Here’s another memory from my cartoonist buddy, Randy Enos.
In the late 60’s, most of us red blooded American men were enthralled by a beautiful Swedish girl that appeared in Noxzema medicated shaving cream commercials. As a man with a lathered face started to shave in rhythm with some “stripper” music, the girl’s face appeared in close-up on the right side of the screen. Her sultry gaze looked straight out at us as she intoned, ” Take it off, take it ALL off”.
Her name was Gunilla Knutsen. Here’s the old commercial on YouTube …
A photographer named J. Barry O’Rourke saw some psychedelic art I had done somewhere and called me up. He had a job for Look Magazine and needed my help. He was photographing Gunilla for a feature in the magazine and he needed someone to paint psychedelic designs on her face and body. I said, “Gee, sorry, I’m busy”!
NO, I did not say that. I packed up some acrylic paint and some sable brushes and off I went to his New York studio.
It certainly was the era of psychedelic art. I was doing a lot of it. The artist Peter Max was in the forefront of it all. Max was a master promoter. One day, I looked out of the window in the office of one of my art directors at NBC and gazed across 6th Avenue to see a new building going up. Max had supplied the gigantic hanging tarps that they used to shield the floors under construction. So, all the way around the building, in VERY large letters it said ” Peter Max, Peter Max, Peter Max”.
So, I arrive at O’Rourke’s studio and there is the Swedish beauty herself in a silver bikini. Barry instructed her to just lie on the floor and I was to work on her there. So, I crouched beside her, squeezed out some color on my palette and started in working around her navel. My circular design developed with curlicues and circles in many different colors. I was inventing it as I went along, I had no sketch or anything, I just let it build any way it wanted to.
Right off the bat, I noticed one thing. Gunilla had incredibly soft and ultra smooth skin. My brush just glided across my “canvas” beautifully. I have never worked on such a remarkable surface. She just lay there with her eyes shut and didn’t move a muscle. When I finished with her stomach area, I proceeded to her face. I confined my design to just the right side of her face. I used Liquitex acrylics because they were bright and colorful, dried quickly, lasted quite a long time and were easy to wash off. I had done a little face painting at that point and I had also painted my entire ’61 Volkswagon Beetle with psychedelic designs when its original bright red color had started to fade. I covered the entire car with spirals and swirls and curlicues from stem to stern. I n later years when the car started to fall apart on me, I gave it to a friend of my son, who was collecting Volkswagon parts for his friends. For years after that, I would be downtown in Westport and see things like a plain blue VW drive by with a wildly painted hood or side door. My old car lived on like that for a long time. The paint remained pretty much as bright as it was when I first painted it.
But, I digress… back to my Gunilla painting chores. After I finished painting her face, I wrapped up my gear and I told Gunilla that it should wash off easily after she finished posing for the spread. She said she’d probably wash off her stomach but she was going to leave the designs on her face because she was going to a party later that evening and she thought it would look pretty good and unusual to go with her face painted.
SO… the woman who was famous for “Take it off”, actually… left it on!
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Read many more of Randy’s cartooning memories: