TRASHY TUESDAY: HEADLESS BIKINI MODELS
Paperback publishers have always followed trends with their covers, picking ones which are striking, or which associate their novel with another bestselling book, for instance all the ‘walking away woman’ covers of recent times, usually with Girl in the title.
One trend I had not been aware of, before some recent purchases, was the headless bikini wearer!
I have now acquired three books from the around the same late 1960s/1970s period which have photographic covers featuring girls in bikinis, but without their heads.
Eric Ambler’s A Kind Of Anger (Fontana, 1973) is probably the most striking of the three, with its pink bikini and delicately place gun (must be good elastic in the pants).
Fontana used the same close-up focus on body torsos when revamping the Eric Ambler’s books (see Dirty Story below), but the pink bikini on A Kind Of Anger is the most effective in my view.
This 1968 Coronet cover for American spy writer Donald Hamilton’s Death Of A Citizen also uses a similar bikini and gun, sans head, approach. It would have been eye catching in 1968, but the cover has very little to do with the story and is generic enough to be used on a variety of thriller/crime titles. The decision to just focus on the girl’s body, and the very 1960s underwear, is curious, apart from the obvious reasons, and it gives the book a voyeuristic feel that it does not deserve.
On the positive side, the gun nicely locates the book in the thriller genre and the bullets on the glass shelf, along with perfume, nail polish and creams is a nice touch. I assume that the rose is there to add a touch of much needed class.
Finally, the positioning of the shelf is odd. I understand that if it was at the usual shelf height that it would potentially cover up the girl’s bikini bottom, but having it where it is just makes you think “what a silly, impractical height for a shelf”!
The 1979 Warner cover for Joseph Mark Glazner’s Smart Money Doesn’t Sing Or Dance (what a title!), also has a headless bikini model, this time holding some used $100 dollar notes. I have never heard of Joseph Mark Glazner and his Billy Nevers books, but there seems to four novels in the series. At least one more, Fast Money Shoots From The Hips, would also seem to have a similar styled cover (from photos I have seen).
I am not sure what covers featuring headless bikini models tell us about cultural norms or publishers’ views of reader’s tastes in the 1970s, but it is an interesting diversion. Fontana also extended the use of photographic close-ups to legs and thighs, as can be seen below. I also think that I have other examples in my collection which I will have to dig out!
In a similar vein to the Fontana covers for Eric Ambler, was this one for fellow spy writer William Garner’s The Deep, Deep Freeze (1970). Just a thigh this time, but also with a well placed gun.
And Mike Ripley has provided this one from Pan from 1965: