April 25, 2013
The Frankenstein Monster checks out Brigitte Bardot’s assets in a photomontage illustrating a short humor piece — call it skin mag whimsy — for Hi-Life magazine, cover dated May 1959. The author is Forry Ackerman, moonlighting from his duties as editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, then only 3 issues old.
In Frankenstein’s Bebe?, Ackerman imagines a movie where the barely articulate Frankenstein Monster builds his own mate. “A virgin Brigitte,” reads Ackerman’s colorful prose, “burgeoning into a life of nubility, nude as the Marilyn Monroe calendar on September Morn as she lies supine on the operating table…” The Mad Doctor/Monster presses “a twitching ear to her bewitching poitrine to detect the first heartbeat.”
A former model, young Brigitte Bardot became an instant sensation and an international sex symbol — nicknamed Bébé, from her initials — with her appearance in Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman in 1956. Ackerman’s title for his imaginary Frankenstein/Bardot film, Frankenstein Created Woman, predates the Hammer film of the same name by eight years! Furthermore, Ackerman imagines the Bébé Bride wearing “a pseudo-bikini hastily contrived from some medical gauze in the lab”, a perfect description of the flimsy costume worn by Susan Denberg in promotional stills and the poster from the Hammer entry of 1967.
Switching to screenplay format, Ackerman recounts the closing moments of his mind’s eye movie as Bébé's bosom “heaves convulsively with her first breath of life!” The Monster growls, “You — girl. I — make — you!”, whereupon Bébé, who, has it happens, had been given the brains of a nymphomaniac, unfastens her “diaperette”, and the film ends on a Technicolor closeup, “Her gluteus glorious suddenly leaps to life… The Frankenstein Monster meets the barefoot girl with cheeks of tan! It is THE LIVING END!”
Hi-Life was published out of New York City by Wilmot Enterprises, one of countless men’s mags peppered with nudie pictures, discount versions of the massively popular and revolutionary Playboy magazine first published in 1953. Ackerman might have become acquainted with the title as a literary agent. That’s how he met Famous Monsters publisher James Warren, placing work by his clients in Warren’s own Hefner-inspired men’s mag, the short-lived After Hours. The two men hit it off and Warren hired Ackerman as editor of Famous Monsters, launched in February 1958.
In another Hi-Life/Forry/Famous Monsters connection, the March 1963 issue of Hi-Life carried a jokey article about the popularity of horror movies called How to Make a Monster, by one Harry Schreiner. The title of the article used Famous Monster’s very distinctive logo. It’s unlikely that Ackerman had any involvement, or that he or FM publisher Warren would have condoned the swipe.
With big thanks to collector George Chastain for sharing his copy of Hi-Life.
Excerpts from Hi-Life on Perverse Osmosis.
A collection of Hi-Life covers on Stagmags.