Friday, December 30, 2011

Mirror Image by Earl Miller

Here we have a nice kissing start to Penthouse's seventh girl/girl set but, more importantly, the fourth of 1975.  It demonstrates how far the magazine had gone since the coy hand holding and sylvan flute playing of Rites of Spring, which was also shot by Earl Miller, from just nine months earlier in March of that year.

The December 1975 issue, from which this pictorial comes, was one of the envelope pushing ones; with Susan Waide (also on the cover) giving a full-on genital revealing centrefold and another bold "love set", The Duel, which we will look at next.

Although this pictorial also appeared in the equivalent UK edition (Volume 10 number 10) this picture of the two young ladies with their hands inside each others' knickers was cut, perhaps for being just a bit too graphic for our delicate British sensibilities.

The UK edition did, however, include nearly all the other pictures even though they were a considerable step-up in the depiction of sapphic passion from what had been shown before in the magazine.  After a series of anonymous protagonists in their "love sets" these were named as Stephanie and Paula, although we have no idea who the actual models are.

As ever in their girl/girl sets, Penthouse fudged the issue by stating in the accompanying text that "it's not that we've grown cooler to men," says Stephanie.  "In fact, being this close to Paula has made me more sensuous with my boyfriends..."   So, not really lesbians at all, again.

In what is quite a short pictorial (it was very much subsidiary to, the much longer, The Duel in that issue) there are none of the dreamy clothed shots as they wander through sunlit meadows.  The girls get right down to it with the first implied cunnilingus shots in the magazine, including this radical face-sitting photo.

Up until now, the girls in the girl/girl sets did not flash their pussies in the same way that some of the individual Pets were starting to do.  In the one below, however, we get the first clearly divided mound in any of their love sets so far, thereby starting to bring them up to the same level of explicitness as their single girl pictorials.

The final, graphic pussy-munching shot was the most explicit girl/girl photo they had published so far.  Again, this one was too much for the editors of the UK edition who left it out of their pictorial.

So, Mirror Image, is really the first Penthouse girl/girl set which is all about two women making love to each other, rather than just posing around together.  Miller took the erotic charge in this one up several steps so that it was more in line with what the boy/girl ones were like at the time. The other mens' magazines would not be far behind in shooting similar pictorials and these would proliferate in the following year, 1976.  Penthouse would have no less than five girl/girl pictorials in 1976 compared with four in 1975 and only one each in 1974, 1973 and 1972. The next two, chronologically, would be their first fetish and first three girl sets.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Happy Christmas... all our readers.  We very much appreciate those who follow this blog and comment on our ramblings!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kissing Venuses 5: Marissa Gaeta and Citlalic Snell

Kissing Venuses of the week have to be Petty Officers Marissa Gaeta and Citlalic Snell.  There is a tradition in US Navy ships that there is a lottery to be first person off the vessel after a tour so as to greet their partner with a "homecoming kiss".  Petty Officer Gaeta won the lottery (she bought fifty tickets!) and became part of the first same sex homecoming kiss.

Both young ladies, we have to say, are extremely attractive and Triple P wishes them a lovely Christmas.

We can't say, though, that we have ever come across the name Citlalic before!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kissing Venuses 4: Kiss by Tanya Chalkin

The problem with producing an iconic image is that you are forever trying to get lightning to strike twice.  You can either make this an issue or you can serve up some variations on your original work acknowledging, perhaps, that you will never produce such a work again.

The ladies revealed

This surely must be the case for British photographer Tanya Chalkin whose Kiss image has become one of the world's best selling posters of all time. Chalkin herself has admitted "When I look at it now it's really difficult because in a way I've had enough of it, in the sense of it's been there for a while and people still talk about it – and I love that – but I don't just want to be known for "Kiss"." It was certainly a fixture on many students room's walls for both men and women. We know at least three women who have a copy somewhere in their house.

Chalkin has since done other kissing girls but none have the power of the first one.  Originally the poster was designed to advertise a new gay website,, and first appeared on a huge 30 foot long billboard in Tottenham Court Road in Soho, London in December 2000.  The poster was believed to have been the first in Britain to show a gay couple in an embrace. There were more than fifty complaints, many from people who hadn't actually seen the poster, according to the Advertising Standards Authority who cleared it for display as it wasn't "sexually explicit".  The original poster had the tagline "Thank God for Women" attached.

One of the models was called Tabitha Denholm (on the right) and her parents claimed that she would not have posed if she had known what the picture was going to be used for. They claimed she was neither bisexual nor lesbian and were worried that people would think she was and she would be the target for nutcases. However, Miss Denholm told another newspaper that she wasn't bothered about the controversy and had kissed a girl before anyway. We do know that she got paid £300 for the job. These days Tabitha is part of the DJ combo Queens of Noize who discovered singer Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine. Tabitha has been responsible for many of the band's videos and album art direction.

Tanya Chalkin studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Design and the London College of Printing where she obtained a degree in photography.  She started shooting portraits and fashion pictures for a number of magazines including MixMag, Arena, Dazed and Confused, Esquire, Attitude and national newspapers too, such as The Independent and the Evening Standard.

The success of Kiss saw her branching out into poster and calendar work.  This picture, Hot Lips and the one below, Red Hot, were from her 2010 calendar.  She also did a calendar for Triumph motorcyles.

Latterly she has been doing pictures of musicians for Warner and Universal.  Most recently she was commissioned to do some of the posters for the 2012 Olympics.  She is currently working on a book of her photographs which will certainly be on Agent Triple P's shopping list when it comes out.

She deserves her success for producing such an iconic image, which manages to be erotic and tender but not at all salacious.  Chalkin has always refused to answer the question as to whether she is a lesbian or not, which has annoyed some of the more militant lesbians, but for an artist it is the art that counts anyway not their personal life and lesbian or not she knows how to photograph women together in a cool but enticing way.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Love in the Afternoon by Jeff Dunas and Denis Scott

We wouldn't normally post another Penthouse couples set so soon after the previous one but we have had a plethora of recent positive comments for these and this one was already scanned, the pictures formatted and ready to post so here we are.

This piece, Love in the Afternoon, appeared in Penthouse's November 1975 issue (Volume 10 Number 9 -December- in the UK edition).  We have sourced pictures from both magazines to get the best quality possible.  This pictorial has a duel photographic credit which is most unusual for Penthouse.  It is not clear if Mr Scott took, for example, the clothed shots or the scenes on the beach or even, perhaps, the shot of Stonhenge, which is some way from the other locations in the shoot.

The Rising Sun Hotel today with the path the couple are shown walking down in the picture at the top

This couples pictorial, for the first time, is shot at recognisable locations; in Devon and Wiltshire in the west of England.  This makes it very likely that the models are British as well, although we are not given any names, real or imagined, for them.  The accompanying text is just a mood piece describing the joys of getting away from it all to have sex.  The picture at the top of this post shows the couple in front of The Rising Sun Hotel in Lynmouth, Devon.  Triple P once spent an entertaining holiday in Lynmouth, a very pretty fishing village with a monster 1 in 4 hill which needs negotiating if you are going to drive out of the place.

This picture was shot at Stonehenge in Wiltshire which is en route from London to Devon so maybe the team stopped off there on the way.  The picture illustrates a very good point one of our correspondents made today in that instead of the mechanical couplings in such magazines now (and including Penthouse itself from the late nineties) these early couples stories were more about giving the impression of a genuine loving couple.  Part of this, dare we say more feminine, approach to these pictorials must have been influenced by the work the same photographers were doing for Bob Guccione and Kathy Keeton's Viva womens magazine, which had similar pictorials.

Taking the trouble, in establishing photographs such as this one, to build a relationship between the two models strengthens the erotic charge of when they are photographed naked together and, as Bob Guccione well knew, makes the voyeuristic approach that more potent.  This is something modern magazines don't bother with.  The key to successful erotic photographs of couples is to build the illusion that they actually really like each other.  This piggy-back shot does that perfectly.  Oui magazine had some success, at this time, of photographing celebrities with their actual partners.  They looked like they were pasionate about each other because they were!

There are three main locations for the sensual action in this pictorial; the first being a Devon beach.  We would imagine that the water may not be that warm!

In this pictorial, the figures are largely shot from a distance; there are no close-ups of their faces.  We can telll that the young lady is exceptionally beautiful, however, and the man has a toned physique which must have been rather unusual in the pre-gym fixated seventies.  Penthouse realised that its male models needed to be as attractive as its female ones; something usually forgotten in pornography.

It's always brave of the models to pose for scenes like this in public, espcially in not very tolerant seventies Britain!

Kissing is a vital part of what couples do but appears relatively rarely in erotica; possibly because for many  it is actually more intimate than genital contact.

This was the first time the UK edition had shown a man's penis in one of their couples pictorials. Previous such shots had been cut from the British version or the pictorials were never shown at all in the UK magazine.  Some readers did write in complaining about the presence of men in the magazine, however. 

The second location is Exmoor National Park and the photographer raises the passion level in this sequence.

Our young lady grasps her companion's groin in a shot which was much more sexually assertive than any that Penthouse had shown so far.  Having them both smiling adds to the erotic appeal too, of course.

Here is the first lovemaking pose in the pictorial, daringly shot outside in front of Devon's Watermouth Castle.  It's actually the first girl astride shot that Penthouse had in one of their couples pictorials.  Other shots of their couples embracing were positioned in such a way that their genitals could not have been in contact.  Here Penthouse is saying 'look they are actually doing it!' or, rather, that is the implication.

Another shot of the man's penis in what would be a record breaking pictorial for the magazine as regards the depiction of the male member.   There were definitely two camps over this issue, something that Oui magazine had also discovered, as initially their couples pictorials were more explicit than Penthouse's.  Some felt that the depiction of naked men in a man's magazine was just wrong; they bought the magazine for pictures of naked women.  There were implications that anyone who enjoyed such pictorials was a homosexual.  Others felt that the couples pictorials were arousing and, an important point this, that their wives and girlfriends liked them too. 

Of course, as we have observed elsewhere, the majority of erotica throughout history has involved the depiction of couples.  It is really only since the invention of photography that pictures of solo women became the subject of the majority of erotic visual material.  To have a magzaine with a very high sexual content like Penthouse (c.f. Playboy which was more a lifestyle magazine with a few pictures of naked girls) without showing people apparently having sex would have been rather odd. 

Although Penthouse had shown some nipple licking before this breast/penis contact was a first.  It should be remembered that, at this time, magazines like Penthouse had to be concerned about legal accusations of indecency. After all it had only been five years since the first appearance of pubic hair in a newsstand magazine; something which earlier had defined what was indecent and what was not in both the UK and the USA.  A shot such as the one above was at the very edge of what was permissable at the time.  One technique that Penthouse would get very good at was to show a penis in such a way that it wasn't obvious if it was erect or not in order to have some defense to any accusation.  Given the picture of the man on the beach we would think it pretty safe to say that he is at least partly erect in this picture which, again, would make it a Penthouse first.

The final and most explicit couples pictures in Penthouse to date were shot in an interior setting.  Perhaps the Rising Sun Hotel itself?  The passionate embrace above demonstrates why Penthouse called these pictorials "love sets" as they did try (and often achieved) to convey a feeling of genuine sexual attraction between their models.  This was no doubt helped by the fact that they used models and not pornographic actors and actresses (of which there were plenty around in the seventies) as they did in the late nineties when the magazine went hardcore.  It has been suggested by some of the photographers from this time that in posing for these softcore pictures the couples did sometimes get carried away.  There is one recorded example that we know of from this period.  A pictorial called Swinging in the Grain appeared in Penthouse in  September 1979 and recently released outtakes have shown that the couple got very friendly indeed during the shoot.  We will come to this pictorial in due course but will continue our chronological exploration for now.

The UK edition of Penthouse slightly blurred the man's penis in this picture making it unclear whether the girl was touching it or not which, as we can see from the picture from the US edition, she patently was.   Of course, the next step after showing  a man's penis was getting the girl to be shown touching it and this was the most blatant example so far in the magazine.

Again, they had shown nothing like this head to groin shot so far in any of their other pictorials.  In cupping his balls she is also scoring another first for Penthouse.  This really was the first pictorial that genuinely gave the impression that real sexual encounters had taken place which made it that more erotic.

This is the first implied rear entry shot the magazine had shown in one of its pictorials and again, the impression is of actual sex, rather than the simple caressing which had dominated previous pictorials in the magazine.

This final shot from the magazine shows him again looking quite excited and who wouldn't be with a such a lovely creature on your lap.  Again, this image was blurred in the UK edition. His hand between her legs is yet another first for this racy pictorial. 

So this set was really the first to show a couple apparently lovemaking and is made all the more effective by the apparent chemistry between the two models.  After all, erotic scenes only really work, for Triple P anyway and also his correspondent today,  if the protagonists look like they are actually enjoying it.  It is their arousal that is arousing.  Today's tattooed pornstars going through a series of loveless looking gymnastics in harsh lighting show how far the quality of erotic photography has deteriorated since the seventies and eighties.

More seventies couples soon!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mountain Retreat by Earl Miller

We have had a request for more photographic couples pictorials and the next chronological one from Penthouse is Mountain Retreat from September 1975.

Penthouse's first couples pictorial, One and one make free, had been in December 1972 but since then and before this one there had only been two others.  !975 would see more of these, however, with this being the second of what would be four in 1975.

As was often the case in this period, the romantic encounter would begin in the woods.  The man is called Jena and the woman Sharla, according to the text, which makes them sound like a couple from a bad fantasy novel.

Anyway, Sharla seems to have got Jena's shorts off pretty quickly and seems very taken by something we can't quite see.

The pictorial was shot by Earl Miller who had had his Penthouse Debut in May 1974.  Although he had already shot a girl/girl pictorial, Rites of Spring, this was his first boy/girl shoot for the magazine.

Because of the size of the images (only one a page and several two page spreads) the pictorial only contains eight photographs in total whereas Jeff Dunas' next couples pictorial, two months later, would have no less than twenty-two images.

This is a shame as Miller has some nice images here and it would have been good to see a few more, even it if meant smaller pictures on the page.

The final two pictures up the level of explicitness slightly over previous couples pictorials with the man's hand very close to the girl's pussy for the first time and a bold full frontal for him to finish.

Reaction to this, as Oui had found earlier on with their couples pictorials, was mixed.  "Your pictorial "Mountain Retreat" beautifully conveys the encounter motive.  Keep up the new style.  I like it. And I think it is important in the development of sexual entertainnment.  Let's see nude males more in your pictorials" wrote JMB.  KEB of Los Angeles also liked it saying: "It was frank and totally revealing-which is the way I want Penthouse to be.  For the first time, you showed that both complete, total male and female nudity looked beautiful and didn't need to be hidden."  One reader was not convinced however and ranted, somewhat ungrammatically, "If I wanted to see a man's cock, I'd look in the mirror.  Forget this faggot magazine-I'm switching to decent magazines, and Penthouse cannot be considered"decent" no longer!"

The latter would be disappointed; more penises were coming...and soon!