I'm a middle aged guy and so I grew up in the 60's watching shows like Gilligan's Island, and of course being a straight guy, I had the hots for Ginger and Mary Ann like every other straight guy that grew up with the show. That said, I occasionally peruse articles about old TV memories on sites like youtube and facebook and post comments.
I posted about a teenage memory on one of these pages, and judging from the responses I got, you would've thought that I had committed an unutterable blasphemy because I have a recollection of seeing a nude spread of Dawn Wells in a men's magazine some time between late spring, early summer 1975 and the spring of 1976. Now it's possible that I may be mistaken, that was 4 decades ago and the mind can have a way of compositing memories and producing a creative and subjective view of an event that may bear little resemblance to reality. However, so sure am I that this is not the case, that if anyone can prove that my memory is false, I want a neuroscientist to scan my brain and tell me how these false memories were produced, and more importantly if I can expect more of the same as I get older, because I want to know if I can look forward to something like senile dementia or Alzheimer's.
So here's a little story of what I remember, why I remember it and why I feel so confident that this memory is accurate.
I don't have a photographic memory, but I have a vivid one and I am extremely linear in how I remember things. If for some reason an event produces a significant emotion, it seems to be filed along with other synchronous events and I form this timeline in my mind when I go to remembering something years later.
The timeline is something I feel pretty sure about. Twice now, it has been suggested to me that I had seen the September, 1976 issue of Penthouse that featured Sienna Welles and Dawn Shaw, in fact, the latter bears a little resemblance to Dawn Wells. No, I'm sure I saw this issue well before that because I remember where I saw it and I remember talking about it with a friend in one of my classes during my sophomore year in high school ( Aug.1975-June,1976), so it could not have been that late. This particular friend I spoke with it about ( he initially brought it up to me and I confirmed that I , too, had seen the spread), Ray Kicklighter shared only one class with me during the one and only one year I went to that particular school. By September of 1976, my family had moved and I was on to another school and a new set of friends and the magazine spread was all but forgotten for decades.
I also remember where I saw the spread. I remember this because during that time, I had worked a few part time jobs starting in the summer of '75 and continuing on weekends throughout that school year. My dad was big on this, instead of an allowance, I got job leads. It was great, I had spending money, I could buy my own clothes and didn't have to depend on Mom's lame taste anymore, and what was really cool, I could afford weed.
Back then, it was fairly easy to obtain weed,just like today, but there were channels you had to go through, especially if you were a kid who had no car or driver's license. I usually went to a friend, I'll call Kevin, as he was older and had a car and if lucky, could obtain a dime bag or lid within a couple of hours.
Kevin lived in an apartment with a couple of other guys and while I waited, I would either peruse his collection of men's magazines (usually Penthouse,Playboy and/or the then new Hustler) or strum on his guitar. On one of these occasions, I was obviously doing the former.
I'm about 90% sure it was Penthouse because that was Kevin's fave. I'm 100% that if this is a real memory it was Dawn Wells as I remember reading the write up along with the full, frontally nude pictures that spoke about the "former Mary Ann of Gilligan's Island". Not Sienna Welles, not Dawn Shaw. Now some have suggested to me that if what I say is true, she would've been the featured star of the magazine, the Pet of the Month , but that's not what I remember, she was one of the featured attractions, but not the Pet. They have also suggested that such an event would've been a major headline and so therefore the pictures should be easily accessible today. Let me tell you why that might NOT be the case. During the time,say, 1974-76, Gilligan's Island wasn't really old enough to be a classic. It was like me driving my old, beat up 1971 Impala during the early 80's. It wasn't a classic muscle car then, it was just an old jalopy. I remember looking at reruns of Gilligan's Island during the 70's, episodes I had seen numerous times, ad nauseum and thinking, and we actually thought this was funny? So While a Dawn Wells nude might have been a novelty of, ""oh that's what she's doing now", wonder, it wasn't a tabloid headline, or not so I remember ( I'll add that my mom was a fan of tabloids and if it was a tabloid story, it never cropped up in anything my mom read).
So what's happened to the pics? I don't fuckin' know. You ask around on the net and you'll either get directed to the September, 1976 issue and/ or a tirade about how "Mary Ann would NEVER do that because she's too classy an act who will reside with the angels when she dies( I also read a post from a crazed fundamentalist Christian who stated that she would "bust hell wide open" for causing young men to "burn with lust")". Yeah, well allrighty then, I see where this is going. Here's another thing that I am 100% CERTAIN of. Mary Ann Summers, the girl next door we saw on TV, DOES NOT EXIST! SHE's NOT REAL!!!! Dawn Wells the actress, however, is quite real and therefore subject to the same pressures, bad career advice, whatever, that any other working professional could've been subjected to that would've inspired such a move as to pose nude in a magazine. The 70's was a time when many celebrities were sexually "experimenting" or "pushing the envelope" or whatever they were calling it then and if you look at what Wells was doing during the time, there are enough gaps in there, it could've conceivably happened. Why is there no evidence? I don't know, maybe she paid to have it retracted and destroyed or buried, like I said, I have no clue. All I know is what I think I remember and if you find it offensive, sorry, but seriously, is it really that much of a big deal if she did? The only reason I'm concerned is that I want to know if the memory in my head is real, I have no other vested interest other than that. It's a memory, a subjective experience, take it for what it is. To confirm or deny it requires evidence and absence of evidence, as any Christian arguing with an atheist will tell you, is not evidence of absence.