BETTIE PAGE QUEEN OF CURVES | BUNNY YEAGER WORLD’S PRETTIEST PHOTOGRAPHER

For me, Bettie Page & Bunny Yeager epitomize iconic American pinup photography. Not just of the 1950s… Ever. In 1954, Bettie Page was working with Irving Klaw in NYC and decided a break was in order, so she headed south to Miami for relaxation and fun in the sun. That’s when fate struck. Bettie met Bunny, and the rest is pinup history. Bettie Page never looked better than in the capable hands of Bunny Yeager (herself a former model) who arguably shot the best and most famous images of the black-banged beauty– like the epic Jungle Girl shoot (shot at the Africa USA safari Park in Boca Raton), and the game-changing image of Bettie posing nude in a Santa cap for Playboy magazine in 1955.

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“When I first saw Bettie in the nude, I was pleasantly surprised; she looked great. She walked into the room on tippy-toes, like she was wearing high heels, which made her look taller and more natural at the same time. The first thing I noticed was that for some reason when she was nude, she did not seem naked. I had never seen anyone with an allover tan and she looked like the perfect doll or mannequin. Bettie was a true nudist and maintained her glorious golden olive color by sunning herself everyday. She would lie on the banks of the miami River. Maybe it was her tan, or maybe it was her attitude– she seemed completely at ease.” –Bunny Yeager, excerpt from Bettie Page, Queen of Curves

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BUNNY YEAGER | THE LEGENDARY QUEEN OF PINUPS AND PHOTOGRAPHY, PT II

Bettie Page Bunny Yeager Miami 1954

Miami, 1954– Bettie Page, Kathleen Stanley, and Bunny Yeager. Photographer Bunny Yeager was assigned to do some catalog photos of a line of petticoats and one of the models didn’t show up. Bunny jumped in, taking off her clothes and putting on a petticoat, and took this shot using a self-timer on her camera.

Bunny Yeager knew from an early age that her life’s desire was to be a model, and set out by studying the “come hither” poses of classic painted pin-up art, and snipping pictures of sexy screen sirens Betty Grable, Jane Russell, Rita Hayworth, etc., that were hoarded away in her growing collection of scrapbooks. Right after high school Bunny Yeager made it official. “I took a modeling course from an agency with the finest reputation in Miami,” she recalled.

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THE WEDNESDAY SHAMELESS PLUG | TSY x BLIPMAGAZINE’S WINTER ISSUE

Online magazine. Yuck. Please don’t ever refer to TSY as an “online magazine.”

Call it a… hell, I don’t know what you’d call it. And please don’t ever refer to me as a blogger. It makes me cringe, dunno why, but it does.  The only words that make me cringe more– ointment, moist, slacks. Use them all in a sentence in my presence–  prepare yourself for projectile vomit.

Now back to “online magazine.” It’s clearly one of the shittiest terms ever used to describe blipmagazine, in my humble opinion.  It’s the creation of Frederick Barthelme (former Editor of Mississippi Review, and Director of The Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi), who invited several of his staff members to come along to create what would become– blipmagazine.

Well, what is it exactly, you’re still asking?

“It’s a renegade outfit. And we like it that way. Literary rogue nation unto ourselves.
In fact, we’re gunning for one corner of the axis of evil, according to certain American politicos.”
–Courtney Eldridge of blipmagazine

“And what is The Selvedge Yard, you ask? Well, porn, mainly. That’s right, it’s good old-fashioned porn, the way God intended, offering up a little something-something for every body. What, you got cars, bikes, motorcycles, movie stars, centerfolds, style icons, textile design, punk rock—it’s BMX one day; Jean Cocteau the next… At the crossroads of auto-erotica and Americana, The Selvedge Yard is a celebration of that greatest of American tales: the open road.”

–Courtney Eldridge, blipmagazine

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BETTIE PAGE AND BUNNY YEAGER | LEGENDARY QUEENS OF PIN-UP

bettie page cheetah bunny yeager stairs

(Lt.) Photographer Bunny Yeager & Bettie Page (Rt.) 5′ 10″ Bunny Yeager in her modeling days

The pairing of pinup Bettie Page and shutterbug Bunnie Yeager was a deadly one-two punch combining beauty and brains. It was Bettie Page’s trademark black baby bangs, blue eyes, and red lips that are seared on our mind’s eye– but Yeager deserves a lot of credit for the photographic talent behind many of Page’s most memorable shots. Together they undoubtedly created some of the most iconic, influential, and titillating pin-up images ever that paved the way for the countless female models, actresses, artists and performers that would follow.

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Photographer Bunny Yeager

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Bunny Yeager

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Bunny herself knew from an early age that her life’s desire was to be a model, and set out by studying the “come hither” poses of classic painted pin-up art, and snipping pictures of sexy screen sirens Betty Grable, Jane Russell, Rita Hayworth, etc., that were hoarded away in her growing collection of scrapbooks. Right after high school Bunny Yeager made it official. “I took a modeling course from an agency with the finest reputation in Miami,” she recalled.

Soon Bunny Yeager was Florida’s most stunning and sought after model. “I was never a pinup model,” she was quick to point out. “I did not pose for men individually like Bettie Page did.” Bunny made a name for herself as a fashion influencer as well– designing and donning her own two-piece bathing suits. “All the other models were wearing one-piece Jantzen and Catalina suits. I made my own and am beginning to think I invented the bikini, after the French did it.”

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Famous Jungle Bettie / Bunny Yeager shoot. Bettie Page made the leopard print costume herself.

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Famous Jungle Bettie / Bunny Yeager shoot.  Bettie Page made the leopard print costume herself.

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It was 1954 when Bunny Yeager, now married, decided to make the switch and get behind the camera. Her own formal modeling experience and creativity gave Bunny a sensitivity, insight and eye that no male photographer could touch. Female models instantly found themselves comfortable working with her, and appreciated the refreshingly caring and honest approach.  It was this same year that Bunny met the baby-banged beauty who will forever be hailed as the gold standard of saucy pin-ups– Bettie Page. Up until that time Bettie was working with the likes of Irving Klaw, and anyone else who would pay, posing for pictures that were exploitive and fetishist at best, and pornographic (by 1950’s puritanical standards) at worst.

The union of Bettie & Bunny was short, but sweet. The famous Boca Raton-based Jungle Betty shoot, and Bettie Page’s 1955 January Playboy Playmate Christmas pic, are two notable highlights of their epic partnership. Bettie Page soon drifted away– posing periodically for a few more years here and there, before disappearing almost entirely from the limelight. The tabloids sizzled with sensational speculation on Page’s mysterious disappearance.  Bunny Yeager recalls the day she witnessed firsthand the shift in Bettie Page’s priorities–

“It was in the Florida Keys that one night she saw a neon cross on top of a little church, and was drawn to it to go inside. From that day on, she got religious and decided to give up posing.”

A slew of Bettie Page pics after the jump–

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