Some may say that Agent Triple P has rather too many girls in his past as it is, but we were delighted to recently make the re-acquaintance of dozens of lovely young ladies from our formative years.
Whilst visiting the family home a few weeks ago we were exploring the further reaches of the loft, whilst looking for some old photographs. Tucked away in a corner, behind a framed America’s Cup poster, a nineteenth century air-rifle, and a tea-chest (the precursors of plastic rent-a-crates for those too young to remember them) full of unassembled model kits, were three large brown paper packages.
Surely they couldn’t be..? Not after all this time? But they were. It was Agent Triple P’s long-lost collection of old Penthouse magazines from the sixties and seventies, carefully wrapped and hidden away just before Triple P went to university in the very late seventies. There they had lain, untouched, unopened and unappreciated for nearly thirty years. Having torn open a corner of the, rather brittle, brown paper to confirm the contents we spirited them home for closer examination.
Technically, these magazines constitute a family collection, rather than Agent Triple P’s alone. Indeed, the magazines could be divided into two distinct periods. The first tranche were from 1965 until 1974 and these belonged to Agent Triple P’s father. The second tranche covered the period from 1974 until 1979 and were acquired by Triple P. Triple P’s father was something of a connoisseur of young women, as we are still discovering today from some of his old acquaintances. Certainly, he was a member of both the London Playboy and Penthouse clubs and spent a great deal of time in Soho; his excuse usually being that he needed to obtain a certain type of exotic cooking ingredient. In the 1960s in London, if you wanted to buy real Spanish Chorizo sausage then Soho was the only place it could be found. However, much else of what he obtained in Soho was equally exotic, we are led to believe.
Triple P had discovered the magazines at the age of twelve and eagerly awaited those times when his father added to the collection. This coincided with a period of interesting artistic development with regard to the photography in Penthouse, more of which another day. Eventually a surfeit of women, claret, Martinis, Cognac, Fois Gras, Stilton, paella and 80 Turkish cigarettes a day took their mortal toll on his father in the mid seventies. At least Triple P has eschewed the cigarettes. As for the rest, the genetic urge remains rather strong. Back in 1974 Triple P had to move fast as his mother was disposing of most of his father’s effects. Valiantly offering to sort out the books in his father’s study cupboard (some of which were also most “artistic” and quickly liberated) he secreted the magazines away in a large box underneath a pile of innocuous TV 21 magazines.
Triple P then endured a frustrating period of being unable to add to this collection. He was too young (and too shy) to attempt to purchase them in the shops but soon discovered a secret, but thriving, trade at school. The majority of the magazines available, however, were Mayfair or, those other two bestsellers of the time, Men Only and Club International. Part of this was due to the fact that one of his classmates father worked for the Paul Raymond organisation. This individual also seemed to be able to obtain Penthouse fairly regularly as well and all Triple P needed was a way to pay for them. This was solved when Triple P discovered this person also had a fascination with rockets and explosives and Triple P had access to large supplies of gunpowder (also from his father’s stores). And so an amicable trade began until, at the age of seventeen Triple P managed to buy a copy for himself (just as well as he was running out of gunpowder).
Flicking through these magazines subsequently brought back warm feelings of nostalgia for the assorted Penthouse Pets whose names (sadly, many of them invented, we have subsequently discovered) still resonate with us today: Julie Edge (sic), Avril Lund, Valerie Rae Clarke, Dominique Maure, Cheryl Rixon, Bonnie Dee Wilson, Anneka de Lorenzo.
The lovely B signed us up to a subscription to the Penthouse website for our birthday and we tried to put together a digital selection of 1970s May Pets for Agent DVD's birthday. The website is very poor on the seventies, however, with very few Pets from the early days illustrated. This is a shame, as these really were the glory days for Penthouse. Today’s, silicone enhanced, Photoshopped, over lit porn stars cannot compete with the natural lovelies of the seventies and early eighties. Some of them may have not had perfect figures but they were usually pretty and sometimes really beautiful. Above all, they were real and riding the crest of the sexual revolution seemed daringly forward in a way that countered the prevailing propaganda, especially in Britain, that women did not like sex. Yes, of course many were models or exotic dancers but also many were not, particularly in the early years. Certainly, in the first ten years of the magazine many of the girls were also British, and most were European, making them seem that much more attainable than the alien Mary Lou’s of the thoroughly American Playboy. Indeed attainability had been a key aim of Bob Guccione when he established Penthouse in London in 1965. He felt that the whole Playboy lifestyle and their models in particular just wouldn’t ring true with a UK audience and so he set up Penthouse as a more accessible magazine. Ironically, of course he then took Penthouse to the US market in 1969 and gradually the two magazines drifted apart in content and then ownership.
At least now we can update Agent DVD's presentation with lots of sixties and seventies lovelies!
More about all of this another day.