Tag Archives: Photography

Ann Peters, a Tease for Mr. Teas

28 Mar

The other week I re-watched Russ Meyer’s The Immoral Mr. Teas and whilst watching I suddenly realised that, out of all the female Meyer alumni, it’s this early part of his career in which the ladies he used I know very little about. So, I’m going to set about undoing this and start doing blog entries over time in which I try to find out as much as I can on those ladies that sometimes get forgotten about over the likes of Tura Satana, Erica Gavin and Kitten Natividad. First up, Ann Peters.

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Peters is one of the models used in Meyer’s aforementioned first feature from 1959. Whilst initially struggling to find models for his film, Peters was bought to the attention of Russ by fellow Hollywood/Glamour photographer Earl Leaf, who regularly used her as a subject. According to Jimmy McDonough in Big Bosoms and Square Jaws, Peters was working as a Vegas showgirl at the time but I can’t find anything online about this. In Teas Ann plays the coffee shop waitress, clad in a low plunging black dress, and pops up again later on in the film as one of the bathing beauties Mr Teas encounters down by the lake. Needless to say she’s absolutely gorgeous, and was apparently Russ’s favourite from the shoot (the dreamy shot of her swaying in a hammock, natural light pouring down on her, is one of my favourite in Meyer’s career). Sadly the two didn’t work together again afterwards.

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A simple internet search will reveal quite a few pin-up shots of Ann, of which I’ve found a fair amount. Alongside Leaf, she was also shot by Guy Tyler of Hollywood, as well as others, no doubt, that I can’t find information on. Some of her magazine credits include Stare (1958), Fling (1958), Men In Danger! (1964), QT (1960s), Modern Man Annual (1963), Tab (1965) and Sable (1959). Below are photographs from my favourite shoot of hers.

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Next to her appearance in Teas, IMDB lists Ann with a few other film credits, including The Fourth Wish (1976), Pink Nights (1985), Erotic Dreams (1988) and Desperate Measures (2011). I can find little else on her life or career but believe she now resides in Adelaide, Australia and runs her own casting company. I’ve tried to get in touch to no avail but I’d love to find out more about her and her experiences so please get in touch if you know anything! Or get in touch yourself Ann!

To finish I’ve included a link to an 8mm stag film that I found of Peters. There’s no title or date but I know that it is one of a few that she did. Another that she starred in, Salvador Dolly, I can’t find online but know that it is included in this DVD compilation. Again Peters looks gorgeous and this loop is a delightful mixture of demure innocence with a dash of knowing playfulness. I love it, and I know that a lot of other people will too.

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Russ Meyer Front Cover – ‘Sensation’ August 1954

17 Mar

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MEYER MONTH – Tempest Storm Pictorial

26 Mar

Burlesque star Tempest Storm was right there in 1952 when Russ Meyer’s cinematic career first began. Storm was a regular performer at the El Ray Burlesk Theater in Oakland, California and Meyer had begun taking pin-up photographs of the dancers there which he then advertised and sold as sets or singles through glamour magazines. His pictorial of Tempest is an early example of the types of angles and shots he would use in his later filmography and the photographs are nothing short of stunning. Storm’s assets are shown off to their full potential, her curves and presence made all the more Amazonian by Meyer shooting her from below. Always one at photographing women well, Meyer makes Storm more than desirable in his pictures which at the time were rather risqué. Below is nearly the entire shoot, minus one or two pictures of which I couldn’t find online. Enjoy!

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MEYER MONTH – Diane Webber Pictorial

18 Mar

Next to his second wife Eve Meyer, my second favourite model of Russ Meyer’s is Diane Webber. Another natural beauty, Webber was more than photogenic with a multitude of photographs showing her instinctive ease at which to pose her body and smile towards the camera. Webber was Playboy‘s Playmate of the Month in May 1955 and February 1956 (under the name Marguerite Empey) with the later pictorial being one of the three centrefolds that Meyer shot for the magazine. According to the photographer, the secret to Webber’s voluptuous beauty at the time was the fact that she was secretly a few months pregnant, making everything just that little bit bigger.

There’s no denying that Meyer’s photographs of Webber are among some of the best in his early, if not entire, photographic career. Just as with Eve, Russ struck lucky with the model (also an avid nudist) and developed a good short partnership that delivered the goods. Aside from stills photography, Webber also featured in one of Meyer’s shorts, This Is My Body, which was shot in 1959. This proved to be the last time that Webber and Meyer worked together (he blamed pregnancy for changing her body). The following pictures are some that I’ve managed to attribute as being taken by Meyer himself (although I can be proven wrong, it’s very difficult to establish as online and some published information either incorrectly credit Meyer as photographer or not credit him at all) but I’m sure that among the plethora of images that come up when searching for Webber a few more are his.

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MEYER MONTH – Eve Meyer Pictorial

4 Mar

There is no denying that Russ Meyer and his second wife Eve made a terrific team. Both knew how to work with each other, both understood their market and both always got the results they wanted. It was their first partnership however that would prove to be the most electric. Eve was a beautiful 50s pin-up, Meyer a talented cheesecake photographer. His pictures of her are the ones that stand out the most amongst his photographic career. It didn’t matter what angle Eve was in, what position, what lighting hit her, in each still Mr. Meyer took, nothing had ever looked more breathtaking. That isn’t to say that Eve was the only model Russ photographed, he continued to snap various models right up until he death, but none of these pictures have the charm, beauty or vitality that the ones of his wife produced. The following photographs are as accurately attributed to Russ Meyer as I could make them but verification in both books and on the internet is tricky. Some of these Russ took and some of these were probably taken by someone else but you get the idea. They just don’t make women like this anymore…

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Russ Meyer’s ‘Lorna’ (1964)

22 Sep

1964, the year of Lorna and the start of director Russ Meyer’s Gothic period and obsession with social redeeming value (aka the morals that make smut acceptable). This black and white beauty, Meyer’s first film shot in 35mm and with live dialogue, marked the end of a successful run of nudie cutie features (The Immoral Mr. Teas, Eve and The Handyman, Erotica) and the beginning of his first ‘proper’ foray into theatrical filmmaking. Opening with a shot that tracks a long winding road, we are suddenly met with a maniacal preacher. Spewing the directors first morality tale, the gentleman asks us ‘Do you know where this road leads?… Do you do unto others as they do to you? Do you judge as others judge?… Pass on… There is no return’. And right he is. There is no return from Lorna.

With the tagline ‘Ever wonder why wives WANDER?’ it’s not too difficult to see where Meyer was going with the narrative. Oft referred to as the female Tom Jones, the story focuses on Lorna (Lorna Maitland), a sexually unsatisfied housewife who is married to nice guy Jim (James Rucker), a miner studying to be a CPA. Jim loves Lorna very much but when it comes to bedroom antics he leaves her completely exasperated. Lorna has to be persuaded to have sex with Jim, and not only reluctantly gives in, but has a face like a slapped arse during and after. Cue a cute monologue where Lorna stares out of the window and expresses her disappointment; ‘I’m a woman, not just a tool’. She dreams of another life, one full of excitement and a lot of topless go-go dancing (real footage of Maitland that would also crop up in films Europe In The Raw! and Mondo Topless, not surprising given that she was a Vegas dancer before the film). Instead, Lorna goes for a nude swim one day and gets raped. But instead of being a victim, the attack finally brings her rampant sexuality to the fore.

And what a town to commit adultery in. The picture was shot in Locke, a depressed town in a run down area of Sacramento, with boarded up shops and grimey bars. This is a town that harbors the worst in people and stifles those that genuinely have some good about them. A real boiling point for morals to play out, it was the perfect environment for Meyer’s melodrama and makes the religious element of sinners being punished seem all the more fitting (apparently an added piece of cinematic insurance so it played well within the Bible Belt). Upon viewing it’s hard to ignore the influence of Italian neo-realism, something that Meyer both acknowledged and dismissed quickly along with other academic theories related to his work. In Meyer’s eyes, it was a melodramatic piece shot in black and white because he couldn’t afford colour film stock. That said, like environments in other Meyer feature films, the location is beautifully shot and incredibly lush; run down shops and small houses juxtaposed with lush lakes and shrubbery.

Cast wise, the feature has some memorable creations made all the more comically large by the actors playing them. James Griffith played the formidable preacher; the bearded and somewhat morally rabid provider of the films prologue and epilogue. Griffith also wrote the screenplay, in four days no less, going on to provide Meyer with the story for Motorpsycho the following year before having a long career in as a supporting actor in film and television. The role of the poor, naive husband Jim is played like a total wet blanket by Rucker. His sin is that he could never satisfy Lorna and by the end of the film you end up feeling both sorry for him and his wife; sympathizing towards his wife because bad sex is bad towards him because he genuinely loves her. The real stand out amongst the crowd in Hal Hopper in the role of Luther, Jim’s sadistic co-worker. So slimy and horrible (watch him rape and beat a woman in the opening fifteen minutes of the film in a scene that sets the moral tone for the rest of the picture) that he steals the role of the villain away from the real rapist himself. With rather menacing eyes and a sickly smile, Hopper doesn’t have to do much to get under your skin and it isn’t remotely surprising that Meyer cast him in Mudhoney in a similar role (what is surprising is that he sung the film’s title theme).

The crown jewel of the entire film though is Lorna herself, played by Barbara Popejoy. Meyer christened her with the name Lorna Maitland when he finally cast her in the film, giving her the name that she would eventually be most known for. It’s not hard to see why the sexploitation director liked Maitland so much. With a 42D bust size and breasts that were swelling even more (to 50 inches) with the hormones of a pregnant woman (Maitland was three months pregnant at the time the film was shot), the star also had the wholesome looks that made her attractive to all sorts of clientele that the film would be watched by. It’s hard to believe that Maitland wasn’t the first choice for the role. Meyer had cast another actress, Maria Andre, whom he had used in Heavenly Bodies at the insistence of Griffith. Maitland had made very little in terms of an impression went she went to the casting call for the picture and it was only thanks to her manager who handed Meyer’s producer wife Eve a few Polaroids of her that she ended up with the gig. Eve eventually found them, the day before they were meant to start shooting, and showed them to Russ who knew instantly that Maitland was the one.

That said, it would seem that Maitland and Meyer never quite saw eye to eye, with both parties apparently hating each other and Maitland being quite vocal about it. Lorna would go on to star in Meyer’s feature Mudhoney which was shot and released the following year, somewhat of an expansion on the themes that were explored in Lorna itself. Not that Meyer seemed to care. He complained and told a large number of people that Maitland’s figure had gone post-pregnancy and that her now 42 inch chest was intolerable due to its sagginess. It seems no love was lost between either of them, just as some states in America found it hard to love Lorna as a picture. It was deemed obscene and prosecuted in Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania, despite making a tonne of money on the Drive-In circuit. Meyer even had his appeal to have the seized print returned to him denied by the Florida Supreme Court who decided that it should be burnt instead. Watching it now is hardly shocking in comparison to subsequently released features but it still packs a punch, a rare mix of remotely genuine emotion, sex and the dark side of morality. One of Meyer’s classics.

Mondo Vixens – Russ Meyer’s Glamour Photography

4 Sep

Anyone interested in Russ Meyer, or more specifically his glamour photography, needs to check out this site which will be posting photographs, pictorials and spreads only attributed to the man himself. If you’re a fan it’ll be well worth keeping an eye out to see images being slowly updated and if you have any of your own that you know were taken by Meyer, please get in touch!