NOTE: This post has been replaced by my series of the Pubic Wars which goes into the matter in far more detail. Just look at the appropriate section in the sidebar to the right.
Whilst Playboy decided not to follow Penthouse down the exposed labia route it came up with an approach that has since stood them in good stead by enabling them to show enticing spread legs shots without being too explicit: see-through lingerie. Here, Playboy Playmate of the Month for February 1975, Laura Misch, gives us Playboy’s first spread legs centrefold whilst remaining relatively modest.
The following month, after four months of modest Playboy type poses Penthouse came back with Susan Ryder in a new soft-focus style which would be characteristic of Penthouse for over a decade. Whether this style was a clever way to get more explicit shots through or was just Guccione genuinely following an impressionist bent is not clear. We suspect a little of both.
The rest of 1975 saw Penthouse following this soft-focus approach as some of the girls showed their bits and some didn't. Increasingly, too, Penthouse was showing soft-core faux masturbation shots like this one of Marguerite Cordier from August 1975. You can't help thinking that Penthouse wouldn't have come up with something this bold without the vaseline on the lens approach.
December and January were often the issues where both Playboy and Penthouse would push the limits of what was acceptable (coming as they did just before subscription renewal time) but Penthouse's Miss December 1975, Susan Waide’s, pictorial was rather modest by the Penthouse standards of the previous few months, when a lot of soft focus labia had been in evidence. This all changed with her centrefold where the soft-focus had been dialled back and Susan was shown in all her glory.
Playboy hadn't quite retired defeated and in January 1976 gave us Daina House indulging in some very un-Playboy like self appreciation.
Daina House has a little feel in January 1976
This was nothing compared with 22 year old French Canadian Laura Favie's pictorial, however. There was no more waiting by Penthouse after pushing a boundry. After Susan Wade's clear pussy centrefold Laura had this full page picture.
In March 1976 we got Playboy's final salvo in the Pubic Wars shape of Anne Pennington. Anne's sister Janice had been one of the first Playmates to show her fur in May 1971. Anne showed a lot more than Janice however, flashing her bits in several photos including this one which would really be the high water mark for Playboy explicitness for many years to come.
Just to show that Playboy wasn't going down without a fight we have Patricia Margot from May 1976 who flashes her bits as well.
Patricia Margot, May 1976
Playboy's Debra Peterson also had some pretty bold poses in June but they were nothing compared to Penthouse's Miss June Anna Grimwood. Anna was an English girl who had been flown to Rome for her pictorial whilst Bob Guccione worked on Caligula there.
Anna Grimwood pictured with Caligula scripwriter Gore vidal and star Malcolm McDowell. They think they're making Art!
In fact, Anna's pictures were taken in Caligula screenwriter Gore Vidal's Rome apartment. It's not clear if Anna appeared in Caligula or not. We suspect not as her pictorial said that the film hadn't started shooting at that point. The other dozen or so Pets who did feature flew out to Rome the following year.
Whatever, Anna's pictorial was the most explicit Penthouse had ever done. She was the first Penthouse Pet to do the pussy from the rear pose and in her rear-end masturbation shot became the first Penthouse girl to show her anus.
Anna's centrefold takes no prisoners
Playboy decided not to compete in this area and the girls who did show a glimpse of their labia disappeared. They only resurfaced in Hefner's magazine in late 1983 and 1984 when Playboy was facing a challenge from cheap pornographic videos for the first time.
For Penthouse 1976 was undoubtedly the year of the pussy culminating in two extreme photographs. Firstly, non-Pet Colleen carney in the August 1976 edition presented what looked very much like Penthouse's first aroused labia.
Suzanne sticks it in
Secondly, in October 1976 Suzanne Saxon was photographed with the tip of her finger actually in her vagina. It would be a long time until even Penthouse was bold enough to try this again.
The final unanswered shot of the Pubic Wars, at the tail end of the seventies, would be from Amber Ramsay, photographed by John Copeland for December (traditionally a Penthouse barrier pushing month) 1978. Petite ballet dancer Amber was photographed squirming around on a staircase and quite unexpectedly had this one shocking shot of her with a pink, wet pussy.
There is probably a need for just one last episode to bring the subject up to date!