Friday, 21 September 2012

Venus on the Cover: A Pubic Wars special - Part 2 the 1960s

July 1960

In this post we move on to the sixties in our review of the use of women on the cover of Playboy and Penthouse magazines (which wouldn't appear in the US until the end of the decade).  Mario Casilli's shot of some anonymous legs running across a beach for July 1960 provided a, still rare, location photo for the cover.

September 1960

By September the naked legs had been superseded by a naked back in Playboy's most assertive naked woman cover so far, cleverly presented as a jigsaw puzzle.  The model is Marli Renfro photographed by Don Bronstein.

Screech, screech,screech, screech!

Renfro, who was a Las Vegas showgirl and nude model, was famously the body double for Janet Leigh in the shower scene in Psycho the same year.  Janet Leigh wore a one piece swimsuit for her scenes so anything where you see a naked stomach is Renfro.

January 1961

After a two year gap the Playmate review gallery cover made a return, featuring another selection of dare to bare centrefold shots.  A couple of the originals of these did include some nipple but these were removed for the pictures on the cover.

July 1961

July had Playboy's first real lacy lingerie cover with Susie Scott, the February 1960 Playmate of the Month, showing a lot of skin through her short, black negligee.

March 1962

As more and more Playmates revealed their nipples in their centrefold pictures Playboy had to be more inventive in covering them up on its Playmate review covers.  Here they use the magazine's title to obscure June 1961's, Heide Becker's, prominent peaks.

June 1962

This abstracted picture by Marvin E Newman not only works because of the fine hips and stomach of the model but also because her bikini bottoms are slightly smaller than her revealed tan lines.  The tied side of the bikini bottoms are also suggestive of untying them to expose that hidden groin.  The cropping of the picture sexualises it in a way that showing the whole girl wouldn't.  A clever and enticing cover.  Playboy readers discovered that covering up the top half of the picture generated a much racier looking image.

December 1962

Sheralee Connars (Miss July 1961) isn't quite naked behind the fur but her top is not exactly substantial and is still sheer enough to demonstrate that she is not wearing any knickers.

December 1962

This is clearly demonstrated by the reverse shot inside the cover, which shows Miss Conners from behind.  Interestingly, the shots weren't done at different times, with Miss Conners turning around for the reverse picture, as you might expect.  Instead a u-shaped backdrop was circled around her, two apertures were cut in it for two camera lenses in front of and behind her (each hidden by her body) and the shots were made simultaneously.  Pompeo Posar and Bob Hart took the pictures and it took six hours and fifteen rolls of film to get right.

January 1963

January 1963's Playmate review gallery cover was a first, as both Avis Kimple (November 1963) at bottom left and Merle Pertile (february 1962) at top right both show a little glimpse of areola.  This was the first glimpse of nipple on the cover of Playboy.

March 1963

More skin on show on the cover of the March issue with Cynthia Maddox photographed by Don Bronstein.
This was the second of no less than five covers Maddox would do for Playboy.   Maddox was Hugh Hefner's main girlfriend from 1961 to 1963, having joined Playboy as a secretary in 1959 and ending up as assistant cartoon editor.  In the end, sick of Hefner's two timing, she walked out on him.  She wasn't a Playmate and this is as naked as she got for the magazine.

October 1963

A tantalising shot of Teddi Smith by Pompeo Posar appears to show her completely naked in the shower, although we suspect that she may have been wearing something or has been retouched later on.  Still, it is another example of a bold use of an apparently naked girl on the cover of the magazine. Smith was Miss July 1960 and would also go on to appear on the cover of the magazine five times, although one of these was on the January 1961 gallery shot with other Playmates so she doesn't quite match Cynthia Maddox.

The January 1964 edition had a continuation of the cover on the inside so that they could display the more, er, upfront, Playmates as part of their traditional gallery.  Prominent on the actual front cover was the centrefold for Terre Tucker (November 1963).  There had been some de-emphasising of her nipples but these were the first full-on, unobscured naked breasts on the cover of the magazine.

The March 1964 issue's cover wasn't particularly revealing but it was suggestive and included the first image of a girl on a bed to appear on the cover.   Czech actress Olga Schoberova's sultry sulkiness, as captured by Herman Leonard, just exudes a sexy rumpledness that matches the disarray of her sheets.  

Olga/Olinka in The Vengeance of She

Olga would later go on to be known as Olinka Berova and would be the star of the somewhat disappointing Hammer film sequel The Vengeance of She (1968) replacing Ursula Andress, from the original film, as she-who-must-be-obeyed.

January 1965's gallery cover was unusual in that although it featured pictures of the previous year's Playmates it did not use their centrefold shots.  A lot of cleavage on show in this one and more than a hint of nipple on the third picture down on the left.

The rest of the 1965 covers were mainly of portraits or fully clothed girls, with only Lannie Balcom, who would become Playmate of the Month in August that year, showing any skin.  Another one of those Playmates who died before her time, in 1991 at the age of fifty of a drug overdose.

The  January 1966 issue played around with the usual gallery cover idea and had just the one visible picture. where September 1965's Patti Reynolds' pert breast was visible in profile through a cut-out in the front cover.  Inside the pictures had reverted to the usual reproductions of the centrefolds.  The other covers for that year were probably even more modest than for 1965.

For January 1967 Playboy persisted with its flat rabbit and Playmates in picture frames approach. At least this time the picture frames were appropriate as they had commissioned some artists to "interpret the Playboy Playmate" and one of these pictures was on the cover. The other three frames were occupied by some of the previous year's Playmates. For the first time, all of them, however, were defiantly topless and clearly displaying their nipples without them having been touched up, so to speak. No wonder the rabbit looked even smugger than usual although he had been virtually pushed off the side of the cover to give full prominence (and that is certainly the word for Melinda Windsor bottom right) to the Playmates' charms.  The rest of the rabbit appeared on the inside cover.  This was a very bold step for Playboy.  There main rival, Cavalier, was largely featuring just portraits of women on its cover and had had nothing as racy as this.

The rest of 1967's covers were very conservative and it wasn't until the Playmate Review cover came around again  a year later that we got to see more nipples on the cover of the magazine.

Sharon's back

In March 1968 Playboy's cover had another naked girl from behind.  In this shot of Sharon Christie by David Chan she is just showing the very top of her bottom; revealing an inch or so more than Marli Renfro had in September 1960.  This was Chan's first cover for Playboy.  Over the next ten years he would do five more and shoot eight Playmates.

Sharon's front

For January 1969 Playboy eschewed the usual gallery cover for a plain white one with the rabbit head logo embossed on it.  The next naked girl on the cover was Sharon Kristie again, for April 1969.  This time she is viewed from the front and shot by Pompeo Posar in one of the most effective girl-only cover pictures of the sixties.  Sharon is clearly revealing some of her right areola here for the first time on a full-size Playboy cover photo

Playboy copied this cover for their August 2010 issue which featured Mad Men's Crista Flanagan although she is not able to show as much.  The two covers demonstrate the superiority of the sixties small text compared with today's overpowering approach.

September 1969 saw another slightly racy cover with that month's centrefold Shay Knuth lifting her shirt to show the underside of her naked breast.  This area was considered particularly racy in the US for some reason.  Bill Theiss, the costume designer for Star Trek, earlier in the decade, had been told that although plunging cleavage was acceptable, he must never show the underside of a woman's breast on one of his costumes on TV.  Was this slightly racier than usual cover anything to do with the arrival on the newsstands of Bob Guccione's Penthouse that month?

September 1969. First US Penthouse

Crossing the Atlantic from Britain, where it had been on sale since 1965, Penthouse's first US cover featured Pet of the Month Evelyn Treacher in an enticingly see-through dress.  Her breast is veiled, certainly, but it's assertive profile put an immediate marker down to Playboy.

By November Penthouse was displaying The Sun's first Page 3 girl, Ulla Lindstrom's chest even more thinly veiled, with a hint of just visible nipples on display.

Next time we will see how this cover battle developed in the seventies.

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