Sunday, 29 May 2011

Venus Passing: Felicity Isabelle Colby 1946-2011

Flick in orbit

The choreographer who gave movement to many of Agent Triple P's adolescent fantasies, Flick Colby, has died at the age of 65.

Flick, centre front and the original group

Born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania in 1946 she moved to London after graduation and formed the Pan's People dance troupe in December 1966 with Dee Dee Wilde.  They first appeared on Top of the Pops in 1968 and were the resident dancers on the UK's top pop music show for the next eight years, performing, usually when an artist couldn't make it into the studio, because they were too American, for example.  

Colby stopped dancing in the group in 1971 to concentrate on the group's choreography.    The group split in April 1976 after their final Top of the Pops performance. Flick stayed with the show as choreographer until 1981 but eventually returned to the US.

Poetry.  In motion.

Other dancers in the group's names still resonate with British men of Agent Triple P's age: Babs, Louise, Ruth Andi and Agent Triple P's favourite, Cherry Gillespie, who joined as an elfin 17 year old in 1972, when original member Ruth left to start a family.

There was much criticism of the literal nature of Pan's People's choreography as it related to the lyrics of the songs, in those pre music video days, but Agent Triple P, and his particular school friends: Snout, Cess, Bean Kid, Jimbo etc, thought they were the pinnacle of terpsichorean talent.  Inthe early seventies when there was very little in the way of suitable lust objects and when short skirts had become an endangered species, just as we were registering girls for the first time, the esteem in which these scantily clad lovelies were held cannot be overestimated.

Flick's picture from the National Portrait Gallery collection

So, thank you Flick for all those jaunty and, latterly, quite raunchy routines.

Nineteenth Century Venuses: Glamour Girls of 1855

No sooner had photography been developed in the mid nineteenth century then enterprising Frenchmen immediately realised that this new medium could be used to take pictures of naked women.  As we discussed on our The Seduction of Venus blog when looking at some early girl/girl photographs the early French erotic photographs were taken using the daguerreotype process which meant that each one was a one-off original which could not be reproduced; meaning they cost the equivalent of a week's wages for the average person.

By the early to mid eighteen-fifties the technology had moved on to the ambrotype or collodion positive which was much cheaper to produce than a daguerreotype.  It also lacked the mirror-like metallic surface of the latter making it easier to view. 

In addition, ambrotypes were often tinted for added realism and also because they didn't have the contrast of daguereotypes.  One of the biggest disappointments for most people, when viewing a photograph for the first time in this period, it seems, was the lack of colour.

These pictures were all taken in and around 1855; over one hundreed and fifty years ago.  They range from the rather coy to pictures that were not dissimilar in pose and explicitness to those published  in magazines like Penthouse 120 years later.

Just to give an idea of the distance back in time that is represented here, 1855 saw  Britain and France fighting the Crimean War against the Russians, Charlotte Brontë died, King Camp Gilette was born, the official Bordeaux wine classification was devised, The Daily Telegraph was first published and the first bridge over the Mississippi opened. 

Boulevard du Temple, Paris 1838 (detail)

The very first photograph of a living human being had only been made 17 years earlier. Louis Daguerre's  photograph of Boulevard du Temple needed a ten minute exposure and, as a result, most of the people and traffic in the scene do not appear as they didn't remain still enough to be captured on film.  There are a number of people who did stay in the same place for that time and you can just catch the man having his shoes cleaned and another sat at a table nearby.

The technology had moved on and by 1855 exposures of only a few seconds were needed.  In studios scattered around  Paris the first young ladies were being persuaded to take all their clothes off and have their rounded little bodies recorded for posterity and the entertainment of others. 

They are all a rather similar body type because, of course, women 150 years ago were very petite, averaging only just over five feet tall, so they tend to have short legs and stocky bodies. 

As we have noted in our other pieces on The Seduction of Venus, the appeal of these photographs to collectors at the time was that they were the record of real people rather than the idealised fantasy of an artist; artists who, themselves, because of the nature of art teaching at the time, were overly influenced by the portrayal of women seen in classical statues.

These pocket venuses, with their soft curves, speak to us too from back in time where. Occasionally, as in the study above, you find a haunting face staring back at you that you could see on any street today.

More women from the early days of photography another time.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Pubic Wars update 1973 Part 2

Marlene Appelt

We have now updated the period for the second half of 1973 and given it its own sepearte post for the first time with many more pictures and some additional text.  It can be found here: The Pubic Wars 5 1973 Part 2

Friday, 27 May 2011

Venus Revealed: The Pubic Wars 5 1973 Part 2

July's Playboy cover was their most outrageous yet with Karen Christy's nipples desperately trying to escape from their zip-up top (in fact a graphic).

Inside, Marth Smith becomes the first Playmate to put her hand between her legs and cup her pussy.  It's clear that the implication of this shot, from her dreamy expression, is not just to use her hand to conceal herself.  That hand is where it is for a reason.  The battle ground had moved on in the competing magazines from who would get their models to show their fur to who would get them to be shown touching it. This next stage was about who would be shown touching themselves in a sexual way. These sorts of pictures would become increasingly common in both magazines over the next few years.

July saw Penthouse taking another step forward in the battleground relating to what they could get away with on the cover in the US, as Pet Cindy McDee flashed a soft-focus nipple. 

Cindy strokes


In her pictorial Miss McDee, too, was shown delicately stroking her fluff in a full page photograph by Ken Marcus.  More auto-erotic sensuality came from the other model in that issue, one Gayle Davis photographed by Ralph Nelson.

On one page Gayle is shown tickling her groin with an ostrich feather (Penthouse liked ostrich feathers) and, below this, close-ups show her ecstatic face as she licks her own fingers.  What can she be doing to herself?

Mikki and Bo go for it

Also in  that issue we have one of Penthouse's regular reports from the set of a film.  Usually these were obscure continental films or US low budget nudies but in this case the film in question was Burt Reynolds White Lightning (1973).  The lady in question Mikki Dessa is shown cavorting with the film's co-star Bo Hopkins who in one shot has his arm between her legs in the most explicit boy/girl shot in the magazine so far.

August's Playboy cover was far from subtle, with Miss February 1972, Cyndi Wood, just about covering everything with her arms.

Heather Menzies

Inside was some controversial celbrity fluff.  As a fifteen year old, Canadian actress Heather Menzies had appeared as one of the von Trapp children in the Sound of Music (1965).  She posed for Playboy eight years later because “Naively, I thought it would help me move on from The Sound of Music."  Except of course that Playboy harped on about the Sound of Music throughout the whole piece.  Nevertheless it gave us this delightfully fluffy study by Mario Casilli.

Playboy also ran a pictorial on the new hardcore films appearing in the wake of the sucess of Deep Throat.  Lots of pictures of naked entwined people featured but this picture of two young ladies from the film The Resurrection of Eve is notable as showing Playboy dipping it's toe into the Sapphic pool.

August's Oui proclaimed itself the fastest growing magazine in America and carried on its mix of European actresses and modelstogether with travel pictorials; this month visiting the South of France which enabled them to show many naked lovelies draped around the Cote d'Azur.

The perky Maria Ekorre from August's Oui

Their centrefold was a Swedish lady named Maria Ekorre who was a busy actress and model in the early to mid-seventies.  When Oui's first edition came out the previous year Penthouse accused them of using one of their former Pets of the Month as their centrefold.  The following year, however, Penthouse would feature Maria as their centrefold for March 1974. 

More teasing with ostrich feathers on the cover of August's Penthouse.  This was to be another of Bob Guccione's barrier breaking issues and in it he took his biggest risk in the Pubic Wars so far. In her centrefold,  Pet of the Month,  Lane Coyle, sprawls in typical Penthouse abandon on a bed, her legs apart.  For the first time, however, her labia are just visible and have not been retouched to hide everything (although they were in the UK).

This was quite a deliberate move on Guccione's part. In June that year US Chief Justice Warren Burger had ruled that local communities could decide what constituted an obscene publication. The way lay open for individual towns to force Playboy and Penthouse off the shelves wherever they felt like it. Guccione offered to set up special mail arrangements to send readers their copies of Penthouse if their local community had banned the magazine. In the end, apart from a very few places, nothing happened. Guccione, however, had reacted in his usual way and promised to become even more explicit than before and "go pink" by showing the girls' labia. Lane was the first of these pioneering Pets. The pressure was back on Playboy.

Much less aggressive was their third girl/girl pictorial Two's Company photographed by Ken Marcus which took the magazine's approach to this subject to a new sensual and explicitly lesbian level as their two young ladies undressed, kissed and caressed each other. 

Genesis first issue August 1973

In August, yet another new magazine appeared in the US to challenge Playboy or, at least to try and snatch some of its readers. Genesis was backed by flamboyent entrepreneur Rocki Aoki who had created the Benihana chain of Japanese restaurants. His daughter, Devon Aoki, is the world's shortest (5'5") supermodel. Genesis had the usual sub-Playboy mix of articles, interviews (Roger Moore in the first issue) and an article on the inevitable Genesis club.

 Judy from issue 1 of Genesis

It had one innovation: two centrefolds, one black, one white. There was one other girlie pictorial and these were all handily bundled together in the centre of the magazine.  If the truth be known, the Genesis girls weren't quite as pretty as those in Penthouse, Playboy and Oui.

Jo-Jo from issue 1 of Genesis

The battle on the newsstands was getting more intense as more players entered the market. Playboy was now fighting on multiple fronts.  It was becoming obvious too that rather than taking sales away from Penthouse as intended, Oui was actually taking them away from Playboy.

Meanwhile, Playboy had been getting a lot more assertive with their covers and September's was striking and racy.  With that much more competition on the newstsands they needed to make sure that their covers stood out even more than ever.

Soft Sue

Inside, the Playmate, Geri Glass, got a five page pictorial insted of three for only the second time.  In their annual Bunnies pictorial we can see from this picture of Jet Bunny Sue Huggy that Guccione style soft-focus is starting to invade the pages of Playboy.

Johnny Crawford displays the first penis in Playboy

Elsewhere in Playboy, after nearly twenty years of depicting naked women, they actually showed a full frontal male nude as part of a pictorial on the Playboy film production, The Naked Ape, based on Desmond Morris' bestseller.

Penthouse Pet for September was Anneka de Lorenzo (real name Marjorie Lee Thoreson) in a very nice pictorial by Bob Guccione which featured her squeezing into an old- ashioned hip-bath.

Anneka was later to find notoriety when she travelled to Rome with Guccione to work on Caligula, including the infamous hard core scenes he filmed without director Tinto Brass' knowledge.  Guccione also paid for her to have a breast enlargement but happily she is still in her natural state in this pictorial.

Penthouse announced its Pet of the Year runner up as Billie Deane (Gillian Duxberry) who gave us this bold spread legs shot.  Playboy had certainly not posed any of their precious Playmates in such an unladylike way as yet.

Playboy went for another Penthouse style cover for its October cover with Sheila Ryan being photographed in full-on boudoir style by Richard Fegley.

Valerie Lane's centrefold for October 1973

Inside, Playmate of the Month Valerie lane had to settle, once more, for a paltry three page, plus her centrefold, pictorial.

Oui was much more like Penthouse as regards the length of its pictorial features usually featuring three seperate girls most of whom, early on, were provided by Lui in Paris.

Lui/Oui girls were much more likely to be photographed outside in bright sunlight than those in either Penthouse of Playboy.  This delightful study of Hanna from the October issue also demonstrates that Oui girls could be shown with hair on their thighs, providing it was pale of course: something you certainly wouldn't have seen in Playboy.  Agent Triple P had a series of redhead/natural blonde girlfriends in the late seventies and early eighties and most of them, we recollect, kept their pale strands on their upper legs.  We liked the visual effect of when these hairs caught the sunlight, we have to say, and wish that the American anti-hair brigade hadn't set the current "body hair is bad" international standard.  Perhaps one of the reasons we like German girls so much...

Talking of Germany, one of the types of pictorial that Oui would often run was the "comedy" type wherein some undressed young ladies would find themselves interacting with some men in a lighthearted situation.  No serious voyeuristic passion in these just mildly erotic froth (Playboy would do this too, from time to time).  One of the more bizarre examples of this could be found in Oui's October issue which featured an Adolph Hitler lookalike in a story about Hitler's time in Paris (called, inevitably, Springtime for Hitler).  A strange concept, to say the least, but this picture is the first manifestation of any S&M in any of the major magazines.

US version

Once before the US edition of Penthouse had cropped the image of the cover girl used on the UK edition to remove a visible nipple but for the October issue the nature of the composition didn't allow for this so, for the first time, the US and UK editions had completely different pictures of Pet of the Year Patricia Barrett.

UK version

That month's Pet, Francis Cannon was depicted in a picture that combined all the elements that Guccione had been pushing the barriers on.  So we get Miss Cannon full frontal with spread legs and stroking her pussy, in the most explicit shot so far.   The knee length socks help too!

Francis was described in the magazine as a "wealthy landowner's daughter" (Guccione liked to have posh girls in his magazine). As we have seen, however, most of these statements had to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, in this case it was true as would come out several years later.  Her real name was the Hon. Fiona Caroline Mary Watson the daughter of Joseph Rupert Eric Robert Watson, 3rd Baron Manton. In early 1976 her boyfriend, one Patrick Anderson, remembers getting a phone call from the Daily Mail’s legendary gossip columnist, Nigel Dempster, who asked him “What do you think of Prince Charles going out with your girlfriend?” It was news to him! He immediately reacted saying he’d "have words with the fellow's mother!" This was then quoted in Dempster’s article as was the fact that his nickname for her was "Yum-yum".

  Yum yum. The lushly aristocratic Miss Watson

Of course, Miss Watson immediately became pursued by reporters from all the newspapers, especially as Prince Charles was supposed to have had another girlfriend at the time.  It all ended, of course, when the fact that she had posed for Penthouse three years earlier became known.  Penthouse celebrated by publishing more pictures of her, of course.

A splendidly constructed young lady her former boyfriend, the unfortunate Patrick Anderson, later said, when interviewed on TV about what became known as the “Yum-yum affair”: "Yummy, as I say, was jolly well put together!"

Also that month we got a pictorial of Dutch model Julianna van Troost photographed by Jean-Yves Haydar (1939-1996) who wasn't one of Penthouse's regular photographers.  He would do one more shoot for them, however, for July 1977's Pet of the Month, Christine Davray, who was his wife and would go on to find fame as a singer and actress in Turkey.


Two of Julianna's photos are noteworthy.  In the top one the silhouette of her labia are just visible and in the second one her divided mound and labia are visible.  Penthouse had been disguising its models bits for years but now they were gradually emerging from the shadows!

Playboy's covers continued to be racier than before with this Mario Casilli picture of Anne Randell flashing a tiny bit of nipple.

Inside, we got Playboy's first post-pubic redheaded centrefold in the delightful shape of Monica Tidwell and her ginger strands.

Oui's November cover presented their first fully nude cover girl sprawled on a bed with the magazine's title conveniently covering her bottom.

That month's centrefold Ingrid (they often didn't bother with last names at all and sometimes didn't allocate any name to their models) presented a nicely soapy pussy and, also displayed some inner thigh hair as well.

 US edition

Penthouse went for completely different covers for their US and UK editions for November.  This time not only was the picture different, as in the previous month, but they featured different girls.  For some reason they had completely different Pets that month and this would happen occasionally over the next year or so.  It wasn't just that the editions were a little out of synch, as sometimes happened, with a Pet (usually) appearing in the US edition one month before the UK edition, but the UK started to feature quite different  girls.  Sometimes a girl who had been a Pet in one edition would later resusface as a model in the other but sometimes they wouldn't cross the Atlantic at all.

 UK edition

The UK edition had, as its Pet and cover girl that Month,  a lady they called Olivia Elliot.  There is no way, at that time, that the US would have had such a breast-revealing cover.  In the UK, its only comparatively recently that nipples have been banned from being displayed in newsagents and now mens' magazines have to have a plastic cover.  Strange, that we have gone backwards.

"Olivia" in Sweden

Also going under the name Olivia Paddon, Rose and Lenka this particular girl appeared in many of the main men's magazines on both sides of the Atlantic: Men Only (1973), Playboy (1975), Genesis (1976), Mayfair (1974 and 1976) to name but a few.  She was also very visible in European magazines as well.

Meanwhile, back across the pond the Pet that Penthouse in the US fielded in November was a young lady called Debbie Griffin who possesed an awesomely bush pussy and was also, incidentally, the first Pet to have been photographed in a swimming pool.

Genesis carried on in its singular habit of packing all its naked ladies into the centre section of the magazine.

The centrefold for November was Linda who was photographed by Ralph Hampton showing a little hint of her labia.

In December Oui ran a pictorial (shot by Jeanloup Sieff) that was so popular it actually produced a sequel the following year.  An afternoon with Aunt Nancy had an older woman seducing her nephew.  The lady (French model Denise Rolland) was dressed in Belle Epoque clothes, including some splendid underwear and ankle boots.

A complete period setting had been most impressively created for their, not really very naughty, goings on, demonstrating the attention to detail that went into some of these period-set confections by the likes of Oui and Penthouse in the seventies.  We can't imagine a man's magazine bothering these days.

1973 came to a close with Playboy still giving the impression that they were prepared to match Penthouse pussy for pussy.  Latterly, that year, however Penthouse, which had just used pubic hair itself as the battleground was moving on to self touching and even faint glimpses of labia.  Would Playboy follow?

Their year ended with Playboy's first spread-legs Playmate, Christine Maddox sprawled on a fur coat in a way that, up until now, only Penthouse had shown. The sexing up of Playboy was accelerating!

Gallery, meanwhile was putting their first hint of rosy nipple on the cover of their December issue in the person of Judy Truve.

Inside they had this young lady spread, in every sense, across two pages and posing for a faux masturbation shot which was actually stronger then anything Penthouse had done to date.

We have already seen the girl that Penthouse UK called Olivia Elliott when she turned up as Pet of the Month in November.  Now, one month later the same girl turned up as Gallery's centrefold with a series of photos where she is is displaying engagingly fuzzy armpits.  Something to do with the hippy vibe, perhaps.

Penthouse's final Pet of 1973, Sandy Robertson, was unique in that she was the only Pet to be photographed in her pictorial with a man. This was an experiment that Penthouse didn't repeat, although we have already seen something similar in Oui; although they received a lot of critical letters about it and stopped putting men in their centrefolds.

Sandy gets hers felt for her

Was this a case of Penthouse copying something from the Playboy stable for once? After this Penthouse kept the boy/girl interaction to their separate "love-sets". With this picture Penthouse, which had spent the year getting their models to touch their own pubic hair had someone else doing it to them for the first time.  This hadn't been shown in any of the previous girl/girl or boy/girl pictorials.

There was another very subtle hint of labia in  a pictorial featuring Tracey Sullivan, photographed by Ralph Nelson.  The final pictorial in the magazine is one that got Penthouse into trouble and not for the glimpse of the lady's mound which is visible from underneath in a pose that we hadn't seen before.

Penthouse named her as Helga Schiller but when she discovered her pictures had appeared in Penthouse the 26 year old German model and actress, real name Marlene Appelt, went to the press in disgust. She said that she had posed for photographer Michael Holtz but objected to her pictures being sold to Penthouse.  "I was paid a piddling fee, and I was never informed that I was to be sold to Penthouse. If Michael had told me, I would never have given permission, since I consider Penthouse a pornographic magazine."  she said grumpily from her hometown of Munich. 

Marlene from the Girls of Munich

A strange assertion given that, as we have seen, the level of explicitness in all the major magazines at this time was about the same.  In fact Marlene had already appeared in Playboy in their Girls of Munich feature in August 1972 where she had been photographed in Bavaria by Pomeo Posar.

Pompeo gets some bounce out of Marlene in Bavaria

It was her appearance in that pictorial that got her the cover and the centrefold for Oui's November issue.  Marlene was discovered by Italian photographer Franco Rubartelli, who had also discovered Verushka, who she looks remarkable similar to.

Marlene on the cover of Oui: November 1972

Time magazine, for December 3rd 1973, focussed on the fact that Penthouse had always said that it didn't use models who had posed nude elsewhere and that they should give their real names for publication.  In fact, whilst this may have been the case when Penthouse started we have already seen that many (most) of the models used an assumed name.  Also, Penthouse had only ever maintained that the Pet of the Month should not have posed nude before, not the other girls who appeared in the magazine but, again, even this wasn't true by this time.   We suspect the real problem was the fact that she didn't receive any more money for appearing in such a high circulation magazine!

In the next episode we will look at 1974, when the Pubic Wars really started to hot up!