If ever there was a pictorial which summed up the difference between erotica and pornography, something which many people today seem unable to understand, it is the Penthouse Love Set Dinner at Eight by Jeff Dunas.
This appeared in Penthouse's July 1978 issue and was the first (of only two) boy/girl pictorials that year. There had been four in 1975, 1976 and 1977 so it was something of a rarity that year. Why Penthouse had cut down on its couples pictorials we are not sure. It may have been because it didn't want to get into a battle with Hustler (who had five couples pictorials that year) over who could be the most explicit.
This was one of Penthouse's most elegant couples sets, exuding period character and beautifully caught by Jeff Dunas. It had a mixture of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Great Gatsby about it and is in complete contrast to the cheap looking, over-lit material that passes for couples sets in magazines today.
Our heroine is supposedly the hostess of a grand party which has just finished leaving her and her chosen man alone in the house. She agrees to meet him in the drawing room.
The girl is Lori Wagner who was so memorable in another Penthouse couples pictorial The Duel in December 1975. She would go on to appear in the notorious Caligula (1979). This passionate kissing shot is pure classic Hollywood.
In fact, the text describes them as looking like Valentino and Harlow. They indulge in some effectively arousing kissing and caressing as Wagner loses her dress. Dunas' murky lighting really does conjure up the image of a late night tryst in a darkened room of a big house.
Her back arched, he caresses one breast while she strokes the nipple of the other with her thumb.
More breast caressing here but also what is believed to be the first unequivocal erection in a Penthouse Love Set. There is nothing salacious in this; it is just a perfectly natural reaction to the gorgeously glowing Lori.
This one, however, seems to show a slight failure of nerve on the part of Penthouse. Lori is patently grasping his erection here but it appears that it has been artificially obscured with shadow. It's still a passionate, if theatrical, shot with him holding that Penthouse staple, long pearls, in his teeth.
He has lost his undershirt, the inclusion of which is a nice piece of period detail in itself. All men in the period depicted in the pictorial would have worn these. It was, reputedly, only when Clarke Gable appeared without one in It Happened One Night (1934) that the wearing of these plummeted.
She straddles his now naked thigh and, in the process, presents what at the time would have been called her fundament. Dunas has the couple go through a series of striking poses; their bodies illuminated against the dark background with the lampshade presenting the only real flash of colour,
The composition throughout this piece is marvellous and many of the poses are more like modern dance than the actual realistic positions a passionate couple would indulge in. In particular there is striking use of the hands throughout.
This is a wonderful anticipatory shot. One of Lori's hands, fingers spread, caresses his hand on her hip as she strokes her own hand in turn. She gazes, not at her partner but away from him as if her senses are focussed on touch alone as he kisses his way up her inner thigh to that prominent golden fleece.
Again, Lori surrenders to the touch of his tongue as he reaches his goal. This was easily the most explicit cunnilingus shot to appear in Penthouse to date.
There is only the one copulatory shot and it is a rear entry one with Lori's head not even visible just the two bodies in matching poses. Her stocking is wrinkled around her knee as if to demonstrate the level of her abandon. Her hand is between her thighs; either caressing or guiding.
This is one of Penthouse's most successfully erotic couples sets and shows what a truly great photographer Dunas was. Sadly, there seems to have been some dispute between Dunas and Penthouse and none of his pictorials appear on the Penthouse website, meaning that there are no outtakes from this particular set.
We will try to get our next Love Set up this week.