Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bald Venuses versus bushy Venuses

We don't often pick up FHM magazine (we find its design somewhat frenzied, for a start) but were intrigued by an article in this month's issue regarding the thorny issue of the bushy versus bald pubis on young ladies.  As we have observed from comments on this blog, there is a great deal of support for the hairy pussy and a decrying of the bald examples on display in today's men's magazines and erotic videos.  Younger readers, however, seem appalled by the fur on display in pictures taken in the seventies. 

Last year Playboy ran a pictorial featuring a series of women with their bushes and then bald (above) to compare the effect.  Playboy has made great play of the fact that they get their girls to clean themselves up down below before shooting.  Indeed, today, anyone looking at a men's adult magazine will be hard pushed to find any girls with pubic hair.  Shaved or waxed to within a millimetre of their lives their oddly pre-pubescent looking pudenda are the norm in the erotic depiction of women in print or on video.  

Ginger Young May 1960

Back in the nineteen fifties nude photographic models would shave off all their pubic hair too, as its appearance in a photograph in a magazine would have resulted in instant obscenity charges for the publisher in both the US and the UK.   This was also considerably cheaper than having to do expensive retouching of a negative afterwards.  Agent Triple P has done this (not on a picture of a young lady, of course!) whilst working on his school magazine and it is a slow and painstaking process.  The depiction of the pubic triangle itself wasn't forbidden (provided no labia were shown); it was the actual hair that was the problem as this Playboy centrefold of Ginger Young from 1960 demonstrates.

Courbet The Origin of the World (1866)

The situation had been the same in the European art world of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.  Nudes abounded but their pubic areas were perfectly bald.  It was only in works produced for private collectors, such as Courbet's notorious The Origin of the World, or life studies not designed for exhibition, that pubic hair was shown.

Avril Lund March 1973 Penthouse

When Bob Guccione started to get his models to flash their fleece in the early 70s there was an immediate explosion of wool in all the men's magazines.  The FHM article declares that the "70s style bush is making a comeback".  This is a nonsensical statement of course.  Girls were just as bushy in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s it's just that pictures of them weren't readily available until the 70s.  Still, we see their point.

The naturally unkempt Miss Noble

For the first five years of the seventies the bush was queen in the mens' magazines with some outrageously untamed examples on show. In this extraordinary example from Mayfair in 1975 Israeli model Miss Anna Noble not only demonstrates a full-bodied bush but also a thick trail of hair leading up to her belly button.

Veronique Devaldene from Penthouse October 1978

As the 70s progressed Penthouse started to show girl's labia too and this, as we have seen in our Pubic Wars posts, caught on with the other magazines, especially from 1976 on, to the extent that, for better or worse, the girl's genitals became the centrepiece of most of the photos.  

A picture by British photographer Erik Wilkins from the late seventies

The anus then appeared as a centre of focus in 1977 and shots of the girls from the rear showed how far round the back some of their hair went.  

Dominique shows a mighty bush from the rear

Playboy, of course, didn't show this part of the anatomy (other than on one or two very rare occasions) but that doesn't mean that they didn't have some impressive displays in the seventies and eighties as demonstrated by this impressively bushy shot of French actress Dominique Troyes from a June 1984 pictorial on actresses from Emmanuelle IV.  However, ironically, the need to show the girls' bits clashed with the bushy pubic regions and so, in the late seventies and early eighties, the models started to trim the hair away from around the labia.

Nikki Brenner Penthouse December 1989

At the beginning of the eighties new high cut swimsuits and lingerie appeared meaning that ordinary women had to start trimming themselves more than they had in the past as well.  Triple P remembers trying to draw lines with a charcoal pencil on the nether regions of one of his girlfriends as we worked out how much hair to remove to allow her to wear her striking new red, high-cut one piece swimsuit.

Penthouse's Dallas Roddy keeps it untrimmed as late as May 1986

The evolution from naturally bushy to bald was not an even progression however.  Some girls stayed bushy until quite late in the period.

Lauryl Canyon displays her eponymous sweep

Most of the girls who posed for the more explicit magazines like Penthouse in the eighties adopted what would become known as the Lauryl Canyon Sweep, after the porn star who first displayed it, wherein the hair around the labia was completely removed, but a patch kept above it.  This style would persist for over a decade.

Penthouse's Sandi Korn from March 1991

For the girls who spent a lot of their time in bikinis, if not naked, whilst posing for magazines, the same was required.  During the eighties the wide patch of hair started to get narrower until by the late nineties and early naughties it had become an almost symbolic strip.  Personally, we always felt that this was a ridiculous fashion.  Either have a proper covering or get rid of it completely, we thought at the time.

Kelly Havel from Penthouse June 1998

It didn't take long. In September 2001 Dalene Kurtis in Playboy became the first Playmate to display a completely hairless mons veneris.  From this point on Playboy Playmates and their less prestigious sisters in other magazines would gradually lose all of their fur.

The smooth as silk Dalene Kurtis from September 2001

However, Ms Kurtis' smooth front did not immediately presage a rush of totally pruned pussy and, in fact, it wouldn't be for more than a year that another Playmate, Teri Marie Harrison, appeared with another completely smooth mons veneris.

Terri Marie Harrison from Playboy, October 2002

Gradually the number of bald pussies increased in Playboy.  In 2003 only two Playmates had shed their pubic hair.  In 2004 it was three and by 2005 half of the Playmates were completely smooth. Even those who weren't had so little hair that you could almost count the number of strands that remained.  By 2007 no less than eleven out of twelve Playmates were completely hairless.

Girls blessed with more prominent labia were more likely to turn up as Playboy cybergirls on their website, where some of the pictures were slightly more explicit than in the magazine.  Here too, however, pubic hair was in retreat. Above, September 2004  cybergirl Holly Winnard displays her hairless package.

Lindsay Lohan shows her lack of fluff

Now it's not clear at what point ordinary women started to imitate their shaven sisters in the men's magazines but certainly shaven celebrity flashers such as Lindsay Lohan must have contributed to the fashion.  One milestone that is referred to as influential, as it often was in matters of fashion, was an episode of Sex in the City.  The Sex and Another City episode from series three was broadcast in September 2000 and opens with Carrie Bradshaw explaining that her beautician had taken everything off down below instead of the tidying up she wanted. This wide publicity for the "Brazilian" arising from this episode had a great effect on American women, it is said.

The girls arrive at the Playboy Mansion in the Sex and Another City episode

Another factor was the fact that more and more women were seeing the sort of pornographic images and videos that heretofor had been largely only seen by men.  Triple P can remember visiting Paris for a weekend with his then girlfriend and some of her work colleagues in the early/mid eighties.  Said girlfriend was amazed and excited -"they're having actual sex" - by the hard core videos playing in the room of one of her female colleagues on the hotel TV system (a legacy from a previous guest).  She had never seen a hardcore film, nor, indeed, any sort of men's magazine, even Playboy.  She found the whole thing hugely sexually arousing.  Today it's hard to imagine a young woman who has not seen such images, thanks to the internet.  It was the same visual pressure to be shaven that also led to a huge increase in women having surgery on their supposedly overlarge labia to produce the sort of neat slit seen in Playboy in the last decade.

Playboy's Kayla Collins from August 2008

Of course the disappearance of hair meant that Playboy was faced with a problem as to how to hide the labia that they didn't want to show.  As a result, it is said, Playboy started to favour girls with small or sunken labia, thus perpetuating the new look.  Critics said that the images were worryingly pre-pubescent and would encourage perverts, which seems unlikely, we have to say.

Isabella Ardigo from Penthouse April 1979

Agent Triple P's first girlfriends were all redheads, natural blondes and light brunettes.  It was only when we got briefly involved with a Greek girl from work, in the early eighties, that we discovered the blue-black wonders of the Mediterranean bush.  Many more of  these would follow as we started to travel to Italy extensively for a six year period.

At some time in the last decade the shaven (or waxed) pussy jumped from the small world of porn to the wider population (especially, we suspect, in North America).  Our experience in Europe is that girls have kept their fleeces to a large extent.  Britain, as ever, is somewhere in the middle with the influence of the US felt on the younger population especially.  In the survey conducted of FHM readers 36% said that they had encountered a "70s forest" in the last year.  This means that the vast majority of women in Britain are trimming themselves, whether completely or not the magazine doesn't say.  The article reckons bushes are making a comeback although some of the young ladies interviewed said they never would return to the bushy path.

Kate flashes her Moss

It would just take, they said, a few celebrities to be photographed with fluff to bring it back again (Kate Moss has been so photographed recently).  In the recent Spartacus TV series the producers had to arrange for merkins (pubic wigs) for their female stars as they had no fluff of their own (although in reality Roman women removed all their pubic hair using an abrasive paste).

The hairy Debbie from Club International September 1976

In some ways the issue is akin to underarm hair.  Again, back in the late seventies/early eighties most of Triple P's girlfriends had underarm hair but as they were all redheads or natural blondes it wasn't an issue.  In fact we quite liked it.  Girls only started shaving their armpits in the 1920s when sleeveless tops became fashionable.  Girls in continental Europe, again, still exhibit this more than in the UK and the US (where poor Julia Roberts's display a few years ago provoked horror in the US press).

Triple P didn't encounter his first bald mound until the late nineties when his particular friend S had had hers waxed to please a new girlfriend.  At first we weren't entirely sure about the effect but admit that it was much nicer for oral sex - until the hair started to re-grow.  Triple P loves the feel of putting the palm of his hand on some soft fluff, however and certainly prefers the visual effect of a nice bush although how much of this is conditioning caused by the fact that he saw his first pubic areas in the seventies is difficult to work out.

Morgana Taylor from Mayfair, 1977

On the whole, however, Triple P prefers girls to have some fluff (but no landing strips please!), although perhaps trimmed around the edges, to no fluff; and certainly in photographs.  We know that we are not alone in this and yet very few men's magazines show girls with fur any more (there was a nice neat example in a recent issue of Mayfair which we saw, refreshingly).  Indeed, it is such an unusual sight that several models are using their possession of a bush as a distinguishing feature.  All we would ask for is some variety, but whether the bush will return in magazines and erotic videos we are not so sure.  As for ordinary women,  FHM thinks it might be on the way back.  We'll just have to do more research!


  1. I had heard bald pubic regions related to underarm and legs being shaved. None of that was shaved when none of it was shown, but as it became more visible to more people, the shaving began. I like a nice trim, but still with some hair, but I'm in my mid-40s.

  2. Hairy pussy, oh, wonderful,wonderful hairy pussy. I do love hairy pussy, I really do. I have seen some of the 1970s models on the Vintage Erotica forum and they looked lovely. Superb.

  3. My taste in pussies is catholic (now there's a sentence I've been longing to write for years!), but this notion that Playboy has been using labia prominence as a criterion is downright disturbing... I find it weirdly ironic that in this supposedly explicit age there is a such a focus on removing/obscuring what are primary sexual signifiers - is this merely fashion, or is it an ongoing fear of overt female sexuality?

    1. They still have breasts for god's sake. Pubic hair isn't "overt female sexuality" seeing how men have it as well. Being able to SEE a vulva is explicit. I tangle of coarse hair obscuring it hides everything. Not nude, just hairy. Like a dude.

    2. You've misunderstood the point I was trying to make. Playboy has this tiresome habit of airbrushing/pixelating the very vulvas you are so keen on seeing which, along with all the depilatory work, removes TWO primary sexual signifiers. And if you really can't tell the difference between an unshaven male and an unshaven female, you are in dire need of remedial biology...

  4. It's only in the regular magazine on their newsstand editions it doesn't seem to be an issue...but they don't take advertising of course. I saw a documentary on UK TV a couple of years ago about how women in the US were having their labia reduced surgically. When this is done in the third world there is an outcry (rightly)

  5. I forgot to mention that I can't imagine why a woman would want a labia reduction. That's one of the most attractive parts of a woman.

    1. I agree. I find great pleasure in a nice labia.

  6. The trend is swinging back the other way, with hipster-types photography for more "thinking" magazines (such as purple) displaying a bush. Both Chloe Svenigny and Milla Jovovich have sported a bush in their pics in recent years (as have other model types).

    I've long been opposed to the no-bush look just because there's no "there" there. As the Playboy shots artfully illustrate, if you're not seeing bush, but you're not seeing the gynecological extreme, you're not seeing anything--just the bottom slope of the belly.

    Me, I'm a romantic. I like the idea of a "secret garden." It's cool to have "pube slips," as it were, over the top of panties or with panties a little pulled down. And then, if you're lucky, there's a whole second level of things you can see.

    What makes the late 70's such an awesome time for mens magazines--beyond the commitment to "art" and artistic, erotic shots--was the idea that you were getting something extra. Not just the bush, but little glimpses of what lay underneath.

    Mystery! my friends! Bush brought mystery! Bring back the bush!

    1. Oh God please let it be true that pubic hair is coming back. You are so right. I have virtually zero interest in looking at a bald twat. I remember a few years back I hooked up with gorgeous girl 15 years younger than me and just couldn't get it up for her billiard ball mound. Grrrrrr.

  7. Triple P, great insight to the history of hair vs. bald. It's interesting how the trend has developed. As a fan of Penthouse & Playboy since a teenager in the early 80's I loved the trend from bushy to trimmed to landing strip and finally bald. Bald is my personal choice and I'm lucky my wife prefers the same...and for over 10 years now. In fact she went one step further and went for permanent hair removal which we both love. It's a personal choice, but one we both love.

    Ps. What issue of Playboy had the before and after pics?

  8. I came of age during the seventies and the era of bush. I have watched the trend towards hairlessness with interest. I am particular fond of asian women, many of whom (but not all) naturally have less pubic hair. My personal preference is for a shaved labia and a hairy but trimmed mound. The totally hairless look I find a little too young looking.

  9. As a teenager in the 70's I grew up admiring the real women who graced the pages of Playboy and Mayfair in the late 70s early 80s. I stopped buying Playboy in the late 90s as the surgically altered blond bimbos with smooth pre pubescent labia ceased to arouse any interest. My preference is for a trimmed muff and the non centrefold of the month 7 Mary from Lui is a typical early 80s model - beautiful, sexy, with a neat muff that reveals her lovely womanhood. The penultimate shot of her on her back with her delicious thighs framing her pussy is a real treat.

  10. Kahauna, it was an online feature not in the magazine, sadly.

  11. From my experience with women: women who are not wasting their time watching kim kardashian and who are confident with their bodies (no fake boobs) usually take care of their bodies and take the time to neatly trim their love box.

    On the other hand, girls who spend less time on hygiene, disorganized, watch kim k, believe men like silicon tits (nasty), and are always on the go or are just too lazy, usually don't want to spend the time it takes to upkeep a nice strip or trimmed bush.

    Personally I love a nice 2" strip or natural bush. Seriously, who wants to be aroused by looking at a bald 12 year old looking vagina? Not me. Unless you like looking at a bald 12 year old vagina...

    I look at playboy mags, among others, from the 70's and 80's and just say dayummmm: women of said era have to be the most visually enticing and tempting!

    Today, one has to gaze upon a woman's vagina that looks like a plucked chicken and tattoos all over her body. Somehow I think genders are reversing: men want to look like women, and women want to look like men. Yikes.

    Thanks for your blog

  12. Fascinating stuff. There's a couple of posts I wrote on this topic here:

  13. As a woman, I've run the gauntlet on nether grooming, from completely natural (and possibly even excessive) hairiness to baby-smooth nakedness. At times, I even treated it as a sort of stylistic fashion statement, altering my look from time to time depending on my own preference and that of my lover(s). Having been married for several years now, I'm much more stable in my look, generally keeping things fairly well-trimmed on my mons and largely removed around the labia, for my husband's convenience and oral enjoyment (and my own, of course!). Every once in a while, I might surprise him with a vanishing act, but I don't think I'd ever go back to the all-natural tangle. The analogy I would use is this: Considerate people with close neighbors and frequent visitors keep their lawns mowed. No one wants to have a picnic in an overgrown weed field.

  14. I love women who have a full natural bush!

  15. Jaime Stevens, Playboy October 1999, in the Girls of the PAC 10 is sporting a very nice shaved pussy in a full page spread.

  16. When I was a soldier in germany in the mid 70's a lot of fur was the norm. of course I was young and the idea odf helping a woman shave her pussy appealed to me, but european women would have none of that, they said it was unantural to sahve their pussy ,legs or made for a lot of pubes in my mothe as iam orally inclined however aftet almost 25 years of no fur...I find it boring and long for the old days of hot pussy with a lot of fur...becareful what you wish for...I like fur...makes a pussy taste like a pussy should...enticing and very aromatic!!!

  17. Nothing more exciting than seeing a hairy bush, complete with the aroma...I love licking a woman;s pussy when it is a forest of love ...including her hairy ass!

  18. Women shave their legs, underarms. why not pubic area. As far as labia reductions, some women do it because it is painful for them in certain clothing. PB is lame anyways they should get out of photos of women all together and stick with columns and interviews. It is a dying magazine.

  19. I would imagine that you are a younger!

    My first girlfriends in the late seventies and early eighties certainly didn't shave their underarms or legs (although they were all blondes or redheads so their hair was sparse and pale).

    I have never heard of a girl complaining that large labia are uncomfortable in clothing. Men have to carry around a lot more!

    But it's good we don't all like the same thing!

  20. Thanks! I scanned her but didn't make a note of her name! She is amazing!

  21. Cant tell you how much I enjoy your sight. Found some old Penthouse (1970-1978) and didnt realize I missed pubics. Thanks for all the GREAT info on the beautiful 70s Girls

  22. The lovely and feisty Beverley Turner has joined the debate in the DT no less!

  23. Excellent. I suspect it may take longer in the US, though!

  24. Envelope- pushing clothed retailer (at least in terms of its advertising) American Apparel has recently started putting pubic hair on its mannequins in some US stores... Prompting some to pronounce 'the bush is back'

  25. Hairy pussy wins every single time. I've never understood what's so appealing about a shaven pussy. A shaven pussy looks like that of a little child, which at least to me is not very attractive. A hairy pussy is just so much more beautiful, attractive and sexy, and is preferable also for oral sex. In the 70s women were more natural and innocent, none of all the nonsense so prevalent today; shaven pussy, siclicon implants, stupid tattoos and whatever else they're doing now. Let's celebrate and delight in the beauty and attractiveness of woman in all her natural glory!

  26. Feeling a woman's bush is a sensation during sex that alone warrants any woman to consider keeping it. Oh those little curls ! Being shaved or or trimmed short takes that all away. Sadly there are men that have never experienced that pleasure so they don't know what they are missing. My suggestion is that all women should let it grow out for a while and then decide. All men should also have the chance to experience sex with a woman who pubic area is 100% grown out. They might decide to keep it,

  27. Big fan of the natural bush! Here are some other points to consider: 1) a woman's fur is part of what makes her unique. Shaved ladies are reducing themselves, in part (an important part) to sameness. Who wants sameness? Where's the fun of discovery? 2) I suspect some of the appeal for some women is that once shaved, a faux blonde can more easily pass for the genuine article. This is probably valuable in the porn industry. 3) There is undoubtedly a vested interest from various businesses in pushing the idea that ladies should shave, buy razor blades, visit expensive hair-removal salons, etc. Shaved pussy is a false need created in part by profiteers to make easy money, on a regular basis.

    1. I think you have hit the nail on the head my friend. And its ALL about the money in the US. I should know I lived there for 20 years. For better or worse.

  28. It's easy to understand how shaving became popular in porn and magazines. Penises don't disappear behind pubic hair, but female genitalia does. I like, nay, love vaginas, so in terms of pix and video I prefer shaved. Sadly, it has been a while since I've been face-to-face, so to speak, with a live one, so I take my pleasure where I can.

  29. Having been a child of the 60s my preference has always been for hair of some description (maybe not Amazonian rain forest proportions). Baldness just puts me in mind of pre-pubescent girls and holds no fascination for me whatsoever.

  30. I'm a female in my mid-40's. I began trimming my pubes in my teens and have been bald for many years, even during times when I've been boyfriend-less. I have no body-shame; in fact, quite the opposite. I've always loved my body and loved sex. I simply decided I preferred the aesthetic of an anti-bush, way before it was a popular look.
    I look at / watch porn a lot. I have since my teen years. I enjoy it more and more as both genders are now either very trimmed or hairless.
    In dating, I'm not turned off by a man's chest hair or armpit hair, but for gawd's sakes, trim it down. Nothing sexy about a hairy and damp armpit hair with deodorant clinging to the top. I find more and more guys in their 20's/30's/40's are either shaving their scrotum or damn close and trimming the thatch.
    I have never understood why the 'average guy' will kiyi and dictate what a woman's pubes 'should look like' but give zero thought / attention to his own!
    To myself and many of my female friends, a man with a lot of pubic hair just looks unkempt. It holds odour, it gets left on the soap, it gets in the way when tonguing their balls - just gross. So men, stop thinking only about what YOU like to see. Try trimming your own 'garden'.
    Personally speaking, sex feels much better hairless whether it's solo or with a male. More sensation on the skin, nothing getting in the way, just hotter!
    As a female, I can't fathom a man wanting to dive his face into a big bush that might stink, or have remnants of pee in it or menstrual fluid. Yuck.
    Just my two bits. Great blog.

  31. Dominique Troyes is also known as porn star Marilyn Jess.

  32. Check out Penthouse, November 2016 - the Bringing Back Bush Issue