Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Venus Revealed: The Pubic Wars 7-1975 part 3

The last quarter of 1975 was a key one in The Pubic Wars as Playboy continued to try to match Penthouse's push to the more explicit.  Oui magazine, which despite being designed by co-owners Playboy to be a more explicit rival to Penthouse, had been slow to take up the challenge.  However by the end of 1975 this had started to change as its very nude cover showed.

Certainly showing more than other Oui girls was that month's centrefold "Miss Vicki" whose centrefold was easily as explicit as anything that Penthouse had come up so far.  This was all the more surprising as Miss Vicki was not a professional model but was more a "celebrity" model.  Her claim to fame being that she had been married to falsetto warbler Tiny Tim.  Miss Vicky (real name Victoria May Budinger) was just seventeen when she married 35 year old Tim (real name Herbert Khaury) live on the Tonight Show on December 17th 1969. She had been a fan and met him at an autograph signing.  She confessed that they didn't have sex for six months after the marriage but eventually she bore him a son, Tulip, named after his most famous song, Tiptoe through the Tulips, one of the true horrors of the sixties music business.  Eventually she left Tiny Tim for his former manager.

Up until now Oui's couples pictorials had tended towards boy/girl rather then the increasingly risque girl/girl sets being showcased in Penthouse.  However, in a sequel to their December 1973 pictorial they bought back "Aunt Nancy", this time set on seducing her niece rather than her nephew.  In truth, apart from a little mild undressing, the piece was hardly brimming with sapphic passion and the younger girl looks bored throughout.

What a contrast to Playboy's girl/girl feature from the same month. The October cover really caused a storm with an overtly lesbian themed and nipple baring picture that highlighted J Frederick Smiths photo pictorial, Sappho, within. Even Penthouse or Hustler hadn't put two embracing women on the cover

The pictures in the feature were also stronger than any of Penthouse's girl/girl sets to date. Smith had originally started as a painter. He painted pin-up girls for Esquire during World War 2 and then, in 1956 he was given a photo assignment for Vogue. He never looked back and shot for the top magazines and advertisements for well known companies.

Smith's pictures threw out the coy posturings of Playboy's (and indeed Penthouse's) girl/girl sets and replaced them with passionate clinches and real kissing.   There were no naked girls in a dorm or wafting around meadows here.  Smith's subjects looked like real women who had real sex with each other.  The quotes from Sappho made it all art, of course.

Whilst some readers wrote in praising the "tasteful", "artistic and erotic" pictorial one grumpy reader was not impressed at all.  "I think your pictorial Sappho is in very poor taste.  It's offensive, stupid and immature!  This is supposed to be a men's magazine!  Why must we be subjected to the immoral acts of those stupid girls?  Why don't you leave such material to magazines that cater for homosexuals?"  Oh dear!

The main claim to fame of that month's Playmate, Jill de Vries, was that her centrefold was the first one to have the Playmate's signature printed on it.

Unusually, Jill has her fingers on her pussy in the centrefold and, in fact, it would be the most pussy-stroking Playmate pictorial to date with Jill's fingers straying to her nether reasons in no less than five shots.

Her raciest pose however was this one where she has one hand on her pussy and the fingers of the other hand sliding between her buttocks.

Over at Penthouse their October Pet was voluptuous Swede Anne Peters who showed her prominent labia in several shots by Jeff Dunas.

There was still some nervousness about such explicit shots in the centrefold, however, and Anne's nether regions were blurred for this.

There was no blurring in the pictures by Bob Guccione of the ninth Pet of the Year, Anneka de Lorenzo.  Indeed, Miss de Lorenzo also had prominent labia but Guccione showed them off more than for any previous girl in the magazine.  Although there was a slight amount of soft focus it was not enough to disguise the fact that after a year of teasing pussy shots Guccione got Anneka to show everything, including, for the first time for a Penthouse Pet, her anus.

Anneka was also shown in a couple of pussy stroking shots making hers the raciest and most explicit Penthouse pictorial to date.  Since being Pet of the Month Anneka had taken acting lessons and appeared in bit parts in three movies: The Rape Squad, Mama’s Dirty Girls and The Centrefold Girls.

Anneka (right) with Lori Wagner in Caligula

Guccione told Anneka about his planned film, Caligula and offered her the part of Caesonia.  However, in the spring of 1976 she heard that Helen Mirren had been given the part and her new role as Messalina was reduced to a non speaking one.  She flew to Rome in 1976 to begin work on the film, one of only a few Pets to appeare in the mainstream part of the filming rather than just the hardcore inserts Guccione secretly filmed later.

Guccione directs Wagner (standing) and de Lorenzo (on the bed) in Caligual's notorious lesbian love scene

The result: Anneka (right) tongues out Lori

One extra scene that Guccione shot for Caligula, in an attempt to sex it up, was a lesbian scene between Anneka and her friend Lori Wagner.  The two knew that they had to do a sex scene and decided that a girl/girl one would be easier as they had become friends on the shoot.  The scene was notorious at the time for being the most explicit lesbian scene in a conventional motion picture although most of it was cut in the theatrical cut of the final film.

Anneka front and centre in the most infamous still from Caligula

Her most notorious scene, however, was in the hardcore Imperial Bordello orgy sequence that Guccione also shot as an extra and without director Tinto Brass's knowledge.  This featured a dozen other Pets in action but it is Anneka's fellation of an Anglo-Italian extra that was the centrepiece of the scene.

French poster for Messalina, Messalina featuring Anneka

Anneka worked hard promoting Caligula for Penthouse, and even starrred in the low budget Messalina, Messalina which used the sets of Caligula, but she found that the notoriety of the film counted against her getting more convetional acting work. Eventually  her relationship with Guccione and Penthouse soured to the extent that she took them to court in 1990 accusing Guccione, essentially, of bullying her into her hardcore scenes in Caligula.  Although she was awarded $4 million damages Guccione later successfully appealed the award and celebrated by publishing stills from her lesbian scene in Caligula in Penthouse. Tragically, she died earlier this year in mysterious circumstances.

Gallery was also going for bold nipple shots on its cover as well.   Having started out as a very much a Playboy clone it was starting to move closer to Penthouse territory by the end of 1975.

Their girl Debbie not only showed off her pussy but also flashed her anus as well, in their October issue.

The cover of November's Playboy would turn out to be its most controversial picture for a long time and had a critical effect on the direction of the Pubic Wars.  Highlighting the magazine's annual review of sexy cinema Phillip Dixon's picture of Patricia Margot McLaine, who would go on to be Playmate of the month in June 1976, attracted almost universal condemnation even from within the Playboy organisation itself.  Newsweek described her as a "young cineaste who, to give her the benefit of the doubt, seems to be plumbing the depths of her bikini panties for a stray kernel of popcorn." More important than press distaste was the outrage from Playboy's advertisers. Playboy's director of advertising told Hefner that $40 million in advertising was at risk if Playboy continued its fight with its more explicit competitors. It was the turning point for Hefner. That same month he told an editorial committee that Playboy had lost sight of what it was meant to be and that the magazine should be made a class act again. "Playboy opts for retreat in the Pubic Wars" said the headline in the Los Angeles Times on December 3rd that year.

Candy gives it some tail

Playboy's November Playmate was a big breasted throwback to the less raunchy days of the early seventies.  She didn't stroke her groin or display her labia.  However, that issue the magazine had one of it's regular pictorials featuring Bunnies from its clubs. In the past these had often been at the forefront of what Playboy felt able to show and the Chicago club's Candy Collins was no exception, displaying a very visible perineum.  It looked like anuses were going to be the next battlefront in the Pubic Wars. Candy would go on to be Miss December 1979, as the rather more refined Candace, with a selection of far less racy shots.

Naomi has a feel

In the same feature, Playboy had New York bunny Naomi Lee stroking her pussy and the Sex in Cinema feature was full of pictures of couples photographed having cinematic sex.  In retrospect, this issue is seen as the official end of the Pubic Wars but in reality Playboy did not go back to the way it had been five years before. The world had moved on and the magazine would continue to be more explicit about sexual matters than it had been in the early seventies. Its pictorials, too, did not see an immediate dialling down of the more explicit approach, as we shall see in due course.

Oui was not really any racier than Playboy at this point, even though that was supposed to have been the purpose of the magazine.

One of their young ladies, Heloise, displayed herself in a very soft-focus Penthouse style way but it was a long way behind what Penthouse, Hustler and increasing numbers of the other magazines were showing in the second half of 1975.

Oui did have a pictorial which jumped on the masturbation bandwagon.  The pictures featured a lady known as Gillian and described her increasing excitement as she journeyed on a train to meet her boyfriend.  In reality the pictures were rather mild compared with what else was starting to be shown and most of the heat came from the rather clever writing which used allusion and innuendo rather than explicit description. 

Gillian for Page 3

The very lovely lady in the pictorial was none other than top UK glamour model and  Page 3 girl Gillian Duxbury who, under the name Billie Deane, had been Penthouse Pet of the Month for March 1972.

Penthouse's November issue continued along the path of ever more explicit pictures.  Non-Pet of the month, Canadian model, Debbie was photographed by Allan Neumann without all the fussy soft focus.

Debbie displays

A girl with a rather more Playboy like figure (38-24-36) her thumb and fingers perfectly frame her labia which are shown in crisp, non-diffuse detail in a full page picture.

Texan Pet of the Month Bonnie Dee Wilson was photographed by Bob Guccione in slight soft focus. The pictorial included Penthouse's most explicit pussy from the rear shot so far.  Wilson was Guccione's mistress at this time and was far from a usual choice for Pet of the Month, being a comparatively old twenty eight and a mother. 

Another barrier breaking picture of Bonnie Dee was this small photo which took up about an eighth of a a page. Penthouse often went for small pictures (such as Stephanie McLean's first pubic picture) if they were pushing at a barrier, presumably on the basis that no one in authority would notice it. Here Bonnie Dee gives us Penthouse's first open vagina shot.

Her centrefold picture wasn't quite as revealing but, given that the previous month's Pet, Anne Peters, had had her labia airbrushed out it was a bold statement by Penthouse as to where they were going.

There was, arguably, even more explicit naughtiness going on with that month's "love set", which were becoming an increasing feature of the magazine. Before 1975 Penthouse had only had two boy/girl pictorials; one each in 1972 and 1973.  However in 1975 they would eventually have four including this one, Love in the Afternoon photographed in the English West Country by Jeff Dunas and Denis Scott.

This may well have been a case of Penthouse responding to Oui's use of couples pictorials; which had been controversial in the latter magazine.  Guccione, however, had been shooting couples pictorials for its womens' magazine Viva since 1973.  What was remarkable about this one, and in complete contrast to Playboy's efforts in this area, was the amount of times the male model's penis was shown.

For the first time in this pictorial, as well, it is clear that he is semi-erect in a couple of the shots as can be seen when comparing his flaccid state in the first of the three pictures here with the other two.  The one where the girl has her breast pressed against his member is easily the most explicit boy/girl shot to have appeared in the magazine to date.

Ironically, given that Hugh Hefner had offcially capitulated in the Pubic Wars, December's Playboy was one of their raciest issues to date.  Although Playmate Nanci le Brandi's labia were subtley blurred in what would otherwise have been a couple of radical spread legged shots elsewhere in the magazine it was sex, sex, sex all the way in that month's pictorials.

Playboy had one of their "comedy" pictorials in a send up of National Geographic called, naturally, National Pornographic which featured these bonking explorers.

Frigging and flashing in Sex Stars

Their annual Sex Stars review had a number of ladies flashing their labia, some very graphic, for Playboy, female masturbation and, even one gentleman flashing his cock.

Another of their five pictorials that month  came from the set of the new erotic film the Story of O.   This inlcuded several shots of people having sex as well as this close up of Corrine Clery's labia ring.

Their raunchiest pictorial, however, was called Peep Show and was credited to two photographers: Francois Robert and Robert Keeling.  This was by far the raciest of Playboy's couples pictorials and, perhaps, shows the way that they might have gone if they had decided to keep competing with Penthouse.  On the first two pages alone we get voyeurism, masturbation, rear entry sex and pussy touching.

Next they present some threesome action with some lesbian breast kissing and more rear entry thrown in.

In a first and only time for Playboy they include, albeit indistinctly, a glimpse of the man's penis in one of their couples sets.

Finally, they finish up with some good old lesbian play.  The dark haired girl is May 1975 Playmate Bridgett Rollins, who sadly died in February 2011. In future Playboy would largely leave the couples pictorials to others and this would very much be their high (or low if you were an advertiser) watermark as far as explicitness went.

British-owned Club finished its first year in the US with a centrefold model, also featured on the cover, who certainly demonstrated the new fashion of faux masturbation.

Kerry Turner had her finger on the button in several pictures in her pictorial.  This wasn't just a girl with her hand on her pussy the implication was that the finger was actually delving into it.

Genesis was just finishing its third year of publication and went or this rather self-consciously raunchy cover.

Their girls were a bit more homely than those in Playboy and Penthouse and there was only one slight flash of Candy, who also looks rather older than the girls from the other magazines.

December's Oui featured a fine picture of German model Barbara Corser on the cover.  Barbara had been the Playmate of the Month for German Playboy in July 1975.  Most of the girls appearing in the foreign editions of Playboy were the same as in the main US edition but sometimes they would feature a home grown girl.   This might have led to an opportunity to appear in the main US magazine, as happened with other overseas Playmates.  Oddly, in Barbara's case it was Penthouse she finally appeared in, becoming Pet of the Month in August 1977, so we will see more of her in the future.

Oui's centrefold girl, Mona, posed in this bold legs apart shot although it often looked like Oui had done some colouring of their girls genitals to ensure that they weren't quite as visible as they might be.

Oui's couple sets tended to be boy/girl and girl/girl ones were quite rare.  This period example featuring a woman and her maid is really rather chaste compared with what Penthouse was doing at this point.

Penthouse often used its December issue to push the boundaries of the acceptable a little and 1975's edition was no exception.   For a start their cover girl is showing visible pubic hair, not just through her lacy knickers but  escaping outside as well.

Yum yum!

Next, they had a girl/girl set photographed by Earl Miller called Mirror Image which was considerably more passionate in its depiction of lesbian action than any of Penthouse's previous, somewhat coy, efforts.  This went further than Playboy's earlier Sappho pictorial by having, in one picture, one girl literally sitting on the other's face while in another, which was cut from the UK edition, one girl has her mouth on the other's pussy in their first explicit rug munching shot.

December's Pet of the Month was the particularly beautiful Susan Waide.  After a rather modest pictorial Penthouse presented her in their clearest genital centrefold  to date. No soft focus, no dark shadows just the lovely Susan and her lovely cunt.  These Penthouse pictures featuring their models labia, from the last few months of 1975, which were probably being influenced by Larry Flynt's Hustler (whatever Guccione subsequently claimed about being the innovator in the protrayal of women's genitals), had a significant effect on the portrayal of naked women in men's magazines.  As we have seen in previous postings photographers had to go to great lengths to avoid the portrayal of womens' pubic hair for magazines in the fifties and sixties (other then the small circulation "specialist" titles).  When this became acceptable they had to avoid glimpses of the models' labia being seen and this often necessitated doctoring the pictures.  Penthouse's introduction of spread legged poses made this even more difficult and, as we have seen, in 1975 they stopped disguising their girl's genitals. However, there is a big difference between showing what would be normally visible and making it the sole focus of the image.  This essentially is what would happen over the next two years as the vulva bcame the main focus for the pictures.  In some cases, the rest of the girl would become irrelevant as magazines competed to see how far they could get their models to display themselves.  There is no doubt that a lot of artistry in the pictures disappeared and Playboy's argument that they wanted to show pictures of pretty naked women not get into a genital displaying competition seems quite right.  What detracts from Playboy's argument, though, is that they continued to use the spread legged poses; it'sjust that they used a lot of shadow to disguise the "offending" (to advertisers) area instead.  In fact Penthouse would continue to take a more artistic approach compared with some of its more down-market competion (both in the US and the UK) whilst still putting in increasingly graphic genital shots.

Penthouse's final pictorial of 1975 was notable for being their first period-set "love set".  Later, period, fantasy and science fiction themed pictorials would be quite common in the magazine but this one, set in the Deep South in the nineteenth century was the first.  It had period clothes and interiors and even quite a clever little story.  Called The Duel it featured a 22 year old Lori Wagner (Anneka di Lorenzo's Caligula bedmate)  who had first featured in the magazine in May that year under the name Octavia Corriell.  Her masturbation shots, above, were too strong for the UK edition of the magazine which doctored them.

Surprisingly, the UK edition did allow this fairly bold male full-frontal; with Octavia's wrist actually in contact with the gentleman's member.  The most "interactive" penis couples shot so far in the magazine.

Penthouse's year end couples set was nothing compared with Hustler's, however.  Hustler's future was secure, after its Jackie Onassis shots, which made Larry Flynt a millionaire, and was grossing over $500,000 an issue in 1975.  However, they had nothing like the advertising revenue of Penthouse and Playboy (which is how they could get away with such outrageous content) so on the cover they took the unusual step of announcing a price rise for the magazine.

Their couples set, Butch and his Georgia Peach, would have an undreamed of effect on Flynt and his empire.  Featuring Butch Williams and a young stripper called Deborah Clearbranch, Hustler would, as a result of Mr Williams' impressive anatomy, announce a prize for any man who could prove he was as well endowed.  No one ever won. 

Deborah in Penthouse June 1974

Nineteen at the time of this shoot, Clearbranch was born and brought up in Georgia but left college to move to California, where she became a topless go-go dancer whilst trying to break into movies.   She also did some nude modelling and, as a seventeen year old, had appeared in Penthouse in June 1974.

Deborah/Desireé in action

Having appeared in a few parts in minor mainstream movies Clearbranch went on to be a popular actress in hardcore films in the late seventies and early eightes under the name Desireé Cousteau. 

Considering the nervousness about shots of penises in the other major magazines this pictorial was really more about Mr Williams member than Deborah's perky little body.  Nevertheless, this wasn't the real source of the many objections to the pictorial.  Complaints flooded in, particularly from the South, because he was black and she was white.  Playboy had had similar problems when it published a picture of a naked black man with a white girl.

One man who saw the photos got particularly incensed.  Joseph Franklin later said "It just showed a black male and a white female together and when I closed up (the magazine) I just thought to myself I'm gonna kill (Flynt).  I just got very incensed because of photos that they published in Hustler, you know, mixed race, you know, white women with black men so this made me sick, you know, grossed me out and still does."  In June 1978 Larry Flynt and his lawyer were leaving a courthouse in Georgia when they were gunned down by shots from a .44 calibre rifle, leaving Flynt a paraplegic.  No one was caught at the time but racist serial killer Franklin admitted to the crime subsequently.  He has not been tried for it because he is already serving life imprisonment for other murders.

Flynt is taken to hospital in Georgia

All this was in the future for Flynt and his main aim for 1976 was to try to close the gap on Penthouse.  So although Guccione's Pubic War with Playboy was officially over he couldn't rest on his laurels and so 1976 would see more barrier pushing.  1976 would be America's Bicentennial but it would also be the year of the pussy in mens' magazines.

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