Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Bald Venuses versus bushy Venuses

We don't often pick up FHM magazine (we find its design somewhat frenzied, for a start) but were intrigued by an article in this month's issue regarding the thorny issue of the bushy versus bald pubis on young ladies.  As we have observed from comments on this blog, there is a great deal of support for the hairy pussy and a decrying of the bald examples on display in today's men's magazines and erotic videos.  Younger readers, however, seem appalled by the fur on display in pictures taken in the seventies. 

Last year Playboy ran a pictorial featuring a series of women with their bushes and then bald (above) to compare the effect.  Playboy has made great play of the fact that they get their girls to clean themselves up down below before shooting.  Indeed, today, anyone looking at a men's adult magazine will be hard pushed to find any girls with pubic hair.  Shaved or waxed to within a millimetre of their lives their oddly pre-pubescent looking pudenda are the norm in the erotic depiction of women in print or on video.  

Ginger Young May 1960

Back in the nineteen fifties nude photographic models would shave off all their pubic hair too, as its appearance in a photograph in a magazine would have resulted in instant obscenity charges for the publisher in both the US and the UK.   This was also considerably cheaper than having to do expensive retouching of a negative afterwards.  Agent Triple P has done this (not on a picture of a young lady, of course!) whilst working on his school magazine and it is a slow and painstaking process.  The depiction of the pubic triangle itself wasn't forbidden (provided no labia were shown); it was the actual hair that was the problem as this Playboy centrefold of Ginger Young from 1960 demonstrates.

Courbet The Origin of the World (1866)

The situation had been the same in the European art world of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.  Nudes abounded but their pubic areas were perfectly bald.  It was only in works produced for private collectors, such as Courbet's notorious The Origin of the World, or life studies not designed for exhibition, that pubic hair was shown.

Avril Lund March 1973 Penthouse

When Bob Guccione started to get his models to flash their fleece in the early 70s there was an immediate explosion of wool in all the men's magazines.  The FHM article declares that the "70s style bush is making a comeback".  This is a nonsensical statement of course.  Girls were just as bushy in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s it's just that pictures of them weren't readily available until the 70s.  Still, we see their point.

The naturally unkempt Miss Noble

For the first five years of the seventies the bush was queen in the mens' magazines with some outrageously untamed examples of show. In this extraordinary example from Mayfair in 1975 Miss Anna Noble not only demonstrates a full-bodied fluff but also a thick trail of hair leading up to her belly button.

Veronique Devaldene from Penthouse October 1978

As the 70s progressed Penthouse started to show girl's labia too and this, as we have seen in our Pubic Wars posts, caught on with the other magazines, especially from 1976 on, to the extent that, for better or worse, the girl's genitals became the centrepiece of most of the photos.  

A picture by British photographer Erik Wilkins from the late seventies

The anus appeared as a centre of focus in 1977 and shots of the girls from the rear showed how far round the back some of their hair went.  

Dominique shows a mighty bush from the rear

Playboy, of course, didn't show this part of the anatomy (other than on one or two very rare occasions) but that doesn't mean that they didn't have some impressive displays in the seventies and eighties as demonstrated by this impressively bushy shot of French actress Dominique Troyes from a June 1984 pictorial on actresses from Emmanuelle IV.  However, ironically, the need to show the girls' bits clashed with the bushy pubic regions and so, in the late seventies and early eighties, the models started to trim the hair away from around the labia.

Nikki Brenner Penthouse December 1989

At the beginning of the eighties new high cut swimsuits and lingerie appeared meaning that ordinary women had to start trimming themselves more than they had in the past as well.  Triple P remembers trying to draw lines with a charcoal pencil on the nether regions of one of his girlfriends as we worked out how much hair to remove to allow her to wear her striking new red, high-cut one piece swimsuit.

Penthouse's Dallas Roddy keeps it untrimmed as late as May 1986

The evolution from naturally bushy to bald was not an even progression however.  Some girls stayed bushy until quite late in the period.

Lauryl Canyon displays her eponymous sweep

Most of the girls who posed for the more explicit magazines like Penthouse in the eighties adopted what would become known as the Lauryl Canyon Sweep, after the porn star who first displayed it, wherein the hair around the labia was completely removed, but keeping some  above it.  This style would persist for over a decade.

Penthouse's Sandi Korn from March 1991

For the girls who spent a lot of their time in bikinis, if not naked, whilst posing for magazines, the same was required.  During the eighties the wide patch of hair started to get narrower until by the late nineties and early naughties it had become an almost symbolic strip.  Personally, we always felt that this was a ridiculous fashion.  Either have a proper covering or get rid of it completely, we thought at the time.

Kelly Havel from Penthouse June 1998

It didn't take long. In September 2001 Dalene Kurtis in Playboy became the first Playmate to display a completely hairless mons veneris.  From this point on Playboy Playmates and their less prestigious sisters in other magazines would gradually lose all of their fur.

The smooth as silk Dalene Kurtis from September 2001

However, Ms Kurtis' smooth front did not immediately presage a rush of totally pruned pussy and, in fact, it wouldn't be for more than a year that another Playmate, Teri Marie Harrison, appeared with another completely smooth mons veneris.

Terri Marie Harrison from Playboy, October 2002

Gradually the number of bald pussies increased in Playboy.  In 2003 only two Playmates had shed their pubic hair.  In 2004 it was three and by 2005 half of the Playmates were completely smooth. Even those who weren't had so little hair that you could almost count the number of strands that remained.  By 2007 no less than eleven out of twelve Playmates were completely hairless.

Girls blessed with more prominent labia were more likely to turn up as Playboy cybergirls on their website, where some of the pictures were slightly more explicit than in the magazine.  Here too, however, pubic hair was in retreat. Above, September 2004  cybergirl Holly Winnard displays her hairless package.

Lindsay Lohan shows her lack of fluff

Now it's not clear at what point ordinary women started to imitate their shaven sisters in the men's magazines but certainly shaven celebrity flashers such as Lindsay Lohan must have contributed to the fashion.  One milestone that is referred to as influential, as it often was in matters of fashion, was an episode of Sex in the City.  The Sex and Another City episode from series three was broadcast in September 2000 and opens with Carrie Bradshaw explaining that her beautician had taken everything off down below instead of the tidying up she wanted. This wide publicity for the "Brazilian" arising from this episode had a great effect on American women, it is said.

The girls arrive at the Playboy Mansion in the Sex and Another City episode

Another factor was the fact that more and more women were seeing the sort of pornographic images and videos that heretofor had been largely only seen by men.  Triple P can remember visiting Paris for a weekend with his then girlfriend and some of her work colleagues in the early/mid eighties.  Said girlfriend was amazed and excited -"they're having actual sex" - by the hard core videos playing in the room of one of her female colleagues on the hotel TV system (a legacy from a previous guest).  She had never seen a hard core film nor any sort of men's magazine, even Playboy.  Today it's hard to imagine a young woman who has not seen such images thanks to the internet.  It was the same visual pressure to be shaven that also led to a huge increase in women having surgery on their supposedly overlarge labia to produce the sort of neat slit seen in Playboy in the last decade.

Playboy's Kayla Collins from August 2008

Of course the disappearance of hair meant that Playboy was faced with a problem as to how to hide the labia that they didn't want to show.  As a result, it is said, Playboy started to favour girls with small or sunken labia, thus perpetuating the new look.  Critics said that the images were worryingly pre-pubescent and would encourage perverts, which seems unlikely, we have to say.

Isabella Ardigo from Penthouse April 1979

Agent Triple P's first girlfriends were all redheads, natural blondes and light brunettes.  It was only when we got briefly involved with a Greek girl from work, in the early eighties, that we discovered the blue-black wonders of the Mediterranean bush.  Many more of  these would follow as we started to travel to Italy extensively for a six year period.

At some time in the last decade the shaven (or waxed) pussy jumped from the small world of porn to the wider population (especially, we suspect, in North America).  Our experience in Europe is that girls have kept their fleeces to a large extent.  Britain, as ever, is somewhere in the middle with the influence of the US felt on the younger population especially.  In the survey conducted of FHM readers 36% said that they had encountered a "70s forest" in the last year.  This means that the vast majority of women in Britain are trimming themselves, whether completely or not the magazine doesn't say.  The article reckons bushes are making a comeback although some of the young ladies interviewed said they never would return to the bushy path.

Kate flashes her Moss

It would just take, they said, a few celebrities to be photographed with fluff to bring it back again (Kate Moss has been so photographed recently).  In the recent Spartacus TV series the producers had to arrange for merkins (pubic wigs) for their female stars as they had no fluff of their own (although in reality Roman women removed all their pubic hair using an abrasive paste).

The hairy Debbie from Club International September 1976

In some ways the issue is akin to underarm hair.  Again, back in the late seventies/early eighties most of Triple P's girlfriends had underarm hair but as they were all redheads or natural blondes it wasn't an issue.  In fact we quite liked it.  Girls only started shaving their armpits in the 1920s when sleeveless tops became fashionable.  Girls in continental Europe, again, still exhibit this more than in the UK and the US (where poor Julia Roberts's display a few years ago caused horror in the US press).

Triple P didn't encounter his first bald mound until the late nineties when his particular friend S had had hers waxed to please a new girlfriend.  At first we weren't entirely sure about the effect but admit that it was much nicer for oral sex - until the hair started to re-grow.  Triple P loves the feel of putting the palm of his hand on some soft fluff, however and certainly prefers the visual effect of a nice bush although how much of this is conditioning caused by the fact that he saw his first pubic areas in the seventies is difficult to work out.

An outrageous example from 1970s Mayfair

On the whole, however, Triple P prefers girls to have some fluff (but no landing strips please!), although perhaps trimmed around the edges, to of fluff; and certainly in photographs.  We know that we are not alone in this and yet very few men's magazines show girls with fur any more (there was a nice neat example in a recent issue of Mayfair which we saw, refreshingly).  Indeed, it is such an unusual sight that several models are using their possession of a bush as a distinguishing feature.  All we would ask for is some variety, but whether the bush will return in magazines and erotic videos we are not so sure.  As for ordinary women,  FHM thinks it might be on the way back.  We'll just have to do more research!

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