Thursday, 31 March 2011

March Venus: Henriette Allais

We tried very hard to find a winning centrefold this month who wasn't Henriette Allais, as we had featured her so extensively here but we just couldn't find a better shot than Richard Fegley's marvellous concoction above.

Dolores Del Monte from March 1954

So, moving swiftly on, especially as it is the last day of the month and we are determined to keep our entries in the appropriate month this year, we will submit our number two choice, Dolores Del Monte from March 1954.  At this stage Playboy was buying in its Playmate pictures from the John Baumgarth Calendar Company of Melrose Park, Illinois.  This led to the odd situation where Dolores  became a Playmate of the Month without her actually knowing it. It wasn't until 1979 that Del Monte realized that she had been a Playmate when her son saw his mother's centerfold while leafing through the 25th anniversary issue of Playboy! Finding out that your mother had been a Playboy Playmate must have been a bit of a shocker!  Although it is a photograph it almost looks like a contemporary pin-up painting but we like it because it is atypical with Miss Del Monte's perched elegantly on the edge of whatever it is you call that piece of furniture.  Tellingly, unlike the vast majority of Playmates to follow, she is not looking at the camera so is caught in aquiet reverie of her own.

At this point neither the name of the Playmate nor the photographer were revealed in the magazine and it wasn't until the January 1956 issue, which reviewed the first two dozen Playmates, that her name was given.  It is from that article that I found the only other photograph I could discover of her as, in those days, the Playmates just featured in the one centrefold picture.  It wasn't until December 1954 that Terri Ryan had an accompanying pictorial about her being photographed for the centrefold.  Then in June 1955 Eve Meyer, photographed by her husband, Russ, had aditional shots included again but this didn't becme a regular feature until September 1955.

Tonya Crews for March 1961

Our next choice comes from the early sixties and the contrast between her outdoor photograph and Miss Del Monte's studio bound production couldn't be greater.  This photograph by Mario Casilli (1931-2002) is one of the great centrefold photgraphs of the sixties.  Posed above a soft, sundrenched backdrop and caught in the middle of the act of removing a striking striped shirt from her 37-22-36 body, the picture has a dynamic sense of movement missing from most of the usually very static centrefold poses.  Starting at the bright terrace your eye follows her legs up to that marvellous postererior (Tonya was a dancer and it shows) and then the curve of her back to that faintly knowing expression on her face.  "You've caught me stripping off and I don't care!" it says.

Tonya was the first Playmate with Native American heritage.  She was part Choctaw and had spent time living on a Hopi reservation in Arizona when she was younger.  Sadly, she was killed in a car crash five years later in July 1966, at the age of twenty eight.

Fran Gerard for March 1967

Another sixties Playmate next, in the almost impossible shape of Fran Gerard, in another shot by Mario Casilli.  There is much that appeals here from the sheer, pink babydoll to the glasses that make her look like a librarian gone bad.  it is however those thrusting torpedo-like breasts that captivate.  Even in a magazine as breast obsessed as Playboy, Fran's are something special.  Triple P is not a bust man but Fran could make us stray from the path with little difficulty.

Fran was the first centrefold to be shown in glasses and one optician wrote in to the magazine offering her free contact lenses.  In fact, some people reckoned that the glasses were just plain glass and she didn't wear prescription glasses at all. However, we would like to think that maybe they replaced her real ones for those during the shoot to avoid any distorsions in those lovely eyes.

Fran was born Frances Anna Camuglia in Staten Island in March 1948 so would have still been eighteen when her pictorial appeared in February (for March) 1967.  She attended Granada Hills High School near Los Angeles and was married before she graduated.  She described herself as an astrologers assistant in her pictorial and it is likely that the astrologer in question  was her husband, who was 37 years old when they married (she was just eighteen).  Whatever, the marriage only lasted seven months although she married again in 1970.  Tragically, she died in 1985 at the age of just 37 from causes unknown, her death not becoming well known until decades later.

Kathy MacDonald for March 1969

Our final example of a trio of sixties specimens is Kathy MacDonald.  This is a clever and subtle picture with the various creases in the bedclothes all drawing your eye in towards Kathy's pale body, which contrasts nicely with the yellow bedclothes..  The newspaper dates from April 1968 demonstrating the length of time (nearly a year) from Playmate shoot to appearance in the magazine itself.

Kathy trained to be a nurse but then decided to become a stewardess.  It was her mother who spotted an advertisement looking for Bunnies for the Baltimore Playboy club, the day before her airline interview, and she was hired right away.  Indeed, the photographer, David Chan, whose first centrefold shoot this was, remembers being introduced to her parents.  He was nervous but they were fine about it!  Kathy went back to her original career choice and became a nurse.

Deborah Driggs for March 1990

Our final choice for March is from over twenty years after the previous entry and is the statuesque (5'6" and 34-23-34) Deborah Driggs.  Her strikingly blue eyes are brought nicely out by her top but otherwise it is a very restricted colour palette of black and tan.  Ms Driggs body, photographed by Richard Fegley, is neatly curled on a chair and her long legs are highlighted by those enticing hold-up stockings.  Triple P has always had a thing for black, laceptop hold-ups, ever since his Italian friend I used to wear them in Rome.  Indeed, only last week we had S padding about our room in Hanoi wearing black hold ups and nothing else, except for her Audemars Piguet watch.

Driggs was very active for Playboy after her Playmate appearance and, indeed appeared on the cover of the magazine the following month.  She appeared in a number of Playboy videos and Newsstand Specials and appeared in a handful of films.  Whilst taking acting classes she met Olympic gold medal winning gymnast Mitch Gaylord and they were married for ten years.  More recently she was the co-author of a book called Hot Pink: The Girls' Guide to Primping, Passion, and Pubic Fashion about how to tidy up and look after your pubic region (!).

So, that is it for March and, indeed, every other month as this is the last of our twelve monthly reviews of Playmate centrefolds.  We have to re-iterate that these pieces have only looked at the quality of the centrefold photographs not the quality of the girls themselves, which would give us a completgely different list.  Wait!  We're having an idea for what to do over the next 12 months!

One million visits!

At some point overnight Venus Observations topped one million visitors since we set it up in September 2008.  229 posts later and now with nearly 100 followers (another milestone we hope to reach shortly) our very first post featured the prehistoric female figure discovered at Dolní Věstonice in the Czech Rebublic.

Our next few posts featured the Czech photographer Jan Saudek, volupuous model Veronika Zemanova and a painting by Boucher which, together, really sum up most of what this site is about.

The only aspect not covered in those early posts was that of vintage mens' magazines.  However, a month later we posted our first piece on the Pubic Wars (a piece which we think probably now needs revising) and saw our visitor numbers start to rise rapidly.  Five out of our ten most popular posts relate to the Pubic Wars but the top spot belongs to the piece about Linda Lusardi and she seems pretty unassailable in this position.

The top art post belongs to English erotic artist Tom Poulton and we plan to feature more of his work on our Seduction of Venus site in the near future.

We currently get somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 visitors a day looking at 3,000 to 4,000 pages.

We appreciate hearing from those regulars and others who comment on our rambling.  One never knows with the internet but we appear to have been contacted by friends and relations of some of the young ladies featured here and also by one of the photographers and one of the subjects themselves.  The comments and the context ring true anyway. 

We actually do have a (somewhat flexible, we have to admit) plan as to what we might feature in the future although it often takes longer to research and find pictures than we expected.  So we are still working towards pieces on artists JW Waterhouse, Gustave Klimt, Rodin, Ingres and William Russell Flint.  Some actresses we plan to feature include January Jones and Jessica Pare from Mad Men together with Elke Sommer and an old favourite Barbara Carrera.  We will continue to feature some of our regular favourites such as girls with snakes, redheads and sportswomen.  Of course we will still have our regular centrefold features but we are close to completing our monthly review of Playboy centrefolds.  We are considering a piece on Playboy and  Penthouse covers too.  As for the Pubic Wars pieces we were going to stop at the end of the seventies but may go forward to the mid eighties now, as they seem so popular.

Finally, we would like to thank three young ladies in particular who have helped source some of the pictures, helped with translation and have given suggestions as to content.  So thank you to B in Wiesbaden, A in Stockholm and S in Vancouver.  Thanks also to those who regularly leave comments (especially CJ in Texas) and HMS in Bath whose comments are usually engagingly critical!

Here's to the next million!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Venus Revealed: The Pubic Wars 9-1977 part 2

Having concentrated on just the opening month of 1977 last time, in this post we will look at February, March and April of that year.  Playboy had a striking cover of Swedish model Lena Kansbod modelling a diamond and platinum bunny pendant by Oscar Heyman of New York.

Lena was personally spotted as a potential model by John Casablancas, the founder of the Elite modelling agency, checking coats in a Stockholm restaurant in 1973.  She moved to New York in 1976 and by early 1977 she was one of the world's top models, indeed, the month before she had been on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

In fact, the month before that she had been the cover girl for the Penthouse owned Viva magazine.  Lena's Playboy cover perfectly demonstrates the erotic power of the face alone; if it's the right face, that is.

From The Love Feast, February 1977

Inside, Playboy was persisting with its own couples pictorials although they were, by this stage, far less explicit than Penthouse's equivalent.  This rather peculiarly suggestive shot demonstrates the sort of tricks they had to get up to to appear raunchy.

Playboy's Playmate for February was Star Stowe who flashed her bits as much as any Playmate before or since in multiple pictures. Star (real name Ellen Louise Stowe) was another Playmate who came to a tragic end.   She went from being the girlfriend of Kiss' Gene Simmons to a life of drugs, alcoholism and prostitution.  Eventually being found murdered in Fort Lauderdale, having been strangled,  just short of her 41st birthday in 1997, whilst working as a streetwalker.

Penthouse had a three girl set called Class Reunion photographed by Ken Marcus in about the softest focus they ever presented (which is saying something!).  This shot, in particular, manages to be very erotic despite (because of?) the diffuse light.

Class Reunion

The Pet of the Month for February proved rather controversial.  Billed as Betsy Harris the young lady flashed her rather prominent labia quite a bit in her pictorial by Earl Miller.  So far, so typical.  However, later it was said that Betsy Harris was really a lady called Terri Nunn who was an actress (she got down to the last two to play Princess Leia in Star Wars (1977)) and a singer who, in her group Berlin, had a major hit with Take my Breath Away, from Top Gun (1986).

Betsy Harris

Now, Terri Nunn, who is still singing with Berlin, absolutely, categorically denies that it was her posing in Penthouse.   The problem being that, if she was Terri Nunn and if her birth date was correct she would have been sixteen at the time.  Now Guccione had had sixteen year olds in Penthouse in the sixties but photographing a nude at sixteen wasn't illegal in Britain at that time (not until 2003, in fact) but was in America.

Now whilst some women have appeared in mens' magazines and subsequently denied it we actually believe Terri here.  If you look at a picture of Betsy (left) and Terri (right, appearing in an episode of Lou Grant in 1978) they do look similar but Betsy appears to have a more upturned nose and the cleft above her top lip is more pronounced.  What do you think?

Much more grown up looking was Celine Martin, who gives it plenty of pussy power, as photographed by Gajda that month in their third pictorial.

Over at Oui we had a young lady enjoying her loofah in the accurately, if unimaginatively, entitled Donna takes a shower in another successfully sensuous set by Nicholas DeSciose whose work we featured here.

Mr DeSciose contacted Triple P with some kind words after we featured his January 1977 centrefold for Oui.  He said that he had done over twenty pictorials for Oui at this time and Donna here was his second centrefold in a row for them at the beginning of 1977.

Oui continued to feature the paintings of  Aslan from partner Lui magazine in France.  By this time, however, they came with added bits.

Another top photographer featuring in the February issue of Oui was Helmut Newton who gave us this over exposed young lady in a French photo booth.

Paul Raumond's Club continued to use material shot for Men Only in the UK.  The pictures, however, were rather more explicit than those used in his UK magazines where gradually over the next three years the pcitures would become less explicit than they had been in 1976/77.  On the cover they have their model with her fingers inside her knickers.

The February edition showcased the impressively leggy Annie who joined in the trend for arsehole displaying that was such a feature of the year.

On to March and on the cover of Playboy we have January 1977's Playmate, Susan Kiger looking completely splendid in a wetsuit in the sea at Santa Monica, somewhere that Triple P has spent some time in the past.

March playmate was Nicki Thomas still giving it a bit of faux masturbation.  Or is she just covering herself up?  Playboy manages to keep us guessing.

Oui's centrefold shoot for March is by British model turned photographer Suze Randall.  Randall was the first woman staff photographer for Playboy having got her break discovering and photographing, later Playmate of the year, Lillan Müller for Playboy.  She was also the first woman to shoot a Page 3 photo for The Sun newspaper. 

Debra Tate by Suze Randall

Her pictures for Oui are, characteristically, rather more explicit than some of those shot for Oui and, in fact, she was just on the point of leaving Playboy and moving across to be the first woman staff photographer at Larry Flynt's Hustler.  Her model, in these bold, anus revealing shots, was Debra Tate, tragic actress Sharon Tate's younger sister.

Over at Hustler whilst they continued to push the pussy boundary Jap, in March's issue, showed how far they had come as regards props, lighting and costumes since they had started up. 

Jap for Hustler

Although when Suze Randall arrived at the magazine she would discover that Larry Flynt wouldn't allow any sort of soft focus, which gave her a challenge in dealing with less than perfect girls.

Maggie in the pink

Hustler also had a girl they called Maggie in the March issue.  In a series of photographs by James Baes she was shown clearly displaying visibly aroused labia.  We will see her again when she becomes the Penthouse Pet of the Month for November 1979

Gallery was slowly moving from Playboy territory into Oui territory and their girls were showing a little bit more whilst still not going as far as Penthouse.


Their particularly beautiful cover girl, Babette, had also appeared under the name of Lois in Men Only and Molly in Club International in the UK.

Finally, for March we look at Penthouse for an edition that would give them lots of grief in the future.  They had a girl/girl set remarkable only for the fact that it showed one of the models with cellulite on her bottom. 

Another pictorial featured a girl called Nicole Carole posing fetchingly in a corset and including several of the now de rigeur pussy teasing shots.

That month's Pet went under the name of Jolanta von Zmuda (born Jolanta Duchi) who, it was said, was a Polish lady from Gdansk.  In a pictorial shot by Bob Guccione, we get half a dozen pages of Jolanta photographed in the dreamy, romantic soft focus way that he pioneered in 1975.  These are far from explicit and hark back to his pictorials of several years before. In fact, it seems that Jolanta's pictorial was, in fact, shot in 1975 which makes her appearance, half way throught the pictorial, with her fingers on her prominent clitoris even more surprising, given that he couldn't have put such a shot in the magazine in 1975.

There are some lovely pictures of Jolanta smiling but the smiles would soon stop as, just over a year later in July 1978, she tried to take Guccione to court.  She claimed that Guccione drugged her for the pictorial and then sexually assaulted her.  She sued him for £2 million but we believe that it never went to court.  As always in these cases you do wonder why it took so long to take action...

Club had their cover girl with her fingers inside her knickers for the second month running whilst at the same time brandishing a part-eaten apple; no doubt as an allegory of sin.

Inside, Club's centrefold for March was the previous month's cover girl, Nina photographed by Dwight Fox in an extraordinarily anus focused picture, even for Club.  Nina's head and shoulders are in the shade but bang in the middle of the bright area is her arsehole in all its sunlit glory.  Even her divided labia play second fiddle to her rectal opening. 

On to April and we actually get that month's Playmate, Lisa Sohm, on the cover for a change.  Dolled up in period lingerie and an American Civil War kepi she manages to tie in with another pictorial that month; the Girls of the New South.

Lisa relaxes

Lisa presents several rather graphic spread-legs shots in what turnd out to be one of the more assertively explicit issues for some time.  In the aformentioned Girls of the New South feature several of the ladies boldly display themselves for photographer David Chan, not least the exotically monikered Rhonda La Canillas.

Rhonda peers

The issue's third pictorial featured former Bunny girl Jennifer Edl and her work as a sculptor in Phoenix.  Whilst she doesn't open up like some of the other girls she does have this very raunchy and beautifully lit faux masturbation shot by none other than Nicholas DeSciose, who was obviously a busy man at this time.

Jennifer cups

Larry Flynt's up market (well compared with Hustler, anyway) Chic featured a striking cover of two young ladies in swimming gear. 

Inside the ladies were photographed posing together and looking extremely shiny as well as also carrying on the relatively new trend of anus flashing.  

Strikingly, the two girls never removed their dark swimming goggles for any of the pictures in the pictorial, which gave it  a rather sinister aspect.

Also flashing their arseholes were some of the girls in Cavalier that month, which carried on with its strange mix of styles; inevitable considering the bought-in nature of their material. 

Bondage and banging in Cavalier

That month also including a rather ropey lesbian, set enlivened only by the fact that it was an interracial one.  and a very soft core boy/girl set with a baseball theme (to celebrate the beginning of that sport's season).

Candy gives it some tail

In fact, by this point Cavalier was rather like Hustler had been two years before, featuring not that attractive models badly photographed and then printed on poor qulity paper.  This shot of Candy and her cute arsehole was probably the best photograph in the whole issue.

Finally, Penthouse had three pictorials in April.  It had a girl/girl set called Swept Away which was photographed by Patrick Barnes and featured some convincing looking kissing by the two ladies in question.

Interestingly,  a picture of the girls in a hot tub, where one has her face in the groin of the other did not make it into the British edition.  Obviously this was just too graphic for the UK.

Secondly, there was a pictorial called Sweet, Saucy Susan which featured a girl called...well, Susan.  She was photographed in a very suggestive masturbation shot.  There is no visual evidence that her finger really is in her cunt but that is certainly the implication of the picture.

Fingering fun for saucy Susan

That month's Pet Shona Lynne leaves this Pubic Wars post with another plump pussy shot and next time we will see, for the third month in a row, a Pet with large and prominent labia in the shape of Valerie Rae Clark, who would appear in Bob Guccione's Caligula.  We will also see some older women, a photographer's self portrait and the inspiration for a song photographed by David Hamilton.