Miss Science Fiction

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Lois Jean Miles, “Miss Science Fiction,” at Cinvention, September 1949 before the backdrop by Bill Kroll. (The backdrop is the same as the other photo below but the occasion possibly another: note absence of the box, maybe of a thigh strap-on, and even the headdress looks different.) – From the collection of Forrest J Ackerman via Andrew I. Porter.

(March 23, 1929 – May 20, 1989)

Lois (Jean) Miles was (according to a 1976 account by Fred Patten) the most prominent of several (femme)fans who posed in costume for the benefit of the press at the 1949 Cinvention under the nickname Miss Science Fiction. She wore “a sort of leopard-spotted swim suit with a telephone dial strapped to one thigh and a walkie-talkie cap,” Patten wrote (the attire, now visible on the photos, was more correctly described as "bra and a hip-length skirt").[1]

Roy Lavender wrote in his conrep, “The Convention Scene Dimly” in Cinvention Memory Book:

Found that she was a most appropriate choice for "Miss Science Fiction", even if only by chance. She really does read s-f and can talk it with the most rabid of the fans. Need I add that only the most rabid fans would? Our best to her. She did her job well.
Photo by Ran Cochran, reprinted courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer[2] in Bob Tucker’s Bloomington News Letter 13 (October 1949). She “sported a walkie-talkie attachment,” noted the Enquirer, but “had a difficult time keeping receiving set upright on her blond head.”

Other attendees disagreed, as Dick Eney wrote in Fancyclopedia 2 (below, though with factual inaccuracies), and few seemed to take the time to figure out who she was, apparently in an early “Fake Geek Girls” reaction. Fancy2 further listed "the uproar over the Miss Science Fiction promotion at the CinVention" as one of the defining "aspects of the struggle against commercialism" in the Fifth Fandom, though it remains to be seen what the response in the fanzines of the era was. It is true that New York lost the 1950 Worldcon Site Selection by a few votes where each one would matter, but its bid had been controversial for more reasons.

Lois Miles was in fact not only Dave Kyle’s girlfriend at the time, but also a member and secretary of New York’s Hydra Club, and a schoolmate of Carol Stanton’s. Kyle recalled in "Sex in Fandom", Mimosa 10 (July 1991):

It wasn’t until my return to the New York scene to start Gnome Press with Martin (the original) Greenberg in the late 1940s that I had a steady girl friend who became part of the science fiction crowd, Lois Miles. She was a garment district model, a tall girl from Pennsylvania described by my friends as a ‘beautiful, blue-eyed blonde who deserves better.’ Lois became a regular at the Hydra Club, and when I became chairman, she became the secretary. Lois had two friends who subsequently became regulars at Hydra, Carol and Edna. Carol became Fred Pohl's wife after Judy Merril, and Eddie became Mrs. A. J. Budrys. […]
Statuesque Lois Miles became "Miss Science Fiction" for the weekend with a newspaper spread. Pretty Nancy Moore, local girl, also was a photogenic item, and convention sexiness began to get some serious coverage. Because of my connection with Lois, sharp tongues wagged about the merits of the idea "of that professional model from the East," but as I was connected with Transradio Press, and science fiction as a genre was not yet booming, the publicity ploy was accepted as worthwhile. 

In 1951, Lois married Futurian Jack Gillespie. She was born in Cleveland, OH, and lived in Pennsylvania before moving to New York.

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
At the CinVention, the Hydra Club rang in on us a cheesecake model (Dave Kyle seems to have been responsible) who had been promised that she'd be declared "Miss Science Fiction" and would be available for the usual lightly-clad photos. The general indignation was voiced by Milt Rothman, who declared that if this was a sample of what they could expect from New York (which was bidding for next year's con) Portland would have his vote. The move was justified on the ground that all publicity is good publicity (a doubtful claim anyway, and hardly one to appeal to fans). Objection to it was founded on (1) the fact that fandom didn't sponsor it -- it was dropped into the con with no notice; (2) the model's exhibition of model-type stupidity about stf; (3) the sort of people it would attract; not that fans don't enjoy Beautiful Unclad Damsels in picture and person, but as publicity such things are identified with middlebrow and lower types of people. Fans, as individualists of some intelligence and education and critics of standardized morality, rank as highbrows (yes, SaM, even when they drive trucks) and could not attract compatible types by cheesecake publicity.
From Fancyclopedia 2 Supplement, ca. 1960
Her name was Lois Miles.

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Person 19291989
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  1. Gnome Press: The Founders: "In Cincinnati, struggling to remain upright because of a radio receiver implanted into her upswept hair, “Miss Science Fiction,” as Miles was billed, wore only a leopard-skin bra and a hip-length skirt." Note that the (unsigned but detailed) article sources the sentence via footnote 32/xxxii to Dave Kyle's reminiscence, but it does not contain any such description (nor does the sentence employ quote marks to suggest it); either this is an attribution error, or possibly the paper Mimosa did reprint the photo, not scanned for the HTML version.
  2. As noted in "Gnome Press: The Founders", this was “When Fantasy Fans Met,” Cincinnati Enquirer Pictorial Magazine, (Sunday) September 18, 1949, page 16 (to 17): See thumbnails in the online archive: the Pictorial Magazine's title page is whole no 111, so the article is under 126, and Lois's photo at 127 bottom left, under another woman in a dress; see somewhat bigger thumbnail.