Pinups thru out history have been used to sell everything from cosmetics to real estate. Sometimes, they had their origins in the scandalous worlds of peepshows and erotica. The scandalous Gilda Grey, famous for popularizing The Shimmy with her signature song The Shimmy Shewabble, helped sell a reducing cream in 1923. In 1925 she did the shimmy after a meeting to interest buyers in buying Coral Gables properties in Florida. The Shimmy, for which Gilda Grey was famous for, reportedly could be danced properly only with great difficulty and was considered primarily an exhibition dance. Similarly, the Cat Dance by Lilly Christine, had its origins in the realms of peepshows, but she crossed over into mainstream pinup model popularity and helped sell products.
“Today’s musical comedy stars replace the Grecian bend of The Florodora Girls with abandon, and little else” reads the headline. It mentioned the famous gals who have come from the anonymity of chorus lines, including: Eva Tanguay, Ann Held, Bebe Daniels, Ruby Keeler, Barbara Stanwyck, and Lucille Ball.
This article discusses how Hollywood press agents can create a national pinup sensation thru posting daringly sensual photos in select magazines. As examples, they point out Theda Bara in the first part of the 20th century, and the “modern” sensation Roberta Haynes.
Burlesque has provided men with a variety of entertaining pinups. Notably, Ida Bayton’s white violin act in “The Taxi Girls” in 1914, and Lili St. Cyr’s bubble bath striptease that helped land her in 3D movies.
In World War I, Mary Pickford became the favorite pinup of soldiers when she dressed in uniform and toured the nation selling Liberty Bonds. In World War II, “demand for it [pictures of Betty Grable”] ran as high as 20,000 per week…”. “Able Grable”‘s legs appear in Army topographic maps designed to teach recruits how to hit their mark.
Pictures of women in World War I and World War II. How early feminism and wars influenced women’s fashions.
THIS is a very interesting article about how politics and politicians shaped women’s fashions during the first half of the 20th century. The early feminist movement asked for many changes, among them suffrage, easy divorce, property laws, and equal education. This resulted in a fashion trends that were mannish, including the no-curves, flat chested, flapper girl of the 1920s. This article goes on to call Victoria Claflin Woodhull a “political freak” (who ran for presidency in 1872), and pacifist Jeanette Rankin whose only winning two terms in congress corresponded with declarations of war (1917 and 1941). The caption under Woodhull says that she ran on a free love ticket.
Women’s changing fashions and shapes thru the 1900s! This first page quotes a skit about womens’ changing fashions from 1903-1953 written by Lois Long of the New Yorker and performed on “The American Road” by Mary Martin. Following that are production stills of Miss Martin performing her skit in various outfits representing the major fashion trends of the first half of the 20th century. Doesn’t it seem like every era declares itsself the one of the “emancipated clear eyed career girl”?
Then… and article about women in television commercials and television advertising (“bringing glamor to household appliances”).
Here’s a scan from CheeseCake – An American Phenomenon. It’s a spread with Ed Sullivan’s Toastettes and film snaps of Marilyn Monroe’s appearance on the Jack Benny show. “It was wonderful,” said MM, “You know, Mr. Benny at 39 has all the charm and poise of an older man.” When Marilyn Monroe agreed to be on the Jack Benny Show, finally television had come of age and could compete with the movies. Cheesecake Pinups on the new medium of television!
This next article includes plenty of scantily clad pictures of Lucille Ball and Marie Wilson (as Irma, the dumbest blonde on TV). Irma in the “My Friend Irma” show, especially, is mentioned as stretching television’s strict Code with risque outfits and comedic innuendos. Lucille Ball is mentioned as being the pretty woman with brains and wit behind the top ten rated show “I Love Lucy”.
Here’s an article about how rubbery faced Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar have “given viewers a steady diet of broad, yet biting, satire and made them like it. Among their targets have been male, as well as female, cheesecake…”
“The Bust Line May be Best Line in TV”. This article explores how television was currently reshaping the Pinup phenomenon, remarking on Faye Emerson’s low cut gowns in the late 40s, but then turning again away from excess by raising bustlines and hemlines (referencing the Breen office’s revision in 1951, that apparently included a ban against showing intimate apparel on a moving figure). However, these restrictions had the result of making the female form more enticing, “A whisper echoes more than a shout”.
“It’s the inevitable cycle…. in 1910 it was the bust, and cleavage went down to the limit. In the 1920s the sex emphasis was on the legs. In the 1930s it veered to the back and posterior. In the 1940s it concentrated on the bust again. And now we are back to the bottom.”
This is an interesting article on how the Motion Picture Production Code affected the evolution of cheesecake pinup, and changed the recipe.
hoopskirts to bathing suits, this Cheesecake Pinup magazine takes a look at the history of sexual innuendo in humor and media.
One of the first cartoons is from the 1860s, showing the wind blowing up a dress to reveal the hoopskirt underneath and (gasp) the sexyness of the woman’s ankels! Then came the peepshows in the Kinetoscopes of the 1890s (as examples are The Bedroom Farce, and a womens’ wrestling). Then, the late 1890s cinema came along, and in the early 1900s, Hollywood and the Keystone comedies and the scantily clad “big names wearing too little” and sensual Femme Fatale Movie Stars of the 1920s…
How did the term “cheesecake” pinup originate? Origins of cheesecake, and the first pinup model and cheesecake photograph. An article about the history of American pinup.
This was the most amazing 1950s magazine to photograph! Is this Marilyn Monroe on the cover? I wish I could have bought this vintage pinup magazine for myself! It’s dated 1953.
These “French Look Bust Wires” were interesting to shoot… not because of the wires themselves, but the instructions for fitting any bra or garment to make a “French Look” of the quintessential cone shaped bust shape of the 1950s. It promises support and uplifting, and the instructions are illustrated with 3 easy steps.
I was doing product photography for a friend, and couldn’t help but take a few extra pictures of this pinup calendar from 1958. “Hilda” is a “generously endowed nymph who casts propriety and modesty aside and comfortably romps her way through the year”. Each month has a drawing of Hilda, and advertising for Munger Linen (“‘Coverage where coverage counts’ When Hilda Rents Uniforms she calls Munger Linen”).
I got this shiny red white and blue mini dress in Las Vegas a few years ago, and it fit Dezabell perfectly. She carried a matching American flag and the outfit popped.
I posed Cindy on my vintage 1950s “pinup exercise machine”, and we had a ton of fun shooting.
Cindy and Dezabell wanted to do pinup and retro, but with a naughty twist. This is where pinup sometimes blends into boudoir, but those images will never be posted ;-).
The dress was 1970s. The veiled hat is probably 1950s or 1960s. I did her makeup 1970s style, but tried to go natural. Posed with tulle and the fireplace backdrop. These came out very “old Hollywood” and romantic looking!