Saturday, January 22, 2011

One and One Make Free by Ken Marcus

We have just had an e-mail from B in Germany saying that all these girl/girl sets are "all very well but that most erotica features men and women" and I "need to do something about it"!  Not wanting to upset a particularly bossy German, especially as she has promised to take me out to dinner in Istanbul mext week, we present Penthouse's very first couples pictorial.

So here, from December 1972, is One and One Make Free photographed by Ken Marcus.   This was not only Penthouse's first couples pictorial (although the first girl/girl sets had preceded it) but it was Marcus' first pictorial for the magazine as well.

Our protaganists were touted as photographer James Francis (27) and his girlfriend Gwen Selvage (24).  Now we don't know about Mr Francis but the lady certainly is Gwen Selvage, a dancer, model and actress so maybe they really were a couple.  We'd like to think so!

Pictures of men and women together had not been unusual in Penthouse at this point as they had regularly produced picture features on, usually, the racier European films which usually contained a number of photographs of the stars getting down to some simulated sex.

However, this was the first pictorial specifically shot for the magazine which included a couple.  Penthouse would eventually christen these with the rather coy title "love sets".  Unlike the girl/girl sets, which had been a bit reserved, Marcus photographed James and Gwen kissing right from the beginning.

Girls in stockings were still something of a rarity in the magazine but Gwen looks very fetching in her yellow ones.

Gwen's father was in the US Army and she grew up in Texas until he was transferred to California where she attended the Desert High School at Edwards Air Force Base where she was a majorette. 

Gwen (far left) in the 1958 Desert High School majorettes squad

She then studied at the school of theatre arts at the Pasadena Playhouse; which has produced many stars over the years including: Gene Hackman, Charles Bronson and Victor Mature.

She moved to Hollywood to break into films but instead accompanied a friend to an audition as a dancer and was chosen as a performer for a group of dancers called the Gazzarri dancers (after the choreographer of the troupe) who performed on a TV pop show called Hollywood A Go-Go from 1964 until 1966.

She was on of the core go-go dancers (naturally) on this show for some time.  Above, Gwen is the second girl from the front with some Vietnam era servicemen during a show they put on for them in California.

Here she can be seen performing in front of a one hit wonder group called The Knickerbockers in January 1966.  They are playing their Beatles sound-a-like top twenty hit "Lies".

Here she is performing in a very different way for Ken Marcus five years later. The show finished in 1966 but she went on to be a dancer on the Playboy After Dark TV show which ran from 1969 until 1970. 

She was also a successful mainstream model and it is a shame that these pictures, dreamily romantic though they are, are so soft-focus that you can't really appreciate her beauty.  She was also a stand-in for tragic actress Sharon Tate.

Here we get our only clear view of her partner, James, who certainly looks like the VW camper van driving groovy, surfer photographer that the text says he was.

These pictures certainly show that Marcus really could photograph couples as they do look like they have a genuine connection.

Given that this is 1972 this pictorial is really quite racy as even four or five years later many magazine couples pictorials would have the man keep his trousers on.  At least Marcus gets James completely naked and Gwen, of course, looks great dressed in just her stockings.

James gets down to some nice breast nibbling, which wouldn't be seen in the girl/girl sets for some time.  Below we get a full-on nipple suck.

This must have been something of a risk for Penthouse given that their first girl/girl set, Two Women, had attracted mixed comments from their readers.   After all, men bought the magazine to look at pictures of naked women, not men.

Is he going up or going down?

However, the risk paid off and Penthouse published several appreciative letters.  "I sincerely congratulate you on your superb pictorial featuring James and Gwen" wrote Mr Black of Pennsylvania.

Mr Franciaso of Denver was even more effusive.: "I would like to say how much I appreciated the December pictorial, as I really enjoy seeing pictures of men and women together."  Given that Penthouse was very much making the running at this point we wonder where else he had seen them!  "I sure hope you continue to show men and women making love", he went on.  "Photographs like those by Ken Marcus should be a regular feature", he concluded.

Marcus (and indeed his models) certainly really went for it in this pictorial as this photograph shows James' hand right between Gwen's legs.

In this final picture from the pictorial, Gwen gives us the set's only pubic shot.  So, all in all a good start at Penthouse for Marcus and an early example of the couples pictorials he would specialise in in the future.

Gwen in her heyday

As for the lovely Gwen, she still lives in Southern California and we must thank her for being the hippy era California girlfriend we would all have wanted to have had.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pairing Off by Art Capone

Here is another girl/girl set from the UK edition of Penthouse which never appeared in the US edition.  Appearing in UK Volume 10 Number 2 from May 1975 it was a comparatively short pictorial at just five pages.

It's a very different set to the girl/girl ones which had appeared in the US edition so far in that it is shot entirely inside rather than having the girls wandering around in the woods. 

Its soft focus but not aggressively so.  This is the first girl/girl set in a bathroom!  The accompanying text is really a very short story, complete with dialogue, rather than the usual third person description of the girls.

The two girls, named as Kerry and Laura (one of these is a rather resonant name for Agent Triple P; the story involves a bath too!) are portrayed as flatmates with Laura pursuing contact with an initially unwilling Kerry.

Overlapping images like this were common in the UK mens' magazines at the time, such as Men Only and Club International, but were not in US Penthouse.

The text shows Laura, inevitably, getting her way. Kerry shivered.  "I thought after it happened the last time we decided we wouldn't again?"  Laura was pressing her fingers into Kerry's bottom and trying to bend her legs and force the dark triangle of dark curly hair onto her mouth and her tongue.

In the non-bathroom shots we get a very early example of a Penthouse girl wearing stockings and suspenders; possibly the first ever.

This shot is the very first example, too, of one of the girls actually touching the other's pubic hair.  Again, this set may have been deemed a bit strong for the US market at the time.  They had shown a man touching a girl's groin the previous year but, as we have seen before, they seemed to be a bit more circumspect in their girl/girl sets in the early seventies.

Art Capone, the photographer, sounds like a nom de plume but he is credited as having shot a few pictorials for Knave magazine in the mid seventies too. 

This set, with its bestockinged girls, less extreme soft focus and brighter lighting looks forward to the Penthouse approach in the late seventies and early eighties.

None of the previous Penthouse girl/girl sets had given us quite such an aggressive spread thigh shot  as this one. 

Sadly, we can't find out any information on the photographer or the models but we like this pictorial which is very much a forerunner of things to come.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Girls in garters

Here is another nice early twentieth century illustration of two ladies horsing round in garters.  It's an anonymous piece so we can't even guess the nationality of the artist but its likely to be French, given the period.

The word "garter" comes from the old french word gartier which itself originates from garet (probably a Celtic word), meaning the bend at the back of the leg.  This refers to the top of the calf where garters were tied; that being the slimmest part of the leg.  In modern French the word is Jarretière.

Garters would soon be replaced by suspender belts (garter belts in Amercia) for younger women and corsets with suspenders for older women until these too largely disappeared in the twenties.  As skirts got shorter in this period stockings got longer, invariably going over the knee to the thigh; hence the need for suspenders.

In this picture we can see two types of garter: the traditional tie ones which were used from ancient times and were always tied below the knee and the elasticated ones which could be placed above the knee and were produced from 1820, when Englishman Thomas Hancock invented elasticated material.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Artists by Henry Fuseli

This delicate eighteenth century drawing of a lady artist overcome with the charms of her model is by Henry Fuseli, (1741-1825) a Swiss artist who settled in Britain.  Most known for his rather fantastical paintings, particularly illustrations of Milton, Shakespeare and the Nibelung legends, he also produced a number of beautifully rendered erotic drawings.

Fuseli was born Johann Heinrich Füssli in Zürich in 1741. His father was also a painter but his education was classical rather than in art, as it was his family's intention that he entered the Church.  He had to leave Switzerland, having exposed a corrupt but influential official.  He travelled in Germany and then arrived in England at the age of 24.  Supporting himself by writing (he spoke and wrote fluently in German, French, Italian and English) he was encouraged to pursue art as a career by Sir Joshua Reynolds who had been impressed by some of his drawings.

From 1770 to 1778 he stayed in Italy studying the great masters and changed his name to the more Italianate Fuseli as a tribute.  He returned to Britain in 1779.  In 1788 he married Sophia Rawlins who had been one of his models (although, on the whole Fuseli eschewed models and drew figures in the classical manner).  They moved into a house at 37 Foley Street in Bloomsbury, London, not far from one of Agent Triple P's former offices (which, sadly, now sits over a Dominos Pizza parlour.

We will look at the rest of Fusili's life when we examine some more of his drawings another time.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Harem Scene by Achille Devéria

We have already looked at a couple of lesbian illustrations by French artist Achille Deveria.  This one, however, allows us to introduce a new theme, that of the harem.

If there was anything liable to excite the gentleman collector in the nineteenth century it would be the concept of the harem (from the Arab word haram meaning forbidden place).  A fascination with North Africa, the Near and Middle East was prevalent amongst travellers and artists.  The Turkish harem in Istanbul, the Seraglio, was of particular interest. 

Not only did the harem represent a single male having total sexual power over numerous women but it also had the added frisson of what all these women did in their idle spare time, when not servicing their master.  The answer, of course, in the  fervid imaginations of nineteenth century artists was largely sexual.  Depiction of these sorts of activities were not acceptable in publicly exhibited work at the time so artists confined themselves to portraying the inhabitants of the harem endlessly having massages or lolling around pools and baths, which gave a wonderful opportunity to depict numerous naked female bodies, of course.

In this picture the young lady is quite clearly getting intimate with the other's pussy and Devéria shows her pink labia clearly.  What makes the scene, however, is, firstly, the man observing from outside the window.  He has a very serious expression as if the performance is of serious academic interest. Secondly, and Devéria's masterstroke, is having the girl in the turban looking straight at the viewer as if, possibly, he is peeking in from another window.  A voyeuristic masterpiece!

More harem girls another time.

Two women enjoying tribadism

Much erotic art, because of its illicit nature, is, of course, anonymous.  Before printing of this material became widely available it was  produced for wealthy collectors as one-off commissions. Sometimes, often years or decades or even centuries later, certain art can be attributed to a known artist or illustrator but quite often the artist remains unknown.

This is the case with this very nice watercolour of two ladies enjoying a tribadism session. 

The use of the word tribadism has changed somewhat over the years.  Originally from the Greek tribo, meaning "to rub", it first became used in Roman times where a tribas was a woman (or a hermaphrodite) who penetrated another woman (in whatever way).  Generally, over the centuries, the term tribade was used to denote a lesbian with the first recorded mention of it being by Ben Jonson in 1601 in his series of poems called the  The Forest (which also contains the poem Song: To Celia which includes the famous opening line "Drink to me only with thine eyes."

From Poem X: Praeludium:
Go,  cramp dull Mars, light Venus, when he snorts,
Or, with thy tribade Trine, invent new sports;

By the beginning of the nineteenth century the word tribadism appeared, meaning the activity of a tribade.  At some point the definition narrowed (probably because of the increasing use of the words lesbian and lesbianism) back to the particular sexual act of genital rubbing itself.

In its wider definition this can mean rubbing against any part of the partners body or even an inanimate object.  It can also be practiced between a man and a woman (Triple P had a girlfriend, R, who liked to rub herself against his thigh) but is mainly now used in relation to two girls.  The French use the word frottage (which is certainly easier to pronounce!) again from the verb to rub in French (frotter).  Today, this much softer word now seems to be largely associated with male homosexual activity so it is best not to use it in unfamiliar company!

Triple P has witnessed two of his lady friends indulging in this activity (in Vancouver, naturally) and it seemed quite energetic and needing a reasonable sense of rthymn and co-ordination!

The ladies in this particular painting (which we are unable to date, even from style, but is probably nineteenth century) are in an unusual position for this activity.  It is however a more visual position from the artist's point of view as both vulva and a posterior are nicely visible.  Although the activity is enjoyably equally mutual, according to Triple P's observations, in this picture we get the feeling that the girl on the right is iin charge and the girl on the left is overwhelmed by her friend's activity.  An experienced girl and a new initiate, perhaps?

Whatever, a nicely delicate watercolour.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Two women on a bed by ME Philipp

Here is a nice, langourous little engraving by German artist Martin Erich Philipp.  Philipp was born in 1887 in Zwickau, in Saxony, which was also the birthplace of Robert Schumann, so Agent Triple P is writing this post to the accompaniment of his Symphony No. 3 “Rhenish” in E flat major, Op. 97; one of our very favourite Romantic symphonies.

Nude study

Philipp studied at the School of Applied Arts in Dresden from 1904 until 1908.  He then transferred to the Dresden Academy of Art where he studied until 1913.

Bookplate (1919)

He was most famous for his engravings and woodcuts and produced a number of mildly erotic bookplate designs as well as some other erotic illustrations.

Akt auf dem Diwan (1912)

He did produce some paintings but mainly specialised in coloured prints especially still life studies of flowers and some very fine Japanese-inspired prints of birds.  

Seated girl in stockings (1920)

The picture at the top of this post was produced just before the First World War, either while he was still at the Dresden Academy or shortly afterwards.  It captures the pre-war atmosphere of the Decadents in just a few beautifully executed lines.

Martin Erich Philipp

We will return to Philipp and look at some of his other erotic engravings and drawings another day.

The Vice (1914)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Black and White and Delightful all Over by Siwar Ohlsson

Penthouse in the UK largely had the same pictorials as the US edition.  Indeed, as the magazine started in the UK, the US version often had pictorials, in the early days, which had already appeared in Britain. 

As regards girl/girl pictorials the UK edition had already reproduced Two WomenWoodstock GenerationTwo's Company and Rites of Spring although they passed on Mirage.  

In December 1974, however, the UK edition ran a pictorial called What's Black and White and Delightful all Over? which never appeared in the US edition. 

Penthouse was often criticised for its lack of ethnic models, compared with Playboy who ran a strict quota system.  UK magazines at this time also featured quite a few black girls.  It may be that the editorial team in the US felt that this particular pictorial, by Swedish photographer Siwar Ohlsson, was too daring on the racial front.

It may just have been that the US edition was already running a love set that month called Bawdy Bathers by Jeff Dunas.

It may be that, perhaps, it was a little stronger than the girl/girl sets that had appeared in the US edition so far.

Whatever the reason, it is a shame to miss out on what is a rather nice pictorial so here it is from Volume 9 number 9.

The pictorial was shot in the Canary Islands.  The "white" in the title is, according to the text, 18 year old Swedish model Carina Sjogqvist. 

This breast kissing shot may have been the one that precluded the pictorial from the US edition as at this stage the lesbian overtones in the US pictorials were more in the text than in the actual visual representation.

The "black" in the title, again, according to the text, is a 23 year old model from the Seychelles called Lucienne Camille.


In fact, whilst her parents may have been from the Seychelles, Lucienne was actually born in Kent in 1940, meaning that she was 34 when this pictorial appeared.

Lucienne was a model, stripper and actress.  Whatever, she was the possessor of a seriously impressive body and a beautiful face.

Lucienne with the cast of Up Pompeii


As an actress she had a recurring role in Frankie Howard's TV comedy series Up Pompeii (1969) and a number of films (mainly in Italy) and TV appearances after that. Her final role being in long running British TV series, The Bill, in 1990.

Lucienne appeared in a number of men's magazines in the seventies including Mayfair, Men Only and Fiesta, originally under her real name of Sylvia Bayo; including a rare  boy/girl set in Private which we may feature another time.  She died in 2006 at the age of sixty-five.