Posts Tagged ‘miami’

May Flowers: Cindy Fuller, Miss May 1959

May 8, 2011


Photographed by Bunny Yeager.

Sinuous Cindy Fuller was, until quite recently, a secretary in a quiet, Dickensian little law office in Boston, Massachusetts.
(“In the Swim.” Playboy, May 1959.)

It really was Dickensian; her employer was cheap on coal and ink, ran a ring of pickpocket orphans, and was a double agent for the French Revolution. Bad scene. So glad she got out.


My favorite shot of Cindy Fuller ever — it actually comes from a different Playboy feature.

It was in the hope of becoming a professional swimmer that Cindy left the bastion of the Brahmins for the balmy, baskable Florida clime.

(Ibid.)


Her aquatic talent, plus her stunning looks, make her a natural, and just before putting this issue to press, we learned that Cindy had won an assignment with the Water Follies.

(Ibid.)

You are like, “What are the Water Follies?” and I am like, “I don’t know either.” Let’s find out together. Walk with me to a place I like to call Googlytown. No, we don’t need to take the car. It’s close enough to walk. Jeez, City Boy.


Runner-up for favorite shot.

The International Water Follies appear to have been started by synchronized swimming and water sports entrepeneur Sam Snyder.

Billed as the “world’s longest traveling aqua show,” … the group included swimmers, divers,comedy divers, and water ballet swimmers.

(Synchronized Swimming: An American History. Bean, Dawn Pawson. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2005: p. 11.)

Interestingly, according to Synchronized Swimming, Snyder was in Boston prior to moving the Follies to Miami (p. 14). This is interesting because Cindy was a Bostonian gal. Stay with me. The outfit he ran in Mass. during the 1930’s was called Sam Synder Productions of Boston, and it seems to be shortly after that that he hit FL for the first time, where the St. Petersburg Aquabelles performed.


After taking a break for the second World War, Snyder hit up the Bay Area in my Norcal neck of the woods, starting synchro programs in San Francisco and Oakland. Not long after, he took the production to Miami as Sam Snyder’s International Water Follies (p. 43).

Interest in synchronized swimming and watersports shows was strong enough both domestically and internationally that the Follies made it in to Billboard.

Sam Snyder’s Water Follies will mark its 25th season as it readies for a tour of the United States due to start next month. … Unique this season is … a new gimmick in water shows [with] the introduction of surf boards and small canoes in production numbers.

(“Snyder Readies 25th ‘Follies’; Plans Recording.” Billboard. March 4, 1960. p. 135.)

Mr. Snyder also recorded the singers whose music he used in his show and released their albums under his own label. I am coming up goose eggs on when his ambitious productions finally ceased, but if I ever find out, I’ll come back and let you know.

And that’s the story of the International Water Follies.

Ms. Fuller says she was the first Jewish playmate (we’ve talked about the contention for that title before), and she may well be very correct in that claim. After the Water Follies, Ms. Fuller also danced at the world-famous Copacabana in New York. Today, she goes by her married name, Cindy Fuller Martino, and is a professional artist.


Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find 10 pages devoted to a lively Miami party attended by Cindy and four other lively ladies.

Group shots and an article scan from “Playmate House Party” and “Bunny’s Honeys,” special features Playboy ran in May 1959 and September 1959. Click to enlarge. The latter, “Bunny’s Honeys,” was an article about photographer Linnea “Bunny” Yeager, an amazing o.g. and female trailblazer in the pin-up world. Give her wiki a spin. You’ll be glad!


top, L to R: Janet Lupo, Miss November 1975; Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974; Cindy Fuller, presently featured; and the I-can’t-believe-I-haven’t-featured-her super-rad Helena Antonaccio, Miss June 1964.
bottom, L to R: Janet, Helena, Cindy, and Bebe. Adorable.

The above pictures come from the amaze-balls fantabulous Helena Antonaccio’s personal website, and were taken during production of Vh1’s “Rock of All Ages,” which aired in November 1999. Featured were Miss Antonaccio, Miss Fuller, Janet Lupo, and Bebe Buell. What a lineup of special, timeless gals! Super-cool.

NSFW November: Pat Russo, Miss November 1965

November 27, 2009

Another playmate who began as a bunny, 1965’s Miss November was the lovely and talented Pat Russo, a Connecticut girl who modeled briefly in Manhattan for the famous Barbizon Agency(kind of scammy in my opinion but some real careers have started there, so I’m not going to hate too hard). She hated the cold, relocated to Florida not too much later, and said in her interview that, after one winter in Florida, “‘Autumn in New York’ was just another pretty song as far as I was concerned!” She was scouted for the centerfold while working at the Miami club (“Pat Pending,” Playboy, November 1965).


Photographed by Pompeo Posar

This is kind of a weird one. I believe that Playboy did two different photoshoots (very common), but the stylists communicated poorly … if they communicated at all. Here’s what I think happened with this shoot.

Maybe the people in charge of hair and makeup on the different days this shoot was done were in a fight and not speaking, or maybe they had a conversation about ideas for Ms. Russo’s “look” but came away without a unity of vision, or even maybe some other type of accident or act of God intervened vis-a-vis the two different colored hairpieces, styling, etc. I mean, the girl is blonde one time and solidly ash brunette the next; she doesn’t even look like the pictures were taken in the same year, let alone afternoon.

Whatever happened here, too much time has passed to tell. But the end result is that it appears from some of the pictures, when you take the spread as a whole, as though Ms. Russo could be two almost totally different women.

All pictures are of her, though — I verified it with her Yahoo! groups fan club leader (last post on their bulletin board was in December of 2006, but the moderator still checks his email, bless his vintage-pin-up-lovin’ heart; thanks again for the lightning-fast response time, buddy!).

Speaking of styling, the cover is a blatant and (I checked the table of contents) totally unattributed rip off of the magnificent, incredible, erotic work of photographer and personal patron saint Sam Haskins, specifically his picture book/mystery/western short story Cowboy Kate (1964). I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery, but I am so genuinely bummed and perturbed by the fact that you might mistake the originality and brilliance of this composition —


Totally uncredited rip-off photographed by Pompeo Posar. (Model’s name is Beth Hyatt.) Pompeo, I am hella disappointed in you.

— the parted lips which echo the round opening of the gun barrel, the swinging curtain of blonde hair beneath the rounded black cowboy hat, the always-a-great-idea toplessness — as belonging to some cover designer at Playboy (all respect to their often-clever work) and not to the living god that is Sam Haskins that I do believe, holy shit, you guys, December is going to have to be Official Sam Haskins Month! I will do my best daily throughout December to scrounge up some of my saved photos from his enormous and thought-provoking body of work that are either permissible or I can reasonably say are ads and therefore in the public domain.

Boy, oh boy! Let’s see if I can continue my streak of not getting sued before the year is up!

It’s nice to have goals.