Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bond Girl Venus 3: Rachel Grant - Die Another Day

From FHM Philippines

Today's Bond girl was one of those stunning bit-part players but was rather more than just background dressing. We were just flicking through the TV channels this afternoon to check out our newly installed fibre-optic cable TV when what should we come across but Children's TV Science show Braniac, which largely focussed on experiments such as how quickly would a microwave or caravan explode if you put inappropriate things in it. 

Very much the two best things in Brainiac was "Professor Myang Li" whose job was to demonstrate the answers to critically important questions such as "Which fruit floats?"

In reality Myang Li was British/Filippina actress Rachel Grant.  Miss Grant is a far more interesting person than her (admittedly enjoyable) bimbo role in Brainiac might suggest.

Rachel was born on Luzon in the Phillipines in 1977 but moved to the UK with her English father and Spanish Filipina mother within a month of her birth, forced out of the Philippines by a typhoon.  She was brought up in Nottingham where she made her fist stage appearance at the age of four.  Her full name is Rachel Louise Grant de Longueuil  and her father is the 12th Baron de Longueuil whose grandmother was a Bowes-Lyon and was closely related to the Queen Mother.  Technically she is third cousin to Princes Harry and William.

She came to London at the age of sixteen to study acting and whilst appearing in country soap Emmerdale  in 1999 didn't get her first regular TV role for seven years.  This was a role as a host for the Sci Fi channel's Fright Night in 2001.  That year she was also a body double for Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: (2001) as she is the same height: 5'8".

In 2002 she was cast as a masseuse called Peaceful Fountains of Desire in a speaking role in the twentieth James Bond film Die Another Day (2002) where she had a scene with Pierce Brosnan.  Here she is at the film's world premiere.

Adding the Bond Girl role to her qualifications has kept her in work (if not exactly stellar work) ever since.   She was Myang Li on Brainiac from 2003 until 2007 and appeared in a number of small TV and film roles.  She has also done quite a lot of TV advertising work.

She is active in charity work, especially in the Philippines, where she is considerably more well known that over here.

Rachel in New York

Rachel is a sports car enthusiast and has taken part in several rallys in the US including the Ferrari only Tour of the Hamptons and the Bullrun Rally driving from New York to Los Angeles.

She is also interested in travel and had her own travel slot on Cathay Pacific's in-flight travel show and writes for the Asian magazine Travelife.

Another big part of her life is martial arts and she has studied Filipino martial arts, in particular, Kali and Silat. She learned blade and stick fighting from Grandmaster Danny Inosanto: a training partner of Bruce Lee.  She has been featured in a number of martial arts magazines and is an experienced instructor.

Red Princess Blues

This expertise helped her win the best fight award at the Shockfest film festival in Los Angeles for her appearance in the short film Red Princess Blues (2010) (for which she took the best actress award too).

She was a finalist in Miss Great Britain and Miss Hawaiian Tropic and as a youngster would take part in drama competitions.

So, actress, model, martial arts instructor, travel writer and photographer, the very busy Miss Grant splits her time between London, New York and the Philippines.

A very worthy Bond Girl Venus!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Snowy Venus 1: Lenna Sjööblom

As it snows again now (we have had six days of snow on the ground; quite unusual in the south east of England) we thought we would have a snow bunny in the lissome shape of Lenna Sjööblom, Playboy's Playmate of the Month for November 1972.  

We  posted her as a Centrefold of the Month over three years ago but realise that we need to update the post as it is not as complete as our more recent efforts.  It does not include this picture, for example.

Playboy occasionally had its girls posing in the snow like this but we were never convinced that the pictures were that sexy.  We are not at all sure that naked bodies and snow is an appealing combination! Here, however, Lenna's perfect posterior almost convinces us!  Brr!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Venus in black stockings 1: Lesley-Anne Down

Lesley Anne Down in the Alberto episode of Upstairs, Downstairs, first broadcast 16th November 1975

In a world where there were only three television channels, TV watching in the seventies was a much more communal affair for families than it is today.    No tablets, no smart phones, no home computers, no video recording devices to enable time shifting.  If you wanted to watch something on TV you had to be sat down in front of it at the appointed time.  

One of the programmes that Agent Triple P had to endure, during family viewing at the weekends in the early Seventies, was Upstairs, Downstairs, which was very much Downton Abbey's forebear.  A largely tedious (for a teenager) tale of aristocrats and their servants it had very little of interest for Agent Triple P.  However, from series three the programme was considerably enlivened by the presence of the luminously beautiful Lesley-Anne Down, who was just nineteen when she first appeared in it.

One scene involving her has stuck in Triple P's mind for nearly forty years and recently we were delighted to find an illustration of her from this scene.  In the episode Alberto, from the fifth and final series from 1975, Lesley-Anne, as Georgina Worsley, is offered a role in a film, Paris by Night.  Jealous suitor James Bellamy (Simon Williams) turns up at the studio concerned about the whole thing and quite rightly, it seems, as Lesley-Anne is wearing the sort of outfit that a young lady should not be seen in, even in the nineteen twenties.  As a fifteen year old to see quite such a risque outfit on prime time (not that that was a term in use in those days in the UK) weekend drama was a splendid surprise.

Our second dose of a be-stockinged Lesley Anne comes from the enjoyable Michael Crichton Victorian caper film The First Great Train Robbery (1979).  The film has much to recommend it, including Geoffrey Unsworth's photography, a good recreation of Victorian London (shot in Dublin), an engaging performance by Sean Connery (doing some amazingly risky stunts on top of a moving train) and a marvellous score by Jerry Goldsmith; the main theme from which is particularly hard to get out of your head once you have heard it.

Lesley-Anne also puts in a splendid performance and is particularly eye-catching in some, we have to admit, rather anachronistic lingerie.   Still, it catches the spirit of saucy Victorian underwear even if it has been somewhat modernised.

The image of her in her corset and stockings was so strong it featured, not surprisingly, in the film's posters.  The pose of her in the version of the poster above made a strong impression on Agent Triple P years before he actually saw the film.  The poster art is by top American poster artist Tom Jung who is famous for his work on such iconic posters for films like Doctor Zhivago and Star Wars.

More of Miss Down soon.  Next up, her fetching publicity shots for Sphinx (1981)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Centrefold Venus of the Month 42: Hilary Stephens/Caroline Crowther, November 1977

We haven't had a Mayfair centrefold since February 2010 so thought it was about time we had another young lady from that most British of men's magazines.  Amidst the regular articles on old cars, World War 2 exploits and such like were rather more pictorials than the likes of Penthouse and Playboy had.

This issue, like the previous one we have featured comes from 1977.  Mayfair had refused to be dragged into the competition between the other magazines (principally Men Only, Club International, Fiesta, Knave and Penthouse in the UK) to become ever more explicit from the end of 1975.  Although by 1977 there was, just occasionally, a glimpse of labia in some of their pictorials.

Mostly, however, they presented young ladies like "Hilary" here who were usually quite obviously British.  They had none of the polished sensuality of the European girls who often featured in Club International and none of the overt sexuality of the Penthouse models.  This is not to say that they were unattractive but it was a real not fantasy attractiveness; a sort of busty barmaid down at the local pub approach.

Mayfair tended to take two approaches with its description of its women: they were either secretaries or hairdressers or very posh country or Chelsea types.  The implication being, often, that they had not posed before.  This, of course, was exactly the approach Bob Guccione had taken with Penthouse, which had been launched just under a year before Mayfair's August 1966 first issue in the UK.   In Penthouse's case, however, often his girls were first timers (initially they had to be to be Pet of the Month) and many of them were quite posh, as he used to pick them up from exclusive secretarial colleges on the King's Road.  In Mayfair the girls were often (sometimes quite well known) models.  

Anyway, the editor obviously decided that Hilary was going to be one of their posh girls, working as an estate agent and living in Fulham (not quite as posh as Chelsea but nearly) who had got into jolly scrapes at her boarding school.

Whatever, Hilary was posed in typical Mayfair style on location, inside, with typically gloomy weather visible through the windows.  We can't say that we are very inspired by her clothes in this pictorial and the wrinkled stockings don't do much for her either.  A detail that Hugh Hefner would have never let get into Playboy.

She does have a nice figure although the poses that she assumes don't always show it at its best and it would have been nice to see what another photographer might have done with her.  Photographer for this pictorial was David Hinton about whom we can find nothing whatsoever.

Hilary does not seemed to have posed again for Mayfair or any other magazines and that is probably due to the fact that she was shortly about to meet the man she would marry.

Hilary Stephens is, in fact, Caroline Crowther and was the daughter of Leslie Crowther, at the time one of the biggest stars on British TV.   Crowther's TV career started in the nineteen fifties and he was a presenter, compere and, latterly, game show host whose TV shows were some of the highest rated on television, including the UK version of The Price is Right.  Leslie Crowther was in a terrible car crash in 1992 from which he never fully recovered and died in 1996.

Caroline was one of five children and her sister, Liz, is an actress who became well known for her part as a radio station receptionist in the Bristol-set detective series Shoestring from 1979 to 1980.  Caroline was working for top British rock publicist Tony Brainsby when she met Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, who were one of Brainsby's clients.

By 1978 she was pregnant with Lynott's child and they got married on Valentine's day 1980 at which point Caroline was five months pregnant with her second child.  The wedding was in a freezing cold church in Richmond, south west London, and the reception was at the Kensington Hilton.  During his speech at the reception Caroline's father famously said "When Philip asked for my daughter's hand in marriage I said,'Why not? You've had everything else!'"  

The wedding was attended by a host of figures from the pop world including Billy Idol and members of Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Dire Straits, Bad Company and Midge Ure, who had played in Thin Lizzy for a time before forming Ultravox.

This picture comes from the Record Mirror coverage of the wedding, the text for which was written by Paula Yates, who we have featured as a non-centrefold of the month for her 1979 Penthouse shoot.

Caroline left Lynott in 1984, with her children, as his heroin use had got increasingly out of control.  But when Lynott collapsed on Christmas Day 1985 it was Caroline who drove him to a drugs clinic but he died on January 4th  1986.  

A magnificent rear!

We think Caroline is really rather splendid and the very average presentation of her in Mayfair just adds to her girl next door allure.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Venus by Frank Frazetta

Here is an atypical painting by America artist Frank Frazetta (1928-2010), better know for his genre-defining fantasy works.

The girl's sumptuous anatomy is less stylised than in his fantasy pictures whilst still being well towards the outrageous end of curviness.  She is rather too well made up and pin-up pretty to be an art nude and the pose is, we are loathe to say, rather awkward.  The delicate elfin face and well defined jaw-line does not really go with the Junoesque figure, either.  The picture does, however, carry an erotic charge, centered on that pale slice of haunch under her left thigh.

An interesting, rather than entirely successful, painting but descended from a distinctly classicist tradition: the colour palette could have come straight from John William Godward.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Norwegian Venuses - 5 million visits

Kari Knudsen

Yesterday, which was, coincidentally, Agent Triple P's birthday, this blog passed the five million views barrier.  To celebrate, as we have done in the past, we have decided to post some young ladies from the country with the closest population to our visits total.

Kari Knudsen

Fortunately, for five million, that country is Norway, so there is no shortage of lovely girls to choose from!  Over the years Playboy has had no less than seven Norwegian Playmates so what better selection could there be to celebrate our five millionth page view than looking at these nubile Nordic nymphs.

Kari Knudsen

Playboy's first Norwegian Playmate was revealed in February 1962 in the 36-23-35 five foot four inch shape of Kari Knudsen.  Although born in the tiny hamlet of Romsdal by the time Playboy unveiled the 23 year old she was living in New York.

Unne Terjesen

Playboy's second Norwegian Playmate was only a few months later, in July 1962, in the curvy form of Unne Terjesen.  Although born in the Norwegian town of Odda the then nineteen year old former hairdresser was living in Vancouver when photographer Ken Honey spotted her working in a local department store.

Unne Terjesen

Unne had been runner up in the 1960 Miss Norway competition and has a figure that looks like it was the idealised fantasy of a pin up artist.

Unne Terjesen

In fact Unne has the largest hip measurement of any Playboy Playmate ever: a really rather magnificent, but in no way overblown, 39 inches.   39-23-39 altogether.  Outstanding!

Britt Fredriksen

It would be over six years until Playboy had another Norwegian Playmate, but in June 1968 presented Britt Fredriksen originally from near Trondheim but by then studying in Palo Alto, California.

 Britt Frederiksen

However, she had originally come to Playboy's notice when working as a Bunny in St Louis.  In her Playboy pictorial it looks like she has had just a little too much sun which makes her look even more appealingly wide-eyed and innocent.

Britt Frederiksen

Britt was 5'4" tall and 34-21.5 (!)-34 and had, as we can see, a particularly pert posterior!

Liv Lindeland

The next Norwegian Playmate appeared in January 1971 and would be the most famous of the lot: or at least her pubic hair would be as she became the very first Playmate to flash her fleece in her centrefold.  Liv's sun-kissed curls were the cause of much agonising over whether to show them or not between publisher Hugh Hefner and photographer Alexas Urba.  The hair got through and Liv's fame was assured.

 Liv Lindeland

Nearly 5'8" tall and 36-23-34 she was certainly a prototypical strapping Nordic blonde.  She became the  first Norwegian Playmate of the Year in 1972 and married Cyd Charisse's son.

Liv Lindeland

She did some films and TV in the first half of the seventies and then reappeared onscreen in a couple of Andy Sidaris' Playmate heavy B movie (although that might be being generous) thrillers in 1988 and 1990.

Sharon Johansen

Unlike all the previous Norwegian born Playmates October 1972's Sharon Johansen moved to North America at a very young age (one) rather than as an adult.  She was a dog trainer, of all things, and even trained Hugh Hefner's dog which was called, with great originality, Dog.  She became one of Hefner's many Playmate girlfriends for a time although whether that was before or after the dog training we don't know.

Sharon Johansen

What we do know is that she was an impressive 40-22-37 and 5'8" tall.  Sharon did a bit of TV and a couple of films but her roles tended to be of the "uncredited" type.

Sharon Johansen

Although Liv Lindeland had shown her pubic hair in her centrefold in January 1971 Sharon would become only the fourth Playmate to give an unobstructed view of her fur out of 22 Centrefold shots in the interim.

Lillian Müller 

Playboy's final Norwegian Playmate to date was Lillian Müller in August 1975.  She would go on to be Playmate of the year for 1976.  She moved to London from Norway at the age of twenty where she worked as a model before being discovered by Playboy.  She was also Hugh Hefner's girlfriend for a time.

Lillian Müller 

5'8" and 36-24-35 she was discovered by Suze Randall who shot some sensuous pictures of her for her Playboy pictorial, although her centrefold was photographed by Dwight Hooker as Randall was considered too inexperienced at that point.

Lillian Müller 

Lillian made a number of films and featured in Rod Stewart's Do ya think I'm sexy video.  Latterly she has been working advising women on healthy living and in 2010 was voted by PETA as the sexiest Vegan over fifty.

The big question is, of course, why no Norwegian Playmates since 1975?  Having been there a few years ago I'm sure that there are many more natural lovelies in the country who would be far superior to the silicone busted tattoo encrusted centrefolds of late.  More Norwegian girls please!