Posts Tagged ‘hollywood’

Girls of Summer: Susan Denberg, Miss August 1966

June 26, 2011

Photographed by super amaze-balls Peter Gowland!

Miss August 1966 was the lovely and talented Susan Denberg, a cult hottie of yesteryear who is somewhat obscure today but still beloved by vintage sci-fi and Hammer horror film fans. Who do I know who is in to that stuff? It’s on the tip of my tongue …

Oh, right. Me. Let’s do this!

Ms. Denberg was born Dietlinde Zechner in Bad Polzin, Germany on August 2, 1944, nine months and seven days before V-E Day, when the Allied forces accepted the Germans’ surrender on May 8 (an inauspicious date in my book if you remember my apocalyptic ramblings).

I’m saying it was probably not the best of times to be born in Germany, what with how the country was going to be totally defeated and carved up in, like, a year. The Zechner clan beat feet to Austria (…better?), where Ms. Denberg grew up working in her parents’ appliance stores in Klagenfurt.

In her Playboy write-up, she is cited as being “born and bred” in Klagenfurt. The discrepancy could be due to a misunderstanding or wanting to downplay her German heritage for some unguessed-at reason. I think most likely she was Austrian to begin with and moved to Klagenfurt so young that it was not a big deal.

Suspect is wigless, I repeat, wigless.

Susan Denberg, our striking Miss August, joins a long and lovely line of Playmates whose centerfold appearances have preceded their cinematic debuts — a comely clan that includes such gatefold delights as Jayne Mansfield (February 1955), Stella Stevens (January 1960), Donna Michelle (December 1963), Jo Collins (December 1964) and Sue Williams (April 1965).

(“Picture Playmate.” Playboy, August 1966.)

Susan, a honey of a blonde, will make her filmic bow this fall in the celluloid version of Norman Mailer’s recent best-selling novel An American Dream.

No. Not a best-selling novel. Considered the least of Mailer’s fiction works, actually. A misogynistic bundle of bullshit — and that’s coming from me. So I’m not just whistling “Dixie.”

An American Dream is a 1966 movie based on a 1965 novel based on a series of installments in Esquire about a man and the women he kills and screws before he slouches off in to the sunset, perhaps to mine the meaning of existence, perhaps to die of an overdose of modern society. Its one mercy is that it is short. I may be oversimplifying to avoid talking about it more. Sorry.

An American Dream is a Mailer-adapted picture, sadly too crappily, or perhaps too quickly, executed to be called camp, about Stephen Rojack, a former war hero – turned also-run politician – turned call-in talk show host who murders his rich-bitch wife and basically goes on a postmodern movie-length bender with Janet Leigh (story as old as time — we’ve all been there). He spends the film in a pingballing search for the meaning of existence via sex, drugs, murder-rap evasion and jazz, pissing off underworld gangsters along the way. The story does not so much end as “halt” in what amounts to a lot of, to quote a deservedly better praised writer, sound and fury, signifying nothing. Mailer’s original source material has marginally greater depth — but only marginally.

Ms. Denberg plays Ruta, the luckless harpy Mrs. Rojack’s German maid. In his March 14, 1965 New York Times review of the book, Conrad Knickerbocker said of Ruta’s character that she “must have attended charm school with Ilse Koch.” For those who don’t know, Ilse Koch is the “Red Witch of Buchenwald,” an infamously horrible Nazi war criminal on whom Ilse, She-Wolf of the SS is super-obviously based (except Koch was not hot — and she has spent way longer burning in hell).

Koch was a fat, genuinely evil brunette who tortured and murdered interred Jews for pleasure at one of the most horrible concentration camps the earth has ever known. Ruta is a slightly mercenary, lithe blonde sexpot who is willing to screw her boss’s husband if it will get her ahead. Absolutely nothing in book or film merits Knickerbocker’s sensationalist comparison, other than both women being German. Disgusting and not at all funny, if that was the attempt. Bleah.

But then what do I expect from a rave review of a randomly constructed crock of self-indulgent shit? Knickerbocker praised the book as a modern masterpiece and said people who didn’t like An American Dream wouldn’t like it because they wouldn’t want to admit that it speaks to the true soul of America and what-have-you. All like, J’accuse, bourgeois pigs! You don’t like it because you’re judging it, and you’re judging it because you don’t understand it, and you don’t understand it because you’re afraid to.

Cool story, bro.

Yeah, there’s always been a lot of so-called values getting touted around that are hypocritical at best and hollow, tarnished, destructive compulsions at worst. But that’s not my soul, and it’s not the soul of most people I know. Most people weren’t and aren’t rich, disaffected, murdering alcoholics — most people were and are just trying to hold a job, find some love, and eat dinner. Like, Jesus. What a hopeless and lackwitted thing to assert. Not to mention, if you do want a story about rotting American dreams and rich, murdering, alcoholics, why don’t you just pick up a little timeless piece of exponentially greater writing called The Great Gatsby?

In the book, Rojack sleeps with Ruta after killing Deborah, then pretends to discover Deborah’s body and tells Ruta she must have committed suicide. In the film, Ruta tries to seduce Rojack after his initial fight with Deborah, but he doesn’t go for it. Then he returns to the bedroom to fight with Deborah again, which is the fight that results in her death.

I assume the change in “he-did,” “he-didn’t,” with Ruta from novel to film is an effort to make Rojack’s character seem more sympathetic in the movie, in much the same way that making Cherry (Leigh’s character) in the film be Rojack’s fallen-on-bad-times childhood sweetheart from before he “made it” — versus her role in the source material as a trashy torch singer that he just meets that night — is supposed to make Rojack’s affair with her, begun the day after he murders his wife, more reasonable. There is also the little matter of Rojack allowing his wife to slip from the balcony of her own drunken accord, falling to her death only to then be further run over by a mafioso’s limo in the movie, rather than Rojack strangling her and throwing her body over the railing himself, the corpse falling to the street only to then be further run over by an et cetera’s et cetera, in the book.

Ugh. I spent forever talking about a thing I don’t like. I guess spite is as strong a writing motivator as enthusiasm. So let’s get back to enthusiasm. Fun fact follows.

For a while … it appeared as though Susan might not be Susan at all by the time [An American Dream’s] release date rolled around. As part of a nationwide contest to find a nom de cinéma for its latest ascending starlet, Warner Bros. offered a $500 award for the winning entry and received 5,000 name suggestions from cinemaphiles throughout both hemispheres before wisely deciding to leave Susan — name and all — exactly as they’d found her.

“Some of the names submitted were pretty far out,” recalls Susan. “But the funniest entry of them all was Norma Mailer.”


She just doesn’t look like a Norma.

The main thing of it is, on the set for An American Dream, Ms. Denberg worked with Star Trek‘s George Takei (Sulu), Warren Stevens (Rojan, “By Any Other Name”), and Richard Derr (Commodore Barstow, “The Alternative Command” and Admiral Fitzgerald, “The Mark of Gideon”). Plus An American Dream’s director, Robert Gist, was involved as a director for TOS.

Ms. Denberg subsequently appeared on the then-fledgling sci-fi series Star Trek as Magda Kovacs, one of the three mail-order bride hopefuls voyaging to Ophiucus III with honey-tongued con man and Venus drug purveyor Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd (Star Trek: TOS. “Mudd’s Women.” Season One, Episode 3. Originally aired October 13, 1966.).

On their way to Ophiucus III and being tailed by Kirk and co., petty criminal Mudd pushes his little class J ship too hard and breaks down in the middle of an asteroid belt. The pursuing Enterprise has their own shields up and throws them hastily over Mudd’s ship as well, but three of their lithium crystals are destroyed by this shield extension. Scotty beams Mudd and his passengers aboard the Enterprise just as the ship is struck by an asteroid and obliterated.

Eve McHuron (Karen Steele), Ruth Bonaventure (Maggie Thrett), and Magda Kovacs (Ms. Denberg).

The Enterprise plots a course to mining planet Rigel XII to replace the lithium crystals. It is revealed that the alluring women are being made more beautiful by the illegal Venus drug, which Mudd doesn’t want Kirk to find out. Mudd further wants to screw over Kirk and get back to peddling wives on Ophiucus III so of course the logical solution is for hot chicks to seduce Kirk; first Magda and then Eve. (Neither bid succeeds in the final aim but he gets flirty action in the short run.)

Magda without the apparently beauty-enhancing Venus drug. Rough.

Long story short, Magda and Ruth marry miners from Rigel XII over subspace radio (and you thought internet hookups were risky), who are concerned when it turns out they’ve been fleeced by a con man and druggies, and Eve marries their boss, Ben Childress. It is also discovered that the Venus drug’s efficacy lies completely in the mind of its imbiber: the ladies appeared more beautiful because of their confidence in the drug and not any transformative elements of its composition, which is a good thing because the scenes of them not under the influence made them look pretty deliberately rough. Also, the miners don’t negate the marriage as a fraud when they find out the chicks are hot again, plus they like companionship or whatever. Still waters run so deep.

Ms. Denberg next appeared in the 1967 Hammer horror film Frankenstein Created Woman, alongside perennial Hammer favorite Peter Cushing. The film is lucky number four in the production company’s Frankenstein series.

Frankenstein Created Woman finds Baron Frankenstein (Cushing) awakened from a sort of cryogenic sleep by companion Dr. Hertz and his lab assistant Hans, the latter of whom is shortly executed by guillotine for murdering an innkeeeper following an altercation with local toughs.

Distraught over his gruesome death, Hans’s disfigured and paralyzed ladyfriend Christina (Ms. Denberg), whose father Hans was wrongly convicted of killing, kills herself.

Baron Frankenstein resurrects Christina’s body in the same way he was resurrected by Hertz and Hans, but gives her Hans’ soul and not her own. See, Frankenstein has become concerned with the question of whether the soul leaves the body at the moment of death, and if not can it be separated from a body, and if so can it be preserved and transferred to a different body after being divorced from its original corpse, and what would the consequence be for consciousness, and all sorts of similar metaphysical things pondered over as only Frankenstein would do. (The guy is simply a maniac for severing and swapping stuff around. You cannot stop him.) You get the gist.

The resurrected soul of Hans in Christina’s body results in a confused consciousness, driven by compulsions of revenge against Christina’s father’s actual killers (the three local toughs with whom Hans had fought earlier on the evening of Christina’s father’s death), for Christina’s part to avenge her father and for Hans’ to avenge himself. This is of course inexplicable behavior to the good doctors because the actions are based on information only Hans and Christina technically know, but which Dr.s Frankenstein and Hertz could have easily found out if they weren’t constantly playing God.

The struggle of living with an infant consciousness and two memories of bad shit and all the rest, and probably also Dr. Hertz’s cooking, drives Christina to kill herself again — but not before all three of the men who beat her father to death and pinned it on her lover have been murdered in return. The End.

It’s one of the most critically acclaimed Frankenstein Hammer movies because of the concern with metaphysics and the fairytale-like revenge structure, or so says the wiki. Later this week I’ll show you one of my most critically acclaimed Hammer flicks. It has nothing to do with Frankenstein, I’m afraid.

Ms. Denberg was the victim of a very weird rumor circuit beginning in the 1970’s. It was said for, like, two decades that the excesses of the Hollywood life were too much for Susan and that she either a) moved back to Klagenfurt with her parents but then killed herself, or b) took too much acid and was in a mental institution. These rumors were probably based on some stuff Susan said in the National Police Gazette in 1968.

“[I became] hooked on LSD and marijuana. It calmed me down, and I made such wonderful love. I needed LSD every day, almost every hour. I took all sorts of drugs when I was in Hollywood… I used to do wild, nude dances at parties held by big-time Hollywood stars.”

(The National Police Gazette. September, 1968. qtd. in Susan Denberg Biography.)

However, she did not die and is not in a mental institution conversing freely with invisible sentient orange juice (again, we’ve all been there).

These days, the 66-year-old Ms. Denberg is alive and well and presumably acid-free back home in Klagenfurt, where she is back to being good old Dietlinde Zechner. She has happily settled in to family life after her brief splash in films and television.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Merry Christmas from Susan Bernard, Miss December 1966

December 15, 2010

The lovely and talented Susan Bernard was Playboy’s Miss December, 1966.

Photographed by Mario Casilli and Bruno Bernard.

Like Valentine Vixen Cyndi Wood, Ms. Bernard came from a Hollywood family and, though she was only eighteen, she already had a few credits under her little-looker (5’3″) belt when she appeared in Playboy.

Just before this Christmas Playmate pictorial went to press, our Yuletide miss called us from the Coast with the news that she’d won the ingenue lead in Stranger in Hollywood, a new dramatic film with a tentative title that doesn’t describe Miss December at all.

(“Growing Up Glamorous.” Playboy, December 1966.)

Susan Bernard’s been an Angeleno for all of her 18 years and is the daughter of top Hollywood glamor photographer Bruno Bernard (Bernard of Hollywood) and actress-director Ruth Brande.


In fact, her father had worked for Playboy in the past, and took pictures of his daughter for this spread.

Ms. Bernard has said that, when she posed for Mr. Casilli, who was a former apprentice of her father’s, it was the first time she’d been nude in front of anyone other than her mother. She has also cited the fact that, though the article does not touch on her faith background, she is probably the only Jewish playmate to have been posed in front of a Christmas tree. (The title of first Jewish playmate, period, is too contested to touch.)


The house has always been filled with theater and movie people,” Susan says, “and after I decided that acting was really for me, my parents encouraged me at every step.”

Brunette and brown-eyed Sue [was] featured on dozens of puppy-and-little-girl calendars as a youngster.


Acceptance in the talent program at the Film Industry Workshop at Columbia Studios followed Sue’s first film role, a small part in a shot-on-location desert flick.


I need to gleefully interject that that on-location desert flick was a little number you may have heard of from EVERYWHERE in the world of camp, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.

In the Russ Meyer B-movie classic, Ms. Bernard portrays Linda, an innocent girl traveling with her boyfriend who is intercepted, drugged, and kidnapped by Haji, Tura Satana, and Lori Williams as Rosie, Varla, and Billie, respectively. The evil trio of strippers kill her boyfriend Tommy, played by Ray Barlow, and haul Linda along as a hostage on their next fiendish caper.

Not to be missed.

Prior to Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (do you have any idea how much fun that is to type out? so many exclamation points!), Ms. Bernard also appeared on television in 1963 as a young character called Beverly Fairchild in the popular American soap opera General Hospital. She was 15 at the time. In 1969, Ms. Bernard starred in the lesbian-themed film That Tender Touch as Terry Manning. Though the film is very tame by today’s standards, some of the material was very groundbreaking for the time.

Miss December’s private life makes a striking contrast to the image of an in-demand girl running from studio to stage. Even in the busy Bernard household, Susan’s managed to establish a balcony retreat for work on oil portraits of people she likes, among them the dates who take her to her favorite beaches and the cozy restaurants she prefers to gaudier showbiz scenes.


I think that resistance to the “scene” in Hollywood really shaped her as an artist and a person with a real brain and will. She has some pretty solidly cemented cult status, and is still an active and a classy lady, though she keeps out from in front of the camera these days.

That shot up there actually came from the next year’s calendar. They stuck her in as March. My guess for this reasoning? The lion next to her on the hearth. You know. “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb.” You think?

Scans of Ms. Bernard’s original layout. All of the at-home b&w shots were taken by her father. It is to his memory that Ms. Bernard currently devotes herself. She has so far produced three books about his body of work and maintains a beautiful site called Susan’s Salon, where you can send her messages and go through pictures her father took in the halcyon days of Bernard of Hollywood.

Being the daughter of one of the most famous photographers in Hollywood, I felt I was the most photographed child in America. With this came the privilege of experiencing Hollywood history. My Salon will bring you the stories my father loved to tell and my cherished memories.

(Susan’s Salon.)

I totally encourage you to check it out. Very cool.

I think all in all this has been a pretty kickass, standout Playmate entry. Especially if you are in to pin-ups, old Hollywood, and B-movies, which it is my expreience that those usually go together. Hope you feel the same!

And, because I can’t help myself, some caps of Sue in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Sorry, in my cursory search, I couldn’t find any stills with Tura Satana, and I’m too lazy to dig it up and take screencaptures myself. Enjoy them anyway?

Finally, an absolute trifecta of perfecta, from left to right in the recent shot below: Ms. Bernard; my b’loved Julie Newmar; baby burlesque legend Dita von Teese.

via madhatter on the vintageerotica forums.

Too much amazing for one photo.

The Girls of Summer: DeDe Lind, Miss August 1967

June 16, 2010

The lovely and talented DeDe Lind has come up several times before, and I am totally pumped that she gets her own post! She is an amazing woman who is sweet, funny, and deservedly popular.

Photographed by Mario Casilli.

This picture has been to Vietnam and the moon and its friendly, upbeat subject just keeps on truckin’. Read on and find out more about the single most popular centerfold model in the history of Playboy!

How did she get that gravity-defying figure? Spaghetti, of course.

Early in the evening, DeDe turns to the kitchen and her principal avocation, with a flair and success in cooking that does the Swedish and Italian roots of her family tree proud. “Like Mom’s, my best main course is a spaghetti dish,” DeDe says.

(“DeDe Girl.” Playboy, August 1967.)

For a quiet woman, DeDe is not without opinions. “I don’t see how we can get out,” she says of the war in Vietnam. “But — perhaps because I’m a girl and I’m young? — The thought of losing our young men way over there is awful.”


Maybe it was that anxious empathy, her sunny spirits, confession of shyness, or maybe a little something to do with the sweet rack and all these adorable girly-girl pictures? — Whatever the cause, DeDe Lind holds the honor of being the undisputed most popular Playmate of all time. She received more mail than any other Playmate before her time and since. Get it, girl!

This popularity was out of control with the soldiers serving overseas in Vietnam. I think a large part of it was her genuine, outspoken empathy for their plight. Dudes seriously flipped out over DeDe Lind, begging relatives to send multiple copies of the magazine in case something happened to their first copy, and writing DeDe truckloads of fan letters. I think that’s actually really cool and a unique and touching cultural phenomenon.

Similar to the pinups in WWII, when young men are far away and fighting for something that 90% of them probably only realize when they get there is far more huge, truly random, and more complex than they possibly imagined, and their comrades are dying around them, I know it’s cliched, but I think it is very valid to get the idea that you have something to fight for. And if that comes from a centerfold of a plucky young gal smiling sweetly in a men’s cardigan, yellow hairbow, and nothing else, then I say go for it!

Ms. Lind’s popularity was such that she has even been to space! True story, non-fiction — on NASA’s Apollo 12 mission in 1969, the nine astronauts who performed the second manned lunar landing in the history of humanity, thank you very much included DeDe’s centerfold in the Yankee Clipper command module. They labeled it “Map of a Heavenly Body.” Hilarious, true, and freaking AWESOME. Nous allons a la lune!

What’s intriguing is that Playboy really massaged the facts of Ms. Lind’s truly interesting life at the time. Yes, everything she says is true, about loving horses and Catalina Island, etc, and all her sweetness and good cheer are genuine, but it was more like a sin of omission. They sort of didn’t mention she was married and had a child.

That often gets thrown around like it is some type of evidence of the magazine’s hypocrisy, but I don’t believe Playboy has any obligation to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about anything, let alone the private lives of the Playmates. Hef was striving again and again with the centerfolds for the Girl Next Door who happens to be naked, and it was a great opportunity for a lot of these women, like marvelous Ms. Lind, to get a jump on their careers — why bum out all those soldiers, for example, using Ms. Lind as an ideal woman in their minds for whom to survive, with all the details?

sidebar: I don’t know if this is an outtake or an airbrushed elaborate fake or what, but that is pubic hair like two or three years before that actually made its wispy, hinted-at debut in Playboy magazine, and almost four years before a Playmate of the Month fully flashed the carpet. If you have knowledge of this shoot and know what’s up, please explain, because I’m pretty surprised.

Says Ms. Lind in a more recent interview about having been in Hollywood during the swinging late 60’s but not being much of a participant:

“I did marry very young. I had a baby. I was a mom. I never got into the hippie or drug scene. … I dated Bobby Fuller. I also knew Jan and Dean. I wouldn’t go so far to say I dated Jan, but, I was friends with him. So, those are the kind of pop stars I liked. They were a little bit cleaner-cut. More American, Apple Pie.”

(“De De Lind Interview.” James, George. Undated.)

Q – Do you remember any film roles you turned down that maybe later you were sorry you turned down?
A – Yes. There was a movie called ‘Candy’. I actually turned it down. I pretty much had the part. The idea of me at the time portraying a young girl sleeping with all actors — it didn’t sit well with me. (Laughs). Because of that I really didn’t want to do the movie.


I was just thinking about doing a Movie Moment on Candy. This clinches it. A famous piece of well-shot, mostly-failed camp, the sort-of-satire’s cast includes Ringo Starr, James Coburn, Sir Richard Burton, and Marlon Brando. And Ms. Lind was right, it was mainly a scandal and flopped, to boot, so good on her for deciding against it. I can’t see someone so sweet and shy having been happy to be part of that glorious and vulgar, hot mess. You’ll see what I mean when I do the Movie Moment. Look for that sometime this week or eventually, maybe! I know myself too well to make promises with actual dates in them. Lord, I am such a lazy person.

Besides hanging out with good pal the lovely and talented Lisa Baker at their place in Boca Raton, Florida, DeDe continues to model and appear at Glamourcon and related events. And I’m happy to say she definitely retains that sunny sense of humor that is clever enough to send up the genre in which she models. Dig that shot above, which comes from her “Look, Ma, no gag reflex!” Very funny.

You may see more of Ms. Lind’s present doings on her official website or hit her up any ol’ time on the myspace (current mood: amused ), on which some of her top friends are Janet Lupo, Julie Michelle McCullough, and naturally Hef.

Special edit from Ms. Lind: “My Centerfold did not go to the moon. My 2nd. Calendar Photo (Nov. 1969) holding a que stick topless went to the moon and back with Dick Gordon. That photo sold at auction for $17,511.00 this Jan. 2011.” Thanks for the clarification!

PSA: Movie Moment — Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever

May 20, 2010

All right, that’s it. I’ve positively had it with all the growing sass and scuttlebutt I’ve been hearing over the last several years that the action flick Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is “the worst” movie of all time or even, according to justly venerated Rotten Tomatoes, the worst movie in recent memory.

First of all, no one bashes a Lucy Liu movie on my watch — Freckles, would you please call a bitch? I got plans! — and second, there are way worse recent movies out there than Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (and, yes, you may look forward to me referring to the title in full throughout this entry).

As two examples off the top of my head, I consider the recent film adaptation of comic legend Will Eisner’s The Spirit to be legless, personally devastating schlock with virtually unwatchable “acting,” while Shrek the 3rd was so shrill and crassly commercial that I believe my heart has been better warmed by Dr. Pepper ads.

There is a misconception that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever was based on a videogame of the same name. Scratch that, reverse it. The videogame was based on the original script for the movie, but ended up being released ahead of the film, which had changed considerably over the course of production. A second, sequel videogame was based on the movie, with the events of the game more closely following the movie’s plot. So you can also take Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever off the “worst adaptation” lists.

A point in the film’s defense: Originally, the character of Agent Sever was male. Antonio Banderas, having been cast as Ecks, suggested during the Search for Sever that the studio consider reworking the character as a female. The part went to Lucy Liu. (Out of the park grand slam in my book — gracias, Sr. Banderas.) But here’s the thing: Ecks and Sever do not at any point have sex with each other. Oh, snap! A guns-blazing testerone-filled movie about professional cool-as-shit-spy-people where one of them is a girl and she actually does not get tumbled by the male! Amazing! And they said it could not be done. Booya! I find that fact impressive and surprisingly integritous, considering the cheese that oozes from most of the plotholes in Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (I will never get tired of writing that full title out).

I will grant you, the dialogue can be bad, although I could say the same for the recent remake of Clash of the Titans, during which Special K and I began predicting, accurately, the next sullen thing Perseus would grumble to whoever he was arguing with at the time.* Particularly galling is a supposedly pensive “learning” moment near the end of the picture when someone says, accurately, of Sever, “She’s a killer,” and Agent Jeremiah Ecks responds severely, “No. She’s a mother.” Hope the families of the some fifty police officers that former-Agent Sever killed in the — surprise, surprise — gratuitously violent opening sequence agree that mom trumps cop.

And yes, it is pretty much shocking that it somehow got past everyone involved in this film’s production that the screenplay has placed operatives for the United States government, fully staffed with offices and everything, in Vancouver, Canada.

The cast is rounded out by some familiar faces, including Ray Park and Miguel Sandoval, pictured above, who do their best with the aforementioned holey script. Although I think even in that screencap Mr. Sandoval (Medium, Bottle Shock) looks kind of embarassed to be there. Talisa Soto is also on the screen, the best I can say for her presence. I would analogize her “performance” to the picture itself: great to look at, as long as you are not of a mood to go digging too deep, which why should you? So relax and enjoy All The Prettiness.

I remember struggling to make sense of this movie while watching it on the big screen (a difficulty I’ve acutely repeated several times over with each of the Pirates of the Caribbean pictures, but they make money so no one bashes them) and, at one point, being surprised it was still on and checking my watch to make sure I hadn’t lost time or something. But I have still reacted far, far more badly to other films, and in the end, having rewatched it here and there (never in toto, I don’t think), I find myself a Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever apologist. I don’t believe the movie tried to be more than what it was — 90 minutes of pretty people with big guns and bigger explosions — and so I don’t think it ought be judged too harshly.

As a final note, the director of this big-budget, technically-demanding action film was only around 27 at the time of its production and had only one other movie to his name. That name is Wych Kaosayananda. In 1998, he’d directed Fah, the most expensive Thai movie of all time, a gory, violent epic which bombed terribly. But it got Hollywood’s attention and in the halcyon days of 2002, he styled himself “Kaos” while shooting this film. Now that you know all that, can you see why it’s really no good to act like this movie was ever intended to be coherent? Just make an amused sad face and slide along!

Lastly, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. I just wanted to write it one more time. Thank you!

*e.g.: “Only a god could do what you’ve done.” “I’m not a god. I’m a man,” or some variation of exactly those words. He talked like that to everyone, for two hours. Perseus in the Clash of the Titans remake is a disrespectful and largely ungrateful shit with a chip the size of Crete on his shoulder.

The only person in that script worth a damn is Andromeda, played excellently by Alexa Davalos; when the Kraken was right up in her face and she went limp in the chains I honest-to-god swooned and almost fainted, myself. Good, I might even actually say unmissable, stuff. For those couple minutes. The rest was pretty much filler and garbage. Also, it was not shot in 3-D despite being shown in 3-D in a lot of locales so here’s a tip from E: see C o T in regular projection as its director intended and spare yourself the studio’s shoddy rookery. You’re welcome!

Flashback Friday — Audrey Hepburn half-day, Can I still call you “deer?”

April 8, 2010

On and frequently off the set of 1958’s bomb Green Mansions, helmed by her then-husband director Mel Ferrer and co-starring the unhappily closeted fag of our fathers Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame, Audrey had near her often a deer named Pippin.

She called him “Ip,” rather than “Pip.” I don’t know why. I have never read an explanation. You would have to ask her. Anyway, in order for the deer to convincingly follow her character around during principal photography, she spent a great deal of time bonding with the animal and training it to stay with her. Here she is with Ip, shopping at Jax’s grocery.

And this shot shows them in her dressing room. She was very nervous about the film because from its inception it was receiving slander due to her casting (neopotism, capitalizing on her popularity, selling out the book’s character, etc). The movie Green Mansions called for Audrey to star as Rima, a wild girl raised in a Venezuelan jungle. Audiences believed her to be a refined born lady of style (they wrongly judged her to be British as well) and did not buy her classy self in the role, despite the attempts to muss her up. This is actually slightly unfair, as she at one time tried to make a grass pie for her (still living) family to live off of during World War II.

She had roughed it plenty, but I guess people looked at her trim little figure and her eloquent speech and assumed plenty of things which were unwarranted and ultimately detrimental to her confidence and career, until she found the courage to ditch that punk Ferrer (sorry Mel Ferrer fans) and began to strike out on her own two narrow feet.

Those were candids: here is a publicity still done before the film’s release.

Brain-asplodin’ cuteness.

All these pictures came from photographer Bob Willoughby’s flickr photostream. He moved recently and was going through old stuff and he realized he was sitting on a pile of rare Audrey candids and stills. Cool beans, huh.

Music and Movie Moment: Forbidden Zone

March 31, 2010

Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo — Forbidden Zone (title song)

Forbidden Zone (Richard Elfman, 1980) starred the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, later to be renamed just Oingo Boingo, wild gypsy cult genius Susan Tyrell, Viva — Warhol’s Blue Movie Superstar, believed to be the first non-anonymous performer to have sex on screen — and Hervé Villechaize, better known as Tattoo (“Zee plane!”) on Fantasy Island, as the king of the Sixth Dimension. Also, award-winning composer Danny Elfman plays Satan.

It is a wonderful, unforgettable mess. It begins with a title card informing us that, while on a mission to retrieve some heroin from the basement of one of the vacant homes in the Los Angeles basin where he also makes his living as a slumlord, a pimp named Huckleberry accidentally discovered a portal to the Sixth Dimension, which, once he cleaned the drugs from, he then sold to the Hercules family, who are the main Earth-side characters in the film.

(The frog is named Bust Rod. Later, he has sex with a topless Princess. He is pretty fly for a frog. Think about it: when is the last time you banged a panties-only Princess? See? Fly.)

“Oey vey — the Yiddishe Charleston!” Gene Cunningham and Virginia Rose play Ma and Pa Hercules, although Cunningham is credited under his actual name only as playing the role of the pimp, Huckleberry Jones — for his role as Jones’ tenant, and pere to the Hercules clan, he is listed as Ugh Fudge Bwana.

Matthew Bright plays Squeezit, one of the film’s protagonists and classmate to Flash Hercules and the lovely and talented Miss Susan B. Hercules, aka “Frenchy.” Frenchy is arguably the lead character of Forbidden Zone, and her journey into the Sixth Dimension is the impetus for the majority of the film’s action. Oh, my stars and garters, could Squeezit possibly be a reference to masturbation?? Perish the thought. Bright also shares writing credits for the screenplay.

At the time the movie was filmed, Marie-Pascal Elfman (nee Saboff), who plays Frenchy, pictured above and below, was married to Richard Elfman. She is the mother of Bodhi Elfman, who is Jenna “Dharma” Elfman’s husband. Jenna and Bodhi met waiting on line to audition for a Sprite commercial.

Ms. Saboff Elfman served not only as the star of Forbidden Zone but was also responsible for the majority of the sets, which she designed and erected inside two separate sound stages. The Expressionist sets feature dice motifs, forced perspective, and stippling. They were mainly painted by hand on to paper which she then hung all around the sound stages, changing the backdrops as scenes required it.

Some examples of the animation sequences and production design. The design was heavily influenced by pre-WWII cartoons and the work of Max Fleischer and the Fleischer Brothers’ Studios, the best examples of whose animation you probably know being Betty Boop and Popeye. Together with a soundtrack that, besides original songs performed by Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo and “the Kipper Kids,” featured music by Cab Calloway and Josephine Baker, the movie’s design and feel really harkened back to the 1930’s, despite dealing with weirdo modern wonderfully cultish themes.

The picture takes a dim view of a) Los Angeles and b) the sad state of public schools. Well-viewed, picture (well shone, Moon), but I think the movie’s overall Expressionist, 1930’s cartoonish artistic glory is really not intended as a plot-driven vehicle for social commentary so much as it is an endless parade of visuals that will stick with you for life. Any knowing send-ups of modern convention are virtually coincidental. The movie is like an acid trip through a Hollywood backlot. The number “Swingin’ Through the Alphabet,” from which the above screencap comes, was inspired by the Three Stooges short “Violent is the Word for Curly.”

…A respectful fan asked Mr. Elfman “What the fuck were you thinking?” Elfman replied that he was trying to capture on film the spontaneous creative energy of his legendary band “the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo.” In the 70s they performed all kinds of crazy performance music theater, a kind of tripped out cabaret in L.A and NYC.

(“Review of Richard Elfman’s cult masterpiece FORBIDDEN ZONE in color!” MacDermot, Hal. 20 July 2009. Quiet Earth.)

“Frenchy” lands in the Sixth Dimension and King Fausto falls in love with her. This makes Queen Doris, played by Susan Tyrell, understandably upset. So she has Frenchy thrown in prison. Don’t you wish you could do that to people? “Send her to jail.” “Um, what’s the charge?” “She looked at him.” Very Red Queen and yet legitimately reasonable. As Psycho McJealouspants, proud holder of a degree in Flipping the Fuck Out (minor in Coming Unglued with special concentration in Keying Your Car) from Sex-Makes-Me-Crazy State University, I totally approve.

The animation was done by John Muto, who at the time was virtually an unknown. He has gone on to work on some of my favoritest movies, including Night of the Comet, Heart and Souls (I am a sucker for Robert Downey, Jr. every time), and Wilder Napalm (as a closet pyro, that movie is so hot to me).

For my money, one of the main reasons to watch is the Princess, here, but that’s just the type of predatory, untrustworthy, ulteriorally motivated person I am.

Outre freaky musicals are fun to watch and fascinating as cultural artifacts, yes, but can we not also agree that way cool as well are tiny blondes, and when they are topless, so much the nicer for us all?

I am unafraid to make that statement. I also like lemon meringue pie. I consider the preferences of equal harmlessness. Alert the media.

The insane “Kipper Brothers” [do] a mad musical number as boxers which involves punching themselves and blowing raspberries, and evolves into a Rumba sung by a fat kid with a Mr. Ed talking mule superimposed mouth effect, and the adorable Frenchy dancing with Mr. Bust Rod.


Actor Hervé Villechaize was the only actor with a paid salary. (the wiki)

Getting paid to get yelled at by your ex-girlfriend is I guess better than having to do it for free, yes?

TW: The Kipper Kids, who, for those who don’t know, are notorious, diaper-wearing, soccer-hooligan, lip-farting performance artists.

RE: Yes. The Kipper Kids. You know, it’s Presley, Sinatra … the Kipper Kids. Great vocalists can do so much with a number.


He wrote, directed, produced, choreographed and generally supervised all aspects of “The Forbidden Zone.” It took 21 days on a sound stage scattered over ten months – including a number of weeks in a garage with animator John Muto. Elfman’s wife, Marie-Pascale Elfman designed and painted the paper sets (with help from Villechaiz) and co-starred Elfmans 29-year-old brother, Danny (leader of a musical ensemble known as Oingo Boingo), wrote the striking music and played Satan.

(“The Man Behind ‘Forbidden Zone’.” Rense, Rip. August 18, 1982. L.A. Herald-Examiner.)

Chicken: You know the chickens are always ready to help you any way we can. But as you know…
Squeezit: What can chickens do?
Chicken: Precisely.

Squeezit thinks he is a chicken. It’s a problem a lot of boys have.

The cast includes Toshiro Baloney, The Kipper Kids, Viva and someone called Ugh Fudge-Bwana. “This is actually a phonetic spelling of his name, which is Swedish and difficult to pronounce,” explained Elfman. (Ibid.)

“Call it a bizarre comedy with music. If I could describe it better, I’d be a journalist,” said Elfman. He might be. Elfman is certainly documenting some aspects of modern American culture, however idiosyncratically. This movie does indeed defy more specific quantification. (An hour-long earlier version entitled “The Hercules Family” was refused by numerous distributors as “Being a threat to national security.”)


Oh, my god, Elfman fed that dude for the Herald-Examiner so many lies and half-truths. What a trip. It’s cracking me up.

After escaping the septic tank, Flash and Gramps come across a woman who tells them that she was once happily married to the king, until Doris stole the throne by seducing her, “even though she’s not my type.” The ex-queen has been sitting in her cell for 1,000 years, and has been writing a screenplay in order to keep her sanity.

(the wiki)

Tuscon Weekly: Aside from the Kipper Kids, the biggest star in the movie was Hervé Villechaize, who plays King Fausto. How did you get him?

Richard Elfman: Matthew Bright was his roommate. His ex-girlfriend was (Forbidden Zone co-star) Susan Tyrrell. Herve and Susan were already exes when the film was being shot, and periodically, they’d have tremendous fights. And it was comic/tragic, because she had a voice box from the Lincoln repertory, you could hear her from 2,000 yards away. And Herve had a small voice, so you could hear him squawking and hear her yelling.

(“Intestinal Fortitude.” DiGiovanna, James. March 31, 2005. Tuscon Weekly.)

The truly bizarre Forbidden Zone features among its wealth of surrealistic imagery the late Hervé Villechaize as the libidinous king of the sixth dimension; expressionistic production design that would drive Dr. Caligari to distraction; and Richard’s brother Danny, more recently the composer of virtually every modern film score you truly enjoy listening to repeatedly, as a Cab Calloway-fetishizing Satan – all of whom live in the basement, sort of, of the extended Hercules clan.

(“I Know That Voice.” Savlov, Marc. July 30, 2004. Austin Chronicle.)

Far different from the brother Danny-fronted Oingo Boingo of “Weird Science,” this multi-Elfmaned project (alongside Danny there’s Richard’s wife, Marie-Pascale Elfman, as heroine Frenchy) is a genuine curiosity, part vaudeville act, part borderline softcore raunch, and completely, utterly weird in the best sense of the word. (Ibid.)

Following the film’s color release on DVD from Fantoma and Legend Films, it was announced that a sequel was in the works. With an allegedly slated release date of 2010, Forbidden Zone II: Forbidden Galaxy has the following imdb summary, written by Richard Elfman himself.

Ma and Pa Kettle leave the depressed Dust Bowl with their kids, Stinky and Petunia, and drive their old jalopy down to Crenshaw in South-Central Los Angeles. Stinky is a hyper-active 12-year-old; Petunia is a lumbering 13-year-old; Ma is a corn-cob pipe-smoking inbred, and Pa is a craven, drunken carnival geek…with a bad disposition…even before his carnival job folded after the last dust storm. Together, they hope to find a better life in California. Unfortunately, the little shack they rent has a basement connected to the Sixth Dimension, ruled by a horny midget king who is growing an army of dead zombie babies…to take over Earth.

Coming soon to a theater near you?

Most stills courtesy Pilar Sama and you&me via the Nostalgia Party No. 2 community on the lj. Thanks!

Music and Movie Moment: Nancy Adams — “Love,” featured in the cartoon Robin Hood

March 27, 2010

Nancy Adams – “Love”

For me, Disney’s animated adaptation of Robin Hood (Wolfgang Reitherman, 1973) is the definitive version of the legend, but it is widely documented that I am immature and impressionable.

If the love story between cartoon fox Robin Hood and cartoon vixen Maid Marian did not absolutely melt your young heart then we have nothing to offer each other and you are furthermore a robot who has not been programmed to know love.

Love, It seems like only yesterday
You were just a child at play
Now you’re all grown up inside of me
Oh, how fast those moments flee

Once we watched a lazy world go by
Now the days seem to fly
Life is brief, but when it’s gone
Love goes on and on.

Ooooooh Love will live
Oooooh-ooooh-oooh Love will last
Ooooooh Love goes on and on and on.

Once we watched a lazy world go by
Now the days seem to fly
Life is brief, but when it’s gone
Love goes on and on.

Robin Hood: We’ll have six children!

Marian: Six? Oh, a dozen at least!

Hoo! The lady would like to double down, Mr. Hood. Dag. This is a vixen with some serious brass balls.

Marian: Oh, Clucky, surely he must know how much I really love him.

Lady Cluck: But of course, my dear. Believe me, someday soon, your Uncle King Richard will have an outlaw for an in-law!

Hiss: Sire! Sire! They may be bandits.

Prince John: Oh, poppycock. Female bandits? What next? Rubbish.

Prince John: Robbed. I’ve been robbed. Hiss! You’re never around when I need you! Hiss — I’ve been robbed!

Hiss: Of course you’ve been robbed!

Little John: You’re burning the chow!

Robin Hood: Sorry, Johnny. I guess I was thinking about Maid Marian again. I can’t help it. I love her, Johnny.

Little John: Look, why don’t you stop moaning and moping around? Just marry the girl.

Robin Hood: Marry her? You don’t just walk up to a girl, hand her a bouquet, and say, “Hey, remember me? We were kids together. Will you marry me?” It just isn’t done that way.

Little John: Aw, come on. Climb the castle walls. Sweep her off her feet. Carry her off in style!

Robin Hood: It’s no use, Johnny. I’ve thought it all out, and it just wouldn’t work. Besides, what have I got to offer her?

Little John: Well, for one thing, you can’t cook.

Robin Hood: I’m serious, Johnny. She’s a highborn lady of quality.

Little John: So she’s got class. So what?

Robin Hood: I’m an outlaw, that’s what. That’s no life for a lovely lady, always on the run. What kind of a future is that?

Friar Tuck: Oh, for heaven’s sake, son. You’re no outlaw. Why, someday, you’ll be called a great hero.

When ABC used to have that Disney Sunday Night movies segment, I recorded this on to a VHS. Around a year later, one of the other networks ran Sixteen Candles, which, being a dutifully Molly Ringwald-worshiping young woman of the 1980’s, I naturally recorded, carefully fast-forwarding through Robin Hood to the blank remainder of the tape. Some time later that Spring were the televised Grammy awards, which I also recorded, on to that same tape, at the request of my mother because she had some kind of a PTA meeting/Tupperware presentation/murky, boring grown-up shenanigan to attend and my mom is a big Grammy guy from Way Back. She is a fan of Awards Shows in general. My mother approves of an industry’s recognition of those within it who have displayed special talents. She is a kind lady like that.

I rewatched the videotape a few years ago, beginning with Robin Hood for my kidlet, then Sixteen Candles while she napped, then all the way through to the Grammys, mainly on fast-forward with a nostalgic half-smile at the 80’s fashions, and then suddenly I stopped in awe — as a-ha performed “Take On Me” in cramazing outfits of formal ruffled tuxes and the keyboardist in mad rad white gloves.

So, to recap this little anecdote: 1. Robin Hood. 2. Sixteen Candles. 3. a-ha dressed to kill and doing “Take On Me” live at the 1986 Grammy Awards.

Best VHS I own? I think so.

Prince John: I sentence you to sudden, instant, and even immediate death!

Marian: Oh, no. Please. Please, sire. I beg of you to spare his life. Please have mercy.

Prince John: My dear, emotional lady, why should I?

Marian: Because I love him, Your Highness.

Prince John: Love him? And does this prisoner return your love?

Robin Hood: Marian, my darling, I love you more than life itself.

Oh, Robin, you’re so brave and impetuous.

Little John: And now, your mightiness, allow me to lay some protocol on you —

Prince John: Oh, no, no! Forgive me, but I lose more jewels that way…

There really was a King Richard the Lionheart and a younger brother named Prince John with his eye on the throne. In fact, John staged a rebellion when his older brother ascended to the throne in 1189 but it was unsuccessful and resulted in him being generally unpopular in his brother’s court, where he was called “Lackland” (because he was not the inheritor) and “Softsword” (I hope this is only a reference to being shitty at rebellions and not a veiled mockery of impotence. that happens to lots of guys and it’s nobody’s fault).

Richard and John (along with their brothers Henry and Geoffrey, all of whom attempted at one time or another to take the throne from their father) were Plantagenets, the sons of Henry II and the infamously strong-willed Eleanor of Aquitaine. This is probably why the mere mention of his mother makes John go on a thumbsucking frenzy in the animated film. Her husband Henry had her imprisoned beginning in 1173 until his death. He basically said something like, “You can’t come out ’til you stop helping our sons try to depose me,” and, indeedy, she was not released until Henry II died in 1189. (cf: The Lion in Winter.)

Eleanor was the most powerful woman in the High Middle Ages, a real force to be reckoned with, and, unusually, all sources contemporaneous to her life agree that she was not only outstandingly beautiful, but not voluptuous or blonde as was the ideal at the time — she was able to pass herself off in drag as a man even in her fifties, at a time when ladies had some pretty serious hams. (I love that the words “hams” and “cans” can mean any body part on a woman and work.)

In reality, when Richard inherited the throne in 1189 and went gallivanting off to the Third Crusade, it was Eleanor, not bonny Prince Johnny, who stood in for him. She even went to Germany and negotiated Richard’s ransom. Following his brother’s death without an heir, John ruled from 1199 to 1216 and was supposedly so dreadful as a king that the English swore never again to have a king named John.

True to their word, they haven’t.

(However, I’d like to point out that John signed the Magna Carta, a document which was in many ways the forerunner of democratic rule, while Richard started an abominable straight-up pogrom in London that killed thousands. I’m just sayin’.)

Wes Anderson recently featured this song on the soundtrack to Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is probably an homage, because he probably really liked this movie when he was a kid, too, because I did, and we’re probably going to get married someday and bang, like, all the time. Just all kinds of places, even, too. All over the house and the neighborhood, so much that they will rechristen our town Bang City. Bangsville. Bang Island. St. Bang’s Township, the jewel of Bangburg County, in sunny Bangland. Swing by and visit us at Banglots Village, elevation: banging.

People will call us all like, “What are you doing next weekend?” and we will be like, “Banging. We are emphatically not free for dinner,” and my mother will email me to sadly say in all caps, “E— WHY DO I NEVER HEAR FROM YOU ANYMORE,” to which I will reply, “It is because I am very busy doing all this banging of my husband, Wes Anderson.”

Not really. I’m not that interested in Mr. Anderson anymore. He is still a great director, but I no longer see myself banging him, certainly not all the time and definitely not while we are both married. I’d just been sitting on that little “banging” diatribe for awhile and wanted to use it.

Special thanks to the sources of these screencaps, cheesechimp and bottle_of_smoke in the Nostalgia Party No. 2 community on the lj.

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.

Post-Holiday Pick-Up: Miss December 1972, Mercy Rooney (yee haw)

December 26, 2009

Miss November 1972 was “Lenna,” whose cropped centerfold, as you may recall, is just about one of the most famous pictures in the graphics design world. So you’d think Miss December would have a tough act to follow, and she might pale in comparison, right?

Here to prove you wrong is the lovely and talented Mercy Rooney (aka Merci Montello, aka Mercy Mee), a B-movie actress and rodeo queen who at 22 had already roped and released Mickey Rooney, Jr., the oldest son of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney.

Photographed by Alexas Urba.

“Most people think of rodeo as man conquering beast — men riding bulls, roping calves, that kind of thing. That’s not it at all. Rodeo is actually man conquering his own body, being able to control it and make it work the way he wants it to. The real pros are very disciplined people; with discipline comes skill, and that’s what makes the whole thing a treat for fans. Riding rodeo is a beautiful, graceful art when a person’s really good at it.” (“Mercy, Mercy!” Playboy, December 1972)

“I liked being right down there with the dirt kicked in the air, flying in your face, and the animals lunging so close that you have to jump for a fence to get out of their way.”

Asked about the reaction when she appeared on the scene, Mahan says, “I recollect hearing quite a few ‘Good God A’mightys!’ And one of my friends said to me, ‘We gotta get her out of here. I can’t concentrate on my horse.'”

When she isn’t distracting rodeo performers, Mercy lives a busy life in Los Angeles, following a schedule that divides time between Bunnying at the L.A. Club and returning to an acting career that she had pursued after high school, then capriciously dropped for a couple of years. “I’m back in acting school and working hard at it. I guess I quit before because I just had too many things going.”

One of those “things” she “had going” was a marriage to Mickey Rooney, Jr. I cannot for the life of me find out the dates on that (I do not feel like doing a public records search for the sake of one simple blog entry), but I know that by 1986 he had married his second wife, Laura, with whom he now travels the country as a born-again Christian preacher. He gives lectures on the dangers of “Life in the Fast Lane.”

That is one ride I am glad she was not down to take, or we would never have this nature-themed, awesome Playboy spread. God made us naked and Jesus preached tolerance, Mr. Rooney. Duh. These days, Ms. Montello/Mee/Rooney has faded in to almost total obscurity which my cursory search of the internet cannot seem to uncloud. If you have info, shoot it my way, cause I love me some crazy eyes!

NSFW November: Miss November 1996, Ulrika Ericsson

November 30, 2009

The lovely and talented Swedish-born Ulrika Ericsson was in America working hard as a swimsuit model and looking for acting gigs when she posed for Playboy as Miss November 1996.

Photographed by Arny Freytag

Get it? She is done up like the newsboy, at the newsstand in front of the display of Playboys. “Wuxtree, wuxtree!” Super-cute. Great theme, well-executed, and she has a very sweet innocence that makes it playfully tease-y instead of costumey and skankeriffic.

However, the acting thing must not have panned out, because other than Playboy credits, the imdb lists her most recent work in front of the camera as being a host for a Swedish show called “Nyehtsmorgon.”

Nyhetsmorgon är TV4:s morgonprogram i TV. Programmet var vid starten 1992 det första dagliga morgonprogrammet i svensk tv. Nyhetsmorgon har hämtat inspiration från amerikanska NBCs The Today Show, som var världens första morgonprogram på TV när det började sändas i januari 1952. Nyhetsmorgon är Sveriges största morgonprogram med över fem miljoner tittare i veckan och 1300 timmar sändningstid om året.[1] Konkurrenter i genren är Gomorron Sverige i SVT1 och Vakna med The Voice i Kanal 5. (the wiki)

Ran that through a handy-dandy translator and got much less hilarious results than I was hoping for (sometimes translation software spews wonderfully broken interpretations of the original text) but here they are:

Nyhetsmorgon is TV4’s morgonprogram* in television. The programme was at the start 1992 the first daily morgonprogrammet on Swedish television. Nyhetsmorgon have drawn inspiration from the American NBCs The Today Show, which was the world’s first morgonprogram on the television when it started sent in January 1952. Nyhetsmorgon is Sweden’s largest morgonprogram with more than 5 million viewers in the week and 1300 hours transmission time of year. Competitors in the genre are Gomorron Sweden in SVT1 and wake up with the Voice of Channel 5.

*let’s all agree that means “morning program;” I mean, I know we must beware of false cognates and such when attempting translation but I’m going to make the leap.

That picture is adorable. I am going to assume Ms. Ericsson is okay with what life has handed her, career-wise, over the years, because of this quote from her Playmate interview

“The Vikings understood that good looks don’t last forever. Their idea of success was to die young, go to Valhalla and fight with the gods against the giants.” (“How Swede It Is,” Reg Potterton. Playboy, November 1996)

And this picture is super-triple-dog adorable. Also, enormous. It’s wallpaper sized. You’re welcome!

Because I am a spectacularly great friend, I used that same software program to give you an opening line to lay on Ulrika should you ever get the opportunity: “I am an agent for Hollywood. I have a very big part for you.” “Jag är en agent för Hollywood. Jag har en mycket stor roll för er.”

You’re welcome again!

Advice: Rachel Weisz NSFW edition and Batman casting ideas

November 21, 2009

Photographed for Esquire magazine April 2004 by [searching for credit]

“I think mystery is kind of great. I don’t know anything about Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn or Ava Gardner — not really — and I like that. I love watching their movies because they’re my personal movie stars. I don’t know what they eat and who their trainer is.”

No clue where this came from; sometimes I just right-click and save things and make no effort to credit them. Super-sorry!

“Most of the time we do nothing, myself included, … I think the lesson I learned from [playing humanitarian Tessa in The Constant Gardner] is that a lot of drops make up an ocean. If people would stand up and say what they believe in maybe we can make a difference. Helping one person is better than nothing. Just do something.”

Still from The Shape of Things

“There’s not much room for eccentricity in Hollywood, and eccentricity is what’s sexy in people.”

I have heard rumors she is one of the actresses who has been approached to play Catwoman in the next Batman movie, but I’ve also heard Chris Nolan quoted saying that Catwoman isn’t going to be in it. It doesn’t matter, because that would be lame anyways. She should not be Catwoman, regardless of whether Selina Kyle pops up in the next movie (a direction which would actually disappoint me).

What Rachel Weisz should do in the new Batman movies is play Talia, the daughter of Rā’s al Ghūl and love of Bruce Wayne’s life. Helloooo, she would be perfect! Talia seriously needs to once and for all get in the mainstream big screen storylines, especially considering how great the new movies Chris Nolan’s been making are: in the comics she even has Batman’s kid, for god’s sake (Damian Wayne, who is the current Robin). It’s already been set up, when, in the novelized Batman Begins, Rā’s al Ghūl refers to having a wife and daughter while he is talking to Bruce.

So, come on. Let’s finally get her in a movie, and let’s have Rachel Weisz play her. The woman is a stranger to neither action pictures (The Mummy franchise) nor comic book movies (the wildly underrated Constantine). That’s my awesome suggestion: obey!

Movie Moment: Hollywood news I’d rather not use feat. NSFW Angelina Jolie

November 12, 2009

Ugh. So it appears that Angelina Jolie finally got the people at Lionsgate to pony up the cash to make Atlas Shrugged in to a movie. Angelina Jolie, a question: why do you do these things that make me dislike you? I want to be on your side.

I had almost totally managed to recover from my dislike of her, especially being out of the orbit of my husband who insists she’s a witch (he is more supersitious than me, even), but when she does shit like bring Ayn Rand to the big screen when I’m already being buffeted by her nonsense on all sides as people repeatedly apply her views ludicrously to a “fresh take” on the current economy, I feel like my hands are tied. I’m back to disliking Angelina Jolie. It’s official.

“If being sane is thinking there’s something wrong with being different, I’d rather be completely fucking mental.” — Angelina Jolie.

See, that is a fabulous quote; we should get along wonderfully, but, no, she has to go and be all jerky and Ayn Randy. Gar. I say fuck the world and its rules, too, but I don’t believe that makes me better or more entitled than anyone else. I hate that Atlas Shrugged is going to be a movie, or even a mini-series. HATE IT. Ugh. This day blows now.

“Think about it: the world’s great minds and great contributors to society—which really are the entrepreneurs—are being taken advantage of—and they are; if you make money, you’re giving up pretty close to half of your income, though the United States is still the greatest country in the world, and Ayn Rand would have said that as well.” — Lionsgate Vice Chairman Burns, blurting out what Ayn Rand followers really believe, then swiftly backpedaling so that the studio appears to remain general-populace-friendly (source).

And you have cast Charlize Theron as Dagny Taggart? What goes through your pretty, long-ago-drug-and-Billy-Bob-Thornton’s-blood addled head? Angelina Jolie, try to understand this. I still love you. I just don’t love your choices.

I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.

NSFW November: Donna Lynn, Playboy’s Miss November 1959

November 4, 2009

Ladies and gentleman, your Playboy Miss November 1959 — the lovely and talented Donna Lynn. (applause.)

As far as I know the whole shoot was photographed by Frank Bez.

As you can see, Playboy was starting to get their shit together and have a strong budget by this point, enough not to cobble together hack photographers and shitty sets in eight different crummy apartments to put together a single spread. Consistency is important for the overall feel of a shoot. These look like they were all done around the same place, a nice spread of house with a good-sized backyard in some smoggy shithole suburb of L.A.

Art direction was actually beginning to play a part in the magazine’s design and composition. Sex sells. Slickly packaged sex sells better, and for more.

I find it just so unforgivably rude when people screw around on the phone when you are trying to have an in-person social conversation.

Miss Lynn was like bazillions of buxom blondes, a pretty girl who made her way from the midwest to Los Angeles with dreams of being a star. She must have had a smidge of tinfoil and gritty hustle behind that vacuous smile, because she came closer than most, landing not just a plush job and a centerfold spot, but a movie part from a big name, too. The Playboy sez:

Cocktail Waitress on the Sunset Strip
In Hollywood even the girls who wait tables are beautiful!

It is news to nobody that Hollywood is the cutie capital of the country, racking up more shapeliness per square inch — or maybe we mean round inch — than any other city in the nation, probably the world. To its sun-drenched purlieus swarm America’s loveliest lasses, all eager for film and TV stardom. Of course, stardom doesn’t usually come overnight and while they’re waiting the hopeful honeys take jobs as waitresses and car hops, cashiers and receptionists — which accounts for the high degree of pulchritude among Hollywood’s hired help. Even in such a splendorous setting, blonde Donna Lynn is a standout. As a waitress, she brightens The Cloister, a smart supper club on Hollywood’s famous Sunset Strip. There recently Mickey Rooney spotted her and signed her up for a part in his new motion picture The Private Lives of Adam and Eve. There recently we spotted her, too, and decided she was just what we’d been seeking for Miss November.

In the imdb’s cast list for the 1960 Rooney flop (guess it must have been one of the ones he drank his way through), she is credited as “Wednesday,” along with several other cast members named for days of the week. Her next part is listed, bizarrely, as “10 year old girl” a decade later on a 1971 episode of The Partridge Family, which I’m going to chalk up to a mistake.

Tan lines are like highlights for what you are not ordinarily allowed to see. Ladies, STOP laying in the booths naked. Way more hot to be stripey.

In fact, the credits her file at imdb lists from that point really take a nosedive in believable accuracy, so I’m assuming there was some kind of huge mistake in identity, because I seriously doubt that in 1981, having been born in 1936, she was in any shape to play “Kiki” in Hollywood High II (“It’s the end of the semester and finals are near, but that doesn’t stop the girls of Hollywood High from having fun. From the pool to the beach, they cavort with their boyfriends, drink, and smoke a joint or two!”). Her final alleged credit is 1988’s Hollywood’s New Blood, a horror film about which one imdb user commented, “A nursery school pageant is more professional.”

Malibu? Laguna?

Here she is, back in 1959 where we can be sure it was she, and reasonably clad to boot, washing a pretty freaking sweet indeedy Renault Dauphine; they did not always make teeny cars built to demolish one another jostling for parking on the streets of Paris. Even the French automaking industry was in the post-WWII car manufacturing heyday a decophilic slave to the beautiful trappings of finned and glorious car architecture.

Marvel of design. Car’s okay, too.

Hef & Co. were also very concerned with the physiology of sleep and how well you were resting, evinced by the cover theme. (That bunny looks twisted. Dude is toe up. I hate when people get animals drunk!)

Can I still call you “deer?”

September 12, 2009

On and frequently off the set of 1958’s bomb Green Mansions, helmed by her then-husband director Mel Ferrer and co-starring the unhappily closeted fag of our fathers Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame, Audrey had near her often a deer named Pippin.

She called him “Ip,” rather than “Pip.” I don’t know why. I have never read an explanation. You would have to ask her. Anyway, in order for the deer to convincingly follow her character around during principal photography, she spent a great deal of time bonding with the animal and training it to stay with her. Here she is with Ip, shopping at Jax’s grocery.

And this shot shows them in her dressing room. She was very nervous about the film because from its inception it was receiving slander due to her casting (neopotism, capitalizing on her popularity, selling out the book’s character, etc). The movie Green Mansions called for Audrey to star as Rima, a wild girl raised in a Venezuelan jungle. Audiences believed her to be a refined born lady of style (they wrongly judged her to be entirely British as well) and did not buy her classy self in the role, despite the attempts to muss her up. This is actually slightly unfair, as she at one time tried to make a grass pie for her (still living) family to live off of during World War II. More rare pictures and factoids about Audrey, Green Mansions, and the real story of her life after the jump