Monday, 8 February 2010

Venus Revealed: The Pubic Wars 4 1972 Part 2

The second half of 1972 would see the arrival of Playboy's new Oui magazine; designed to poach readers from Bob Guccione's increasingly popular Penthouse. Playboy's July cover, which advertised an article on the history of lingerie inside, was a collage of vintage photographs and much more imaginiative than Penthouse's efforts.

Carol O'Neal for Playboy in July 1972

July saw another pubic Playmate, only the third in thirteen months, Carol O'Neal who was the first Playmate to be shot by later Playboy mainstay photographer Richard Fegley. Carol had been a receptionist for Playboy in Chicago but later married the Chicago Bears quarterback who she met during the shooting of her pictorial.

Paula Pritchet flashes again for July 72

The July issue also carried a feature on two Paulas: actress Pritchett and dancer Kelly.  Co-incidentally (or maybe not) these two had been some of the very first pubic girls in the magazine.

By the middle of 1972 Penthouse's circulation had just passed two million. This was a still a long way short of Playboy but was considerably more than any of the opposition and a significant increase on the original US circulation of less than three years before.

Lesley Sprawls

Pet of the Month for July, Lesley Harrison demonstrated how much the Penthouse girls were now sprawling about with their legs akimbo.  So much so in this case that Guccione had had to resort to the concealing properties of flowers once more.  This time it wasn't the whole pubic area being concealed but just where her labia might be visible.  Guccione, it seems, had already identified the next taboo zone to be attacked.  Also inside Penthouse suffered from a slight case of Playboy-like pictorial as their other photo feature featured minior actress Brooke Mills who kept her nether regions well covered in 1960s style.

Over at Playboy Enterprises Inc. they were getting ready to launch their version of Lui magazine into the US market, which they had christened Oui (although this name caused some concern in the US where many readers didn't know how to pronounce the title). Hugh Hefner had decided that the reason for Penthouse's success was its European character. Half of Oui's content would be put together by Daniel Filipacchi's French team at Lui and half by a Playboy team in the US; although Playboy would get most of the money.

Linda Summers on the beach for August 1972


Hefner hoped that Oui would give him the chance to compete with the increasingly more explicit Penthouse whilst preserving Playboy's girl-next-door approach.    His August Playmate, Linda Summers, joined the still rare group of Playmates who had flashed some fur (very little in her case) in the centrefold.

However, France wasn't the only European country that Hefner had his mind on.  The August issue also featured a pictorial on the Girls of Munich (to tie in with that year's Olympics).  One of the featured girls was twenty year old actress Birgit Zamulo (who was in fact, Austrian).

Birgit (right) with Swedish actress Marie Forså in Girl Meets Girl (1974)

Birgit made her first film the following year and made a number of racy European films over the next decade. 

First foreign edition of Playboy

That month Playboy launched its first foreign edition in Germany. Whilst these foreign editions (more were to follow) would often feature the same Playmates as the American editions, different photographs might be used and, increasingly, local girls were used as Playmates.

Penthouse would have been well aware of the imminent arrival of Oui in the US so it is no surprise that in their August issue Pet of the Month, Maryam Maylam has no less than seven full frontal pictures plus the centrefold.

Maryam feels the fur

She was also shown, in what was still a very rare occurence, sensuously touching her fur.

Playboy magazine receptionist Sandra Josefski gives it some serious platform shoes in this effective shot

September's Playboy came with platform shoes and their most explicit bare bottom shot to date as Sandra Jozefski poses on the cover. That month's Playmate kept her shorts on for the centrefold but gave us a fine fluffy shot elsewhere in her pictorial.

Susan Miller and her sensational tummy

Incidentally, Susan Miller, the Playmate in question, must be the only centrefold ever to be shown in the unemployment office signing on!  She didn't do too badly for herself, however, and ended up in a long relationship with noted British stage director and writer Patrick Garland (although he eventually married actress Alexandra Bastedo (The Champions)-obviously a man of taste).

Also appearing in this issue was the first advertisement for Oui. "Oui is a whole new outlook for the young American man." said the blurb. "An international point of view.  A Continental sense of humor."  Whether a  Continental sense of humor is a good thing is debatable, of course.  It left its description of the girls until last. "And the women.  Truly unique. Truly beautiful.  And quite unlike the girl next door."  Here, then, they admitted to what they hoped would be the great differentiator and the weapon to attack Penthouse.

Penthouse, meanwhile, was ready and put together a strong issue to fight back with.  It was, conveniently, their third anniversary issue in the US so they could trumpet this fact as an attraction on the cover. 

Isobel Orobiyi rubs it for September's Penthouse

September's Pet went even further than the previous month's in the pussy touching stakes, although she was cunningly presented, in another classic Penthouse voyeuristic shot by Bob Guccione, behind some elaborate wrought iron. Nonetheless, nothing could change the fact that she appeared to be actually rubbing her mound, rather than just inadvertantly touching it. If you wanted to identify Penthouse's first faux masturbation shot then this was it. The inference was clear: not only is this a beautiful, naked, sexual girl but you are watching her getting herself excited. The ultimate expression (so far) in Penthouse's voyeuristic approach.

Doubling the pussy power in Woodstock Generation from September 1972

September's Penthouse also featured a set featuring two women photographed at Woodstock (the site of the American pop festival not the town in Oxfordshire). This featured some gentle lesbian cavorting in only their second girl/girl pictorial. Whilst Playboy had recently featured a pictorial of men and women together they had not put two girls together.

In Penthouse's only previous girl/girl pictorial any relationship between the girls was very much implied (almost more by the text than the pictures) whereas this pictorial included a photograph of one girl kissing the other's nipple in a much more sensuous handling of the subject by Amnon Bar-Tur. You can see the entire pictorial here.  Reaction to this pictorial was more positive than to 1970's Two Women with D.O. writing from Palo Alto to say "I am still quivering over Woodstock generation.  Do something like this again...".

Pet of the Year Tina McDowell fluffs herself up in September

Whether this was a deliberate attempt to up the erotic content of that month's edition or not it can't be a coincidence that Penthouse featured three pictorials instead of two that month (the other was of Pet of the Year Tina McDowell) given that this was the launch month of Hefner's new Oui. McDowell had been the girl whose boldly pubic pose in Richmond Park had caused Hefner to comment: "That's not photography. That's pornography."  Here she reappeared as Pet of the Year also touching her fur.

American-born actress Nadia Cassini fronts Oui's first edition

So, what was Hefner's anti-Penthouse publication like? Well, rather like Penthouse really, rather self consciously peppered with "news" stories from Europe, although it had no less than four pictorials, The first, of a Dutch fashion model was pubic free as was the second, introducing Oui's (less talented) equivalent of Vargas, Aslan, in a feature about him photographed at his house where he conveniently seems to keep a supply of undressed girls to hand (who also keep their knickers on).  The first issue's cover featured American actress Nadia Cassini (who, ironically, was born in Woodstock) who also posed nude inside (very much sans knickers).

The magnificent Nadia Cassini

Looking like Penthouse, however, was critical for Playboy in trying to grab readership. A survey in 1972 showed that 95% of Penthouse's readers were in the valuable 18-34 readership category compared with Playboy's 67%.  Oui had to capture the younger market.

Florence and friend in Oui September 1972

Oui was an instant hit; selling all 750,000 of its print run in two weeks. The following month's issue sold 825,000 copies. However, there was soon controversy over their first centrefold who was, according to Oui, a French girl called Florence Fossorier.  Florence was depicted with a man in her pictorial and, indeed, her centrefold, which was certainly a contrast to the Playboy "unseen male presence" or the Penthouse "voyeuristic" approaches.

Lottie in Penthouse March 1971

Penthouse, however, claimed that Florence wasn't Florence at all but was an Austrian model called Lottie Gunthart who had been their March Pet in 1970. Not only was Playboy copying their magazine they were copying their centrefolds too! This may have been a disinformation strategy to annoy Playboy or it may actually have been true. They certainly look identical!

On to October and the annual Bunnies of... feature provided, as had been the case lately, an appropriate dose of fur including this shot of jet Bunny Carole Green reclining in Hefner's DC-9.

"Coffee, tea or me?"

Playboy's October Playmate, Sharon Johansen, also displayed a lovely golden fleece and, indeed, by now it was clear that those who thought that Liv Lindeland's centrefold might be a one off were way off beam as Playboy's Playmates strated to regularly flash the fur in their centrefolds.  Sharon was, in fact, the seventh Playmate to do so in 1972, whereas there had only been three in the whole of 1971.

Sharon Johansen for October 1972

Hefner risked the ire of those from the Deep South with a pictorial featuring American footballer turned actor Jim Brown with a convincingly excited looking Stella Stevens (Miss January 1960).

Stella and Jim fight racism

October's Penthouse featured English girl Janet Dunphy as Pet of the Month who was photographed in and around Guccione's new hotel complex in Yugoslavia.  Having spent so much money on it he was going to promote it for all it's worth.

As this newspaper piece explains Janet used to be a telephonist at a police station before her stint as Pet of the Month switched her over to modelling.

Now then, now then. What's going on 'ere?

Janet's centrefold was notable in that it was the first where the Pet has her hand on her pussy and, also, it was the first legs apart pose in a centrefold picture, offering a glimpse of her mound.

November's Playboy was remarkable for two reason: one immediately apparent the other would take more time.

What became immediately clear was that this issue was Playboy's best selling issue.  Not just up until that moment; it remains their best selling issue ever at an amazing  7,161,561 copies!

Lenna: shortly to become a geek princess and the most printed centrefold in history

The other notable feature of the issue, which would only make it famous in retrospect, was that part of the centrefold featuring Swedish Playmate Lenna Sjööbloom later went on to be used as the industry standard scanning image.

November would also see Playboy launch its second foreign edition, this time in Italy, in conjunction with local publisher Rizzoli

US Cover

The November issue of Penthouse showed the difference between the "naughtier" European and US markets which Oui was seeking to exploit. For the first (but not the last) time Penthouse displayed different versions of the cover picture in the two editions. On the cover of the US edition Pet Angela Adams picture has been cropped and over exposed compared with much more boldly nipple-baring UK version.

UK cover

Inside, Angela posed for a rather curious shot where she seems to be emptying a teapot full of water over her fleece. Perhaps the implication was that her nether regions needed cooling down, in which case a more traditional jug might have made a less eccentric choice!

Pour taste...

The appearance of Oui, rather than enabling Playboy to launch a two front attack on Penthouse, just encouraged more competition, leading to a whole host of new challengers for both Penthouse and Playboy.
Oui for November 1972
The first of these, Gallery, also appeared from a base, like Playboy, in Chicago.  In fact there were more similarities than just the location of its offices.

Gallery's first issue November 1972

Just as Oui was a shameless copy of Penthouse so Gallery was a quite shameless rip-off of Playboy. It was punblished by Ohio entrepreneur Ron Fenton who got the magazine fronted by top criminal attorney F Lee Bailey (later to be one of OJ Simpson's defence lawyers) possibly to frighten off any potential lawsuits! Fenton even insisted on a seven letter title (like Playboy), used the same typeface for the magazine's title and actually opened his office across the street from Playboy in Chicago. The first issue even had the same interview subject (Pullitzer Prize winning columnist Jack Anderson) as Playboy did that month.  Interestingly, the first issue said that the magazine would not enter the "current publishing contest to see who can print the most daring display of pubic hair!" That view would not last!

Gallery's second issue, in December, shows exactly how closely they were copying Playboy. Even the L-shaped layout of the type on the centrefold was the same!  The sunny outdoor centrefold  of Claudie Perrin made a nice change from all those over-done studio shots by Playboy, however.

Gallery also dispensed with the Playboy-type black and white "real life" pictures, however, in favour of, well, black and white nudes of their centrefold.  Other than that, however, the articles, interviews and even the style of the cartoons were amazingly similar.

Claudie in artistic black and white

It's no wonder that readers mistakenly believed Gallery to be a sister publication of Playboy's.  Very annoying for Playboy when they had spent a huge amount of money on Oui (which would never really be profitable).

December Playboy

After November's record circulation the only way for Playboy was down. yes they were still well ahead of Penthouse but the gap was closing rather alarmingly.  Also, whilst Playboy was selling more advertising pages than Penthouse at the end of the year, their total had dropped slightly whereas Penthouse's advertising sales had increased by 20%.

More colour for Mercy

Perhaps feeling the pressure for the first time, Playboy gave December 1972 Playmate, Mercy Rooney, five pages plus the centrefold rather than the usual three.  Importantly, the extra pages were all colour to try to compete with the nine colour pages plus centrefold that Penthouse accorded its Pets.

Half girl, half goat

Miss Rooney flashed a lot of hair in her centrefold but, unfortunately, it seemed to be mostly sheep's hair in one of the strangest centrefold outift choices ever.

By the end of 1972, 99% of Penthouse's sales were from newsstands and  they were making money on every issue even before they sold any advertising..  It wasn't just advertising sales (boosted by employing Penthouse Pets to do a lot of the selling) that were growing, either. By October 1972 Penthouse's circulation was growing by 300,000 copies a month and the total for that month was 2.7 million. By the end of the year Penthouse was printing 4,000,000 copies in the US and another 500,000 in the UK.

Gwen makes free

December's Penthouse brought their first formal boy/girl set with the Ken Marcus photographed  One and One Make Free featuring dancer Gwen Selvage.  The only couples they had had in the magazine before this were those from the sets of the regular film reports they did of, usually, continental films.  But, as we have seen, in this they actually trailed Playboy.

Lynn gives us a hint of Penthouse's first split beaver

December's Pet was singer Lynn Carey who posed to showcase her group, Mama Lion, who also appeared in many of her pictorial's photographs. As a result, she had the lowest number of nude shots of any Pet. However in one of them she displayed a hint of a split mound; neatly leading us on to the next battleground.

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