Robert Palmer: The Genesis & Downfall of Music Videos

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Like all arm chair pundits, I have a theory. And that theory is that Robert Palmer is both the genesis and downfall of music videos. His late 1980s double punch of Addicted To Love and Simply Irresistible signposted the fact that even if the song was kind of shit, if you made the video entertaining enough eventually people will enjoy it by osmosis.

By one of the models from the former video’s admission, Addicted To Love had originally been released without a video and had “bombed”, so the record company were “…taking a big financial risk by re-releasing it”.

record-label-structure

In my mind, I imagine the publicity guys and artist development monkeys sitting around a large oval table listening to Addicted to Love on a Technics tape deck and half-heartedly bobbing their heads in effort to show they’re hip, or at the very least have a semblance of rhythm. Half way through the song an older gentleman abruptly turns it off, turns to the assembled gathering of coked up executives and reasonably asks, “So, how are we going to baste this turkey”?

After much hyperbole, shrugging of shoulders and exasperated denials of ever having been the one to sign him, one magnificently cynical bastard who had remained silently slumped in the back of his Eames chair throughout the meeting speaks up, “I know how to fix this”.

“How”? The remainder of the meeting eagerly reply in unison.

“One word. Titty”.

And the modern music video was born.

https://vimeo.com/123349432

Addicted To Love

The video for Addicted to Love features a bunch of girls that looked like they walked straight out of a Helmut Newton photo shoot, masquerading as Robert Palmer’s Band. All online resources state they were based on artwork done by Patrick Nagel who was an American artist who principally drew pictures for Playboy, designed the cover for Duran Duran’s Rio album and in an ironic twist of fate, would later die from a heart attack after appearing in a celebrity aerobathon to benefit the American Heart Foundation. However personally, I feel the look of the women in the video is almost completely and utterly based on Helmut Newton’s much copied fashion photography of the time.

Newton 1 Newton 2

According to an interview done by Marc Nobleman, the models were paid between £250 – £500 each and the clip was shot in a day in a studio in London. In case you think Mr Palmer got his mack on though, apparently his wife was on set the whole time and he was somewhat in awe of the statuesque models and rarely made conversation with them.

Both clips were directed by famed 1960s fashion photographer Terrance Donovan who was a contemporary of David Bailey and supplied the models with both wine (for mood) and a musician (in an attempt to teach them rudimentary music playing techniques). According to one of the girls featured in the video, the brief from Terence Donovan was to look like shop window mannequins.

12. 11. 10. 09. 08. 07. 06. 05. 04. 14.

13.

The marketing department at EMI Records was not the first to make use of window dressing in such a fashion. Oh wait, yes they were… for EMI Records was also responsible for Duran Duran’s groundbreaking video for Girl’s on Film.

https://vimeo.com/97471561

GoF1 GoF2 GoF3 GoF4 GoF5 GoF6 GoF7

Girls on Film featured actual titty and various exaggerated fetishes and fantasies, but unlike Addicted To Love and Simply Irresistible was not meant to play to middle America via MTV (having been made several weeks before that station’s launch) and is much better for that fact.

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Untimately, what these Robert Palmer videos demonstrated was the song’s quality did not matter. If you put soft core porn in it, people… well guys anyway, will watch it nonetheless and the tune will gain traction via stealth.

As the song itself says, “The methods are inscrutable. The proof is irrefutable”.

The real legacy of Simply Irresistible and Addicted to Love is to tone the Girls on Film concept down and make it acceptable enough to get airplay anywhere in the world and thus create a hit tune in the process. It would soon inspire both parody and plagiarism in almost equal measure.

Indeed, within a year, emerging Delicious Vinyl talent Tone Loc unleashed Wild Thing with the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=387ZDGSKVSg

Tone Loc - Wild Thing4 Tone Loc - Wild Thing3 Tone Loc - Wild Thing2 Tone Loc - Wild Thing

And Madonna, who always knew sex sold, put out Justify My Love

Justify My Love3 Justify My Love

Before you knew what was happening, artists like Sir Mix A Lot were embracing the trend with tracks like Baby Got Back

Baby Got Back3 Baby Got Back2 Baby Got Back

And the East Coast Versus West Rivalry was only so much smoke blown up the asses of the models in Ma$e’s Feel So Good video.

Ma$e_1

Ma$e_2

By the late 1990s music executives realised the only way to make any one listen to someone as untalented as Britney Spears was to dress her up as a slutty school girl and make videos like Baby One More Time

Baby1MoreTime_2

Baby1MoreTime_3 Baby1MoreTime_1

And Christina Aguilera possibly sought to reverse that trend with her video for Dirty – but likely did the opposite.

Christina Agulera – Dirty

The fact that this strategy works is borne out in the fact that women don’t seem to give a shit if they’re objectified to get sales. So we get stuff like Single Ladies by Beyonce which on the surface is some oblique tale of female empowerment (albeit dictated by getting married) which is demonstrated by a video showing her gyrating around with two other women while they slap their own asses.

Beyonce I Beyonce 2

Beyonce 4 Beyonce 3

And inevitably, the scale slides back towards baser instincts and we start getting videos such as Ludacis’ Pussy Poppin’.

Ludacris - Pussy Poppin2 Ludacris - Pussy Poppin

And Nelly’s Tip Drill

Nelly Tip Drill

And Eric Pryce’s Call On Me

ERIC PYRZE – Call On Me2 x

ERIC PYRZE – Call On Me

ERIC PYRZE – Call On Me3

Until finally, indeed inevitably we reach what all music videos will ultimately become given half a chance…

Doggy Style

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Victor Lownes: An American Playboy In London

A belated Happy New Year to any and all readers of The Eastern Terraces. I apologise for the dearth of new material late last year as I and fellow contributor Gunter Sacks were consumed by personal and professional requirements. I hope to redress that slightly with an article on one of the twentieth century’s greatest bon vivants and entrepreneurial visionaries…Victor Aubrey Lownes III.

Born in 1928 to wealthy parents in Buffalo New York, he and his family later moved to Florida. At the age of 12 he accidently shot and killed a friend of his and was sent to a military school to make amends. Moving quickly he married at 18 and had two children, before having a spiritual crisis in his late 20s which prompted him to abandon his family, embrace hedonism and move to Chicago to complete an MBA.

Not long after graduation, he met Hugh Hefner at a party and offered to contribute a few articles to the burgeoning Playboy magazine due to his endorsement and personal belief in the Playboy lifestyle (i.e. women, celebrities and the finer things in life). By the end of 1955 he was employed full time as a promotions manager and whilst attempting to improve Playboy’s bottom line and in light of reader response to an article about a key club in Chicago, came up with the idea of the Playboy Club.

Hefner and Lownes Circa 1966

Not knowing much about the restaurant/club scene Hefner and Lownes turned to Arnold Morton who had a local joint in Chicago called Walton Walk where they used to go and to troll for women. Morton who later went on to found the Morton’s steakhouse chain, agreed with Lownes that the bunny logo which featured so prominently in the magazine would be the best costume for the women who worked in the club. Lowne’s girlfriend at the time, a Latvian immigrant named Ilse Taurins offered to have her mother knock up an example, which Hefner modified further to include the cuffs and collar as well as a higher cut to reveal more of the wearer’s thighs.

A recruitment drive yielded many willing girls eager to become bunnies, and John T. Slania in his 2011 article The Real Playboy Club notes that, “Hefner and Lownes were afflicted with the Madonna-whore complex, seeking young women with a ‘girl-next-door’ face and a voluptious figure. Those lucky enough to be selected were asked their measurements and given a Bunny costume two sizes smaller”. 

Recruitment Advertisement for Chicago Playboy Club

Lownes came up with other ideas to help make the venture profitable such as the Camera Bunny who would take pictures of customers with a Polaroid camera and then request payment. Although the official fee for a photo was only 5 cents, if the subject of the picture paid only that much they would look bad in front of other guests, so many used to pay $10 or $100 for the cheap photographs in order to impress people or try and hook the bunny photographer herself.

Whilst the bunnies were resolutely not allowed to date customers (mainly to avoid accusations of prostitution), they were permitted to date ‘C1’ key holders which were basically Playboy executives (such as Lownes and Hefner) as well as visiting celebrity guests. Former London Bunny Elaine Murray recalls that Lownes “…wouldn’t warn you about himself! He wouldn’t say, “Don’t come to one of my parties!”

Page of the Bunny Manual distributed to Employees Warning of the Dangers of Mingling

International Playboy Key Card

In addition to his frequent ideas and business acumen, he was also in charge of booking the entertainment and would sometimes book them sight unseen based on Variety reviews or word of mouth. In 1961 the Playboy Club had Dick Gregory perform marking the first time a black comedian performed in front of a white audience. He also purportedly discovered Barbara Streisand and gave Aretha Franklin one of her first paying gigs.

Towards the end of 1963, Lownes travelled to London to establish the Playboy Club Casino and Clermont Club. Apparently, Lownes’ leaving of Chicago was quite rushed and his relationship with an underage television star helped decide his departure. He set up home in fashionable Montpelier Square opposite Harrods and began entertaining A-list celebrities such as Peter Sellers, Tony Curtis, Telly Savalas and Shirley MacClaine there, making himself a fixture of London’s increasingly diverse social scene.

The first British Playboy Bunny Dolly Read (who later went on to star in Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley of the Dolls) describes meeting Lownes after he tried to date her roommate:

“She had plans, but I didn’t, so he invited me to a lavish dinner at the Dorchester Hotel hosted by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. During dinner Victor told me that he was leaving for Chicago the following Monday and asked if I would like to join him… But I had no visa, only my British passport. Victor told me to be at his flat Monday morning, packed and ready to leave, and he would take care of everything.

“I showed up on his doorstep with a suitcase at 9am. Victor was in bed dictating letters to his secretary. My immediate thought was that he had only been bluffing, but off we went to the American Embassy, where Victor claimed I was his fiancée and he wanted to take me to America to meet his son.

“We left London that day.

“Within the week I discovered that Victor was cheating on me, sneaking down to the swimming pool (in the Playboy Mansion) with another girl in the middle of the night. But he was so charming, he could get away with anything.  When I accompanied Victor to the opening of the Boston Club, we flew up from New York in a small chartered craft. It was snowing heavily. By the time we reached Boston we were in a fierce storm. The airport was closed. When Victor heard we had been refused landing permission, he demanded that the pilot tell air traffic control that we were running out of fuel.  We were allowed to land and made it to the Boston Club in time for the opening”.

Victor Lownes Circa 1967 (Still taken from ‘Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London’)

As people from Europe and beyond began to gravitate towards London’s ever more famous swinging scene, he opened the seven storey tall Walter Gropious designed London Playboy Club at 44 Park Lane in Mayfair with backing from a wealthy Kuwaiti businessman named Bader Al Mulla and assistance from his second in command Tony Roma (who went on to open his own chain of rib restaurants). It directly overlooked Hyde Park and key cards were presold at 5 pounds a piece. The club featured restaurants, a nightclub and apartments and suites available to rent by the day, month or week to members. Attending the opening night were actors Sidney Poitier, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress and Laurence Harvey, directors like Roman Polanski and Michelangelo Antonioni as well as upper crust socialites such as Lee Radziwill (re-christened Princess Radish by Keith Richards when she later latched on to the Stones 1970s tour scene).

Woody Allen at the Opening Party  for the London Playboy Club 1966

Rodolf Nureyev and Princess Radzillwill at the Opening Party 1966

Jean Paul Belmondo and Ursula Andress at the Opening Party 1966

Unlike the American Clubs, the London Club benefited from Britain’s recent changes to gambling laws and large proportion of the venue was devoted to gambling and featured Bunny croupiers and games such as roulette and blackjack.  This understandably made the London Club the jewel in the crown of the Playboy empire and contributed enormously to the firms bottom line. The fact that London was regarded as the centre of the world at that time also ensured its visibility and helped provide it with an aura of cool that was enhanced by visits from one of the Beatles or Terrance Stamp. Woody Allen in addition to opening the club, fondly recalls gambling there (whilst making Casino Royale) with the cast of the Dirty Dozen (including Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and John Casavettes).

Gambling in the London Playboy Club Circa 1967

The Exterior of the London Playboy Club at 44 Park Lane, Mayfair

Another Exterior Shot of the London Playboy Club at 44 Park Lane, Mayfair

Playmates Cavorting on the Roof of the London Playboy Club Circa 1969

Indeed, socialising with celebrities was one of the tenets of the Playboy mystique and Lownes as its highest paid executive was more than able to demonstrate the lifestyle the Club’s members aspired to. Not wanting to socialise with the patrons of his own venue (and indeed not spending much time within its confines), he instead went skiing in St Moritz, hung out in the south of France and became the centre of a groovy group of like minded hep cats (known as the Ad Lib set after the club they frequented) that included Warren Beatty, David Bailey and Roman Polanski.

Sinatra at the London Playboy Club Circa 1966 (Check Where His Eyes Are Going…)

Famed Critic and Writer Kenneth Tynan (who co-wrote Polanski’s adaptation of Macbeth) at the London Playboy Club

Lownes met Polanski at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, welcomed him into his social circle and according to Christopher Sanford’s biography of Polanski introduced him to LSD. The night before Polanski married Sharon Tate, Lownes threw him a bachelor party. Attending along with the likes of Michael Caine, Terrance Stamp and Richard Harris, was Iain Quarrier an actor who had appeared in Polanski’s 1966 movie Cul-de-sac and 1967’s Dance of the Vampires. He recalled the scene in the book Diary of a Teddy Boy by Mim Scala:

“At this time Roman Polanski was getting married to the beautiful Sharon Tate, and Victor Lownes offered to host his stag-night at the Playboy Club and later at Victor’s town house. The guests included Richard Harris, Terence Stamp, Michael Caine, Steve McQueen, Warren Beatty, Harry Baird, Gene Gutowski and myself.

Our party started off in the normal fashion, drinks, a joint or two, small talk. We all knew each other pretty well. We were being waited on by the pick of the Playboy Bunnies and a dozen other gorgeous girls. The higher and drunker we got, the more outrageous the party became. I was sharing the sauna with Michael Caine and Gene Gutowski, and several of the girls, when the door opened and Richard Harris (drunkenly) staggered in. We all carried on with what we were doing. ‘Come on you filthy bastards, come with me. I know where the real action is’– whereupon he staggered out of the heat. Michael, Gene and I were not about to leave. As morning came and Roman had to prepare for his wedding, we discovered what had happened to Richard. He had burgled Sharon’s hen party (bachelorette party), the only male present at that gathering of about twenty of the most beautiful girls in London. He was unable to remember a thing.”

Iain Quierrier Hiding Behind The Far Prettier Jane Birkin

Polish-American producer Gene Gutowski in his own book, With Balls and Chutzpah: A Story of Survival remembered the party beginning to get boring when, “… a flock of beautiful girls invaded the house giving the party new life, so to speak. Soon everybody had paired off and, while observing the action in various rooms, I got to the top floor where there was a sauna. To my amazement I found inside, oblivious to the heat and steam, there were three couples busy making love. I was alarmed and worried that they may die in there so I managed to pull out one couple. The others told me to fuck off and mind my own business. “

Tate & Polanski Wedding Reception At The London Playboy Club 1968                (17th Century Style Cravats Seemingly Optional)

Sharon Tate & Roman Polanski Wedding Reception At The London Playboy Club January 1968

David Bailey’s Photographic Interpretation of Their Honeymoon

Following the wedding the next day, Lownes again provided the location to party by holding the wedding reception for the happy couple and hundreds of attendees at the Playboy Club until 5am. He was later given a solid gold 22 carat penis statue by way of thanks by Polanski for his hosting duties, which was duly displayed in a glass cabinet and a party given to ceremoniously celebrate its arrival. This golden cock was later returned to Polanski following the acrimony that developed during the financing and production of 1972’s Playboy funded film of Macbeth with a note that read, “In view of recent developments, I no longer care to have this full sized, life sized portrait of you around the house. I am sure you’ll have no difficulty finding some ‘friend’ you can shove it up”.

For in addition to characteristically running way over budget and schedule during the filming of the Macbeth picture, during an interview with the London Evening Standard held at the London Playboy Club, Polanski remarked that “he doesn’t really like it here” (i.e. the club). When asked by the interviewer why he then accepted financing from Playboy Enterprises, he quipped that “…money doesn’t smell”. Upon reading the interview, Lownes was livid and ex-communicated Polanski for a decade.

Lownes Introducing Princess Anne To Polanski at the Macbeth Premiere February 1972

Prior to this however, they were great friends, with Lownes reportedly organising an emergency visa to enable him to immediately fly  to the US when news of Sharon Tate’s murder broke, accompanying him on skiing trips and partying together around the world.

Lownes Helping Polanski Get on The Plane At Heathrow in the Immediate Aftermath of the Tate/Manson Killings August 1969

Lownes was also a frequent visitor to the World Psychedelic Centre (WPC) run from an apartment in Belgravia. The WPC was set up and run by a man named Michael Hollishead who had ‘worked’ with Tim Leary in upstate New York turning people on to acid. In his flat lined with rugs and pillows, Hollishead attempted to turn on as many influential people as he could to the enlightenment of LSD in an attempt to facilitate debate and discussion of the still legal drug before it inevitably got banned. Tastemakers and scenesters used to frequently drop by such as Christopher Gibbs, Robert Fraser, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and William Burroughs amongst others and Lownes accompanied many visiting Americans. Lownes not only introduced Polanski to acid, he also turned on his dentist… who in turn dosed his famous patients John Lennon and George Harrison who immortalised him on the 1966s Revolver track ‘Dr Robert’.

Revolver Side 2 – Featuring Doctor Robert

It seems you cannot be a big man in England and not own a country pile (no pun intended). Mick Jagger had Stargroves, Jimmy Page had Boleskin House and Michael Caine owned Old Mill House. So in 1972 Lownes purchased ‘Stocks’, a 42 room Georgian style mansion in Hertfordshire with 19 bedrooms, 4 cottages, several outbuildings and a stable. As soon as he had settled, he installed the largest Jacuzzi in England within the house, made it the centre for bunny training and began hosting lavish parties such as a 25 hour party to celebrate 25 years of Playboy. Regular visitors to his home included actor Peter Sellers, Polanski, comedian Peter Cook and members of Monty Python such as John Cleese (who’s Now For Something Completely Different film Lownes went on to produce) .

Distant Shot of Stocks

Stocks in All Its Sepia Tinged Glory

Serena Williams who was a London Playboy Bunny at the time recollects, “At the weekends I used to go to house parties at Victor Lownes’ mansion, Stocks, in Hertfordshire. They were pretty wild. I’ll never forget being at one of Victor’s parties when the news broke that Sharon Tate had been killed. Victor had financed a few of [her husband, Roman] Polanski’s films, and they were good friends. Everyone was very shocked and sad.”

Donald von Wiedenman in a 1971 Time Magazine article describes Lownes as having boxes of poppers (amyl nitrate) in very room of his house, even in the kitchen and according to Peter Cook’s then wife she was not happy about her husband’s visits. “… But I put aside my displeasure a month later when Peter said he had found a place for us not far from Stocks. He looked pleased, saying: ‘I’ve got us the perfect cottage, and I can go to Stocks for the weekend and then come and see you. It’s all sorted.”

By operating the Bunny training school from the mansion, Lownes also saw to it that most of the costs of running such a large stately home were covered as operating expenses of Playboy Enterprises and there were always heaps of hot women around. This enabled him to be able to bed as many as 5 women a day as he would spot them training and turn his attentions towards the ones he liked.

Playmate Marilyn Cole (who also featured on the cover of Roxy music’s ‘Stranded’ album) remembers, “I moved into a bedsit in Muswell Hill and started training. Days later, after Victor Lownes had noticed me in the club, I was chauffeur-driven to his house at 1 Connaught Square to be test photographed for Playboy.

As soon as I entered the house I knew I’d arrived at the home of someone very sexy. Erotic works by Egon Schiele, Balthus and Francis Bacon lined the walls; my eyes were on stalks, not that I knew who they were by, of course.

In those days I didn’t know much, although I had worked out that I would have to take my clothes off for the photos, and I did, while making an effort to put on a sexy act I wasn’t really feeling. Next thing I knew I was on the plane to Chicago, where I became the first ever full-frontal playmate.

That issue of Playboy sold seven million copies. My life turned into a huge pink blob of Playboy prizes and promotions and merchandise. I started going out with Hugh Hefner, and then Victor. In those days everybody went out with whoever they wanted to. We didn’t realise it then but we were at the vanguard of the sexual revolution.”

Marilyn Cole Unleashes The Fuzz Circa 1972

Marilyn Cole Performing Her Bunny Duties

Marilyn Cole As Featured on Roxy Music’s ‘Stranded’ Album

The mansion was later featured on the album cover of Oasis’ “Be Here Now and also used as the background for the Madness video of ‘It Must Be Love’.

Lownes and Comedian Kenny Lynch See In the New Year at Stocks 1980/1981

Lownes at a Party at Stocks (and Presumbably on The Sauce Given The Hat)

Stocks As Featured On The Cover of Oasis’ ‘Be Here Now’ Album

In the late 1970s Playboy’s gambling business was still going strong, catering mainly to Middle Eastern men and Iranians in particular. This business would see a decline after the 1979 Iranian revolution, leading Lownes to comment that ‘Petrodollars were flowing a little less freely than hitherto’.

Victor Lownes Circa 1979 (In a Photo Obviously Pinched From the Web)

The competition for casino dollars lead to rivalry between various competitors on the London gambling scene and when licence renewals were being handed out, Playboy objected to the granting of them to one of their competitors, the Ladbroke Group, accusing them of having sent employees and private detectives to their operations to illegally recruit customers. British law prohibited the inducement of gambling clientele and these accusations likely cost them the right to operate. The government’s refusal to grant Ladbrokes a licence created a strong enmity between that firm and Playboy Enterprises and a significant amount of antipathy was personally directed towards Lownes by the CEO of Ladbroke Cyril Stein.

Ladbroke CEO Cyril Stein

Stein decided to get his own back by trying to get Playboy’s gambling licences revoked in a similar manner. He provided information to the cops and elsewhere that Playboy also recruited customers via non-legal means such as hotel porters, allowed company directors to gamble in their own facility and had provided credit in a way not allowed by the legislation, eventually succeeding in getting Playboy’s casino licences similarly revoked.

Concerned by the shadow forming over this section of the business and the fearful of it tarnishing their chances at getting gambling licences at the then new re-developments going on in Atlantic City, Playboy decided to terminate Lownes in April 1981. A fool move by any standard, this sealed the fate of Playboy’s English gaming operations as it showed that the company was under foreign control and removed the erudite captain who could have steered them through the storm.

Further reasons for his sacking almost always cite the fact Hefner held a candle for Lowne’s wife Marilyn Cole. She had dated Hefner prior to hooking up with and eventually marrying Lownes and her rejection of Hefner in favour of his partner apparently provided a source of shame for the aging head of Playboy. Steven Watts in his book, Mr Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream, also mentions that Lownes had introduced Hefner to Dexedrine back in 1957 in order to combat the founders fatigue and that Hefner’s increasing consumption of amphetamine contributed to a decline in his faculties making him both increasingly reclusive and according to a self penned 1958 memo, “…the total operation of Playboy [was] now dependent on those little orange pills”.

Furthermore Hefner has been frequently described as a frumpy rube in comparison with his stylish and outgoing European based executive and the knowledge of such in conjuction with numerous hatchet men clamouring for Lownes position and undoubtedly whispering in his ear would have further contributed to his choice to end a 27 year relationship.

Following his firing, Lownes went on to pen his history of Playboy’s rise and fall titled, The Day The Bunny Died and incorporated his own eponymous company Victor Lownes Enterprises Limited in July 1982. The dissolution of the British casino business hit Playboy hard and whilst it had made $31 million in the year ending June 30, 1981, it lost over $50 million in 1982.

Cover of First Edition of The Day The Bunny Died Circa 1983

In a lifestyle about face, Lownes has taken a low profile in his twilight years. In the late 1980s he was running Backgammon Mondays at the Stocks Club in Kings Road in Chelsea, in 1993 he was described as “still living in style in Belgravia and trying to make money from ten pin bowling alleys” with his company South West Bowling PLC. Apart from popping up at the 2011 opening of the new London Playboy Club he has remained out of the public limelight in the past 20 years or so and remains married to Marilyn Cole who herself is a reporter for various magazines. Indeed any more anecodotes or knowledge of Lownes would be very welcome as a biography of this titanic man is long overdue.

Marilyn Cole and Victor Lownes at the 2011 (Re-) Opening of the London Playboy Club

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Great Criminals You’ve Rarely Heard Of Part One: Bernie Cornfeld

“Do You Sincerely Want To Be Rich”

With these seven words Bernard Cornfeld lured many an investor to the insurance and investment fund he launched in Paris, registered in Panama and ran from Geneva, ultimately scamming hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.

His fund Investors Overseas Services (IOS) originally pitched itself at European based American GIs before going wide and employing thousands of door to door sales men who competed with one another to earn overseas trips, bonuses and if really good, visits to their bosses homes in the French Riviera and Beverley Hills. Essentially an elaborate pyramid scheme, the people on the top were paid by those lower down who had to work doubly hard to find new clients. An epochal story cites one of his salesmen caught in the Belgian Congo during a coup. Cornfeld receiving the hapless salesman’s telegraph and reading, “Insurrection, sadism, rape”, simply replied, “OK, OK, but is he doing any business?”

It’s my safari suit… and I’ll wear it if I want to.

Thanks to such sheer mindedness, Cornfeld was flying high by the mid 1960s. Splitting his time between a 12th Century French mansion, Douglas Fairbanks former home in L.A and a suite permanently reserved in New York, he rolled with up to 20 women at a time and broadened his business interests to things like financing the construction of the Playboy mansion. He threw lavish parties attended by celebrities such as Laurence Harvey, Tony Curtis, and Richard Harris and counted Hugh Hefner and fellow financier Victor Lownes amongst his friends. Lownes, in addition to starting the London Playboy Club, is also quite well known for having helped introduce acid to the London scene during the 1960s and for being a close friend of Roman Polanski. Cornfelds access to characters such as Hefner, Curtis and Polanski also undoubtedly helped him to lay Victoria Principal, Alana Hamilton and a teenage Heidi Fleiss [Yes. Seriously].

Cornfelds 1967 Stretch Lincoln Continental (NB: Please note that Photobucket stole the original photo and this is only a stock picture of a similar 1967 Continential)

Alana Hamilton and George Hamilton

Victoria Principal

Cornfeld and Tony Curtis

As the funds IOS governed got larger – and perhaps more crucially – invested in other funds owned by themselves, Cornfeld came under pressure by American regulators not to sell to Americans either at home or abroad and when the market turned and the share  value declined, their ‘guaranteed returns’ had to be paid out of operating funds. Consequently short of cash by 1969, the company shifted to Canada, went public to raise money and ultimately removed Cornfeld from his position as head the board, replacing him with a new chairman, Robert L. Vesco.

Vesco took control of IOS, its funds, real estate holdings and other assets and using his position of power stripped over $200 million from the company, sprinkling it all over the world in off shore holdings known only to himself. Wanted for this brazen theft and for also having made an illegal $200,000 contribution to President Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign, Vesco fled to the Bahamas before ultimately settling in Cuba, where he lived until his death from lung cancer in 2007.

Cornfeld despite knowing the company was on the verge of collapse, meanwhile persuaded IOS staff to buy shares in the fund to help prop up its price, before being arrested in Geneva and spending almost a year in Swiss prison for doing so. Upon his release, he was again arrested, this time for the more prosaic offence of using a device to avoid paying for long distance telephone calls.

Following his release from American prison for scamming the phone companies, Cornfeld played the media circuit giving interviews with magazines such as People who reported in a June 1974 issue:

“In spite of all his legal hassles, Cornfeld is remarkably serene. When he takes calls on a telephone that never seems to stop ringing, he finds time to run his finger up and down the back of one of the stunning, bikini-clad women who inhabit his home. “I didn’t miss sex at all in prison,” he says, almost surprised. “But unlike some of the other prisoners, I never really doubted that my interest would return once I was out.” His kosher leprechaun appearance notwithstanding, Cornfeld has never had trouble attracting lovely women in astonishing numbers. The money helps.”

A fitting epitaph. He died in 1995.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Top 10 Bond Girls

This is undoubtedly a topic well covered elsewhere online, but having caned the Bond series for the past few months, I feel it necessary to list my top ten Bond women and it’s so tough to choose. Guy Hamilton (director of ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Diamonds Are Forever’) is quoted as saying that producer Albert R. Broccoli was “the tit and bum man” out of the original producing duo (presumbably leaving Harry Saltzman as the legs man). This seems consistent with Britt Ekland’s reports that she was hired due to Broccoli seeing her nude performance in ‘The Wicker Man’ (1973) in which she had a fuller figure due to being pregnant. Apparently he was quite dismayed when she showed up on set with a much leaner body and attempted to get her to eat large plates of pasta whenever they headed out for dinner in order to try and make her more voluptuous again.

Sean Connerys deserved reputation for being a pants man also undoubtedly started on the sets of Bond films. Former Bond girl Lana Wood, who played Plenty O’Toole in the 1971 James Bond film ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, claims “We went out to dinner, then met some of his friends, then went for a walk, and you know. We actually started having an affair before filming began, but we kept it secret.” Reportedly, he was also schtupping Jill St John (who played Tiffany case) on the same film and had previously gotten close to Claudine Auger from the movie ‘Thunderball’. In case you feel Connery has taste though, he is also reputed to have banged Shelley Winters.

Ian Fleming – the creator of James Bond himself – was thrown out of Sandhurst military academy for contracting gonorrhoea from a hooker. He also had an open marriage with his socialite wife Ann Charteris and engaged in affairs with a variety of married women. Bear in mind though he had previously carried on an affair with Ann Charteris for a decade whilst she was married to her first husband and both of them had a prediliction for S & M and bondage. Fleming also assembled a large collection of porno at his Jamaican home Goldeneye which he liked to show off to both male and female visitors. Indeed the writing of the first James Bond novel ‘Casino Royale’ was described as “…matrimonial therapy’ by Fleming and he began writing the suave and sexy adventures of the world’s favourite spy the day after he got married… that is when he was not fucking Chris Blackwell (of Island Records fame)’s mother – Yes seriously.

Anyways… My top ten Bond women. Titty shots wherever possible.

10. Myriam de Abo

Plays Kara Milovy, who is Bond’s main love interest in ‘The Living Daylights’ (1987). Georgian/Dutch actress appeared in a bunch of forgettable crap and Timothy Dalton’s first outing as Bond. Probably not to everybody’s tastes, but she looks sweet and appeared in a Bond-themed Playboy cover and multi-page pictorial in September 1987. She is also the first cousin of the actress Olivia d’Abo who played Kevin’s sister in the late 80s/early 90s television show ‘The Wonder Years’.

9. Carey Lowell

Played the main Bond girl Pam Bouvier in the James Bond movie Licence to Kill (1989). Looking fairly frumpy in the first half, she cuts her hair and reveals more flesh in the second, ensuring her position in this list. There’s something about a girl with short hair and a voluptuous body that is really, really boner inducing. Think Jean Seberg in ‘Breathless’ (1960), picture Halle Berry, visually undress Natalie Portman.  Lowell married actor/celebrated gerbil lover Richard Gere on November 9, 2002. I hope this doesn’t mean she’s a lesbian.

8. Jill St John

Played Tiffany case in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1971). This is one of my favourite James Bond movies and yet it seems to be universally reviled on the interweb. No idea why, other than people have limited taste. The very same people that claim this as being shit, praise ‘For Your Eyes Only’ which is actually shit. ‘Diamonds are Forever’ has great locations (mob era Vegas, 1970s Amsterdam), hilarious one liners that predate Clint Eastwood and Arnold Schwarzenegger, more violence than average for a Bond film, muscle cars, Charles Gray hamming it up, a reclusive Howard Hughes type character and Jill St john showing “…more cheek than usual…” as Tiffany Case. With a banging body, a certain amount of chutzpah and a selection of brightly colored bikinis, Jill St John shoots in at #8.

7. Ursula Andress

Played Honey Ryder in the first James Bond film ‘Dr No’ (1962). As the first Bond chick (and wearing a bikini during most of her screen time – natch!), Ursula Andress was always going to make this list. Her voice (like Claudine Auger’s in Thunderball) was dubbed for the film, but the body and face were all her own. Suffice to say, both parts of her anatomy are welcome to sit on any of my own anytime.

6. Daniela Bianchi

Played Tatiana Romanova in the 1963 James Bond movie From Russia with Love. Blonde, hot bodied and wearing a black choker, this list would be remiss if it didn’t feature Daniela.  She was 21 when she played Tatiana, having already been 1st runner-up in the 1960 Miss Universe contest. She later married a Genoan shipping magnate (presumably for the money).

5. Jayne Seymour

Played Solitaire in Roger Moore’s first outing as 007, Live and Let Die (1975). Jane Seymour was spotted in the TV series The Onedin Line and cast in the role. Apart from ‘Dr Quinn Medicine Woman’, I can’t think of a single other thing she has done, but she was beautiful in this and envy Roger Moore for fictionally taking her virginity.

4. Maud Adams

Swedish model who played the villain Scaramaga’s doomed girlfriend in ‘Man With The Golden Gun’ and the eponymous character in ‘Octopussy’. I loooooooveeee Maud Adams. She’s finer than fuck. The publicity shots of her in a black one piece are great. There’s a scene in ‘Man With The Golden Gun’ when Scaramanga kind of fellates her with his golden gun (pun slightly intended). In an interview in GQ, Roger Moore mentioned that Hervé Villechaize who plays the henchman Nick Nack in The Man With The Golden Gun approached Maud Adams, his eyes at the level of her mini skirt, as they walked across the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.  Hervé then said to her, “Maud let me fuck you.” And she looked down and said, “If I found out that you have, I’ll be very angry.”

She thankfully got her kit off in the 1982 movie Tattoo as the object of schizoid Bruce Dern’s affections. Facts state that she is the only woman to ever come back for a second James Bond film… Why? ‘Cause she’s so fucking awesome, that’s why!

3. Claudine Auger

Played the main Bond girl in Thunderball. Won Miss France and was also the first runner-up in the 1958 Miss World contest. Her voice in the film was dubbed by Nikki van der Zyl.  Claudine Auger is the best looking 1960s Bond girl in my eyes. Sultry, sexy and simultaneously classy. It’s the classic French trifecta. I don’t know what it is with French women… They’re so sexy, dirty and yet classy at the same time. The kind of combination, professional douche bag John Mayer might describe as ‘sexual napalm’.

“Is That my wife”?

“Mr Woodman, I’m ready for my close-up”.

2. Talisa Soto

Played the Lupe Lamora, the bad guys’ girlfriend in the fantastic Timothy Dalton vehicle ‘Licenced To Kill’ (1989). These pictures do not do Talisa justice. She’s smoking hot. Watch the film. Absolutely stunning.

1. Eva Green

Played the sultry Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale (2006). I don’t fall in with this current Daniel Craig hype. Don’t get me wrong, Casino Royale was a great film, better than all the Pierce Brosnan films that preceded it (with the possible exception of ‘Golden Eye’), but ‘Quantum of Solace’ (2008) was average at best and Skyfall (2012) is nowhere as good as people claim it is. HOWEVER, Eva Green is the hottest Bond woman of ALL TIME. Beautiful face, amazing tits, full lips and a hint of a back story behind those soulful eyes… Simultaneously virginal and sexy, a brunette with blue eyes is always so damn exotic and when coupled with a set of lung warts like these, simply unbeatable.

Honourable mentions:

Margaret Nolan

Played Dink in ‘Goldfinger’ (1964). The voluptuous blonde who is giving Bond a rub down in a Miami hotel and who is unceremoniously brushed off with a slap on the ass and the admonition to leave when there is “… man talk…”

Halle Berry

Played Jinx in ‘Die Another Day’ (2002). Looks extremely hot in a bikini, but having seen the goods unleashed in the inexorable film ‘Swordfish’ (2001). I know the whole package doesn’t quite deserve a place on the list.

Honor Blackman

The amazingly named Pussy Galore in ‘Goldfinger’ (1964). I have never understood why people rate her as one of the best Bond women, other than possessing a fantastic rack. She was older than Connery when they filmed the quintessential Bond film. Which would be fine if her face didn’t demonstrate that fact.

Diana Rigg

Tracey in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969). Diana Rigg is beautiful. Sadly not in this Bond film however. She looks downright fuggers in fact. Don’t know what they were thinking with the costumes and hairstyles, but the stylist should have been put in an iron maiden for messing up the opportunity.


Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.