Monday, October 25, 2010

Two Women by James Baes 1970

Given the ubiquity of girl/girl photographs in current men's magazines it is, perhaps, something of a surprise that the genre had a slow start over forty years ago, when Penthouse published this set.  

This pictorial appeared in the December 1970 issue of Penthouse. and was the magazine's very first girl/girl set.

It was shot, in a rather chilly looking autumnal Venice, by French-born photographer James Baes.

Our heroines in their groovy 1970s fashions are future Penthouse Pet of the Month Lottie Gunthart and German model Eva Zanziger.

Here is Lottie, as Penthouse Pet of the Month in March 1971, also shot by James Baes.

Lottie, on the left in the picture above, also famously appeared as the centrefold in the first issue of Hugh Hefner's magazine Oui, which was designed to take circulation off Penthouse in the US.  

Here is Lottie as Florence Fossorier in the very first edition of Oui in October 1972.  She also appeared in Men Only in 1972 as Florence Maurier.  You can see more of Lottie/Florence on our post on her at Venus Observations here.

It looks far too cold to be getting your bust out in the cemetery!

This picture is the first sapphic kiss in the magazine. Actually, if you look at it closely it's not entirely clear if they are actually making lip to lip contact (its like the famosu Kirk/Uhura kiss in Star Trek!) or not but the intention is obvious!

It's not really quite the weather for dining al fresco, perhaps, but our Teutonic twosome (Lottie is an Austrian) are obviously made of stern stuff.

The photographer said that initially the two girls were rather self-conscious about posing together. 

On the second day, however they started to take over the shoot and suggested most of the poses themselves.

Penthouse, or Baes, seemed quite clear on where they thought they were going, but like the girls themselves, were only dipping their toes in the water very gingerly indeed.

"For a long time I had felt that an intimate relationship between two young women was somehow perfectly natural," he opined, in the particularly pretentious text accompanying the pictorial.

"After all, girls in school are always getting "crushes" on each other- they hold hands, comb each other's hair and generally touch each other a great deal," he continued, breathlessly. 

"Also, it's interesting to note that there's never been any legislation enacted against two women in love, which means it's never been socially unacceptable."  Calm down, man!

"My original plan," recalls Baes, "was to explore the visual harmonics and inherent symmetry of two young females in close proximity."

"I was experimenting with shapes and forms more than anything else."  Then, according to the accompanying blurb the two girls, "began to enjoy being photographed together."

Finally, the shoot over, "Lottie and Eva lingered together in Venice for several days." 

The implication of all this being that by posing naked together the two girls naturally gravitated to each other (as girls do) and finished their time in Venice lost in each others arms. Right.

Two girls and a buoy

All nonsense, no doubt, but it helps get across the idea that these girls are more than just posing naked together; they are in a physical relationship and all without mentioning the L word.

Photographer Baes, the son of a painter, was a fashion photographer for Stern magazine in Germany.  He first got involved with Penthouse when he shot a portrait of Penthouse photographer Clive McLean, his wife Stephanie (the first pubic Pet in April 1970) and their baby. 

He became friends with McLean and when Baes met Hustler publisher Larry Flynt in 1975 he recommended McLean to him. 

We'll always have Venice...

They worked together on Hustler for many years.  Baes became editor of the magazine in the eighties with McLean becoming principal staff photographer.

One surprising postscript is that the pictorial, innocent though it is, attracted some negative comments in the letters pages of the magazine.   One writer from London said; "Alas, the feature was ruined by the pretentious drivel accompanying the photos.  Why can't you print them for what they are- a novel and, to some, kinky way of presenting two pairs of breasts instead of one pair, without all that mealy-mouthed justification for showing two women."

A grumpy Mr Chinnery from the salubrious address of Brooklyn Caravan  Park (that's "trailer park" for you Americans) was even less happy. "A photograph of two females cuddling each other doesn't turn me on.  I feel it needs the caption "give us the tools and we will finish the job".  He added, "I hope it is not your intention to repeat the practice in some future issue of Penthouse."

Maybe Mr Chinnery had more impact than he imagined, as it would be nearly two years before Penthouse risked another two girl pictorial.  That pictorial, "Woodstock Generation" was the first girl/girl pictorial Agent Triple P ever saw, at the impressionable age of twelve.  That pictorial will have to wait for another day, however.

Our friend C (who is our particular friend S's ex-girlfriend) sent me a great find this week.  She had found that pictures from this shoot actually first appeared in the Italian magazine Playmen two months before they did in Penthouse.

They were all reproduced in black and white in the October 1970 issue, which adds to their vintage, arty appeal of course.

James Baes had been the artistic director for Italian Playboy rip-off, Playmen, for a year, previously.

We get the same locations as in the Penthouse pictorials but all different shots of the women.

This one, shot in a graveyard, is very similar but not identical to the Penthouse colour version.

We are not sure who the third woman is in this picture.  The text accompanying the article just consisted of quotes from Italian literature and gave no information about the models at all, not even their names.

Just as in the Penthouse pictorial the girl's hairstyles change from shot to shot, either because they are wearing wigs (there was quite a bit of that in early seventies Penthouse) or, possibly, because they had haircuts during the shoot.  Triple P took a lady to Venice once and the first thing she did when she got there was have five inches chopped off her hair.  Maybe it's something in the air!  

This final shot of the girls with towels around their heads is almost but not quite the same as the final one in the Penthouse set.  Unlike Penthouse, Playmen had not yet gone pubic so the little glimpse here is as much as they could show.

So thanks to C for these; they really are like discovering a lost treasure.  We will look at some Playmen pictorials in the future, over at Venus Observations, as the magazine, which Triple P sometimes bought when working in Rome and Milan, often had some stunning women in its pages. 


  1. "Tits out!" .. proving that toplessness is next to Godliness.

  2. Terrific write up on such an early and innocent "lesbian" pictorial.