Friday, April 13, 2012

Kissing Venuses 7: by J. Frederick Smith

Here we have a brief sequence from 1975.  A couple of these pictures appeared in the October 1975 issue of Playboy in a pictorial by J. Frederick Smith (1918-2006). Smith was originally a pin-up artist and illustrator before turning to photography and we will look at some of his illustrations shortly, on Venus Observations. At the time that this pictorial was published Penthouse had been pioneering some girl/girl pictorials and Playboy had been cautiously following suit.

This pictorial, however, was far more sensual than anything that Penthouse had published up until that point.  Penthouse had not, for example, shown their girls kissing on the lips like this. Smith's cover shot was also controversial, especially with Playboy's advertisers, who were getting concerned at the magazine's attempts to keep up with Penthouse in terms of explicitness.  It would be one of the contributing factors in Hugh Hefner's retreat from the Pubic Wars with Bob Guccione.

Although the magazine published a couple of letters of appreciation there was also one from someone who said: "I think your pictorial Sappho is in very poor taste.  It's offensive, stupid and immature!  this is supposed to be a men's magazine!  Why must we be subjected to the immoral acts of those stupid girls?  Why don't you leave such material for magazines that cater to homosexuals?"  Interestingly, Playboy, at the time, promised a sequel to this pictorial, scheduled to appear in the February 1976 issue, but it was never published.  The piece in Playboy was accompanied by extracts from Sappho's poetry so Smith and, indeed, Hefner were very much playing the "art" card, which they may have felt they had to given the then perceived illicitness of girl/girl photographs.

Actually, of course, these were rather more than just two girls posing together but was an attempt to actually illustrate lesbian love (or lust).  This is a proper kiss, something that is still quite unusual in girl/girl sets even today, but what makes it, of course is the post kiss shot below.

It is very much the blonde woman who is taking the lead in this sequence; she has the dark-haired one's head held tightly, her hand clasping her jaw.  In the final shot the dark haired one, lipstick all smudged (and how often do you see that in a pictorial such as this?) seems lost in thought as if the kiss has changed her in some way.  It is almost as if some succubus-like energy draining or vampiric possession has taken place.  She is lost to the blonde now.

We first saw these pictures, not in Playboy, but in the book Smith subsequently published the following month and which is probably the first erotic photographs book Triple P's owned.  What is notable about this volume, which features many more very gently erotic photographs of women together, is that in a 158 page picture book the pictures in this post are the only ones of the women actually kissing.

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