Posts Tagged ‘judaism’

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.

(Ibid.)

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.)


Favorite.

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.

(Ibid.)


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.

(Ibid.)

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.

(Ibid.)

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.

Calendar Girls Day: Nice Jewish Guys edition

December 27, 2009

There is a calendar out there for everybody. Here are some of the handsome and genuine gents of the very cool Nice Jewish Guys calendar, which I stumbled on via the hilarious blog dealbreaker on the tumblr (Dave Horowitz, one of the hosts, is Mr. November).


The calendar, which includes both Jewish and secular holidays, features 12 “nice Jewish guys”, or, as [calendar creator Adam]Cohen puts it: “guys who are non-threatening, nice to a fault, trustworthy and just very normal-looking”.

According to Mr Cohen, each picture tells a story. “There is the main ‘hero’ picture for each guy and then three smaller ‘action’ ones — these guys are flexing everything they got, which isn’t much but you still have to love them.” (“Adam Cohen creates a calendar.” Krieger, Candace. Nov. 18, 2009. The Jewish Chronicle online edition.)

By no intent of mine, because there’s virtually no way of predicting cutness v. uncutness, but instead by some weird confluence of fateful events outside my control, it’s been years since I’ve been with someone uncircumcised. I’m not officially throwing down for either of the sides of that debate because I guess they both have their merit or whatever, but we can all agree that variety is the spice of life and I guess what I am really saying is that if you stumbled on this by egosurfing, and you are a Nice Jewish Boy, especially one of the ones in the calendar, like, you can drop a line. That would be okay.

Portions of the proceeds from calendar sales go to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, so when you’re buying for yourself, think about picking up an extra for a friend!

Edit: Thanks to Brian Stampnitsky, hot ginger and Mr. January, for finding this journal, dropping a line, and adding me as an imaginary friendoh on the facebook! Rock on with your Yankee-lovin’ self, and good on you for giving your time to a good cause. Super-cool!

NSFW November: The Itty-Bitty-Titty Holy War — marvelous Miss November 2001, Lindsey Vuolo

November 30, 2009

Saved the best for second-to-last, guys.

Your magnificent Miss November 2001 was the lovely and talented and unremittently marvelous, in this shiksa’s opinion, Lindsey Vuolo. Ms Vuolo’s interview with Playboy touched on her recent trip to Israel, included a picture from her bat mitzvah, and set off a shitstorm of reactionary crossfire about pornography, sex, and religion in the conservative Jewish community, from which she valiantly refused to back down. Preach it, garrl!


Photographed by Arny Freytag – for some reason in this picture she looks like Raquel Welch, which is nothing to sneeze at, but she is a beauty in her own right and the resemblance is not present in the other pictures.

Lindsey’s Italian father converted to Judaism to marry her Russian mother. “I traveled to Israel as part of an exchange program and it was an amazing trip,” she says. “Being in Jerusalem was so emotional for me — I broke down and cried.” (“Lindsey,” Playboy, November 2001)

Holy shit, if that did not apparently ruffle feathers for her to be naked emotionally as well as physically by describing what being Jewish meant to her in terms of her personal identity and emotions. (You can bare your breasts, and you can bare your bajango*, but you can’t bare those with your soul and be religious!)


*thank you, Tina Fey, for the term “bajango.” I’ll get to the Playboy interview where she first dropped that term for ladyparts another day.

What happened next was, this guy Rabbi Shmuley Boteach caught wind of her appearance –especially her emphasis on her religion and what it meant to her identity– and publicly took Lindsey to task for posing for Playboy (though he had himself appeared in the magazine promoting his book, Kosher Sex).

Feminists and porn-purveyors alike took Lindsey’s side, and soon everyone from rabbis to radical social theorists was weighing in with their opinions on faith and sex. These are two topics that everyone has touch them in some personal way, so I’m not surprised that people felt personally authorized to comment on the issue. I remember noting in college classes that the discussions during lecture in which everyone was the most engaged usually involved universal human issues like religion, sex, or love. Everyone experiences these things, so everyone has an opinion!

Taking advantage of the publicity which resulted from the itty-bitty-titty holy war, Boteach enticed her to come to a recorded and Extremely Accusatory “discussion” with him of the issue of pornography and Judaism vis-a-vis what the religion’s teachings were and how pornography impacts marriage, traditional ideals of femininity, and sexuality. She had the balls to show up, and not only that, defend herself. Reading the interview, I felt ashamed. I could have never made it through to the end the way she does. I’m easily humiliated by disapproving men. Not so Ms. Vuolo. She has an admirable self-awareness and a respectful but strong spine of steel. Check some of these excerpts, which I’ve thoughtfully and even thought-provokingly interwoven with the quotes from the “interview”:


Shmuley Boteach: So tell me what you think about the following ideas, okay? Number one: Pornography or Playboy ultimately, far from being sexy and titillating, is actually boring and monotonous because the moment you see someone’s body in its entirety, the first few minutes, sure, it’s very exciting but after that nothing is left to the imagination. It loses its erotic allure. I mean, all studies show that when women go to bed with guys too early, it almost always destroys the relationship because the thrill of the chase is gone, the mystery is gone. The human body requires mystique in order to retain its attractiveness. There also has to be the involvement of the mind in order for there to be fantasy, and nudity and sexual over-explicitness actually hinders fantasy.

For example, as a marriage counselor, I always say to wives, don’t ever walk around the bedroom naked unless it’s time for sex and he has to earn the right to see your body naked because–


Lindsey Vuolo: I disagree with that.


SB: You disagree with that?


LV: Yeah. Because you know, my husband–well, I don’t have a husband but if I had a husband, and we share everything together and I’m his, I’ll run around naked for him. That’s for him, I mean, then he doesn’t need to see anyone else naked.


SB: I wish what you were saying was true but according to the Hite report the fact that 75% of husbands are unfaithful and the fact that half of marriages end in divorce shows that unfortunately men need variety when they feel they get bored. Many men who cheat on their wives claim to love their wives. They do it only because they need something new. So clearly, it is very possible to get bored of your wife’s body, no matter how much she runs around for you.


LV: Well, I think for all time men will always look at women whether it’s their wives or someone else. And I don’t think that they get bored, you know, they look–


RS: No, no, we know they look at women’s bodies. The question is, will they look at the same woman’s body. You’re Miss November. They’re not going to make you Miss December under any circumstances. The reason is the guys have seen you and they’ve just seen you. They want someone new now. Doesn’t that alone prove to you that pornography gets boring?

Playboy has used you and you’ll never be a playmate again.


LV: I posed for this for me. So if I’m degrading anyone, I’m just degrading myself. What other women do–


SB: But the biggest sins in life are where we hurt ourselves even more than other people.


LV: But I don’t feel like I’m hurting myself.

Holy fuckballs, what a passel of ice-cold punches to the gut. If you have sex or display yourself as sexual, you have used up your ace in the hole, blown your wad of feminine mystique, as it were, and will forever forth be undervalued. Um … is this so? I don’t even know! I just want to go shower and cry! Bitch magazine, help a Catholic girl with deep-seated Daddy Issues out:


Unwilling to cow to the rabbi, (who, it should be noted, promoted his own book in Playboy) Lindsey stood her ground, explaining that she had done nothing wrong. According to Lindsey, Playboy doesn’t even count as pornography because to her the word conjures up images of “penetration, urination, and things like that.” (“My Meidel is a Centerfold,” Bitch Magazine, Deborah Kolben, May 2002.)

Okay, well, at least I know other women will give me a hug and a “it’s okay, honey,” whether or not we are any of us sure about anything after the tirade about how men will grow tired of us and we must not be naked in front of even our husbands.

So. Quick word about this shoot: okay, obviously I have a majah girl-brain-crush on Lindsey Vuolo, but, strictly from an unbiased perspective, from the artistic standpoint, I strongly believe that this photoshoot stands head and shoulders above most of the others from the 2000’s.


It has a clear unity of vision: the story is, this super-super-cute, vintage-lingerie-loving, wholesome, upbeat gal works at an old-fashioned pie-and-coffee kind of diner as a pastry chef or baker of some kind, and it's after-hours.


If this does not melt your heart with its brain-asplodin’ cuteness, you are made of STONE and we have nothing to offer each other.

First she’s with you in the dinette, then she’s showing you around at home. It’s cut and dry and adorable as shit. Love it. Okay! Back to the hot button side of the story. Final thought, for clarification and prompting of to-be-determined further discussion:

Some have incorrectly claimed that Vuolo is the first Jewish Playmate. Vuolo herself has agreed it is more likely that she merely is the first openly Jewish Playmate. (the wiki)

This has been certainly a long enough entry already, all apologies, so perhaps we ought to save the important and striking issue of why a beautiful woman looking to be famous in America might consider her Judaism a liability rather than an asset and choose to downplay this important aspect of her heritage and womanhood (*cough, cough* Holly Madison) for another day.

But Don’t Think I’m Forgetting. I got a memory like Babar — but a figure like Bettie Page. Ow! Call me!