THE ORIGINAL “IT” GIRL OF THE 1920s | THE ALLURE OF LOUISE BROOKS

“The great art of films does not consist in descriptive movement of face and body,

but in the movements of thought and soul transmitted in a kind of intense isolation.”

–Louise Brooks

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Louise Brooks — The stunning tastemaker of the ’20s & ’30s, who made women everywhere chop their hair, and created the bold and wildly popular “flapper girl” movement.  Louise Brooks’ dark and exotic looks drew a throng of faithful followers that continues to this day. Early on her onscreen talent was often criticized for being somewhat lackluster– but all that changed with a trip to Berlin.  Director G.W. Pabst cast her in two films– Pandora’s Box (1928), and Diary of a lost Girl (1929), that not only cast all doubts about her talent, it also rose her following to cult status.

Brooks, who was known to be strongly independent, and unliked by Hollywood’s elite for not always being the submissive woman expected of her, was beckoned back to Hollywood to record sound retakes for The Canary Murder Case (1929). She flatly refused. Many in Hollywood blacklisted her for her defiance– and in a final act of independence she decidedly ended her own acting career in 1938.  She flirted with a comeback, but by 1946, she was a sales girl at Saks Fifth Avenue making $40-a-week.  She went on to become an accomplished  painter and writer– publishing several novels, including her own biography– Lulu in Hollywood.

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1928 — Legendary American film actress, Louise Brooks (1906 – 1985), wearing a long pearl necklace  against a black background. — Photo by Eugene Robert Richee © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

1929 — Louise Brooks — Photo by James Abbe

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BLAZE STARR & TEMPEST STORM | BUSTY BAD GIRLS OF BURLESQUE

September 1955– American burlesque performer Blaze Starr poses for American painter Joseph Sheppard in his studio as he finishes a 4’X6′ portrait of her. Starr wears a semi-transparent bra and panty set with high heels. –Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

TEMPEST STORM BUST CHEST BREASTS

(Above, left) 1954, San Francisco, CA– Designer James Berry strips tape and jersey form from the body of Burlesque queen Tempest Storm in preparation for a mannequin of the buxom striptease in San Francisco, where a celebration will mark the 1,000,000th dollar she has drawn through box offices to date. The completed mannequin will adorn the theater marquee where she appears as part of the event.  (Above, right) ca. 1954, Hollywood, CA– United Press Hollywood correspondent Vernon Scott muses over his tape measure after checking the dimensions of stripper Tempest Storm’s curves.  Scott interviewed the 24 year old strip queen in regard to the one million dollar insurance policy she has taken on her body with Lloyd’s of London. She said she took the policy, “to protect my million dollar income.”  She claims she amassed the million dollars in only four years of shedding her clothes on burlesque stages. Also, she is afraid she might injure herself as she did recently. For Lloyd’s of London, she listed her measurements as follows– neck, 16 inches; wrist, 6; ankle, 9; bust, 41, waist, 24; and hips, 34. She shed a sweater for her press conference but when gawking reporters asked if she’d ever visited a nudist camp, she blushed. “I shouldn’t say not,” she exclaimed. “That wouldn’t be nice at all.” –Images by © Bettmann/Corbis

Legendary stripper and burlesque dancer “Blaze Starr” was born Fannie Belle Fleming in 1932, in West Virginia. She ran-away when she was fifteen yrs old, and ended up in Washington, D.C., where she was discovered working as a hat-check girl by her first manager Red Snyder– who convinced her to strip. It was Snyder who gave her the stagename “Blaze Starr.” Their time together would be short lived after he tried to rape her. With her fiery red hair, and voluptuous 38D-24-37 figure, and sultry, energetic and captivating stage presence (her stage routines included a comedic exploding coach gag and having a large trained black panther untie a ribbon on her costume which made it fall to the floor), Blaze became a major headliner at the “Two O`Clock Club” in Baltimore, Maryland and earned the nicknames “Miss Spontaneous Combustion” and “The Hottest Blaze in Burlesque.”

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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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HOW TO MOTIVATE THE MALE MORALE | THE PERSUASIVE POWER OF THE PINUP

Betty Grable, in what may be the most iconic pinup image of all time.  –Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though its origins can be traced further back, it was WWII that really put pinups on the map.  The pinup was a reminder to troops of what awaited back home, and as us men go, served as the ultimate motivator to the male psyche– T&A.  What can I say, we are simple creatures.  Maybe you see it as an objectification of women, but the fact is it kept soldier’s morale up in dark, harrowing and uncertain times.  It also served to launch the careers of many a young Hollywood starlet.

It’s an art form expressed through performance, photography, fashion, music, tattoos, etc., that is with us to this day.  It’s taken a decidedly more alternative bent in recent years with the popularity of Bettie Page, Dita Von Teese, Suicide Girls, etc., all of which have helped to keep pinup fanaticism front and center.  Long live the pinup.

May 18th, 1944 — A variation of the old Police Gazette, that used to keep customers happy in grandfather’s day, is this collection of pinup cuties adorning the wall of this barber shop at a U.S. Marine Base in the Pacific. Barber Joseph J. Perino, a Marine Corporal from New Orleans, Louisiana, and a veteran of Guadalcanal, here trims the locks of a customer, who uses the interim for a “dream on the house.” — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Nov 23rd, 1943 — Here are members of the B-24 Liberator Bomber “Miss Giving” credited with making the longest flight mission from Australia while on photographic reconnaissance over a Japanese Oil producing city last October. The Ship fought its way through intense anti-aircraft fire and was intercepted by approximately nine enemy fighters, downing four of them in battle.  One engine was knocked out, but the plane returned to its base without injury to any crew members.  Left to right, front: S/Sgt. Aloysius Ziober, Chicago, Ill., Gunner; Capt. Jack Banks, Portland, Ore., Pilot; 2nd Lt. John Calhoun, Wenona, Ill., co-pilot; 1st Lt. Robert MacFarland, Philadelphia, navigator; 1stLt. Clinton McMillan, Chicago, Bombardier; Back Row: T/Sgt. James Ressguard, Seattle, radio-man; Sgt. Donald J. Ford, Kansas City, gunner; Sgt. James Murphy, Elkhardt, Ind., gunner; T/Sgt. Phileman Blais, — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

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