The Sixties was sort of a bridge between the perceived innocence of the Fifties and the DILLIGAF of the Seventies. There are few decades as tumultuous –– an assassinated President, a wholly unpopular war in the sweaty armpit of Asia, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of drug culture, the loss of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy and a man on the freakin’ moon. But there were also great advances made in the pursuit of leisure, Jack: a shitty little desert stop in Nevada finally became known simply as “Vegas,” drag racing was turning from quick little tractors into things of terrible beauty and speed and Johnny Cash actually recorded a live album at a maximum security prison and ruled the world with it. And when it came to pinup girls, Joan Brinkman was the living, breathing embodiment of it: “Peyton Place” one minute and with the twist of a bra hook tested to 60psi, “Playboy After Dark” the next.
Unlike her counterparts of the era, Joan looked more like the neighbor kid’s mom down the street who might’ve spent some long nights in a basement wine bar with a rig and an ibbidy-bibbidied beatnik not too terribly long ago or the junior high librarian who probably kept a loaded revolver under the seat of her brand-new Skylark and nobody in town was the wiser. Point is, the woman had a sparkle in her eye that gave away her…complexity.
Throughout most of the Sixties, Joan posed for many men’s magazines and even spent some time in Italy on a few Spaghetti Westerns before finally ending her modeling career by 1968. But not before doing a scant few stag films and enough work to mount up at least half a dozen stage names in the process.
Not much is known as far as what exactly happened to Joan after she posed for her final issue of Fling magazine in its “Ladies Of The Harem” feature in ’68. Did she settle down to that amber suburban afternoon? Is she driving an oily black, perfectly restored ’66 Toronado with a snub-nosed .38 in her garter right past you as you wait at the light in front of Wal-Mart in your Cowboy Up Silverado? Maybe not. But we’d like to think we might turn around from our Elijah Craig at a bar one night and find Joan sitting by herself at a table. And not for long.