New Look; New NL Issue Is Out

Sharp-eyed visitors will notice a subtle, but fundamental change to the look of Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site. As of November 5, there are no longer any National Lampoon graphics anywhere on the site. This change was made at the request of J2 Communications, current owner of the NatLampCo empire, such as it is.

I haven’t seen it, but there is a new issue out.

Christopher Guest Radio Profile in the Works

A radio profile of Christopher Guest is likely to be broadcast sometime in early spring 1999 on National Public Radio affiliates. Though he is now best known for his movie work (This Is Spïnal Tap, The Princess Bride, Waiting for Guffman) and a short stint on Saturday Night Live during the ’80s, Guest was a prominent fixture in National Lampoon‘s forays into LP records and radio in the ’70s, both as a writer and performer. In addition to creating such memorable characters as Flash Bazbo—Space Explorer, music critic Roger de Swans, and sleazy record company rep Ron Fields, he also wrote and performed numerous musical parodies, giving uncanny imitations of Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Neil Young, to name a few.

 If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to contact producer Bill Colrus.

National Lampoon Radio Hour Section Planned

The NLRH ran from March 17, 1973 to December 28, 1974, and was broadcast on hundreds of stations nationwide. It was one of the best radio comedy shows ever produced, and introduced many talented perfomers to a national audience for the first time, including Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Christopher Guest, Michael O’Donoghue, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, Gilda Radner, Harry Shearer, Harold Ramis, Joe Flaherty, and many others. I’ve always meant to have this on the site, but didn’t have the information or resources necessary to do so—until now. Reader Dave Meredith, who has been collecting and listening to the shows, has agreed to contribute information about the NLRH for Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site. Dave appears to be a “can-do” kind of guy, so I feel confident that it’s really gonna happen. Stay tuned!

The Inside Story on the Cover Photo of Issue No. 1

Talk about friends in high places! I was recently contacted by the woman who appeared on the cover of Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1970 (Sex) issue of National Lampoon, who now lives in the mountains of a western state. She graciously let me in on the story of how she happened to get on that cover. (I promised I wouldn’t reveal her name, to protect her privacy.) Here is how it happened, in her own words:

“In New York, models take their portfolios around to different photographers . . . it’s called ‘making the rounds.’ If the photographers are in need of models, sometimes one can pick up a quick shoot rather than waiting to be booked. The day the cover was shot was such a day. I had been to about ten studios, picked up a few free test photos that I would use for my book, but no paying job. I was not yet well known, but had done a fair amount of catalog work and some paperback book covers and such . . .

 “When I entered the studio, the photographer (and I am sorry, but I cannot remember his name; I have tried) was in a shoot. He had a busty blonde model in a bikini against a backdrop and he kept saying, “I want you to look sexy . . . real sexy. She was posing, and I suppose trying. Good looking gal; no passion coming across. I watched for a few more minutes and could hear the frustration in his voice . . .

 “I don’t know exactly what possessed me to do this, but I went behind the changing drape and put on the leather suit seen in the shot. A girlfriend had loaned it to me, as I had wanted some photos taken in it; I was to return it that day. The suit was a whole size too small and of no use to me . . . I thought. Nonetheless, it is all that I had with me. I wiggled into this suit—could not come close to buttoning it up—quietly walked across the studio until I was almost in view. The photographer was still engrossed in, ‘No, look really sexy.’

 “I waited until he looked up from the camera, the look of a long sigh on his face. I stepped onto the backdrop paper—hit the pose and said, ‘He means like this.’ The photographer got that ‘YES’ look on his face and he shot the picture without ever looking through the lens. One shot. I am afraid my baroque sense of humor took over because I walked away, redressed and left. No release, no name . . . he did not even know who I was; hence, ‘the model is unidentified.’

 “I did not know that they had used my picture for that cover shot until photographers who knew me started to call my agent and request me as a model.”

Started Reading the New O’Donoghue Book

Speaking of Michael O’Donoghue… I finally went out and bought the Dennis Perrin biography, “Mr. Mike:The Life and Work of Michael O’Donoghue, Man Who Made Comedy Dangerous,” and am about half way through. Very fascinating book! Knowing his history prior to his NatLamp days really sheds light on his work at the magazine. His pieces in National Lampoon make a even more sense when you see they are part of a much larger picture. The book also reveals O’Donoghue’s importance in setting the tone and personality of the magazine in contrast to its more restrained Harvard Lampoon roots.

New Classifieds Page Added

I have received so many messages from readers looking to either buy, sell, or trade various National Lampoon items that I have decided to add a special page devoted to such requests. As a result, this type of item will no longer appear on this News page. The inaugural edition features requests I have received over the last year, many of which I have not been able to follow up on–until now. If your query appears but is no longer valid, let me know. If you sent me a request and it does not appear, let me know (it’s difficult to keep track of them all). Any future queries to me regarding buying or selling items will automatically appear on the Classifieds page. This new page is a free service to readers of this site and should work much better than the hit-or-miss manner I have been handling them until now. (Thanks to Dave Meredith for the suggestion.)

12/3/15 Update: I stopped taking ads for the Classifieds page in March of 2012. It is now removed from the site. Sorry, everybody. It was taking too much of my time. If you have something to sell, there is eBay and Craig’s list. If you are looking for old Lampoon stuff, check out the Where To Find Stuff page.