Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

The Girls of Summer: Inaugural Edition feat. Gay Collier, Miss July 1965!

June 8, 2010

The lovely and talented Gay Collier was Playboy’s Miss July, 1965.


Centerfold photographed by Mario Casilli.

Going contrary to the cogent advice of Horace Greeley, July Playmate Gay Collier — a pleasingly proportioned (36-23-35) Californian with keen hazel eyes for a dancing career — plans to go as far East as her talented footwork will take her.

(“Clown Princess.” Playboy, July 1965.)

The Greeley “advice” to which the write-up refers is “Go West, Young Man.” Remember when people caught references like that because our nation did not yet see fit to require public schoolteachers, who specifically went to school to do their jobs and work hard every day for other people’s children, to give up their dreams of changing lives with knowledge and instead teach developing minds to shoot for the mean score on a shitty test, so they can grow up and go and do the same while working as a faceless shell at some corporate conglomerate?

Oh, such a fine and impassioned little moment of soap box pedaling for my personal agenda amidst pictures of vintage cheesecake which is surely not the right venue in which to begin a discussion of education and values! but here’s the catch: Horace Greeley has always been wrongly credited with that quote. Greeley was a newspaperman in New York City, specifically the New York Trib — you might remember his portrayal by Michael Byrne in 2002’s Gangs of New York, visiting the Five Points with some other wealthy reformers (Mr. Greeley was all about social reform–ish. Scorsese does a good job exploring his philanthropical ambiguities due to his position of wealth and influence).


Did your brain not just ASPLODE from the cuteness?

Though Mr. Greeley had plenty of wit and wisdom that he shared with the world, he never exhorted anyone to go West or elsewhere unless it was an urchin badgering him on a street corner. The quote in fact originates with another newspaper publisher named John. B. L. Soule, who edited and produced the Terre-Haute, Indiana Express. In full, he said, “Go West, Young Man! And grow up with the country.” Greeley adapted the quote for an editorial of his own.

I think of the mid-60’s as Playboy’s heyday. For some reason, though I love my seventies Power Bush, it kind of felt sleezy by then — whoa, you don’t think it was actually the pubes, do you? Now I’m honestly wondering… Anyway.

This is one of the magazine’s golden era issues that proves how much good shit that you literally could not find anywhere else was packed in each of these pages — besides Ms. Collier’s lovely gatefold shoot, the issue also featured an interview with famed Italian actor-director Marcello Mastroianni and the conclusion of a four-part excerpt from Ian Fleming’s Bond novel The Man With the Golden Gun. Um, HELL yes?!


Consummately portraying such tortured contemporary types as a world-weary author (in La Notte), a cuckolded husband (in Divorce—Italian Style) and a cynical, soul-searching movie director (in 8 1/2), he has come to epitomize for many “the plight of modern man himself,” in the words of one critic, “loveless, faithless, rudderless, spiritually anesthetized and immobilized, whirled along in the swift and shifting crosscurrents and powerless to influence or arrest the order of events; incapable either of disciplining his desires or of satisfying his needs, let alone those of his fellow man.” Despite—or perhaps because of—his ambivalent image of inward impotence and predatory potency, Mastroianni exudes a charismatic magnetism …

(Excerpt from the Mastroianni piece.)

Yeah, I’d love to say that the current articles are up to that caliber of prose, but I think they have lowered the reading-level bar. Bummer, because they still snag great interviews.

Oh, cheez-its, what about Gay? Back to the gal at hand.

“My first objective is to land a dancing role in a Broadway musical. After all the years I’ve put in on toe shoes, I figure it’s time I started making the rounds of New York agents’ offices and tried putting some of that practice to work. Eventually, I hope to go to Europe and try out for one of the finer ballet companies, like the Ballet Russe or the Royal Ballet, and I’ve already put my Playmate-photo prize money in a special oversees ‘ballerina-or-bust’ savings account.”

(Ibid.)

She also likes Cantonese and mentions she is a big Peter Sellers fan. Sold!


Cover — Joey Thorpe.

No word on if Ms. Collier made it to Broadway or out even further East beneath the Iron Curtain, as she either continued her career under a new or married name, or the magazine used a different surname for her in this piece. Either way, adorable girl, great and dazzlingly fun photoshoot, and we are officially off and running with the Girls of Summer! I’m hittin’ the hay so I can tutor my Scamp tomorrow. Catch you guys on the flip!

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!