Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Most Unfortunate Venuses: 25 bad centrefolds from Playboy - 12 to 1

Having looked at the number 25 to number 12 bad Playboy centrefolds we finish our review of centrefolds which make Agent Triple P cringe and look at the top 12, starting with this early effort.

12 Barbara Cameron. November 1955

Although Miss Cameron has a nice face and figure we just can't get over that Brillo pad hair.  Not sexy!  Also, the way the tie hangs so as to obscure her face in the mirror is a mistake.

11 Rusty Fisher. April 1956

More nasty hair in this one and an awkward pose to boot.  The baggy jeans make it look like her bottom half has been pasted on from a picture one and a half times the size.  A very ugly picture.

10 Alice Denham. July 1956

Another most unfortunate picture from 1956.  We can see what they were trying to do here with a pillow fighting picture but the suspicion is that most of the "feathers" have been (badly) added afterwards.  Most don't look like feathers at all and just serve to obscure Miss Denham.  Frankly it looks like a seagull has done a poo on the picture and then walked up and down on it.

9 Heather Ryan. July 1967

Again, Miss Ryan is a nice looking girl with an eye-catching figure but she looks very stiff and uncomfortable here.  Frankly, she looks like some sort of stiff-limbed Frankenstein's monster who has just lurched out of the sea.  We wouldn't be at all surprised to find a couple of bolts in her neck.  The backlighting doesn't help either.

8 Sandra Settani. April 1964

Here we have Miss Settani in the landed tuna pose.  That's not the real problem though; its dull but not offensive as such.  No the problem is her hair.  It has so much lacquer on (presumably to stop it blowing around everywhere in the wind) that it looks like it has been carved out of wet tarmac and plopped on her head.  The sailor hat just draws attention to this terrifying confection as it shows how big her hair is. The forward sweeping horns look strong enough to hang lifebelts on. Every time we see this picture we can imagine touching her hair and our hand just sticking fast to it! 

7 Jean Cannon. October 1961

Thrust between the trunks of two trees much of Miss Cannon is obscured; the foreground trunk cutting across her form in a particularly jarring way.  What is worse is why on earth the photographer chose trees covered with distracting graffitti.

6 Sally Sheffield. May 1969

Sally has what Agent DVD would call a "hard" face and photographing it from this angle does her no favours.  The half closed eyes don't help either.

5 Jessica St George. February 1965

Jessica looks really uncomfortable here and her face is frozen into a nasty rictus that makes her look for all the world like dwarf actor Warwick (Willow) Davis.

4 Jean Moorehead. October 1955

Poor Jean has to cope with really big knickers, a see through petticoat that just draws attention to her solid thighs and a cluttered set.  Very unflattering. Even worse, the previous centrefolds stuck to the door show how good other ones had been.

3 Carol Eden. December 1960

Cursed with a hairdo that must have been old fashioned even in 1960 and photographed from an angle that no woman looks good from this is an insipid and unattractive shot.

2 Jackie Rainbow. October September 1954

This one is so old fashioned it could have come from the thirties.  An unflattering angle, a bad hair style and a ridiculous nineteen twenties pose makes this a horribly contrived and unattractive picture.

1 Clayre Peters. August 1959

So here it is.  In Agent Triple P's opinion, the worst centrefold Playboy has ever produced.  Wearing a quite hideous and nasty coloured negligee which almost looks painted on rather than real, a glassy-eyed Clayre poses uncomfortably inside a door.  She looks exactly like a zombie advancing unsteadily towards the camera.  The idea of a successful centrefold should be that you should want to step into the picture not run for your life.  Nasty!

Our next Playboy themed post is going to look at the evolution of the portrayal of naked women on the cover and their subsequent retreat from that.


  1. Funny! #1 does look like the undead.

  2. An amusing countdown!It would be interesting to plot the 'mood' of the US against the quality of that month's centrefold. Presumably there was an economic/productivity slump coupled to a decline in mental health/feeling of wellbeing etc in August 1959! Impossible to measure though!

  3. August 1959 saw the first launch of the Polaris missile which was designed to combat armies of zombie women invading from Eastern Europe. These days of course, they all work in UK wine bars.

  4. One explanation I've seen for the stiff poses in centerfolds is the fact that large format view cameras are used. I read a couple models' complaints in the '80s and '90s about how difficult the centerfold shoots were because they had to hold the various poses for much longer than was comfortable. I'm sure digital is the primary medium today. But in film days view cameras were used for the centerfold because the film used could be 4x5 or 8x10 inches and gave much higher reproduction quality than the medium format or 35mm film used for the rest of the shoot. The biggest drawback for the model, however, is that set-up time, focusing and exposure times could be pretty long. And, even poses that appear fairly natural can be somewhat contrived from the model's standpoint and holding them for more than a couple seconds can be difficult and even painful after a full day of shooting. Seems to me that, given this situation, the photographers and art directors would have been more creative in finding poses that were natural, sexy AND easier on the models in order to alleviate the "stiff" look.

  5. I think you are right and the fact that most of these uncomfortable looking poses come from the first ten years of the magazine shows that they did learn.

  6. I love your comment about picture number 10. Very amusing and very true.
    Picture no.1 does look very spooky...

  7. Forget about number 5's face... she much more than makes up for it with that rack that can not be denied...

  8. I disagree with about half the selections here, especially that of Heather Ryan, which to me looks like a woman at peace with nature and her body. But the reason I especially love Ms.Ryan is that she looks almost exactly like a late friend of mine when she was younger. This particular friend was amazingly gorgeous even in her sixties, with her glorious silver bob the only outright sign of aging and if anything, it made her more beautiful, on the level of Helen Mirren or Carmen Dell'Orefice. And she was as beautiful inside as she was out. Sadly, cancer took her away from all of us too soon, but the memory of her beauty and the love she shared with all her friends remains.

    1. As I said, it's not the women themselves but the image that I was marking. Girls who look like women you knew always give a little frisson...