Your Unauthorized Guide to the Golden Age of National Lampoon Magazine

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

October 1, 1998

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.”


OK, Mark, First. thanks pal, for keeping the Lampoon faith and web happening and active, or really, just here on the web. I admire your devotion to making fun part of Americana. I was a part of those early days, and I do thank you, since many of the original actors have either DIED, moved on, or ... I don't know. Where are they now? The Lampoon grew from a Harvard tradition via Doug and Henry to be a mag, and on to shows, movies, and so much of the mag days and writers and artists, photographers are listed here - made real and remembered. The above story tells us how much of the early Lampoon was luck and location. In those days, if Doug liked it, great! And without Peter Bramley, Doug and Henry would not have started the magazine with the outré NYC hipsters Cloud Studio. Then, as Rick M. so well makes history in his fine book, it moved on to Madison Avenue, TV and Hollywood, and so the American Dream goes. Upward and Onward! Even if it means that you might step off the dream into ... it's been a long, funny ride. I know the ones who weren't there can get some sense of the fun... right here. Best wishes ongoing. Den NC USA CUE: Doug and Michael O'D in radiant white suits.

—Dennis Hermanson

January 14, 2021 9:50 pm

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