Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rites of Spring by Earl Miller

Penthouse's fifth girl/girl set appeared in March 1975, only six months, this time, after their previous such pictorial.  A fifth different photographer was employed, in this case Earl Miller, who would, eventually, become Penthouse's most published photographer. 

Inside that particular issue the Pet of the Month was Susan Ryder (who also appeared on the cover) whose pussy-revealing pictures were the most explicit in the magazine to date.  This girl/girl shoot was much more decourous, however.

Like most of his predecessors, for some reason Miller also felt that the only place to portray two ladies together was in the woods.  Curious, really, given all the other possible environments you could place them in but maybe it has something to do with harking back to  thoughts of classical wood nymphs.

The story behind this one is that Sarah and Julia are childhood friends who have returned to the woods they played in as children. The text is typical of mid-seventies Penthouse pretension; especially when accompanying girl/girl sets.  Maybe they thought that arty writing would ameliorate the fact that they were still pushing the envelope of what was permissable.

In fact, the writing is rather more direct than the photography which is still not really  lesbian as such but, rather, just two girls photographed together. "Caresses. The whispering and giggles are still part of their intimacy but suddenly there is a natural need to touch and explore each other with lips, tongues and delicate fingers.  Gently, very gently."

The flute is a prototypically hippy touch and the whole thing starts to look like a slightly naughty Laura Ashley or Dubonnet advertisement.  You can almost hear Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne in the background.

Miller has followed the fashion for very soft focus as well, adding to the deliberately dreamy nature of the pictorial.   "Sarah's flute is accompanied by the rustle of the wind in the trees. The forest makes its own music and Sarah and Julia orchestrate the mood.  There is a hush, the wind dies and the two freinds slip into each other's arms."  Sigh!

The final four pictures focus on the two girls lying next to each other.  For people who spend a lot of time walking naked in the woods they have pretty strong tan lines!  "The soft feel of breasts and thighs and the warmth that falls over those who understand the erotic tenderness that enfolds two women in this primal way.  Loving, adoring, passionate sisters."  Whether they are really supposed to be sisters or whether its "sisters" in the feminist sense we are not quite sure.

These pictures aren't quite as racy as Ken Marcus' Two's Company pictorial from August 1973 and much of the implication of what has been going on comes from the text rather than the pictures.

Here the girls are arranged head to toe.  Is this to suggest some naughty soixante-neuf?  Unusually, too, one of the photographs dispenses with the need to include the girls faces

Earl Miller actually started out as an actor and director in New York theatre in the early sixties.  He only took up photography in 1967, initially doing portraits of fellow actors. From 1969 until 1972 he was the official photographer of the Sonny and Cher TV show.  He also did advertising work but when he saw his first copy of Penthouse  he submitted a shoot which was bought by Bob Guccione. 

Sarah Crutchfield by Earl Miller from March1974

This first pictorial appeared a year before Rites of Spring in March 1974 and featured a lady called, appropriately, Sarah Crutchfield. During 1974 he became one of Penthouse's favourite photgraphers and never looked back.

Earl Miller in the mid-seventies


  1. Nice that he preferred taking phtographs of girls rather than selfies ;-)))

  2. Tan lines .. in soft focus ... ftw!