Sky ray lolly

Posted in caught by juliobesq on August 4, 2009


Sympathy for the art gallery alerted me to the work of Dutch photographer Qiu Yang and his series based upon the common symbolic props used by Playboy between the 50s and 70s

This work is a visual study of the iconographic value of certain objects and items, which would repeatedly appear in Playboy centerfolds between the years 1950 and 1970. I focused exclusively on the constructed language of the recurring use of them and restaged these details. Each photograph is titled after the month of the original centerfold.

Ice creams, obvious. The apple being the original icon of sin. What surprises me is the omission of the rocket lolly, or the be exact the Sky Ray 3, a 70s classic from Walls. You may not have ever licked one but when you think about suggestive lolly sucking, in your mind you are seeing a Sky Ray. In much the same way that when asked to draw a tap, it will have the classic cross handle design, even though you probably haven’t used one in years. I would have thought that Qiu given the chance would have photographed one so I can only surmise that Playboy didn’t favour it’s phallic flavour. (Actually it’s raspberry, orange and lemonade). But their loss is my gain, for no prizes in guessing my next series of photographs.


See what I mean? But the potential of the Sky Ray lolly is perhaps most famously enthused by the poet Fiona Pitt-Kethley, who indeed named her debut collection and the title poem after it. I was brought a copy of it for valentines a few years back. I just googled it hoping to find a copy of it online with a creative commons license and not only is there one, but serendipitously it is published as part of a collection by Salt Publishing, whom I eulogistically urged everyone to buy a book from as part of their JustOneBook campaign two posts previously. So why not make it “Selected Poems”.

Sky Ray Lolly

A toddler on a day out in Herne Bay,
on seeing an ancient, civil-servant-type,
I held my Sky Ray lolly — red, yellow
and green striped, pointed, dripping down between
my legs and walked bandy. My Ma and Pa
(old-fashioned innocents like Rupert Bear’s)
just didn’t notice this and ambled on,
that is, until they saw the old man’s face,
jaw dislocated in surprise. They grabbed
that Martian’s willy from my little hand.

The world still sees me as a nasty kid
usurping maleness. A foul brat to be
smacked down by figures of authority.
All things most natural in men, in me
are vice — having no urge to cook or clean,
lacking maternal instincts.

And they would take my pride, my rocket
of ambition, amputate my fun and geld
my laughter, depriving me of colour.
And smirk to see my little lolly melt,
me left with a stick.

Copyright Fiona Pitt-Kethley, reproduced (with permission I hope) from Salt Publishing. Back to serious matter of ice cream (yes, it is serious, I’ve spent the last week perfecting my caramel chili recipe) and the erotic potential of confectionary, the 70s must be halcyon days even without even Cadbury’s Flake advertising. The astute eyed will spot in the adverts below that Walls had a variant called the “Kinky”.


Our modern age is not without it’s frozen thrills, may I recommend a Daniel Craig swimwear scene lolly, no, seriously.

One Response

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  1. James Plaskett said, on January 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Wife says she appreciates the plug.

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