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

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rowing Venuses

Today Triple P watched the University Boat Race, which takes place on the Thames about fifteen miles away.  We have been going, off and on, since about 1980 and seen all sorts of weather from pouring rain to hot sunshine.  Today, in really rough conditions, Oxford's men, having won three times in a row (!) were beaten by a much bigger and more experienced Cambridge crew.  We suppose you have to let Cambridge win once in a while or it would get boring.  

Happily, the Oxford women, in only the second women's boat race to take place over the same route as the men, destroyed Cambridge, who very nearly sank, as they were shipping so much water on a very windy Tideway.  While we hate to give Cambridge credit for anything, in fact their ladies, when offered the option of pulling out, battled on to the finish line despite the drag of gallons of water inside the boat.

Agent Triple P has some experience with lady rowers and, indeed, some fiery lady coxes from his days at college.  Of all University sports rowing is one which really demands dedication and when studying as well the top flight ones hardly have any life and, as Triple P found, if you do get any time with them they tend to fall asleep a lot!

Still, we enjoyed the very firm thighs of the lady rowers we interacted with although at least one girl we knew gave it up as her legs were getting too big, according to her.  This we absolutely don't mind and anyway, when they stop rowing, their legs soon slim down again; it takes lots of work to keep them sculpted.

In 2012 we saw a lot more of lady rowers when the girls of Warwick University, which ranks well inside the top ten universities in Britain, decided to follow the example of the men's club, who had been publishing a nude calendar for four years and launch a charity nude calendar to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Just like the men, they started a Facebook Page so as to publicise the calendar to help them raise as much money as possible.  However, Facebook closed their page down saying that it featured inappropriate content and contained "explicitly sexual content".  Fortunately, the ladies were made of strong stuff and wouldn't accept this ludicrously puritanical ruling eventually persuading Facebook to reinstate it.

Needless to say, they were then also attacked by hard line feminists, despite the fact that no one was exploiting them.  Perhaps they were jealous of their physiques.  As one team member said “The photographs we feel are an accurate representation of an athletic female body, something to be celebrated and not shunned."   Exactly so!

The pictures were all taken at Barford, on the River Avon, where the team have their boathouse and a more bucolic spot to frolic as nature intended you cannot imagine. Different numbers of girls, aged 18 to 21, participated every year and while some were nervous at first, their joy at participating is palpable.

Despite the initial controversy, the team released their fourth calendar for 2016 and in 2015 launched a range of limited edition posters using some of the images.

These girls aren't models; they are ordinary students but their body confidence makes them very attractive and not in the sort of salacious way that Facebook accused them of.  That said, some of them are very attractive indeed by any standards.

The first calendar raised £600 but soon each edition was raising over £3.000, with orders coming from all over the world.  You can buy the 2016 edition (at a discount at present) plus other pictures to help the girls and Macmillan here.  Well done ladies for showing that there is nothing wrong or sordid about a healthy body.  We wish a few more of your lardy contemporaries showed such discipline.

Easter Greetings

The ideal outfit for decorating a few eggs.  A 1961 illustration by Fritz Willis, whose pictures we have featured before here and here.

Don't eat too much chocolate everybody: especially Sophie, Bettina and Scarlett Knight!  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Aquatic Venus 4: Ellen Koeniger by Alfred Stieglitz (1915)

Here, from just over a hundred years ago, are some wonderful exercises in form and texture by the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), who was one of the first great art photographers (not that he would have approved of the term).  The subject is Miss Ellen Koeniger, the niece of a fellow photographer and friend of Stieglitz, Frank Eugene.  Looking as if she is wearing a modern triathlon suit I have read some comments that this is doesn't look like a traditional women's bathing suit of the time which would have been nothing like as revealing as this.  That is true, as regards beach wear but I think there are two possibilities.  Firstly, it looks exactly like the swim suits worn by competitive swimmers from the 1912 Olympics, when women's swimming was included in the programme for the first time.  Secondly, it could be man's suit.  Whatever, Miss Koeniger looks sensational in it.

Stieglitz lived in New York but had his summers on Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains.  No less a personage than Thomas Jefferson said:"Lake George is without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw; formed by a contour of mountains into a basin... finely interspersed with islands, its water limpid as crystal, and the mountain sides covered with rich groves... down to the water-edge: here and there precipices of rock to checker the scene and save it from monotony."  You can see one of the islands in the background shot above.  The lake became a popular retreat for artists.

Stieglitz was born in New Jersey in 1864 and his first trips to Lake George were with his wealthy parents who, like many rich New Yorkers, sought to escape the heat and humidity of the city in the summer.  Fearing that the education Stieglitz was getting in New York was not challenging enough his father took the family back to his native Germany for three years and it was while studying chemistry in Berlin that Stieglitz first became interested in photography. Stieglitz stayed on in Germany, not returning to the US until 1890.

There is some suggestion that these shots were not all done at the same time and that this one, in particular, was photographed at Silver Bay.  However, as Silver Bay is only fifteen miles from Lake George it is more likely to be a generalisation as to location.  The distinctive rough edges to the legs of the swimsuit are the same, as is the arrangement of the headgear.

In the month that Playboy has dropped nudes from its magazine we would suggest that this clothed  shot packs more eroticism into its frame than the whole magazine.  It clearly demonstrates that the businessmen who run Playboy and equate all nudity with porn do not have a single conception of what real erotic photography is.

These final two shots are more snapshots than figure studies, perhaps, but Miss Koeniger's personality shines through and she gives us what would now be called a nip slip, adding to the informal joy of the shot.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Venus concealed: the new nude free Playboy - a review

So Triple P picked up a copy of the new 'nude free' Playboy this week and we were really hoping that it would be good; as the re-launched Lui was a few years ago. The cover does have an achingly tasteful matt finish, which does give it the air (and feel) of an upmarket architectural magazine. Sadly, it is not and although we hope we are wrong, this looks like the death knell for Playboy. Everything that we feared about the publication is summed up by the cover which is supposed to look like that lowest form of photography: the selfie.  In addition we have the word "heyyy" plus textspeak emoticon.  "Heyyy?  Really? Is this the Fonz?  Hello, we are now illiterate and youth obsessed they say, or worse, we are old people trying to look cool.  A young person has just told me that this is supposed to ape something called Snapchat (which we had never heard of) which is how youngsters now communicate so they don't actually have to develop social skills and interact with each other in real life.

The, admittedly, very pretty girl on the cover is one Sarah McDaniel (a typical internet phenomenon in that she became famous for having different coloured eyes and was picked to appear in a pop video - every young person's dream), photographed by Theo Wenner (who also shot her pop video).  We suppose the image does sum up the market they are aiming at but let's hope for some more striking cover designs over the next few months (although the lack of text is to be lauded).   They have a real opportunity to get away from the girl in a swimsuit look that has dominated the covers for the last few years. The picture opposite the contents page (above) is effective, for example, but is probably too 'objectifying of women' for today's feminists.

Still wrapped

Triple P bought his copy in WH Smith at Waterloo station.  Britain's biggest newsagents, Smiths is now actually two companies with one running high street newsagents and the other branches at railway stations and airports.  The 600 high street branches do not carry adult men's magazines at all and haven't since 1997, due to pressure from feminists. The station and airport branches do but a couple of years ago started putting plain wrappers on these magazines.

One of Playboy's aims with their relaunch was to avoid their magazine covers being obscured, like GQ which remains unwrapped (as was FHM before it disappeared before Christmas),  However, Smiths still has it in an opaque wrapper, so that hasn't worked, at least in the UK and we will have to see if the wrappers come off in the US.  Admittedly GQ's cover girl Amy Adams isn't showing as much skin but we suspect that it is the Playboy brand itself that is still the problem.  We really don't think that they are going to be able to get away from this in the foreseeable future.

The magazine looks different and is 5mm taller and no less than 20mm wider than the old Playboy.  This makes it a little bit larger than Lui, which was a little bit larger than Playboy.  However, it is a very skinny 128 pages.  You would have thought they might have packed in a bit more in such a critical relaunch issue.  But wait!  Young people can't read more at a time than they can see on a page on their iPads, so there are a lot of one page articles in this. Hey great, I can read the page and then check my Facebook account (or whatever teenagers use now; even Triple P realises that Facebook is passé).

Emilia Clarke on the Playboy Plus site

One article (if you can call it that) is just a few random paragraphs about nudity, including a swipe at what it calls the "deeply creepy" book Mr Skin's skincylopedia, wherein you can find which films contain scenes of all your favourite actresses naked.  This despite the fact that the Playboy Plus website pushes a Mr Skin owned site heavily.  In particular, it uses shots of Game of Thrones actress Emila Clarke as an enticement to pay up.  Does she know her image is being used in this way?  We bet she doesn't!  Ah, but of course Playboy Plus, the repository of all Playboy's naked Playmate pictures of the past, is not owned by Playboy any more., the official Playboy site, has no nudes and its success was what persuaded Playboy CEO Scott Flanders, the man behind the revamp, to change the magazine.  However, Flanders can't claim that Playboy is now a reformed organisation when there is this site which includes lots of skinny eastern European models (or silicone 'enhanced' and tattooed American ones) happily spreading their thighs and arse cheeks and displaying everything.  The man in the street doesn't know that Playboy Plus isn't owned by Playboy (and neither do most of the subscribers by their comments on the pictorials).

Playmate Dree Hemingway.  She's not really naked.

Scott Flanders has gone on record saying that he regrets transferring the Playboy Plus site and content to Luxembourg porn empire MindGeek.  Playboy Plus, following the announcement of Playboy's nude free future, reassured subscribers that the nudes would continue on their site.  Tellingly, however, no pictures of March Playmate Dree Hemingway have appeared on Playboy Plus.  So will Playboy Plus be a Playmate free zone going forward?  If so it means that the last real connection to the magazine has gone.  Will MindGeek continue to pay their $14 million a year licence fee for a site with no future Playmates?  Presumably, also, future Playmates won't need to do any naked posing so it doesn't look like, as first suspected, that revealing nudes would be shot but only be available on the subscription website.  Now, this month's Playmate does pose for some nude shots but they are all 'tasteful' meaning no body parts which might upset puritanical Americans are included. No nipples, no pubic hair (not that Playboy models have had these for some time) and really only one or two bottom shots.  It's like a glamour magazine from, well, before Playboy first appeared, in its lack of uncoverage.

Speaking of the Playmate, where does this leave the centrefold?  Rather curiously Playboy have decided to retain it.  Lui, which happily feature full nudity (but then the French don't have American hang ups about the body) decided when they relaunched the magazine, that a centrefold really was too old fashioned.  Playboy could have had a naked centrefold, given Hemingway's few nude poses but they eschewed that for this shot.  Hemingway, who has a very ordinary little body, is well covered up and is referred to as 'Miss March' on her centrefold picture (wording not reproduced here) but the 'Playboy Playmate of the Month' wording has gone as has the Playmate Data Sheet, to be replaced by a more flexible series of quotes from the model,  rather than following the fixed headings as before.  In fact the word 'Playmate' is really, really hard to find in the magazine.  You wonder how long it will remain after Hefner.

Covergirl Sarah McDaniel has a couple of nude shots (it is not a nude free magazine at all) such as this one.  One advantage of all the hands and arms in front of their chests means that they can use a lot more girls with small busts.  Mr Hefner would not be impressed. 

On the whole, the pictures of women are two to a page at most with most being full page or a two page spread.  Unfortunately, any sort of eroticism is completely missing and the only shot that carried any frisson for Triple P was this two page spread of Miss McDaniel's very firm looking posterior peeping out from below her top.

The final of three pictorials is a feature called How to photograph a woman is a series of self portraits by 'feminist artist' and plus size (by the fashion industry's standards which means normal to everyone else) Calvin Klein model Myla Dalbesio.  Here we have a  return to the busy pages of old but also the most nudity in the magazine.  These are real selfies rather than the fake selfies of Miss McDaniels's set and at least have a bit of bright colour in them, rather than the muted tones of the other pictorials. 

Given the insipid pictorials, Playboy will soon find out if people really do read the magazine for the articles. These seemed to me both dull and rather political (left wing political at that) with a disproportionate focus on feminist women,  The Playboy interview is with someone called Rachel Maddow who we have never heard of but it seems that she is some sort of liberal TV commentator.  Is that the best they could do?  There is an article by Brett Easton Ellis (who like the magazine is more nineties than millennial) on modern sexuality but it is just a page and a half long.  

The general impression of the magazine is of one that is desperate not to offend women, and is facile, joyless, sexless and just dull.  In fact the only thing in it that made Triple P smile was the opening four pages of the magazine, featuring an advertisement for Dodge cars which used a horizontal bar of one of their vehicles obscuring the 'naughty bits' of a number of Playmates from the past.  So will we buy the next one?  Probably but they need to shake up their visual style.  You can't have a whole magazine of pictures of women apparently taking selfies of themselves in bed. Surely young people have access to these from their friends anyway?  Why not invest in some time and effort to produce images that can't be knocked out by a narcissistic teenager with a phone?  Ah, but to the current producers of Playboy all images of naked women are just porn and they have no concept of art.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Draped Venus by Charles Schenk

Here are a couple of studies of an enticing young woman by American photographer Charles Schenk.  The top one, in particular has a real sensuality to it engendered, as much as anything, by the models expression.  Her face and hair are an almost perfect evocation of Charles Dana Gibson's Gibson Girl illustrations of the times

These collotype photographs come from Schenk's 1902 book Draperies in Action, the first nude art book of the twentieth century.  The lady's figure is in contrast to what we would expect today but they were very much to the taste of the time.  Women's proportions, when the average height for a woman was just 5' 2" were rather different in those days with broad hips and short legs being the order of the day.  

Schenk was more well known for his 1898 photographic book displaying disembodied hands holding things, which were much appreciated by artists and illustrators of the time.  Recently, these very practical pictures have attracted something of a cult following as works of art in their own right, rather than simple illustrators aids.

More draped Schenk ladies another time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Non-centrefold Venus of the Month 28: Lindy Benson, December 1976

On my recent post on the luminous Tessa Hewitt, someone commented to the effect that they hoped we would feature Lindy Benson in the future.  So, as we haven't had a non-cenrefold of the month for some time here she is.

This pictorial comes from December 1976, shockingly nearly forty years ago and hails from the second issue of Chic magazine.  This was Larry Flynt of Hustler's  new men's magazine, designed as an 'upmarket' stablemate to Hustler.  Flynt had always derided Penthouse's and Playboy's artistic pretensions as regards there photography of women so  it was something of a surprise to see him launch a higher quality magazine. It looked more like Lui or its American Playboy-published incarnation Oui than anything that Flynt might have devised. Chic was to Hustler what Oui was to Playboy: a more European influenced magazine designed to take on Penthouse. 

The paper was much better quality than Hustler.  The photographers were better quality and the girls were definitely better quality. Chic looked different. For a start it was a physically larger magazine. Playboy, Penthouse, Gallery, Oui etc all measured the standard 8.5 x 11 inches. Chic  was 9 x 12 inches.    In addition, Chic only featured full page or two page spread shots in its pictorials, rather than mixing full page pictures with smaller ones as typical of Penthouse, or picture in picture shots as seen in Paul Raymond's publications.

The larger size of the magazine and the full page shots gave their pictures a great visual impact, particularly as they started to feature close ups, such as this one of Lindy's golden pussy,  The pictorials were often quite short; often just five pages and, as here, just four shots.

The use of light in these betray the distinctive style of Hustler regular James Baes,  Baes had met Larry Flynt in 1975 and eventually ended up as editor of Hustler in the eighties, working for Larry Flynt Publications for nearly thirty years, 

Given that only four pictures of Lindy featured in Chic it is good that we have some outtakes from the shoot, starting with this one which is very similar to the cropped version which opens the magazine pictorial

This one is unique in that it was taken outside or, at least, is obviously an exterior shot.  Matching the green drink to the background vegetation is a nice touch and is the sort of detail you don't see in today's lacklustre shoots.

Lindy Benson was born in Muswell Hill, London in 1953 and attended Highgate Wood Secondary modern School there.   It's difficult to tell from the photos but she was just 5'2" tall.,

Two years after this pictorial appeared, film director Michael Winner was working on a remake of The Big Sleep (1978) in London, starring Robert Mitchum. On a previous film Winner had needed to have a photo of a girl's breasts and was later plagued by a model who claimed the picture was of her, that it had been used without permission and she wanted money.  Wanting to avoid similar problems in The Big Sleep, where there is a scene with a character looking at a girly book, he got four nude models to pose for specially commissioned shots.  Benson was one of the four models hired and by the end of the day of her shoot she was Mitchum's date for a trip to the theatre and stayed as his girlfriend throughout filming.  He was 61 she was 25.  

Winner recalls in his biography that another girl associated with the film was stalking Mitchum (after he had a fling with her) and it culminated in a huge catfight between the other girl and Benson in the corridor outside Mitchum's apartment in St James.  Benson won the fight and saw off the other girl, it seems.

Being a Larry Flynt Publication, Lindy's pictures in Chic were much stronger than those she had done in her first glamour shoot in Mayfair the previous year.

Of course 1976 was the year of the pussy in men's magazines but not in Mayfair, which kept labia out of their magazine until it was taken over by Paul Raymond.  Even these shots would have been considered tame for Chic within a year, as we shall see in a future post.  

Unlike many short girls, Lindy always looks nicely in proportion and there is no sense, for example, of short, stocky legs.

Here is one of Chic's faceless close ups although we suspect Lindy didn't know when posing for this shot that it would be so.

As was becoming traditional in men's magazines at the time here we have Lindy giving her sparkly pussy a little rub.  It's a shame that Chic did not have more pages available for her.

Lindy appeared in a number of other magazines from the mid seventies until the mid eighties.  The first pictorial we can find of her comes from Mayfair in September 1975, shot by Siwer Ohlsson

Here she is fronting up Germany's Frech magazine.

Like many glamour models of the time she also appeared on the covers of UK paperback books.  Here she is on the cover of a 1979 novel about a department store.

Lindy had a five year film career, beginning. in 1974. with her appearance in the documentary short The Hot Girls. which looked at the lives of nude models and also featured Ava Cadell.

Her first film proper was Erotic Inferno (1975), which also featured an early role for Mary Millingon, where she played the role of 'First Blonde'.  Most of her credits were of this sort.

A few more bit parts followed, including Hammer's To the Devil a Daughter (1976) where she played '2nd girl'.  In the same year she appeared in Intimate Games (1976) as 'Blonde wife', alongside the likes of Anna Bergman and Felicity Devonshire.

Top to bottom: Vicki Michelle, Lindy Benson and Penny Irving in Spectre (1977)

Gene Roddenberry with Vicki Michelle (left), Lindy Benson (right) and Penny Irving (front)

Her next appearance was equally small (third maid) but was in an interesting production.  Gene Roddenberry had been desperately looking for a TV show to follow on the success of Star Trek and in the early seventies made a number of TV series pilots.  One of these, Spectre, was shot in London in 1977.  Here we have Roddenberry flanked by the other maids in the film, Vicki Michelle , later to find fame as co-star in BBC French resistance comedy 'Allo, 'Allo, Lindy and Penny Irving a similarly diminutive (also 5'2") Page 3 girl,glamour model and bit part actress, although she later had some bigger parts in BBC TV comedies as well (Are You Being Served and Hi-di-Hi).

Benson (left) with Robert Culp in Spectre

Spectre was a sort of Holmes and Watson show, bought up to date with horror and supernatural elements including Devil worshippers (not dissimilar in tone to To the Devil a Daughter, coincidentally).  Starring Robert Culp and Gig Young, plus a very young John Hurt and Roddenberry's wife Majel (Star Trek's Nurse Christine Chapel) Barrett, it still has a good reputation but was never picked up for a series.

The following year she appeared in the British sex comedy (which had no sex and very little comedy) The Confessions of a Plumbers Mate (1978), one of a series of such films at the time.  Lindy had little to do except remove her clothes but this shot does give an idea of how petite she is.

In 1979 she had a small part as 'girl in hotel' in the film adaption of the Jackie Collins novel The World is Full of Married Men and also appeared in Whitehouse magazine publisher David Sullivan's dire Confessions from the Davis Galaxy Affair, which also featured Mary Millington and Rosemary England.

Her last film was a sex comedy short Can I come Too (1979) which was also the last role for Sue Longhurst, first seen as a naked schoolgirl in Hammer's Lust for a Vampire (1972) and a first role for model Marie Harper, later to star in the Electric Blue video series.

In 1984 Lindy appeared in a music video for Boy George's Culture Club's single Mistake Number 3 as a bride to George's bridegroom, to much hilarity from the press.

Here is Lindy (bottom right) with Benny Hill during the recording of one of his shows in 1989.  Lindy would be 36 years old at this point.  Another glamour model, Corinne Russell, is bottom left and we plan to feature her soon.

We can';t find any more about her after this but given her age at this point we would guess she retired from modelling and, if not for the internet, would be now have been largely forgotten, so we are very pleased to celebrate her delicate beauty once more.

This final picture is far more recent and, we think, comes from just  few years ago,  She is about sixty two today.