My Modeling Names

February 28, 2011 at 4:48 am | Posted in Non-fiction Essays | 5 Comments
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For my first modeling assignment, with Peter Gowland for Cavalier, I used my real name at the time – Gloria Moeser – and that is the name Cavalier used as well. I did this because:

  1. I was naive and thought all models used their real names;
  2. Neither Alice nor Peter Gowland suggested I adopt a special modeling name; and
  3. I thought this would be my one and only magazine appearance

When I acquired an agent, he asked me if I wanted to continue to use my real name. I thought about it for a minute. I wasn’t ashamed of my nude modeling and didn’t want to hide my identity. On the other hand, I didn’t want strangers phoning me – I was in the telephone book. So I decided to adopt the name “Gloria Dawn.” These were my first two names. People who knew me would still know it was me but strangers wouldn’t be able to locate me using a phone book. As a blond, I always signed model release forms with my real name and added the stipulation “to be called Gloria Dawn.”

The Model Release Form

In those innocent days of the 1960s, the model release form was the only contract a model signed. It gave the photographer the right to sell pictures of her taken on a specific date. Any stipulations placed by the model on this sale (such as the name to be used) were thus legally binding.

I have checked through all the magazines that feature me as a blond. The majority of them call me “Gloria Dawn.” In a couple – Topper, September 1962 and Flirt (date unknown), I am simply called “Gloria,” and a few don’t name me at all – Bachelor’s Best, Sir, Adam Bedside Reader, Figure Annual, Figure Quarterly, and Peter Gowland Photographs the Figure.

However, Sassy (v1, n3, no date), called me “Irma.” I am sure that it was not Ron Vogel, the photographer, who changed my modeling name but the magazine editor. Sassy went kaput after this issue. Also, in Madcap, (v1, n3, 1963), a Parliament Magazine, I was called “Annette Carey.” These Madcap photos were taken by Jim Sullivan and were part of a series with a painter that initially appeared in Rogue, October 1962. In Rogue I am called “Gloria Dawn.” Again, I believe it was not the photographer who changed my name but the magazine editor. These two magazine publications broke the written contract.

My modeling names started going wild after I dyed my hair black. During my first brunette session, with Bill Crespinel, I was more concerned with getting paid than with the name used, so my stipulation was that I be paid $50 before any pictures could be published. I don’t believe I stipulated a modeling name. Crespinel called me “Mary Hayes” in a layout he sold to Jaguar (November 1965) and “Ginger” in a layout sold to Frenchy (v1, n3, 1963). No name was attached to a large series of pictures sold to Romper (v1, n1, 1964).

Then I modeled for Keith Bernard. Keith came up with the name “Susan Norman” for me and stuck to this name during the several years that he sold my pictures. In only one case – a small picture in Ace (July 1968) – was a different name used for a Keith Bernard photo – “Brenda Barr.” I’m sure this also was a magazine editor’s decision.

Then I modeled for Mario Casilli in the blond wig. No name was attached to the pictures of me in this wig.

About this time, having returned to my agent, I decided I wanted to return to my “Gloria Dawn” modeling name. Unfortunately the next photographer my agent found for me was Elmer Batters, who worked exclusively for Parliament Magazines.  Parliament was the one company that ignored the model release contract. Thus far, photo layouts from that one-day modeling session with Batters have been found under the name “Sandra Lobo,” “Corinne Curry,” “Dallas Blair,” “Dorothy Eden,” “Gail Gavin,” and “The Mystery Stripper.”   A couple of weeks ago, a new one was found – “Antoinette Desiles.”   Parliament printed almost every photo Batters shot that day – bad pictures as well as good ones.  There could be more out there under new, and sometime incredible, names.

After my session with Batters, I bleached my hair back to blond. It came out dark blond. I never had a magazine photo session with this dark blond hair but I did take part in a soft-porn movie. Two still photographers worked on this movie set. I knew them both – Elmer Batters and Jim Sullivan. The still photographs were supposed to be used for lighting purposes and possibly publicity stills. In fact, the movie was never completed but some of these still photographs appeared in magazines. The Batters’ photos again appeared in Parliament magazines. The name “Leslie Southern” was used in one layout (Late Show, v2, n2, 1964) and in two layouts I appeared as “Donna Cole” (Tip Top, 1964; Thigh High, 1967). Jim Sullivan took photos of the party scene (with me in a blond wig) and either called me “Gloria” or didn’t use any name for me.

The oddest occurrence of being misnamed was in The Big Book of Legs (2008), edited by Dian Hanson. A full page picture of me was labeled “Susan Norman” but it was not a picture by Keith Bernard. Bernard was the only photographer who ever used the name “Susan Norman” in any magazine. I talked to Dian Hanson. The photo was supplied by Yesterday’s Girls, a company that bought all the photos from the American Art Agency which published Parliament Magazines. When they were trying to identify me, the owner of Yesterday’s Girls came up with “Susan Norman,” probably because he had seen pictures of me with black hair in “respectable” magazines where I was called “Susan Norman.”

I wish that the name “Gloria Dawn” had been used for me in all magazines. Not only would that make it easier to find my photos but also it would have increased my visibility as a model, especially as some of the pictures, such as the Donna Cole set, have become collectors’ items.

Shannon Moeser

Dallas Blair by Elmer Batters

Donna Cole by Elmer Batters

Properly Identified as “Gloria Dawn” in the Big Butt Book (Photograph by Elmer Batters)

Portrait of a Lie

February 19, 2011 at 10:20 am | Posted in Childhood Stories, Memoir -- Non-fiction Stories | Leave a comment
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First published in Island Writer Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 2 (Winter 2010), pages 52-54.

On my fifth birthday, I received scissors.  I’ve forgotten what else I got, but I remember cutting paper with blunt-nosed safety scissors, small enough to fit my hand.  And I remember preparing to snip a strand of my hair, until Mom stopped me by saying, “Don’t cut your hair.”

“I won’t.  I promise,” I replied.

Later, my mother left the room while I lay sprawled on the floor, cutting paper.  Beside me played my puppy, a short-haired, black-and-white terrier named “Sparky.”

A section of hair slipped from its ribbon tie, falling over my right eye and obscuring my view.  Without thinking, I grabbed the loose piece and cut it off, then recalled my promise.  “Oh,” I thought, “Mommy won’t notice.”  My mother was easy going, so I got away with lots of mischief.

But she did notice.  Hair that previously flowed down the side of my face now formed a jagged bang.  Mom frowned—she seldom frowned—and said I broke my promise.

“But I didn’t cut my hair, Mommy.  Sparky chewed it off.”

Mom looked into my eyes.  I lowered mine.  Suddenly I clutched a piece of my hair, waved it in front of Sparky.  He grabbed it, as puppies often do when things are waved in front of them, but he simply tugged, didn’t chew.  Nonetheless, Mom was convinced that the dog chewed off my hair.

I don’t know why I lied.  My punishment would only have been a mild scolding.  My lie, made up on the spur of the moment, wouldn’t be accepted by most adults, but my trusting, uncomplicated mother wanted to believe me.

Two days after the hair-cutting incident, a photographer knocked on the door.  He was taking portraits of children.  Mom said she wasn’t interested.

“Her hair,” she added as way of explanation.

“You don’t have to pay if you don’t like it, ma’am,” the man countered.

Mom looked at me and I beamed, conveying my desire without words.

While the photographer set up his equipment in the living room, Mom whisked me upstairs to change into my best dress, quickly brushed my shoulder-length, wavy hair and tied one side with a big pink ribbon to match my dress.

I sat as the photographer requested—left arm on a table, chin resting on my right hand—and smiled.

A few days later, he returned with a hand-colored photograph.  Background shades were muted but face details were carefully rendered and brightly tinted.  My off-center smile hinted at playfulness, my eyes shined with impish glee, and the jagged wisps of hair I cut softened my broad forehead.

Shannon Moeser: “Mom’s Favorite Picture of Me”

Mom loved the portrait.  For the rest of her life, it was prominently displayed: on a piano, fireplace mantle or cabinet, depending on the home.  Often, she would show it to visitors, invariably adding, “You can see where the dog chewed off her hair.”  Sometimes she elaborated on the dog, saying what a terror he had been.  Poor Sparky.  Blamed for something he didn’t do.  And each time she told the story, I remembered the truth.

I probably would have forgotten the incident if not for the photograph.  It refreshed my memory and guilt kept me from telling the true story to anyone.  But I never told Mom a lie again.  Sometimes I avoided mentioning activities I preferred to keep secret.  Sometimes I exaggerated my “tummy ache” to miss school.  But I never again told her a lie when asked a direct question.

During my rebellious teens and early twenties, I broke social conventions, but owned up to my transgressions and Mom always supported me.  She was the buoy that kept me from drowning while I splashed in forbidden waters.  When, in my late twenties, I became a successful scholar, she reveled in the reflected glow of my accomplishments.

In Mother’s 80th year (and my 40th), we were discussing the pictures and souvenirs cluttering up her small apartment.  She picked up “the portrait” with her wrinkled, arthritic hands and once again said how much she loved it, even though “the dog had chewed my hair off.”

I couldn’t stand it any longer.  I said, “The dog didn’t do it.  I cut it off with my little scissors.”

Mother no longer remembered the original incident, didn’t even remember Sparky who was killed chasing a car when I was seven.  The phrase “the dog chewed it off” was now something she said each time she referred to the picture, a remark of habit rather than recall.

So I described the incident that occurred 35 years earlier.  Mother remained silent for several seconds until she understood, then said “Oh.”  She paused, and added, “Why?”  I didn’t reply. The “why” was to escape a scolding, but it seemed trivial now.  I shrugged and Mother started talking about something else.  My childhood lie didn’t bother her.  I can laugh at it now, see it as she did—just a childish prank.  But, for many years, the memory evoked by this portrait stopped me from lying to my mother and helped forge our honest, open relationship.

Shannon Moeser


Hand-painted pictures involved manually adding color to a black-and-white photograph.   They were popular until color film became readily available in the mid-1940s.  Hand-colored portraits in the 1940s had a softer tone than color film.

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