Posts Tagged ‘bohemian’

Girls of Summer: Yvette Vickers, Miss July 1959

September 28, 2010

edit 5/3/11: Welcome, Yvette Vickers fans! For those unfamiliar with the site who are just swinging by to take a gander at Ms. Vickers’ Playboy spread, a quick heads-up — clicking on any picture enlarges it. Have fun!


Photographed by the one and only Russ Meyer.

I know it isn’t technically seasonally appropriate anymore, but as it’s going to hit 99, Fahrenheit, where I am today, and as I did not get around to all my saved up Girls of Summer, and as I promised to cover Ms. Vickers when discussing Fifty Foot Woman, I figured you wouldn’t mind if I made the summer a little more endless around here.

Ms. Vickers’ spread appeared after her part as Honey Parker in Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and some other delightful B-flicks, but the Playboy write-up does not report this and focuses instead on her early love of coffeehouses and the bohemian lifestyle. It’s an interesting glimpse at her life outside of stardom, especially given that she was sort of stuck in these roles as a sexy blonde starlet which belied her active intellect and charming, offbeat personal interests. Of course, there was a lot of that going around back then: ask Ms. Monroe and Ms. Tate, right?


When [Playboy] spied Yvette Vickers at a small table in Hollywood’s Cosmo Alley, that question became an affirmative, exclamatory statement. Yvette — though possibly a mite more attractive than most — is representative of the girls who inhabit the beat coffee houses of Hollywood.

(“Beat Playmate.” Playboy, July 1959.)


She’s interested in serious acting, ballet, the poetry of Dylan Thomas, classical music (“Prokofiev drives me out of my skull!”). She has strong opinions and is more than a bit of a rebel, frowning prettily on conformity. She is also reckless and uninhibited enough to race a Jag in the desert for kicks.

(Ibid.)

Right on! Big ups to Prokofiev (Peter and the Wolf, “The March of the Three Oranges”) and dragging Jags! And of course, mad props to going ungently into the night with Dylan Thomas.


She confesses to being “somewhat of a nut” about health food: she’s often to be seen stowing away vitamins and minerals at an “organic food restaurant” called The Aware Inn.

(Ibid.)

So for 1959, she was well ahead of the health food curve. Don’t you love how “organic food restaurant” is in scare quotes? It’s cute. This write-up just tickles me. I think it is really cool and neat that Yvette Vickers was a beatnik.

It’s not a total surprise — Ms. Vickers was raised by two jazz musicians, Charlie and Iola Vedder (she went by Maria), with whom Yvette traveled the country and also recorded. They later settled in Los Angeles, where Ms. Vickers attended Catholic high school. (You know we Catholic girls start much too late!) Before catching the acting bug, she took classes at UCLA to become a writer. She then earned her B.A. in Theater Arts.

Films in which Ms. Vickers appeared include Reform School Girl, Shortcut to Hell, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, Attack of the Giant Leeches, and Beach Party (she played “Blonde Yoga Girl — recall our previous discussion of the AIP beach flicks?). She also had small roles in Sunset Blvd and Hud, but you know I’m far more in love with the wonderful B-credits.

Ms. Vickers was also featured in a slew of television parts, with roles on highly popular shows like Mike Hammer, Bat Masterson, the Rough Riders, The Texan, Northwest Passage, and Dragnet. In his book Stephen King: On Writing, Stephen King listed Yvette Vickers as one of his “matinee idols.”

The photographer of this spread, Russ Meyer, has had a long and (in my book) illustrious career which must really deserve its own entry one of these days. As this is Ms. Vickers’ entry, I will wind down by saying that the lovely and talented singer, model, and actress has continued to work in the arts and keeps on rocking in the free world. You can hear Yvette on the audio commentary track of the 2007 DVD release of Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and pick up her CD “Tribute to Charlie and Maria,” a jazz album she dedicated to her parents in the late 90’s — and keep your eyes peeled for her forthcoming autobiography.

NSFW November: Miss November 1962, Avis Kimble

November 15, 2009

Like Joni Mattis (Miss November 1960), the lovely and talented Avis Kimble, Playboy’s Miss November 1962, hailed from Hef’s hometown of Chicago.


Photography by Jon Pownall

Body by ballpark hotdogs. Attagirl. This is the first Miss November that I have to say I doubt would go to print for Playboy today. She’s not even remotely fat … she’s just maybe too genuine? I don’t know.

I’m not criticizing her, and I’m not criticizing the magazine today, and this is not some generic predictable commentary on modern ideals of beauty. I just think from the commercial end of it, the talent scouts, they have trained their eyes to see a certain type of beauty, and I’m not sure that 5’5″ and a certain ectomorphic roundness would register. The boobs would. I’m sure of that. But … I don’t know. I’d love to be wrong.

In fact, I might be wrong, which is really heartening. It seems from reading her blurb that she was picked especially because she was different from the usual West Coast bunny, and I can’t jump to the conclusion that that would never happen today. I could be totally wrong and that philosophy of finding the unique and the special may still prevail; I mean, look at Stephanie Adams or Grace Kim, who I’ve highlighted in past weeks.

And the Playboy sez:

Rara Avis

November Playmate Avis Kimble is a well-constructed nonconformist

While Chicago is touted as a convention city, we’ve always found its unconventional side much more interesting — especially as personified by an eye-catching iconoclast like Avis Kimble, our bountiful bohemian November Playmate. Auburn-haired Avis, a Windy City citizen by birth and inclination is artistic both in temperament and topography (39-22-36); she paints striking water colors and oils, is a budding ballet dancer and a poetess who happily celebrates self-expression in lieu of carbon-copy conformity.


Blessed with catholic tastes, our 18-year-old maverick miss gets a boot from square-dealing artist Piet Mondrian, movie director Ingmar Bergman and the rich prose of novelist Ayn Rand; she gulps vast quantities of artichokes for lunch, will lend her ear at any hour to Chopin or Odetta, loves to wear Italian knit dresses, long gloves and floppy Greta Garbo hats, and digs dating unpretentious guys who don’t knock themselves out trying to impress her with their wealth and wisdom.


More upbeat than beat, Avis is sensibly stashing away her earnings as a photographer’s stylist (she sets up props, puts makeup on models, helps with photo composition) to pay for courses at Chicago’s Art Institute, and has her beguiling blue eyes firmly focused on a career as a fashion designer. For a design that will never go out of fashion, flip to the foldout where our poetry buff relaxes by scanning a choice collection of lyrical lines. We suggest that you do the same. (Playboy, November 1962.)


Ayn Rand?! Maybe she just read it so she had someone to get mad at. Like me watching a Dodgers game so I can continue to yell at Manny Ramirez.

Final thought — the wiki sez: “She was one of the Editors’ choices for the top ten Playmates of all time during Playboy’s ten year anniversary celebration. She did not make the top ten list when the readers’ top ten was voted on.”

So maybe it’s the readers and not the magazine. Content and consumer demand: they have an intricate relationship. You get the porn you think you deserve? Does that make sense? Chew on that. Let me know.