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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BUSTY BETTY BROSMER | PINUP PHENOM & 1950’S COVERGIRL QUEEN

betty brosmer

Betty Brosmer was the highest paid supermodel of the 1950s – winning more than 50 beauty contests before the age of 20 yrs old, posing for more than 300 magazine covers, and stunning men and women alike with her insane hourglass figure (38″-18″-36″)! You litereally could not go anywhere without seeing her image in a magazine, on a record album, or store window display. She married the fitness icon Joe Weider in 1961, and joined his fitness lifestyle empire. Together they co-authored several books on bodybuilding, and founded the International Federation of BodyBuilders. Check out this trove of photos of Betty Brosmer in her stunning prime.

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DANCER & MOTORCYCLE RACER PATTI WAGGIN | SHE STRIPPED AND SHE ROARED!

bill brownell Patti Waggin harley davidson motorcycle

A young Patti Waggin presenting 1950 AMA Grand National Champion, Larry Headrick, with a trophy. His career prematurely ended in 1950 when he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle on the street. The accident shattered Headrick’s left leg, making it impossible for him to race again on the dirt ovals. The rider from San Jose, California, was tragically forced into retirement just has his career was taking off. via

“If there’s one word to describe shapely Patti Brownell, it’s excitement. The young lass lives by it–and for it. Into her existence, Patti packs a triple life: During the day, she’s a student at California’s Chico State College: at night she draws tremendous crowds into the cafe where she presents her whiz bang strip act: and on her off moments, Patti is a death-defying motorcyclist. As far as our luscious blue-eyed blonde is concerned, there’s nothing unusual about her life. Patti’s been winning trophies for motorcycle riding since she was 14. She loves the sport.

Show business is also old hat for Patti. Her mother and father were adagio dancers in vaudeville, and it was only natural that they should teach their little girl the art. Patti wanted a college education, and she was able to pay her way with her show business savvy. As for the future, Patti wants a home in the country, four kids–and lots of motorcycles.”

patti waggin brownell stripper motorcycle

“Bumps are nothing new to luscious Patti–either on a motorcycle or in the strip tease profession.” Born Patricia Hardwick in 1926, she also used the stage name Patti Waggin. Her 2nd marriage was to Chico, CA local legend, Bill Brownell, a well-loved motorcycle racer. Not sure who her 1st husband was…

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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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PULP FICTION | VISUALLY GRIPPING PAPERBACK ART OF THE ’50s & ’60s

In case you missed it over on the TSY facebook page I’ve been obsessed with the below piece of work for quite some time, and finally posted it up and asked the beloved The Selvedge Yard clan for help in identifying the artist. It took about all of 2 seconds.

As a kid, my healthy diet of Happy Days, Sha Na Na, and flicks like The Lords of Flatbush deeply engrained a love of greaser culture and style that will surely remain until I die. “Bad Girls” by James Alfred Meese slays me with every viewing. Obviously the cover art was intentionally as lurid and enticing as possible to get you to part with your money and buy the “pulp” paperbacks that were named after the cheaply produced paper they were printed on. Here are a few other fine examples of pulp art, which really peaked in the ’50s & ’60s, in my humble opinion.

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Bad Girls — paperback cover art by  James Alfred Meese, 1958

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Bad Girls– They prowl the fringe of the underworld for kicks — cover art by  James Alfred Meese, 1958

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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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VERONICA LAKE | THE PEEK-A-BOO PINUP OF HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN AGE

The Selvedge Yard did a (very) little piece for DETAILS magazine’s online blog– The Daily Details here.

There was something about those lips, the flirty peek-a-boo eye, and that sexy, sweeping hair that’s seductive beyond words.  Yes, Veronica Lake just had “it.”

Other pinups of her day may have been more racy (Bettie Page), more leggy (Bettie Grable), or more busty (Jane Russell), but in my book none of them can touch her stunning beauty, poise and indelible mystique. Standing a scant 4’ 11’ and weighing only 90lbs., Veronica Lake deftly filled the camera’s lens with more sex appeal in her little left eye than most beauties managed wearing half as much, and trying twice as hard.

“I will have one of the cleanest obits of any actress. I never did cheesecake like Ann Sheridan or Betty Grable. I just used my hair.”  –Veronica Lake

Sadly, Her story was a tragic one.  Beset by a troubled childhood, broken marriages, schizophrenia, and drinking woes (most likely in an attempt to self-medicate)—Veronica Lake was washed-up in Hollywood too early, and with little to live on besides her fading looks.

When one-time lover Marlon Brando heard she was working as a barmaid, he promptly had his people deliver her a check for $1,000.  Too proud to cash it, Lake instead chose to have it framed as a memory of days gone by, and a not-so-subtle notice to others that she was once Hollywood’s reigning sex symbol.

“I wasn`t a sex symbol, I was a sex zombie.”  –Veronica Lake

“Hollywood gives a young girl the aura of one giant, self-contained orgy farm, its inhabitants dedicated to crawling into every pair of pants they can find.”  –Veronica Lake

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

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(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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OLD SCHOOL HURST GIRLS GONE WILD | GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES

linda-vaughn-hurst-lug-nutsLinda Vaughn, the legendary “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter”

Linda Vaughn, the lovely, leggy, legend of the auto racing scene from the 60’s through the early 80’s was better known as– Miss Hurst Golden Shifter. She was a trophy queen whose voluptuous looks and charm often stole the show at auto racing events she attended– SCCA, NASCAR, Indy & Formula One, among others.  Linda has been knocked by many for setting Women’s Lib back with her busty displays, but her passion for the sport ran deep and she had a major impact– not just in promoting the sponsors, but also in advancing women’s racing.  Vaughn earned her SCCA competition license at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving and then got behind the wheel and raced.

Linda Vaughn, the legendary “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter”

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