Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Funny Valentine by Stan Malinowski



Penthouse's next couples set was another girl/girl one but it was radically different from anything that they had done before.  It appeared in the February 1976 issue and was photographer Stan Malinowski's first girl./girl set for the magazine.




Taking a very different approach to the likes of Jeff Dunas' and Earl Miller's location-based, soft-focus romanticism he posed his unnamed models in a studio with just a standard studio backdrop and bright, even harsh, lighting. 




This was much closer to "art" erotic photography, which Penthouse did occasionally feature, than their usual conventional couples material.




We will show the pictures in the order they were in the magazine as, unlike some of the couples sets, there is no "story" to follow.




From today's perspective, where virtually every female celebrity seems to have posed in some form of bondage gear (usually to indicate the wish for a change of image) and pop videos are full of the such imagery, this looks fairly mild.  At the time, however, this was radical stuff indeed




The text, as it is, consists of a number of four line verses of poetry (you can see some examples further down) which are very much themed on the idea of one woman inflicting pain on the other.





Unlike all the previous girl/girl sets in Penthouse there was no lovey-dovey "friends who became lovers mush" or, indeed, any suggestion that really the ladies, of course, prefer men, as most of the other girl/girl sets suggested.  So the text is as radical for Penthouse, as the pictures.




The opening text set the scene:

"I love you dear" is awfully nice
When it comes with hearts and flowers:
But there are nights, My Valentine
When I love Love's darker powers.




This was not a bit of light spanking this was full-on S&M gear at a time most people would not even have known such a thing existed.




To include photographs of one woman apparently flogging the other with a whip is a giant leap forward in the magazine's depiction of two women interacting with each other  




The reaction to this pictorial in Penthouse's letters page was universally positive.  "Over the years one may dream to oneself but I wonder how many of us would like to take the place of the dark-haired girl in Penthouse under the name of My funny Valentine?" mused HF, contemplating the excitement of being tied and gagged.




"Quite the best thing I have seen for a long time is My funny Valentine...Damsels in distress are my favourite topic - just girls made helpless not hurt or harmed." added AC from Australia, reassuringly.




"I must congratulate you on your photos of the two girls practising Bondage in the latest edition of Penthouse." wrote Mr AH "They are, without doubt, the best photos I have seen of this type of thing and I have seen a few. The two pictures of the girl hanging by her ankles are amazing.  I would dearly love to obtain a pair of ankle straps."




In the UK edition, from which this letter was taken, Penthouse helpfully  advised that there was a shop called Sex in the King's Road "which stocks all types of leatherwear, rubberwear and glamourwear."  This of course, was the shop run by future famous fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, later manager of the Sex Pistols punk band.




The actual clothing in the pictorial was provided by Centurion Publishing, California.




A student wrote: "I am writing to express my appreciation for the bondage pictorial in your frequently excellent magazine.  Personally, I found it one of the most stimulating pictorials you have ever published.  I sincerely hope that you are going to provide your readers with more photography on this delectable theme in the near future."




This picture (above), and the rest of those in this post are additional  (some are only slightly different) to the ones that appeared in the US Penthouse pictorial.  The UK version of the pictorial was four  pages shorter.




Another reader, JR wrote: "I would like to express my thanks to the ladies featured in My funny Valentine for their happy participation.  The feature has been enacted and photographed with style.  The small insert on page three (from the contents page, the fourth picture from the top) is intriguing.  Please may we see more of this type of photography?"  




"Why not make this type of feature a regular item in your magazine?" asked DB, "I suspect it would double your sales!"  It had been a long time since Penthouse had had quite so many appreciative letters for one of their pictorials and even if you are of the opinion that all the letters were made up by staff members (although we think at least some were still real at this point) Penthouse were obviously keen to push this pictorial. 

 .



Despite all  this, My Funny Valentine did not lead, however, to a slew of bondage-themed pictorials. It is arguable, however, that some of the remaining girl/girl pictorials in 1976 were a little more adventurous in theme and execution than the previous "girls in fields" type so ubiquitous until this feature.





Personally, Agent Triple P has little interest in this form of bondage, although we can appreciate, from a photographer's point of view, the visual aspects of contrasting skin with tight, shiny materials.  For us it just looks too uncomfortable to be fun.  




We have had several girlfriends who liked being tied up and that was a discovery in itself that we, initially, struggled to deal with as we had been brought up (in an essentially female household) to hold women in the utmost respect.  Coming across (so to speak) a girlfriend at college who enjoyed being tied to Triple P's bedstead, whilst we roamed away looking for chocolate for her, was something of an eyeopener.  




A few years later we had a girlfriend who actually used to take us into curtain shops to buy velvet cord which she would co-ordinate with the colour of her lingerie.  She actually enjoyed a bit of a struggle so tying her up became a somewhat invigorating experience; she certainly did not just lie their passively.  She also enjoyed being beaten on the bottom although we never progressed to whips; a wooden ruler was quite sufficient to generate the right effect.  I suppose, that if we had stayed together longer, we may have progressed to more complex clothing and accessories but some of the equipment in these pictures really doesn't look that appealing to Agent Triple P.




So, an interesting experiment by Penthouse but it wouldn't be long (just a month, in fact) until their next girl/girl pictorial which was rather more conventional, although it did, as we shall see shortly, have one novel feature. 

9 comments:

  1. I am with you on some of the bondage gear looking not appealing at all, personally. I have a good friend who has a wall of bondage props in her bedroom. It's very, very popular today, but as you've seen in my writing, I don't go there much. Still, I respect it for what it is, and I'm glad some people can really get excited about it and spice up their sex lives with it! Very interesting pictorial!

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG ,I had this magazine when it came out ! I was fast becoming aware of my penchant for fetishism and was standing at a magazine rack in a convenience store, I was almost 15 ,tall and could get into restricted films. I heard my name twice, turned around no doubt very aroused , and there was my grade 4 home room teacher lol She starterd asking me questions, never asked if I was kinky. Now when I think of her ,she has a fetish association in my head. thanks for posting these !

    ReplyDelete
  3. Penthouse used a photo that had to have come from this shoot as a promo to sell subscriptions; it was a view of the girl in the harness, from the rear/right hind quarter. Her hands were locked behind her with a padlock, and the head harness and collar had a padlock too.

    I was about 14 when I first saw it, it was in black and white, and it is seared into my memory as one of the moments when I knew there was something different about how I fit into this world.

    Thanks for posting these; they are like landmarks in my life, and it completes a picture knowing more about their origins.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you much for posting this... my older brother had this and when I saw it at the tender age of 14 I was hooked.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I loved this photo shoot. I wish I could get all the photographs from the set. There are several that were not published in the orginal magazine issue. Loved the set period.

    ReplyDelete
  6. wow. amazing to see more from this shoot years later. thanks

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ok I have to know, where did you get the unpublished photos. Are there more???? If anyone has some or would like to talk about this epic set. Please contact me spitfire466@hotamil.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. OOOOPs,I got the email wrong. So anyone who has more pictures of this great set or would like to talk about it, please contact me at spitfire466@hotmail.com.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for posting this.

    I saw this (more than a few times) when I was a young teen. Definitely affected my...puberty. The girl-on-girl domination was dark, weird and "wrong" but irrestiable. Something more raw and passionate about B&D/S&M stuff then, before it became too mainstream. And the 70's art vibe here, not the airbrushed cleaness of modern porn.

    I preferred the ones with the brunette dominating the blonde. I think the poem was the first one I memorized, too. It seems I've forgotten at least one verse.

    ReplyDelete