Sex and the Automobile

The first car on the road did more than revolutionize transportation — it created a whole new ball game.

Sex And The Automobile appeared in the bunny in May of 1973.

This was a thematic photoshoot envisioned and executed by R. Scott Hooper – famed Las Vegas photographer who, among many works, was noted for his 15+ themes pictorias that appeared in the Bunny in the 70’s and early 80’s

Origins of the shoot

In 1971 Hooper was gaining recognition with his freelance work and decided to leave the News Bureau and again open his own commercial studio. His graphic art background became a valuable asset in that he was able to design the billboards and ads as well as shoot the photographs for his clients. His advertising contracts included show producers, entertainers, hotels, casinos and clubs.

While still at the News Bureau, Hooper had assisted Playboy Magazine photographer Alexis Urba on a travel feature about Nevada. When, in 1972 Playboy needed a photographer to do a portrait of Bill Lear, Nevada’s eccentric millionaire inventor, Urba suggested Hooper for the assignment. The shot was to accompany a story about Lear and his inventions such as the steam car, so Hooper went to Reno to shoot in Harrahs famed auto collection. It turned out to be a very special assignment for Hooper. When he saw the wonderful antique cars displayed at Harrahs, it sparked his imagination and produced an idea for a Playboy Magazine pictorial on his favorite subjects, ‘Sex and Cars’. The magazine loved the idea but was reluctant to give the assignment to an unknown newcomer. In an almost unprecedented move for the publication, the editor decided to give Hooper the go ahead to produce and photograph the series. The ten page pictorial “Sex Education and the Automobile”, which ran in May 1973, was a hit and for more than 20 years gained the greatest reader response of any pictorial.


Most people seem to think that the automobile was invented to provide a more efficient means of transportation.  Not so.  Of prime concern to the creators of the earliest autos was getting sex off the porch swing and onto wheels.  This is why the world’s first automobile component was the back seat; only then was an engine invented to move it around.  This 1909 E.M.F. Touring Car was an early effort, as is evident from its draftiness, cramped quarters and lack of privacy; but at least there was no horse to watch the occupants.  So, with all its faults, the primitive auto found ready acceptance among the more adventurous folk during the Naughty Oughties.

Side note: The above features model Janet Boyd, who was portrayed in an earlier gallery Girls of the Golden West.


Just driving a 1928 Phantom Rolls-Royce was such a pleasure that a gentleman dallying in the rear with his “niece” often felt an irresistible urge to take the wheel himself.



Ordering the chauffeur to switch places, the gentlemen tooled about contentedly – until he heard odd noises from the back seat.  Rolls-Royce would learn about this; after all, the clock was supposed to be the loudest sound.



During World War Two, many a British lass sough refuge from the blitz in the rear of a London cab – preferably in custody of a GI bearing nylons.  Both driver and lass kept their meters running and split the difference when the all-clear sounded.

Back in America, the postwar baby boom got off to a brisk start at drive-in theaters across the land, particularly on triple-feature nights.



The ’54 Corvette was obviously made to be parked on Blueberry Hill.  Indeed, many a bobby-soxer lost both her sox and her blueberry to the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll on the car audio.  Two problems of the Fifties: ‘Vettes, like early ‘Birds, seemed to run out of gas around 10 p.m. and American males found later in life that only the touch of a steering wheel against the lumbar region could arouse them sexually.


In the Sixties, most kids were putting flowers in their hair and splitting for the Coast – and getting there was all the fun.  Psychedelic VW Microbuses, fitted with heavy-duty springs, could be seen bouncing along the nation’s highways.  (Curiously, the vehicles continued bouncing when stopped at traffic lights as well.)  And statements like “We came all the way from N.Y. to L.A.” took on heavy new meaning.


ONE OF A KIND, Vintage Playboy Hand painted Hub Cap
Used in the May 1973 Playboy layout “Sex Education and the Automobile”


Much to Playboy’s amazement the layout “Sex Education and the Automobile” featured in the May1973 issue, got more reader response than any
article so far in the magazines 20 years of history (at the time). It seemed everyone could relate to a feature on girls and cars, and they all had
received at least some of their sex education in the back seat of a car!

The layout was conceived and photographed by the (at that time) new up and coming photographer R. Scott Hooper. The pictorial spanning the time
from the first automobile with the Gibson girl to the present day, 1973.

Many famous cars were used in that pictorial, some were taken out of car museums, like Norma Talmadge’s 1927 Rolls Royce limo. The layout
featured numerous old cars together with people in erotic situations (unclothed in fashions of the times).

To represent the present day and it’s happenings then (1973), Hooper chose to shoot a VW van with a couple of girls hitching a ride, then having a
free love sortie inside the bus while trucking down the highway.

“First a VW van was purchased. Then we asked some friends over one sunday afternoon and with a little help from my kids and friends we all
painted the side of the van with psychedelic paintings. Then I went back the next day and cleaned up all the paintings and hand-painted this hub cap.
The protruding hub cap looked so obviously like something familiar, so I hand-painted bunny on it to make a beauty mark. After all the outside pictures
of the van were taken of it traveling down to road (with a 4×5 Linhof), and the first exposures well marked, the van was then sawed in half
for the planned pictures inside the van to be double exposed on the same pieces of film. The idea was to show the VW van trucking down the road,
with an ‘orgy’ going on inside. After all that work…Playboy never ran the multiple-exposure. Needless to say, the van wasn’t much use after it
was sawed in half. Besides this hubcap, I actually still have the painted side we sawed off!”


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2 Responses to Sex and the Automobile

  1. Pingback: Janet Boyd | ixtapolapoquetl

  2. Can I be of any service?

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