Tag Archives: Playboy

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 – Top Ten Biggest Meyer Girl Bustlines

17 Mar

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HONOURABLE MENTION – June Mack
Unbelievably I can’t find any record of June Mack’s measurements anywhere but it’s safe to say that her enhanced boobs were some of the most unforgettable in all of Russ Meyer’s films. Known for playing Junkyard Sal in Beneath The Valley of the Ultravixens, Mack was murdered shortly after filming finished taking a bullet for a friend.

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HONOURABLE MENTION – Alaina Capri
With a 42E bustline, Capri just misses the top ten by making number eleven. She famously had a misunderstanding with the director and refused to work with him again after he showed much more of her flesh on the big screen then he alluded he would.

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#10 – JUNE WILKINSON – 43E
Naturally busty Wilkinson was shot numerous times by Meyer in the 1950s with many of his photographs gracing the front covers of pin up magazines. Meyer called Wilkinson and asked her to be in his first feature The Immoral Mr. Teas and she accepted, appearing uncredited in a brief cameo in which only her breasts appear.

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#9 – TEMPEST STORM – 44E
Tempest Storm’s naturally conical breasts instantly captivated a young Meyer who took numerous pictorials of the star in the 50s. This eventually led to Meyer shooting her in his first foray into filmmaking, French Peep Show.

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#8 – CYNTHIA MYERS – 39F
One of the best known Playboy playmates of the 1960s, it comes as no surprise that Russ had his eye on Cynthia long before he cast her as Casey in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. During her modelling career she featured on the now infamous front cover of Playboy’s December 1968 issue where she was dressed as a Christmas tree.

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#7 – LORNA MAITLAND – 42F
Lorna Maitland wasn’t the original choice for the lead role in Meyer’s gothic picture Lorna. In fact, Meyer fired the actress originally cast for having too small a bust after he saw photographs of Lorna on the first day of shooting. Maitland was promptly hired.

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#6 – USCHI DIGARD – 44F
Naturally busty Digard found her large boobs attracted a lot of attention and subsequently starred in numerous exploitation films before moving into porn.

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#5 – CANDY SAMPLES – 46F
A prolific pornography star of the 70s and 80s, Samples had cameos in both Up! and Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens.

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#4 – KITTEN NATIVIDAD – 34G
Meyer’s paramour for a long time, Natividad first had implant surgery when she was 21 to aid her Go-Go dancing career. Sadly for Kitten, she had a double mastectomy in 1999 after developing breast cancer. It transpired that the silicone used in her implants was of industrial grade and she has since has corrective surgery.

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#3 – ANNE MARIE – 67 inch bustline
Whilst her exact measurements elude me, there’s no denying that Ann Marie’s eye-popping 67 inch bust is a sight for sore eyes, made all the more impressive by her minuscule waist.

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#2 – DARLENE GREY – 36H
Arguably the most voluptuous girl to have ever appeared in one of Meyer’s films (and yes, they are natural), British Darlene Grey also has the distinction of being rejected by Playboy for being, er… Too big.

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#1 – PANDORA PEAKS – 42J
The older Meyer got, the bigger in size his breast fetish got culminating in his last film and leading lady, Pandora Peaks.

MEYER MONTH – ‘This Is My Body’ (1959)

9 Mar

I’d read about it and seen some stills that Russ Meyer had shot on set but never thought that I might actually see This Is My Body, a ten minute short shot in 1959 by the director. Out of circulation since its original 1960 theatrical release, the short featuring model Diane Webber was never re-released and one part of Meyer’s early career that many people (including the man himself) thought would never again see the light of day. That was until late last year when the Russ Meyer Trust announced the release of a DVD set that featured his early films that had never been released before.

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As part of the Vintage Bodies set, This Is My Body stands out as a beautiful example of Meyer’s early career as a pin-up photographer transcending perfectly from static shots to moving image work. The only time the director ever used sepia film stock, the short benefits largely from its subject Webber. Webber and Meyer had worked together before over the later half of the 1950s, with the latter’s photographs of the former being among some of the best in his career. Meyer shot Webber’s spread when she was Playboy Playmate of the Month in February 1956, looking very curvaceous thanks to her secret early pregnancy. Never one to shy away from being honest, Meyer later moaned that her body was never the same after childbirth and pulled This Is My Body from circulation completely using the postpartum excuse.

Not seen for over fifty years by the pubic, the short definitely isn’t a ‘must-see’ for Meyer fans. It provides no further illumination on his career and as a short with no plot will doubtless be very boring for some viewers (it is essentially Diane Webber sunbathing). But for completists and fans of his nudie-cutie or photography work, the ten minute delight really is a lucky joy to watch considering the Estate’s previous reluctance to shed any light on his early career. Whilst the DVD set it is included in notes that it is digitally restored, it’s unknown whether it is a restoration of an old  existing transfer that Meyer made himself in the past or a direct transfer from an original print (one doesn’t know how many or what original prints the Estate still has left in usable condition, rumours have circulated in the past that things aren’t best looked after). For ten minutes it packs a lot of traits that would eventually recur throughout the rest of the directors filmography; lush natural settings (think gorgeous wood/stream settings  like those in Vixen! and Up!) and an interior monologue of banal, superficial one-liners that can’t help but remind this viewer of Mondo Topless. But being one of Meyer’s biggest fans what more could I ask for? Just being able to watch it is exciting enough. Certainly not for  everyone but a lovely example of  how early on in his cinematic endeavours Meyer mastered his craft.

Todd Rosken’s ‘Up The Valley and Beyond’ (2012)

6 Mar

There’s a beautiful little film that’s spent the last year doing the festival rounds and if you’re a Russ Meyer or sexploitation film fan, it’s well worth seeking out. In fact, it’s well worth seeking out if you’re a film fan in general as this cinematic gem is well shot, well acted, well written and utterly full of charm. Up The Valley and Beyond is a short film, based on the book Russ Meyer, The Life and Films by David K. Frasier (itself one of the best books about the director), dramatically exploring the early stages of the marriage between the legendary filmmaker Russ Meyer and his model wife Eve Turner. Beginning with a great montage of black and white World War II footage highlighting where Meyer had come from (a great minute of editing in which editor Nickolas Perry really creates a sense of how the War was seen by the cameramen who filmed it), the film then bursts into gloriously bright 1950s pop colours and prints and shows how Meyer and Turner first met when he was looking for the ‘right built’ woman, eventually becoming a couple. Director Todd Rosken has struck casting gold with his two leads, Jim Parrack (True Blood, Sal, Battle Los Angeles) and Sarah Jones (Alcatraz, Big Love, Sons of Anarchy) who both pull off the real-life big characters. Parrack in particular is delightful as a younger Meyer, nailing the mannerisms and enthusiasm of the man himself and is a worthy candidate for the lead role in any future Meyer biopic. Equally good is Jones in the role of Eve, a tough woman to imitate and who Jones doesn’t quite nail completely in looks but certainly manages to bring across in fiery character.

The film has played at many major film festivals over the last year including the BFI London Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Shortfest. What makes it stand out is the way in which Rosken and his crew have interpreted Meyer’s sense of  style and substance, creating a playful fifteen minute dramatic homage that lives up to the infamous directors reputation without being too cliché. The one glaring out-of-place moment is the need for Meyer to validate his heterosexuality which no-one really need ever or have ever questioned. Aside from that, the pace of the piece flows extremely well, even if it does feel more like a promo for a feature than a short film.  Director Rosken kindly took some time out to answer a few questions about the film and his inspiration.

Have you always been a Meyer fan?
I remember watching a documentary on Stanley Kubrick and Woody Allen said that the first time he saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, it looked great but he didn’t really get it and didn’t give much thought to it.  Then a friend of his wanted to see it so he decided to see it again and after the second viewing, Mr. Allen realized how far ahead of everyone else Kubrick was and how it changed his perception of what can be done with film.  This is sort of the same thing that happen to me.  The difference being that it was the first time I saw Russ Meyer’s Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens. It was a moment of pure shock that jolted my perceptions of what the art of cinema was.  It was a giant leap forward!  From that point on I was a fan for life. It was after that that I did further research on his films and life.

Where did the original idea for the short come from?
The short film is just a snapshot from one of the many themes further explored in the feature length screenplay. The feature screenplay is based on more than twenty hours of video taped interviews with Russ’ closest friends, cast and crew members including Kitten Natividad, Tura Satana, Erica Gavin, Hugh Hefner and Roger Ebert. The screenplay is also based on a prodigious amount of periodical research (articles from the 1950’s-current) and a book titled Russ Meyer – The Life and Films by David K. Frasier. Making a short film can be just as complex as a feature film. There are no rules… but we wanted to have some type of conflict and resolution. So we decided to focus on the early part of russ’ life as a glamour photographer.

What was it about the period in time of his life that you chose for the shorts subject that interested you?
Being in the army during WWII was Meyer’s favourite time.  The late forties and early fifties was also a time of discovery and invention in America.  Disneyland opens, colour TV was introduced, first atomic submarine launched and the first Playboy magazine published.  It was the time when Russ Meyer met Eve Turner and decided to transition from glamour photographer to filmmaker. It was the beginning of love and his life as a filmmaker.

Is any of the footage during the War montage at the beginning attributed to Meyer at all?
I would love to be able to say that the archival war footage used in the opening montage was footage that Meyer shot, but due to time and budgetary constraints, we had to choose other WWII footage. Creating the opening montage was a huge task! Nazi music, narration and wintage titles… It was like making a movie within a movie. My editor Nickolas Perry, who is also a brilliant director, was able to construct the one minute montage from hours of archival footage that I selected from various sources. There are a couple of shots that bear an uncanny resemblance to Meyer himself. Maybe it’s him?

Love is certainly the word that springs to mind when discussing Russ and Eve specifically. How did you go about tackling their relationship to condense it down for the general feel of the short?
Based on interviews that me and my writing partner, Bobby D. Lux, conducted and periodical research, we were able to see that this was a true and meaningful love that was shared between Russ and Eve.  In the short film we show their love just starting to blossom.

What is it about the filmmaker for you personally that makes him so captivating?
Russ created his own cinematic language.  I think the highest level of achievement for any artist is to create their own aesthetic and Russ did so masterfully . Although he had brilliant and amazing people working with him such as Anthony-James Ryan and Richard Brummer, Russ directed, wrote, produced, shot, and edited all of his films.  He was the personification of what it is to be an auteur (the author of his own work).  In an industry where decision by committee is the norm, Russ was the lightning rod for true independent film making.  Russ Meyer challenged perceptions, broke boundaries, and never failed to entertain!

After doing a bit of research, how did your impressions of him change?
After scouring over everything that has ever been written about the man, my impressions of him didn’t change.  I was able to perhaps understand how he developed his obsession (anyone familiar with Russ knows what that is!) and his style as a filmmaker. Russ’ film making technique was an amalgam of his prior experiences as a  cinematographer in WWII and as an industrial filmmaker. Russ was able to incorporate his experiences flawlessly which gave his films their unique style.

How did you get Parrack and Jones on board?
My casting agent sent the script to their agent who repped both of them at the time. He loved it and gave the script to Jim and Sarah. I met with each of them to discuss the film.  After we did a screen test there was no one else I wanted to audition.  They nailed it! They both brought so much to the filming process and inspired me the whole time. I wouldn’t have been able to make the film without them.

Did you give them any research materials or let them do their own interpretations?
I did give them research materials such as pictures and interviews. I think their performances were original and organic. 

Are you interested in further exploring a feature?
Yes.

How is progress with that coming along?
We have been focusing our attention on the festival circuit but will start contacting producers soon. You can see the trailer for the short film below and on the website www.upthevalleyandbeyond.com.

‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ (2008)

31 Jan

Whilst a certain percentage of stalkers might not really come under the banner of ‘horror’, there are certainly a few that are more than a bit scary. Documentary I Think We’re Alone Now (2008) showcases two huge fans of the 1980s pop-star Tiffany, fifty year old Jeff Turner and thirty-eight year old Kelly McCormick, as they reveal just how much they love the singer.

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There are elements of the picture that certainly come across as rather scary but the overwhelming feeling that you are left with is one of sincere sadness. Jeff Turner has aspergers syndrome, has never had a girlfriend and has clearly struggled to make friends or maintain few existing relationships long enough to really last. Yet Turner is convinced that spiritually him and Tiffany have some sort of pseudo relationship and that she loves him (her Playboy shot was a ‘silent gesture of her love for him’ because she is married according to Jeff…). Turner was once arrested for trying to give Tiffany chrysanthemums and a samurai sword and was ordered to stay away from her on another occasion for three years. He also uses a radionics machine to spiritually communicate with the singer.  As we walk around his house we see stacks of magazines and cuttings related to the redhead and Turner constantly refers to her as ‘his close friend’. The truth is he isn’t and its very easy to see why a seventeen year old Tiffany would have been scared shitless of him in the late 80s. Whilst it is very hard to completely empathise with a scenario that you really do not know anything about, it does seem that the media has sensationalized and labelled Turner as a stalker in somewhat of a derogatory way. Whilst he does seem very obsessive (and one can understand why you’d be a bit terrified if someone you didn’t know showed up out of nowhere to give you a sword whilst professing their love for you), he does come across as nothing more than a big softie – an honest fan that happens to know a lot. During the documentary itself we see the singer give him a lot of time, something the director Sean Donnelly feels Tiffany may have come to peace with the older she has become.

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Stalker number two, Kelly McCormick, is a different kettle of fish altogether. Someone who identifies herself as intersex (although would seem to be a woman trapped in a man’s body as opposed to having some form of hermaphrodism) and has clearly faced many difficulties in her life. McCormick isn’t just a fan, she is in love with Tiffany and believes they are destined to be together. What makes her all the more of an interesting case is that she is mentally and emotionally unstable (she refers to it as a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she was involved in an accident which left her in a coma and felt she was visited by Tiffany herself which led to her waking up) and far more psychosexually and emotionally involved with her Tiffany obsession than Turner. McCormick appears more than unhinged on a few occasions and I feel that this is where some claims of  exploitation of the director’s part arise from. Whilst one can understand why people might view it that way, I think Kelly’s behaviour, at times, speaks for itself and she probably doesn’t do herself any justice in her behaviour and beliefs. That said, one can’t help but feel like she shouldn’t be a part of a documentary with this sort of focus, rather seeking help or being helped in a more proactive way.

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Creepy feelings aside, I Think We’re Alone Now is a great portrait of just how much some people can really touch our lives and make a difference in way’s that they might not expect. Whilst serious stalkers are dangerous, it’s not hard to admire the fact both McCormick and Turner have stayed such loyal fans for so long in an industry that is incredibly fickle at times. Without fans, where would many people in this world really be….?

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!

The Marvelous Mrs. Meyer – Eve Turner (1928-1977)

9 Aug

Behind every successful man, there is a woman. Director Russ Meyer had three wives in his lifetime but it was his second wife, Eve Meyer (nee Turner), who really stands out from the crowd. Russ and Eve were a hardworking team, one that knew how to work with and bring out the best in each other. Even after they divorced, Eve remained a formidable force in his life. She was his original pin-up queen, the star of one of his films, the producer of countless others and a savvy business woman who knew how to deal with the sexploitation film market as much as her husband did. Eve Meyer, one of a kind.

Evelyn Eugene Turner was born into the world on December 13th 1928 in Atlanta, Georgia. After working a while for Western Union she was eventually transferred to San Francisco where she became a legal secretary for Pepsi.  Turner always knew she could handle men and match them as an equal, being a great poker player and having a keen interest in fishing. She also has a vivacious sexual appetite, once even throwing Russ Meyer out of her house after a date when he (of all people!) suggested that they wait until their wedding night! A woman ahead of her time, her friend once said of her, ‘Eve was the first person that I ever saw wear pants and heels’.

As soon as Meyer set his eyes on Turner he knew she was the one for him. With a bust described as ‘conically maddening’ (a good thing for our breast loving director), Russ admitted that he knew he’d marry her the minute they’d met and he’d even go on to name his filmmaking company Eve Productions. She was the secretary of a lawyer, he was a divorce client of the said lawyer. He was given her number and the rest is history. After a tempestuous engagement, the two were married on August 2nd 1952 in San Francisco.

Eve was an incredibly beautiful woman and it wouldn’t take long for her to become a pin-up superstar in front of Russ’s camera. Her looks photographed well and her personality shone through in all her pictures; a woman that was able to be a girl-next-door one minute and a sultry vamp the next, Monroe crossed with Turner and then some. She already had some modelling experience behind her when she first met Russ, but it would take him months of persuasion to try to get her to pose for him. It’s not surprising that she eventually became one of the most popular pin-up models of the 1950s, constantly appearing in magazines like Adam, Fling, Modern Man and Frolic. Mr. Meyer even told stories that actress Ava Gardner had the hots for Eve (Mrs. Meyer accompanied her husband on one of his early jobs as a studio stills photographer and Gardner was his first assignment). In 1955, Eve appeared in Playboy as Miss June, in a fantastic spread photographed by her husband. The pictorial is electric and the gatefold in particular is more arousing then any porno picture I’ve seen that’s been shot in the last twenty years or so. The spread featured Eve by the fireplace, wearing a sheer gown that shows just about the right amount, with a look on her face that screams ‘Well, are you gonna come get it or not?’. I have always maintained that she was and is one of the most beautiful creatures to have ever graced this Earth, this spread being proof (a nice selection of some more gorgeous photographs from across her career can be found here).

Not content with being just a model, Eve also did some film work, predominantly working again for Russ in front of the camera. In 1954 or 1955 (dates vary according to sources) Eve starred in Russ’s first involvement within the exploitation movie business, an expose on abortion entitled The Desperate Women. Circling around innocent women and a shady backstreet abortionist (a clichéd character that Meyer revived for his studio picture Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in 1970), the posters showed an angst ridden Eve under the tagline ‘Shall I Take The ‘Easy’ Way Out?’. An uncredited role followed in 1955 as a model in Artists And Models and four years later Eve landed a lead role in war drama Operation Dames aka Girls In Action (1959). Difficult to find on home video format, the only video I’ve seen (posted below) shows that she is just as good in this as she was in her later picture with her husband, her natural good looks standing out and her enviable figure making more than an impression.


It would be Russ Meyer’s 1960 release Eve and The Handyman which saw Eve finally become her husband’s moving-image muse. Eve had been upset that Russ had ignored her whilst filming The Immoral Mr. Teas. Used to working as a team, Eve wasn’t the star in his first feature and was upset that some of the interiors were filmed inside the couples actual home. Russ made up for it by writing his second feature for his wife and, wow, does she shine in it. Using the scenes like Playboy photo shoot set-ups, Eve looks beautiful as she marches around in a trench coat and underwear following the Handyman, played by long-term Meyer friend Anthony James Ryan. By this point already used to Russ’s way of directing and shooting, Eve is one of the few women most comfortable in front of the directors camera throughout his entire filmography. The two could really work well together and it shows. He knows all the right angles to film her at and she knows just what the camera, and audience, are after. It’s just a shame that Handyman would be her last acting role. God knows where she would have gone had Meyer used her as an actress over and over.

It wasn’t just in front of the camera that Eve felt comfortable but behind it too. When Russ Meyer ran into trouble with Bill Teas over the distribution of sexploitation classic The Immoral Mr. Teas (the distribution of which Eve oversaw), it was his wife who came to the rescue, buying Teas out of his 2% share in the film. She also accompanied him to Europe in 1963 to help him shoot the footage that would comprise Europe In The Raw and eventually show up in a recycled form in Mondo Topless. She put up half of the bankroll for the production of Mudhoney. It’s no secret that she hated Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and had to be talked into co-financing it, only for it to bomb on release and drain Eve Productions dry. Eve even bailed out Russ during the production of Vixen! after he ran out of money, a bail out which saw very hefty returns in profit. Basically put, no Eve, no sexploitation/cult film classics from the 1960s. In total she produced fourteen of her husbands films, both his independent and studio releases. What do you expect from the girl who learnt to develop photographs so she could develop her husbands own pictures of her!

Once things started heating up for Russ in the mid-sixties, things in his marriage began to cool down. Eve reportedly didn’t like the direction his career was going in and was terrified of him getting involved with other women. Eve also began to drink, and by drink I mean really drink, which Russ detested. The two eventually divorced in 1968. An amicable separation (apparently even using the same attorney), the two still remained friends up until Eve’s tragic death in 1977. She was the distributer of all Russ’s films and produced a significant number of them after their divorce, including the studio pictures made under 20th Century Fox. Ever the savvy businesswoman, in 1970 she sold the entire catalogue of Meyer’s films to Optronics Laboratories for home video viewing. In 1971 she produced her only non-Meyer feature, The Jesus Trip, a drug/religion drama that involved motorbikes concealing heroin and a nun that doesn’t know whether she wants love or the Church. In 1975 there was a rumour that Eve was planning to write a book about her years collaborating with Russ that was to be titled This Doll Was Not X-Rated. Sadly the book never materialised but one wonders that it might have been full of juicy stories about the pair.

Eve Meyer died on March 27th 1977 in one of the deadliest aviation accidents in history. Arriving in the Canary Islands from Los Angeles for a holiday, Meyer’s plane was hit by another Boeing aircraft. Due to dense fog along the runway, neither plane nor Air Traffic Control could see that two planes were about to collide. In total, 583 people died with one plane being wiped out in its entirety. Despite their divorce, Russ was reportedly beside himself.

There is no doubting that Russ and Eve were meant for each other and loved one another very much. Not that their marriage was an easy one, with a fair few infidelities on Mr. Meyer’s part and a few alleged lesbian dalliances on Mrs. Meyer’s side. She also wanted children, whilst he was adamant that a family would only get in the way of his career. During the shoot for Lorna, Eve checked herself into a hospital for an unknown infection. Her words to Russ when he finally visited her were apparently ‘I can never have a baby, now. I hope you’re satisfied’. God knows how Eve would have felt if she found out that Russ actually had an illegitimate son with one of his starring ladies. No doubt their explosive marriage would have been far shorter. Differences aside, the two were a force to be reckoned with. Each knew the best in each other, what the audience wanted and how to deal with the business side of things. It’s hardly surprising that Russ Meyer’s most successful years were those with Eve at his side, whether it be as his muse, producer, wife or business partner. Whilst the world of sexploitation owes a lot to Russ, it seems that he couldn’t have done it without Eve.

Eve Meyer, one of a kind.