Monday, 18 February 2013

Non-centrefold Venus of the Month 15: Bettina, November 1976

November's non-centrefold of the month comes from a magazine we haven't featured before, High Society. The first issue appeared in May 1976 and was the brainchild of serial erotic magazine creator Peter Wolff.  Named as Bettina (a name with some resonance for Triple P) in the magazine we have no idea who she really is.

High Society couldn't have existed without Hustler of which it was a blatant rip-off (as Hustler huffily acknowledged in their annual review of men's magazines in their January 1977 issue).  Arriving in the middle of the Year of the Pussy, 1976, when all the magazines started blatantly showing their models' labia, High Society was more blatant than most.

The (unnamed) photographer had fun with the spurting, phallic tap, as did Bettina by the looks of her.  The bath itself is rather splendid and certainly gives her room to manoeuvre.  Triple P has always enjoyed watching a young lady disporting herself in the bath, although this one doesn't have very much water in it.  Perhaps its like those annoying ones you get in foreign hotels where they have a knob or lever to control the plug instead of the simpler but far superior rubber plug.  As a result the water always gradually leaks out during the course of the bath.  Most annoying!

Peter Wolff had already created Bachelor and Ace in 1972.  Brilliant at creating profitable new magazines his hard drinking, partying, gambling and, above al, spending ways inevitably got him moved on by publishers.  He had started work at Topper, Rogue and Escapade magazines in the sixties before moving to Gallery. He introduced the idea of readers sending in photos of their wives and girlfriends to the magazine but this got him fired.  Ironically, Gallery's Girl next Door feature defined the magazine from then on and created a feature seized upon by many of the other magazines (such as Hustler's Beaver Hunt) which continues to this day.

As editor of Ace and Bachelor he developed his characteristic features of using stories and pictures contributed by readers.  In 1975 he was able to create his first original magazine, High Society.  Again he introduced an idea that many other magazines would copy: having a woman "publisher" so that his readers could read about sex from a girl's perspective.  She wasn't really the publisher of course, in fact Sue Richards, the lady in question was really porn starlet Bree Anthony and was just a figurehead to be replaced after two years by Gloria Leonard, another porn star.

Wolff went on to set up Cheri magazine in 1976 dubbing it the All True National Sex Magazine.  His massive expenses got him fired again and he then set up Partners magazine which included another innovation: the first accompanying video.  He was ahead of his time on this one as very few people had video playback equipment in 1978.

Riddled with disease, Wolff spent his last years designing stamps for foreign countries and writing crosswords for the New York Times.  He died at the age of 52 on a break-out from hospital, where he was being treated for heart disease, to smoke, eat a massive breakfast and have drinks with a porn starlet.  

Wolff's magazines reflected his fascination with real people's sex lives and he stripped away all the pretention that still served as the backbone of Playboy and Penthouse: an idea that somehow what they were producing was Art and Important.  Wolff knew that many men just wanted to read about sex and look at girls displaying their cunts.  They didn't want soft-focus photography, stories by famous authors or poetic text accompanying their pictorials.

Bettina, here, then is an example of that blatant, unsubtle, non-lifestyle branch of men's magazines, which appeared in the mid-seventies and whose style, to a large extent still dominates what's left of the adult magazine industry.  You can't imagine that the photographer spent weeks or days capturing her bath time frolics as would have been the case in Playboy.  In fact it's much more likely to have been like Bob Guccione's first Pet shoot for his premiere issue in 1965 when he had the whole session wrapped in forty five minutes.

Bettina's not a great beauty, she doesn't have a world class figure but she does look like a real girl who the reader might, just might, be able to have sex with in a way that he wouldn't with the unattainable lovelies of Oui, Penthouse and Playboy.

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