Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tura Satana at the Spiderpool

Pictures NSFW. A more detailed version is here at my other blog, though most of the pictures of Tura Satana are here.

This is such a long story, but I'll try to tell the short version: John McDermott, writer and director of silent films, cobbled together a crazy house in the 1920s. It was made of underground tunnels, tile samples and pilfered film sets, films such as "Song of Love," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Thief of Baghdad". The house held a lot of sexy Hollywood parties in the 1920s, not just because of its odd nature and slightly out of the way location -- way up in the hills of Hollywood -- but also because of the sexy sexy outdoor pool known now as the Spiderpool. Lots of gorgeous columns, a set or 2 of arches, a large round temple/hut, cement scallops, beautiful tile surrounded what must have been a featured area: A large tile spider (with a little wasp on its side "caught" in the web) which acted as a waterfall to the pool. No one knows where the spider tile came from, but it has been speculated it was a set piece for "The Spider and the Rose" which McDermott directed. (The plot of movie here.)

McDermott didn't make it after talkies came in. He died, some say from suicide, in the house in 1946. It was occupied by a friend of his until fire burned some of it in 1947, at which point McDermott's nephew inherited the estate. He never lived there but others did, mainly as caretakers. In 1950, almost as soon as McDermott died, the Spiderpool began to be used for nude photography. Harold Lloyd -- who probably knew of the McDermott estate back when it was a Hollywood party place in the 1920s -- is known to have taken the iconic photo of Tura at the Spiderpool below as well as other 3D cheesecake photos. I'm not sure if he took the other pictures I have below, but I assume he did and these are all from the same photo shoot.

In 1958, the house was bought and vandals who had been frequenting the place chased away, but the city building services essentially condemned the place and, as far as anyone knew, the entire house was torn town. The lots around it were divided in such a way that you cannot get to the McDermott estate without trespassing. The place was considered lost.

I've been reading about the Spiderpool for years, first on Usenet on, then from silent movie bloggers and colleagues. Several years ago, people who collect vintage nudes started to ask about the location they eventually called the Spiderpool. The columns, edges, and pool made the place easily recognizable even if you couldn't see the spider waterfall in the photos. These collectors pieced together the rough location from geographic clues in these old nudie pictures, and someone in 2004 found the location; pictures and notes from finding it here. While they found the pool, they couldn't find the house. In 2008, someone else found it and discovered some of the house is still standing.

More: Wiki and history here, capture of the old Spiderpool blog (defunct since 2006) here, and discussion of the original finding here.

And now, the pictures:

 tura satana at the spiderpool circa 1954

Comments turned off as of 7/22/10 due to spammers. 2/26/13: The photos went missing when I changed hosting accounts. They have been restored, though are the victims of Blogger's new "improved" photo hosting issues.

1 comment:

  1. In some of the photos, where she's looking down, she looks a little like Kwan Yin!