Monday, March 29, 2010

Venus Revealed: The Pubic Wars 6 1974 Part 2

Hustler's first edition, July 1974

The second half of 1974 brought yet another mens' magazine into the increasingly crowded marketplace. Unlike previous ones, which had all been aiming at the Playboy market, Hustler was firmly aimed, in every way, at a much lower common denominator than the other magazines on the newsstands.

Larry Flynt

Hustler publisher Larry Flynt’s new magazine was born out of Gallery, Ron Fenton's shameless rip-off of Playboy, first published two years earlier. Fenton’s attempts to copy Hugh Hefner’s lifestyle (including buying a mansion close to Hefner’s and opening a club) were putting pressure on Gallery’s finances. Flynt invested some money in the magazine. although eventually Fenton lost control of it. but he and Flynt planned to collaborate on a new magazine which they decided should be more explicit than Playboy. When Fenton lost interest in the project Flynt decided to go it alone. Hustler, therefore, appeared right at a time when Guccione thought that he had seen off Playboy in the Pubic Wars only to find he was being attacked on a new front.

Flynt was a a 32 year old Kentucky-born redneck who had launched the original Hustler as a four page black and white newsletter to publicise his chain of Ohio based Hustler strip clubs. In 1972 he expanded this to a 32 page black and white magazine which he christened The Hustler News

The extra pages allowed him to feature pictures of naked girls, who were all, initially, strippers from his clubs.  Later in 1972 he changed the name of the publication to, simply, Hustler.

Hustler December 1972

For his new colour magazine he therefore simply expanded again. Flynt had no pretensions about producing art or wanting to liberalise society; he just wanted to make money.  The magazine was far from an instant success, however, and he struggled in his first year; his big success would have to wait until 1975, as we shall see. In his first issue he wrote: "Anybody can be a playboy in a penthouse but it takes a man to be a Hustler". Flynt targetted his magazine at the average American male not the sort of high income college-educated group that Playboy and Penthouse seemed to be aimed at.

So how did Penthouse respond to this new threat?  On the cover of their July issue they featured German born Brigitte Maier who had just started out on a career in erotic films. Born in Schleswig-Holstein her family moved to the US when she was four.  She was twenty-two when she posed for Penthouse and appeared in a number of conventional glamour magazines, including an appearance in Playboy the following year.

Brigitte in Playmen

The same year she appeared as "Brandy Blue" in the October 1974 issue of the Italian Playboy clone Playmen, in a very Penthouse like, mildly soft-focus pictorial.

Brigitte for Penthouse in July

Her Penthouse pictorial was shot by Earl Miller and included one picture where she was flashing her clitoral hood.  The accompanying piece was quite upfront about her being a porn star and she had been appearing in films, by this time, for a number of years. 

Brigitte in Sensations (1975)

She left the US for Sweden and then moved to the Netherlands where she met erotic film director Lasse Braun, whose girlfriend she became.  Braun, who was sixteen years older than Maier, was actually an Italian who had been making short hardcore films since the sixties.  He sold enough of these ten minute loops to American peepshows that he could finance his first big budget, full-length hardcore film, Sensations (1975), which was actually shown at the Cannes Film Festival that year.  About two girls arriving in Amsterdam looking for sex, Brigitte co-starred in the film, which made her a star almost overnight.

She would continue working in hard core films until the end of the seventies and continued to pose for men's magazines; although to rather more explicit effect than her Penthouse pictorial.

Barbie Lewis: one of Penthouse's finest shots of the mid-Seventies

After the lovely Brigitte, July's Penthouse presented the gorgeous and leggy Barbie Lewis in a splendid pictorial photographed by Joe Brooks in his only centrefold for the magazine. Unusually for Penthouse, which had relied on its voyeuristic approach to photography, in this wonderful picture Barbie is gazing at the camera, her perfect posterior view presenting a glimpse of her mound from the rear in what was still a daring and rare pose. Her centrefold, eschewing Guccione's trademark soft-focus gave such a bold view of her divided mound that the picture editors in the UK edition had to deploy their airbrush again to make the picture less explicit.  Unfortunately, Barbie, who was working as a teacher's assistant, was promptly sacked when her pictorial came out.

Barbie on display

The third girl in that issue was one Carole Cameron who possessed a most impressive bush but also a very gravity defying pair of breasts.  Were these the first artificially enlarged mammaries in Penthouse?

The gravity defying Carole Cameron

The wars were not just being fought below the waist, however. The covers of the competing magazines were getting bolder too, especially as regards the depiction of nipples, as they fought for attention on the newsstands. For the July issue Gallery had gone brazenly topless for the first time.

Gallery gets them out

Compared to July's subtle nipple flashing covers for both Penthouse and Hustler, Playboy's July cover was much more aggressive. Pompeo Posar's photograph of Christine Maddox's nipples in a wet Playboy tee-shirt being both inventive and sexually assertive at the same time.

Playboy was still looking for starlets who were prepared to go full-frontal which was a bigger issue for established actresses than models in the magazine at the time (as, indeed, it still is).  For July, however, they snagged the splendid Mexican actress Isela Vega.

Isela faces the front

Inside, Playmate Carole Vitale was depicted with her hand touching her pussy in a shot that would have been quite at home in Penthouse at the time but was very strong for Playboy, especially as it included a glimpse of her clitoris.  Raunchy stuff!

Carole touches it

Playboy's July issue also gave us an example of the other big Pubic Wars period trend: faux lesbianism. A pictorial on hats, of all things, produced this very Penthouse like example.  In fact none of Penthouse's three preceding girl/girl sets had produced a picture anything like as sensuous as this one.

Sapphic millinery in Playboy

Oui carried on with its controversial policy of including men on the cover with yet another couples shot; one of four they had in 1974.

Inside, the first pictorial was also a couples one, featuring Andy Warhol star Joe Dallesandro and his girlfriend Stefania Casini.

They were photographed in Rome in authentically affectionate poses.

That month's centrefold girl, Lena, was photographed in a peek-a-boo spread-legged shot which very nearly showed a lot but just didn't quite.

That month's final pictorial featured Nikki Freud, granddaughter of Sigmund and daughter of English broadcaster Clement Freud, displaying a very thick bush  We sat opposite Sir Clement, as he became, on a train back from Bath a few years ago, just before his death.  He was a charming man.

After the sexy cover of their July issue Playboy went for a very curious amalgam of photograph and cartoon illustration for one of their oddest covers of the seventies. 

Jean opens up for the first time in Playboy

That month's Playmate, Jean Manson, was shown with her legs apart in the surf; the first Playmate to be photographed in such an explicit pussy-displaying pose from such an angle.  There was even a hint of her bits on display.

Jean flashes

In addition, her centrefold pose showed, in the reflection of a mirror, a clear view of her protruding labia.  Playmates were showing their bits!  

Briding her time

Another pictorial that month, called Here Comes the Bride, climaxed with this inviting but un-Playboy like pose.  The girl next door couldn't keep her thighs clamped together any longer.

August saw Penthouse with a rather odd cover as well featuring an alarmingly made-up lady in the process of choosing which fruit to have for breakfast.  Or something.  Apart from the, er, distinctive styling the cover picture was unusual in that it wasn't taken from a pictorial inside the magazine.  Playboy did this most of the time, of course, but it was an unusual move for Penthouse at the time.

Pet of the Month for August, Stacey Cameron, did not follow the new fashion for flashing her bits and, indeed, apart from this one very modest groin touching shot her pictorial could have come from several years before.

Treeka: fit to be tied

It was left to dancer/model Treeka Delight (not her real name we suspect) to provide the issue's one, uninhibited, pussy picture.  We do like a bed with brass rails at the head and foot (for reasons that go back to our college days when we discovered the entertaining activities that such a construction afforded)!

A dark nipple is barely concealed in the cover photo of Vee Brooks in August's Oui.  That issue they ran a pictorial on the Dutch star of Emmanuelle, Sylvia Kristel.  Although the accompanying text mentioned the film this was before it became a huge hit and propelled her to international stardom.  

Although it was a nice pictorial we confess to having never found Sylvia Kristel remotely sexy.  The problem is, we think, given that she was a beautiful girl with a fine figure, that horrible short haircut she had in the Emmanuelle films.  Agent Triple P had actually read the books before he saw the films and had a strong image of Emmanuelle as a girl with long black hair.  It's not to say that short hair can't be sexy, it certainly can, but we just felt it wasn't sexy on Kristel.

Oui, much to the annoyance of many of its readers, persisted with another couples centrefold pictorial, this pussy stroking effort being far stronger than anything that Penthouse had done to date.

It was up to Jeanne Moneau to be the lone, conventional girl pictorial in that issue.  Here she is exploring inside her knickers in an effective auto-erotic shot by British photographer Leslie Turtle.

A nice soapy abstract from Oui in August 1974

Quite often, during this period, the major magazines would offer up an arty photographic pictorial as if to prove that they weren't just about getting girls to flash their pussies.  For Triple P at the time these offerings were a wasted pictorial.  We didn't want to see food that looked like a girl's bits, or arty double exposures, we wanted nice conventional photographs of beautiful girls with no clothes on.  The magazines persisted; maybe to keep their art directors feeling fulfilled in their jobs.  Oui ran one of these pictorials in August 1974 on a theme of girls and liquids.  Most would not have been to our taste in the seventies but it did feature this one fine abstracted study of a girl and some soap.

Talking of abstracted  Playboy had a blisteringly good cover in September photographed by the  appropriately named Bill Arsenault.

Inside, Raiders cheerleader Jane Lubeck was portrayed happily touching her pussy whilst regarding her fine form in a mirror. The mirror shot alone was a Penthouse favourite but the added self touching showed how much Playboy was being influenced at the time.

September's Playmate, Kristine Hanson kept her pubic hair covered in her centrefold but did give us this splendidly abandoned rear end shot.

Doing it now in Playboy

It wasn't just the poses that were more sexual in Playboy.  The witten content was inceasingly sexually focussed.  This was reinforced with more couples type pictorials.  The September issue contained one called Do it Now, about having spontaneous sex in unusual places.  It had some pretty passionate photographs compared with Penthouse's rather innocent efforts so far.

Another man on the cover of Oui in September but this time rather than models it was the celebrity couple featured  in the pictorial inside.  French skier Jean-Claude Killy had won all three Alpine gold medals at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble and became the best known skier in the world, with an international profile.

Unlike Penthouse's couples pictorials which used often anonymous models, Killy was shown with his wife,  French actress Danièle Gaubert (they had met on the set of a film, Snow Job (1972)).  It certainly gave an added sensual frisson to their pictures.

Danièle in Lui, May 1969

Danièle had already appeared in Oui's sister magazine Lui in France, where she was a well known starlet.

Playboy, May 1969

The very same month she appeared in Playboy in a pictorial featuring her film her film Camille 2000 (1969) directed by Radley Metzger.

She had also appeared in a pictorial in Cavalier in February 1970 in a feature about the shooting of a film in which she starred called  Come, quando, perché (1970).  She remained married to Killy until 1987 when she died, tragically, of cancer at the age of just 44.

One couples pictorial which had been very popular withe the readers of Oui was one, from December 1973, called An afternoon with Aunt Nancy where an older lady (not that old!) seduces a younger man.  She returned for the September issue but this time, as was becoming fashionable, she has her way with a younger woman.  The pictorial wasn't that racy but did display an enticing selection of period lingerie.  We particularly like the little ankle boots!

More implied sapphic fun in this issue in a fashion pictorial about hats.  Hats must have been big in 1974!

Hustler, for its third issue was very much copying the Penthouse style of cover: pretty girl, moody lighting, antique furniture and a wisp of lace.

The same month saw Penthouse going for their boldest cover nipple shot so far, of Pet of the Month, Janice Kane. This was nothing to what would appear inside, however.

No doubt with one eye on Hustler, which was starting to show glimpses of their models bits, Penthouse presented their most explicit pictorial to date. The picture quality in Hustler was rather poor, however, they just didn't have the high quality printing and paper that both Playboy and Penthouse had.

English model Janice, however, appeared in crystal clear photography and in high quality print, spreading her legs and displaying her bits in a way unlike any other previous Pet.

Never had Penthouse had a girl display herself with such wanton abandon.  Her pictorial would set the standard, not only for Penthouse, but for all the men's magazines everywhere.  The UK version of the magazine used the same pictures but Janice's bits were blurred into invisibility.

Janice brazenly displayed herself in a record-breaking half a dozen pictures; the full-page picture above being Penthouse's biggest labia featuring picture so far.

Ninteen year old Janice was photographed in a series of fetching headscarves by Bob Guccione in North Africa, even displaying herself in her centrefold.
Also that month Penthouse had another girl/girl pictorial, Mirage, by Roy Volkmann, which was plugging a Penthouse book of his photographs.  The pictorial mixed artily-lit efforts full of purple lights and dry ice with more conventional photographs such as this one.

October saw Genesis becoming the next magazine to put nipples on its cover for the first time.

Suzann Sherry sprawls on the October 1974 cover of Playboy

In 1974 the Pubic Wars weren't just being fought on the covers and inside the magazines themselves. Playboy accused Penthouse of inflating their circulation figures. An investigation revealed that Guccione had been claiming figures which were actually more than 600,000 copies a month less than they were. An advertising manager on Playboy-owned Oui then sent a letter out suggesting that Penthouse was not meeting its circulation guarantee: a critical figure for retaining advertisers. Guccione knew that even with the 600,000 copies deducted he was selling a lot more than his 3,500,000 a month circulation guarantee figure and so sued Playboy for $40 million. Playboy counter sued claiming that Penthouse had infringed its trademark in its advertising. All the the cases failed on technicalities.

Ester looks away

That month's Playmate centrefold was notable in that Miss October, Panamanian born Ester Cordet, was the first Playmate since 1954 to not look at the camera.  The last Playmate not to engage the viewer was Terry Ryan, back in December 1954.  In fact, although Ester's centrefold is often held out to be the only one in Playboy where the Playmate isn't looking at the lens, no less than five Playmates in 1954 were looking somewhere else.  At this time, of course most of the pictures were bought in from elsewhere.  Richard Fegley's experiment here with Ester was never repeated.   It is a tremendous photograph, however, and its voyeuristic quality had exactly that element that Playboy had been seeking since it first went head to head with Penthouse several years before.  Perhaps, for Hefner, it was an imitative step too far and he wanted his precious centrefolds to go back to being conventional pin-ups who engaged with the viewer.

Alesha Ellis has a stroke in the grass

Playboy's pictorials for October dialled back on the raunch although they had this fetching shot of Boston Bunny Girl Alesha Ellis stroking herself in the Bunnies of 74 feature.

Oui's October cover had as its subject a lady with the unlikely name of Ulla Starlight, one of the Crazy Horse performers featured in that issue.

The first pictorial that month was another couples one based, loosely, on the story of Adam and Eve.  It was notable not just for a picture of Adam touching  Eve's groin but also this boldly displayed penis.

October's Pet, the fabulous Laura Doone (actually Paula Randel) was so spectacular she kept Pet of the Year Avril Lund off the cover.  Laura didn't flash her bits as Janice had done the previous month, largely on account of the fact that she had a fantastic bush which hid everything.

 Fingering fun for Laura...

In fact, all three girls in the October issue kept their labia hidden but then this month's issue was less about labia and more about faux masturbation.  Firstly Laura, in a fetching hat, lets her fingers do the walking.

 ...and Avril...

Pet of the Year, Irish girl Avril Lund is also pictured with her fingers on her pussy in one of Bob Guccione's shots from her pictorial.

...and finally, Karen

Most extreme, however, was nineteen year old Karen Dermer, who has a series of masturbatory pictures in her pictorial by Stan Malinowski; the hand in the knickers shot being particularly effective.

November's Playboy cover had quite a lot of derriere from Claudia Jennings but not much else that pushed at the barriers in the War.

Although piece on girls in glasses, called cringingly, Spec-tacular, not only had some implied girl on girl fun but inter-racial girl on girl fun; which, at the time, was far more daring.

For November Penthouse's cover shot of Jane Sommers was equally as up front as regards the bare breasts as the previous month's had been.

Unlike Laura Doone, the previous month's Pet of the Month, Sharon Longworth flashed her bits in several photographs.  In fact there were so many shots of Sharon's labia that the UK edition of Penthouse never ran the pictorial at all. Penthouse UK had been running the US Pet one month in arrears so when it should have been Sharon's turn (December) they just went with the US December Pet, Cathy Green instead.

Sharon: pretty in pink

Part of the issue with Sharon's pictorial, which was by Jeff Dunas, was that the pictures showed her bits as pink. Up until then any visible genitalia had been rather shadowed and dark. With this mirror shot we get Sharon's clitoris in its natural colour.

In this picture Sharon shows off in some nineteenth-century style divided drawers. It wasn't just pussy on display that month however.  The magazine ran a long pictorial feature celebrating the first anniversary of Bob Guccione's "Penthouse for women", Viva.

Apart from its pictures of naked men Viva ran a couples set every month and this article showed a number of pictures from these including this impressive specimen.  This picture was from a Viva pictorial called Suzanna and Eddie shot by Jeff Dunas.  Up until this point Penthouse, unlike Oui, had never shown a penis in any of their couples pictorials.  There were quite a few penises in this article, however.  Maybe Penthouse was acclimatising its readers for what was to come.

New challenger Hustler was pushing the boundary as regards labia as well and it was probably the threat from Larry Flynt rather than any competition from Hugh Hefner that was driving Penthouse at this point.  Hustler's covers continued to ape Penthouse as November's fifth issue demonstrates.

November's Hustler certainly made it clear that there was a war on as it carried an advertisement for a Hustler tee-shirt which had a Playboy-type rabbit and a Penthouse-type key being crushed by the Hustler figure.

Hustler was running its own couples pictorials as well but there were no penises on display (yet) here either, although the girls were showing their divided mounds, something Penthouse had yet to do in a couples pictorial of any type.

Robin looks a little orange

Hustler was a much lower quality magazine, with much of the publication being printed on poor quality coarse paper with grainy black and white pictures with only the first section and centre section being on glossy paper with colour pictures.  Print quality was terrible meaning that most of the girls ended up as a rather peculiar orange colour.

The magazine had three pictorials of girls all flashing their bits, including Gail, above. Unlike Playboy or Penthouse, Hustler never bothered to give their photographers a credit on their pictorials and, given the blotchy, rather poor quality printing that may have been just as well!  One thing it wasn't doing at this point was following Penthouse along the faux masturbation route.  The girls might gaze at their pussies but they weren't playing with them.

Playboy had its Playmates, Penthouse had its Pets and Hustler had its Honeys, obviously believing that the use of alliteration was de rigeur for its selected centrefold of the month. The Honeys never had the cachet of Playmates of Pets, however. For November they presented Lorraine on their three page gatefold (Penthouse was still running with  a two page centrefold) who was clearly displaying her nether regions in her centrefold.

Oui had its most naked covergirl so far and its first fully exposed bare bottom for its November issue.

Playboy's December cover was easily as racy as anything Hustler or Penthouse was putting out at the time with cover model Robyn Douglas, photographed by former Penthouse photographer, Stan Malinowski, flashing a nipple.

Inside the pictorials were less raunchy than the cover, although in a feature on Miss November 1969, Claudia Jennings, J Frederick Smith had her pose with her hand inside her shorts.

Penthouse rounded off the year with Cathy Green in another Jeff Dunas Guccione-clone pictorial, complete with red carnations. Cathy's only vaguely explicit shot was the one below which, again, was censored in the UK edition.

Cathy's bits catch the light

However, the December issue was often one where Penthouse pushed the boundaries a bit and in this case they presented their first group pictorial, Bawdy Bathers by Jeff Dunas featuring the ample charms of Joyce Gibson.

Not just that but, following on from the Viva article  the previous month, in one of the pictures they gave the readers the first penis in a couples pictorial. 

December 1974

Hustler finished their first six months with a rather more distinctive (if not very well executed) cover.  Inside their girls' hands seemed to be straying ever closer to their pussies in search of the faux masturbation shot.

This anonymous lady from their Girls of California pictorial is definitely going the Penthouse route. 

This young lady, going by the name of Chris, is also getting very close to a hand/pussy interface.  The real shock for Penthouse, especially, from Hustler that month, however, came with their strikingly natural red-head centrefold.

Orange and pink

Hustler had "gone pink" for the first time in a nationally distributed magazine in America. Not content with showing subtly lit hints of their models' genitals Flynt had got Patti to show everything in bright lighting, including her even more explicit centrefold shot complete with sperated labia.

Flynt could get away with this as Hustler made most of its revenue by subscription not advertising; the advertising being very low grade compared with the national campaigns of top companies seen in Penthouse and, especially, Playboy. In short, Flynt, didn't have to worry about what his advertisers thought. Hefner did, however, and in the next episode, focussing on 1975, we will examine the pressures that caused Playboy to rethink its Pubic Wars strategy.