Monday, 8 February 2010

Venus Revealed: The Pubic Wars 4 1972 Part 1

1971 had seen Playboy officially go pubic but the question was: what were they going to do next? Some felt, even on the staff,  that this might even be a situation that they might retreat from and return to their pre-pubic days. In other words, essentially, demonstrating that they could do what Penthouse could but didn't have to. This, however, would have been fine if it was just a case of taste but consideration of this alone stopped being an option when Penthouse's rocketing circulation was taken into account.

Patricia Barrett and photographer

January's Penthouse presented an image of Bob Guccione himself, refected in one of his characteristic mirror shots, with January's Pet, Patricia Barrett.

Barrett's pictorial contained a record number of pubic shots plus the most provocative centrefold Penthouse had yet produced. Moreover, the future Pet of the Year had very wispy pubes and in one shot a hint of her slit is visible.

Patricia flashes herself

Whilst Patricia was Penthouse's first American Pet of the decade, over at Playboy there had been considerable agonising over the British girl who was due to be their centrefold for January.  Just as Hefner and his team had pondered the issue of Liv Lindeland's sunlit curls a year before so similar discussions would revolve around the statuesque Marilyn Cole

Speaking of Lindeland, Playboy ran it's now usual "gallery" type cover for January 1972.  One of the chosen centrefolds was Liv's and, although it is a very small picture and the famous sun-kissed highlights have been removed, hers was the first pubic hair to appear on the cover of Playboy.

That month's edition also carried an advertisement for Playboy's first share issue causing someone to joke that they were "the only company that had gone public and pubic at the same time".

1972's Miss January, Marilyn Cole, was a 21 year old Co-op check out girl from Portsmouth when she arrived in London to try out for a job as a Bunny at the Playboy Club. Having auditioned wearing a bikini and thigh high snakeskin boots it was not, perhaps, surprising that she was successful.  On the first day of her Bunny training she was spotted by London chief Victor Lownes who took some nude photographs of her and sent them off to Hugh Hefner in Chicago. Hefner was sufficiently impressed to ask for her to fly over and it wasn't long before Marilyn had been seduced on Hefner's notorious round revolving bed. Marilyn to and froed between London and Chicago, with Hefner basically constantly rejecting her Playmate photographs as an excuse to get her back to America. This delayed her appearance in Playboy until it was decided that she would go into the January 1972 issue.

A major complication arose in that somewhere along the way Cole fell in love with Lowndes. There was, not surprisingly, some tension between the two men over her and, indeed, at one point she left Lownes and went to the Playboy Mansion West in Los Angeles for a time so that she could be "available" to Hefner when she was there.

Marilyn on the Roxy Music Album cover

She then went out with Bryan Ferry for a time (She appeared on the cover of the Roxy Music Album Stranded) but eventually went back to Lownes and they married in 1984. Perhaps surprisingly, they are still married. She is now a writer who has wriiten for the Guardian and GQ, amongt others.

Marilyn Cole (centre) at a Bunny reunion in the UK in 2008. Still looking great at the age of 59

Back in Chigago, Hefner was agonising over Cole's centrefold shot. He had two pictures to consider: in one Marilyn held her arm over her groin, the other was defiantly full frontal. Hefner only decided at the very last minute to go full frontal when the deadline to go to print had absolutely been delayed as long as possible.

First full frontal Playmate centrefold

Like Liv Linedland's barrier breaking shot from a year previously, this centrefold was also shot by Alex Urba. The picture is really quite modest; Marilyn is in quite a lot of shadow (it's a beautifully lit photograph), although the light delightfully highlights the hairs on her tummy.

Leiko in the Playmate review

Also in the January issue, Playboy carried its annual Playmate review.  Miss June 1971, Leiko English, then having just passed her training to be a Jet Bunny on Hefner's notorious DC-9 "Big Bunny", provided a full frontal when she hadn't flashed her fur at all in her Playmate pictorial.  Ironic, really as she was one of the first girls to give a glimpse of her pubic hair when she appeared as a Bunny in August 1970, posing for the magazine's first full page picture where a girl showed her fluff (just).

Playboy, however, knew that it was playing catch up. Penthouse had featured it's first full frontal centrefold the previous August. Over the next few months they would come out with ever bolder shots.

Carole gives photographer Eugene Finkei an eyeful for February's Penthouse

In February, Carole Augustine, a rare ethnic Pet (she was part Brazilian), was photographed in a pose that certainly set the imagination running.  Again, it highlights the difference between the approaches of the two magazines.  Not looking at the camera, she smiles as she plays with her breast, her legs defiantly spread. 

Carol on the cover of Oui in April 1975

Carol would go on to be the centrefold in the Playboy owned Oui magazine in May 1975 and the cover girl the following year.  She appeared in other magazines as well, including Men Only and you can see more of her pictures in our piece about her here.  Sadly, she died in 1975 at the age of just 21.

After January's boldly full frontal Marilyn Cole it was back to a covered up centrefold again for February
Who are we?

Penthouse would become famous for its couples pictorials but at this point the first of these was still ten months into the future.  In Playboy, that month, however, they ran a pictorial called Who are We? featuring a couple illustrating an article on sensuous touching. For the time this was really quite bold and Playboy would run more of these couples pictorials over the next few years.

In March, Penthouse featured a girl they called Billie Deane who was photographed sitting on a chair not only full frontal but also with her legs defiantly apart. This was another photo which was closely examined, in some disbelief, at Playboy HQ.

March 72: Bille Deane spreads out

Billie Deane later became better known under her real name of Gillian Duxberry and became one of the most successful Page 3 girls and models of the seventies.

Gillian Duxberry: Perky for Page 3 in the Seventies

Over at Playboy whilst a few Playmates were giving coy flashes of their groins most of the magazine's pubic content continued to be in their other pictorials. Penthouse was still handicapped by only having two pictorials at the time but they were making the most of it by including a second girl who would display the same sort of sensuality and pubic display as their Pets. Playboy often featured actresses, such as Valerie Perrine who would only go topless.

Sophie enjoys herself in the sea - March 1972

In the same issue as Bille Deane, Penthouse had French model Sophie Francoise Boulet ecstatically washed by the sea in her see through knickers. Playboy now acknowledged it had to fight back against this more "European" approach and, ironically it was Bob Guccione who gave them the opportunity.

Lui from April 1972. About to send Guccione coconuts!

In the spring of that year Playboy learned, to their horror, that Penthouse was planning to launch a second mens' magazine in conjunction with French publisher Daniel Filipacchi (b 1928).

The venerable Paris-Hollywood

In the early sixties Filipacchi had decided to launch a magazine in France that would be more like Playboy, with its wider lifestyle interests, than the dozens of girlie magazines then being published in the country at the time. The most popular men's magazines in France at this time were the digest sized Paris-Hollywood, first published in 1946 and La Vie Parisienne which had been published since the eighteen nineties!  France, which had invented the girlie magazine, was finding that Playboy and the new American magazines arriving in its wake, as well as European competitors from Scandinavia, were making its mens' magazines look very dull and old fashioned indeed.

Daniel Filipacchi

Filipacchi was originally a fashion photographer and had then moved into radio broadcasting, music production and then as a publisher of music magazines.  He set up Lui with his friend Frank Ténot and Jacques Lanzmann.  The first edition came out in November 1963 and was an immediate success, so Hefner could see that it had staying power.

The first issue of Lui from November 1963

Playboy barged in whilst negotiations with Guccione had been all but concluded and somehow persuaded Filipacchi that a tie up with Playboy would be better than the deal with Penthouse. Playboy had realised that if there was going to be a publisher with two magazines in their stable it had to be them and not the upstart from across the Atlantic.

Bob Guccione in 1972

Hefner and Playboy's vision on this was quite clear. Filipacchi would get the license to publish Playboy in France and Playboy would get to publish a new magazine based on Lui in the US. The magazine would, according to Hefner have a "European accent in its humor, reviews and approach to photography". It would be aimed at the younger market which Penthouse had targetted and would release Playboy from having to compete with Penthouse in more and more explicit content. Guccione was furious, of course!

Arty in March

Meanwhile, however, in the early part of 1972, Playboy continued to be dragged along in its competition with Penthouse.  The cover for that month showed a clever picture of a girl painted on a wine bottle.  Penthouse never went for this arty approach and continued to just show a conventional photograph of one of  the girls featuring inside.  March's Playmate Ellen Michaels did display herself in one large picture in her pictorial but in her centrefold her dark bush was largely obscured by a curious Red Indian belt thing.

Ellen Michaels for March

Playboy's cover for April, however, dropped the arty approach seen on many of its covers for a pure Penthouse-type photograph of a girl (Rosie Holotik) photographed in a soft natural light, in floaty see-through dress exposing the profile of a pert breast. They even featured some of Bob Guccione's trademark out of focus foliage in the foreground. It was a brilliant interpretation of the Penthouse style, with no eye contact with the viewer giving it that voyeuristic quality.

Sensual in April

Despite the promising cover, inside it was a pretty fur free zone with the pubic content largely being down to a small photograph of actress Tiffany Bolling.

Tiffany unveils herself

Penthouse's cover for April was its most revealing and sensual so far, with their cover girl, December 1971 Pet Lynne Partington,  sprawled on a bed, one nipple partly exposed and her groin just about covered by a fold of fabric.

Inside, the UK edition featured a two page retrospective on the magazine, which had now reached its seventh year. It was quite clear which achievement they were most proud of:

"Formerly the depiction of pubic hair was unaccountably deemed obscene, and risked prosecution. Nudes had therefore to be ingeniously posed, using artifices such as drapes and shadow, to ensure that the photograph concealed their natural hirsute endowment. Little by little Penthouse has bravely breached this absurd convention, beginning with obscure glimpses and proceeding to full frontals, in which pubic hair is simply accepted as a natural (and rather modest) part of the human anatomy. This daring innovation, appearing in our US edition as well as the British, was a pace-setter on both sides of the Atlantic. Playboy itself-and of course the British men's glossies- has followed the Penthouse leadership, transforming its famous airbrushed centrefold with an admission of sexual fleece."

Whilst happily trumpeting their victory over Playboy the article gives itself away in that it argues on one hand that pubic hair is a "natural part of the human anatomy" whilst acknowledging that it is "sexual". April's centrefold showed the way Penthouse was going in their pictorial on Pet of the Month Marianne Gordon who became the first girl in the magazine to be depicted actually touching her pussy.

Marianne strokes it

May's Playboy featured a more conventional portrait cover of Hefner's girlfriend Barbi Benton.

Inside, Playmate Deanna Baker poses for a black and white shot  that gave even Penthouse a run for its money.  Given that Penthouse had only just published its first photo of a girl touching her pussy, this shot of an ecstatic looking Deanna with her fingers firmly on the previously forbidden zone, in what is really the first faux masturbation shot in either magazine, was something of  a landmark.

Deanna raunches it up for Playboy in May 1972

Not much of the girl next door about this one. Deanna would go on to pose for Penthouse five years later (under the name Rebecca Devanport) in an even racier shoot

Penthouse's May issue presented that month's Pet Sharon Bailey, in only their second bare-bottomed cover picture.

May 1972 Sharon loves hers

Inside Sharon poses for the most assertive pubic picture in either magazine so far. She is positively revelling in her delightfully bushy pussy, although it lookslike her bush has been doctored to avoid visible labia.

Liv stretches the imagination

The first six months of the year finished with Playboy featuring their first pubic Playmate, Liv Lindeland, on the cover as Playmate of the Year for 1972; a suitable reward for her taboo breaking centrefold. The cover itself was much more assertively sexual than most of those before with a defiantly perky Liv straining against the fabric of her pink top.

Debbie Davis June 1972

This issue also gave us Playboy's first pubic centrefold since Marilyn Cole back in January: Debbie Davis, looking completely delightful in a bubble bath, in one of Playboy's finest centrefold shots ever.

Playboy got David Hamilton, whose naturally lit, voyeuristic style was closest to that of Penthouse to contribute a pictorial on French literary women which he illustrated in his characteristic soft-focus way (above).

The cover of June's Penthouse trumpeted the opening of the magazine’s ambitious Penthouse Adriatic Club resort in Krk, an island off the coast of Yugoslavia. Guccione put $45 million into this casino resort that spread along one mile of coastline and included a recreation of an entire fishing village.  This was the first manifestation for his penchant for grand projects.

The Penthouse resort on Krk

The resort opened that very month, on June 15th 1972 with the first American guest arriving two weeks later.  Also flown over from America were 70 employees to work alongside the Yugoslavian state-owned partners, including a group of Pets.

Pets work the casino in Krk, June 1972

The strikingly modernist hotel was designed by local architect Boris Magas and is in the town of Malinska-Dubašnica in what is now Croatia.  Sadly, the hotel is now abandoned and is slowly falling into ruin.

The hotel in 1972
The hotel in 2008

To celebrate Penthouse presented their first Yugoslavian Pet, Nevenka Dundek. She was a reasonably established actress working in Italy and Germany.  She also appeared inside and on the cover of Mayfair under the name Nanette in 1973.

Penthouse showcased the candidates for the Pet of the Year and included this assertive groin grasping shot of Tina McDowell, the girl whose original pubic pictorial had caused such consternation in the Playboy editorial offices nearly two years previously.

In the next episode we will look at the second half of 1972 when Hefner launched his planned Penthouse smashing new magazine, Oui, onto the market.

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