Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Venuses

Bettie Page  for January 1955

Here we present a baker's dozen of December Venuses with a Christmas theme from Playboy.  It would seem obvious to have a Christmas themed centrefold in the December issue you would have thought.  In fact, Playboy's first (and easily most famous) Christmas centrefold came in the January 1955 issue when Bettie Page winked herself into immortality for the lens of Bunny Yeager.  Despite the proliferation of naughty Santa's since then (we remember, fondly, K's little outfit) she is the only Playmate to actually be shown wearing any part of the traditional Christmas attire.

Janet Pilgrim for December 1955

1955 became the only year to have two Christmas themed centrefolds as the magazine switched to the December issue for their sporadic festive efforts. Playboy staffer (she worked in the circulation department) Janet Pilgrim (real name Charlaine Karalus) had already appeared in the magazine as Playmate of the Month for July that year (she would appear for a record third time in October 1956).  Thuis picture was also used for the annual Playboy subscription cards.

Ellen Stratton for December 1959

It was four years before Playboy ran another Christmas-themed centrefold picture but here, bringing their launch decade to a close, is legal secretary Ellen Stratton.  Photographed by William Graham her visible strands of fluff were, of course, airbrushed out in the magazine version of the centrefold.  The following year she became Playboy's first ever Playmate of the Year.

Carol Eden for December 1960

A year later William Graham, again,  produced a very similar centrefold picture for Carol Eden loading it with even more festive imagery.  Ten years later Carol would give birth to a daughter, Simone, who became Playmate of the Month for February 1989.

Susan Bernard for December 1966

If Triple P could wish for one of these Christmas crackers under his tree it would definitely be the squeezable Miss Bernard.  Mario Casilli lights her to emphasise all her soft contours and creates prbably the most seductive Christmas Playmate of them all.  Susan Bernard was the daughter of holocaust survivor Bruno Bernard, better known as Bernard of Hollywood, photographer to the stars. Eighteen years old at the time, her father contributed some of the (clothed) black and white pictures of her in her pictorial.  At the time of this pictorial she had just finished what would become the cult Russ Meyer film Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965).  Latterly she has written a book about her father's photographs of Marilyn Monroe.

Cynthia Myers for December 1968

Just about qulifying as a Christmas centrefold (because of the presence of the white bear with his holly bow tie) is Cynthia Myers.  What do you mean you didn't notice the bear?  Now Triple P is not a bust man but good grief!  Cynthia was soon displaying her 39DD-24-35 assets in another Russ Meyer film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970). Something of a classic for retro centrefold spotters the film also features Playboy playmate Dolly Read (May 1966) and much of the music was by Penthouse Pet of the Month Lynn Carey (December 1972).

Erica, Jaclyn and Nicole Dahm for December 1998

Apart from a few winter, rather than Christmas, themed centrefolds it would be thirty years  before there was any festive element in a centrefold.  To make up for these barren three decades Playboy gave us three presents in the lissome forms of triplets Erica, Jaclyn and Nicole Dahm.  They later went on to success in home improvement reality TV shows and some drama series including Triple P guilty pleasure, Relic Hunter.

Lani Todd for December 2002

This time it was only a four year wait and we got a fully-fledged Christmas centrefold for Lani Todd by Arny Freytag.  It had been forty years since we had seen Playboy going quite so festive.  Lani had previously been a Playboy Cyber girl but her pictorial was pulled when she appeared as Playmate of the Month. For more see our previous post on her here.

Tiffany Fallon for December 2004

Christmas centrefolds returned with a vengeance in the noughties with Tiffany's main pictorial also featuring her in this Christams setting.  Tiffany, a former Miss Georgia, developed a good career in the entertainment industry and married a country music star.

Kia Drayton for December 2006

Another two year gap and then another Christmas tree for Kia Drayton photographed by Stephen Wayda.  The following year she was arrested with her boyfriend for having a kilogramme of cocaine in their hotel room.  He got ten years but charges against her were dropped.  The wrong sort of snow,obviously.

Sasckya Porto for December 2007

A lovely, retro-looking Christmas presentation by Arny Freytag in our only horizontal format Christmas centrefold.  Freytag had shot his first Playmate centrefold thirty years before and brings a lot of seventies boudoir style to this picture of leggy (5'10") Brazilian bombshell Sasckya Porto.  A former Miss Brazil USA she is a successful catwalk model and is our second favourite Christmas cracker here.

Crystal Harris for December 2009

The last Playmate of the noughties saw Crystal Harris photographed by Stephen Wayda with more festive nostalgia with holly decorated fifties hat and retro Christmas LP records; Sinatra of course.   Harris was born in Arizona to British parents and is currently the latest in a long, long line of Playmates that can count themselves as Hugh Hefner's girlfriend.  Curiously, Playboy still uses the hopelessly old fashioned and coy term "dating" for what goes on between the 84 year old Hefner and his, (in this case, 24 year old) girlfriends.

Ashley Hobbs for December 2010

Finally, we come right up to date with this month's plum pudding, 21 year old Miss Ashley Hobbs, who has some Hawaiian blood, which may explain her exotic and enticing eyes.

So, six out of the 12 December Christmas Playmate centrefolds have come in the last ten years.  Let's hope Playboy magazine survives (which is far from certain) to provide many more tinsel enhanced Christmas treats.

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