Posts Tagged ‘need for speed’

Girls of Summer: Heather Ryan, Miss July 1967

October 21, 2011


Photographed by Bill Figge and Ed de Long.

So, it’s still in the 80’s in my little pocket of the universe— that’s around 30 to you metric friendohs — and I say that calls for one last Girl of Summer. (Don’t call it an Indian Summer; call it Global Warming’s Brief and Only Benefit.)

The lovely and talented Heather Ryan was Playboy‘s Miss July 1967. She is an all-around smashing girl and I’m super-psyched to finally finish the write-up on her. Whatch’all know about unusal pets? Cause this strawberry blonde here’s ’bout to change the game.


Says Heather, I don’t think there’s anything unusual about owning an ocelot, but people always stare when we go walking together.”

(“Call of the Wild.” Playboy, July 1967.)

Not so sure it’s the ocelot they’re double-taking on.

[Heather] currently resides at her family’s Glendale home, on the brink of the canyon: “It’s pretty desolate out there, but we’re lucky that we have no close neighbors, because the ocelot often screams at night.”

(Ibid.)

No couch potatoes looking for a BJ and a Blockbuster night need apply:

“I am,” she says, “fascinated by adventure, and I suppose it pervades most of my tastes. I like actors like Paul Newman, Charlton Heston and Steve McQueen, because they usually portray men who are as untamed as my ocelot.”

(Ibid.)


Speed-loving Heather admits to driving her 1966 Mustang faster on occasion than the law prescribes.

(Ibid.)

Attagirl. Speaking of which, the most terrible Mustang experience befell me this week.

I was running a bit late on my way to work. I headed on to the freeway with a newish Mustang ahead of me. The guy crawled down the ramp and inched his way through the merge, then continued to torture me by poking around in the middle lane, keeping me from getting in to the leftmost, fastest lane.

I was totally shocked. You’re in a Mustang, man! You do not drive a Mustang in the middle lane! Somewhere in Germany, the Cappy just felt a pang in his heart and shook his head, and he didn’t know why: now you know, brother. A guy was driving a Mustang in the middle lane at about 60 mph. I know. It was a scandal.


Though she hasn’t had much exposure to the psychedelics-freedom-love movement currently the kick among West Coast youth, Heather recently witnessed a mass “love-in” at Elysian Park.

(Ibid.)


“I’d never seen such a crew — everybody walking about and presenting the most unlikely gifts, like fruits and flowers, to each other.”

(Ibid.)

But she was not much in to the hippie scene, particularly the men —


TURN-OFFS: Men with long hair, and the unnaturalness of women today.

(“Playmate Data Sheet.” Playboy. July 1967.)

Totally agree. I don’t like long hair on men … sorry long-haired friends, it’s just a personal preference. No long hair, no skinny jeans. Spread the word.

As for Ms. Ryan’s dislike of the “unnaturalness” of women, who can argue with that? Besides girdles and foam butts, there was already plastic surgery and ubiquitous hairpieces. Of course, the problem has only gotten worse. I can only imagine what Ms. Ryan thinks of some of today’s Playboy centerfolds.


Number one favorite shot with a bullet.

AMBITIONS: A legal secretary or model, or perhaps I’ll enter a biological institute and become a laboratory assistant and transcriber.

(Ibid.)

Ms. Ryan did not fulfill those ambitions …

…Because she totally exceeded them. Get it, girl! A wildlife biologist, Ms. Ryan is a published author and has lead all-female eco-tours. Taxidermy is her hobby. In the Playboy article, she mentions enjoying hunting quail and rabbit, so it’s kind of a natural progression.

Ms. Ryan also mentions, when asked what she thinks is a great read, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury’s little masterpiece is one of my top favoritest books of all time, too. I just re-read it last weekend, as I like to read it every year around Halloween. Synchronicity! One of these years when I’ve sufficiently expiated my sins of ignorance to Mr. Auden, I will have to have a “Something Wicked” October.

There are many books I read at special times of year, but Something Wicked is one which I never fail to get toe-curling excited about in my anticipation. The descriptions are gorgeous, the writing crackles and terrifies and moves you — I adore all Bradbury, but I put Something Wicked in the most special, highest place.


Click above to scope the original Playboy article scans; there are pictures included in the spread that are not in this post, so give those a spin!

Cover model Venita Wolfe was photographed by Mario Casilli, who shot the following month’s centerfold: the lovely and talented sweetheart DeDe Lind.

Girls of Summer: Yvette Vickers, Miss July 1959

September 28, 2010

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


Photographed by the one and only Russ Meyer.

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

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


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

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


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

(Ibid.)

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


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

(Ibid.)

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

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

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

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

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

NSFW November: Veronica Gamba, Miss November 1983

November 23, 2009

The lovely and talented Veronica Gamba, Playboy’s Miss November 1983, has a need for speed and a jealous streak.


Photographed by Arny Freytag


“I’m a very jealous person. Stupid jealous. I think it’s a sickness. It’s OK for me to look at other guys but not for my boyfriend to look at other girls. It’s so sick. I should be put away!”

Isn’t that so often the case with jealousy? We covet 100% of our lover’s attention, but excuse our own inability to reciprocate it: by extension, if we are all doing this, then we must only assume that the truth is we will never, ever get that 100% of anyone’s attention, it’s impossible and we’re all just lying to each other.

I’m striving to find a positive outcome from this chain of thought. How about this. Unless you are very, very lucky, the likelihood is that no one will ever be able to snap out of their own shit and love you as much as you deserve, nor even as much as you are capable of loving yourself, so maybe treat yourself more kindly than you do? I’m going to try to pull at least that small slice of upbeat advice from the devastating reality of human isolation and make that a project in positivity. Maybe I will take myself out on a date. If I get fresh with myself, I will slap me.


“I have fantasies about being a race-car driver. It’s not only the speed, it’s the enjoyment I get out of just looking at a car. I have very strange feelings when I look at a car I like. It’s a turn-on, kind of. I’m like, awed by it. I’ve driven as fast as 120 miles an hour. It’s like I’m going to die at any second; like I’m going to explode. I used to love to drive on the autobahn. Cars go by you like — shuuum! So far, I’ve gotten only one speeding ticket, and that was for doing 42 in a 30-mile zone. It wasn’t even worth getting a ticket at that speed!” (“Princess from the Pampas,” Playboy, November 1983)

I really understand where she’s coming from. I had my license revoked when I was 19 because I sped like a maniac. I accrued too many points on my record in a one year period, absolutely all from speeding tickets. It was the “exhibitionist speed” and “reckless endangerment” ones that put me over the top, I reckon. Fucking bullshit. But I recognized the dangerous side to my obsession with vehicular shenanigans and, even after my license was eligible to be reinstated, I did not immediately pursue getting it back. I waited until I was emotionally ready to have such a potentially fatal machine in my hands. (Again, so often — the secret shadow side of our hottest passion is the potential for our destruction.)


I still go for long, remote country drives and may from time to time, if I’m alone, get the speed going a little high, but I’ve come to understand that the more appropriate, safe, and comforting thrill I get from driving is the strong sense of being in control, of choosing my own destination. Plus, I have to live for my daughter’s sake, so I don’t allow myself to push the limits of my speed any longer.

Looks like that is likely the case for Ms. Gamba these days as well; according to the wiki, Veronica “has been married twice and has a child from each marriage, a son (Christopher), born 1980 and a daughter (Melissa) born in 1987” (the wiki).