Ipy Girl Ipy popped up when I was idly looking through listings for photobooks at Yahoo Auction (in the āto shashin and not the josei tarento section, honest). I’d never heard of the book, its photographer or its model, but it was going cheap and the sample page spreads looked interesting so I sprang for it. It arrived a couple of days later.
The book starts off impressively:
(Excuse the digit at bottom left.)
On the left, the photographer Tad Wakamatsu (タッド・若松), looking cool. Only rivalled, indeed, by photographers in Canon’s slightly later advertising for its F‑1. On the right, an odd assortment of remarks on concepts that include “happy” and ippī (イッピー); also a bio of Wakamatsu that tells us he was born on 23 December 1936; dropped out of Tama‑Bi; from 1963 worked in New York as an assistant to Avedon, Hiro and Stern (as confirmed here); turned freelance in 1968; and returned to Japan in October 1970.
Then a double-page spread that’s mostly white space. Here (with apologies for fuzziness) are two areas of text within this:
The first starred item in the list of credits is the model. She’s Wanibuchi Haruko (鰐淵晴子), of whom more below. This seems to be the only mention of her within the book. Four people are credited with editing and layout, and Yamamoto Kansai credited with help in costuming. Photography involved a Minolta SR‑T 101, five lenses, a motordrive, and Tri‑X. All in all the photography is presented as far more important than the model.
The transformation from “happy” to “?” is described very obscurely. “Ipy” is particularly odd: it looks suspiciously like a botched back-transliteration from イッピー, the conventional katakana rendering of “yippie”, but there’s nothing political, theatrical or otherwise yippie-ish in the explanation, which merely says that the H has been dropped (and not that it has been replaced by a Y).
And we’re in. The book proper starts with photos, in a pleasing variety of formats, of our ipy girl with bearded biker blokes. Some sample spreads:
And there’s more of this. Unfortunately she takes a back seat. Well, better this than lamely holding the handlebars of a bike that’s on its centre stand.
At least the bikers aren’t crapulent “Hell’s Angel” types. Eventually she gets off the bike and grooves to a be-in or similar.
Wakamatsu does what I hadn’t thought possible: he uses a (corner-to-corner) “fisheye” (elder brother of this) to pleasing effect.
Those scenes were in some stadium somewhere. I can’t identify it. But there’s no mistaking the location of what comes next.
Yes, it’s the Angel of the Waters in Central Park, blessing the Croton acqueduct. The model is one level below it, then being helped up to this, then back one level below it. And she’s wearing a stunning outfit that’s presumably by Yamamoto Kansai.
The base looks slippery when wet; I’d worry about falling and breaking my skull against the next level down. But what they’re doing is fairly tame: in her 1980 portfolio ニューヨーク黙視録 = Apocalypse Now New York, Yoshida Ruiko shows a man standing on the Angel’s shoulders while removing his jeans. (Such fun is now no doubt proscribed: “The fountain is a place for quiet reflection“, which presumably rules out be-ins and freak-outs.)
Our model in the same dress, with two topless dudes. (Be patient, chaps: she too appears topless soon enough.)
After some photographs of her looking neat with big triangular earrings, something way groovier:
Left and centre: a Fug? No, they looked different, so his identity is a mystery. (Any suggestions?) On the right, our girl, negative!
Yes, we’re now tripping. The next spread is all black, save for a grainy square that seems to show the model partly covered by a crucifix, and nothing else. And then, grain heaven: a spread showing her face. Here’s just one eye:
And yes, fellas, what you’ve been waiting for since the start: she takes her top off. First one shot per page, and then two:
And now, eight translucent sheets. Here’s a spread as you’d normally see it:
The printing is on the recto, so the verso shows the back of the preceding photograph and its black is less opaque.
Here’s the same spread, with sheets of plain white A4 paper immediately under the topmost pages:
Unfortunately these translucent pages have yellowed unattractively. I suspect it’s a common problem: it’s in both my copies of the book, which are otherwise in good condition (or in book-dealer-speak, “very good” condition).
These days your nude model must be shown in a postindustrial building or somewhere else with crumbling cement (or best of all a piggery); back then it was a background of junked cars. Wakamatsu doesn’t disappoint:
Too many sharp edges there; the subway is safer:
And there’s more nudity in public places. I don’t know about precedents (or legality) in NYC, but a Japanese photographer in 1969 would have known of Kijima Takashi’s similar exploits of 1958 in Tokyo. (In fact Kijima too was in New York in 1969, doing work that wouldn’t and couldn’t be published until decades later.)
Now a little more Yamamoto Kansai stuff:
And there’s a kind of story ending to all of this. But I shan’t divulge it, as anyone interested should simply buy a copy of the book. After all, copies are plentiful and cheap. (More on this below.)
My second copy of the book came with the obi. (Or “with the rare obi”, as most book dealers outside Japan would phrase it.) The front of the obi has the publisher’s blurb for the wonderful metamorphoses (yes, 変身 is the standard Japanese title for Kafka’s Die Verwandlung) of Wanibuchi Haruko. The back says:
Or something like:
(Yes, a bit lumpy. And I might have got something wrong. Feel free to try Google’s version.)
So what we’ve been looking at so far was Part 1. (Indeed, this was introduced by the page with the “Happy → Hippy → Ipy → ?”) A page titled “Nazaré の女” (Nazaré no onna, i.e. Woman of Nazaré), one that cryptically explains the grammar of pure love (純愛の文法), now announces the shorter Part 2. (If your Portuguese geography is rusty, here is Nazaré.)
Part 2 starts off with pictures of our happy young model together with the other denizens of Nazaré, who are not so conventionally beautiful. Of course Avedon did this kind of thing for the fashion shoots of his youth, but (in the few examples I can think of) the model epitomizes cool (WASP) elegance among “ethnic” chaos. But the model here is instead an equal (compare this by Norman Parkinson), and anyway she’s not modelling clothes.
I’ve skipped a sandy romance. I’ll also skip looking-out-to-sea photographs. The model runs through the village, distraught — surely having heard that her husband has been lost at sea. She then ages quickly:
So there’s more daring with the “fisheye” — of course better on paper than here.
Now she is old.
And she dies on the beach (I think).
The book doesn’t credit anyone with make-up; maybe Wanibuchi did it herself. Somebody did a good job.
(It’s lucky that Wakamatsu and Wanibuchi got to Nazaré when they did: here we are told that A fishing town turns into a famous city.)
The scenes in the book are of course staged (not usually my thing) and the ideas behind it may seem a bit silly, but the photography is well done. And as for the book, you get “A4, 160 pages, all gravure”, to quote the ad in Yomiuri, and it’s excellently edited. For me, far more enjoyable than other items I remember glancing at in the genre of “clothed and unclothed beauties gambolling in exotic locales”, some of which are by photographers now much better known than Wakamatsu is.
I don’t know enough about nude photography (let alone gravure idolatry) to be able to say quite where this would fit into a historical survey. Nude photography in Japan was booming in the late 1950s (and started well before that), but much of this was very different (in which we see the girl’s back, the girl clutching her shins, the girl hugging a tree, etc); perhaps the late-60s work by Nakamura Masaya, Tatsuki and Shinoyama were influential here. (Yes, Shinoyama’s work was once innovative and fresh.) Certainly by 1972 or so there would be another boom, with notable work by Aramasa, Arita, Sawatari and more. The most personal would be Araki’s book of his wife Yōko (later reissued and easy to find); the most fascinating would be Fukase’s book 遊戯 (Yūgi) = Homo Ludence [sic] of his wife Yōko (a book whose affordable reissue is overdue). Ipy Girl Ipy isn’t up there, but it merits a centimetre of the bookshelf.
Here’s the back cover; and just for bibliomanes, I’ve put the uriage kādo on top. Click to see it bigger. (An uriage kādo is less common than an obi, and I think only slightly less interesting.)
Here’s a newspaper advertisement for it (Yomiuri Shinbun, 13 December 1970). The main sales point (repeated almost verbatim on the obi) is 鰐淵晴子の華麗なる変身, the magnificent transformation(s) of Wanibuchi Haruko.
For yes, Wanibuchi would have been known to many people. Her father, Wanibuchi Kenshū (鰐淵賢舟), was a violinist. According to an obituary (Asahi Shinbun, 10 September 1986), he studied music in Vienna, marrying a fellow-student. She is called ベルタ, presumably for Bertha, and was a German from Austria (thus the confusion elsewhere between Austrian and German). There’s little of either parent on the web, but we can see his unusually attractive gravestone. Her parents had Haruko (b.1945) learn the violin, piano and ballet from very young, and presumably she was bilingual too. In 1955 she starred in the film Nonchan kumo ni noru (ノンちゃん雲に乗る), playing the violin. Other films followed. As did records, and magazine covers:
More? Here she is sipping a soft drink in an ad for Nippon Beer (now Sapporo Beer). Here’s advertising for Izu no odoriko (1960), in which she starred. (If you’re thinking, “Funny, I saw Izu no odoriko, but I’m sure it starred somebody else”, you may be thinking of the 1954, 1963, 1967 or 1974 Izu no odoriko, or one of the various TV versions.) Another film was 銀嶺の王者 (Ginrei no ōja, Der König der silbernen Berge, 1960) with the Austrian skier Toni Sailer; it was filmed in Yamagata (news story), but maybe she spoke German in it. According to this, one of these ladies is her. This page presents my favourite among the photos I’ve seen so far, as she’s charmingly paired with a three-wheel truck. (I haven’t yet succeeded in finding one of her posing with a goat.)
Her music continued. The book Ipy Girl Ipy was matched (in title and typography) by her LP Ipy Girl Ipy, on which she sings and plays violin. Neither the book nor the Yomiuri ad for it mentions the LP, and the scans I’ve seen of the LP don’t mention the book. For your duckduckgoing convenience, the record is MCA Records JMC-5018. Here (selling a copy for $400) we read that This album here is astonishingly fabulous, containing here and there even a whiff vaguely reminiscent of the great Jean Claude Vannier inspired orchestrations at some odd places and a vague funk vibe at other songs that brings out the seventies feel. The obi of the LP says that a gorgeous poster from a photograph by Tad Wakamatsu is attached (タッド若松撮影による豪華ポスター付), so be sure that this is included before you shell out a high sum for the LP (which, unlike the one that followed, seems not yet to have been reissued as a CD).
The version of “Come Together” from the LP is a youtube. To my ear, this is horribly overproduced and no more hippie/yippie-ish than the cover design, but it still has a certain surreal charm.
The ad above for the book mentions an “Ipy Girl Ipy” exhibition, held at Tōkyū department store (the old Shirokiya) in Nihonbashi. (Here’s a poster for it.) There was a fair amount of hoopla about the book at the time. As Yamagishi Shōji puts it in the English introduction to the February 1971 issue of Camera Mainichi:
I’d guess that quite a lot of copies were sold. Yet now the book is described as “scarce”, selling for £120.00 here at November Books. It’s “uncommon”, says ajapanesebook.com here. A Swiss dealer wants 500 CHF for a copy (here); an Italian dealer wants 400€ for this “artist book” (here). Care for a signed copy, with obi? “Estimated Value: $1,000 – $1,200” says photoeye.com (here), adding that the opening bid was for $835.
Believe them, or believe this crude collage of screen captures I made earlier today, showing that copies are plentiful and cheap. (Yes, they’re priced in yen. If you prefer the dollar, złoty or piastre, try xe.com.) Anyway, if you’re not in Japan, here’s my advice.
Incidentally, while this book is all in monochrome, all three photographs in the February 1971 Camera Mainichi are in colour. There’s more to relate. . . .
Copyright of most of the images above belongs to Tad Wakamatsu; I don’t own the copyright of any of them.