Posts Tagged ‘playboy’

Wednesday Wednesday: Let’s get physical

October 27, 2010

Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I’ve got this family wedding coming up, and I think the only way to make sure that everyone lets my whole “almost-dying” thing go is to look super-amazing and fit and healthy. So I’ve been exercising like a demon.


Preview of coming attractions: Linda Vargas, Miss December 1957.

However, even while working up a sweat, I’ve been thinking about the change of season — snuggling up in warm blankets, getting cozy in front of comfortable, crackling fires — and I have created “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” your warm and fuzzy, specially curated parade of Playmates hailing from nights in the lonesome Autumn and Winter months. (Don’t worry; The Girls of Summer will make their triumphant return around May.) I will try to get the Inaugural Edition of that going today. Even-steven?

The Girls of Summer: Sheralee Conners, Miss July 1961

October 22, 2010

I’m coming back to this later because Shel Silverstein contributed an awesome piece to this issue, but I’m out the door for now to paint faces at my kid’s school carnival. Sorry, but it’s Lorem Ipsum City, population: you … until I return. Catch you on the flip!


Photographed by William Crespinal and Sherman Weisburd.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut pretium viverra urna quis varius. Vestibulum vitae venenatis nulla. Vivamus quis nulla sed sem suscipit iaculis nec eget ligula. Nulla vitae massa non lorem placerat ultricies eget et orci. Quisque sed viverra elit. Duis auctor, nisl at accumsan pharetra, lacus enim facilisis lorem, in tempor lorem quam ut erat.

Donec nec tellus non magna scelerisque lacinia a ut turpis. Ut ut tempus nisl. Vestibulum sollicitudin, augue nec faucibus fermentum, odio enim dictum neque, interdum vulputate lacus elit vitae lectus. Mauris nibh urna, suscipit at sodales vel, volutpat eu enim.

Duis posuere tortor justo. Phasellus quis nulla nec metus volutpat consectetur. Morbi id nulla magna. Aliquam aliquet tristique nisi eu varius.


Favorite.

Quisque volutpat dictum laoreet. Nullam nisl est, sodales eget aliquet nec, elementum nec velit. Praesent aliquam malesuada diam, quis mollis quam tristique at. Nunc fringilla nibh a enim gravida molestie tincidunt purus ullamcorper. Fusce suscipit nisi non velit semper sit amet varius massa ultrices. Donec id dictum eros. Fusce dui sapien, iaculis quis luctus ut, consequat a justo. Vestibulum nisi ante, convallis a sollicitudin et, dignissim a odio.

Pellentesque rhoncus lacus quis nunc condimentum suscipit. Suspendisse mi erat, lobortis nec luctus sed, mattis eget felis. Aenean a mi sed nunc adipiscing sagittis. Morbi ultrices sagittis volutpat. Mauris sagittis, enim non ultrices sollicitudin, arcu diam vestibulum metus, eget luctus eros elit et enim. Aliquam tincidunt quam sed odio elementum porta.

Curabitur rhoncus accumsan ligula, et condimentum neque faucibus at. Suspendisse eu sagittis dolor. Sed egestas sapien et ligula sollicitudin eget pretium odio pharetra. Morbi rhoncus enim ut libero ultricies convallis. Mauris eleifend aliquet ligula.

Mauris ornare nulla sit amet est ultricies ac vestibulum elit sagittis. Phasellus pharetra tortor tincidunt risus porttitor luctus. Nunc nisi velit, tincidunt sit amet vulputate nec, sollicitudin sit amet velit. Etiam euismod metus tincidunt nulla luctus consectetur.

Quisque facilisis accumsan nunc at dapibus. Morbi eget sem massa. Sed et convallis sem. Sed accumsan hendrerit sagittis. Nulla euismod, metus sit amet hendrerit congue, nisi tellus ultrices urna, et dignissim enim urna nec libero. Sed purus ligula, blandit non lobortis nec, adipiscing fermentum ligula.


These buns previously featured in the Inaugural Showdown!, yellow rain slicker edition. (Voting still open.)

Pellentesque justo nibh, condimentum non imperdiet vel, luctus eget nibh. Quisque id turpis leo, et feugiat dui.

Praesent interdum, turpis quis egestas laoreet, urna nisl rhoncus nisl, eget dictum ante nisl ac risus. Aliquam tristique faucibus pharetra.

Sed in arcu risus, nec mollis leo. Proin iaculis felis sit amet sem ultrices sed molestie dolor tristique. Sed feugiat ultrices erat pretium adipiscing.

In arcu orci, lacinia a pretium eget, posuere ac mi. Vestibulum rutrum lectus sed quam gravida non tincidunt eros malesuada. Suspendisse sed neque at orci euismod bibendum sit amet ut quam.

Flashback Friday — Advice on friendship, feminine power, and finding your tribe: NSFW Drew Barrymore

October 15, 2010

This post originally appeared on on November 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm.


“I also love to explore what defines who you are, and friendship, and how you love to rock out with your best friend and cruise and drive and listen to the Ramones and play air guitar, and yet at the same time, they will come and slap you when you’re acting out of line. I love the themes that I put on the poster: ‘Be your own hero’ and ‘Find your tribe.’ Those are two things that are really important in my life.”

(interview with the AV Club’s Sam Adams, October 1, 2009, for Whip It)


“I love empowering women, and I love women that are capable. The one thing that I’m not crazy about are women that feel like they have to be a man to live in a man’s world, or that men have the upper hand. These women have this bitter chip on their shoulder, and that’s not really sexy. I like girls who have got each other’s backs. …

… I don’t like cattiness, either. I hate seeing women be rude to each other. Oh God. I don’t like man-haters, and I don’t like back-stabbers. I like chicks who can fuckin’ rip it up, pull shit off, and want to go for a beer with each other at the end of the day!”

(“Whip It! interview with director Drew Barrymore,” Chris de Salvo, The Scorecard Review, September 30, 2009).

edit: When I posted this the first time, I had not yet seen Whip It. I watched it a couple months ago with Lo-Bo and Miss D and I thought it was great. From a critical standpoint, sure, I’m not stacking it up against Once Upon A Time In the West or The Godather: Part II, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t qualify as “great” in my book. You’re definitely not going to see some special release of it in the Criterion Collection, all fancy with laurel leaves around the names of the writers or anything, but it’s a fun flick whose cast is piled high with my favorite kind of women: flaky, unique, and funny.

It’s got a great noisy riot grrl soundtrack, too. I work out to a lot of songs from it. That’s right, she writes and she takes care of a bangin’ body. Call me.

Girls of Summer: Jan Roberts, Miss August 1962

October 6, 2010


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

Miss August 1962 was the lovely and talented Jan Roberts, who began as a bunny at the Chicago Playboy Club. At the time, it was usually the case that a centerfold may be offered a job as a Club Bunny. Though it would later become common for Bunnies to progress to a gatefold as Playmate of the Month, Ms. Roberts was the first to do it.


With this issue we present a neat twist on the customary Playmate-to-Bunny progression: she’s ingenuous Jan Roberts — the first (but undoubtedly not the last) Playmate to be discovered among the hutch honeys already decorating club premises. Like hundreds of beauties from every part of the U.S. and several foreign countries, Brooklyn-born, Toledo-bred Jan stormed Chicago specifically in hopes of landing a job at the Playboy Club.

(“Bunny Hug.” Playboy, August 1962.)


Her credentials (executive girl Friday for the Juhl Advertising Agency of Elkhart, Indiana, and honor graduate of a two-year medical technology course in the same city) were impressive enough to earn her a Bunny berth. Although the lissome — 39-23-35 — arrangement of her 120 compact pounds on a five-foot-five frame tends to belie it, Miss August prefers mental exercise to physical.

(Ibid.)

But she’s so pretty. What could she possibly need to think about?

[Ms. Roberts] thrives on chess and bridge bouts, reads omnivorously (mostly books on mathematics and theology), dabbles in graphology, and earnestly paints landscapes which bear, she believes, “an unfortunate resemblance to my favorite foods — spaghetti and cheese blintzes.”

(Ibid.)

Hell, yeah, EAT SPAGHETTI!


She can’t abide a sloppy pad, views beatniks with suspicious brown eyes, loves shoot-’em-up war flicks, feminine frills and Louis XVI antiques.

(Ibid.)

I like war movies too, but I wonder what was so objectionable about beatniks? Someone needs to dial Ned Flanders and make a lovely lonelyhearts hookup.


Jan regards her current welcome-to-the-club duties with honest satisfaction. “I’m interested in a show business career,” she says. “As a Bunny, I’m already leading a show biz kind of life. It’s a big step on the way up.”

(Ibid.)


WHAT I LIKE IN MEN: Good manners, men who are good and kind to everyone, a sense of humor.
WHAT I DISLIKE IN MEN: Wise guys.

Ah, hahaha … wise guys. I have the cutest picture in my head, please come along with me on my mental image: Ms. Roberts in the trademark Club Bunny outfit, saying, “Oh, a wise guy, eh?” and windmilling her arm around to punch a Stooge. Chain-reaction hijinks ensue.

As for her show biz ambitions, if that sought-after career progressed, it was under a different name. I tried Jan Roberts, Janice Roberts, and Janet Roberts on the imdb and came up empty. Then again, there is always the stage, yes? Or maybe her (by her account) cheese blintz-like and spaghetti-like landscape paintings took off. She has a sweet face and an endearingly semi-rabbity grill; I’d hope good things for her.

The colorblocks in this picture are frigging awesome. Such a great and articulate, high-brow art critic I am, yes? Did I just blow your mind? Lovely. “What do you think of this piece by Basquiat?” “I think it’s frigging awesome!” Then I crush a beer can against my forehead. Sorry, college degree.

Seriously, though — my favorite shot of the spread, because of the colors.

This issue of Playboy featured a piece by Arthur C. Clarke titled, “World Without Distance.” Clarke is the author of seminal sci-fi novel 2001: A Space Odyssey; togther with Asimov and Robert Heinlein, he was known in science fiction circles as one of the Big Three. At the time his piece was published in this issue, Clarke was living in Sri Lanka (long story — another day). For some years, he had been contributing speculative articles and essays to various magazines about how developing technologies would effect lifestyles in the coming decades and centuries.

In fact, he had a specific timeline for when he predicted certain innovations would come in to use, ending in the year 2100: as an example, he … for lack of a better word, “prophesied,” that a “global library” would be in use by 2005. People would be able to access this library from anywhere and have information at their fingertips. The articles and essays were eventually gathered into a book which Clarke titled Profiles of the Future, published in 1963. “World Without Distance” is one of those essays.

There was also an article in the August 1962 Playboy called “The Prodigal Powers of Pot,” by Dan Wakefield. I came up goose-eggs in my search for the full text of Mr. Wakefield’s article, but HollywoodFiveO‘s review that it’s “an article so dry and boring we were unable to finish it even after huffing copious amounts of the demon weed,” is enough to discourage me from further research.

However, it is a good opportunity for me to mention that two dear old friendohs, Jedi K and Marvelous Mr. C, will be performing in Reefer Madness in October, and if I’m not front and center, it means I’m frozen in carbonite. Actually, even if I’m frozen in carbonite, I might persuade Cinder and Milo to tote me along anyway.

To celebrate, I’ll be sure to squeeze in a Reefer Madness Movie Moment for both the original scared-straight piece of propoganda and the recent film adaptation of the campy musical which my friends will be putting on. It’s an interesting time to stage it in my gret stet of Californny, what with a proposition on the ballot in our upcoming election to legalize marijuana.* I predict they’ll pull in a fun and hopefully big crowd.

*It’s a square and unpopular opinion but, while I am neutral about marijuana as a recreational, albeit presently illegal, drug, I do not think its legalization will prove even at all to be the prompt financial panacea the yaysayers would have me believe, and that the difficulties of properly legislating its sale and distribution will ultimately prove more costly than the budget woes it proposes to solve; further, the proposition in its present form does not yet have a solid enough plan for implementing the legalization nor setting up a more specific system for local governments to go about filtering the monies to appropriate and needy civic channels to suit me. A really bad punster would say I find the idea “half-baked.” I merely say, take your time, rethink what it is that you want to accomplish, and come back to me with something I can consider solidly getting behind. My state has been propositioned to death. This is a big issue — give it the careful crafting it deserves if you want to succeed and be helpful.

That was all in small print because a) I don’t like bringing politics up on the journal; and b) every time I timidly speak against the proposition, people seem to think I am opposed to the drug itself and shout me down with tireless explanations of how it’s not dangerous and people are way better drivers on pot than alcohol (this latter argument actually comes from my uncle, a former cop in Idaho who stuck in his oar on a recent family vacation when he was chagrined to learn that I was probably going to vote no on Prop 19).

I don’t much care about the drug part. Seems to me like people are going to smoke whether it’s legal or not. That’s not my concern at all. What I care about is hasty-pudding legislation that I fear couldn’t pass a Pinto, let alone a majority vote in a state where the people who actually come to the polls are, statistically, retired persons who are, statistically, more conservative voters, and who would likely not vote “yes” on this proposition even if there were rock-solid figures showing that the tax revenue from the legalization of marijuana would go to blind limbless orphans, early-bird buffet discounts, and a television channel that shows all Matlock, all day. They’re still going to punch “no.” This legislation needs to be airtight and even though it’s trying, my feeling is it is not quite there.

Even if it passes, things have become so persnickety and partisan here that it is bound to get held up for years in appeals and counter-measures. Don’t get me wrong, I have hopes for my government in the future, but all I see right now at federal and state levels is a morass in which nothing can get accomplished.


Gesa Meiken photographed by Mario Casilli.

Man! Not only is that all downer stuff, but I actually do hate talking about politics on the internet. I may come back later today and delete all that. Anyway, Arthur C. Clarke and a smiley blonde — even an apparent square like myself can’t vote no on that!

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.

Girls of Summer: Delores Wells, Miss June 1960

August 31, 2010


Photographed by Don Bronstein.

Delores Wells, Playboy’s Miss June 1960, shares her October 17th birthday with the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, which stopped the World Series and collapsed the Cypress Structure on the Nimitz Freeway and part of the Bay Bridge, and with the birthday of my dearest old friendoh Big Ben, who I’ve gotten to see twice this month and am super glad of it (a much more cheery connection).

At the time of her Playboy appearance, Ms. Wells was living in Chicago, like a lot of the early centerfolds. She worked as a bunny in the Chicago club. Sources suggest that Ms. Wells made $1,000 per week working at the club, but that her payment for this pictorial was only $500.

The above picture did not make it in to the original spread because Ms. Wells’ pubic hair was slightly visible, which god forbid — until the Pubic Wars of the 70’s.

Ms. Wells eventually wung her way west and appeared in several of the surf-rock propelled, beach party movies that were popular in this era: Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, and Bikini Beach.

Beach party movies came up for us recently in the context of Sharon Tate’s Actual Life Awareness Month, but I had not taken the time to discuss them because I was trying to stick to my self-imposed edict of keeping the spotlight on Ms. Tate. In this post I am beholden to no such stringency and will tell you all about it.

American International Pictures produced the first “beach party” movie, titled, go figure, Beach Party in 1963. I do not count the Gidget movies. Wikipedia does, but I do not. In my opinion the AIP beach movies were too different to give Gidget inspiration credit, and had a totally different market and theme in mind. Also I have been a huge Connie Francis guy since birth, and even though I know it is stupid and pointless, I bear a grudge against Sandra Dee for being the one who got to marry Bobby Darin. Yes, I know: stupid and pointless.

Following the success of Beach Party, AIP cooked up more films featuring beachy monkey shines, about seven in all, which mainly served as frontispieces for selling the motion picture soundtracks with appearances from popular musicians of the era. (You know — like Shrek movies.)

Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon starred in the majority of the AIP beach party flicks, and players like Ms. Wells appeared regularly as the same “Type” of person, though sometimes with different character names from film to film. The important thing was their recognizable persona. You know, the giggly flirts, the schoolbookish types, the buffed dimwits, etc … and, of course, the ne’er do wells. In the AIP beach party movies, the ne’er do wells were the comically inept Rats & Mice.


Oh, the decorative sex*. Hands-down my favorite shot.

The villains of the story were usually biker Eric Von Zipper (played by comic actor Harvey Lembeck as a parody of Marlon Brando in The Wild One) and his inept gang the Rat Pack, or “Rats & Mice”.

(the wiki)


The most popular running gag of the beach party series is “The Himalayan Suspender” technique, originated by Professor Sutwell in Beach Party, in which the forefinger is pressed against a certain part of the skull, rendering the victim paralyzed. The victim of this move (aka “The finger”) was always [Rats & Mice leader] Eric Von Zipper, who learned it from Sutwell and threatened people with it in subsequent films, calling it “The Rats’ Revenge.”

(Ibid.)


However, Von Zipper’s finger never worked on others, only himself. Once Von Zipper became paralyzed (usually with a big open-mouthed smile on his face), the Rats & Mice would carry him out and declare “Eric Von Zipper will return!”

(Ibid.)

I am pretty sure one of my girlfriends in high school lay “the finger” on our other friend as he knelt between us in Math class trying to coax my friend to share more of her large water bottle full of vodka mixed with orange juice, from which we’d been healthily improving our outlook on the late morning for at least a half hour. We told him to go away before he made it obvious what was going on, but he was having none of it.

I was particularly concerned about “maintaining” because I was not the kind of student who got in trouble, living a very weird double life in which I outwardly exemplified a golden student and banner citizen and genuinely cared about service to others and studying for tests, yet I also secretly ditched school, drank, and smoked. I was too young at that time to reconcile those behaviors with one another. I was also worried because I was better friends with his sister than with this guy, though he too was a friend, and I looked up to her as a role model, and my opinion at that time was that the less he knew about my bad behavior, the better.


A close contender for favorite shot of the spread.

Exasperated and sympathetic to my worries, my girlfriend made hoo-doo signs in the air over our annoying friend’s head and elaborately pressed her index finger to the middle of his forehead, and he did a method face plant from his knees in to the carpet of the classroom.

We thought this was hysterical.

I have no idea how any of this was going on while a teacher was in the room, but that shit would never fly with me. My covertly misspent youth is a mixed blessing for my students: I am empathetic to their desire to break the mold and be bad, and party down and word up and whathaveyou in the process of living their life, man, but I am simultaneously wise to their shenanigans. The hell you are flashing a pack of Marlboros in here, young lady — if the girls’ bathroom during passing period was good enough for me, it’s good enough for you; and you may save your joints for behind the tennis court like everyone else since time out of mind, mister.

Coda about the three characters in this anecdote, as we stand fifteen years later. My girlfriend in this story’s son and my daughter were baptized together five years ago. She works as a physician’s assistant. The guy on whom we lay the finger and I got high a few years later on the state seal the night before he went to join the Marines, or maybe the Air Force. I’d gotten over my hang-up about fearing too greatly the judgment of people I cared about. We stumbled to the Hard Rock Cafe and ate our weight in onion rings, and he told them it was my birthday even though it wasn’t, so we scored free dessert. Later he worked as the music teacher at our Catholic high school in town and is now pursuing a full-time career in Los Angeles as a musician.

I am now substitute teaching at the very church at which we all met, and drive every day past the high school in the story. All that time I wanted to drink and smoke away the trapped feeling of the pressure of living in this town, which shrinks the longer you live here and the more people you know, so that a town of 215k or so can start to feel quite small indeedy, and now I like it just fine. Did I mellow out, or did I sell out? I think the former.

One of the above pictures has made an appearance here before, in the inaugural “Showdown!” edition. I’ve totally dropped the ball on “Showdown!”s. Those were fun. All apologies: will remedy it soon, promise.

Coda to Ms. Wells’ story: the very lovely and talented Ms. Wells continued to work in film and television in Los Angeles. Later, she worked for a while as personal secretary to the late Linda Lovelace, controversial star of Deep Throat. They met at a party at the Mansion in Holmby Hills. I assume her time with Ms. Lovelace ended before Ms. Lovelace’s denunciation of the pornography industry.

Ms. Wells is still alive and kicking and will celebrate her 73rd birthday this coming October 17th, which brings us full circle to the beginning of an entry that it’s taken me four days to write. Again, all apologies — had a lot of dogs in the fire, Stanimal. No reflection on marvelous Ms. Wells or the AIP beach flicks. This post has now reminded me that I need a movie moment on both Deep Throat and the magnificent camp parody Psycho Beach Party. I’ll try to get to that, I swar to gar! All y’all keep on rockin’ in the free world and please forgive me my absences.





*Phrase borrowed with amused admiration from chainedandperfumed right here on the wordpress, then googled and found to be of even more apt camp and vintage. Thanks for the loan, c&p. Truly you are the O.G. of this biz.

Sharon Tate’s Actual Life Awareness Month: Day 30

August 30, 2010


At Joshua Tree, probably via geminichilde on the tumblr.

Sharon Tate’s Actual Life Awareness Month is drawing to a close and I have so many beautiful pictures left still to share. I thought I’d use a few today to illustrate an aticle that sheds a lot of light on Sharon’s personality and some of her unique struggles with that unusual program for stardom we’ve touched on this month: how Sharon Tate continued to gratefully and sweetly obey her managers but unrelentingly champion her own intelligence despite being dominated by Marty Ransohoff and his “money men,” which is an admirable thing that many startlets of her day did not bother doing.

Like a lot of quiet, competent people-watchers, Ms. Tate followed the letter of instructions from “superiors” while retaining an independent spirit focused on the maintainenance of goals without compromising her sense of self. She did not want quite the type of spotlight for which they were grooming her, but she wasn’t going to turn down the chance to use their grooming to launch a career which followed more closely her own vision.

So here it is: More on Marty’s master plan and how Sharon integrated that with her own personal identity and gentle, inquisitive intellect. All quotes come from “Venus On A Treadmill,” by Johnny Columbus for Photo Screen, June 1968.


There was a top-level conference in [Marty Ransohoff’s Filmways] office. Sharon Tate, the little girl from Dallas via Rome, was going into hiding. Sharon Tate, Movie Star, was going to be manufactured.


“They said they had a plan for me. They would train me and prepare me,” she remembers. “I was immediately put into training — like a racehorse.”

Three years went by. Sharon was completely under wraps. “I had a job to stay the way I was,” says Sharon. “They told me ‘Cream your face, Sharon. Put on more eyeliner, Sharon. Stick out your boobs, Sharon.’”


Sharon had many things in common with [her Valley of the Dolls character] Jennifer [North]. Both were acutely conscious of the value their bodies held in the flesh commerce of Hollywood; both were innocents; both were involved with European “art” filmmakers.


“I am like Jennifer,” says Sharon, “because she is relatively simple, a victim of circumstances beyond her control. But I have more confidence in myself…”

“I’m so afraid of hurting other people’s feelings I don’t speak out when I should. I get into big messes that way,” she once said.


via welcometothepast.
Both Marilyn [Monroe] and Jennifer [North] were the “Beautiful Blondes” of their day. Both had astonishing figures. Both were treated very badly by those producers who exploited their sex appeal for the moviegoers. Both posed nude before they gained stardom. Both rejected their “dumb blonde” images to marry intellectuals.

“I will never be another Marilyn Monroe,” Sharon says now. “But I had to do what they wanted, at first.”


Valley of the Dolls still via lovely and officially sanctioned sharontate.info.

And they, meaning the money men, wanted her to be a well-trained sex symbol with a vacuum for a head. Sharon was tortured by their demeaning attitude towards her.


via weheartit.

“They see me as a dolly in a bikini, jumping up and down on a trampoline,” she said of her producers. … “I love it on the beach — it gives me a kind of freedom. I don’t have to be a sex symbol or a movie star.”


“Beauty is only a look. It has nothing to do with what I’m like inside … I won’t play any more dumb blondes,” she insisted.

“Sometimes,” she says ruefully, “I think it would be better to be a sex symbol, because at least I would know where I was. But I’d lose my mind!”


Maybe that’s the happy medium. If Sharon can get off the Hollywood treadmill … if she can prove to others what she has proved to herself — that there is a head above her body — then she will have achieved true happiness and satisfaction — without escaping from her responsibilities.


Sharon puts it very beautifully: “I still have this teddy bear I’ve had since I was three … and all my old boxes — valentine boxes, cigar boxes, all kinds of boxes — I just won’t give them up. It’s like if I give them up, I’ve given in to being a movie star.”

Special thanks to the SensationalSharonTate blog for the full transcript of this interview.

Girls of Summer: Dolores Donlon, Miss August 1957

August 10, 2010


Photographed by super-great Peter Gowland.

Direct from the convent, it’s the lovely and talented Dolores Donlon, Miss August 1957! Ms. Donlon (née Patricia Vaniver) hailed from Tarrytown, NY by way of Philadelphia and, according to sources, graduated from “a French convent” before embarking on her career as a model and actress.

My guess is she attended the Marymount Secondary School in Tarrytown, a school which was run by the order of RHSM. The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary were founded in 1849 in Murviel-les-Béziers, France. They are called RHSM in English-speaking countries and RSCM in French, Spanish, and Portugese. (The “c” stands for couer, corazon, and coração, respectively.)

Marymount Secondary School in Tarrytown is still a standing convent of the RHSM, but is now used as a Provincial Center and retirement home for elderly sisters of the order. The nearby Sacred Heart school in Yonkers has RHSM on staff; their order’s devotion to teaching has of course not been forgotten.

The crypt of the famous Marymount College foundress Mother Marie Joseph Butler, General Superior of the order from the tumultuous years of 1926-1940 and a major figure in the order’s history as well as parochial education in America, is at the Tarrytown convent, “down by the banks of the Hudson.”

Mother Butler, born Johanna Butler in 1860, came from County Kilkenny, Ireland. She took her vows at 16 in the RHSM order’s original center in France, then ministered in schools in Portugal until 1903, when she was sent to the United States.

During her tenure as General Superior of RHSM, Mother Butler not only extended the order to new countries and divided the order in to provinces to improve organization, she also founded the Marymount School and College at Tarrytown, and expanded establishment of RHSM schools around the country. This was very important during the Great Depression because the sisters in the new schools were called to take on, gratis, children as boarders who might otherwise have gone uneducated or spent their days at factories or in fields. This way, their parents had one less mouth to feed and could rest easily knowing the children were being taken care of with love, and, for their part, the children were given a foundation for future, more profitable careers, as well as given the chance to just be kids a little longer.

When I was growing up, there had been a Mother Butler school in San Jose and all we Catholic kids, even those like me who went to public school, called it “Ma Butts.” I think the whole city called it “Ma Butts,” really. It was an all-girls’ school and shared classes with the nearby once-all-boys-I-think-but-eventually-co-ed school Archbishop Mitty. Or maybe I’m thinking of St. Lawrence. I’ve no idea if any still exists now, nor if they have gone co-ed, but I can only imagine the shenanigans that were got up to back then. Ah. Catholicism is for lovers.

After leaving Marymount at Tarrytown, Ms. Donlon swung back through P-A, picking up the crown for “Miss Philadelphia” on the way. (An achievement that was nothing to sneeze at; between 1921 and 1940, three Miss Philadelphias were crowned Miss America. Then the Miss PA contest got off the ground a little better and Miss Phillies were no longer eligible to represent the whole state. But dang — three Miss Americas in 20 years? Philly in the house.)

Dolores became a Walter Thornton model in 1945 and moved to Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Center City (downtown Philadelphia) from which two highly noteable Funny Girls hail: SNL alumni Tina Fey and Cheri Oteri. She packed up a few months later and moved to New York City, where she modeled under the name Patricia Van Iver. In this name, she received the award of “Queen of the New York Press Photographers’ Ball.” But the accolades did not stop rolling in.

Super cool fact alert: In December of 1945, 300,000 GI’s voted Dolores’s pinup their Picture of the Year. Get it, girl! Way to keep those boys smiling. The only bummer is that I cannot track this picture down. If anyone has a scan — the name will likely be Patricia Vaniver or Patricia Van Iver, not Dolores Donlon — I’d love to be able to add it to this post. Thanks!

The late 40’s and early 50’s found Ms. Donlon migrating back and forth between NYC and Hollywood. She continued to be a successful model, winning awards and earning the title of the “Ideal Bride” of 1946 in a wedding fashion show. Her ultimate bridal role came in 1949, when she married Hollywood agent and producer Vic Orsatti. Mr. Orsatti’s first wife was the fairly popular actress Marie McDonald, and he quickly set about securing roles for Dolores: the name change was likely his idea. She was only cast in one film as Pat Van Iver, but by the time the post-production was done, she was re-listed as Dolores Donlon.

Some of the pictures in which Ms. Donlon was featured during this time include The Long Wait, Security Risk, Flight to Hong Kong, and Nude Odyssey. She also appeared on countless television shows. Standouts are Maverick, I Love Lucy, 77 Sunset Strip, and the Walter Winchell Files. Ms. Donlon also continued to model — and therein started some trouble.

In 1954, the Walter Thornton Agency brought a lawsuit of $120,000 to Dolores’s door, citing breach of contract. Ms. Donlon had signed a contract with them as Pat Van Iver (remember? back in her NYC modeling days?) and had not properly nor formally severed her contract with the agency before beginning to earn money elsewere. Under the terms of the contract, she was technically negligent in paying them owed portions of her income. Kind of a shady thing to do on both sides: for her part, she knew very well that she ought sever the contract or else pay up, ideally both; from the agency’s perspective why sneakily wait ’til your model/actress gets famous and then bring it up that she is still under contract? very unprofessional and predatory. So I can go either way on that one.

The Walter Thornton Agency was second only to John Roberts Powers in size of modeling agencies in this country during its heyday. But please consider that size of an agency is in no way indicative of quality. The titular Walter Thornton retired around the time of the lawsuit and died in 1990 of a stroke, neither of which, I’m sure, was related to the suit against Ms. Donlon, who I believe finally paid out about $20k to get them off her back. And I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty close to positive that she made damned sure the contract was over, that time.

In 1954, a picture of Ms. Donlon taken by photographer Stew Sawyer was named Best Cheesecake Photo of the year by the United Press. Ms. Donlon and Mr. Orsatti separated in 1957 and divorced contentiously in 1958 (from what I know of Vic Orsatti’s marital histories, this was sadly par for the course). Ms. Donlon continued to act throughout the late 50’s and early 60’s. She married Robert de Pasquale, a concert violinist for the NY Philharmonic, in 1963 and retired from acting and modeling to raise her family.

Special thanks to Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen for the timeline of events in Ms. Donlon’s life from which a semi-biography could be culled. Super-great site!

edit: Ma Butts is now called the Harker School and is co-ed. Archbishop Mitty is still alive and kickin’ and is co-ed. St. Lawrence Girls’ High School consolidated with Mitty at some point and is history. That’s a shame. I am a strong proponent of the unpopular idea of all-girls’ secondary schools. Girls perform better when their competition is only other girls; they speak out better and more often about their opinions; they score more highly on tests and participate more actively in class discussion than a girl of comparable age and skill-set who performs in a class of mixed-gender peers. Facts are facts. Sure, there will be gossiping and bullying and catfights — but they would have done that in co-ed school, too. I say get those girls alone with just each other in a classroom and stand back while they kick Math’s ass. I think a young woman can really come in to her own during the critical years of adolescence and form with confidence a strong, true character to her best advantage in an environment made up of predominantly females.

In a perfect world we all see and treat one another as equals, but is high school even a remotely perfect world?? Of course not. I think young women often compromise themselves, both their intellectual growth and formation of morals, for young males. I think they’re better off separated so they can form their own personality rather than learning to cave and conceal their intellect. But I know and understand that my opinion is not a popular one.

Girls of Summer: Jonnie Nicely, Miss August 1956

July 30, 2010


Photographed by Hal Adams.

Total sassafrass: brace yourselves for the sap flood.

Playboy readers are a strongly partisan bunch, quick to tell us when they like something — or when they don’t. Last October, we were faced with the delightful dilemma of choosing between two potential Playmates, each lovely in her own way.

(“Command Performance: A near miss makes a curvy comeback.” Playboy, August 1956.)


We hemmed, hawed, made our choice; and in addition to the Playmate proper, we printed photos of the girl who didn’t quite make it. The result was a deluge of letters telling us we were blind as the well-known bat and should have picked the other girl.

(Ibid.)

I think even in 1956 if a man said simperingly to a fellow bachelor, “Blind as the well-known bat,” with his pinky up all hmmhmmHMM, he would’ve got his ass kicked. Unless it was Noel Coward. That dude was hard core.


The other girl’s name was, and is, Jonnie Nicely. She’s Miss August, and we’re glad. It grieved us to turn her down before.

(Ibid.)

Nice fawning write-up, but the wiki suggests the murky October shenanigans went down differently:

Nicely was originally supposed to be a Playmate for the October 1955 issue, but scheduling and creative conflicts temporarily pushed her aside in favor of Jean Moorhead.

Creative conflict? What an interesting and euphemistic phrase. I wonder what the real story is.

This picture was not included in the original spread but comes rather from The First Fifteen Years. Seeing as it is so close in composition to the picture which was ultimately selected as the centerfold, my guess is that it was down to those two poses and perhaps a few others as to which would be run as the main gatefold shot. I also conjecture that this one didn’t make the cut because she is not quite looking in to the camera.

Ms. Nicely hails from Fort Smith, Arkansas, where the US Marshals have their National Museum. Fort Smith’s nickname is “Hell on the Border.” The town motto is: “Life’s worth living in Fort Smith, Arkansas,” which I understand is to encourage residency and visitation, but all I can think when I read it is, “… unlike in Detroit.”

This picture was not included in either of her Playboy appearances. It must have come from a shoot for a different periodical. I threw it up anyway because I dig the “Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish” vibe that’s happening here. If you know the photograph’s provenance, please feel free to lay it on me.

This is so Psycho. Yes? The italian boy hairstyling, the thick brows and light-bullet bra, the pencil skirt and mirrored moment of intimacy. Very Janet Leigh as dictated by Hitchcock. But the picture predates the film by four years, so I’m not suggesting it was deliberate. Just echo-y.

These pictures are markedly different and grainier than all the others, so they may be the early October shots in question. Alternately, they may be poses for a different magazine, and the photos which are mentioned in Ms. Nicely’s write-up are the ones where she has very short hair and is goofing around in her bedroom with “go, team” type get-ups.

I do lean toward that explanation because it would mean that the shots where Ms. Nicely has longer hair and is in and around the house are more thematically unified instead of the kind of jumble it all looks like now.


This is my favorite shot and I wish I could see it in color.

The first group of pictures had an angle of youth and “oopsie, you caught me dressing,” and these latter group are suggestive of a more mature, consenting, young wifey type leading you around her house after she picks up the milk.

Does this make sense?

She apparently did other modeling work for a bit in the late 50’s, but she jumped ship to pursue work of a totally different nature. Ms. Nicely spent a long and trailblazing career as a mechanic for Rockwell International at their B-1 bomber plant.

The various Rockwell companies list a large number of firsts in their histories, including the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter and the B-25 Mitchell bomber, and the Korean War-era F-86 Sabre, as well as the Apollo spacecraft, the B-1 Lancer bomber, the Space Shuttle, and most of the Navstar Global Positioning System satellites. Rocketdyne, which had been spun off by North American in 1955, was re-merged into Rockwell in 1984, and by that time produced most of the rocket engines used in the United States.

(the wiki.)

I said goddamn, Jonnie Nicely! Way to do it.

Above is a recent picture of Jonnie promoting her Playboy issue and doing signings for fans. Below is a picture from one of my favorite ladies, Dolores del Monte (Miss March 1954), a vintage model who is super-active in the convention circuit and maintains a lovely website.


l to r: Ms. Nicely, Rick Linnehan (astronaut), Dolores del Monte (Miss March 1954), very special Valentine Vixen Kona Carmack (Miss February 1996), Cynthia Meyers (Miss December 1986), and Peggy McIntaggart (Miss January 1990) at the Los Angeles Glamourcon, November 2008.

Keep on rockin’ in the free world, ladies!

You Can Go Home Again — No yesterdays on the road

July 18, 2010


via retrodome on the lj — this wonderful pic is giant, you really must check it out. I’d love to be able to name all the girls.

What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds.

But, when you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you.

No yesterdays on the road.

(William Least Heat Moon)

What a great idea, right?? Super-great quote. Can’t identify most of the ladies in the pic, but if you click to enlarge, I believe the seated short-haired one in the center is lovely and talented Barbara Cameron, Miss November 1955, is it not? That toothy smile seems familiar.

edit: Another i.d. and photo credits via Diamond Minx:
Diamond Minx Says:
July 20, 2010 at 1:04 am

The lady in the fringed skirt with the fur stole on the right is one of the most famous burlesque performers ever – Miss Gypsy Rose Lee. The rest of the girls were part of a touring show she produced.

Here are the photo credits:

Ralph Steiner (1899-1986)
Curves Ahead (Gypsy Rose Lee), 1950/51
Gelatin silver print
7 1/8 x 9 1/8”
97.11.5
Gift of Therese and Murray Weiss

Many thanks — “Sing out, Louise!”

Showdown!: Inaugural edition featuring yellow slickers

July 9, 2010

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

I’m’a lead off this story with the reminder that I’m lactose intolerant. So. I was at a friendoh’s place recently and after some pizza I found myself with time on my hands in the bathroom. All there was to read was People or something like that, so I flopped it open at random.


I do not know who they are but I like the one on the right because she has Crazy Eyes.

The page to which I opened had the headline “Who wore it best?” and showed three women who were I’m assuming celebrities — I did not really recognize them because none of them were Muppets, former guest stars on Star Trek TNG, or playmates of the month — all wearing the same dress at various red carpet events. I thought, given the human tendency toward recognizing and enjoying that which is patterned and symmetrical, this is an intriguing premise — only what would be better is if they were not in boring clothes at a boring party.


Twins Maurine and Noreene via thesisterproject. I’m going with Noreene because she looks more fun (open smile, body toward camera).

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Showdown! where we decide between either a) two people in one picture or b) two or more pictures of people with something in common: age, hair color, a thematic prop, or, in special cases — such as today — which playmate has put forth the best of two similar photos.


The face-down twin in the background is totally “selling it” better than the one in the foreground, who looks more like “asleep while sick” than “dead from axe wounds.” Fuck, why did I use this picture, now I’m going to have nightmares.

In fact we have already done a Showdown! by accident, which I will put together and repeat as today’s Flashback Friday. Anyway, here is the inaugural outing of this thrilling new category: Showdown!: Yellow Rain Slicker edition.

I noticed that the same slicker was used in the photoshoots of Delores Wells, Miss June 1960 and Sheralee Connors, Playboy‘s Miss July 1961. (Spoiler: they are both coming up as Girls of Summer.) Who rocked it harder?


left: Ms. Wells ; right: Ms. Connors. Click either picture to enlarge.

Camera A? or Camera B?

Giving the people what they want, 3rd edition — and a special shout-out to a lonely heart

July 6, 2010

Giving the people what they want: in which I glance over my blog stats, spot the trends in what brings you party people of the internet sliding on down to my place, and accordingly and with mutual thanks throw you some bone(r?)s.


Farewell and adieu to you fair Irish ladies.

First, a shocker. With mixed emotions I must report that the rack of Miss Megan Mullally is no longer the sheriff of Googlesearchy Town.* The first two editions (1, 2) of “Giving the people what they want” were dominated by amused-but-puzzled nods to the bafflingly large number of searches for the diminuitive Will and Grace star’s cleavage which lead droves of folks to my door. Megan held her own, beating out for many months running distant contenders such as “Drew Barrymore naked,” and “lesbian kiss,” which I would have thought any such phrases would easily eclipse “Megan Mullally’s breasts,” her “boobs,” her “topless” and variations therein and they never did. Until now.


*(By Googlesearchy Town I mean the searches that people enter in google to land on this journal — wordpress keeps track and ranks the most popular for me)

Top searching honors now rest in the tiny but mighty vintage hands of busty, bespectacled aspiring astrologer, the lovely and talented Fran GerardPlayboy’s Miss March 1967, the self-help loving little looker whose cups runneth over.


The lovely and etc Ms. Gerard. For Science.

With 5,909 searches since her relatively recent appearance on the journal in March, Ms. Gerard beats out Megan at 2,503 since her inaugural boob-airing last September. Well-played, Ms. Gerard!


Sweet, lovely and talented heiress to generations of hot Italian culinary genius, Amber Campisi.

Rising Star Awards must go to three special up and comers. First, the talented family gal Amber Campisi (Miss February 2005); next, beautiful and tragic playmate and poet Marlene Morrow, aka Persephone (Miss April 1974) — whose gripping story has justly been getting attention from a number of outside sites linking in, enough so that her sister Landi was able to find this blog and send us an optimistic update on Marlene’s present condition about which I’m thrilled, check that post’s comments to get the latest — annnnnnnnd Yvonne Craig, BATGIRL!; all of whom are beginning to trend up the stats list with great and deserved speed. I look forward to what the next edition of “Giving the people what they want” will bring!


The very special Marlene Morrow/Marlene Pinckard/Persephone. Please, please read the account of how Paul Zollo found her with notebooks of poetry and an envelope holding her centerfold photo, living on the streets in L.A., and consider following the non-profit links which follow the write-up?

Finally: Quick note to the person who has found this blog by searching google three times in the space of the last two weeks — with “only assholes” in quotes so’s as to make maximal use of boolean exceptors — for the exact phrase “‘only assholes’ fall for me“: In case you ever come back a third time, I’d like to hope you hit this entry.


Vintage hottie Yvonne Craig has suited up!

First, you probably keep landing here because I frequently tag what I consider to be interesting graffiti with the words “only assholes write on walls” a la cult classic Rocky Horror. So I am sorry for the “only assholes” mix-up. But, more importantly, I am genuinely really sorry that you feel like only assholes fall for you and I wish I could make it better. I’m sorry that you’ve felt that way strongly enough to search the phrase three different times recently. I hope the next person you date is not an asshole. I hope that he or she is really nice to you — no, not just nice, because that is mealy-mouthed and hollow. That is a bullshit expression of my actual sentiment and is weak tea compared to the depth of my empathy, here. Okay:

I hope that that next person you date is genuinely amazing to you, like I pray that their very existence makes you believe in a loving God and you see the echo of your love for them in all the shapes of nature, and you don’t just love him or her but admire and value them, and that you curl your toes when you think of him or her even while driving and that they fill you with so much passion and love that you would kill tigers for them without a blink and you stay together until you die in each other’s arms after fantastic geriatric sex.


Scroll to bottom for caption.*

I hope that the grace of his or her presence in your life is like a lightning strike that inspires you forever after always to strive to be a better person, to laugh with surprise at an unexpected joke they make when you are having an argument, to give new ideas a thorough-think-through and peek behind closed doors; I hope in short that he or she deserves every drop of the deep well of love you were created to share and renews your faith in all the anonymous fellow upper primates all over our world with whom we must trek in our stewardship of this nutty mudhole in order to improve our karma and with every go ’round perfect our souls.


ByTim Weber and Sue Noble via environmental graffiti.

Good luck to you.

*Long caption to second to last shot: The dish ran away with the spoon but what can you do? They have opened a comic book store in the City and on rare nights off they like to order dim sum and watch TVLand; the comic shop is honestly not doing so well, their apartment is super-tiny, the bride’s mom won’t take their calls, their used car’s a/c is on the fritz, and they have never been happier.

Girls of Summer: Jean Jani, Miss July 1957

July 4, 2010


Photographed by one-of-a-kind supafly sweetie pie Mr. Peter Gowland!

The lovely and talented Miss July 1957 was Jean Jani, from Dayton, Ohio.

Although Playboy implies in her write-up (emphasis on the lies half of that word) that Ms. Jani was a stewardess, she was actually a reservations clerk for United Airlines. Will explain shortly.


We were winging our way to a busy week of conferences with authors and agents, and our mind was filled with thoughts of the loftiest literary calibre. So lofty were they that we scarcely heard the dulcet voice of the stewardess requesting us to fasten our seat belt. She repeated the request, and we looked up into the brown eyes of petite (5’3″) Jean Jani of Dayton, Ohio.

(“Cloud Nine.” Playboy, July 1957.)

Barf to blarney and banana splits. Yay to little lookers.


Texture and busy-ness combine in contrast with Ms. Jani’s crisp features throughout the compositions in this spread. Top-notch, complex, and beautiful eye-catching work.

She told us she is saving money to buy a T-bird, her favorite drink is a Vodka Gimlet and she is the proud possessor of a pile of Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte and Jackie Gleason platters

(Ibid.)

Excellent musical tastes if that part is true. As for the Vodka Gimlet part, I have never had a gimlet of any stripe, but I think one of my friends, I am almost positive Mr. Kite, was recently deciding that Gimlet was the new retro drink of choice. I have strong faith in his trendspotting abilities, so I wager this will come to pass.

You know, like the way Singapore Slings sort of swept last year, at least in my tiny knowledge of central California circles — understand these are things I merely overhear up at the bar while ordering myself a beer.

My friends are really creative with mixed drinks, especially Christo and Gorgeous George, and Paolo and Miss D, either of which pair can find themself spontaneously hosting a party and expertly assess what they have on hand to come up with cramazing cocktails suited to the meal, occasion, and weather, but I am afraid I’m all thumbs at reckoning anything like that — I am also not so great at drinking hard alcohol, period.

For me, beer does the trick and almost never throws me any ugly curveballs. It is usually reasonably priced and you never have to worry about the bartender not knowing how to make it or mixing it too strong.

Beer puts me on familiar footing in what is usually an admittedly uncomfortable situation for me: public socializing. If I have safe, friendly, non-judgmental beer as my co-pilot, I know at least one part of the night will go well.

Like me, beer is a “what you see is what you get” kind of a thing. I feel a kinship and loyalty to beer unmatched by my feelings about any other type of alcohol. When I find something I like, I stick with it.

I like the case of her disappearing, reappearing mole. Like, “Disappearing, reappearing nuclear physicist husband” — Clue. The weird thing about that recurring line is that the nuclear physicist husband was the one Mrs. White beheaded and then cut off his dick; the one who disappeared was actually her first husband.

Without googling the script, I can tell you the conversation between Mrs. White and Wadsworth goes exactly like this (believe me, I watch this movie in my head all the time and I audio recorded it when I was a kid and listened to it on tape while walking around town — don’t you judge me):

“But he was your second husband. Your first husband also disappeared under, shall we say, ‘mysterious’ circumstances.”

“That was his job. He was an illusionist.”

“But he never re-appeared.”

(Spreads her hands and smiles) “He wasn’t a very good illusionist.”


Favorite shot of the spread. Peter and Alice are such wonderful and fun photographers. Man, they’re cool.

I’ve always wondered why those lines about “disappearing, reappearing nuclear physicist husband” were kept in despite being inaccurate. I think Clue might’ve gone through some rewrites and shit got forgotten. Anyway.

Back to marvelous Ms. Jani and the case of her on-again, off-again beauty mark!


“I’m sorry, Sire. It’s just … your mole. Wasn’t it on the other side?”
“I have a mole?!”

(Robin Hood: Men In Tights.)

Full of movie references today, jes.


If being a brunette knockout wasn’t enough for her, every so often Jani would put on a blonde wig [above] and do photo shoots under the name “Joan Brennan.” She retired from modeling in the mid-1960’s in favor of a more domesticated existence.

(Java’s Bachelor Pad: Jean Jani. Swinging Bachelor Productions, 2008.)

Java’s also reports that Ms. Jani

was portrayed as a sexy stewardess for United Airlines in the pages of Playboy, but in actuality she was a reservations clerk. Regardless, her appearance in Playboy cost her her job.

(Ibid.)

After more photoshoots with the Gowlands and with Ron Vogel, whose name you may remember seeing in the credits for many of the playmates highlighted on this journal, Ms. Jani embarked on a successful full-time career as a pin-up model which spanned the decade of mid-50’s to 60’s.


Jani appeared in several issues of Adam and Modern Man as well as other titles in the late 50’s and early 60’s.


She was also responsible for the jaw-dropping cover of Adam Bedside Reader #2 where she is wearing nothing but a red ribbon. This was a gal who was not afraid to show off her assets.

(Ibid.)


According to The Playmate Book, Jani forgot about her Playboy experience until her grown daughter gave her a copy in recent years. She has since embraced her pin-up past and become involved in the convention circuit.

(Ibid.)

Once more, enormous, immeasurably phat big-ups to Java’s Bachelor Pad for the credited shots and info above and for the hot tip about Jeanohs’ wigohs — her blonde alter ego, Ms. Joan Brennan. Your site is awesomesauce! Muah. Thanks a mil. ♥

The Girls of Summer: Carrie Enwright, Miss July 1963

June 21, 2010


Photographed by Ron Vogel.

I’d like to juxtapose the original text that accompanied Ms. Enwright’s Playboy gatefold appearance with some excerpts from a review of The Playmate Book (Taschen, 2006) by Joan Acocella, a writer whose work I like and find thought-provoking.


Hugh Hefner, the founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy, always said that his ideal for the magazine’s famous Playmate of the Month, the woman in the centerfold photo, was “the girl next door with her clothes off.”

(Acocella, Joan. “The Girls Next Door: Life in the centerfold.” Review of Gretchen Edgren’s The Playmate Book. The New Yorker. March 20, 2006.)

Okay: agree.


In other words, he was trying to take his readers back to a time before their first sexual experience, a time when they still liked their stuffed bear and thought that a naked woman might be something like that.

(Ibid.)

Mm. Mainly disagree.

It’s my opinion that the prose and pictures, especially in the early years, treated the reader as a fellow experienced swinging single dude, talking man-to-man. We have talked before about how the pictures are composed to have an implicit male presence, like the reader is the model’s partner and has only just stepped out of frame, maybe to take the picture he’s looking at. Take the following as an example:


Picnic laid out with thermos and two cups. Hello.

Like the best of mid-July days, Carrie seems to be destined expressly for the informal, easygoing pleasures of life, and is, as a consequence, a refreshingly unaffected companion.

“I am,” says [Ms. Enwright] in thoughtful self-summation, “a very healthy, well-adjusted, fun-loving kind of girl.”

(“Summer Idyl.” Playboy, July 1963.)

A non-threatening introduction, yes, but pretty come-hither. Not exactly teddy bear fare — and neither is the pose particularly “cuddly.”


There is one basic model. On top is the face of Shirley Temple; below is the body of Jayne Mansfield.

(Acocella.)

Somewhat disagree. I believe there was slightly more variety in the Sixties and Seventies than Ms. Acocella sugests, but I admit I am omitting the portion where she talks about some of the noteworthy veers from the norm (Joni Mattis, yay!) and I don’t want you to think she didn’t acknowledge that in her review. Please be aware that she did. Don’t want to look all biased.


[Playboy draws] simultaneously, on two opposing trends that have … come to dominate American mass culture: on the one hand, our country’s idea of its Huck Finn innocence; on the other, the enthusiastic lewdness of our advertising and entertainment.

(Acocella.)

Agree. Yes. 100%. That is its appeal, that the magazine attracts that dichotomy in American consumerism and in our own idea of beauty, sex, and ourselves.


Hence the surprise and the popularity of Playboy. The magazine proposed that … sex for sex’s sake, was wholesome, good for you: a novel idea in the nineteen-fifties.

(Acocella.)

Agree. This also undermines the beginning sentence with its teddy-bear going-for-innocent-investigative-interest suggestion, but I’m okay with undoing that assertion because I disagreed with it.


“I don’t much care whether I eventually live in a mansion or in a tree house, so long as the man I’m married to is fun to be with.”

(“Summer Idyl.”)


[As the pin-ups progressed] We get the great outdoors: Playmates taking sunbaths, unpacking picnics, hoisting their innocent bottoms into hammocks. Above all, we get youth.

(Acocella.)


Most of them have chubby cheeks, and flash us sweet smiles. At the same time, many of these nice little girls are fantastically large-breasted. Strange to say, this top-loading often makes them appear more childlike. The breasts are smooth and round and pink; they look like balloons or beach balls. The girl seems delighted to have them, as if they had just been delivered by Santa Claus.

(Acocella.)

Ha! Somewhat agree. That Santa. He always knows. But this shoot and Cheryl Kubert are both good examples, just as recent citation on this journal, of gatefolds that featured a model mainly not smiling. Ms. Enwright even keeps her mouth closed.


What is so bewildering about [modern vs. old-school] Playboy centerfolds is their [the modern ones’] utter texturelessness: their lack of any question, any traction, any grain of sand from which the sexual imagination could make a pearl.

(Acocella)

Very Strongly AGREE.


[Hef’s] father was an accountant, his mother a Methodist disciplinarian. He has said that there was never any show of affection in his house. One suspects that there was likewise little evidence of jazz or hors d’oeuvres -— pleasure for its own sake. This is what he set out to sell: an upscale hedonism, promoted by the magazine’s articles and ads as well as by its nudes.

(Acocella.)

Agree, but not sure that it matters.

“For a while I was cashier at the Hollywood Paramount, which was my closest fling with the movie business. Then I worked as a salesgirl in a candy store. Trouble was, I have this terrible sweet tooth and pretty soon I was eating more candy than I sold.”

(“Summer Idyl.”)


“Right now I’m living with my mother and studying like mad to take my state boards in cosmetology. My most active hobby involves artwork, from making seed mosaics of Siamese cats to painting wild, wild oils. I get excited over my finished products — but then, I’m not critically minded.”

(Ibid.)


“I’m crazy about progressive jazz, lasagna, and playing practical jokes on people I like.”

Hell, yeah, lasagna and jazz! This girl is all kinds of easygoing and wonderful. Practical jokes, eh? such as what?


“I have been known to secretly put in cold mashed potatoes as the bottom scoop of someone’s root-beer float, which is a terrible thing to do, but fun!”

(Ibid.)

I have never done that nor even thought of it. Holy god, I can’t wait to do this. She is a comic genius and I am trying this, stickety-stat!


Bookworms are hottttt … even when they are only pretending for a photoshoot.

“I am not the type who always has a book going. I rarely read novels, but occasionally I get on a self-improvement kick, the most recent of which was plowing through Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action.”

(Ibid.)

I don’t know why, but I feel like the editors forced her to say she read it all when maybe the truth was that she only started it. Just a feeling. I’m about to talk about why they might’ve done that in a second.


“I love Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra … — oh, so many more. I’m very congenial toward most performers, and I enjoy nearly all.”

(Ibid.)

Again — wonderful taste. You find that so often in the Sixties write-ups, though, that the girls are prompted to talk about foodie foolery, jazz, politics, photography, and art. I’m not sure when that fizzled out, but it has. And I can totally admit that probably 30% of it was bullshit and only 7 out of 10 of these girls knew what they were talking about (if they even said it to begin with) or collected Bird and bebop on vinyl and the like, but I still feel good about the fact that it was important to the editorial staff for their vision of the ideal Playmate that these intriguing, intelligent statements seem true. Ms. Acocella addresses this:


That, in the end, is the most striking thing about Playboy’s centerfolds: how old-fashioned they seem. This whole “bachelor” world, with the brandy snifters and the attractive guest arriving for the night: did it ever exist? Yes, as a fantasy. Now, however, it is the property of homosexuals.

Today, if you try to present yourself as a suave middle-aged bachelor, people will assume you’re gay.

(Acocella.)

Ha! and again, I have to say agree, not in that groovy archaic pursuits are strictly the male provenance of neato gay guys (I like any man that goes for records and cares about dorky esoterica) but, yeah, society-wide, that would be the humorous judgment in the sense of stereotyping.

You know. Like when Bart and Millhouse tried to be Playdudes. That was hilarious. All pimped out in smoking jackets up in the treehouse.


“Too much of the time I use my heart and not my head. I’m really a very gullible girl. I wish on first stars and believe in miracles.”

(“Summer Idyl.”)

That is very sweet and touching. It is not full of trying-to-be-sexy artifice, nor is it overly cloying or disingenuous.

“Of course it’s a trite observation, but what I want most in life is happiness. What else is there?”

(Ibid.)

And who can improve on that desire? Well-wished, Ms. Enwright, and I hope she found her happiness. That’s not trite: it’s natural.

What Ms. Acocella observes in the unnaturally smooth, airbrushed featurelessness of the current crop of sexless-and-vaginally-shaved-for-maximum-Barbie-resemblance centerfolds mostly found on the newsstands today is resonantly true.

I guess what I’m saying is this: Yeah, there may have never really been a sophisticated scotch-sampling bachelor like the ones to whom Hef designed the magazine to appeal, and there may never have really been a girl next door with her clothes off that just happened to discourse freely on jazz LP’s and modern art while whipping up beef bourguignon in her skivvies, but isn’t the fantasy of that time period, quaint as it may seem now, so much more touching and oddly innocent than the weird highly-structured and false fantasy being sold today?

It is to me.

The Girls of Summer: China Lee, Miss August 1964

June 17, 2010

Dazzle your friends with correct pronunciation! Say “China” so it rhymes with “Tina,” not the clinical term for bajango.


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

During Spring Fever!, in the post on Gwen Wong, I mentioned Ms. Lee and promised to give her a post all her own in the future. Happy to say that the future is now.

Ms. Lee is a real trailblazer and true intellect. She was the first Asian-American Playmate of the Month. Not lovely Gwen Wong, and not PR (name removed at model’s request).

Extremely athletic, bright, witty, and outspoken, China (née Margaret) was totally busting up stereotypes well before it was chic to do so. Get it, girl!

Like past-spotlighted comic genius Laura Misch Owens, China Lee began as a Bunny in New Orleans before winding up at the original Chicago Playboy Club. Due to her winning combination of unique looks, well-above-average intelligence, and friendly, talkative nature, she quickly worked her way up to Training Bunny.


As the Playboy empire expanded and Hef opened Clubs in other cities across America, China got to travel and show new Bunnies — and club managers — the ropes all around the country.

Her teaching duties take her to a different location with every new Playboy Club opening — a job which suits her peripatetic nature to a T.

“If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be ‘active,'” China says. “I love to roam, and I love to keep busy!”

(“China Doll.” Payboy, August 1964.)


“Despite the fact that I’m always on the go, success has come to me without my seeking it. I didn’t even apply for my Bunny job — I was discovered in a New Orleans hairdresser’s shop.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Lee was quite the jock at this time, enthusiastically describing the various sports she participated in:

High on her sports agenda is softball: Last season she pitched and won 12 games (“My windmill pitch is unhittable”), leading the New York Bunny softball team to the Broadway Show League championship.

(Ibid.)

Screeeee. What?! The NYC Club Bunnies had a softball team in a league?! And they were champions? Anyone with more info and especially pictures needs to be my hero and send it along, stat! That sounds wonderful and fun beyond anything the imagination can conjure.

Like icy-eyed Finnish novelist Kata Kärkkäinen, Miss December 1988, China Lee cheerfully reported in her interview that she traversed traditional gender/sports lines not only with that killer windmill pitch but also by handily mopping the floor with the competition at bowling.

“Miss August is also a pin-toppling bowler (she ran up a 217 at the age of 13), prize-winning equestrienne and jumper, expert swimmer and ping-pong player, as well as champion twister of all Bunnydom.

(Ibid.)

Twister like the party game or twister like “Shake it up, baby, now, etc,” with lots of cheerful shimmying around a dance floor? I’m guessing the latter. Seems more her speed!

Very little is made in the “China Doll” article of the fact that Ms. Lee was not exactly your garden variety gatefold WASP model. There is no deliberate, faux-innocent oversight of her heritage in some effort to prove super-open-mindedness, either, which I also consider a point in the magazine’s favor. A good balance is struck.


A native of New Orleans and the only member of her family of 11 not now in the Oriental restaurant line, China says: “Though I was born in America, my folks still follow Oriental ways: They speak the old language, read the old books, and follow the old customs. In this sort of environment, the men dominate and females are forced into the background. I rebelled, and I’m glad I did.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Lee does not denigrate “Oriental”* tradition, merely comments on the aspect of that traditional environment that displeased her and from which she walked away. It’s done in a respectful and confident way. Very cool.

*When people use this word now it kind of makes my eyes itch for a second. I feel like it’s so high-handed and colonial. It’s like when people say “colored.” The original word meant no offense and is way better than a racial epithet, but we have even better ways of expressing that now, you know? It is a long-running joke with me, Paolo, and Miss D because we all lived in the Bay Area in the ’80’s when “Oriental” and “Hispanic” were leaving the vogue vocab in favor of more specific, group-elected terms. So when we see “Oriental” restaurant or “Hispanic” lawyer on a sign, we all eagerly point it out to each other the way hillbillies’ kids laugh at their grandparents for saying “Worsh.” (I can say that because I am one.)

After her Playboy appearance, Ms. Lee kept her ebullience and poise and continued to make friends and influence people. She is the dancer in the credits of Woody Allen’s first film, What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, a part which she supposedly lobbied very hard for with Allen, who was a friend of hers. The film itself is a farcical redubbing of the Japanese movie International Secret Police: Key of Keys; in Allen’s version, the intrigue surrounds the case of an egg salad recipe. China performs a striptease at the end credits for Allen, who plays himself, several dubbed voices, and the projectioner screening the film.

Here is a link to the clip of her dance on the youtube.

Ms. Lee also appeared on television series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and alongside Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate in 1967’s beach movie Don’t Make Waves. The publicity campaign for Don’t Make Waves was of unprecedented size and ubiquity — though the film failed to live up to MGM’s box office expectations, the cultural impact was still very lasting.

As an example, the character Malibu, played by sunny and curvy Ms. Tate, is generally cited as the inspiration for Mattel’s world-famous “Malibu” Barbie, and several Coppertone tie-in ads for the film are still reproduced in text books for marketing classes. I will go deeper in to Don’t Make Waves in August, during Sharon Tate’s ACTUAL LIFE Awareness Month.

Ms. Lee dated Robert Plant for a while, but ultimately she settled with political comedian, activist, occasional Kennedy joke-penner, and all around cramazing dude, one of the Comedy Greats, Mort Sahl.

Sahl’s influence on aspects of comedy from modern stand-up to The Daily Show is basically immeasurable. You have probably seen Fred Armisen on SNL perform a political comedian character he created named Nicholas Fehn who is not a send-up of Sahl, himself, but rather a send-up of Sahl’s admirers who can never quite touch the master. It’s the guy with the pullover sweater and Armisen’s own glasses, an army surplus coat and a light brown longish wig, who shows up on the Weekend Update with a newspaper in his hand and tries to make jokes of the headlines but can never quite finish his sentences: this using the newspaper as a jumping-off point for humorous discourse was a trademark move of Sahl’s.

China and Mort Sahl married in 1967 and remained together until their divorce in 1991. They had a son, Mort Sahl, Jr., who passed away in 1996. R.I.P. to him and condolences to both of them. I’m glad I got to share about some really cool, interesting people in this post. I’m feeling more upbeat than I was. Thanks for coming along!

I suspect that cover is another Beth Hyatt/Pompeo Posar pairing. Note how the pose and her dress make the trademark, cocked-ear bunny silhouette, mirrored by the small logo sketched in the sand by her right hand. It’s similar, though not as racily sexy, to the rear shot one they did where her dress was open at the back and the straps snaking around her shoulders formed the ears. This time it’s her legs and kicked-off shoes. See it?

The Girls of Summer: Cathy Larmouth, Miss June 1981

June 14, 2010

This post took forever to put together because there are so many pictures and Cathy Larmouth is so funny and genuine in the interview. Hope you find her as absorbing as I did.


Photographed by Ken Marcus.

The lovely and talented Cathy Larmouth was Playboy’s Miss June, 1981. She is a really fun-loving gal, and she is unbelievably quick-witted, as I hope you’ll see.

I mainly would like her hilarious write-up (the hilarity comes from her quotes and jokes) to do the majority of the talking in this post.

Even if you normally skip the text, give some of what Ms. Larmouth has to say a whirl, because she is a hoot and a holler, a self-deprecating and talented young genius with a sweet heart and a good head on her shoulders.


“I don’t want to be famous, don’t particularly want to be an actress or a model. I just want a good man and a family. I hardly think showin’ your bazongas to 6,000,000 people qualifies anybody as a celebrity. On the other hand, it’s a great way to meet people!”

(“Lady of the Lake.” Playboy, June 1981.)


Cathy’s heritage is English, French and Mohawk Indian. She was the youngest of four children (she has three older brothers), and admits that she was spoiled, especially by her father, who died when she was 22.

(Ibid.)


“I loved my father more than anyone,” she says, “and maybe I still do. He was a warm, funny, very smart man. I always carry a poem I wrote to him after he died, so in case I ever get hit by a truck or something, whoever finds my identification will know that I was a person who had a heart.”

(Ibid.)

Oh, lord, all that dust again.


My favorite shot. This should have been the centerfold.

Cathy admits she’s a hopeless romantic, who “should have been born 40 or 50 years ago. … My favorite songs are from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties; my favorite bands are Glenn Miller’s and Nat ‘King’ Cole’s and my all-time favorite piece is Clair de Lune, by Debussy.”

(Ibid.)


Without too much persuasion, Cathy can be induced to sing one of her favorite oldies, such as “Cry Me a River” or “More Than You Know”. She has a good voice and loves to imitate various female pop stars, ranging from Dolly Parton to Helen Reddy.
“I’ve never done this stuff on a stage,” she says, “and I probably never will.”

(Ibid.)

Hooray for Dolly Parton! And if you are having trouble placing Helen Reddy, she was Nora in the Disney flick Pete’s Dragon (Don Chaffey, 1977). You know Lampie — played by Mickey Rooney — the lighthouse-keeper’s adult daughter who was waiting for her long-thought-dead fiance Paul to sail back to Passimoquoddy? — “I’ll be your candle on the water/my love for you will always burn…” Don’t front like you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about.


(… cont’d) “It’s mostly for the shower.”

Still, it’s a better-than-average voice. Why not try for a singing career?

“I hate to say this,” she answers, “but the truth is, I’m not motivated. I’m basically lazy! I’d like to write a great satirical novel, for instance, but I’d never get around to it.”

(Ibid.)

Get ready for the most hilarious part, where she spontaneously makes up a shitty poem on purpose:

“I write poetry that isn’t half bad, and I realize that all girls write poetry, but I think mine’s a cut above that awful stuff you see in the women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan, stuff like —

(Ibid.)


‘I looked out the window at where your Rolls once sat
The sight of your tooth marks on the Gouda cheese
Nostalgia and pain
I dropped two ‘Ludes
and turned on the dishwasher.’

— You know? that kind of stuff.”

(Ibid.)


We suggest that maybe Cathy has a future as a poetic humorist. She demurs. “Oh, come on. That’s the hang-up most everybody in Los Angeles has. Everybody thinks she can sing, write and act, and that she’s beautiful.”

(Ibid.)


“The fact is that very few people get to be really good at any one of those things. And only a few people are really all that attractive, and they tend to float through life without ever developing themselves.”

(Ibid.)

Truth bombs comin’at’cha live. Adulthood blows, but please remember that no matter how downtrodden you feel you are still NOT YOUR JOB! Quit and go on tour.


I’m sure I would have developed my potential a lot more if I looked more like, say, Lily Tomlin than Little Annie Fanny. Unfortunately, until I was about 20, that’s what I looked like: a comic character.”

(Ibid.)


“I was 5’8″ when I was 15 and I weighed about 96 pounds, at least ten of which were breasts. I had a low-cut dress with a push-up bra that I wore to school sometimes. Once, in my math class (which I wasn’t doing so well at), my teacher, who was a man, stopped beside my desk and whispered, ‘If you wear that dress to my class twice a week, I’ll give you an A.'”

(Ibid.)


“Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I did and he did! Isn’t that awful?” She giggles mischievously.

(Ibid.)

Someday we’ll find it, a Muppet connection …

Cathy wants to give special thanks to [photographer Ken] Marcus. “He is one of the smartest, nicest, funniest men I have ever met. When he found out that I have a pretty big appetite, he nicknamed me Miss Piggy!”

(Ibid.)


“Soon, everyone at Playboy Studio West was calling me Miss Piggy. Ken and the other Playboy staffers helped me live up to my nickname by taking me to all my favorite restaurants and letting me eat all I could. I once ate an $80 lunch! You might say I can put it away!”

(Ibid.)


“So, after the shooting, they had a party for me at Studio West, and someone had a cake made with a picture of Miss Piggy on it. Ken shoved my face into the cake! I didn’t mind — I love slapstick.”

(Ibid.)

What a great and good-natured woman, am I right?


“I’m not against E.R.A., but the fact is that men are very different from women. For instance, a lot of women may hate my guts for saying this, but I think women are more emotional than men. I don’t think blurring the sex roles makes any sense. Pretty soon, you’ll be calling your grandmother your grandperson. That’s not my style.”

(Ibid.)


“One can’t just go through life being led by one’s chest! At the end of my life, I’d much rather look back and see that I’d been a good wife and a good mother than that I’d been a model.”

(Ibid.)

A very beautiful personal epitaph.

Cover model is the Playmate of the Year, photographed by Phillip Dixon. In 1981, the PMOY, the lovely and talented Terri Welles (Miss May 1980), was given a cash prize and a brand-spank-banking new Porsche 924 Turbo. I said goddamn. Eventually, Playboy Enterprises sued her, like in 1996 or 1998. Look it up. Interesting shit.

What’s really freaky for me is that while sussing out what was what in Ms. Larmouth’s Playboy issue, I stumbled over the May issue of this same year and it has a featured interview with philosopher and psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, which I’d mentioned in the bookworm post I had promised my dear aunt I’d start boning up on her death and grief writings. Wild coincidence, but a great jumping-off point for something on which I’ve been dragging my feet for nearly a decade. So I’m’a hit that now after I post up a Daily Batman and plan to be outie for the night. Feels like fate. Mysterious ways, am I right??

Cathy’s daughter Hayley confirms that Ms. Larmouth passed away in Utah following a heart attack January 4, 2007, at the age of 53. Ms. Larmouth had numerous complications in her declining health, including a hole in her heart. I hope that because her health problems were an early warning, she was able to at least partially prepare herself and her family for the loss. R.I.P. to a very special gal.

The Girls of Summer: Gale Olson, Miss August 1968

June 13, 2010


Adorable cuteness photographed by Ron Vogel. Brain-asplosions. See what I mean about the ’60’s being the Heyday?

Your Miss August 1968 was the lovely and talented Gale Olson, who as you can see didn’t need cheesecake poses and a strained, pageanty smile to turn in an adorable and upbeat photoshoot for this issue of Playboy.

It’s really interesting how some of the playmates are capable of keeping the material erotic instead of porny. I don’t know that I can pinpoint the exact difference … but I look at this shoot, and I look at something like the gatefold of Miss November 1995, Holly Witt, and I feel like Edwin Meese quoting Justice Potter Stewart about classing porn: I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.

Kind of funny since he was describing the opposite; Meese made his referential remark in regard to the history in America of attempts at distinguishing sexually themed content from straight-up obscenity. I’m kind of talking about the reverse. Either way, it’s a dicey issue. Reagan appointed Meese in 1985 to head the Meese Commission, also called the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography, who published their report in 1986 to lip-smackingly salacious public interest. Everyone loves a good witch hunt, am I right?

I mentioned all these shenanigans once back in November when we talked about the experiences of Miss November 1986, Donna Edmondson, the Virgin Playmate who got hit with a steamy little shitstorm of media criticism. As though it were her fault. The Meese Commission’s report on pornography had the moral majority howling for naked people’s blood and she got caught in the middle. And don’t get me started on what happened fifteen years later — as we still live in a nation of, if not puritans, then at least sweaty hypocrites — to sweet Lindsey Vuolo, Miss November 2001, with that publicity-seeking, accusatory, diminishing misogynist Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Ugh.

I almost didn’t include this shot because it wasn’t very sharp or high-quality, but then as I contemplated it, I decided I actually liked the hazy quality, and the visible wrinkles in the image became dear and touching to me. There is something incredibly personal and human about the almost sad little private story one must conclude has lead to its well-worn threadbareness. Someone scanned this one with love, having either held on to it themselves, or acquired it from someone who had, for a long time. That idea is interesting as hell to me. What would someone make of the objects — letters, pictures, cards, old shirts — that you have secretly packed along with you to every new home in which you live, all these years, because of an emotional value, an identity-establishing familiarity, that far exceeds those objects’ original costs?


Pyjama Jam!

I do not want to use the word sentimental, per se, because these can be things that you keep for the gut, visceral reaction they can still incite. These are things that are part of the rhythms of your mind and body that I’m talking about, things worth holding on to because they are become part of how you operate. A roadmap to the art of you being “You” is this small collection of things so beloved that calling them cherished diminishes their import. These objects which represent long-passed moments or ways of feeling are part and parcel of the entirety of your experiences, your past, your emotions and stomach acid and sweat.

Things that have lasted longer than the relationships from which they came or phases in your mode of dress and hairstyle. To everyone else, because these objects are mixed in with other items, there is no shine or particularity about them. Only you know.

It is so incredibly personal and private, but the plain fact is that it will be gone through and picked over, someday, that collection of your private, true “belongings.” Because you’ll be dead, and those things that mean so much to you, those talismans of purpose and associative emotional properties won’t mean anything to anyone anymore.

I apologize. That was really downbeat. I’m getting close to a hard-hitting deathiversary (if you will) and I get all fucked up over it. Still. No need to drag anyone along.

Whew! Hot cross buns, enough with the self-audit, and enough with the needless sex-in-America history lessons as I retread ground I have already indignantly covered. Sorry — let’s get on with Ms. Olson!


The Olsons, who now live in Costa Mesa, are a large, closely knit family. “Having six brothers and three sisters really teaches you a lot about sharing things, materially and emotionally,” Gale says. Our August Playmate hopes one day to raise a family almost as large, but that won’t come about until she first fully satisfies her penchant for adventure.

(“Star-Spangled and Starry-Eyed.” Playboy, August 1968.)


“Last year I decided to become an astronaut, so I called the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Houston to find out qualification requirements.” Gale spent enough time being briefed on the phone by NASA officials to acquire four pages of notes. “So far, things are turning out fine for me,” she reports.

(Ibid.)


A model (36-22-35) of American femininity, Gale (who delivered talks on girl scouting over German television) stays in shape by practicing ballet and exercising, and plans to study Tahitian dancing next year.

(Ibid.)

I have said before that we superfly Girl Scouts are a bombass bunch. Take it to the bank.


“I think every girl who has the figure for it wishes she could be a Playmate, and I’m no exception,” [Gale] observes. “All I can say is that I was lucky!”

Lucky Gale, lucky readers.

(Ibid.)


Photographed by by Stephen Wayda and Barry Fontenot. Very close to the same pose!
And thirty-one years later, the readers were lucky again when Ms. Olson’s daughter, the lovely and talented Crystal McCahill, above, was Playmate of the Month for Playboy’s May 2009 issue.


It’s a different kind of Darwin Award: the Playmate gene, passed from mother to daughter, ensuring survival of the fittest and constant attention from males of the species. Examine the evidence before you in the curvy form of Crystal McCahill, the 25-year-old daughter of Miss August 1968 Gale Olson.

(“It’s Crystal Clear.” Playboy, May 2009.)

\

“I think every girl who has the figure for it wishes she could be a Playmate, and I’m no exception,” said Gale in her Playmate interview. “All I can say is, I am lucky!” Yet when luck strikes twice, it seems less like luck than destiny. It has happened just once before, when Miss December 1960 Carol Eden saw her daughter Simone grace the Centerfold in February 1989.

Says the Illinois-born Crystal, “I remember telling my brothers and sisters, ‘I’m going to do that one day. I’m going to do the exact same pose.'”

(Ibid.)

A fun-loving, positive, and thoroughly modern gal, you may follow Ms. Olson’s present doings on the twitter.

This picture is one of my favorites from the shoot. From a strictly aesthetic point of view it may possibly eclipse for me even the swan-butt ones. I love the movement and the colors in this composition. The impact of the yellow in all those little flowers around her is joyful and riotous, and her closed eyes imply a savoring of the moment. There is nothing forced or deliberate in this picture. It’s excellent.

The cover was photographed by Mario Casilli and Caroll Baker. The pose and styling of the model, Aino Korva — Miss Universe Denmark 1963, and first-runner-up in the 1963 Miss Universe pageant (in which Peter “Dr. Strangelove/The Pink Panther” Sellers was one of the judges!!), making her bid the closest a Dane has ever come to winning the title — are strikingly similar to the centerfold of Miss July 1967, Heather Ryan. I’m saving the lovely and talented Ms. Ryan for later this month. But you’ll see what I mean then.




As with the post on the lovely and talented Miss March 1967, Fran Gerard, I must throw up huge thanks to Fabrizio, an awesome and generous moderator over at the vintage erotica forums, which are free, well-moderated, full of fun, and they won’t give your computer any wack infections or the hantavirus. Grazie, bello♥!, and, to the rest of you, run — don’t walk — to the site. Enjoy!

The Girls of Summer: Elaine Morton, Miss June 1970

June 10, 2010

The lovely and talented Elaine Morton was Miss June 1970.


Photographed by William and Mel Figge. You have seen Bill’s billing on here before, but usually partnered with Ed DeLong. This time he worked with his wife, whose full name is Melba.

Ms. Morton got in a little late on the original Summer of Love action (barely missed it), but she was still feeling the reverbations of the first flower children and was all for being a free spirit.


People would profit from a bit more “live-and-let-live” logic, says blonde Elaine Morton, who wishes that “everybody would just butt out of everybody else’s business — as long as that business isn’t harming anyone.” Following her own recommendation, our June Playmate recently abandoned the comfortable confines of the family home in Burbank, California, and moved into her own bachelorette apartment across town.

(“Tuned-in Dropout.” Playboy, June 1970.)


Just a year ago, she was working part time as a salesgirl in a Glendale flower shop and full time as a home-economics major at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. “I was all hung up in establishment modes of living,” she says. “Then I decided to stop striving for those goals and find my own.”

(Ibid.)


Totally the best shot. Holy geez, what brain-asplodin’ cuteness.

Since that decision, Miss June has dropped out of Southern California’s “straight” life and, with her boyfriend’s help, converted a milk truck into a mobile pad and made the west coast of Baja California her home away from home. Traveling on her savings, she simply drives onto any unoccupied stretch of Baja beach facing the Pacific Ocean and camps there until the scenery gets “predictable,” then drives on to a new location.

(Ibid.)

That sounds pretty all right to me. I was just telling the infinitely great Mr. Salisbury last week in the comments that I would quit the rat race but they don’t let you camp on the beach anymore. I also love the idea that she was in a converted milk truck. It’s cool because by the 70’s milk delivery was archaic in the wake of supermarkets, so it was kind of a renaissance for the vehicle itself. I like the idea of a thing outliving one sort of usefulness and being repurposed in a fun way.


TURN-ONS: Crazy-looking clothes, things that are different.
IN MY SPARE TIME: I study, shop, swim — anything at all but be bored.
AMBITIONS: To work as an airline stewardess, and have a happy and interesting life.

(Official Playmate data sheet.)

According to Marxz on the vintage erotica forums, who I consider an infallible authority on Playmates past, Ms. Morton did not become an air hostess but rather returned to college and pursued a baccalaureate, followed by a teaching credential. She became an educator right here in California, which we all know is the noblest, sexiest, most thoughtful career anyone can ever take up, and that only the most very attractive and magnetic people choose this great state for it. Well done, Ms. M! Such a head on this one’s sweet shoulders!

Dig that grooving cover. Such great hip art, all slick with a smoky black backdrop and purple neon, etc, yes? Love it. The PMOY for 1970 was my beloved, super-duper-darlingest-dearest-departed Claudia Jennings, so now I’m bummed just thinking about her and all that.

Final much more upbeat note. Elaine’s cousin Karen Elaine Morton (not pictured above, that is still Elaine herself) was Miss July 1978, and, like the lovely and talented baseball wife and present-day reality star Jeana Tomasino Keough (Miss November 1980), Karen played a Vestal Virgin in Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I. Pretty cool, yes?

The Girls of Summer: Colleen Marie, Miss August 2003

June 9, 2010

Playboy’s Miss August 2003 was the lovely and very talented Colleen Marie, a model, exotic animal vet, and all-around fun and straight shootin’ gal.


Photographed by Arny Freytag.

The centerfold is mainly godawful except for that sweet white denim corset — truly giving wonderful Jennifer Miriam’s similar 90’s gatefold a run for its fashions-of-the-era money — but the rest of the shots I’m sharing are good, I promise. This photoshoot is kind of hit and miss for me. The good stuff is great but the bad stuff is really bad. I noticed when I was done with it that there were literally no horizontal compositions that I thought were good enough to post up: all the pictures I’ve shared ended up being vertical exterior shots.

I feel that it was just a rocky spread. The outdoor part, exterior shots around a luncheonette, which you are now going to see through the rest of this post, is thematically unified, and wonderful and sweet and fun. The interior in some kind of hotel room is sloppy garbage. Not Ms. Marie’s fault at all.


Coffee, tea, or … ?

“I’m not a Southern belle who’s like, ‘Could you fetch me my coat?’ though I do prefer my tea with ice in it,” she says. “I have one older sister and our dad raised us like sons, so we did all the outdoor chores and went fishing with him.” In fact, Colleen’s tomboy ways persisted even after she blossomed. “I blended into the walls and got teased a lot at school, which made me realize in the eighth grade that I had to start brushing my hair. I never felt pretty until people told me.”

(“Road Trip.” Playboy, August 2003.)


“I work for one of the better-known exotic vets in [Las Vegas]. We see rats, snakes, ferrets, lizards — anything and everything. There was a traveling freak show that had an act featuring a tarantula, and it ripped off one of its legs. I handed it to my boss and said, ‘It’s all up to you. I don’t do spiders!’ We glued its wound shut and gave it an antibiotic injection. Then we were invited to watch it perform.”

(Ibid.)

For my money, this is the number one shot with a bullet from this spread. Why this is not the centerfold, I will never understand.

She waas a daaaaay tripper. Sunday driver, yeah… Driving is a turn-on. What can you do? Adventure and the open road are always going to get the blood moving.


“Don’t stand behind me and scope me out for 10 minutes, because I’ll see you doing it and it’ll make you look like a dumbass,” she says.

(Ibid.)

I mention this because of “dat ass.” Funny juxtaposition, yes? I am funny. I’m a funny girl.

You can hit Ms. Marie up on the myspace any ol’ time (current mood: determined ), or visit her very nice official site to keep up with her present doings.

I am new to this whole myspace shananigans so I may seem computer illiterate at times.

Yeah, she said “shenanigans?” so I’m pretty much sold, and will tumble you for her. Anyway, this concludes today’s Girl of Summer — a great, upbeat gal and some adorable shots to brighten your hump day!

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!