Archive for the ‘pin-ups’ Category

This month in magazines: 1950s glamour magazines

February 18, 2017

Beautiful Britons brought girl-next-door glamour to readers (February 1956)

Beautiful Britons  (February 1956)

Spick glamour magazine cover from February 1956, issue 27

Spick magazine from February 1956

Last issue of Span in 1976 Toco number 266

Last issue of Span in 1976, issue  266

Town and Country Publishing (Toco) exploited the demand for men’s magazines in the mid-1950s by launching pocket-format titles that brought girl-next-door glamour to their readers.

Spick, Span and Beautiful Britons were three of the company’s titles. Spick was the first to come out, in December 1953, and was followed by Span the next September. Spick used professional models at first, but encouraged readers to send in photographs of wives and girlfriends. It soon introduced Beautiful Britons pages, which obviously inspired the third magazine of the trio.

However, they slowly lost sales in the second half of the Sixties in the face of competition from more aggressive launches, such as ParadeMayfair and Penthouse.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


Magazines in the movies: Playboy in Steven Seagal’s Under Siege

December 28, 2016
playboy_1989_7jul_880.jpg

Playboy magazine, July 1989, as seen in the film Under Siege

A few weeks ago, it was James Bond reading a copy of Playboy magazine. Tonight, it’s a sailor goggling over a copy in Under Siege. The crew of the US battleship Missouri are anticipating the arrival of the July 1989 Playboy playmate of the month, Jordan Tate. In fact, the playmate that month was Erika Eleniak, who actually plays the Jordan Tate role in the 1992 film. She ‘wears’ a captain’s dress uniform, something that she also does in the movie, when she jumps out of a giant cake in front of Steven Seagal, playing the ship’s cook, Casey Ryback.

Eleniak also had a role in Baywatch, a TV series that later produced another popular magazine pin-up, Pamela Anderson.

It’s far and away the best Seagal film, and was followed three years later by Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, which takes place on a train. Watch out for the cameo role for an Apple Newton. This was the US company’s first attempt at an iPad-type device, though called a personal digital assistant in the jargon of the time. It featured handwriting recognition and was built around a British-designed ARM chip, the processor powering just about every Apple product since.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

James Bond’s Playboy days

December 13, 2016
Playboy, February 1969, as read by James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Playboy, February 1969, with Nancy Chamberlain on the cover, as read by James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Saw On Her Majesty’s Secret Service the other night and couldn’t help but notice that, after cracking open the safe of a lawyer who works for Spectre arch-villain Blofeld (Telly Savalas), Bond (George Lazenby) walks off reading a copy of Playboy magazine that he found in the lawyer’s office. He takes a good look at that month’s centrefold pin-up, Lorrie Menconi! On the cover of the US magazine is Nancy Chamberlain. Prominent product placement for the February 1969 issue.

There is a long history of connections between Bond and magazines. In 1962, the first issue of the Sunday Times Colour Supplement (now the Sunday Times Magazine) carried The Living Daylights. Even earlier, The Hildebrand Rarity, another short story, appeared in a 1960 issue of Playboy. And that same top-shelf magazine serialised On Her Majesty’s Secret Service over three issues in 1963, six years before the movie came out.

Yet the links don’t end there. In real life, Fleming worked for the Sunday Times, where his friend Robert Harling, the typographer and editor of House & Garden, was a design consultant from after the war until 1985. Harling had redesigned Admiralty reports and then served with Fleming’s 30 Assault Unit capturing German military secrets during the war. When the hardback books came out, Harling designed the Tea Chest font for the early Bond dust jackets. He is regarded as one of the men on whom Bond is based, and is mentioned in The Spy Who Loved Me (page 47).

Vivienne Michel, the woman at the centre of the novel, gets a job on the Chelsea Clarion, a ‘glorified parish magazine’ that is ‘stylishly made up each week by a man called Harling who was quite a dab at getting the most out of the old-fashioned type faces that were all our steam-age jobbing printers in Pimlico had in stock’.

The film also makes reference to the Bond family motto, The World is not Enough, which, of course, becomes the title of a later movie.

Magazine cover design – in search of the 3D effect

November 7, 2015
Picturegoer magazine cover design with 3D effect from 23 April 1953. Arlene Dahl is the film star model

Picturegoer magazine cover design with 3D effect from 25 April 1953. Arlene Dahl is the film star model

Nowadays, there are many technical strategies that can be used to give a three-dimensional effect to a magazine cover design, including holograms and lenticular stick-ons.

The first magazine hologram I’m aware of was one stuck on a Venture cover from Redwood Publishing in about 1985. Lenticular imagery has been around at least since publicity postcards for the 1968 film of Alistair Maclean’s Ice Station Zebra, and became popular on magazines in about 2001.

But before these, clever graphical tricks were the only viable approach – I’ve never seen a publisher try the red/green printing with plastic glasses on a cover, though it has been used freqently on inside pages since the 1950s from magazines such as Picture Post.

This cover design on movie weekly Picturegoer from 25 April 1953 is a good example. It’s a complex photomontage and is also self-referential with parts of 10 other covers shown as the background. The main photograph is of the hands holding a black and white publicity photograph of Arlene Dahl, described by IMDB as ‘one of the most beautiful actresses to have graced the screen during the postwar period’. The site lists no less than five of her films in 1953.

Note that the hands appear to be in colour. This is because the cover uses the second special colour for the title box as a tint to give a wash over the hands and a paler tint still over the background. The technique was common on gravure-printed weeklies in the 1950s.

All in all, an ambitious piece of work, though to my mind the title sitting over the photograph is a commercial compromise that destroys the overall visual logic – but then no publisher wants the title to be a subsiduary element when the magazine has to sell on a very competitive news-stand each week. However, as the Picturegoer magazine cover design below from 11 April 1953 shows, many issues did carry a much less prominent masthead.

Picturegoer from 11 April 1953 with a less prominent masthead

Picturegoer from 11 April 1953 with a less prominent masthead for a Kirk Douglas cover

Inside the Arlene Dahl issue of ‘The national film weekly’ from Odhams Press, the 3D theme continues with a review of Bwana Devil, described as Hollywood’s first full-length three-dimensional feature. The critic’s reaction will be familiar to many people who’ve seen any of the recent spate of 3D films (Gravity being the exception for me): ‘Picturegoers are bitterly disappointed in their introduction to Hollywood’s third dimension. They see a real danger in Hollywood’s giving them eye-straining technical tasters in place of sound, satisfying entertainment.’

>Film magazines

>>See my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

£3300 on eBay for the first Monroe magazine cover

November 1, 2015
Leader magazine led the world in putting Marilyn Monroe on its cover in April 1946

Leader magazine led the world in putting Marilyn Monroe on its cover in April 1946

Can you believe it? A threepenny weekly magazine from 13 April 1946 sells on eBay for $5,100.99 – that’s£3,302 – after 45 bids. Gobsmacking, but it’s true. And the reason? It’s the first magazine to show Norma Jeane Mortenson, also known as Norma Jeane and later pin-up model and Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, on its cover.

That’s four years before her first decent film role in All About Eve and seven years before the Playboy first issue cover.

According to the listing, this is the ‘first solo cover in the world’ of Norma Jeane, with the British weekly predating the April 26 issue of Family Circle in the USA picturing Norma Jeane holding a baby lamb on the cover:

This issue of Leader is a complete 28 page double-staple bound style pulp magazine in very good condition. Cover photo is the same Andre de Dienes ‘M.M.’ photograph which appeared a second time in France only a few months later on the cover of the September 3 1946 issue of Votre Amie (‘Your Friend’). The Leader cover photo was published in black and white, while the negative was flipped and photo colorised for its appearance on the cover of Votre Amie.

The same seller also sold a copy of that Votre Amie cover for £900 on eBay.

Leader was at this time published by Hulton Press, whose other magazines included Lilliput, Picture Post and the Eagle.

>>Leader magazine history

 

Diana Rigg vamps it up as Agatha Christie’s ‘evil’ victim

October 31, 2015

 

Evil victim: Diana Rigg on the cover of the Sunday Times Magazine, 28 February 1982

Evil victim: a vampish Diana Rigg on the cover of the Sunday Times Magazine, 28 February 1982

Diana Rigg – as Emma Peel in The Avengers – has recently trounced glamour pin-ups Joan Collins and Marilyn Monroe as the most sought-after magazine cover star with an eBay buyer paying £147 for a TV magazine featuring her.

This 1982 Sunday Times Magazine supplement cover is from later in her career when she played the ill-fated temptress Arlena Marshall in a TV version of Agatha Christie’s 1934 detective novel Evil Under the Sun, featuring the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, played by Peter Ustinov.

And how much would this go for? Well, there’s a copy on eBay at present priced at £25.

Beautiful Britons magazine – 1950s glamour still sells

September 26, 2015

Beautiful Britons glamour magazine first issue cover from November 1955

The mid-1950s saw an explosion of men’s magazines after paper rationing was lifted. Many of them used a pocket format and one of the most popular was the monthly glamour magazine  Beautiful Britons.  Two copies of the first issue have sold on eBay recently, one for £29.99 and the other for a hefty £51.

Note the magazine’s motto: ‘The magazine of [EYE] appeal.’

Centre spread from the 1955 first issue of Beautiful Britons

Centre spread from the 1955 first issue of Beautiful Britons magazine

Although the colour was cover, all the pin-ups inside were printed mono. The picture above is from the centre spread. The bikini was a relatively new invention – at least in modern times – dating from 1946 when a French engineer came out with the world’s smallest swimsuit, named after the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll.

The magazine’s publisher – Town & Country, known as ‘Toco’ – already published Spick and Span, both pin-up glamour magazines launched in 1954, in the same format. Many of the pin-up photographs were of unknown models but actresses such as Shirley Ann Field and Joan Collins were a staple for such magazines. All three titles survived into the 1970s.

Initially, the models were not topless, but the market was changed by the advent of Kamera, published by photographer Harrison Marks and his wife, the model Pamela Green. Kamera included topless models. Marks and Green, who also modelled under the name Rita Landre, were involved in the making of Michael Powell’s  controversial 1960 film  Peeping Tom. The horror thriller centred on a photographer who murdered women with a device built into his camera.

>>List of men’s magazines with profiles


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

Racy pin-ups – Edwardian style

September 19, 2015
Racy centre spread pin-up in Photo-Bits in 1902 (October 18)

Racy centre spread pin-up in Photo-Bits in 1902 (October 18)

Photo-Bits was a racy men’s penny weekly dating from the late Victorian era. This is its centre spread from 18 October 1902.

The upper picture is captioned:

Sweets on a shelf… which any well-endowed viscount (K of K not excepted) can enjoy with the assistance of a wedding-ring and a brief but dignified ceremony at St George’s, Hanover Square.

Quite why K of K – Lord Kitchener of Khartoum – is referred to is unclear. The woman is not identified.

The lower image has the caption:

On Blackpool’s sandy beach. A delightful memory of a week at the delightful Lancashire watering-place.

The cover of Photo Bits, October 18, 1902. Note the masthead in the form of letters on pinned-up cards

The cover of Photo Bits, October 18, 1902. Note the masthead in the form of letters on pinned-up cards

Photographs were still a novelty in magazines, so the romantic kiss of the canoodling couple on the cover was just the start of 32 pages of pictures. The caption reads:

LOVE’S ANXIETY
SHE: Kiss me again.
HE: My dear, I’ve just kissed you seventeen times in seventeen seconds.
SHE: (reproachfully) – Harold, you love another!

The pinned-up cards of the title also set out the features of the magazine: ‘Up to date. Bright. Sketchy. Smart. Witty. Pictorial. Pithy. Original. Spicy.’ That mantra predates that of men’s monthly FHM ‘funny, sexy, useful’ – by 75 years.

Inside, the masthead announced copyright in Great Britain and Ireland.  It also noted the magazine was ‘entered at Stationers’ Hall‘. The Stationers, one of the City of London’s worshipful companies, had enforced copyright for hundreds of years with powers comparable with the Inland Revenue today.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 

What can we do with the nipples this month?

August 15, 2015
Cute cover-up: Naomi Campbell on the cover of GQ in April 2000

Cute cover-up: Naomi Campbell on the cover of GQ in April 2000

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, GQ was down there fighting for sales against the likes of FHM and Loaded by putting naked women on its covers as often as possible. Well, nearly naked. The delicate rules of the newsagent dictate that nipples cannot be shown.

This cute magazine cover-up for Naomi Campbell on the cover of GQ – sister title to Vogue at Conde Nast – in April 2000 has to go down as one of the best examples.

You can imagine the cover meetings at the time: ‘Well, how can we show as much naked flesh this month without revealing a nipple?’ They were taped up, covered in subtly-draped clothes or hidden under type. Sometimes, they were just blatantly airbrushed out, as in the example of Abi Titmouse below from FHM (then published by Emap) .

FHM June 2004. But what's happened to the nipples on Abi Titmuss?

FHM June 2004. But what’s happened to the nipples on Abi Titmuss?

 

 

Emma Peel wins the day over Marilyn Monroe

June 9, 2015
Diana Rigg as The Avengers' Mrs Peel on the cover of TV World in 1965

Diana Rigg as The Avengers’ Mrs Peel on the cover of TV World in 1965

Who is the most popular cover star? Joan Collins, Marilyn Monroe? To judge by two recent eBay sales, it’s actually the 27-year-old Diana Rigg – as Emma Peel in The Avengers.

Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Blighty from 1956

Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Blighty from 1956

The evidence is the £147 that a 1965 copy of TV World fetched. There were no less than 18 bids from 4 people. In contrast, a 1956 Blighty with Monroe on the cover brought in a mere £46 (12 bids from 4 people). A copy of the same issue of Blighty fetched £70 on eBay in April.

When it comes to collecting magazines and TV memorabilia though, Mrs Peel and Steed have a long way to go to catch up with Dr Who and the Daleks – a copy of the first Radio Times cover for Dr Who has fetched £509.99.

Emma Peel in one of her leather jumpsuits in a spread from TV World

Emma Peel in one of her leather jumpsuits in a spread from TV World

TV World listed Midlands ITV programmes and this issue covered Saturday December 25 to Friday December 3. Inside there was a double page interview with Rigg – who had found that ‘sudddenly, everybody wants to marry me’ since she featured in the spy series. The seller, Brogan2040, specialises in film and TV.

Other articles covered Noel Gordon and Anthony Morton in Crossroads, a Stars Snakes and Ladders game and an interview with Mark Goddard of Lost in Space. The listings include episodes from The Avengers, Gerry Anderson’s Stingray and Patrick McGoohan as Danger Man.

Nick Buckler, the Blighty seller, also has a July 1957 copy of Fiesta on ebay with a Monroe cover and centre spread.