Posts Tagged ‘playmate of the month’

Flashback Friday — Valentine Vixen: Cheryl Kubert, Miss February 1958

November 2, 2012

The bulk of this post originally appeared on February 5, 2010 at 9:04 am.


Photographed by Mario Casilli.

First up is the lovely and talented Cheryl Kubert. In going through my files to prep this entry, I realized I’d already saved several pictures from this shoot here and there for the last year, so I’m pretty pumped to share.

It’s not a cute or even particularly “themed” shoot at all, but Ms. Kubert has an almost accusing serenity that makes what would be standard shots if it were any other model seem more arresting and beyond ordinary than their composition would dictate.

It’s the eye contact, I reckon. She has deep eyes. The downward cast of her chin, the unparted lip, the steady gaze; she seems so solemn. It makes the shoot feel heavy, but in a beautiful, ruminating, kind of sad way. She has this kind of practical but somewhat unhappy sincerity to her expression and posture, an unvarnished and troubled vulnerability. It’s moody.

The written copy that accompanied this pictorial is absolute drivel. I mean, just pure shit. Its more pun-ridden and meaningless even than the b.s. that they printed up for Marlene Callahan, and that is saying something, believe me.

The strangest part about the article is that, besides being empty apple fritters and pretty nonsense, the endless stream of non sequitirs about Scandinavian idioms seemingly have almost nothing to do with the pictures.

The write-up, titled “Playmate on Skis,” describes skiing in great detail and alludes to its history in Scandinavia, which is well and good, but in the pictures Ms. Kubert is mainly not around snow whatsoever; furthermore, the article lays no claim to her being of Scandinavian descent. Just a poor job all around. Banana boats and baloney sauce, Playboy, I’m sorry. Thankfully the pictures are unique, sensitive, and artistic.

Okay, I just spent fifteen minutes hard-searching and I found the above missing link. ONE SHOT of her with skis in addition to the centerfold (which is generally shot separate from the rest of the pictorial spread). Pfft. And if that is not a fake scene outside the window, I’ll eat my hat. Total cheezits (I’m trying to swear less this year and I’ve found that food items make handy and amusing euphemisms).


(The nude Jayne Mansfield spread will come up again in several days, actually. Really interesting story, but we’re focused on Ms. Kubert right now. Keep your shirt on.)

I can only conjecture that Cheryl Kubert was a stage name, because there is pretty much nothing known about her prior to her centerfold appearance or what she did following, other than that she had appeared in a bit part in the film Pal Joey in 1957.

According to the Playmate Book, Ms. Kubert died April 25, 1989 of apparent suicide. Because Playboy did not keep data sheets prior to September of 1959, it is not known how old she was at the time of her appearance in the magazine or her death. It makes those deep eyes seem much sadder to know that. R.I.P.





edit: I was sitting here trying to think where I had just seen the name “Kubert” recently, and finally remembered that yesterday’s Daily Batman of Catwoman and Batman throwing plates at each other in the Super Dictionary (Warner, 1978) featured art work by the cartoonist Joe Kubert. Found his official website and have fired off a quick email using his “contact” form, inquiring if he is related to Cheryl Kubert or has heard anything about her before. It’s a longshot, but I’ll let you know what comes of it.

edit 11/2/12: In the original post, the following comment was left

John Hawksley Says:

Hello, I was Cheryl’s husband and we were married at the time of her death(may 28,1988) Cheryl Kubert was her real name. Born in Los Angeles, went to Fairfax High School. We had one child(Rachel). She was 50 at time of her death. She was a glamour lovlie in Ken Murry’s Blackouts and she did extensive modeling, traveled with U. S. O troupe and was a member of SAG and SEG. She had the heart and the looks of an angel. She could sing, play the piano and dance. If you need anymore information you can text me. John

Thank you for the further info, Mr. Hawksley.

edit 11/2/12, 2.0: The late Joe Kubert, comic legend, also corresponded with me briefly in regard to this post. He passed on in August, and I am not sharing because I believe death negates privacy, but merely because I never shared originally. As with Mr. Hawksley’s comment, I meant to go back and edit again, but the time gets away from you.

Dear E,

Thank you for your email and your interest. To my knowledge I am not related to a Cheri [sic] Kubert. She looks like someone I would not have minded knowing! Please continue to read, write, and care about comics. You may also share a link with your readers to The Kubert School.

Regards,
Joe

The Kubert School, based in Dover, NJ offers students a high quality and challenging education in Cartooning and Graphic Art.” They also have correspondence courses.

This has been your Flashback Friday.

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!

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?

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. ♥

Girls of Summer: Teddi Smith, Miss July 1960

June 30, 2010


Photographed by William Graham and Edmond Leja.

Bill Graham and Ed Leja do an absolutely beautiful job with this spread. Check out especially the use of color and warm, ambient light in the exterior shots — just gorgeous and really striking. I wish the same could be said for the write-up, because Ms. Smith (not her real name but I will refer to her by it) is a fascinating, ambitious, creative and exciting woman, but it is not at all reflected in the text that accompanied her gatefold. It is one of those write-ups. The ones that make me resort to made-up epithets and food-item-substitutes for swearwords. Pop a dramamine and check it out:


I adore her expression in this picture. A lot of her shots from this spread feature an almost amused, frank and confident openness on her face. Almost catlike, almost equally curious about the lens as it is about her.

The delights of yachting are too well-known to require exhaustive comment here, but potential yachtsmen should be apprised that it’s possible to find a First Mate for a trim craft who is a trim craft herself.

(“Ship Shape.” Playboy, July 1960.)


Such a one is Miss July: Teddi Smith, a nubile native of Van Nuys, California. Weekdays she works as a receptionist, but every weekend, she undergoes a sea change and turns into the sweetest of sailors, manning a tiller with the best of them and showing the coast line’s shapeliest pair of sea legs in the process.

(Ibid.)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, what a pile of yam fries and appleslaw! Worse than usual, even — bleah. Can you believe that sassy molassy? It’s possible they did it because Ms. Smith’s birthdate was September of ’42 and, as this gatefold appeared in July of ’60, and experience tells us the spread was photographed well ahead of its publication and distribution, then, barring some fuzzy math, Ms. Smith was rather obviously at least six months under 18 at the time of this shoot.

If that makes you feel hinky, just scroll past this gal, but do remember that in plenty of states in the U.S.A. at that time, 17 (and, in some states, younger) was the age of consent, so call me old-fashioned or statutorily perverted but I’m kind of live-and-let-live ambivalent on this one.

I know, I know: the argument is, what I just said was wrong about justifying the pics via the ol’ “but that was legal consenting age back then” line because what if it was, I don’t know, horrific nudie pics from the 1800’s of a 12 year old Apache girl getting dp’d by evil cowboys or some shit, right? Sure, there was no consenting age then but holy jesus I would be as outraged as anyone to know of such a thing, absolutely. Dreadful, expository, predatory garbage like that, reflective of only darkness and pain and violent degradation, should of course not be disseminated no matter what. That would be awful, yes. Straight abhorrent child porn. I am not arguing that at all!

But I’d pray that those cases are hopefully rare (I couldn’t sleep if I thought they abounded, so please do not tell me if you know otherwise) and you do have to draw a line somewhere with pornography laws. Look at this spread: Miss July looks happy, openly participatory, and at her age was not exactly a novitiate to puberty.

I knew exactly what I was doing at 17, as I suspect most folks of either gender do now and always have at just that age. My feeling is this: 16 is pretty dang sketchy, headed proportionally toward screwed-up based on the further the wooer is from that age, 15 is sailing in to some deep “this is really wrong — you should seek help” waters and 14 and < is straight-up NOT COOL, go directly to jail and do not collect $200. But, really, 17-18? Meh.

Hot fricasse, am I going to get arrested for saying all that? This may get edited later when I got time to look up laws. Eek… So, back to Teddi Smith and this spread: what happened was two years earlier Hugh Hefner had landed in hella hot water for using an underage girl in the magazine, despite her mom’s permission — the mother ended up prosecuted, too, under contribution to minor delinquency laws.


Elizabeth [Ann Roberts]’s pictorial was a significant one in the history of Playboy because she was only 16 at the time her photos were taken. Her pictorial was titled “Schoolmate Playmate.”

She literally had a note from her mother giving her permission to pose, but both Hugh Hefner and Roberts’ mother were arrested and charged by Chicago authorities with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charges were eventually dropped on the grounds of lack of evidence that Hefner had known her true age.

(the wiki)

My conjecture is that following that debacle, the understandably gun-shy editorial staff may have figured it was best to roll with a meaningless “nothing to see here, folks” line of purple prose that had nothing to do with Teddi, so no one would be too curious about her when the gatefold went to print. I’ll assume that is why the write-up blows when she is so cool a chick who deserves such better explanation.

Anyway: I’m trying to be in a good mood about humanity and “Ms. Smith” went on to do lots of really cool and interesting stuff, so let’s focus on that (and the eye-popping colors captured by Leja and Graham in this pictorial) and never speak of that awful, awful write-up again.

After this shoot, Teddi Smith went on to work as a bunny at the original Chicago Playboy Club, like so many of the rad gals we’ve highlighted over the months, and also posed for a number of Playboy covers throughout the 1960’s. Click on any cover below to see it large. They are beautiful and frequently clever, good examples of cover work from the magazine’s heyday.

After winding down her long and successful modeling career in the late 1960’s, Ms. Smith concurrently received her education and embarked on extensive and fascinating travels, including spending some very special time in Tanzania.

Inspired by the crafts of the native Tanzanian women with whom she lived, Teddi Smith became interested in the integration of tribal weaving with modern textile and organic decorative arts. This was while she was working in a research camp with scientists who were following and studying the habits of elephants. Totally awesome — but get this.

She also made and kept a candelabra that she fashioned out of a lion skull. Um, who’s a BAMF? Teddi Smith is a BAMF! Crazy-rad!

I know, right? Totally eleventy gajillion miles away from the hot fudge pickles about yachting and secretarial work suggested in her fluffy write-up! Today, “Teddi” is in the creative decorative professional field and was formerly headquartered in New York City. It appears she is semi-retired now, I’m sure well-earned. A woman who can make a candelabra out of a lion’s skull in Tanzania can I’m sure make a silk purse of the slummiest sow’s ear in a loft in Hell’s Kitchen — I’m sorry, “Clinton.” (Gentrification makes me laugh with a mouth full of blood.)

She now maintains offices in Texas and San Miguel Allende, Mexico. Teddi is on the right in the above picture, getting friendly at a B&B with Tootsie the parrot, a kitten named Harle, and a lovely German shep called Chespita. You can see she has not lost her sense of adventure or her frank, direct gaze at the camera. To the left of Ms. Smith in that picture is a Topanga, CA-based woman who is also active in textiles and decorating.

Edit: Scratch that, reverse it. Teddi’s on the left (our left) and Miss Carpets is on the right (our right). I am an adult and freely admit I still do not know my left from my right. I mix them up all the time.

If you like, and have ginger ale handy in case your stomach gets rocky, you can click above and below to read the carrotsticks and shenanigans of Teddi Smith’s original gatefold. The b&w shots are very good and the writing I guess is not that bad. It’s not “redundant-clumsily-worded-psychosexual-teenage-fantasies-by-a-crazy-virgin-cat-lady-from Utah” bad (subtle vampires-suck dig — booyakasha), just not up to very high par. Enjoy!

The Girls of Summer: Kelly Burke, Miss July 1966

June 25, 2010


Photographed by William Figge.

Kelly prefers making most of her natatorial plunges in the neighbors’ back-yard pool. “Besides the pool, they own two darling dogs,” she explains. “One’s a $700 pedigreed toy poodle named Suzie; the other’s a mongrel puppy that they rescued from the local dog pound for only five dollars. He’s named Toy Tiger and, needless to say, I’m in love with the mutt.”

(“Freckle-Face.” Playboy, June 1966.)

Good choice!

I’m an across-the-board mutt guy from Way Back: dogs, cats — men. Actually, I think I’m genuinely allergic to so-called “well-bred” dudes without debt. I’ve tried to date them and their leather car coats and confident wine-awareness makes my skin crawl. On the other hand, if you got a busted grill and drive a ’92 Honda Prelude with one broken headlight that won’t raise, know the difference between a single- and a double-wide, and front a ZZ Top cover band? I’m all yours.

Actual example: my friend J-Mys once tried to set me up on a double date with her and her boyfriend and a mortgage broker Senor R knew from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Polly Wolly Doodle All Day. J-Mys and Senor R cut out early and I was stuck with the mortgage broker, who was clearly not in to me either but was still talking some kind of folklore about variable rates and baloney sauce that I was not at all listening to because I was watching Clue in my head due to my crushing boredom, when I got up to get another pint of beer.

At the bar, this guy in a very dated No Fear t-shirt and battered, unironic John Deere ballcap saw I had actual folding money and asked me for change for the jukebox. We picked out a couple songs — I believe we went with Tom Waits, the Beatles, and “Thriller,” for novelty shits and giggles — and I told the boring mortgage broker that I was planning on going to the bathroom and going home.

I insisted we split the bill because I felt a few compunctions of guilt for wasting the early part of his Friday evening, even if I had in no way lead him to think the night had any kind of sexytimes in its future. Then I made sure the broker actually left, slipped out of the bathroom, and bullshitted with the ballcap guy on the porch about Quantum Leap and camping ’til my beer was done. Went home much happier than I’d been an hour earlier. Sneaky I guess but so much better.

As for the rest of the purple prose in that excerpt, I got hung up on “natatorial.” Really? Natatorial? Come on. That is some rich fertilizer right there. Talk about a needless fifty dollar word.

natatorial: (adj.) of, characterized by, or adapted for swimming.

Aww. Seems that some low-paid Playboy scribbler had a crush on his thesaurus.

That shot is freaking awesome. Hats off to Mr. Figge. “Natatorial” photography at its best? The reflection, the symmetry, the attention to every tile of the composition (rule of thirds) having something interesting in it — awesome sauce. Bill Figge is the shit.


As a medical buyer for one of California’s largest pharmaceutical cooperatives, Miss June has spent the past three years helping to supervise the selection of drugs destined to become shelf stock in hospitals and pharmacies throughout the Greater Glendale area.

(Ibid.)


Another stunning composition. The light-play is brilliant.

“My job can be fairly cut and dried one minute,” says the 21-year-old brunette, “and then, in typical Ben Casey fashion, a nearby hospital phones in an emergency order and I’m suddenly off and running all over the place to find the required medicines.”

(Ibid.)

The Ben Casey to which Ms. Burke refers was a popular television series which ran from the early- to mid-1960’s. The Bing Crosby-produced medical drama was filmed at Desilu Studios and starred Vince Edwards (Space Raiders, Return to Horror High*) as the titular surgeon Dr. Benjamin Casey. The opening sequence is famous for its serious, ominous overtones: this deep voice says, “Man — woman — birth — death — infinity.” Heavy shit, right?

*Yes, I deliberately picked the cheesiest, schlockiest, campiest of Edwards’ many legitimate credits to use as his two paranthetical citations, like those obscure B flicks would somehow make you say, “Oh, him!” I wanted to be funny. Vince Edwards is actually a talented and well-recognized actor who was very popular in his time: I am just a goofy rake.


Kelly now sports her own 1965 Oldsmobile convertible, in which she commutes daily from her new bachelorette bungalow in suburban Sylmar.

(Ibid.)

Just five months after Ms. Burke’s gatefold appearance, the Loop Fire wiped out huge swaths of the boundary between her new hometown of Sylmar and the Angeles Forest. The fatally unpredictable Loop Fire is still covered in firefighting course textbooks today as an example of the necessity for developing strong communication strategy to contain a dry canyon fire affected by high winds.

The Loop Fire began on November 1, 1966, at 5:19 am, on the edge of the Angeles National Forest. The El Cariso Interregional Fire Crew, which consisted of city and county firefighters, along with the El Cariso “Hot Shots,” a USDA-Forest crew of firefighters, sprang in to action to contain the blaze.

Tragically, a flare-up jumped from the forest to a canyon at the outer edges of Sylmar and created a wall of flame around it. A group from the Hot Shots crew was trapped inside, cut off from the rest of the firemen in a narrow and dry canyon of steep rock walls which, despite having no natural accelerants to move the fire along, still increases the energy of the fire because it functions as a “natural chimney,” creating tremendous heat and pressure.

Ten firefighters burned to death on site within minutes, while twelve others were injured, one critically.

Helicopter Pilot Troy Cook began rescue operations within 10 minutes after the men were burned. The diamond shaped area was still surrounded by fire when Pilot Cook hovered and picked up the first survivor.

(THE LOOP FIRE DISASTER – ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST – CALIFORNIA REGION: “A BRIEF OF THE REPORT OF THE GROUP ASSIGNED TO ANALYZE THE LOOP FIRE ACCIDENT.” US. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1967: Washington, D.C.)


Pilot Roland Barton and his helicopter soon joined him and rescue operations continued with great courage and skill until all of the injured men were evacuated to the Los Angeles County Command Post on the Pacoima. From there the injured men were taken by auto to the hospital.

(Ibid.)

One of these injured men died at the LA County General Hospital November 6, but the rest survived thanks to the rescue efforts of the rest of the interregional team. A committee was formed by the Forest Service in conjunction with firefighting officials to use the tragic Loop Fire to improve fire prediction and containment methods, along with task force recommendations for the strengthening of safety and communication regulations.


The highly localized decisions and actions which resulted in the tragedy points to the need of:
  • (1) more specific direction on safe practices in similar topography; (2) specific control of helicopter attack; (3) scheduling of more complete inter- and intra-crew communication; and (4) adequate scouting to keep sector bosses currently informed when working in critical and possibly critical situations.

    (Ibid.)


  • [We need to] make crystal clear in firefighting training that a “chimney,” “narrow box canyon,” or similar topographic feature is a Hazard Area even if devoid of fuel.

    (Ibid.)

  • The El Cariso Regional Park on Hubbard in Sylmar is a memorial to the aforementioned El Cariso “Hot Shots,” the local United States Department of Agriculture – Forestry boys who were killed during their battle to keep the flames from entering the town.

    That was kind of bummer stuff, so sorry, but an interesting slice of history. Wildfires in California are far more devastating than the earthquakes with which the rest of the country generally associates the state, and as a result, fire science in California is often at the cutting edge of research and methods for saving lives in the future.

    But back to sunny Ms. Burke.


    “I’ve become a real flower bug,” she reports, “since Mom and Dad bought a retail nursery in Yucaipa last year. Each time I visit them, I load up the back seat of the Olds with so much greenery before heading home that it winds up looking just like some sort of window box on wheels.”

    (Ibid.)


    That’s cute.

    Weekends, June’s bantam (5′) beauty heads for the sun-drenched beaches of Santa Monica, equipped with an over-sized straw hat and nylon sailing parka. “My freckles still show no matter what I try!”

    a) Yay for little lookers! Rock on with your pocket rocket self.
    b) Why do freckled people always desire to hide them? Freckles are so unbelievably cute. I don’t get it.
    c) It looks like she is Thumbelina laying in an orange peel. What the what is that stuff?


    PEOPLE I ADMIRE: Albert Einstein, Dr. John Rock and Dr. Francis Kelsey, beause of their outstanding medical contributions.

    MY IDEAL EVENING: Have cocktails and dinner, take in a movie, and then have a pizza.

    (Playmate data sheet.)

    Right on to Einstein, pizza, mutts, and having a serious job while attending Cal Poly Pomona during her appearance as a Playmate. Ms. Burke is the exception and not the rule of pretentious brandy-snifter marlarkey we went over earlier this week. Fun final fact: her sister-in-law, Allison Parks, was the 1966 Playmate of the Year.

    Oh, and I guess a really fun final fact is that Ms. Burke was pregnant during this shoot. BOMBSHELL! Maybe that is why she is so adorably radiant. As you probably noticed, it’s another Cowboy Kate-influenced cover, I assume to reflect the “Girls of Texas” story. R.I.P., Sam Haskins.

    The Girls of Summer: DeDe Lind, Miss August 1967

    June 16, 2010

    The lovely and talented DeDe Lind has come up several times before, and I am totally pumped that she gets her own post! She is an amazing woman who is sweet, funny, and deservedly popular.


    Photographed by Mario Casilli.

    This picture has been to Vietnam and the moon and its friendly, upbeat subject just keeps on truckin’. Read on and find out more about the single most popular centerfold model in the history of Playboy!

    How did she get that gravity-defying figure? Spaghetti, of course.

    Early in the evening, DeDe turns to the kitchen and her principal avocation, with a flair and success in cooking that does the Swedish and Italian roots of her family tree proud. “Like Mom’s, my best main course is a spaghetti dish,” DeDe says.

    (“DeDe Girl.” Playboy, August 1967.)


    For a quiet woman, DeDe is not without opinions. “I don’t see how we can get out,” she says of the war in Vietnam. “But — perhaps because I’m a girl and I’m young? — The thought of losing our young men way over there is awful.”

    (Ibid.)

    Maybe it was that anxious empathy, her sunny spirits, confession of shyness, or maybe a little something to do with the sweet rack and all these adorable girly-girl pictures? — Whatever the cause, DeDe Lind holds the honor of being the undisputed most popular Playmate of all time. She received more mail than any other Playmate before her time and since. Get it, girl!

    This popularity was out of control with the soldiers serving overseas in Vietnam. I think a large part of it was her genuine, outspoken empathy for their plight. Dudes seriously flipped out over DeDe Lind, begging relatives to send multiple copies of the magazine in case something happened to their first copy, and writing DeDe truckloads of fan letters. I think that’s actually really cool and a unique and touching cultural phenomenon.

    Similar to the pinups in WWII, when young men are far away and fighting for something that 90% of them probably only realize when they get there is far more huge, truly random, and more complex than they possibly imagined, and their comrades are dying around them, I know it’s cliched, but I think it is very valid to get the idea that you have something to fight for. And if that comes from a centerfold of a plucky young gal smiling sweetly in a men’s cardigan, yellow hairbow, and nothing else, then I say go for it!

    Ms. Lind’s popularity was such that she has even been to space! True story, non-fiction — on NASA’s Apollo 12 mission in 1969, the nine astronauts who performed the second manned lunar landing in the history of humanity, thank you very much included DeDe’s centerfold in the Yankee Clipper command module. They labeled it “Map of a Heavenly Body.” Hilarious, true, and freaking AWESOME. Nous allons a la lune!

    What’s intriguing is that Playboy really massaged the facts of Ms. Lind’s truly interesting life at the time. Yes, everything she says is true, about loving horses and Catalina Island, etc, and all her sweetness and good cheer are genuine, but it was more like a sin of omission. They sort of didn’t mention she was married and had a child.

    That often gets thrown around like it is some type of evidence of the magazine’s hypocrisy, but I don’t believe Playboy has any obligation to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about anything, let alone the private lives of the Playmates. Hef was striving again and again with the centerfolds for the Girl Next Door who happens to be naked, and it was a great opportunity for a lot of these women, like marvelous Ms. Lind, to get a jump on their careers — why bum out all those soldiers, for example, using Ms. Lind as an ideal woman in their minds for whom to survive, with all the details?

    sidebar: I don’t know if this is an outtake or an airbrushed elaborate fake or what, but that is pubic hair like two or three years before that actually made its wispy, hinted-at debut in Playboy magazine, and almost four years before a Playmate of the Month fully flashed the carpet. If you have knowledge of this shoot and know what’s up, please explain, because I’m pretty surprised.

    Says Ms. Lind in a more recent interview about having been in Hollywood during the swinging late 60’s but not being much of a participant:

    “I did marry very young. I had a baby. I was a mom. I never got into the hippie or drug scene. … I dated Bobby Fuller. I also knew Jan and Dean. I wouldn’t go so far to say I dated Jan, but, I was friends with him. So, those are the kind of pop stars I liked. They were a little bit cleaner-cut. More American, Apple Pie.”

    (“De De Lind Interview.” James, George. Undated.)


    Q – Do you remember any film roles you turned down that maybe later you were sorry you turned down?
    A – Yes. There was a movie called ‘Candy’. I actually turned it down. I pretty much had the part. The idea of me at the time portraying a young girl sleeping with all actors — it didn’t sit well with me. (Laughs). Because of that I really didn’t want to do the movie.

    (Ibid.)

    I was just thinking about doing a Movie Moment on Candy. This clinches it. A famous piece of well-shot, mostly-failed camp, the sort-of-satire’s cast includes Ringo Starr, James Coburn, Sir Richard Burton, and Marlon Brando. And Ms. Lind was right, it was mainly a scandal and flopped, to boot, so good on her for deciding against it. I can’t see someone so sweet and shy having been happy to be part of that glorious and vulgar, hot mess. You’ll see what I mean when I do the Movie Moment. Look for that sometime this week or eventually, maybe! I know myself too well to make promises with actual dates in them. Lord, I am such a lazy person.

    Besides hanging out with good pal the lovely and talented Lisa Baker at their place in Boca Raton, Florida, DeDe continues to model and appear at Glamourcon and related events. And I’m happy to say she definitely retains that sunny sense of humor that is clever enough to send up the genre in which she models. Dig that shot above, which comes from her dedelind.com: “Look, Ma, no gag reflex!” Very funny.

    You may see more of Ms. Lind’s present doings on her official website or hit her up any ol’ time on the myspace (current mood: amused ), on which some of her top friends are Janet Lupo, Julie Michelle McCullough, and naturally Hef.

    Special edit from Ms. Lind: “My Centerfold did not go to the moon. My 2nd. Calendar Photo (Nov. 1969) holding a que stick topless went to the moon and back with Dick Gordon. That photo sold at auction for $17,511.00 this Jan. 2011.” Thanks for the clarification!

    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!

    March Madness: Priscilla Wright, Miss March 1966

    March 17, 2010

    Dig those tanlines. Miss March 1966 was the lovely and talented Priscilla Wright, who preferred to go by Pat and was one helluva golfer.


    Photographed by Mario Casilli.

    This is a great, breezy shoot that emphasizes Ms. Wright’s love of the outdoors and brisk, sporty style. I really dig it.


    My favorite shot.

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    Donec ultrices pulvinar mi ac porta. Ut eu dolor sapien, in semper lectus. Quisque porttitor pharetra fringilla. Aliquam erat libero, blandit sed mollis ut, tincidunt eget elit. In ut ligula urna. Pellentesque ultricies luctus velit sed iaculis. Donec ut libero risus. Pellentesque pharetra condimentum dui ut ultrices. Morbi ac hendrerit lacus. Donec accumsan lobortis velit eget dictum.

    Fusce leo tortor, accumsan at pulvinar vel, dapibus quis justo. Donec tortor leo, vehicula quis venenatis nec, viverra ac mi. Fusce nec arcu enim, id rhoncus nisl. Morbi elit nibh, egestas ut lacinia at, scelerisque id ante. Vestibulum quis turpis id ligula laoreet dapibus. Proin blandit augue vitae enim consequat et euismod justo sodales. Mauris sagittis hendrerit purus a tempor.

    Vestibulum orci est, gravida sed vestibulum non, posuere nec elit. In dapibus, velit eget gravida auctor, est quam accumsan quam, ut aliquet felis dui vel metus. Morbi sed est nec risus aliquet aliquam et blandit erat. Integer semper dolor vitae felis semper vel congue nibh iaculis. Donec mattis convallis magna et accumsan. Praesent magna justo, malesuada vehicula elementum quis, mattis ac velit. Duis venenatis convallis eleifend. Proin ultricies adipiscing dui, nec interdum nulla malesuada non. Sed varius rutrum lectus ac rutrum. Pellentesque sit amet diam sed justo sagittis consequat nec a dolor. Curabitur auctor magna quis libero vehicula eleifend in ac lectus. Quisque gravida purus nec augue scelerisque vel imperdiet mi pharetra. Sed in dignissim enim. Phasellus bibendum blandit leo, at adipiscing sapien rutrum vitae. Etiam ornare varius dolor, id venenatis dolor varius ultricies. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer ut egestas enim.

    .

    Nunc quis orci dui. Vestibulum sit amet tincidunt lectus. Maecenas ac diam quam. Nam placerat libero tincidunt ligula volutpat sollicitudin. Nunc urna metus, laoreet sed lobortis eget, lobortis sit amet dui. Aliquam sagittis luctus ultricies. Maecenas velit turpis, tristique vel posuere nec, auctor in ipsum. Nulla id nulla nisi. Morbi iaculis, diam eu faucibus auctor, lectus turpis luctus felis, ac scelerisque ligula sapien vel felis. Donec luctus tempus fringilla. Praesent aliquet leo non massa vehicula ullamcorper a at nibh. Quisque dolor purus, commodo at suscipit at, fermentum vitae orci.

    Pellentesque ut pretium tellus. Mauris vitae velit ut neque sollicitudin eleifend ut a leo. Donec sollicitudin accumsan urna vitae aliquam. Etiam et elit id neque tempus molestie ut at ipsum. Pellentesque vitae libero nulla. Integer nec nunc augue, non imperdiet massa. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Proin feugiat laoreet sem, a hendrerit leo iaculis sit amet. Etiam eget est lacus. Fusce sed ligula ac nisi laoreet laoreet. Aenean vel tellus ante. Proin odio dui, tincidunt quis viverra ut, fringilla et risus. Ut nec sem scelerisque justo mollis consectetur.

    Etiam in neque id nisl venenatis luctus non eu elit. Duis egestas suscipit diam consectetur iaculis. Curabitur feugiat, nisl eget adipiscing posuere, ipsum purus pretium massa, aliquet congue nibh augue et risus. In lacus lorem, ullamcorper et malesuada ut, rhoncus eget turpis. Curabitur eu ante quis libero consequat varius suscipit eget leo. Aenean porta fermentum dapibus. Pellentesque in ante ligula, sit amet sagittis lacus. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Pellentesque aliquam ante sit amet augue malesuada ac vestibulum neque laoreet. Aenean semper rhoncus risus, vel vestibulum erat laoreet nec. Integer quis nisl aliquet metus venenatis ornare. Pellentesque mollis, felis a suscipit congue, metus justo consequat libero, vitae consequat nisi velit quis nisl. Proin neque ante, pulvinar id elementum eget, congue non elit. Pellentesque vitae eros dui. Praesent id cursus neque. Aenean interdum dictum mi nec congue.

    Praesent vitae sem tortor, quis imperdiet lacus. Nullam lectus diam, feugiat at varius in, sagittis eget sem. Vivamus ut ipsum quam. Duis gravida iaculis purus, quis tincidunt diam lacinia vitae. Nunc imperdiet, metus vel cursus ultrices, libero neque fringilla eros, ut vestibulum massa lacus et tortor. Sed eu tortor lorem, pharetra tempus eros. Ut ornare mauris quis orci molestie mattis. Vestibulum justo magna, posuere sed ullamcorper id, blandit nec orci. Donec luctus, mauris ut luctus scelerisque, dolor elit sagittis turpis, vel posuere libero lacus ut sem. Aenean nec velit urna. Quisque rutrum consectetur turpis vitae interdum. Etiam condimentum tristique neque a mattis. Aliquam commodo, enim at convallis sagittis, nibh quam sodales dolor, vitae bibendum lorem nisl eu magna. Phasellus tempor lectus venenatis augue consequat laoreet. Morbi eleifend lorem quis felis porttitor eget elementum nulla sodales. Donec id mollis eros. Integer pretium posuere nulla ut aliquet. Vestibulum arcu lorem, malesuada sit amet elementum quis, commodo sed urna. Pellentesque quis nisl eget augue vehicula aliquet vel nec velit. Maecenas pharetra dictum cursus.

    Etiam ac velit lobortis dui accumsan posuere condimentum et justo. Vestibulum eu metus placerat sem faucibus tempus sit amet ut nulla. Proin posuere, turpis vitae aliquet tempus, mauris metus fringilla tellus, eget fringilla ipsum tellus vel lectus. Etiam eu pharetra arcu. Phasellus eget condimentum leo. Maecenas ligula elit, molestie eget laoreet id, mollis at ipsum. Cras in tristique sem. Curabitur consectetur sodales nibh sit amet eleifend. Integer ut sapien in enim iaculis euismod. Aliquam non malesuada erat. Aenean ac adipiscing purus. Phasellus sodales, arcu in ultrices tempus, ante ante commodo dui, pulvinar dictum magna ante non ipsum.

    Lorem Ipsum-ing it up ’til I have time to get back in here and add all my actual text: my grandmother was having a really great day and we’d been having fun, but the mail still hasn’t come with a new box of checks for her and she’s beginning to get pretty nervous. I’m going to suggest we make smoothies (she loves the blender because the container is clear and she gets a kick out of watching it whir — the Osterizer she has had since the 50’s has a silver cup and she likes ours better). I could’ve just left no text in between, but I’m too cool and Old School. So old school I drive a yellow bus with gothic arched windows!, to quote Achewood. Catch you on the flip, ASAP.

    edit: We made dyed-green mousse instead.





    Special thanks to marxz on the v-e forums.

    March Madness: Fran Gerard, Miss March 1967

    March 17, 2010

    I was fortunate enough to stumble over the entire original layout and spread of the Playboy issue featuring the very lovely and very talented Ms. Fran Gerard, Miss March 1967.


    Photographed by Mario Casilli and Gene Trindl. (Color work by Casilli, B&W shots by Trindl, according to the orig. spread’s credits)

    We predict a sparkling future for our heavenly-bodied Miss March. Generously configured Fran Gerard is a girl for the stars. “We’re forever searching the cosmos for new meanings.” (“Stars In Her Eyes,” Playboy, March 1967.)

    The specs-sporting young Ms. Gerard worked as an astrologer’s assistant (zodiac quackery rears its head AGAIN) in L.A. at the time of her appearance, so they made a big deal out of that.

    But the main thing of her is that she is tied right up there with Janet Lupo, Cynthia Myers, etc, for the largest natural breasts ever to be featured in Playboy.

    As it was quite sometime before Janet, Cyndi, Roberta Vasquez, Alana Soares, et al came along to potentially unseat Ms. Gerard as undisputed mammary queen (I am not bothering to list the silicone sweethearts whose plastic racks match the numbers in name only and never rate so high in the eyes of the lord), she has understandably enjoyed long-lasting and tremendous fame in the Playboy world.

    A “little looker,” her Playmate data sheet reports she was just 5’2″ tall at the time of her appearance in the magazine at the alleged age of 19. Holy chumbuckets, I cannot even imagine the back trouble the girl had to have had by age 30. Sorry if that deglamourizes things, but dang. That’s some serious rackage to haul around for a chick that only weighed around 110.

    More than just a pretty face hovering over likely-uncomfortably-giant knockers, Ms. Gerard was a genuinely swingin’ chick with a good head on her small shoulders. And great taste in music!

    Our plenipotent Playmate is as versant with combos as with cosmos: “Charlie Parker’s ‘Ornithology’ was the greatest single ever made,” says Fran, “and I think E.S.P. by Miles Davis is the best LP.” Sinatra is her favorite singer, especially “Cottage for Sale.” (Ibid.)


    She says, “[I] like artists Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali. They capture so much of the glory of the universe in their work, but I don’t think I’m being stuffy: I like ‘Batman,’ too!” (Ibid.)

    “Batman”? Heyoooo! Actually, I have also always liked Chagall’s work, especially this one piece he did that told a Russian folk tale, if I’m remembering rightly… Maybe later this week I’ll throw up some stuff about him.


    Fran credits another favorite, a book, with being the source of all this happiness and satisfaction. “It’s The Magic of Believing by C. M. Bristol. It helps you to think positively.” (Ibid.)

    Fran’s favorite book is still in print. It is also available for purchase as an ebook. Here’s an excerpt from the first few paragraphs:

    Is there some force, or factor, or power, or science—call it what you will—which a few people understand and use to overcome their difficulties and achieve outstanding success? I firmly believe that there is, and it is my purpose in this book to try to explain it so that you can use it if you desire.

    Around 1933 the financial editor of a great Los Angeles newspaper attended lectures I gave to financial men in that city and read my brochure T.N.T.—It Rocks the Earth. Afterwards, he wrote, “You have caught from the ether something that has a mystical quality—a something that explains the magic of coincidence, the mystery of what makes men lucky.”

    (source, and please do not consider the link an endorsement)

    Wow, what is amazing about that is it could have been written, like, yesterday, except replace “1933” in the suspiciously specious and detail-lacking anecdote with “2003.” I did not think people were marketing murky bullshit that long ago, but I live to be surprised. I should’ve known, I suppose, given all the snake oil salesmen and shenaniganizers who’ve always walked this earth conning money out of suckers. Like the rightly revered Msr. Barnum observed, there is one born every minute.

    I think I will try my hand at tossing off a few sentences.

    A few years ago, I was addressing a colony of junebugs at an annual meeting. After the meeting, a junebug who had just been raised to upper hive-management approached me and invited me to have a drink. He told me that he had seen me speak at a junebug team-building conference near an abandoned swingset only six months earlier, and had returned to his nest eager to apply the Simple Principles that I teach. Within just a few months, he had already been promoted above his boss and was handling new junebug regions of management!


    Like so many countless others that I have been happy to help, this junebug told me in that hotel bar that he would have never believed the success and accomplishments he would achieve in such a short time just by following these three simple steps to harnessing the power of YOUR potential to do Great Things!

    (E., Right Here, Right Now.)

    How did that sound? Would you buy my shit? No? I’m huge in junebug circles, picking up sales in bee hives, and keep it between us but I think I’m about to crack the highly elusive ladybug market. (What I am saying is that I think this is all fishsticks and curried potatoes, this malarkey. Positive thinking is very powerful, yes, and important to your overall well-being, but so is hustling your buns to earn a simple living and have rich relationships with loved ones rather than sucking down cultish nonsense like coca-cola and craving weird amounts of power through ESP. Mad love and respect to Ms. Gerard, but come on.)


    I think this is the best shot of the lot.

    The positively smashing Miss Gerard’s idea of a perfect man? Clark Gable. “Remember him as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind? He was too much,” says Fran appreciatively. (“Stars In Her Eyes.”)

    Yes, I particularly enjoyed the scene where he got ten kinds of drunk and told Scarlett he was going to crush her head like a walnut, slapped her around a little, and then took her upstairs for some rough sex. You’re probably thinking that is some feminist, critical statement mired in sarcasm: you are sadly wrong. I’m messed up I guess, but I think that saucy Scarlett needs slapped around pretty much every goddamned minute of the day and Rhett was born for the job. They are a nasty, scheming, firey-eyed match made in hell and I think it makes an excellent and exciting love story, in a very dark and ugly way for which it seldom gets credit. So, today I say to you, Margaret Mitchell: Well done, sir.

    The man who did the b&w work for this spread, Gene Trindl, was best known as a photographer for TV Guide. He shot over 800 spreads for them, and 200 covers. Dang, right? He died of pancreatic cancer June 29, 2004, two years after my cousin Tom and thirty-seven years after Jayne Mansfield. RIP, Mr. Trendl.


    TURN-ONS: High fashion, antiques.
    TURNOFFS: Arrogance, people and their trivial problems.

    (Playmate datasheet.)

    Um … you hate arrogance, but you also hate people and their “trivial problems”? Okay. The kettle called … said something about how you are the black one? No need to call back.


    DID YOU KNOW? I’m an assistant to astrologer Jack Gemini.
    PEOPLE I ADMIRE: My parents, for the great job they did raising me.
    FAVORITE MUSIC: Jazz.

    (Ibid.)

    I have googled the crap out of Jack Gemini, John Gemini, LA Astrologers in the 1960’s, and am coming up triple goose eggs. If you got a line on him, I’m interested.

    So many thousands of thanks to my usual sources but in this case also special singling out for lovin’s to dear Fabrizio, an awesome and generous moderator over at the vintage erotica forums, from whom the majority of these great shots came!

    Bello, sono incredibili, e grazie sempre per tutte immagini meravigliose. Molti baci, ♥ mua-mua! I owe you big-time, my good man, and I strongly encourage readers to swing over to the forums. They’re free, well-moderated, full of fun, and they won’t give your computer any wack infections or the hantavirus. Enjoy!


    Here are the scans of the original b&w article accompanying the gatefold and color spread.

    March Madness: Jennifer Miriam, Miss March 1997

    March 17, 2010

    Miss March 1997 was the lovely and talented Jennifer Miriam, and she is a delightful little pistol. You’re going to love her. Super-awesome!


    Photographed by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda.

    Lord, how I enjoy the glorious 90’s-rifficness of this centerfold photograph. Let me count the ways.

  • Neon x-treme snowsports gear: check.
  • Jennifer Aniston “Friends” shag: check.
  • Hemp woven choker: check.
  • Brown lipliner with pinky-nude lipstick: check.
  • Sunflower doodles on stockings: check.
  • Frayed blue denim top: check.
  • Is it also a corset?: double-check!
  • Does the corset lace-up with light colored leather straps?: you bet your sweet ass it does.
  • Crank up the Cranberries, bust out the hacky-sack, and let’s let it linnnnger, chitlins!

    Jennifer grew up in Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado and Texas. Moving frequently taught her how to meet people, she says. She also learned how to be the class clown.

    “Every time the teacher would leave the room,” she remembers, “I would entertain the class. I got sent home a lot. Like the time in first grade when I crawled under my desk and roared like a lion.” (“Maid Miriam.” Bain, Julie J. Playboy. March 1997.)

    Oh, my effing god, that is so cute.


    TURNOFFS: Anyone who tries to suppress the free spirit in me!
    FAVORITE DISHES: Chicken-fried steak, biscuits, cheesy mashed potatoes, pecan pie — and the man who appreciates a woman with healthy appetites.
    I EXPOSE MYSELF TO: New Orleans blues, Charles Bukowski poetry, art-house films, Andy Warhol paintings and the guitar player in the corner of the cafe.

    (Playmate data sheet.)

    Hell yeah, real food, Bukowski, and exposing yourself to musicians!


    “I dated an actor once who called me from a golf course on his cellular phone. I said, ‘Never mind!’ He was into the right cars, the right possessions. I hate that. I would rather have a guy in a beat-up pickup who’s nice to me and brings me flowers he picked himself.” (“Maid Miriam.”)

    Jeezy Creezy. I love this woman.


    This 24-year-old model, actor and hotel concierge believes in past lives. She says she was a priestess who met, and lost, her soul mate 2000 years ago — and she’s been missing him in all her lives since. But a psychic told her she would meet him again in two years. She can’t wait. (Ibid.)


    She demands of any guy she dates: “‘Let me be me!’ I like people who like to have fun and aren’t worried about what other people think. If he says, ‘You can’t do that,’ I say, ‘Bye.'” (Ibid.)

    In her Playmate interview, Ms. Miriam stressed that her emphasis with acting was on finding roles in meaningful, small films. She had featured parts in The Newton Boys and Pressurecooker, before leaving Hollywood, a move which is not too surprising coming from a woman who does not like falseness and getting her free spirit hemmed in. Good on her for really sussing out the depth of her dreams! She is married with two children, and now makes her living as an artist.

    March Madness: Marian Stafford, Miss March 1956

    March 17, 2010

    The lovely and talented Marian Stafford, Playboy‘s Miss March 1956, is adorable and also full of all kinds of noteworthiness.


    Photographed by Ruth Sondak.

    First, Ms. Stafford was the first gatefold model to get a three page pull-out centerfold: the real deal, the whole fold-out enchilada. This has obviously become a trademark of not just Playboy but a widely-copied staple of the porn mag world as a whole. Way to go, twinkie!

    Unusually, as you can see from the above caption, the lead credited photographer of Ms. Stafford’s shoot was a woman. Ruth Sondak seems to have been an active New York photographer on whom I am having trouble finding complete biographical data.

    I found this link to an interview about Greenwich Village anti-Vietnam War protesters, which had circa-70’s pictures credited as being taken by Ruth accompanying the article, and a 1993 NYT obit that included a picture of a famous educator that was photographed by Ruth in New York in 1972. The links to the photos in both the obit and the war-resisters’ page were no longer active, so I can’t even say I have seen other pictures by her other than these of Ms. Stafford. That’s about all I got on that angle so far. I’ll keep digging.

    Okay, so you may be wondering why Ms. Stafford is ripping up a TV Guide in the two color shots of this spread. It’s not a Sinead O’Connor protest or anything — Ms. Stafford was first “discovered” on the boob-tube in the audience of a show, and became a main stage attraction herself not long after.


    This month’s Playmate is a little girl with big television aspirations. Her name is Marian Stafford and she packs a lot of woman into 5’3″. She wants to be an actress, but so far most of her TV experience has been confined to smiling prettily in commercials for products like Tintair, Pall Mall and Jantzen; she has helped advertise Revlon on The $64,000 Question and RCA Victor on the video version of Our Town. She has had a walk-on in a Kraft Theater production and small speaking parts in two Robert Montgomery shows. (“Playboy’s TV Playmate,” Playboy, March 1956.)


    But her most unique television experience is as a human test pattern for Max Leibman spectaculars, where she spends hours before NBC color cameras during rehearsals and is never seen by the audience. (Ibid.)

    Ms. Stafford did make it back in front of cameras, regularly appearing on shows such as The $64,000 Question and Treasure Hunt. Her adorable pretty-princess looks and sweet nature also scored her the part of Mistress of Ceremonies on the 11-episode children’s story hour show The Big Fun Carnival in 1957. Get it, girl!

    One of the coolest parts of this issue was a short story by Ray Bradbury titled “The First Night of Lent,” about a good-natured and laconic Irish driver named Nick whom a writer employs while he is working on a screenplay in Dublin. The driver gives up drinking for Lent and becomes a reckless maniac, incapable of sorting through the richness of life’s sensory overload and focusing on one thing at a time: he needs alcohol to make it through the day, because the Irish are such finely tuned, sensitive beings that sobriety is an innavigable misery to them. At the end, the screenplay writer gives Nick money and begs him to start drinking again. It’s a mainly classist and racist but still kind of fun story, and Ray Bradbury is my all-time favorite sci-fi writer of all time* so I let him off the hook, cultural pride notwithstanding.



    excerpt from the googlebooks. give it a spin, dudes, and please consider writing to your congressmen urging them to protect free lit on the net! LIBRARIES FOREVER!

    Marian Stafford is one of the few playmates to model both as the gatefold and cover girls. Do you get the cover idea? The bunny is a producer watching her do her NBC color-test job. Super-cute. Again — get it, girl!



    *Nickel in the mail to the first person who gets the “all-time-favorite of all time” movie line reference.

    Valentine Vixen — Nancy Jo Hooper, Miss February 1964

    February 28, 2010

    The lovely and talented Nancy Jo Hooper was, in addition to being a born model and Playboy‘s Miss February 1964, several other “Misses” as well. We will get there.


    Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

    I say she was a born model because she knows what she is supposed to be selling here — but, like any good model, she is “selling” it by dint of excellent effort, and not necessarily because she “feels” it.

    Though she oozes that kind of satisfied, curvy, cat-like sexuality that made Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor famous, Pompeo Posar said in the Playmate Book that, when he asked Nancy to give him a pose that was “a little more sexy,” she responded immediately, “But I don’t know anything about sex!” a disarmingly nervous and virginal response from a practical woman with some chutzpah and a good gift for acting, but a more bookish actual personality.


    From the heart of the old Confederacy we recently received a pair of candid snapshots and a few hopeful words, enticing enough for us to send a staffer to Savannah to meet Nancy Jo Hooper, the walnut-haired 20-year-old who was to become this February’s Playmate. Hazel-eyed Nancy Jo has lived all her life with her parents and younger sister in the same Georgia town, so small that she asked us not to name it, because if six visitors arrived at once they’d cause a traffic jam. (“Georgia Peach.” Playboy, February 1964.)

    Actually, I’m pretty sure that is bullshit and she was from Spartanburg, South Carolina. The small-town thing is true, but the Georgia part is a smokescreen, just like the name she is modeling under — it’s similar enough to her real facts to have the ring of truth, but is not quite the truth itself. Understandable subterfuge in a person trying to make a national name for herself under her real name. But I’ll get to there.


    Now a telephone-company employee, this Southern bell ringer previously clerked in a drugstore, there heard Playboy purchasers tell her she was Playmate material herself.

    Discarding daydreams of discovery, she took the initiative by sending us snapshots of herself, because, as she explained in a caramel drawl, “It occurred to me that no one from Playboy would ever find me here on his own.” (Ibid.)


    Nancy Jo’s flight to Chicago for test shots marked her first airplane trip, and her first visit to any city besides Savannah. Soft-mannered, soft-spoken and shy (“I really enjoy walking alone in the park”), well-read Nancy Jo offers the sort of attractions that could once more set armies marching through Georgia. (Ibid.)

    Also they would march to a second Civil War because of Nancy’s controversial positions on state’s rights and slave ownership. (Joke. I just thought the write-up got a little overreaching there.)


    AMBITIONS: To become a wife and mother.
    TURN-ONS: Shoes of all kinds.
    TURNOFFS: Insincerity, rudeness.
    I LOVE BEING A PLAYMATE: Because I’ll look back on it as an important experience of my youth.

    (Playmate data sheet)


    PLAY ME SOME: Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt.
    GREAT FLICKS: “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights.”
    THEY SAY I RESEMBLE: Sophia Loren. Do you think?

    Always a fan of a Brontë-loving girl. And Satchmo, too? Right on! And yes. She looks like Sophia Loren. Keep that in mind as I go on, here. Because it comes up again.

    Okay, so in a search for Nancy Jo Hooper, I ran across a post at “If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger (There’d be a lot of dead copycats),” to which I already link in my blogroll but I’m happy to provide a specific post link here. It was a critique of the lovely lighting and photography done in her spread.

    A gentleman commented to that post that he was looking for Nancy for a class reunion. He said her real name was Nancy Ann Harrison, and she was from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    Now, if you’ve been following the comments today, you’ll see I was way off base about thinking I’d turned up the modern incarnation of a former Playmate, although I am happy to report about it because I stand by being pleased to have discovered the work of the nonetheless wonderful Ms. L. F. (at whose request posts pertaining to her have been removed.) Sure, it ended up good because I got to read some new stuff and learn some new ideas, but I was understandably gun-shy about turning up a false lead again.

    Being wrong is cool and it’s important because we are forced outside our comfort zones, given the opportunity to uncover something new and to show humility and the ability to learn from our mistakes, but, cheeseballs! I don’t want to always be the chump ringing in my buzzer only to stammer out the “incorrect” answer — being right sometimes is nice too.

    So, I dug as hard as I could this time, much more strictly with myself than last time. And I turned up the following clipping from the Spartanburg, South Carolina Herald-Journal, an article dated July 8, 1962.

    Yeah, she is the same girl, and yep, she still looks like Sophia — although the weight they give in the article is heavier than the one she listed two years later in Playboy. Either she went on a diet or the same fact-wrangler that invented her alternate name for her Playboy appearance also took liberties with her already-admirable figure.

    Ms. Harrison placed as second runner-up in the Miss Dixie pageant; first place was Rita Wilson of Humbold, Tennessee (center in the above picture), and first runner-up was Susan Woodall of Weldon, North Carolina. There were twenty girls who competed altogether in the 1962 Miss Dixie pageant.

    If you are like me and have been forced in your life, often against your will, to take your pageants seriously, or even if you are lucky enough to be unlike me and have never accidentally called the city of Patterson “a shithole” into an open mic during the Miss Apricot Fiesta competition, you may still be interested to read a little run-down of the Miss Dixie pageant rules.

    Via the amazing Pageantopolis:

    Miss Dixie (“Queen of the South”)

    This southern states regional pageant was held annually during the Fourth of July holiday in Daytona Beach (FL) since 1946. It was held by the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce. It seemed to have been discontinued in 1968.

    To be eligible for the Miss Dixie contest, the girls had to have placed first or second in another major contest and be from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas or the District of Columbia.

    They must be unmarried & between the ages of 17 and 26. Eligible Southern beauties had until June 18 (2 weeks prior) to file their applications. From 1957 onwards, the first 20 successful applications were accepted for the pageant. There were a Top 7, from which the Top 3 were announced.

    Each contestant was judged on five qualities: intellect (5%), personality (10%), appearance in evening gown (15%), talent (30%), and appearance in swim suit (30%). The judges each picked the girls they rated from first to seventh in each classification of competition. The girl with the highest cumulative point score became Miss Dixie. (source)

    Nancy qualified to enter the Miss Dixie contest by earning the title of Miss Sun Fun South Carolina, a pageant held at Myrtle Beach. She came in second in the national competition about a month before the Miss Dixie pageant, on June 9, 1962 — the winner was Ginger Poitevint of Huntsville, Alabama. Nancy made an impressive showing at the Miss Sun Fun USA contest; besides being first runner-up in the pageant as a whole, she also took top honors in the Swimsuit and Photogenic categories.

    As they are rather obviously the same gal, I can only conjecture that all that pretty airy nonsense about Georgia was malarkey the same way Nancy’s name was, although it’s easy to see how they came up with it. I assume the strategy went, keep the first name, Nancy, because it is common and easy enough to keep track of, then use Jo (like Jo-Ann) instead of Ann, though as far as Harrison instead of Hooper — actually, that one I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m out of gas on thinking I knew how this went!

    Dig the little trumpet hand puppet — super-cute. I would like to as a final grateful thought link once more to Pageantopolis , without which most of this post would’ve been boring and impossible, and the site is really great and tons of fun — I think I am going to have to start featuring more links to the work and online scrapbook of the very fun Donald West. Thanks!

    Valentine Vixen — Kona Carmack, Miss February 1996

    February 25, 2010


    Photographed by Richard Fegley.

    Kona was born and raised in Honolulu but has been living in North Carolina for the past year while she attends college. … By the time she turned 16, she had followed her younger brother, La’au, into the surf and soon was challenging ten-foot waves (well, one anyway – and that was enough). “I was always the only girl out there surfing, besides my friend Kili,” she says.

    (“Aloha, Kona.” Rowe, Chip. Playboy, February 1996.)

    Ms. Carmack used the same trick in college that I did: sitting up front so you can’t fool around. If I wasn’t in the very front row, I started feeling like I could tune out or even skip class, so when I got serious about school, I was front and center in every course. If I hadn’t done that, lord knows how long it would’ve taken me to finish college!

    Regardless of the subject, Kona sits in the front row so she doesn’t miss anything. “It’s kind of nerdy, but it works,” says Miss February, a marketing major with a 3.4 GPA. “I also raise my hand a lot. If I don’t understand something, I’m not just going to sit there.”(Ibid.)


    One of the most liberating moments of her first year came during English 101, when she wrote a term paper blasting antiporn crusader Catharine MacKinnon. “She argues that Playboy is pornography,” says Kona. “I don’t happen to agree.” She got an A.

    Kona excels in the classroom, but she’s no egghead. (Ibid.)

    Heaven forbid.


    FAVORITE BOY NAMES: Fletcher, Nicholas, Victor, Tristan. (Playmate datasheet)

    Nick and Victor are great names, but Fletcher and Tristan, erm, not to step on any toes but … not so much.

    My daughter’s father’s sister named one of her two sons Tristan. He is an adorable and bright little boy but, out of all the boy names in the world, I’m not sure it’s the first one with which I would’ve gone. I think my husband once told me his mom wanted to name him Tristan but my father-in-law put his foot down. Isn’t that how the story went, husbandoh? Pretty sure it was “Tristan” or “Dorian” or some shit, you know, something real get-your-ass-kicked-in-school faggoty.

    I like how I make guilty amends for possibly insulting dudes named Fletch and Tristan, but cheerily slander homosexuals. I guess it’s because I know that I’m not a bigot. But all apologies just the same to anyone with no sense of humor and anyone who has somehow missed the fact that I rather obviously trend toward batting both left and right and therefore ought be excused from call-outs for gay slurs with the same impunity that permits black people to call each other you-know-what. (Boy, that didn’t even come out very sincere, did it? Jonohs once told me I apologize too much, but it seems when the chips are down and I have to mean it, I’m not much good at mea culpas. Sorry again.)

    In a business in which it’s easy to put on an act, Carmack doesn’t have one, leaving her vulnerable and exposed, especially to the question that has to be asked: “So, what about the Playboy thing?”

    “Oh you!” she squeals, “The very first question!”

    Carmack has no regrets about posing for the magazine’s February 1996 centerfold.

    “It got me into the entertainment world and taught me so many lessons. I learned how to survive, how to be tough, how to be professional. I would not be the person I am today without having had that opportunity.”


    This picture came from a different Playboy photoshoot and was shot by Chris Peter Paul. Kona was Miss March 1998 in Playboy Germany and 1997’s Playmate of the Year in Japan, so I’m guessing it’s from one of those, or possibly the Year In Review. I included it here because it is cute.

    Yet she wishes people would get over it.

    “When people meet me, they always say, ‘You’re so nice. You’re not at all like what I imagined.’ So I’m like, ‘Oh, thank you!,’ ” she says, with a huge, grateful grin and her arm extended in a pretend handshake.

    (“Kona Gold.” Kam, Nadine. December 19, 2000. Honolulu Star-Bulletin.)


    In 2001 Carmack moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California for cinematography. She graduated in December 2003 with cum laude honors, completing the five-year program in half the time. (“Old Friends — Kona Carmack.” Moniz, Melissa. August 2, 2006. MidWeek Oahu.)


    “I really got into it and started producing my own little films.” (Ibid.)

    One of those “little films” was a popular and successful documentary about the life of Duke Kahanamoku, aka “The Big Kahuna.”

    Born in Waikiki in 1890, Kahanamoku pretty much singlehandedly turned surfing into an international sport, bringing his “papa nui” longboard, built in the style of old school Hawaiian olo boards, to the mainland and to Australia for swimming and surfing exhibitions. He was also a several-times-over Olympic gold medalist in swimming and in water polo.

    In Newport Beach, California on June 14, 1925, Kahanamoku rescued eight men from a fishing vessel that capsized in heavy surf while attempting to enter the city’s harbor. Twenty-nine fishermen went into the water and seventeen perished. Using his surfboard, he was able to make quick trips back and forth to shore to increase the number of sailors rescued. Two other surfers saved four more fishermen. Newport’s police chief at the time called Duke’s efforts “the most superhuman surfboard rescue act the world has ever seen.” (the wiki.)

    Pretty awesome, eh? Super-interesting man and great life story.


    Upon graduating from film school, Carmack started work as a production assistant on the HBO series Deadwood. The next year, Carmack was promoted to executive assistant producer to Greg Fienberg. (“Old Friends.”)

    After Deadwood, Kona went on to work as assistant to producer Randy Zisk on one of my favorite television shows of all time, Monk. Super-cool!

    Although her home and career for the moment are in Los Angeles, her heart still belongs to Hawaii.

    “I miss my family so much, that’s No. 1,” says Carmack. “I also miss surfing – I surf every day when I’m home. And of course I miss the food. I love it at home, I miss everything about it.” (Ibid.)


    Carmack definitely plans to move back to Hawaii eventually, mostly to be closer to her mom and family.

    “My mom is my best friend, and I’m really proud of her with what she’s been doing all these years for Easter Seals,” says Carmack. “It’s really her passion to help children with disabilities. She’s just wonderful, and she’s my inspiration.” (Ibid.)

    The Easter Seals are a nonprofit that provide aid and services to children and adults with autism, special needs, and other disabilities.

    The organization that would become Easter Seals was founded by Edgar Allen, an Ohio-businessman who lost his son in a streetcar crash. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son prompted Allen to sell his business and begin a fund-raising campaign to build a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. That hospital continues to operate today as Elyria Memorial Hospital. After the hospital was built, Allen learned that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. Inspired by this discovery, in 1919 he founded what would become the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind. (the wiki.)

    Click here to visit their website. My goddaughter’s brother is autistic and though Panda and the Mister are some of the most loving and supportive people you will ever meet, not everyone is as lucky as Nathaniel. So please consider making a donation? — Hey, this could be your big shot at impressing Ms. Carmack!

    Dig Leslie Nielsen on the cover. Goddamn, he’s one suave fucker. (Left-field Blue Velvet reference to wind things down. You’re welcome.)

    Valentine Vixen — Lorrie Menconi, Miss February 1969

    February 23, 2010

    Happy birthday to a very special Valentine Vixen, the lovely and talented Lorrie Menconi, Miss February 1969!


    Photographed by Bill Figge and Ed De Long.

    Tomorrow is brain-asplodin’ly cute Ms. Menconi’s 62nd birthday. Felicitazioni, bella!

    The write-up which accompanied Ms. Menconi’s centerfold, titled “Tuesday’s Child,” focused on her birthday and the implications of her Pisces nativity. You know how I feel about zodiac-quackery (unless what I’m reading is painful, scathing, and insulting, I am highly skeptical), but how can I resist an Italian sister in pigtails? Flap-flap, quack-quack — let’s discuss the zodiac.



    Astrologically speaking, Lorrie Menconi has her pretty head in the stars. “I was born on Tuesday,” our valentine Playmate told us, “February 24th 1948. That makes me a Pisces, so I think it’s perfect to appear in the February issue — it just has to be good luck. I guess you could call me a zodiac nut. But so many Piscean characteristics are true of me that it’s hard not to believe in it!” (“Tuesday’s Child,” Playboy, February 1969.)


    Exhibiting a prime Piscean trait — talkativeness — Lorrie goes on: “Pisces is a water sign, which may explain why I’m so crazy about living in California. We moved to San Diego when I was very young, so I don’t know what it’s like to live away from the water.”(Ibid.)



    “The beach scene here is terrific. But the mountains in northern California are great, too.” (Ibid.)


    Damned skippy, they are.



    When Lorrie isn’t involved in the aquatic life, she indulges another Piscean fancy — a love of animals. Lorrie attributes some of her fondness for fauna to her mother, who wrote a children’s book called The Pony Who Lost Her Neigh. (Ibid.)

    The Pony Who Lost Her Neigh must be out of print now, because all the traces that remain on a fairly deep search are Lee Menconi-Bandh’s copyright claims, first from 1965, renewed in 1993. Bummer. I’ll keep looking.


    “All the animals in the story,” Lorrie explains, “were based on our family: my father, my three sisters and me. There was billy goat Harry, pony Susie, porky Marilyn and duck Rosane. I was a turkey — you know, ‘gobble, gobble’ — because I talk so much; there’s that Pisces again.”


    Along with her sisters, she works part time at the House of Rattan, a shop managed by her mother. “We sell just about anything you can imagine that’s made of rattan,” Lorrie says.

    Ms. Menconi, I can imagine many, many things. That you “sell anything you can imagine” made of rattan is a dangerous thing to say to a person who opens my eyes in the shower because I’m positive that, in the time it took me to suds up my hair, a shark has swum up the drain and is a centimeter from sinking his rows of razor sharp teeth into my foot (yes, I grasp physics and biology and am aware on an intellectual level of the impossibility of such a thing; no, that doesn’t stop me from opening my eyes and getting soap in them).

    Rattan flyswatters, minivans, and light bulbs; rattan bikini bottoms; rattan file cabinets; rattan noodle soup; rattan statues of Ra, the Sun God; rattan Audubon guides to bird-watching and rattan flatware to compliment an ornate set of rattan china — all of these, you sold at your mother’s shop, Ms. Menconi? No? Then I cry fie and false advertising! “House of Rattan,” indeed. More like “Shack” or “Porta-Potty of Rattan.” Even “Junk Drawer of Unimaginative Rattan,” maybe. Pfft.

    I kid. She was totally cute and is still completely beautiful; further, her family sounds very supportive. Ms. Menconi travels on the convention circuit, and also maintains an official website, where you can purchase autographed copies of prints from her justifiably popular Playboy spread.


    A recent, striking picture. Italian ladies got it goin’ on: accept it!

    Besides her looks, her adorable enthusiasm for her hometown of San Diego has also clearly held.

    “You know, San Diego is called the place where California began, because the Spanish padres founded their first mission here in 1769. So this year, we’re celebrating our 200th birthday. I’m really proud of this city — it’s sunny and warm and beautiful.” (Ibid.)

    Her official site is sponsored by the San Diego Beachlife Press.

    Again, supersonic birthday wishes and eskimo kisses to the lovely and talented Ms. Menconi, and many, many happy returns!

    Valentine Vixen: Laura Misch Owens, Miss February 1975

    February 18, 2010

    So many Valentine Vixens to post up in all their fun and special glory, so little time left in February all of a sudden! Yikes. As with the NSFW November project, I am once more faced with the question of whether I’ve bit off more than I can chew. It’s a challenge, but that’s all right: I was so selective with this month’s lonelyhearts ladies, handpicking only my tippy-toppy-bestest, most favoritest centerfolds, that there is literally not a single one that I am not totally psyched to share more about with you. So let’s do this!


    Photographed by Richard Fegley.

    The lovely and talented Laura Misch Owens was Playboy’s Miss February 1975. Those aren’t just pretty code words for taking it off on this one, dudes. Besides being beautiful, as evinced by these photographs, Ms. Owens is also a brilliant, witty, published author who happens to be forthright, charming, and absolutely-fall-down-freaking-hysterically funny. I’m going to let her talent speak for itself as I juxtapose the Playboy purple prose that accompanied her pictorial spread for them with her own take on the events, excerpted from an article she contributed to Salon.com about her time as a New Orleans bunny, written in 2005.

    The headline and summary for Salon run, “When I was a Playboy Bunny in New Orleans: ‘I married a cop of easy virtue, posed nude in Hef’s magazine, drank all night at Lucky Pierre’s, and appeared in the worst movie ever made. It was Big and it was Easy, and now it’s gone.'” (“When I Was a Playboy Bunny,” Misch, Laura. 10 Sept 2005. Salon.com.)

    Playboy sez: “Delta Lady: Meet Laura Misch, a New Orleans lovely who’s taken the Crescent City to her heart. Lucky New Orleans!” (“Delta Lady.” February, 1975. Playboy.)

    Playboy sez:

    Fresh out of high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 18-year-old ex-cheerleader Laura Misch was confronted with that same question that has plagued most new high school graduates: What now? … She pictured herself with rabbit ears and a Bunny tail. She had an idea! “I dashed off a letter, enclosed a Polaroid of myself and sent it to the New Orleans Bunny Mother, since she was the closest to Tulsa,” Laura recalls. “The next thing I knew, I was in New Orleans with a new job.”


    Laura writes:

    I stepped off the Braniff flight from Tulsa, Okla., at Moisant Field on Jan. 12, 1973, with $34 in my pocket and the promise of a job as a Bunny at the New Orleans Playboy Club. I was 19, with big, proud titties suitable for framing, and wearing enough Maybelline to sink a barge in the Industrial Canal. I didn’t know it yet, but I would spend the next seven years in the City That Care Forgot. By the time I escaped its humid clutches, the Big Easy would fill me up and wring me dry.


    On the subject of a career in moving pictures, Playboy quotes Laura and adds their own advertiser/biz-skewed copy to her youthful sentiments, saying,

    “I adore everything about New Orleans. I’ll never leave.” This creates a conflict in her life, for she also wants to be a movie star (“Who doesn’t?”) and most stars have to emigrate to Hollywood sooner or later.

    No longer a Bunny since the temporary closing of the New Orleans Club some months ago, Laura has just finished an on-location shooting as an extra in Dino De Laurentiis’ new film, Mandingo, starring James Mason and Susan George. In the movie, which is about life on a slave-breeding plantation in the pre-Civil War South, Laura plays one of the girls in a Mississippi delta whorehouse. This is how she describes her big scene: “A door opens and through the doorway you see me standing there, clutching my underwear. Then I blow a sensuous kiss to a satisfied customer.” Since it was her first scene in a movie, and she appeared seminude, to boot, Laura admits to having had a certain initial apprehension. “I thought it would be awful with all those people watching me,” she says. “But they were good about it and kept their eyes on my face.” If you say so, Laura. (Playboy, February 1975.)

    I had lines in those movies but only walk-ons in Mandingo and Hard Times. Strange; I always played a prostitute. Didn’t they see my shining thespian talents?

    Oh, Laura. You had me at “Hello!”


    This picture of Laura as a young bunny in N’Awlins is not from the Playboy pictorial spread. It accompanied her delightfully fun article for Salon.com.
    For her part, the real, unvarnished, marvelously disingenous Laura says today,

    I’m sure you’ve seen me in Mardi Gras Massacre, having my innards cut out by a guy wearing an Aztec mask. One Web site lists this gem as one of the worst movies ever, ever made. I’m proud. And remember “French Quarter,” with Bruce Davison and Virginia Mayo? You don’t?

    That’s OK, Davison apparently doesn’t either, because he won’t list it among his credits. You can run but you can’t hide, Brucie. I was there. You were in it, pal!

    Adorbably candid! Love it.

    On the subject of her corrupt-cop, but seemingly loving, as much as he could be, given all time and circumstances, husband during those years, I think Ms. Misch Owens has a light and bittersweet touch, appropriately appreciative/critical/reflective (as all reviews of such relationships must always be) but not overly maudlin; a delicate balance to reach.

    Somewhere along the way I had gotten married to Eddie, a cop in the French Quarter. … I thought he was terribly exciting. He’d bring me along to all-nighters at Benny’s, a joint on the levee. I was required to sit silently for hours while Eddie twirled his gold wedding band.



    Benny was like 75 with about three teeth and had a 14-year-old girlfriend. This last fact struck no one but me as particularly odd or disgusting. Like everything else wild and evil in New Orleans, it was greeted with a shrug and a wink.

    He introduced me to the shady characters, shady ladies and shady ways of the Crescent City that I never would have tapped into otherwise. Without him, I never would have had a private room with a private waiter — Joey Guera — at Antoine’s. Never would have had a real king cake at a family party, never would have gone fishing out of Empire, La., with so much beer aboard our little flotilla that we almost sank. And if we had, so what? There is nothing like a native New Orleanian.

    I cannot, in my broken state, express strongly enough how much I aspire to acheive Ms. Misch’s disarmingly candid brand of levelheaded, logical but loving, analytical prose in regard to my own dissolving marriage some day.

    We parted ways, eventually. I went down to Miami and he went back to being a bachelor. He retired from the force as a lieutenant and was freelancing as a security man at “tittie bars” and rich people’s houses Uptown on Audubon Place, last I heard.

    Reporting on recent events, Ms. Misch adds the following epilogue to her relationship with her Big Easy first husband:

    I phoned him just before the eye of Katrina must have passed very near his house. I got his answering machine. Some silly nonsense about how he wasn’t home, he was checking out the latest Saints trade. I said, Hey, you idiot, call me.


    He hasn’t called, and now I just get static when I dial the number. C’mon, Eddie, check in. Check in, dammit.

    New Orleans is gone.

    Today, Ms. Misch Owens is a novelist under the name of Laura Watt and has written non-fiction for the Miami Herald, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Denver Post. Sardonic and enduringly adorable — thanks a mil for the inspiration, Ms. Misch!

    Valentine Vixen: Amber Campisi, Miss February 2005

    February 8, 2010

    I think the lovely and talented Amber Campisi, Miss February 2005, is a really special woman from an amazing family, so it was a pleasure putting together this post, although there was sadness in it, too.


    Photographed by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda.

    As one of the managers of Campisi’s Restaurant, a family-run business that has been a Dallas favorite since 1946, Amber Campisi can be chauvinistic about her family’s cooking. “I’ll eat anything,” she says, “but I don’t usually like Italian anywhere else. The way we do it is just better.”


    When the 23-year-old restaurateur visited our office, she hauled in enough oval Campisi’s pizzas to feed the staff. “My family can’t travel without them,” she says. “When we go to the Cayman Islands every year, we bring lasagna and pizzas in a cooler. It’s ridiculous.”


    “There are pictures of me wearing an apron and a name tag when I was five years old,” she says. “I would go to work with my dad when I was little and stay until closing time. They’d cover me with napkins, and I’d sleep in a booth.”


    Jack Ruby, a friend of Amber’s grandfather Joe, dined there the night before he shot Lee Harvey Oswald. This led the Warren Commission to interview the elder Campisi. “One of the stories is that Ruby came in and told my grandfather he was going to do it to spare the Kennedys the pain of a trial,” she says. Whatever was said that night, Dallas now has seven Campisi’s restaurants that are better known for their squisito Italian cuisine. (“Specialty of the House,” Playboy, February 2005.)


    AMBITIONS: To help run the family restaurant and one day pass it on to my children.

    TURN-ONS: Athletic men, someone who is confident but not cocky, and redheads.

    FAVORITE COLLEGE COURSES: Nonprofit Communication, Communication Research and Argumentation

    Heck yeah, charity and hot gingers — you see what I mean? This girl is super awesome. And you know she eats spaghetti. Strong family bonds, love of cooking, she’s got some great and special qualities, in my opinion. This is not some airbrushed airhead looking to launch a D-list career with her rack. Ms. Campisi seems fun-loving and genuine.

    Her father, was on an E! special called Wildest Party Parents, which focused on his restaurant Campisi’s Egyptian Room.

    The handlers at the E! cable network have been very soothing to Dallas restaurateur Corky Campisi, who will be featured in Friday night’s Wildest Party Parents.

    “They said, ‘Don’t worry, you won’t be embarrassed,’ ” says Corky. “The previews show me with a girl’s high heel in my mouth.”


    Regardless, Corky is anything but embarrassed. “As long as it’s good for business,” he says, referring to his family’s Mockingbird Lane eatery, Campisi’s Egyptian.

    An E! camera crew was in Dallas in December and filmed Corky out on the town with his three daughters, former Playboy centerfold Amber Campisi and twin sisters Tara and Gina Campisi. (“Campisi puts the E! in party.” Peppard, Alan. The Dallas Morning News, May 30, 2007.)

    You may hit Ms. Campisi up on the myspace, or follow her on the twitter. Sadly, Amber’s younger sister Gina just passed away last Wednesday, February 3. She was only 26. Amber got this tattoo as a memorial.

    I’m sure their large family is beside themselves over losing her sister so young, especially Gina’s twin Tara. So maybe, please, don’t send Amber a bunch of pervy or weird stuff right now?

    The Morning News is reporting that Gina Campisi’s death is an apparent suicide, which understandably makes the loss that much more tragic and difficult for her family to process. It’s especially tragic because she had only recently begun to build on her family’s food history and make a name for herself.

    With business partner Brittany O’Daniel, Gina had opened her own restaurant, Fedora Restaurant & Lounge at One Arts Plaza, just last year. When you go to the website for Fedora, it is not only gorgeous and well-designed, but, on a fun note, it plays the “Parla più piano” (“Speak softly, love”) theme made famous in the Godfather films. It seems that, like Amber, Gina was sensitive to family traditions, stylish history, and culinary flair.


    Interior shot during a party.

    Fine Italian dining demands a swanky, romantic setting –– like that of Fedora Restaurant & Lounge, owned by Dallas’ Gina Campisi and Brittney O’Daniel and designed by Tyler Duncan of Duncan Design Group. Reminiscent of a scene from The Godfather or an Al Pacino mobster movie, large plush red couches, black, white and cream interiors and dramatic chandeliers give the restaurant a 1940s feel. Flat screen televisions play classic Hollywood flicks as the sensational smells of Chef Jordan’s creations waft from the kitchen. (“About Fedora,” official site)


    Gina in 2008 at a DIFFA Dining by Design event in North Dallas; photograph by Christopher Wynn of Eats Blog, guidelive.com

    Enter Gina Campisi. The 25-year-old granddaughter of the legendary Joe Campisi is no stranger to the local scene. Her family’s Campisi’s Egyptian has been dishing out pizza and pasta for more than 60 years, though her new restaurant is far removed from the old-school appeal of the family business. …

    Campisi says her aim was to create a place that was hip and modern while appealing to a broad cross section of Dallas diners. “And really, I just wanted to stay as true to my roots and upbringing as possible,” she says.

    For delivering credible, updated Italian food with flair* – and an approachably modest price point – I’ll give Fedora a tip of the hat.

    (“Restaurant Review: Fedora.” Harwell, Kim. The Dallas Morning News, March 13, 2009.)

    *Please note that the chef at the time of Ms. Harwell’s review, Christopher Patrick, is no longer with Fedora. Beginning in December 2009, the kitchen has been headed by Chef Jordan Rogers.

    All of my condolences to the Campisi family, and R.I.P. to Gina Campisi. Male a che muori; s’acconza la menestra (“Pity he who dies; those who live, continue to prepare the supper.”).

    Valentine Vixen: Julie Michelle McCullough, Miss February 1986

    February 5, 2010

    I am so glad to be able to share two super-special gals with you today. First, brooding and sensitive Cheryl Kubert from earlier in the day (R.I.P. and I wish her many hopefully joyful and educational returns to this earth after her unhappy retirement; that’s what reincarnation is for), the solemn, petite brunette with tall skis and deep eyes, and now — for something completely different! — ebullient and absolutely adorable blonde ray of sunshine Julie Michelle McCullough: model, actress, stand-up comedienne, and maligned-but-triumphant victim of sitcom scandal. Take it away, buttercup!


    Photographed by Arny Freytag.


    “I’ve always felt that I have little eyes, a mouth full of teeth and ears that I call elf ears. They kind of poke out.” That’s her opinion. We certainly didn’t notice any flaws when Julie McCullough showed up for our salute to The Girls of Texas last February. In fact, we tucked her ears under a Stetson and put her on the cover. It was the first time she’d ever seen a copy of Playboy.


    Although she was born in Hawaii, Julie was then, and is now, living in Texas. But as the daughter of a Marine Corps lifer, she has moved around a lot. “It bothered me when I was younger, but as I look back, I appreciate it, because it taught me how to get along with different types of people. If you make good friends, you never lose them.”


    During most of her childhood years, Julie thought she wanted to be an artist. “I really love to draw,” she says, “but I could never see myself as a starving artist. So I realized art would have to be more of a hobby than a career. And then, in high school, I started entering pageants, and I got a couple of Miss Photogenic awards. And everybody would tell me, ‘You should try modeling; You should try modeling.’ And all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Hey!'”


    Playboy’s cover picture, and the less covered picture inside the magazine, caused a furor in Julie’s home town of Allen, a rural community 26 miles north of Dallas. A local pastor, announcing that he planned to preach a sermon on the subject, was quoted as saying — we kid you not — “The easiest thing to do is jump on Julie.” He went on to say that he saw her appearance in Playboy as part of a larger problem, that of “general moral disintegration in the fiber of the nation.” (“Return of the Cover Girl,” Playboy, February 1986.)


    While working as a model, she was also honing her skills as an actress and had landed a part on television’s sitcom Growing Pains, featuring Kirk Cameron. He unfortunately shared the opinion that the easiest thing to do was jump on Julie, it seems, because he used his pull with the network to have her summarily axed off the show when he learned she had posed for Playboy, accusing the network of tacitly endorsing pornography by continuing her employment.

    Because Mr. Cameron was the breakout star of the show and a teen heartthrob who kept the network flush with sponsors (his charming smile conveniently moved hot amounts of Noxzema pads and Snickers bars to both cleanse and satisfy), they went along with his wishes and terminated the object of his objections.


    McCullough appeared in eight episodes until she was fired in 1990, which stemmed from series star Kirk Cameron’s conversion to evangelical Christianity, a conversion that, according to “The E! True Hollywood Story” episode focusing on the show, served to alienate him from his fellow cast members, as he did not invite any of them to his wedding. He accused the show’s producers of promoting pornography. (the wiki)

    Sez Ms. McCullough now:

    [Kirk Cameron] thinks if I read science books that I’m going to hell. I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints … the sinners are much more fun.* And a lot more interesting than some book-burner who is still having growing pains! I am at peace with God. Kirk thinks people like me are going to Hell; if I do, then at least I’ll go well-informed and well-read!

    (Ms. McCullough’s myspace.)

    *That is a reference to the Billy Joel song “Only the Good Die Young,” about young Virginia, a Catholic girl who starts much too late. Rock on with it, Ms. McCullough! Good people quote the Beatles. Great people quote the Beatles, Queen, and Billy Joel.

    Contemporaneous with her being fired from Growing Pains, Ms. McCullough was also stripped of her crown as Wilmington, NC’s “Azalea Queen” for posing for Playboy. Sheesh. I try to keep shit to myself, but I really feel the need to address Mr. Cameron’s and the people of Wilmington’s position on this issue. Leaving aside for now the fact that the lord decreed we enter this earth naked and that nudity is a major factor in procreation, which what good man can decry?, let us address the point where it seems people feel it ill befits a person of “good” moral fiber to celebrate the physical gift of their bodies. As a hippy-dippy meditative and soulful Christian who has thought my way deeply and thoroughly through these issues and can confidently and guiltlessly balance both Playboy and my beloved monthly The Way of St. Francis without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, loving-the-Word-but-thanking-God-for-earthly-forms-wise, I can only cite and gently suggest a review of Matthew, chapter seven.

    Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the plank that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a plank is in thine own eye?


    Thou hypocrite, first cast out the plank out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. At Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and the region across the Jordan, Jesus was talking to the multitudes gathered there after hearing of His message and of His healings to beseech them to not become like the pharisees and hypocrites who think they are above sin. (Matthew 7:1-7.)

    Mmm-hmm. This is an earnestly serious ethical issue. I’m not playing about the no more judging stuff. It’s just like Blessed Mother Teresa said: “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” And which one do you think Jesus would rather you worked at doing? Get with the program!

    Today, Ms. McCullough is a well-received and widely admired stand-up comedienne who continues to act.

    Some of her film and small screen credits include The Golden Girls, Beverly Hills, 90210, Jake and the Fatman, the Drew Carey Show, The Blob, and Harry and the Hendersons.

    She is also a published poetess, with a number of anthology and private publishing credits to her literary name, and she was on a basketball team with Casper van Dien of Starship Troopers fame (I ♥ Heinlein and Johnny Rico forever). According to the imdb, she began working full time in 2006 as a stand-up comedienne. She has performed, if the wiki can be trusted, at such well-known venues as the Palms in Las Vegas and the Laugh Factory in L.A. Right on!

    In conclusion, it is a widely known but nonetheless hard and bitter truth that, frankly, haters gon’ hate. All love and good wishes to Ms. McCullough and her sunny resilience!