Monday, 28 February 2011

February Venus: Justine Greiner

 Justine Greiner for February 1982

We have just managed to get February's look at Playmates into the month itself.  An easy winner this month with the erotically charged Justine Greiner in one of Playboy's most overtly sexy centrefolds.

Justine is one of Triple P's favourite eighties centrefolds, not least because with her short, dark hair she goes against the archetype.  Justine is one of those Playmates who came and went without doing any extra work for Playboy.  She was one of the few eighties Playmetes who didn't appear in a Playboy video, for example. This may have been because her pictorial which had been photographed and was scheduled to appear in November 1982 didn't actually appear until February 1984.  Perhaps they lost touch with her.

Justine is a big, strapping girl at 5'9" and 36D-25-35 whereas many of the bigger busted Playmates tend to be on the petite side.  We do know that she appeared under her own name as her sister Corrine Lee (nee Greiner) is an award winning poet.  In the early mid-eighties Playboy pictorials started to get more explicit again having gone back to their early seventies style for some years.  1984 was the year when they pushed the sexual element perhaps more than ever before.  Triple P can still remember buying the issue with Justine's ecstatic hands down her knickers shot.

The strength of her centrefold, shot by Ken Marcus, is her bold gaze, fixed on the viewer whilst cupping and squeezing her monumental bust as she reclines spread-legged in boots and stockings.  Her top half is lit but in her bottom half the only light is a beam focussed on her pussy highlighting her thick bush.  It's not subtle but it is effective!

Sandy Cagle for February 1980

If it hadn't been for the obvious charms of Miss Greiner then this month's winner would have been Sandy Cagle from 1980 as photographed by Pompeo Posar.  Sandy is a real beauty (and not all Playmates are by any means!).  Her thick mane of hair and the fur wrap caress her skin but it's all about those thigh length boots and the enigmatic smile. 

Perfectly perky!

Sandy had been a Bunny girl at the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin resort and had already appeared on the cover of Japanese Playboy four times in 1978 (August, September, November and December which must be some sort of record) before being chosen as Playmate.  She would at last appear as Playmate in the Japan edition the following month, March 1980.  Again, Sandy seems to have dropped off the radar since her appearance.

PJ Lansing for February 1972

For some reason all the February centrefolds we like for are mid to late period ones and this one, PJ Lansing (her first names were never given) is the earliest we have chosen this month.  PJ has very pale skin and the neutral pink background really helps to frame her with some colour.

The curled up pose works very well but the act of genius on photographer Pompeo Posar's part is the corner of the sheet over her shoulder.   It gives the impression that she has just emerged from under the bedclothes and is in a rare moment of calm after a lot of frenzied activity. In fact, Posar later said that photographing PJ and making her figure look attractive was a challenge.  Apparently in most poses she looked a bit "heavy" which is what led to this pose.  Contrast this similar attempt with the ceentrefold: same pose but far less successful.  PJ went on to be a Bunny at the Chicago club but other than that she too has disappered into obscurity.  What is it about the February girls?

Anne-Marie Fox for February 1982

Fast forward to the eighties again for the spectacularly leggy Anne-Marie Fox.  You need to have a really exceptional body to pull off such a pose but the aptly named Miss Fox looks fantastic.  A halo of light surrounds her perfect posterior and her skin shines like caramel sauce.  Delicious.

Really, just quite wonderful!

A little bit more is known about Miss Fox.  A dancer (as is obvious) at the time she posed she went on to do a degree in journalism and then went on to study photography at the New York International Center of Photography. She now works as a successful photographer having had work published in Esquire, Elle, George and Mademoiselle, amongst others.  She specialises in celebrity and movie stills work as well as travel and editorial.  She was partly brough up in Heidelberg and after her Playboy stint lived in Milan and Paris.

Kari Kennell for February 1988

Another spectacular centrefold by Pompeo Posar with Kari Kennell.  Kari's legs emerge from that blue dress like the stamens of a flower making you wish that you were a bee.

Kari went on to become a reasonably successful actress (mainly under her real name of Kari Whitman) in films and TV, appearing in shows like Baywatch (inevitably), The X-files, Murder She Wrote, NYPD Blue and Nash Bridges (she was the girlfriend of Don Johnson, the show's star,  for a time).  In 1994 she founded an interior design firm and gave up acting. In 2007 she had her own reality TV series Designer to the Stars: Kari Whitman where she redesigned rooms for celebrities.  She has worked for the likes of Jessica Alba and Martin Sheen and specialises in using eco-friendly materials.

Kimber West for February 1997

Our final February filly is a rare more recent one from 1997.  Kimber West photographed in front of a mirror by Stephen Wayda.  There is someting very Belle Epoque about this shot; from her corset to her splendid hat.

Kimber reminds Triple P of Jade Ewen or Mylene Klass somwhat and she has mixed Spanish, Dutch, Irish, Cherokee and Polynesian heritage which explains her exotic looks.  She has also gone on to do some acting particularly in the Roger Corman series Black Scorpion.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Venus in Peril: Captive Andromeda by Arthur Hill

Captive Andromeda (1876)

For Victorian painters seeking to make their nudes socially acceptable the classical world was a wonderful justification for depicting naked women.  Even better, for all sorts of reasons, if they could depict a naked chained woman, hence the popularity of Andromeda as a subject.  We have already looked at two examples by Delacroix and Takanen.

A Piper, Arthur Hill

Here is an example by the English artist Arthur Hill, about whom very little is known except that he specialised in classical nudes as well as landscapes and portraits.  His style is like a combination of Alma-Tadema, although with less architecture (Hill reduces the classical elements to small background items) and Poynter, who produced his own Andromeda a few years before this one (which we will look at another time).

Before the Bath (1880), Arthur Hill

Hill's dates are not known although he was active between 1858 and 1893. He worked in Nottingham and London and exhibited at the Royal Academy.  

William Russell-Cotes and his wife Annie on their wedding day, 1860

This picture was owned by the remarkable Victorian collector Sir Merton Russell-Cotes (1835-1921).  Russell-Cotes was born in Staffordshire but his father died when he was seven and he was brought up by his sister and her husband in Glasgow.  Russell-Cotes started in the wine and hotel trade in Glasgow and in 1875, having been unwell and seeking a more temperate climate than Dublin, where he had been living since moving from Scotland, he bought the Bath Hotel in Bournemouth.  After extensive renovation it re-opened in 1880 as the Royal Bath Hotel and was an immense success, hosting the likes of The Prince of Wales, Disraeli and Oscar Wilde.  Russell-Cotes made a great deal of money and was able to indulge his passion for art, which he hung in his hotel.

Russel-Cotes and his wife at home in the Royal Bath Hotel with part of his collection

Apart from pictures by Hill he owned works by Corot, Turner, Alma-Tadema,  Edwin Long, Landseer, Albert Moore, Leighton, Rosetti, Etty and many, many more.  He had a significant collection of nudes which, he recorded, often aroused scandalised comment. 

The main Hall at East Cliff Hall, 1907

Some commentators have identified a sado-masochistic approach to items in his collection but, in fact, Russell-Cotes was a significant patron of women artists which tends to a suggest a less sensationalist view of women. Russell-Cotes also had a significant collection of the then popular orientalist picture and in this category had another Hill, The Egyptian Water Carrier.

The Egyptian Water Carrier

In 1894 he became Mayor of Bournemouth and made plans for his house, East Cliff Hall, which was designed to house his collection and  is now the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery, where his collection can now be seen (including Captive Andromeda). 

East Cliff Hall in 1907
His collection became so large, even though he sold around a third of it off at Christies in 1905, that  a major extension had to be added to the to the house but this was done after he had given both his collection and East Cliff Hall to the municipality.  He was allowed to continue living there until he died in 1921. Today it is a rare, surviving Victorian collectors house.

East Cliff Hall and the gallery extension which opened in 1919

When it was first exhibited the reviewers saw no dubious elements in a naked, chained girl (or if they did they did not admit to them!).  The Art Journal in 1875 (Hill revised the picture afterwards, hence the 1876 date) said that "Hill makes a by no means unsuccessful dash at the female nude, and has been able to appropriate it to a picture at once classic in tone and chaste in sentiment".

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Venus with a snake 8: Katja Matko

Agent Triple P has been to Slovenia several times and has always been impressed by the beauty of their women, when wandering around the attractive centre of the country's capital, Ljubljana.  Agent Triple P took this photograph of the centre of Ljubljana one September evening in 2006 just before having an excellent dinner with his particular friend B; splendid local wine too!

We haven't had many Slovenian girls in Venus Observations yet so here is Katja Matko, Playboy Slovenia's Playmate of the Month for June 2009. 

5'6" tall Katja is from Slovenia's second largest city Maribor, most famous these days for being a regular venue for Alpine World Cup slalom ski races.  Less positively it was visited by Hitler shortly after the Germans annexed Lower Styria in 1941.

The yellow background looks very good in these pictures.  Katja is a medical student and her 35-24-35 anatomy is appropriately textbook.  The snake, as usual, is the ever popular python.  If you own a big python your chances of being asked to bring it along to be draped around a naked woman for a photoshoot must be quite good.

Perhaps this lucky fellow in the picture below is the proud owner of the python, in action during Katja's shoot in Ljubljana in 2009.

Here we can see her without her snake which has probably slithered off to have a couple of rats for lunch or something.  We have to say that it would be good if any of the current US Playboy's Playmates of the Month were as naturally gorgeous as this: no plastic bust, no ghastly tatoos and she even still has some pubic hair!

The lovely Katja was so popular she was chosen as Playboy Slovenia's Playmate of the Year and looked fresh-faced and natural when presented with the title in April 2010.

Katja is announced as Playmate of the Year last April

She appeared on the cover again in July 2010 in a new pictorial with her hair tied back and a lot shorter compared with the long, wilder look in her snake pictures from the previous year.

Katya looks sensational in her Playmate of the Year issue cover shot shot and displays a quite splendid posterior on this and inside the magazine. 

No doubt this is why she was chosen to model the Slovenian Cult bikes range in the mountains. Triple P enjoys cycling but does find it tricky getting up steep hills sometimes.  The sight of Katja in front of him could just give him the incentive he needs to reach the summit.

Yes. Triple P would follow you anywhere, young Katja!

Slovenian Playboy was first published in 2001 but from what we can see they are featuring lots of gorgeous and natural young women on their pages of which Katja is just one fine example.  American Playboy take note!

We think the sinuous Katja is perfectly s-s-s-splendid!

Monday, 21 February 2011

January Venus: Sally Duberson

Sally Duberson for January 1965

We are desperately posting the selection of January centrefolds so we have at least a faint chance of getting February in actually during the month itself!  Not an outstanding selection again this month but at least the number one choice was an easy pick.

Sally Dubersen, re-energised by her coffee, gives it some more come thither

Sally Duberson from 1965 poses on a chair having a restorative cup of coffee before going back to bed for another good session.  That is if she gets that far and doesn't end up on the shag (!) pile carpet.  A nice Z shaped composition by Pompeo Posar this and her casually spread legs, perky nipples and lazy half smile just ooze sex.  Duberson was a Bunny Girl in both Miami and Baltimore before going to New York to study fashion design.

Virginia Gordon for January 1959

Here is another Playmate using angles to good effect in this picture from 1959.  Gordon was hoping for a Hollywood career when she posed for photographer Ron Vogel.  Following her appearance as a Playmate she posed nude in a number of other magazines that were then jumping on the Playboy bandwagon, prompting Hugh Hefner to introduce a two year exclusive contract with his models from then on. 

Virginia Gordon sitting pretty

Virginia did go on to make half a dozen films including Tonight for Sure (1962), the directorial debut of Francis Ford Coppola.  Again, its the faintly naughty smile that's the winner here as well as the "just hanging around your bathroom" vibe.  Photographer Ron Vogel was one of the top glamour photgraphers in Los Angeles at this time and was well connected with the movie industry and, apart from his magazine work, went on to have a more than forty year career as stills photographer on a whole slew of racy films from 1960 until 2003.

Judi Monterey for January 1963

Our third choice, Judi Monterey, was nearly this month's winner.  Photographed by one of the greatest pin-up photographers in history, Peter Gowland, in his own bathroom in California, she was only the second centrefold to be photographed in the bath (after Colleen Farrington in October 1957). 

Judi can do sexy as well as cute in the bubbles

A tiny 5'1" tall, she manages to twist her body so that she displays both her bottom and bust.  Her appeal is in her cute smile and her foamy tipped breasts.  Did she put the foam there or did she have someone to help her?  Whatever, you are torn between wanting to jump in and either wash the suds off or put more on.

Debra Jensen for January 1978

From 1978 we have Debra Jensen in a rather old-fashioned studio-bound shot by Phillip Dixon.  Her pose doesn't look that natural or comfortable but the horizontal swoosh effect of the coat, roses and drapery take your eye along the length of her tanned body.  Dixon shot six centrefolds for Playboy between 1976 and 1978.  He was more prolific on covers, taking no less than seventeen between 1975 and 2003.  Dixon is now a well known fashion and advertising photographer whose clients include Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Ray-Ban and Paramount Pictures but it was Playboy who gave him his big break.  Jensen's tan lines emphasis her natural coloured looking pubic hair which is almost dead centre in the picture.  Dixon's lighting gives it such texture that you feel you can reach into the picture and stroke it.

Debra a little more upright

Jensen, who also had a contract with Coppertone, went on to marry Peter Criss from the band Kiss whom she met at a party thrown by Rod Stewart but they eventually divorced after five years.  Jensen was also one of a pool of girls that Hugh Hefner had in the late seventies along with Patti McGuire, Monique St. Pierre, Susan Kiger, Hope Olson and Daina House amongst others. 

Karen Elaine Price for January 1981

Now Triple P has never been a big bust man in real life.  Amongst his former girlfriends only SA and K could be said to have had really big busts.  He finds girls with very big busts can look rather odd, especially, ironically, when dressed.  However, there is a certain visual power a large bust can have in glamour photographs when femininity tends to be exaggerated anyway.  A very good example of this is Karen Elaine Price from 1981.  Playboy loves big busts and few have been as impressive as Miss Price's. 

Karen uses gravity to demonstrate she is entirely natural

Photographer Ken Marcus, who originally worked for Penthouse,  makes it quite clear what the focus of his picture is.  Price's amazing 38 inch breasts shine forth from the page like two giant moons; their pale skin making them appear to float in three dimensions above the rest of her body, which has been artfully crammed into the three page format. Price, who used to be a gymnast when she was younger, went on to become an actress, stuntwoman and now TV producer.

Irina Voronina for January 2001

Finally, we have an unusually late, for Triple P, entry in the stunning shape of Russian playmate Irina Voronina from 2001.  Although we are not a fan of the later over-Photoshopped style of Playboy photographer, this effort, by veteran Playboy snapper Arny Freytag places the beautifully sculpted Irina in front of a blood red background as she steps out of the shower like twenty-first century succubus.

She'll suck you dry

Irina, who was originally a fashion model in Russia, now appears regulary on TV and in the cinema.  Voronina hit the headlines in 2009 following several appearances on the TV show Entourage when she claimed some of the actors on the show didn't know where acting the bad boy and real life ended.  She claimed that she was summarily fired from the show in the middle of a shoot for being "rude", for which read not being nice enough, to some of the actors.  Unfortunately, this is always a problem for women who take their clothes of for a living.  Men (especially men with celebrity, money or power) can't tell the fact from the fantasy.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Venus from the rear: paintings by William Etty (1787-1849)

The English painter William Etty is largely forgotten today.  Coming before the great flourishing of figure painting in the mid and late Victorian period, led by the classicists and Pre-Raphaelites, Etty's contemporaries focused on traditional British subjects like landscapes and portraits.

Etty was born in York and was apprenticed to a printer in Hull.  However, thanks to the support of his uncle he was able to pursue his studies in painting.

In 1807 he enrolled in the Royal Academy School and studied under Henry Fuseli at the Academy and and Sir Thomas Lawrence, privately.  It was Fuseli who sponsored Etty as a probationer at the Academy and his first work, as ws the case for all students, was in drawing from the Academy's collection of plaster cast statues.  Only when the required standard was met were students allowed to draw the nude from life.

The nude hadn't really been a feature of British painting at all up to this point but Etty was to change that.  Although he painted some historiical pictures he focussed almost exclusively on the nude.

In fact, his critics thought that his concentration on just the nude made him, to all intents and purposes in the early nineteenth century, a pornographer.

Etty studied anatomy and proportion for twelve years but didn't produce his first major nudes until some time later.  He continued to visit life classes at the Acadamy for his whole career and, indeed, it was said that his insistent nature led to him being banned from them eventually.

Although the press and critics deemed his paintings indecent he built up a large clientele of gentleman collectors who were more than happy to have an Etty nude in their collections.

Etty produced a large number of paintings and we have far too many pictures for one post so will group them as to pose and put up several more posts of them.

Here we have a selection of his drawings and paintings of women shown from the rear.  He perfectly captures the voluptuous hourglass shape of early nineteenth century women, often posing them against great swathes of red to emphasise the whiteness of their bodies.

William Etty

More Etty paintings another day.