Posts Tagged ‘pompeo posar’

R.I.P. retread — Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Happy Holidays from Cynthia Myers, Miss December 1968

November 5, 2011

Been buried in academic work, but I needed to throw out a quick, sad retread of Ms. Myers’ “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” post. Beautiful, adventurous Cynthia passed away yesterday of undisclosed causes, per Hef.

R.I.P., Ms. Myers (9/12/50-11/4/11).


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

“Wholly Toledo!” is the name of the article that accompanies the pictorial for the lovely and talented Cynthia Myers, Playboy’s Miss December 1968. Her wildly popular centerfold shot her to stardom among the troops in Vietnam, and a pinup of her is featured in the film Hamburger Hill. She has been a teen model, a television personality, played a lesbian songstress in one of the most famous camp films out there, and become an unwitting space cowgirl in her 60 years on this planet. Buckle up, because here we go!



Cynthia wrote to Playboy a few years ago, informing us that she’d like to be considered as a centerfold beauty. Assistant Picture Editor Marilyn Grabowski answered with a reminder that our Playmates must be of legal age but that Cynthia should keep in touch. She did just that.

Well, kind of.

The shoot was in June of ’68, and Ms. Meyers was born in September of ’50, but Playboy waited until Cynthia was comfortably 18 to publish her pictorial. It had become common practice for the magazine after the scandal with Elizabeth Ann Roberts.

In fact, the most recently featured “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” playmate, the fantastic Susan Bernard, was also 17 at her photoshoot and saw her spread published after she turned 18.

Posing underage for Playboy is not the only common ground between Ms. Bernard and Ms. Myers. While Ms. Bernard was featured in Russ Meyers’ cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, today’s special gal starred in his 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

I promise to have a full-out Movie Moment for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of these days. For my friend’s recent 31st birthday, I sent him a picture of the cast of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with him tagged as Dolly Read and me as Cynthia Myers. I explained that I originally had me as Dolly and him as Cynthia, but I switched it because it was his birthday.

You know Roger Ebert wrote it? I don’t think he ever gets to criticize a movie again.

Cynthia is pictured reading a five-year-old palmistry pamphlet about what the following year once held for her because she placed a large credulity in psychic phenomenon.

“I’ve known since I was 15 that I’d be a Playmate. It’s almost as if this had been fated to happen.” Cynthia’s penchant for precognition can be traced to her early teens.

(Ibid.)



“A junior high school friend of mine in Toledo,” she says, “was a nut on palmistry, astrology and even reading tea leaves and crystal balls. Like most people, I thought is was just a bunch of baloney. But when I began reading about prophets like Edgar Cayce, I began to realize that there are strange spiritual forces in the world undreamed of even in The Playboy Philosophy.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Myers, I think you’d be surprised by what the Playboy philosophy can dream of.

In 1994, it was revealed that a picture from Ms. Myers’ centerfold pictorial was among several that crafty NASA jokesters have launched in to space over the years. Ms. Myers, together with Leslie Bianchini, Angela Dorian, and Reagan Wilson, was snuck in to the checklist for the Apollo 12 mission that was placed in astronauts’ suit cuff on their trip to the moon in November of 1969. Ms. Myers specifically took her space journey with astronaut Al Bean.

Don’t forget: Describe the protruberances.

Boobs : Geeks :: Horse : Carriage. I think it’s kind of funny and sweet.

And the gals didn’t just go up in the lunar landing module: they straight moon walked. The astronauts found their pictures while fulfilling their extravehicular (read: outside the module on the lunar surface) mission duties on the moon itself.


Pete Conrad got Miss September 1967, Angela Dorian, (“Seen any interesting hills and valleys?”) and Miss October 1967, Reagan Wilson (“Preferred tether partner”). Al Bean got Miss December 1968, Cynthia Myers (“Don’t forget — Describe the protuberances”), and Miss January 1969, Leslie Bianchini (“Survey — her activity”).

(“Playboy Playmates pranked into Apollo 12 mission checklists.” January 13, 2007. BoingBoing.net.)


Conrad told us in 1994: “I had no idea they were with us. It wasn’t until we actually got out on the lunar surface and were well into our first moon walk that I found them.” Bean recalled: “It was about two and a half hours into the extravehicular activity. I flipped the page over and there she was. I hopped over to where Pete was and showed him mine, and he showed me his.”

(Ibid.)

A large, color version of the shot of Cynthia that was smuggled up to the moon in the Apollo 12.

Lest we forget, the lovely and talented DeDe Lind, Miss August 1967 and, like Cynthia, one of the most popular Playmates in the magazine’s history, also rode shotgun on the Apollo 12 mission. She was in the control console, her picture labelled, “Map of a heavenly body.”

I always feel compelled when talking about the Playmate pictures and NASA to bring up the fact that my sorority’s badge is on the moon. Neil Armstrong put it there for his wife. It’s my sorority’s badge and it is on the moon. The moon that is in space. Sorry, but I get pretty cocky and excited by that. Tell a friend.

This much more recent picture of Ms. Myers just might get her kicked out of the Red Hat Society.

Can our prescient Playmate predict anything about her future? “I’m going to be an actress,” she says simply. “Notice I didn’t say ‘I’d like to be,’ but ‘I’m going to be.’ I don’t know how good I’ll be as an actress, but I’ll be one.”

(“Wholly Toledo!” Playboy. December 1968.)


Judging from her track record as a prophetess — and from her already abundant attributes — we’d like to venture a prediction of our own: Playmatehood should be just the beginning for the remarkable Miss Myers.
(Ibid.)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Happy Holidays from Cynthia Myers, Miss December 1968

December 20, 2010


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

“Wholly Toledo!” is the name of the article that accompanies the pictorial for the lovely and talented Cynthia Myers, Playboy’s Miss December 1968. Her wildly popular centerfold shot her to stardom among the troops in Vietnam, and a pinup of her is featured in the film Hamburger Hill. She has been a teen model, a television personality, played a lesbian songstress in one of the most famous camp films out there, and become an unwitting space cowgirl in her 60 years on this planet. Buckle up, because here we go!



Cynthia wrote to Playboy a few years ago, informing us that she’d like to be considered as a centerfold beauty. Assistant Picture Editor Marilyn Grabowski answered with a reminder that our Playmates must be of legal age but that Cynthia should keep in touch. She did just that.

Well, kind of.

The shot was in June of ’68, and Ms. Meyers was born in September of ’50, but Playboy waited until Cynthia was comfortably 18 to publish her pictorial. It had become common practice for the magazine after the scandal with Elizabeth Ann Roberts.

In fact, the most recently featured “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” playmate, the fantastic Susan Bernard, was also 17 at her photoshoot and saw her spread published after she turned 18.

Posing underage for Playboy is not the only common ground between Ms. Bernard and Ms. Myers. While Ms. Bernard was featured in Russ Meyers’ cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, today’s special gal starred in his 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

I promise to have a full-out Movie Moment for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of these days. For my friend’s recent 31st birthday, I sent him a picture of the cast of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with him tagged as Dolly Read and me as Cynthia Myers. I explained that I originally had me as Dolly and him as Cynthia, but I switched it because it was his birthday.

You know Roger Ebert wrote it? I don’t think he ever gets to criticize a movie again.

Cynthia is pictured reading a five-year-old palmistry pamphlet about what the following year once held for her because she placed a large credulity in psychic phenomenon.

“I’ve known since I was 15 that I’d be a Playmate. It’s almost as if this had been fated to happen.” Cynthia’s penchant for precognition can be traced to her early teens.

(Ibid.)



“A junior high school friend of mine in Toledo,” she says, “was a nut on palmistry, astrology and even reading tea leaves and crystal balls. Like most people, I thought is was just a bunch of baloney. But when I began reading about prophets like Edgar Cayce, I began to realize that there are strange spiritual forces in the world undreamed of even in The Playboy Philosophy.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Myers, I think you’d be surprised by what the Playboy philosophy can dream of.

In 1994, it was revealed that a picture from Ms. Myers’ centerfold pictorial was among several that crafty NASA jokesters have launched in to space over the years. Ms. Myers, together with Leslie Bianchini, Angela Dorian, and Reagan Wilson, was snuck in to the checklist for the Apollo 12 mission that was placed in astronauts’ suit cuff on their trip to the moon in November of 1969. Ms. Myers specifically took her space journey with astronaut Al Bean.

Don’t forget: Describe the protruberances.

Boobs : Geeks :: Horse : Carriage. I think it’s kind of funny and sweet.

And the gals didn’t just go up in the lunar landing module: they straight moon walked. The astronauts found their pictures while fulfilling their extravehicular (read: outside the module on the lunar surface) mission duties on the moon itself.


Pete Conrad got Miss September 1967, Angela Dorian, (“Seen any interesting hills and valleys?”) and Miss October 1967, Reagan Wilson (“Preferred tether partner”). Al Bean got Miss December 1968, Cynthia Myers (“Don’t forget — Describe the protuberances”), and Miss January 1969, Leslie Bianchini (“Survey — her activity”).

(“Playboy Playmates pranked into Apollo 12 mission checklists.” January 13, 2007. BoingBoing.net.)


Conrad told us in 1994: “I had no idea they were with us. It wasn’t until we actually got out on the lunar surface and were well into our first moon walk that I found them.” Bean recalled: “It was about two and a half hours into the extravehicular activity. I flipped the page over and there she was. I hopped over to where Pete was and showed him mine, and he showed me his.”

(Ibid.)

A large, color version of the shot of Cynthia that was smuggled up to the moon in the Apollo 12.

Lest we forget, the lovely and talented DeDe Lind, Miss August 1967 and, like Cynthia, one of the most popular Playmates in the magazine’s history, also rode shotgun on the Apollo 12 mission. She was in the control console, her picture labelled, “Map of a heavenly body.”

I always feel compelled when talking about the Playmate pictures and NASA to bring up the fact that my sorority’s badge is on the moon. Neil Armstrong put it there for his wife. It’s my sorority’s badge and it is on the moon. The moon that is in space. Sorry, but I get pretty cocky and excited by that. Tell a friend.

This much more recent picture of Ms. Myers just might get her kicked out of the Red Hat Society.

Can our prescient Playmate predict anything about her future? “I’m going to be an actress,” she says simply. “Notice I didn’t say ‘I’d like to be,’ but ‘I’m going to be.’ I don’t know how good I’ll be as an actress, but I’ll be one.”

(“Wholly Toledo!” Playboy. December 1968.)


Judging from her track record as a prophetess — and from her already abundant attributes — we’d like to venture a prediction of our own: Playmatehood should be just the beginning for the remarkable Miss Myers.
(Ibid.)

Girls of Summer: Jan Roberts, Miss August 1962

October 6, 2010


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

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


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

(“Bunny Hug.” Playboy, August 1962.)


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

(Ibid.)

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

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

(Ibid.)

Hell, yeah, EAT SPAGHETTI!


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

(Ibid.)

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



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

(Ibid.)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Gesa Meiken photographed by Mario Casilli.

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

The Girls of Summer: China Lee, Miss August 1964

June 17, 2010

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


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

(“China Doll.” Payboy, August 1964.)


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

(Ibid.)

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

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

(Ibid.)

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

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

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

(Ibid.)

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

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


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

(Ibid.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valentine Vixens: Miss February 1973, Cyndi Wood

February 2, 2010


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

Miss February 1973 was the lovely and talented Cynthia Wood, a model and actress from an established Hollywood family.

Her mother was an actress, her father a recording-company executive and, as a Hollywood native to boot, Cyndi naturally gravitated to the entertainment world. “My parents’ friends were actors, producers and directors; my friends were their sons and daughters.”


“For as long as I can remember, my life was nothing but lessons.” Cyndi admits that there were times she felt pressured. “Whenever there was a school play, I’d try out for it. Whenever the chorus auditioned, I was there. Between those activities and my dance and music instruction, I had little time to think about what I wanted to do.” But she’s far from bitter about the experience. “I’ve always liked being in the spotlight,” says Cyndi.

No complaints from this corner. You keep on shining, kiddo. Psst. This playful shoot by Pompeo Posar has a fun theme that sends up Cyndi’s Beverly Hills background; see if you can guess it before the end when I display the spoiler picture.

(If this pictures does not asplode your brain with its cuteness, you have an old and joyless soul.)

For a while, our Playmate tried her hand at fashion designing (“just for myself”), songwriting and even sound engineering (“I do some great mixing and can work off any 16-track”).

Well, hey, Mr. Deejay. That is pretty cool shit. I do not imagine a lot of ladies were doing that, even by ’73. (Cue slew of vitriolic emails from the Historical Society of Female Deejays Against Boobies. It’s cool because I always wanted a reason to talk to Samantha Ronson.)


“I love being in front of people,” Cyndi says. “I suppose it appeals to the actress in me. In fact, much of my work in commercials calls for acting. Sometimes I even get a chance to sing and dance, too, and that’s great.” (“Class Act,” Playboy, February 1973)

Some of Cyndi’s credits include Warren Beatty’s Shampoo and, even more prestigiously, Apocalypse Now, in which she played the Playmate of the Year (breathtaking range, like, are you blown away?). You can check that out on the youtube. Her scenes in the 1979 theatrical release of Coppola’s masterpiece were brief though memorably jiggly, but in the 2001 Redux directors’ cut release, her part was expanded significantly.



IN MY SPARE TIME: I sew and design clothes and write and sing tunes.
GREAT FOODS: Spaghetti and stew.
I LOVE BEING A PLAYMATE: Because it pays well and it’s great publicity. I also have no hang-ups about nudity when it’s in the right place or situation.
(Playmate data sheet)

Heck, yeah, spaghetti and nudity. Ms. Wood, you have won my hard heart. You may slide on up to Northern California any ol’ time to hoark down some pasta and marinara with me while we sew and sing “Hello, Dolly!”

In some of these pictures she looks like Sharon Tate when she had her hair strawberry blonde for Polanski’s Fearless Vampire Killers (the picture they met making), and it’s kind of weirding me out. Is anyone else seeing it? Bueller? No? Just me, then? Cool.

According to the imdb, “Cynthia gave an especially lively and winning performance as sassy spitfire Moon in the enjoyable drive-in comedy romp Van Nuys Blvd.” I have not seen this 1979 film, so I cannot speak to claims of her lively winningness, but the imdb offers the following lines as “memorable quotes:”

Officer Albert Zass: Why won’t you help me?
Biker: Because you’re The Man, man.

and

Bobby: If we don’t get a doctor down here right now out I’m gonna shut your mouth permanently!
Nurse: You cant talk to me like that!
Bobby: Oh, I can’t, can’t I?
[slams fist down]
Nurse: Okay, okay! Stay right there.

This Bobby seems like a rough young customer. Nurses are nice people, mister. Show some respect — that woman went to school to help sick people. Sheesh. The description of the movie mentions “topless dancers,” so, two guesses what part Ms. Wood played.

Besides making appearances as herself on “The Sonny and Cher Show” (awesome) and “The Jim Stafford Show” (I’m too young to reckon at all what that was), Cyndi did CSA (that’s casting agent) work for Michael Lesner, which is either a typo or his completed projects have not made it on to imdb. A mystery.

That was the theme of the shoot. Go back and look at the pictures and see how the story comes together. Cute, right? I think it’s cute. I suppose I should be chagrined and outraged or whatever by the “Rich Bitch” slogan, but I think it’s funny. Besides, didn’t I hear that women had, like, reclaimed the word “bitch” or some such? I don’t remember, I was probably busy ironing and cooking a roast while serenely giving birth. All with a book balanced on my head to practice posture. That’s the kind of good old-fashioned second-class class I’m bringing to the picnic. Hope you can keep up.

These days, Ms. Wood is actually Doctor. Despite admitting to some aimless early-on academic meandering in her Playboy interview, it seems she finally found a true interest and pursued it with admirable tenacity, earning a Ph.D. in psychology. That should keep her in zebra-skin rugs and studded tank tops quite adequately. Rock on, gorgeous!

Sam Haskins Month Day 1: When art imitates art

December 1, 2009


“Kate in Jail”: one of the photographs that launched a thousand rip-offs.

Sam Haskins’ legendary collection Cowboy Kate is beautiful, wild, incredible art. I believe you can see its influence in nearly every major photographer working in erotica and artistic nudes today, and the influence spills over in to other art forms (Sin City, anyone? — I will prove that point another day) as well.

It is all well and good when art imitates life. But what happens when art imitates art? And uncredited to boot? All hell breaks loose is what!

I have already pointed out the low-class ripping off of Haskins done by Pompeo Posar on the cover of this 1965 November issue of Playboy, but, not having a hard copy of the magazine in front of me, I admit that I do not 100% know for certain that there is not some tiny line of text buried in the masthead citing Haskins as the source of the idea, so I am only partially incensed on that one: jury’s out, you know?


Photographed by Pompeo Posar: model’s name is Beth Hyatt

Much more recently, some shit the fan when, on his very entertaining blog, Sam Haskins took photographer Tom Munro and the UK edition of Elle magazine to task for what is inarguably very blatant and unmistakable composition thievery, with an unforgivable lack of credit.

Of course there are those who say that imitation is the highest form of flattery but that’s garbage, when it looks like theft, tastes like theft and smells like theft – then guess what?

The May 2008 cover shoot for British Elle featured Madonna as Cowboy Kate. This wasn’t a case of ‘influence’ – dipping into my books for a spark of inspiration or developing an idea or a variation on a theme – this was plain stealing.


One of the highly disputed and disrespectable Munro Madonna images in question.

One monitor in the studio was plastered with images from my books including the iconic shot of Kate with her black hat over one eye and next to it another monitor with the copies – literally an identical copy of Kate, live digital images of Madonna from Tom Munro’s camera. This is as brazen an example of photographic plagiarism – straight forward stealing – as you will ever see.


left: Kate from Haskins’ book; right: Madonna in Munro’s shoot

… Arianne Phillips holds forth on “the concept” of the shoot without mentioning Sam Haskins or Cowboy Kate at all. The commissioning magazine Elle also stays silent in print and online. The photographer Tom Munro who, (at the time of writing ) has a Cowboy Kate rip-off image on his website cannot find the honesty to give credit. Many of his photographs are very ‘reminiscent’ of my work as well as that of Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Sarah Moon and on occasion, David Hamilton.

Munro, you are straight called out! What is that like??

I wish I could say those are the only cases, but Sam Haskins is such a superfly amazing guy that he “inspires” slews of eager young b&w photographers. For example, Haskins aficionados on the tumblr have observed this well-liked picture floating about which is a clearly Kate-derived piece:


Via bebe le strange.

In every case now when that photo gets reblogged on tumblr, the text “This is such a rip-off of Cowboy Kate by Sam Haskins,” accompanies it. Yes. Good on them for spotting an imitator and making sure the original source got proper credit. It’s well and good to appreciate a new, well-shot photo, but when the roots are so clear-cut, it’s important to cite that source. Sam himself said so; come on!

Now here is how you do such a thing right: the company Valdés Wright represents fashion photographers. On their website they have a lovely portfolio shot by Tom Sorensen and produced by AVK, which is specifically titled, “Cowboy Kate 2008,” and described as, “Inspired by Sam Haskins’ famous 1964 book, Cowboy Kate & Other Stories, a beautiful outlaw eludes the sheriff while awaiting her lover.” Below is an example from the shoot, which is not very NSFW, so feel free to click through safely for once.


By Tom Sorensen

That’s how you borrow an idea while still gracefully paying homage. None of this sneaky stuff. Amateur hour with that Munro chicanery, I swar to gar. Can you believe that shit? I love that Haskins ripped him a new one.

This has been Day 1 of Sam Haskins Month!

NSFW November: Kaya Christian, Miss November 1967

November 27, 2009

Kaya Christian, Miss November 1967, was previously a diving and backstroke champ, then a water ballerina, and finally was certified as a SCUBA instructor just before this issue of Playboy went to print. I guess what I’m saying is, she’s in to watersports.


Photographed by Bill Figge and Ed DeLong

You know what I’ve noticed? It seems like the more vintage the playmate, the more the chance you will find a few butt shots. I don’t just mean shots where there is a naked hind end in the picture, I mean ones where the whole composition is framed around it; where it is solely the focal point, like you don’t even see boobs or anything else, practically.

It just seems like if a playmate is from the mid-60’s to late 70’s, you are practically guaranteed at least one photograph of the model looking over her shoulder or in profile with her ass aimed at the camera. Playboy has really went the boob-focused route since the 80’s and 90’s, all the way to the early 2000’s, and it seems it has been done at the price of the derriere. Sometimes the back side can be the best side, guys. It is now retro to have just-buns-pics in nudie spreads. Write that down.

A California native who spent her childhood in Georgia, Kaya enjoyed painting and music (so far, so good), late nights/early mornings (still solid), and listed as her idea of a good meal “shellfish and milkshakes.” Screeeee. What the unholy fuck?! Get out of the car, Ms. Christian. You’re walking. That’s easily the grossest thing I’ve heard all week, and most of my countrymen cooked a bird carcass in the last two days (the nasty phrases and descriptions that get bandied about when the subject is poultry roasting truly revolt me).

One of her turn-offs was “draft-card burners.” Oh, my. Sounds like the little swimming, naked girl has her some political opinions, enough so to list that in Playboy. Why don’t you go hoark down a bucket of oysters and a strawberry shake, sister, and save the sanctimonious shit for a rag that ain’t built on skin? Nobody cares if you uphold traditional family values (not to mention that the issue of the appropriateness of a draft for the Vietnam War was never, ever, except in the cheapest of rhetoric, about patriotism and being a good or a bad person).

This is what I was trying to point out in the last post, when I talked about Donna Edmondson and what she went through after admitting to being a virgin. The whole socio-religious-politics and porn thing just don’t mix. They don’t have to. I just think that if you try, you’re missing the point. It’s Playboy, honey. It’s not a pageant.


This is an example of a legit super-clever cover. See how her hips and ass form the bunny’s head and the straps that snake around the open back make his ears? Very nicely done. Another Beth Hyatt/Pompeo Posar pairing.

Weirdly, they talk about her work as

…laboring in the catacombish darkness of one of the West Coast’s largest photo-processing labs.

Thoughts on that? She talks about going to Catalina, so she’s in So-Cal. What’s down in the LA area in the way of Kodak-Eastman, etc? Because I could not at all place that reference.

NSFW November: Pat Russo, Miss November 1965

November 27, 2009

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


Photographed by Pompeo Posar

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

It’s nice to have goals.

NSFW November: Janet Lupo, Miss November 1975

November 17, 2009

As I mentioned before, I have more playmates than days in the month so I’m doubling up today and pretty much every day ’til the end of November; can’t miss a Miss, that would be a tragic oversight.

The lovely and talented Janet Lupo began as a bunny in Hoboken, New Jersey, but was persuaded to pose as the centerfold for the November, 1975 issue of Playboy.


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

For my money, she looks like a more bummed-out, more stacked version of Faye Valentine. (If you don’t know who that is, I recommend that you don’t google her even at all if you are at work.) Anyway, I’ve been crunching some numbers and I’m pretty sure there are a disproportionate number of redheaded Miss Novembers, but I’ll do a final tally at the end of the month.

Quite the tan for a Jersey girl, but I guess they got the shore. And it looks like she has been following Sophia Loren’s advice that if a lady wants curves she ought to eat lots and lots of spaghetti, so good on her for that! From Ms. Lupo’s official site: “Janet is 5’6″ and measures 39-25-36 (100% Natural) and is of Italian/Czech/Irish descent. She is currently living on the East Coast with her son, whom she absolutely adores.”

If you are into astrological bunk, Janet is an Aquarius with Scorpio rising and moon in Taurus. That probably means there is a list of attributes about her that could apply to anyone with an open mind, and she should do something generic like weigh risks today before making decisions, which no one ever thinks to do unless the horoscope says to, right? Boy, I’m grouchy about the zodiac today. I guess my Mars is in retrograde or some kind of bullshit.


It was April 1974 when I drove up to Playboy’s Great Gorge Resort hotel in McAfee, NJ. I didn’t have an appointment with the ‘Bunny Mother,’ but that didn’t stop me from pretending as if I did. The security guard called the ‘Bunny Mother’ on the phone and told her I was waiting to meet with her for our interview. To my surprise he said, “Sandy, the ‘Bunny Mother’ will see you now.” After the interview, she told me she usually telephones you within two weeks if you’re to be hired as a ‘Bunny’ but in this instance she said, “I’m hiring you on the spot cause you have ‘chutzpah’.” She knew all along that I didn’t have an appointment, but she never let on until that moment. — Janet Lupo, official bio.

Today, Ms. Lupo travels to Glamourcon and is available for other public appearances. She has worked previously as a bartender and real estate agent, and presently works as a cosmetologist. You can order autographed photos and trading cards from her official site.