Friday, 3 June 2016

Something for the Weekend: Paintings by Angus McBride for Mayfair magazine.

It's slightly shocking to realise that it is just over nine years since the death of Angus McBride, whose wonderful illustrations graced more than 60 Osprey books (more if you count compilations) over the years.  I am sure that many of us bought some of them simply for the illustrations, having no intention of collecting armies for the period in question.  

I first became aware of McBride's illustrations in the sixties when his pictures regularly appeared in Look and Learn magazine.  His first work for Osprey was in 1975 but just before this he did a series of illustrations, cartoons and even a comic strip for Mayfair Magazine.  We have posted two of these paintings before (above), which appeared towards the end of his time working for Mayfair and appeared in the October 1975 issue.  The top one was an illustration to a story and the bottom one was a cartoon.

The first illustration of his I can find in Mayfair is one for a story and dates from their June 1974 issue.  It demonstrates the wonderful detail he put into his pictures:  The damp parts of the tub where the water has run down to pool on the floor, the cat and dog facing off, the discarded stockings, the wonderful lighting provided by the fire and, above all, the expressions on the two figures which tell you everything about their two characters at a glance.

The next one is a cartoon from two months later; August 1974,  This one is the first of several of his Mayfair works which contains a lot of figures and the first one showing pubic hair.  Looked at from the perspective of today this is really quite dubious, if not downright disturbing.  It seems to say, basically, that if you go through the park, girls, you will be pursued, thrown into the pond and raped by a gang of men (some of whom sport even more dubious Peter Wyngarde mustaches).   The fact that the women seem to find this slightly inconvenient rather than terrifying tells you everything about attitudes towards women in the seventies.  

September 1974's offering is just as bad.  Here a miracle drug (decades before Viagra) has apparently made all the men in the hospital ward desperately horny.  So what should they do?  Assault all the nurses, of course!  Even here the attention to detail is tremendous, with McBride including a drop of liquid shooting out the top of the hypodermic syringe which appears to be about to be driven into the bottom of a nurse being pinned down on the bed; presumably for having the temerity to wear tights rather than stockings.  We hope that MvBride didn't think up the subjects of these cartoons himself but was working to a brief provided by someone else.  We really hope. 

September 1974's issue eschews assault for a catastrophic picture of hunters falling off a cliff, enabling McBride to illustrate lots of accidentally revealed female skin, including quite a graphic spread legs picture.  At least the women here being pawed are being so 'accidentally'.

This November 1974 story illustration also seems to show a lady being flung to the ground by an ardent suitor but at least this appears to be in the imagination of the male character.  The barely concealed pudenda is much bolder than any photo Mayfair would have had in its pictorials as, unlike the other men's magazines in Britain at the time, they did not take part in the ever increasing move to more explicit shots.

Rounding out the year, in December 1974, we seem to have two young ladies, looking around a stately home, whose clothes have been removed by (presumably) a man hidden inside a suit of armour.  At least we have a military element in this one.

Jumping the two illustrations from January 1975 at the top of this post, we have accusations of impropriety on a frozen pond, showing women of the time getting their own back on a suspected peeping tom.  His expression is such that you think there may well be something in the lady's suspicion.

A pile up on the Helter Skelter for March 1975 and at least no-one is assaulting anyone else.  Typical McBride detail in this one being the flying button from the crotch of the central lady's undergarments.

April 1975's cartoon has a barely dressed lady being threatened by a phallic fireman's hose as the firefighters prepare to give her a good...soaking.

May's offering is really McBride's most overtly sexual cartoon to date with the lady of the house appreciating her decorator's brushwork.  Hopefully, she is voluntarily interacting here. The kicked over mug of tea is a typically clever detail.

In March 1976 we have, at last, a woman in charge who know what she wants, She is positively primly dressed compared to his other women.  This is the last of McBride's Mayfair illustrations.  From this point on, having moved to South Africa he would work mainly on Osprey illustrations.

September 1975

Before this swansong, however, McBride produced a short-lived comic strip for the magazine called Adam's Eves, which debuted in September 1975.  This first episode contained one of McBride's characteristic piles of bodies as Adam's clueless girlfriend causes chaos on a staircase.

October 1975

Such full colour strips were not new in British men's magazines with Penthouse running a strip called Wicked Wanda from 1973 until 1980, which was produced by another Osprey stalwart Ron Embleton.  That, however, was a series of ongoing stories.  McBride's strip featured the eponymous Adam, an older bearded man, with the strip presenting a different girlfriend every week.  Here we have the misadventures of a nymphomaniac cellist.  The Legatus had a girlfriend who played the cello when he was at college.  She was 6' 3" tall, quite scary and while very friendly was not a nymphomaniac.

November 1975

Like Mayfair's own Carrie, which was originally the work of Don Lawrence (the man behind The Trigan Empire in Look and Learn), Adam's Eves was a complete new two page story every month.  Here an old flame who runs a massage parlour takes umbrage when Adam delivers his latest Eve for a rub down.

December 1975

Unlike Carrie, where the story was told in pictures only, Adam's Eves had (largely cringe worthy) text.  December 1975's episode had a Christmas theme.

January 1975

The fifth and final strip appeared in January 1975 and featured an older lady who, nonetheless was revealing rather more than her predecessors.  I don't know why the strip didn't continue; maybe it was stylistically too similar to Carrie, maybe having a male figure in it didn't appeal or maybe it was because McBride had moved to South Africa.  Or maybe it was because it was a bit rubbish.

None of the obituaries of McBride mention his work for Mayfair, even though they cover his other work (such as his Lord of he Rings paintings).  Perhaps it is just that much of it is too politically incorrect for today.  The seventies really were a different world.  It is, at first, quite odd, seeing McBride's distinctive style for these saucy confections, just as the Legatus finds it odd to see some of Don Lawrence's Trigan Empire faces appearing in the adventures of a girl who can't keep her clothes on in Carrie.

Another day we will look at Ron Embleton's Wicked Wanda, which was a work on an altogether bigger scale.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Something for the weekend: 54mm nudes from Mayfair

As today is International Masturbation Day (no, really, my friend Sophie told me and she lives in Vancouver, so would know) it is time time for another feature from an old Mayfair magazine.

Here, from September 1976, we have an article on 54mm and 80mm white metal female nude models, designed by Cliff Sanderson.  An interesting little article too.  All page scans are clickable.

Painting naked girls makes your hair fall out!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Hallowe'en: Riding High by Gil Elvgren

 Riding High (1958)

The celebration of All Hallows Eve in the UK has increased enormously over the last decade; driven mainly by manufacturers of plastic tat, supermarkets and confectioners, hoping for a pre-Christmas sales bump.   When I was a child it was not marked at all in Britain.  Indeed, I remember being invited to a Hallowe'en party in Banff in Canda in 1994 and finding it a very odd idea.  After all, we have Guy Fawkes night in the UK, just five days later, which is much better as you get to let off rockets.  Sadly, the latter is falling out of fashion in the UK, due to health and safety concerns over the public letting off large amounts of explosives willy nilly (alright, I know that gunpowder is not technically an explosive) and politically correct notions that, for some reason, the burning of effigies of Catholics is not acceptable.

This painting was by America''s greatest pin-up artist, Gil Elvgren (1914-1980), who for more than forty years produced hundreds of paintings of pretty girls (usually having difficulties in keeping their clothing in order) for calendars and advertisements (especially for Coca-Cola).   He was also a fine photographer and shot his own reference pictures, as here.

Elvgren's model for this painting was, the really rather splendid, Marilyn Hanold  (b. 1938) who was Playboy's Playmate of the Month for June 1959.  She was just nineteen when she posed for this shot.  She had a number of small  parts (actually there was nothing small about her parts) in TV and films in the fifties and early sixties, including, at the end of her career, as Amazon number 8, in the James Bond spoof In Like Flint (1967) with James Coburn.  That year, however, she married Rulon Neilson, the president of Skyline Oil Company from Utah and stopped acting.  What did she see in the, twice her age, millionaire oil tycoon?  For, that matter what did the 57 year old see in the 29 year old 40-26-38 nude model and former Las Vegas showgirl?

It's a mystery!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Something for the Weekend: Ulla Lindstrom - First Page 3 Girl

First Page 3 picture - Ulla Lindstrom November 17th 1969

There has been much discussion this week over whether The Sun newspaper has or has not abolished its long running Page 3 topless girl picture.  It seems that they are using the "have they?" or "haven't they?" publicity to push up sales in the interim.  There was no Page 3 girl on Monday and then she reappeared on Thursday (see below), prompted, perhaps, by a fear that "readers" of The Sun will switch allegiance to the rival Star and it's always rather lower status Starbirds (if they even still have them).  Anyway, I am not getting into a debate about whether Page 3 was mostly harmless or the cause of women still not been treated as equals in society, as that is a discussion for one of my other incarnation's blogs.  

Rupert Murdoch with the first issue of The Sun produced under his ownership on November 17th 1969

What we will do here is correct an error I have seen in nearly every report on the issue and that is that the first Page 3 girl appeared in November 1970.  She did not.  The first Page 3 girl was twenty year old Swedish model Ulla Lindstrom, who appeared in the very first edition of the Rupert Murdoch owned issue of the newspaper (The Sun was actually first published in 1964 as a broadsheet) on 17th November 1969.

Lindstrom  was a well known model in Sweden and had already appeared topless on the cover of the Swedish magazine FIB Aktuellt in 1966.  Ironically, of course, she was not topless in her Page 3 shot.

She started modelling at the age of sixteen but by the time of her Page 3 appearance was an economics student.  Originally from Gothenburg, her 5'8" height  and lovely face got her conventional modelling work as well as a few appearances in men's magazines.  She had had a blink and you'll miss her appearance in the Dean Martin Matt Helm spy spoof The Ambushers (1967), her only screen appearance.

Two months before her Page 3 appearance she had shown rather more as Penthouse Pet of the Month in the September issue of the UK issue.  She would then be Pet of the Month in the third ever issue of Penthouse in the US, although the rather visible nipples on the UK cover would be obscured for the US edition.  

Stephanie Rahn November 17th 1970

So why the confusion as to the first Page 3 girl?  Well for the first year of the feature the girls weren't photographed topless.  It was only on the first birthday of the feature, November 17th 1970, that Sun editor Larry Lamb authorised the use of a girl in her "birthday suit",  This was twenty two year old Stephanie Rahn, originally from Singapore, who thus became the first topless Page 3 girl.  Unlike Lindstrom, she would reappear on Page 3 many times in the seventies, under the name Stephanie Marrian.  She would also appear in a lot more men's magazines than Lindstrom.

Eight years after Lindstrom appeared on the cover, Rahn/Marrian was on the cover of the same Swedish magazine

Oddly, when The Sun wanted to track her down for a feature on Page 3 they couldn't find her as they were looking for someone named Rahn (which was actually the result of the mis-writing of her surname Kahn).  They hadn't realised that Stephanie Marrian was the same girl.  It was only when Marrian was in hospital with MRSA in 2005 that she said in an interview that she had been the first topless Page 3 girl.

Nicole, January 22nd 2015

The original idea was that the Page 3 girls would cover up again after this birthday special in 1970 but, of course, that did not happen.  Until now?

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas to all our readers!

Probably "viewers" is more accurate!  Anyway these enticing ladies are from exactly sixty years ago!  Even older than me!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Sheena Easton

The Legatus' poster at  college photographed by Brian Aris.  Who wouldn't want this in your bedroom?

The Legatus has been subjected to much derision because of the appearance of a poster of Sheena Easton in a photograph of his room at university.  I remember a similar thing happening when Giles spotted a box of Howard's Way DVDs on my shelves a few years ago!  Fortunately I am now too old to worry about the tyranny of cool which pervades much of British attitudes to popular culture these days.

Sheena Easton, for those who don't know, was a very early example of a manufactured reality TV (it wasn't called that then) pop singer.  Back in 1980 the BBC produced a short series of documentaries called The Big Time, fronted by the terrifying teeth of Esther Rantzen.  In this episode, which I remember watching at the time, they followed a young singer, Sheena Easton, as she recorded some singles, took advice from others in the pop industry and generally tried to promote herself as the next big thing.  Nearly every music professional in the show said she had no hope of making it. When her first single, Modern Girl, was released it reached the far from dizzying heights of number 53 in what I would have still called the Hit Parade, at the time.  

However, such is the power of television, after the programme aired her second single, 9 to 5, reached number 3 and the re-released first single reached number 10 giving her two top ten hits simultaneously.  When 9 to 5 (called Morning Train in America) was released in the US it went to number 1.  The following year she sang the theme song of the James Bond film For your Eyes Only (1981).

She moved to the US and had a successful career there, winning two Grammy awards and working with Prince.  A song he wrote for her, Sugar Walls, was actually banned because of its dubious lyrics.  She also did quite a lot of acting, appearing in five episodes of massive eighties show Miami Vice.  Later on she also had two shows at Las Vegas casinos.  She has consciously retired from public life and lives quietly in Las Vegas, having divorced her fourth husband.

Although she was a very pretty girl with a curvy figure (which was why the Legatus had posters of her on his walls) the really interesting thing about her story was showing how TV could turn an unknown into a star overnight.  This was contrary to all the received wisdom about how to make it in the music business at the time and was a foretaste of what was to come in the nineties with the likes of Pop Idol and X-Factor.  

The redoubtable Millsy suggested that Pat Benatar would have been a better choice for a female lust object at the time.  Now, while Benatar may have been a superior singer (I have no idea) we would take issue here and say that her looks do not approach Easton's in her prime.

Now I had never heard of Pat Benatar (well I knew the name but thought it was a man!) as in 1981 my listening tastes were almost entirely classical and jazz, apart from Mike Oldfield, post-1977  Rick Wakeman and ELO.  

ELO's Time (their last big hit album) was released during my third year and was a favourite at that point and is what I am listening to as I write this post (I actually don't like Sheen Easton's music). It completely reminds me of that year (along with Mike Oldfield's Five Miles Out).  Now, my best friend, then as now, Bill, was a big ELO fan and he didn't like the very electronic Time, whereas I didn't like most of the earlier ELO records (except Out of the Blue).  But then my favourite ELO album is the even later and even less well-regarded Balance of Power, which is inevitably tied up (literally in her case) in my mind with another girlfriend, SA.  Time was unavailable on CD for many years (there was a legal problem relating to Dave Clark's Time concept album) but you can now get it with a number of bonus tracks which were recorded at the time but didn't make the original album.

So the Legatus makes no apology for having the lovely Sheena on his wall at university.  Sadly the poster is no more, as some years later, when I was living back at home, a squirrel broke into our loft and gnawed it to bits, along with my Kim Wilde posters, several boxes of Matchbox AFV kits and some Christmas tree lights.  Tragedy!