they are.



When Lorrie isn’t involved in the aquatic life, she indulges another Piscean fancy — a love of animals. Lorrie attributes some of her fondness for fauna to her mother, who wrote a children’s book called The Pony Who Lost Her Neigh. (Ibid.)

The Pony Who Lost Her Neigh must be out of print now, because all the traces that remain on a fairly deep search are Lee Menconi-Bandh’s copyright claims, first from 1965, renewed in 1993. Bummer. I’ll keep looking.


“All the animals in the story,” Lorrie explains, “were based on our family: my father, my three sisters and me. There was billy goat Harry, pony Susie, porky Marilyn and duck Rosane. I was a turkey — you know, ‘gobble, gobble’ — because I talk so much; there’s that Pisces again.”


Along with her sisters, she works part time at the House of Rattan, a shop managed by her mother. “We sell just about anything you can imagine that’s made of rattan,” Lorrie says.

Ms. Menconi, I can imagine many, many things. That you “sell anything you can imagine” made of rattan is a dangerous thing to say to a person who opens my eyes in the shower because I’m positive that, in the time it took me to suds up my hair, a shark has swum up the drain and is a centimeter from sinking his rows of razor sharp teeth into my foot (yes, I grasp physics and biology and am aware on an intellectual level of the impossibility of such a thing; no, that doesn’t stop me from opening my eyes and getting soap in them).

Rattan flyswatters, minivans, and light bulbs; rattan bikini bottoms; rattan file cabinets; rattan noodle soup; rattan statues of Ra, the Sun God; rattan Audubon guides to bird-watching and rattan flatware to compliment an ornate set of rattan china — all of these, you sold at your mother’s shop, Ms. Menconi? No? Then I cry fie and false advertising! “House of Rattan,” indeed. More like “Shack” or “Porta-Potty of Rattan.” Even “Junk Drawer of Unimaginative Rattan,” maybe. Pfft.

I kid. She was totally cute and is still completely beautiful; further, her family sounds very supportive. Ms. Menconi travels on the convention circuit, and also maintains an official website, where you can purchase autographed copies of prints from her justifiably popular Playboy spread.


A recent, striking picture. Italian ladies got it goin’ on: accept it!

Besides her looks, her adorable enthusiasm for her hometown of San Diego has also clearly held.

“You know, San Diego is called the place where California began, because the Spanish padres founded their first mission here in 1769. So this year, we’re celebrating our 200th birthday. I’m really proud of this city — it’s sunny and warm and beautiful.” (Ibid.)

Her official site is sponsored by the San Diego Beachlife Press.

Again, supersonic birthday wishes and eskimo kisses to the lovely and talented Ms. Menconi, and many, many happy returns!

Weekend warrior friendohs, and a brief bookfoolery follow-up edition

February 22, 2010


Gorgeous George and Corinnette on our way to find undiscovered country.

Had a great weekend up in the great white woods with the fabulous friendohs, other than the kidlet being wretchedly sick; if she dies of double-pneumonia-screaming-meemies-and-bad-hair (very common and tragic disease) it is sure to be my fault for falling prey to her “I’ll be fine, Mommy, please please please let me go to the snow!” baloney sauce and not just keeping her home like I ought to have. The only component missing that would’ve made the weekend even more perfect were Paolo and Miss D, who’d sadly decided, with greater wisdom than the kidlet and me, to stay home so Paolo did not compound his cold. We are hoping to do a follow-up trip in the Spring and I can’t wait for them to come along and appear in my annoyingly copious pictures (my friends are kindly tolerant of my photographic shenanigans, but I’m very lucky they’ve never seized the camera and thrown it off a cliff).


Did You Know? This beautiful child is actually a festering harbinger of plague and germs that can singlehandedly fell a houseful of hale and hearty adults in Just Two Days. “Think I’m cute, do you? Enjoy the bronchitis, suckaaaas!”

Poor Corinnette, who rode with me and Gorgeous George and the kidlet, was probably sick to death by Sunday night of Elvis, which we bumped in the car nearly the whole weekend, partly because we’re both huge fans and partly because Gorgeous George was the driver which left me as the passenger with way too much time to look over cliffs and dread death at the hands of unknown reckless drivers (I trust Geo implicitly: it is those loose cannon other sons-of-bitches that I fear will careen around a corner and cost me my child’s life), so we played tunes that I could stare out the window and sing “Little Sister” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” along to, giving me something familiar to focus on rather than hairpin turns and speeding Subarus.


Elvis Presley and Sophia Loren clowning around. I am telling you this because though talented they are virtually complete unknowns of whom you have probably never heard.

At one point along Highway 140, when we were on a straightaway and I was feeling less Nervous Nellie —had my eyes open and everything! just like a big girl!— I remarked to Geo, “Elvis Presley really was a great performer. It’s too bad he wasn’t more popular,” which we thought was hysterical.

Gorgeous George’s wonderful parents were as wonderful as they always are, and Saturday night, after playing word games and bullshitting over beers and barbeque for a few hours, Pam-tastic and Senior (Geo’s folks) screened this nothing-less-than-cool-as-shit movie for us about the early career of Shirley Muldowney that seriously revved me up.


Still from Heart Like A Wheel (Jonathan Kaplan, 1983), starring Bonnie Bedelia and Beau Bridges as Shirley Muldowney and Connie Kalitta. Anthony Edwards (pictured) plays her grown son, who is on her pit crew. It’s a really great, great movie. I sat next to Pam-tastic, who had posters of Shirley all over the den we were watching the movie in, and she filled me in on extra details while we watched. Amazing experience. They’re so great.

Shirley Muldowney was the first NHRA female champion drag racer; her struggle was totally engrossing, and a story I’d never even heard of, which I love finding out about all new shit when it comes to deeply detailed sports, and for it to be a lady driving fast on top of it just sealed the deal. I am going to try to find more screencaps and factoids to share more about her in the coming days. Pam and George even know her. They are rad. Kick ass, I’m serious. Best in the West!


Lo-Bo and the Gentleman when we’d finally stopped trekking past protected meadows (normally I’m all in favor of those but cheese-and-rice, I had a sick kid and it was really coming down; it was a great relief to stop walking). They are watching Corinnette gather the materials needed to demolish the Great Dane’s mini-snowman. All respect due to Niels and his snowman, I need to say that for being built by an engineer, that thing sure went down like a bitch.

As a follow-up to my last entry before leaving town, on the bookfoolery front: I took neither Vonnegut short stories in the wake of Jonohs’s novel-loans nor Panda’s much-maligned copy of Oates’ Zombie up with me to read while on our weekend Yosemite retreat. (Although I did let kidlet bring her comic book, and I did not at any point attempt to swipe it: I can be taught!)


l to r: Corinnette, the Great Dane, and Michelle-my-belle at the lea, watching Gorgeous George destroy the snowman.

I realized the only logical choice to take for a trip to the snowy woods with friends was a book about a trip to the snowy woods with friends: Dreamcatcher, by Stephen King. It was perfect to sink in to bed at night and re-live the highs and lows of that admirable group of old friends after spending the day having so much fun with my own.

I really dearly love every one of the four lead characters in Dreamcatcher and will happily tell you all about why I think they are some of the best and most shining examples of King’s already-wonderful pantheon of character creations if we are ever stuck on a tarmac at the end of a runway while they repeatedly de-ice our plane; lord, how a real estate secretary from Miami wishes this were just a random example of a situation and not pulled directly from my real life.


Jonesy and the Beav (Damian Lewis and Jason Lee) attempt to hail a helicopter in Dreamcatcher (Lawrence Kasdan, 2003). This movie is jam-crack-packed with hot men bein’ hot. And nice and brave and heroic. Great book, great flick.

Anyway, snow and friends in the novel. Snow and friends in my life. Synchronicity. Except we did not encounter aliens. That I remember. Moving along, the free time I have today while watching my little sicklet means I have almost no choice but to pass the time between making her food and giving her cold medicine by finally crack-a-lacking on posting up the undone Valentine Vixens. Come sail with me. HMS Sexytimes, ahoy!

O frabjous day of twenty-two-ness: batshit-bananas numerology, and baseball spring fever

February 22, 2010

“O, frabjous day! Calloo, callay!” (Carroll, Jabberwocky.)

Computer is fixed!, day off with the littl’un!, Spring Training has begun! and it’s my favorite day of the year — 2/22! Historically, this is my lucky day. I’ve always liked this date best out of the rest of the calendar. Twenty-two is my lucky number from very, very far back, followed closely by two itself (twenty-two trumps just-two because what’s better than one two? two twos. three twos, as in two-hundred-twenty-two, are okay but still inferior because they are three and not two in number. do not attempt to unravel this logic) and this was also the birthday of my first friend, Alex; feeding ducks with her by the little pond at Noble Library in San Jose is one of my first memories of laughing just from being happy. I wish it stopped there with the whyness of twenty-two-ness, but I get kind of …. into numbers.

See also: my lucky time (10:22 PM, or 22:22); the pages of Treasure Island and Wuthering Heights on which I hide money (222 and 22, respectively); the exact uniform number of Robinson Cano and less auspiciously Roger Clemens.


Julie Newmar: “Batterrrr uuup!”

Ask me someday about my theory that he is two people, one the familiar Texan do-gooder and all-around nice fellow Roger Clemens we came to love, and the other an evil, lying, cauldron of seething rage named Rogero Clemenzetti. A wicked and long-dormant personality who will stop at nothing to satisfy his creepy id-like aims, Clemenzetti emerged after a rat bit Clemens in an otherwise empty subway car between Long Island and New York, and he has never been successfully suppressed ever since — it is a very sad case of Jekyll-and-Hyde and I’m surprised no one else has caught it.


Picture from Star Trek Movie Night at the Giants’ AT&T park via Trek Movie.com, taken 4/27/09. I did not attend, as I was at the zoo with my kidlet for her 5th birthday — but we went to the movie later that week and we both cried at the beginning; we are diehard fans of Treks TOSand TNG (not so much the soapier others), but we looooved the reboot and did not find it sacrilegious at all (hot boys don’t hurt neither, and it’s about time we got some girl fan service up in this piece!).

In other thrilling baseball connections, 22 is half of the jersey number of Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson (4’s and 44 are goodish numbers because of their relationship with 2, being both the square of it and divisible by it, but 8, despite being not just a multiple but its cube is not as good, I feel less comfortable around 8 because it’s just getting too far from 2); 20 (an also-very-very good number because 2 + 0 = 2) less than the number of one of the sport’s greatest heroes, Jackie Robinson (being 42 which is a super-very good number because of DA); and, best of all, it is 20 + 2, 20 being Jorge Posada’s jersey number, though he wore 22 for a few weeks in 1997, before the re-acquisition of Mike Stanley (meh), when Posada switched to 20 so Stanley could once more wear 22 (again, MEH).


Gwen Stefani: “Batterrrr uuup!”

As you can see, 22 is the best number there is, 20 and 2 being close seconds, and therefore 2/22 is the best day of the year. Period. Also: baseball.


Baseball players always have bubble butts. I do not know what repetitive motion it is they do that gives them woman hips, but they’ve all got ’em, except for lanky pitchers, who just have bad knees.

Sorry for the long and pointless diversion but if nothing else, I hope this has proven to you the depths of my numerical mania, and the next time I scoff at the zodiac, feel free to remind me that I have insanely detailed schools of superstition of my own and would do well not to throw stones.


via Michael Leget on the photobucket.

If you think all that was bad, you should talk to my husband, who is medicated for obsessive compulsive disorder, some time about the Importance of Doing Things By Three. He will make a believer of you or die trying. It’s a passion that probably frightened away other, wiser girls, but actually endeared him to me.

Valentine Vixen — Eleanor Bradley, Miss February 1959

February 19, 2010

Playboy’s centerfold spread in their February, 1959 issue was an interesting shoot for the still somewhat fledgling magazine. In it, you can see that Playboy had by now moved away from prepaid-for-nudie-calendar shots and into its own photography, but was still finding its footing in terms of genuine artistic merit in the still-developing genre of the erotic nude, juxtaposed with the larger and more commercial task of bringing in strong circulation numbers.


Photographed by a valiant, early, and not-much-thereafter-rewarded, artistically-westward-stabbing Ron Vogel.

Playboy and Hef had begun to establish themselves as hallmarks of legit gentleman’s refinement, but the magazine’s output was continually looking to find its sea legs insomuchas sex could meet sophistication at the corner. This shoot, featuring the lovely and talented Eleanor Bradley, is a really interesting one in terms of composition. This for me is especially true of some of the more unsual framing — sometimes it’s cropped very close-in and tight, like the above shot, making Ms. Bradley seem larger or more looming in the viewer’s eye than she is (the upward-facing angle of the camera contributes to the forced perspective in the centerfold shot as well).

But in other instances, the framing is positioned with so much room around her, such a vast empty lookspace or headroom between her and the composition’s outer edges that you get the sense you yourself have just left the picture, stepped back to take the shot, or maybe that you are trying to memorize the total scene for maximum later recall. Do you see what I mean, contrasting the centerfold shot with the ones just above and below, and does that make sense?

Varied framing is the cut of my jib here, people. Is it translating? Are you on the trolley? Because I feel like all that may have got away from me. I’ve been sick. I really like subbing but I think the teacher I was in for on several contiguous days last week must have left her desk-things littered with germs because I’ve been in dire, Ny-Quil soaked straits for several nights now.

Anyway. As I scrolled through some of the truly well-done shots in the pictorial, I found myself paying close attention to eye-popping bursts of primary color and interesting compositions and it seemed to me like what Mr. Vogel accomplished here was an early, though somewhat curtailed (perhaps by budget??) attempt at a spread with an actual factual unified artistic theme. Yay!


Please note hi-fi rack is holding an album cover of Frank Sinatra.

The interior shots are even okay. But I must say. Though I am a huge fan of the black velvet capris and who can argue with toplessness?, I’ve always found the iconic shots of Frank Sinatra in the composition here kind of … inexplicable. No real good reason for their inclusion in the spread is to be found in the copy accompanying her pictorial nor in the very shady and shallow delving in to Ellie’s own history that the article skitters about performing before grinding to an abrupt halt.

Moreover, unlike Sinatra, she was from a small town outside Chicago, at the time Hef’s home and the magazine’s HQ — quite the enemy “second city” still at this time to NYC, Frank’s preferred stomping-grounds, and a far cry from his native Jersey, so we may also strike those connections from the list of raisons d’etres vis-a-vis this shoot and its stylings. Further, though never out-of-style in this Italian girl’s opinion, even I must admit that Ol’ Blue Eyes did not make a movie that year nor re-release any particular hits. Strange choice of prop.

In fact, during this time, Sinatra was mostly known for increasing embitterment over his flagging record sales and for criticizing rock music as widely and often as possible. He is quoted in the late 50’s as saying, “[Rock ‘n roll is] sung, played, and written for the most part by cretinous goons. It manages to be the martial music of every side-burned delinquent on the face of the earth.”

That’s right, you side-burned, delinquent whippersnappers. Why, when Frank was starting out as a musician, he walked uphill both ways in the snow barefoot to his heroin dealer’s house after his recording sessions, and he liked it. Fight-fixing was a dime, whores were a nickel, and gin was free if you kept your mouth shut about which gangsters were illegally hiding money in offshore accounts in Cuba. Those were the times! These corrupt, lazy beatniks and mods wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes on the mean streets of Capitol Records or the MGM Grand in Vegas. Un-American crop of Commies, is what they are. Damned hippies are all soft — soft , I tell you!

(In case your sarcasm-early-warning systems are offline for routine maintenance today, what I am driving at here is that the Rat Pack were a madly loveable but fairly goddamned degenerate bunch of pots, to be popping off and calling kettles black. Look to the plank in thine own eye, hepcats.)


Is this picture not fabulous? Very Vertigo, yes? Hitchock’s masterpiece had just come out the year before.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Playboy sez:

A chance encounter made this small-town girl our February Playmate.

A lovely-visaged Valentine to brighten the short, drear days of the year’s shortest month, Eleanor Bradley became our February Playmate almost by accident — or was it fate? A small-town girl from the Midwest, she’d looked forward with excitement to her first West Coast vacation, to the wonderful time she’d have in sun and surf.


And fun she had; but what Eleanor didn’t anticipate — and what proved to be the high point of her vacation — was that our photographer would discover her strolling the glistening strand, and that this would lead to her becoming our valentine Playmate. We believe our readers will share our feeling — after gazing on her tawny beauty — that fate was kind indeed to bring us this sweet siren by the sea.(“Vacation Valentine,” Playboy, February 1959.

That is the entirety of their write-up on her. So while pictorial spreads were getting loads better, the Playmate interviews were still pretty much in their infancy.


Bradley was discovered by Playboy while she was in Los Angeles to visit her sister. After the pictorial, she remained active with Playboy for several years, usually with promotional trips and the like; she also was a regular on the syndicated TV show Playboy’s Penthouse and “Playboy After Dark.” She also posed for other men’s magazines in the early 1960s, along with her career as a mainstream model, mostly in the Midwest. She again posed topless for Playboy for the magazine’s 1979 feature “Playmates Forever!” (source)

Do not click the link to that source if you don’t have a pop-up blocker and/or you are at work. Then again, I guess if you’re here and haven’t already closed this browser window, you probably are not at work. Sometimes I forget my own journal is pretty NSFW, too.

Here are some more details on the Waukegan, Illinois native direct from the source herself, in an article she wrote for the Lake County News-Sun, published in 2009.

I worked my way through high school at the Jewel Food Store, the first one in Waukegan, on Washington Street across the street from Waukegan Township High School. We lived in a rented room ($10 a week) in the back of Carmella Corso’s beauty shop on Butrick Street. Wow, that name just popped right back into my mind.


“Eleanor Bradley visited many Marine training bases around the United States as Miss Marine Air Reserve.” (Courtesy the Chicago Sun-Times and Lake County News-Sun).

The Globe Store reminds me of when, I think in 1956, several classmates and I modeled bathing suits in their window and shocked passers-by; we pretended to be mannequins, then just slightly moved — what fun. Also did their fashion shows and some print ads.

My most influential teacher was Miss Schwinger; she encouraged me to stay in school and graduate.

I graduated in ’57 and went to work as secretary to Fred Lawson, head of public relations for Abbott Labs.


I became Playboy‘s February 1959 centerfold, went to work for Hugh Hefner at headquarters in Chicago, and traveled 100,000 miles around the country doing appearances at colleges. I did all the original “Playboy After Dark” television shows. As Miss Marine Air Reserve, I visited many Marine training bases around the United States.

After Playboy, I got married, had four children, started high fashion modeling with A+ modeling agency, became a top 10 model for 13 years.

I was on the 25th class reunion committee. The meetings were always at Bertram’s Bowl on Washington Street.

(“Modeling bathing suits: Modeling career began in storefront window.” Giannetti, Eleanor Bradley. April 27, 2009. Lake County News-Sun.)

As Ms. Bradley has very nicely summarized her achievements in her own lovely words, which is normally exposition I would cover, I will instead concern myself between the remainder of the pictures from this spread with relating a few facts about Waukegan’s surprisingly numerous sci-fi connections. (E’s journal: come for the porn, stay for the geek-talk!)

My all-time favorite science fiction author and king among personal patron saints, Ray Bradbury, was born in to a long-established Waukegan family in 1920. (His great-grandfather was elected mayor in 1882, to give you an idea of his roots there.) Bradbury grew up in the town and has used it as the inspiration for his fictional Green Town, where he’s set stories and novellas such as Farewell Summer, Something Wicked This Way Comes (my very-favoritest among very-favoritests, which I re-read at least once a year), and Dandelion Wine.

Another sci-fi writer concerned with Mars hails from Ms. Bradley’s hometown as well. Though he lives in Davis, California now, Kim Stanley Robinson, Chomskyite author of the Mars trilogy and self-described green socialist, was born in Waukegan. Mr. Robinson wrote his doctoral thesis on Philip K. Dick and he’s married to an environmental chemist, just to ratchet up his sci-fi magnificence even higher. Like Ray Bradbury and some of Vonnegut’s work, Mr. Robinson’s writing is regarded as an intersection of science fiction with genre-transcending social themes and polish: literary science fiction.

The character of Jason Blaze in Ghost Rider hails from Waukegan, as does non-fictional comedic genius Neil Flynn. You know Flynn as Janitor on Scrubs, but, if his most recent sitcom role in a pretty nerdy and delightful series is not geeky or esoteric enough to fit this theme for you, he also played a cop on an episode of Sliders in 1991. Before I wind down the sci-fi angle altogether, I need to ask:

Am I the only person who’s been stumbling over the clunky and rather laughable, upwardly mobile phrase “speculative fiction” lately in its apparent attempts to supplant “science fiction” and “sci-fi” as the new hep nomenclature for all things dorky? Because I am NOT drinking the kool-aid on that one. I don’t care if it dates me in a decade at a convention or something. I will be That Guy. I don’t care. I’ll call it sci-fi ’til you pry the toy phaser out of my cold, dead, Wolverine-barbecue-mitt-covered hand.

As a final and more sobering but still sci-fi-related thought, Waukegan is home to a whopping three Superfund hazardous waste sites. To give you an idea of the slightly unnerving disproportion of that figure, the National Priorities List identifies only about 1200 in the entire country. Sadly, the hazardous waste has not imbued anyone with superpowers — quite the opposite, in fact, and it’s a major health concern. For more info on all that crazy eons-of-environmental-shenanigans and horrors of irresponsible corporate greed, pick up the book Lake Effect by Nancy Nichols, a 2008 true account of the effects of PCBs on Waukegan residents, including the death of Ms. Nichols’ sister. Troublesome and very next level.

Valentine Vixen: Laura Misch Owens, Miss February 1975

February 18, 2010

So many Valentine Vixens to post up in all their fun and special glory, so little time left in February all of a sudden! Yikes. As with the NSFW November project, I am once more faced with the question of whether I’ve bit off more than I can chew. It’s a challenge, but that’s all right: I was so selective with this month’s lonelyhearts ladies, handpicking only my tippy-toppy-bestest, most favoritest centerfolds, that there is literally not a single one that I am not totally psyched to share more about with you. So let’s do this!


Photographed by Richard Fegley.

The lovely and talented Laura Misch Owens was Playboy’s Miss February 1975. Those aren’t just pretty code words for taking it off on this one, dudes. Besides being beautiful, as evinced by these photographs, Ms. Owens is also a brilliant, witty, published author who happens to be forthright, charming, and absolutely-fall-down-freaking-hysterically funny. I’m going to let her talent speak for itself as I juxtapose the Playboy purple prose that accompanied her pictorial spread for them with her own take on the events, excerpted from an article she contributed to Salon.com about her time as a New Orleans bunny, written in 2005.

The headline and summary for Salon run, “When I was a Playboy Bunny in New Orleans: ‘I married a cop of easy virtue, posed nude in Hef’s magazine, drank all night at Lucky Pierre’s, and appeared in the worst movie ever made. It was Big and it was Easy, and now it’s gone.'” (“When I Was a Playboy Bunny,” Misch, Laura. 10 Sept 2005. Salon.com.)

Playboy sez: “Delta Lady: Meet Laura Misch, a New Orleans lovely who’s taken the Crescent City to her heart. Lucky New Orleans!” (“Delta Lady.” February, 1975. Playboy.)

Playboy sez:

Fresh out of high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 18-year-old ex-cheerleader Laura Misch was confronted with that same question that has plagued most new high school graduates: What now? … She pictured herself with rabbit ears and a Bunny tail. She had an idea! “I dashed off a letter, enclosed a Polaroid of myself and sent it to the New Orleans Bunny Mother, since she was the closest to Tulsa,” Laura recalls. “The next thing I knew, I was in New Orleans with a new job.”


Laura writes:

I stepped off the Braniff flight from Tulsa, Okla., at Moisant Field on Jan. 12, 1973, with $34 in my pocket and the promise of a job as a Bunny at the New Orleans Playboy Club. I was 19, with big, proud titties suitable for framing, and wearing enough Maybelline to sink a barge in the Industrial Canal. I didn’t know it yet, but I would spend the next seven years in the City That Care Forgot. By the time I escaped its humid clutches, the Big Easy would fill me up and wring me dry.


On the subject of a career in moving pictures, Playboy quotes Laura and adds their own advertiser/biz-skewed copy to her youthful sentiments, saying,

“I adore everything about New Orleans. I’ll never leave.” This creates a conflict in her life, for she also wants to be a movie star (“Who doesn’t?”) and most stars have to emigrate to Hollywood sooner or later.

No longer a Bunny since the temporary closing of the New Orleans Club some months ago, Laura has just finished an on-location shooting as an extra in Dino De Laurentiis’ new film, Mandingo, starring James Mason and Susan George. In the movie, which is about life on a slave-breeding plantation in the pre-Civil War South, Laura plays one of the girls in a Mississippi delta whorehouse. This is how she describes her big scene: “A door opens and through the doorway you see me standing there, clutching my underwear. Then I blow a sensuous kiss to a satisfied customer.” Since it was her first scene in a movie, and she appeared seminude, to boot, Laura admits to having had a certain initial apprehension. “I thought it would be awful with all those people watching me,” she says. “But they were good about it and kept their eyes on my face.” If you say so, Laura. (Playboy, February 1975.)

I had lines in those movies but only walk-ons in Mandingo and Hard Times. Strange; I always played a prostitute. Didn’t they see my shining thespian talents?

Oh, Laura. You had me at “Hello!”


This picture of Laura as a young bunny in N’Awlins is not from the Playboy pictorial spread. It accompanied her delightfully fun article for Salon.com.
For her part, the real, unvarnished, marvelously disingenous Laura says today,

I’m sure you’ve seen me in Mardi Gras Massacre, having my innards cut out by a guy wearing an Aztec mask. One Web site lists this gem as one of the worst movies ever, ever made. I’m proud. And remember “French Quarter,” with Bruce Davison and Virginia Mayo? You don’t?

That’s OK, Davison apparently doesn’t either, because he won’t list it among his credits. You can run but you can’t hide, Brucie. I was there. You were in it, pal!

Adorbably candid! Love it.

On the subject of her corrupt-cop, but seemingly loving, as much as he could be, given all time and circumstances, husband during those years, I think Ms. Misch Owens has a light and bittersweet touch, appropriately appreciative/critical/reflective (as all reviews of such relationships must always be) but not overly maudlin; a delicate balance to reach.

Somewhere along the way I had gotten married to Eddie, a cop in the French Quarter. … I thought he was terribly exciting. He’d bring me along to all-nighters at Benny’s, a joint on the levee. I was required to sit silently for hours while Eddie twirled his gold wedding band.



Benny was like 75 with about three teeth and had a 14-year-old girlfriend. This last fact struck no one but me as particularly odd or disgusting. Like everything else wild and evil in New Orleans, it was greeted with a shrug and a wink.

He introduced me to the shady characters, shady ladies and shady ways of the Crescent City that I never would have tapped into otherwise. Without him, I never would have had a private room with a private waiter — Joey Guera — at Antoine’s. Never would have had a real king cake at a family party, never would have gone fishing out of Empire, La., with so much beer aboard our little flotilla that we almost sank. And if we had, so what? There is nothing like a native New Orleanian.

I cannot, in my broken state, express strongly enough how much I aspire to acheive Ms. Misch’s disarmingly candid brand of levelheaded, logical but loving, analytical prose in regard to my own dissolving marriage some day.

We parted ways, eventually. I went down to Miami and he went back to being a bachelor. He retired from the force as a lieutenant and was freelancing as a security man at “tittie bars” and rich people’s houses Uptown on Audubon Place, last I heard.

Reporting on recent events, Ms. Misch adds the following epilogue to her relationship with her Big Easy first husband:

I phoned him just before the eye of Katrina must have passed very near his house. I got his answering machine. Some silly nonsense about how he wasn’t home, he was checking out the latest Saints trade. I said, Hey, you idiot, call me.


He hasn’t called, and now I just get static when I dial the number. C’mon, Eddie, check in. Check in, dammit.

New Orleans is gone.

Today, Ms. Misch Owens is a novelist under the name of Laura Watt and has written non-fiction for the Miami Herald, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Denver Post. Sardonic and enduringly adorable — thanks a mil for the inspiration, Ms. Misch!

Valentine Vixen: Amber Campisi, Miss February 2005

February 8, 2010

I think the lovely and talented Amber Campisi, Miss February 2005, is a really special woman from an amazing family, so it was a pleasure putting together this post, although there was sadness in it, too.


Photographed by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda.

As one of the managers of Campisi’s Restaurant, a family-run business that has been a Dallas favorite since 1946, Amber Campisi can be chauvinistic about her family’s cooking. “I’ll eat anything,” she says, “but I don’t usually like Italian anywhere else. The way we do it is just better.”


When the 23-year-old restaurateur visited our office, she hauled in enough oval Campisi’s pizzas to feed the staff. “My family can’t travel without them,” she says. “When we go to the Cayman Islands every year, we bring lasagna and pizzas in a cooler. It’s ridiculous.”


“There are pictures of me wearing an apron and a name tag when I was five years old,” she says. “I would go to work with my dad when I was little and stay until closing time. They’d cover me with napkins, and I’d sleep in a booth.”


Jack Ruby, a friend of Amber’s grandfather Joe, dined there the night before he shot Lee Harvey Oswald. This led the Warren Commission to interview the elder Campisi. “One of the stories is that Ruby came in and told my grandfather he was going to do it to spare the Kennedys the pain of a trial,” she says. Whatever was said that night, Dallas now has seven Campisi’s restaurants that are better known for their squisito Italian cuisine. (“Specialty of the House,” Playboy, February 2005.)


AMBITIONS: To help run the family restaurant and one day pass it on to my children.

TURN-ONS: Athletic men, someone who is confident but not cocky, and redheads.

FAVORITE COLLEGE COURSES: Nonprofit Communication, Communication Research and Argumentation

Heck yeah, charity and hot gingers — you see what I mean? This girl is super awesome. And you know she eats spaghetti. Strong family bonds, love of cooking, she’s got some great and special qualities, in my opinion. This is not some airbrushed airhead looking to launch a D-list career with her rack. Ms. Campisi seems fun-loving and genuine.

Her father, was on an E! special called Wildest Party Parents, which focused on his restaurant Campisi’s Egyptian Room.

The handlers at the E! cable network have been very soothing to Dallas restaurateur Corky Campisi, who will be featured in Friday night’s Wildest Party Parents.

“They said, ‘Don’t worry, you won’t be embarrassed,’ ” says Corky. “The previews show me with a girl’s high heel in my mouth.”


Regardless, Corky is anything but embarrassed. “As long as it’s good for business,” he says, referring to his family’s Mockingbird Lane eatery, Campisi’s Egyptian.

An E! camera crew was in Dallas in December and filmed Corky out on the town with his three daughters, former Playboy centerfold Amber Campisi and twin sisters Tara and Gina Campisi. (“Campisi puts the E! in party.” Peppard, Alan. The Dallas Morning News, May 30, 2007.)

You may hit Ms. Campisi up on the myspace, or follow her on the twitter. Sadly, Amber’s younger sister Gina just passed away last Wednesday, February 3. She was only 26. Amber got this tattoo as a memorial.

I’m sure their large family is beside themselves over losing her sister so young, especially Gina’s twin Tara. So maybe, please, don’t send Amber a bunch of pervy or weird stuff right now?

The Morning News is reporting that Gina Campisi’s death is an apparent suicide, which understandably makes the loss that much more tragic and difficult for her family to process. It’s especially tragic because she had only recently begun to build on her family’s food history and make a name for herself.

With business partner Brittany O’Daniel, Gina had opened her own restaurant, Fedora Restaurant & Lounge at One Arts Plaza, just last year. When you go to the website for Fedora, it is not only gorgeous and well-designed, but, on a fun note, it plays the “Parla più piano” (“Speak softly, love”) theme made famous in the Godfather films. It seems that, like Amber, Gina was sensitive to family traditions, stylish history, and culinary flair.


Interior shot during a party.

Fine Italian dining demands a swanky, romantic setting –– like that of Fedora Restaurant & Lounge, owned by Dallas’ Gina Campisi and Brittney O’Daniel and designed by Tyler Duncan of Duncan Design Group. Reminiscent of a scene from The Godfather or an Al Pacino mobster movie, large plush red couches, black, white and cream interiors and dramatic chandeliers give the restaurant a 1940s feel. Flat screen televisions play classic Hollywood flicks as the sensational smells of Chef Jordan’s creations waft from the kitchen. (“About Fedora,” official site)


Gina in 2008 at a DIFFA Dining by Design event in North Dallas; photograph by Christopher Wynn of Eats Blog, guidelive.com

Enter Gina Campisi. The 25-year-old granddaughter of the legendary Joe Campisi is no stranger to the local scene. Her family’s Campisi’s Egyptian has been dishing out pizza and pasta for more than 60 years, though her new restaurant is far removed from the old-school appeal of the family business. …

Campisi says her aim was to create a place that was hip and modern while appealing to a broad cross section of Dallas diners. “And really, I just wanted to stay as true to my roots and upbringing as possible,” she says.

For delivering credible, updated Italian food with flair* – and an approachably modest price point – I’ll give Fedora a tip of the hat.

(“Restaurant Review: Fedora.” Harwell, Kim. The Dallas Morning News, March 13, 2009.)

*Please note that the chef at the time of Ms. Harwell’s review, Christopher Patrick, is no longer with Fedora. Beginning in December 2009, the kitchen has been headed by Chef Jordan Rogers.

All of my condolences to the Campisi family, and R.I.P. to Gina Campisi. Male a che muori; s’acconza la menestra (“Pity he who dies; those who live, continue to prepare the supper.”).

Valentine Vixen: Jessica St. George, Miss February 1965

February 7, 2010

Miss February 1965 was the lovely and talented Jessica St. George, the first Greek centerfold. Can I get a “hell, yeah” for my sisters across the sea? I am all for national pride, but it’s my belief that Mediterranean ladies must lay aside our ancient Greco-Roman differences and stick together when we are swarmed by A-cup blonde WASP-y types.


Photographed by Mario Casilli.

Ελληνική n. – (τυπογρ.) σαλόνι, γυμνό μοντέλο του κεντρικού σαλονιού περιοδικού.
translation:
centerfold n. – (sĕn’tər-fōld’) a magazine center spread, especially a foldout of an oversize photograph or feature.

The title of the article that accompanied this distinctly divergent pictorial (some shots are on one day, inside, with bad makeup, and the rest are really good and in-and-outdoors on a different day with much better styling) was, I wish I was kidding, “Greek Baring Gifts.” Ouch. I thought I made bad puns. Man. I am embarrassed for you right now, Playboy, not gonna lie. I mean, we’re still cool — but, dudes, I cannot even look at you right now.

In the interior photographs, Ms. St. George looks a little uncomfortable. Also, the stylist seems to have slightly wonked up her eye makeup, so her left eye looks different in size or level from the right. Totally outside Ms. St. George’s control. She is doing her best to awkwardly work it despite the handicap of shitty styling. In the outdoors shots, she is more relaxed in appearance and her smile looks less stiff.


PEOPLE I ADMIRE: Helen of Troy and President John F. Kennedy. She had complete command of men, and he was concerned about young people.

I wonder what Ms. St. George’s opinion of his widow Jacqueline Kennedy was after her sudden marriage to Aristotle Onassis. She snatched him right out from over beloved Greek-Italian opera diva and personal patron saint Maria Callas, who most Greek- and Italian-Americans idolized, celebrating her tempestuous romance with Onassis as much as her famous chilling voice.

I love Maria very, very much, and I used to be a big Jackie guy when I was younger, but no more. I know it’s unpopular and some people look at it as sacreligous to so much as cast a smidge of a shadow of hate on good ol’ Jacqueline Bouvier-Kennedy-Onassis-Polly-Wolly-Doodle-All-Day, that paragon of poise, style, Daddy Issues, and anorexia, but facts are facts.

And at some point in time, if you are going to give a serious read to the tangled web of 1960’s social history, and Ari Onassis and his interactions with the extraordinary, talented, and occasionally scandalous women his fat, arrogant, allegedly bisexual ass managed to land, you must choose sides; my personal journey through the threads of this time and my notions of fairness in love and war lead irrevocably to me renouncing Jackie and her neurotic little sister Lee forever in favor of my Maria. Team Callas. Period.

That was a long digression. Sorry, I get worked up. Apologies to Ms. St. George. Back to you, kiddo!


My favorite shot from the spread.

Jessica vows it has nothing to do with her Greek heritage, but we must admit we found just the slightest trace of chauvinism in the fact that her favorite music star is George Chakiris. (“Greeks Baring Gifts,” Playboy. February 1965.)

A thousand times, yes. Good call, Jessica! You may know George Chakiris as Bernardo, leader of the Puerto Rican street gang the Sharks and overprotective older brother to Natalie Wood in the role of Maria in West Side Story, for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1961. He was a real hottie. I always thought he was much, much better-looking than Tony, the lead.

I wonder what he’s up to today?

Looking back, [at 70] Chakiris is satisfied with his career. Chakiris has escorted Marilyn Monroe (he was one of the dancers) during the “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, he recorded several albums in the 1960s, he performed Gershwin songs for audiences in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Monte Carlo, he starred in numerous television guest roles—a spot on Hawaii Five-0 is among his favorites—and he played a villain on Dallas. He last starred [as Mr. Rochester] in a London stage production of Jane Eyre in 1997. (“A Boy Like That,” Holleran, Scott. Box Office Mojo. March 23, 2003.)

Well, that is all some dang awesome shit, if I do say so myself. Especially being Mr. Rochester — heat!

Ms. St. George’s ambition was to be a professional dancer and actress. No word on if she achieved her goal, but if I discover more I will update.

Valentine Vixen: Sally Todd, Miss February 1957

February 6, 2010

The lovely and talented Sally Todd first appeared in Playboy in June of 1956, in a clothed pictorial about girls in Las Vegas. She was asked back to be the gatefold model for the February issue in 1957.


Photographed by David Sutton and Ed DeLong.

When Sally was 19, she entered and won a beauty pageant in her hometown of Tuscon at the urging of her mother and began doing local modeling gigs.

A few years later, she wanted to take a trip to Canada but had only saved enough for Los Angeles, so she went to Hollywood. She had studied drama in Tuscon and was spotted while shopping by a scout for 20th Century Fox. He had her in for screen tests and a very nice B-movie career was born! Fox billed her as “a young Lana Turner and much prettier than Marilyn Monroe.”

Being a young Lana I can somewhat see; being prettier than Marilyn I have to put my hands in a “T” and call bran flakes and cheese sticks on. Sorry. No dice. That is total chicanery. But I’m a big Marilyn guy from way back, whereas I’ve only had li’l Stripey Butt here saved on the computer for around six months, so I suppose I am a biased judge. Ms. Todd starred in, to name some highlights, The Unearthly, Frankenstein’s Daughter, and Al Capone, as well as guest-appearing on a slew of television shows.

She became a regular Hollywood fixture, often popping up as the hot date of various popular actors and landing herself in Walter Winchell’s gossip column. As a cross-connection, Winchell also narrated the 60’s era television hit “The Untouchables,” on which Sally appeared both in front of camera and behind, dating a few of the stars.

Unlike some of the other playmates, who mainly did not do much actual real-life modeling, in addition to her screen credits Sally was a genuine full-time model. She did modeling both of clothing and of products, first in Tuscon and then with great success in Los Angeles, where her blonde wholesome looks landed her in the Los Angeles Home Show, which is actually a pretty big event. Beginning in 1955, Ms. Todd modeled on Johnny Carson as one of the Carson Cuties, and by 1956 she was television’s highest-paid model. Not bad!

Of course, the Tinseltown high life does take its toll from time to time. On August 26, 1958, Ms. Todd caused a Hollywood freeway accident involving five cars. It’s estimated she was going around 70 miles per hour when she lost control and collided with four other vehicles. She didn’t die — this isn’t one of those right-curve-bummer-ass posts that I sometimes do on the playmates, don’t worry.

She suffered some bruises on her left wrist, fingers, and right knee when she went flying through the window of her sports car and was thrown out onto Barham Blvd (with a seat belt, she’d probably have been completely unscathed). After failing an intoxication test at the scene, Ms. Todd was booked for drunk driving by the LAPD.

She spent the night in jail and on August 27th was informed she’d be charged with felony drunk driving. Ms. Todd’s story, to which she stuck, was that she’d had two drinks with a girlfriend and was en route home when the car went out of control as she stepped on the brake. Apparently the story worked. On September 2, 1958, Ms. Todd appeared in court expecting to be formally charged with felony drunk driving, but was told to return in eight days, when the DA’s office had their case more prepared.

She never was charged with anything, in the end. At the time, she was on-the-downlow-dating married man and popular local figure Jack Webb, of television’s Dragnet. Webb had creator credit on the show and widely touted the importance to him that the show be “realistic;” he insisted on lots of police consultants and was in general a gladhander of the cops all-around. (When he died, they gave him a funeral with full police honors and the LAPD retired badge #714, which had been Sgt. Joe “Just the facts, ma’am” Friday’s number on Dragnet). So, you know. Boyfriend with majah LADPD pull. Felony charge that disappears. Do the math.

Ms. Todd actually had quite the full dance card with some big names for a lot of years, but I want to go read this book called Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Will There Be Enough Room with my kidlet, so I’m afraid I’m putting the kebosh on what could have been a lengthy walk down lovers’ lane.

Bonus factoid for historical stalkytimes: the articles from this incident also list her as living at 11060 Fruitland Drive, North Hollywood. I think it is batshit bananas that papers used to print addresses, because I don’t think people were any more trustworthy with personal information then than they are now. Probably got shitloads of folks harassed, burglarized, or worse. Scandalous.


Once again, as was the case with Ms. Kubert’s issue, Jayne Mansfield is on the Playboy cover. Don’t worry, I am not neglecting her — she is an extra-special Valentine Vixen who will appear later this month.

Final quick thought: why did they keep making her put that stupid straw in her mouth? How is that even a Thing? Is she supposed to look like a hayseed, but then the next second she is at the beach? Really inconsistent. Weird. Anyway. Catch you on the flip!

Valentine Vixen: Julie Michelle McCullough, Miss February 1986

February 5, 2010

I am so glad to be able to share two super-special gals with you today. First, brooding and sensitive Cheryl Kubert from earlier in the day (R.I.P. and I wish her many hopefully joyful and educational returns to this earth after her unhappy retirement; that’s what reincarnation is for), the solemn, petite brunette with tall skis and deep eyes, and now — for something completely different! — ebullient and absolutely adorable blonde ray of sunshine Julie Michelle McCullough: model, actress, stand-up comedienne, and maligned-but-triumphant victim of sitcom scandal. Take it away, buttercup!


Photographed by Arny Freytag.


“I’ve always felt that I have little eyes, a mouth full of teeth and ears that I call elf ears. They kind of poke out.” That’s her opinion. We certainly didn’t notice any flaws when Julie McCullough showed up for our salute to The Girls of Texas last February. In fact, we tucked her ears under a Stetson and put her on the cover. It was the first time she’d ever seen a copy of Playboy.


Although she was born in Hawaii, Julie was then, and is now, living in Texas. But as the daughter of a Marine Corps lifer, she has moved around a lot. “It bothered me when I was younger, but as I look back, I appreciate it, because it taught me how to get along with different types of people. If you make good friends, you never lose them.”


During most of her childhood years, Julie thought she wanted to be an artist. “I really love to draw,” she says, “but I could never see myself as a starving artist. So I realized art would have to be more of a hobby than a career. And then, in high school, I started entering pageants, and I got a couple of Miss Photogenic awards. And everybody would tell me, ‘You should try modeling; You should try modeling.’ And all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Hey!'”


Playboy’s cover picture, and the less covered picture inside the magazine, caused a furor in Julie’s home town of Allen, a rural community 26 miles north of Dallas. A local pastor, announcing that he planned to preach a sermon on the subject, was quoted as saying — we kid you not — “The easiest thing to do is jump on Julie.” He went on to say that he saw her appearance in Playboy as part of a larger problem, that of “general moral disintegration in the fiber of the nation.” (“Return of the Cover Girl,” Playboy, February 1986.)


While working as a model, she was also honing her skills as an actress and had landed a part on television’s sitcom Growing Pains, featuring Kirk Cameron. He unfortunately shared the opinion that the easiest thing to do was jump on Julie, it seems, because he used his pull with the network to have her summarily axed off the show when he learned she had posed for Playboy, accusing the network of tacitly endorsing pornography by continuing her employment.

Because Mr. Cameron was the breakout star of the show and a teen heartthrob who kept the network flush with sponsors (his charming smile conveniently moved hot amounts of Noxzema pads and Snickers bars to both cleanse and satisfy), they went along with his wishes and terminated the object of his objections.


McCullough appeared in eight episodes until she was fired in 1990, which stemmed from series star Kirk Cameron’s conversion to evangelical Christianity, a conversion that, according to “The E! True Hollywood Story” episode focusing on the show, served to alienate him from his fellow cast members, as he did not invite any of them to his wedding. He accused the show’s producers of promoting pornography. (the wiki)

Sez Ms. McCullough now:

[Kirk Cameron] thinks if I read science books that I’m going to hell. I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints … the sinners are much more fun.* And a lot more interesting than some book-burner who is still having growing pains! I am at peace with God. Kirk thinks people like me are going to Hell; if I do, then at least I’ll go well-informed and well-read!

(Ms. McCullough’s myspace.)

*That is a reference to the Billy Joel song “Only the Good Die Young,” about young Virginia, a Catholic girl who starts much too late. Rock on with it, Ms. McCullough! Good people quote the Beatles. Great people quote the Beatles, Queen, and Billy Joel.

Contemporaneous with her being fired from Growing Pains, Ms. McCullough was also stripped of her crown as Wilmington, NC’s “Azalea Queen” for posing for Playboy. Sheesh. I try to keep shit to myself, but I really feel the need to address Mr. Cameron’s and the people of Wilmington’s position on this issue. Leaving aside for now the fact that the lord decreed we enter this earth naked and that nudity is a major factor in procreation, which what good man can decry?, let us address the point where it seems people feel it ill befits a person of “good” moral fiber to celebrate the physical gift of their bodies. As a hippy-dippy meditative and soulful Christian who has thought my way deeply and thoroughly through these issues and can confidently and guiltlessly balance both Playboy and my beloved monthly The Way of St. Francis without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, loving-the-Word-but-thanking-God-for-earthly-forms-wise, I can only cite and gently suggest a review of Matthew, chapter seven.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the plank that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a plank is in thine own eye?


Thou hypocrite, first cast out the plank out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. At Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and the region across the Jordan, Jesus was talking to the multitudes gathered there after hearing of His message and of His healings to beseech them to not become like the pharisees and hypocrites who think they are above sin. (Matthew 7:1-7.)

Mmm-hmm. This is an earnestly serious ethical issue. I’m not playing about the no more judging stuff. It’s just like Blessed Mother Teresa said: “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” And which one do you think Jesus would rather you worked at doing? Get with the program!

Today, Ms. McCullough is a well-received and widely admired stand-up comedienne who continues to act.

Some of her film and small screen credits include The Golden Girls, Beverly Hills, 90210, Jake and the Fatman, the Drew Carey Show, The Blob, and Harry and the Hendersons.

She is also a published poetess, with a number of anthology and private publishing credits to her literary name, and she was on a basketball team with Casper van Dien of Starship Troopers fame (I ♥ Heinlein and Johnny Rico forever). According to the imdb, she began working full time in 2006 as a stand-up comedienne. She has performed, if the wiki can be trusted, at such well-known venues as the Palms in Las Vegas and the Laugh Factory in L.A. Right on!

In conclusion, it is a widely known but nonetheless hard and bitter truth that, frankly, haters gon’ hate. All love and good wishes to Ms. McCullough and her sunny resilience!

Valentine Vixen: Cheryl Kubert, Miss February 1958

February 5, 2010

Double dose today. Have to do two because I skipped writing Wednesday in order to have a blast substitute teaching at the parochial school connected to my church. Those kids were rad. Had me totally rethinking my positions on private schooling (reverse discrimination once again rears its prickly and tragically hip head and is once more promptly revealed to be as hollow as the prejudices it purports to despise).


Photographed by Mario Casilli.

First up is the lovely and talented Cheryl Kubert. In going through my files to prep this entry, I realized I’d already saved several pictures from this shoot here and there for the last year, so I’m pretty pumped to share.

It’s not a cute or even particularly “themed” shoot at all, but Ms. Kubert has an almost accusing serenity that makes what would be standard shots if it were any other model seem more arresting and beyond ordinary than their composition would dictate.

It’s the eye contact, I reckon. She has deep eyes. The downward cast of her chin, the unparted lip, the steady gaze; she seems so solemn. It makes the shoot feel heavy, but in a beautiful, ruminating, kind of sad way. She has this kind of practical but somewhat unhappy sincerity to her expression and posture, an unvarnished and troubled vulnerability. It’s moody.

The written copy that accompanied this pictorial is absolute drivel. I mean, just pure shit. Its more pun-ridden and meaningless even than the b.s. that they printed up for Marlene Callahan, and that is saying something, believe me.

The strangest part about the article is that, besides being empty apple fritters and pretty nonsense, the endless stream of non sequitirs about Scandinavian idioms seemingly have almost nothing to do with the pictures.

The write-up, titled “Playmate on Skis,” describes skiing in great detail and alludes to its history in Scandinavia, which is well and good, but in the pictures Ms. Kubert is mainly not around snow whatsoever; furthermore, the article lays no claim to her being of Scandinavian descent. Just a poor job all around. Banana boats and baloney sauce, Playboy, I’m sorry. Thankfully the pictures are unique, sensitive, and artistic.

Okay, I just spent fifteen minutes hard-searching and I found the above missing link. ONE SHOT of her with skis in addition to the centerfold (which is generally shot separate from the rest of the pictorial spread). Pfft. And if that is not a fake scene outside the window, I’ll eat my hat. Total cheezits (I’m trying to swear less this year and I’ve found that food items make handy and amusing euphemisms).


(The nude Jayne Mansfield spread will come up again in several days, actually. Really interesting story, but we’re focused on Ms. Kubert right now. Keep your shirt on.)

I can only conjecture that Cheryl Kubert was a stage name, because there is pretty much nothing known about her prior to her centerfold appearance or what she did following, other than that she had appeared in a bit part in the film Pal Joey in 1957.

According to the Playmate Book, Ms. Kubert died April 25, 1989 of apparent suicide. Because Playboy did not keep data sheets prior to September of 1959, it is not known how old she was at the time of her appearance in the magazine or her death. It makes those deep eyes seem much sadder to know that. R.I.P.





edit: I was sitting here trying to think where I had just seen the name “Kubert” recently, and finally remembered that yesterday’s Daily Batman of Catwoman and Batman throwing plates at each other in the Super Dictionary (Warner, 1978) featured art work by the cartoonist Joe Kubert. Found his official website and have fired off a quick email using his “contact” form, inquiring if he is related to Cheryl Kubert or has heard anything about her before. It’s a longshot, but I’ll let you know what comes of it.

Valentine Vixen: Barbara Ann Lawford, Miss February 1961

February 4, 2010

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’.

Valentine Vixens: Miss February 1973, Cyndi Wood

February 2, 2010


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

Miss February 1973 was the lovely and talented Cynthia Wood, a model and actress from an established Hollywood family.

Her mother was an actress, her father a recording-company executive and, as a Hollywood native to boot, Cyndi naturally gravitated to the entertainment world. “My parents’ friends were actors, producers and directors; my friends were their sons and daughters.”


“For as long as I can remember, my life was nothing but lessons.” Cyndi admits that there were times she felt pressured. “Whenever there was a school play, I’d try out for it. Whenever the chorus auditioned, I was there. Between those activities and my dance and music instruction, I had little time to think about what I wanted to do.” But she’s far from bitter about the experience. “I’ve always liked being in the spotlight,” says Cyndi.

No complaints from this corner. You keep on shining, kiddo. Psst. This playful shoot by Pompeo Posar has a fun theme that sends up Cyndi’s Beverly Hills background; see if you can guess it before the end when I display the spoiler picture.

(If this pictures does not asplode your brain with its cuteness, you have an old and joyless soul.)

For a while, our Playmate tried her hand at fashion designing (“just for myself”), songwriting and even sound engineering (“I do some great mixing and can work off any 16-track”).

Well, hey, Mr. Deejay. That is pretty cool shit. I do not imagine a lot of ladies were doing that, even by ’73. (Cue slew of vitriolic emails from the Historical Society of Female Deejays Against Boobies. It’s cool because I always wanted a reason to talk to Samantha Ronson.)


“I love being in front of people,” Cyndi says. “I suppose it appeals to the actress in me. In fact, much of my work in commercials calls for acting. Sometimes I even get a chance to sing and dance, too, and that’s great.” (“Class Act,” Playboy, February 1973)

Some of Cyndi’s credits include Warren Beatty’s Shampoo and, even more prestigiously, Apocalypse Now, in which she played the Playmate of the Year (breathtaking range, like, are you blown away?). You can check that out on the youtube. Her scenes in the 1979 theatrical release of Coppola’s masterpiece were brief though memorably jiggly, but in the 2001 Redux directors’ cut release, her part was expanded significantly.



IN MY SPARE TIME: I sew and design clothes and write and sing tunes.
GREAT FOODS: Spaghetti and stew.
I LOVE BEING A PLAYMATE: Because it pays well and it’s great publicity. I also have no hang-ups about nudity when it’s in the right place or situation.
(Playmate data sheet)

Heck, yeah, spaghetti and nudity. Ms. Wood, you have won my hard heart. You may slide on up to Northern California any ol’ time to hoark down some pasta and marinara with me while we sew and sing “Hello, Dolly!”

In some of these pictures she looks like Sharon Tate when she had her hair strawberry blonde for Polanski’s Fearless Vampire Killers (the picture they met making), and it’s kind of weirding me out. Is anyone else seeing it? Bueller? No? Just me, then? Cool.

According to the imdb, “Cynthia gave an especially lively and winning performance as sassy spitfire Moon in the enjoyable drive-in comedy romp Van Nuys Blvd.” I have not seen this 1979 film, so I cannot speak to claims of her lively winningness, but the imdb offers the following lines as “memorable quotes:”

Officer Albert Zass: Why won’t you help me?
Biker: Because you’re The Man, man.

and

Bobby: If we don’t get a doctor down here right now out I’m gonna shut your mouth permanently!
Nurse: You cant talk to me like that!
Bobby: Oh, I can’t, can’t I?
[slams fist down]
Nurse: Okay, okay! Stay right there.

This Bobby seems like a rough young customer. Nurses are nice people, mister. Show some respect — that woman went to school to help sick people. Sheesh. The description of the movie mentions “topless dancers,” so, two guesses what part Ms. Wood played.

Besides making appearances as herself on “The Sonny and Cher Show” (awesome) and “The Jim Stafford Show” (I’m too young to reckon at all what that was), Cyndi did CSA (that’s casting agent) work for Michael Lesner, which is either a typo or his completed projects have not made it on to imdb. A mystery.

That was the theme of the shoot. Go back and look at the pictures and see how the story comes together. Cute, right? I think it’s cute. I suppose I should be chagrined and outraged or whatever by the “Rich Bitch” slogan, but I think it’s funny. Besides, didn’t I hear that women had, like, reclaimed the word “bitch” or some such? I don’t remember, I was probably busy ironing and cooking a roast while serenely giving birth. All with a book balanced on my head to practice posture. That’s the kind of good old-fashioned second-class class I’m bringing to the picnic. Hope you can keep up.

These days, Ms. Wood is actually Doctor. Despite admitting to some aimless early-on academic meandering in her Playboy interview, it seems she finally found a true interest and pursued it with admirable tenacity, earning a Ph.D. in psychology. That should keep her in zebra-skin rugs and studded tank tops quite adequately. Rock on, gorgeous!

Valentine Vixens: Inaugural edition featuring Margaret Scott

February 1, 2010

Today, instead of crawling back in to bed, I am forcing myself to find a new project that will hopefully start me writing every day again. You know me and the playmates: spoonfuls of sugar help the medicine go down! With that idea, twenty-nine rays of sunshine to light up your lonelyhearted February are headed your way: a Valentine Vixen a day. Beginning right … now.


Photographed by Baumgarth Calendar Co and purchased by Hef in 1953.

Another of Hefner’s fortunate discoveries from the well-filled files of the John Baumgarth Calendar Company in Melrose Park, Illinois was pretty-in-pink Miss February, Margaret Scott. Miss Scott’s shapely figure and ultrafeminine dressing-room set apparently made her an instant hit with the readers who purchased the third issue of Hef’s infant magazine: she became an extremely popular Playmate, drawing stacks of letters from the legions of her enthusiastic supporters. There’s even a chance that Margaret posed again under another name. See Miss April 1954. (The Playmate Book, 1996)

In April 1954, Margaret appeared as the “gatefold” model under the name Marilyn Waltz, again in a picture purchased by Hef from Baumgarth Calendar Company (rest assured, I am chasing that lead down to see more pictures or my name is not Cheesecake McVintagepants).


Photographed by Baumgarth Calendar Co.

For her first official Playboy shoot, the lovely and talented Wisconsin-born model posed again as Marilyn Waltz the following April, in 1955, as the Playmate of the Month. Why, look at that, I already have that one saved due to the fact that I was planning a thingy on vintage centerfolds in tacky capri pants — there are laughably plenty.


Photographed by Hal Adams.

Thanks to her caginess and Hugh Hefner using nudie calendar photography during the fledgling years of the magazine Marilyn/Margaret can lay claim to being one of only two women who are three-time Playmates, giving them the most appearances as centerfolds of any women to ever be featured in the magazine. (The other is Janet Pilgrim, Miss July and December 1955, and Miss October 1956.) But Marilyn did not reveal her multiple appearances for over forty years.

After Hef broadly speculated as to the similarities between Marilyn Waltz and Margaret Scott in 1996’s The Playmate Book, Marilyn contacted Playboy and confirmed that both models were her: she had posed for Baumgarth Calendar Co. as Margaret Scott when she was younger, but had posed under her real name subsequently.

Waltz received more fan mail — ironically, for her Margaret Scott appearance — than any other Playmate in 1954. Her February 1954 Margaret Scott centerfold appearance is seen as a classic. (the wiki)

Marilyn Arduth Waltz Jordan died December 23, 2006, in Medford, Oregon. She was 76.