Bondi Holly, Hot Rods and Heels Texas Pin-Up Model One to Watch 2010 (Newcomer Category), graces the cover or our June Issue and talks bloody noses, “cute”, movie credits, and breeders.
Q: You’re a small town girl who moved around alot as a kid. Where are you from, and where do you consider home?
I am from Corsicana Texas and at this point, I consider Dallas to be my home.
Q: When we met at the shoot, you said that “you grew up fast as a punk rock kid in Dallas”. Who are some of your favorite bands? What are some of your favorite live show memories?
Back in those days, we hardly knew who was playing. Just went for a good time, lots of local stuff. It was always fun getting in the pit. Got a bloody nose a few times, but luckily never broke it.
Q: You are a hairstylist by day, and you said it was your love of period hairstyles that brought you to pin-up modeling. How so?
It all started when I was little. I Love Lucy played every night on one of the few stations we could get. I always watched the old Batman series and Julie Newmar won me over! I noticed how different everyone looked. I started altering my Barbie dolls until they eventually looked mutilated. Their heads are so tiny, you can only do so much! Lucky for me, I had 3 sisters and a Grandma that would let me fix their hair and that held me over for a bit.
Q: Upon entering the world of pin-up modeling, you took the name Bondi Holly. Ok, so I get the obvious Buddy Holly reference, but you have an interesting story as to how you came up with the “Bondi” part, as opposed to something more obvious like “Betty”. Can you share your obsession for reading movie credits and how that led to your name?
I was watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I liked it and per usual watched the movie credits. The actress Beulah Bondi played the mother and I really liked her name. This was about the time I was told to pick a stage name. Beulah isn’t really a name we associate with attractive people these days, but Bondi really stuck with me. It’s like Betty with a twist. It definitely gets the imagination going.
Q: You’ve said that you’re much better at Cheesecake then the “sexy thing”. Why do you think that is?
I’ve always been called cute. I don’t mind that at all, it matches my personality. I never saw myself as sexy. I suppose it is all perception. Cheesecake is cute, fun and playful. It comes more natural to me. It’s easier to project who you really are, I think anybody could say that. Then again, that’s why it’s called modeling, not, look cute for the camera.
Q: One photographer managed to get the sexy side out of you, and you said it took all day. What was that process like, what finally worked?
There really wasn’t a process. It came down to, I’m going to get her out of you and we’re not done until I do. I had to break out of my cutesy stage and realize that as a model, this was expected of me and if I couldn’t do it, then maybe I shouldn’t be! It was like the next step for me. At first I felt silly but my brain kicked my skull and I just did it!
Q: What are the traits of some of your favorite photographers?
I like a photographer that welcomes you and makes you feel good about your body, naturally. Modeling is great because it takes all shapes and sizes; you don’t want to look generic. You don t want to work with anyone that tries to persuade you out of your comfort zone.
Q: This year found you a finalist for Hot Rods and Heels Newcomer Pin-Up Model of the Year (One to Watch). How do you feel upon hearing the news?
I am absolutely thrilled! It was the last thing I expected and am grateful to have gotten this far! I’ve had so much encouragement from my family, friends and especially my boyfriend Paul. It really means alot to me!
Q: You come from a large family as does your boyfriend. With a sigh you admitted that “at heart I am a breeder”. Do you have plans to start a family soon? What is it about the idea of motherhood that appeals to you so?
I do have a large family and I love it! I wouldn’t say that my boyfriend came from a large family. Loving, but not large. The term breeder is an on-going joke at my salon.
I don’t have plans to start a family anytime soon but definitely sometime down the road. When I was growing up, I assumed that all women had children! I certainly don’t have that mentality now. It’s appealing on the level that it seems to be the most natural thing in the world. I see happiness in people that they only get from their children. All the baby vomit and stinky diapers aren’t so appetizing but like anything you don’t like, you get over it.
Q: What’s your biggest dream?
My biggest dream…I feel like I am where I want to be which is a good start. It is hard to say what my biggest dream is because I like to take things one step at a time. Sometimes you have to step sideways or over obstacles. It s good to have a goal and go for it but there are no guarantees. I m so happy with my life I can t really say what I would like next!
Viva Van Story, legendary modern pin-up photographer hailing from the North East Coast, talks about her new book due out this month, grainy black and white photographs, the swell in pin-up photographers, being seen, and making your own path.
Interview: Shoshana, Photographs: Viva Van Story
Q: Are you a “classical trained” formally educated photographer, or are to self-taught, trial by fire? What are your views on the two different “types”?
I have taken college classes for photography in my younger years. Some of my first works were Black and White film and I developed my own prints in a darkroom the old fashion way. Heavy grain was my love. I think it’s very important to understand the art of photography, without learning it as a whole how can you use that to make your own style. I still enjoy black and white photography and especially desire to one day shoot with a medium format camera. I am however self-taught with my lighting.
Q: Tell us about the early days. What was your very first pin-up shoot?
My first love was Sundae Saint Laurent. I say love because I truly fall in love with my muses. These are the women who I share my most intimate fantasies with in order to bring them to an image or get the women I’ve let in on my joke to show my humor. Sundae was exactly what you would imagine Marilyn Monroe would be like. I shot her topless in my back yard and my neighbors peeped in then threatened to call the police. How exciting!
Q: You’ve been shooting longer than most modern pin-up photographers. Have you noticed changes in the culture and scene since you began? Has it evolved?
Yes since 1997. It’s been a long hard path but filled with adventures and characters. The east coast is pretty chilled out. Our scene is very small and everyone is very down to earth and more interested in the bands then being a pin-up model. It’s based more on music and low-key car shows. I’ve only noticed it’s growing quite fast. Evolved? I wish more.
It’s interesting to travel to other parts of the world and see their take on it. Berlin was the most outstanding Rockabilly scene for me, so true to the authentic style wearing so much vintage clothing. I’ll be going back again this year for another dose.
The pin-up photographers have increased by the hundreds, as for the pin-up models- I don’t really follow the scene all too closely since I’m hoping to reach a wider audience with my work. While I do love pin-up and the whole styling of it, I also have a greater interest in being an artist and respected as an artist not just a pinup photographer. My hope is to make my mark taking this to the next level in pinup; after all we do live in the 21st century not the 50s so it’s important to make that connection. Without change or artists having the balls to push it further where would we be now with music, movies, fashion, etc. We are the innovators of our future. Without this we would have never changed at all. I still love the early shooters that inspired me the most like Chas Ray Krider and Octavio of Winky Tiki. They really made their mark with their style. I’m hoping for the same result but with my own noticeable style.
Q: Do you feel you have an advantage in the world of pin-up as a female photographer?
I really don’t think it matters. I see models falling all crazy for the male photographers as well. Women tend to feel very comfortable around me.
Q: On your website you have a quote from a fellow artist.
Pablo Picaso said, “A good artist borrows and a great artist steals.”
Therefore, in my attempt at greatness, there’s no one I’ve victimized more than Viva Van Story. Viva is truly my most favorite photographer. Her kick-ass attitude, dirty mind, Punk Rock approach to lighting and raw eye all add up to the most jaw-dropping, sexiest photos I’ve ever seen. Miss Story has gone light years past the typical “cheesecake” pin-up aesthetic and is fearlessly creating new levels of erotic photography. Viva’s work would make Betty Page blush. It has been awesome watching Viva’s work evolve over the last 7 years and I cannot wait to see where her art goes from here. However, one thing is for sure, no matter where Viva’s creativity takes her, I’ll be there to steal from her.
With much love and respect,
~Tyson McAdoo, Artist
Certainly you have been emulated often, and even downright ripped off on your concepts, sets, poses, and techniques. Does this leave you flattered or pissed? Who do you emulate?
With new pinup photographers growing daily, you have to work harder to be one step ahead. It’s not easy but when you find something special and so creative and unique, you will gain more respect then just redoing someone else’s idea or trying to copy another’s style. Well unless you just want to recreate the exact same old pieces like Vargas. It’s important to know how to do a good pinup old fashion shot but how many more of these do we need to see? It depends on what you really want from being an artist or if you are just in it to get attention or make money. As far as what I look for, for my inspirations, everywhere but the obvious. *wink*
Q: Viva’s Pin Ups: Bullet Bras and Back Seat Betties, your first solo book is due out this month from London’s Korero Books. Can you tell us about the process? How did it come to be, was it a collaborative effort on what would be included? What was the culling process like?
Doing this book is seriously my dream come true. I left a small town in Wisconsin when I was 18 saying I’m going to NYC to be an artist. I left with a portfolio of art and a hundred bucks. The book makes me feel like I’ve done it.
Korero Books is wonderful. They truly understand my direction and my desire to be unique and see me not only as a pin-up photographer but someone who is pushing her art into new directions.
The book is a hard cover large book filled with 208 pages of 11 years of my favorite artwork. This is my very first available opportunity to have my work is bulk and at the best quality I could find for it. There are also never seen images in the book.
You can get information about getting a book from Korero here http://www.korerobooks.co.uk/vivaspinups.html
Q: Have you seen the final result? What should fans expect?
My advanced copy is due any day. I’m very excited. I’ll be selling signed books directly and doing limited book signings. I’m excited to be apart of the Brooklyn’s Psychobilly Luau for my first book signing. My favorite bands are playing like the Goddam Gallows and other great bands that play NYC often. I’ll also will be doing VLV with a book signing booth. I was happy to see the book sold out preorders in UK Amazon but I’m sure they will have to restock their shelves.
Q: A recent blog you posted on MySpace is titled “My team has gotten a lot more creative”. The new work is very different. And boasts boald colors and patterns, more contrast, and pop. Is this a conscious shift in style, and if so what prompted it?
I wouldn’t say that those photos in that blog are my focus for a new style or direction just a more open style. I work with a team of stylists so I have to give up some control and trust they will help me advance in my work and experiment from my norm which is important as an artist. I started by doing all the hair myself so when I do let someone else take that role it’s not easy but I’ve gotten much better at it and I’ve worked with amazing stylists in NYC and throughout the US.
Q: You have certain models that you seem to have developed a strong repoire with, working with them often. What are the traits of a successful model?
I do have models I am very comfortable working with and will work with them often if we get the same result each time. My ideas are personal and emotional sometimes for me and I don’t like sharing those intimate feelings with just anyone but with someone who can bring them out in a beautiful way the way I want them revealed. I also don’t believe in just shooting to shoot. It wouldn’t be special if I gave it away so often and I need time to fantasize about the idea.
Not sure about traits for a successful model. Some think it’s all about being published. I think it’s all about making an artistic photo and having interest in trying to be unique. I work with ladies who are more interested in being a part of art then being a rock star. I have no interest in that though, but I have set many on a good path.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring pin-up models?
Be the most welcoming person you can be. Keep away from all things negative and always stay neutral. Be passionate about your work, it will show.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring pin-up photographers?
The best advice I got in the beginning of my career was from Floria Sigismondi’s manager, she said, “show everyone who will look at it” put your work everywhere you can put it” “Some will hate it, some will love it but hey at least they are seeing it.”
From me, “Try to make your own path for your work and not just follow the steps of others, it’s the things you find that are unique that will make you special.”
Q: If the Viva Van Story legacy had to be summed up in a sentence, what would you hope it would be?
I like how Tyson McAdoo explains me in my foreword in my book:
Viva Van Story has gone light years past the typical “cheesecake” pin-up aesthetic and is fearlessly creating new levels of erotic photography.
Hot Rods and Heels Recap
By: Hella Goode Photos: Mark Kaplan
Hot Rods and Heels, billed the largest pin-up festival in Texas, is an annual event that takes place every May in Dallas. The Lakewood Theater, a historic East Dallas Theater was home to the annual gathering, and while turnout was about the same as last years’ event, the much larger venue allowed for more breathing room than past event, and as one vendor put it — “Thank God — It’s not all assholes and elbows”. [Her colorful way of giving the thumbs up to a larger venue that was less crowded.]
The daytime activities included a car show- which boasted the Lucky 13 car club, as well as individual owners who had caught word of the festival and brought their mint condition hot rods in for the day. The daytime goers seemed to hang out outside with the hot rod show, as opposed to taking advantage of the workshops going on inside the theater; but by the 7pm Model showcase and runway fashion show, which was emceed by Dayna Delux, the entire crowd had filtered inside, and stayed planted for the 23 act burlesque show that followed; although the crowd thinned out a bit towards the end of the night when the show ran much later than the promised 11pm end time.
While staying true to the all Texan line-up that Hot Rods and Heels prides itself on, they did manage to encompass even more Texas cities this year, with performances representing Houston, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Austin, and Denton. The knock-out performances that drove the audience wild and got the loudest applause were Pixie O’ Kneel’s Car Wash Number, Coco Lectric’s Snake Charmer, Rosie Rawhyde’s classic piece, and Nick’s surprise Michael Jackson tribute.
While it was mainly industry types that stuck around for the awards ceremony, the loving energy was almost tangible. Congratulations to Coco Lectric, who took home the Performer of the Year title, Angela Ryan who won Pin-Up Model of the Year, and Austin’s The Jiggle Watts for best troupe. The newcomer category — One to Watch — went to burlesque entertainer Bunny Bailey and Pin-Up model Bondi Holly. Perhaps the largest applause of the night was for the surprise winner — Mark Kaplan of NakedLens.org who took home the Darling of the Year award.
Pegasus News summed up the night as, “The best pin-up show I have ever seen.” And I tend to agree. This is an event not to be missed, and I can’t wait until next year!
Houston based fashion designer Amberry Jam sits down to talk petticoats, millinery, bobby pins, Velcro, and her Classic Harlequin line.
Interview: Divertida Devotchka Photos: Compliments of Amberry Jam
Q: You studied fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and then relocated to Houston to study costume design, right? On your website you state that there’s no reason that fashion and costumes should be kept separate. Tell us more about this philosophy.
Yes! Studying fashion made me feel very boxed in. It’s actually a boring field unless you work in a high end avant-garde fashion house, which very few people do. I started studying costume design as a back up and it changed my life. Entering the theater crowd introduced me to people who wanted to push boundaries on a daily basis and not just special occasions, and it’s contagious! I want to bring that fun ‘it’s my birthday, I’m wearing a tiara and glitter’ attitude to every day, and to help others do the same.
Q: Your website says that you believe that everyone should own at least one petticoat. Please share your ideas on the importance/versatility of the petticoat.
Oh they’re the best! There’s something about the gathering of tulle or lace around your body that is just so pretty. Maybe it’s the way it bounces around you when you walk; it just makes you happy. And they look fantastic with almost any outfit, alone or layered under or over a dress. I even wear them when I go to festivals or camping- they’re cute and I have a cushion no matter where I sit!
Q: You started studying millinery in your work in Houston theaters, correct? How long have you been studying and making hats?
I actually took an intro to millinery class in 2006 and fell in love with it. Those kinds of classes are few and far between though so I bought a few books and taught myself as much as I could. It was working under the craftmaster at the Alley Theater when I really flourished. We worked on Our Town and had to research, design, and create 20-something hats in 2 weeks. It was hard work but really rewarding.
Q: The majority of your work is custom orders, but you actually prefer that, don’t you?
Yes. Whether it’s a hat, pasties, or a full costume, I love being challenged and custom work definitely does that. And it’s always different. It might be bringing to life a customer’s sketch, creating a hat for an existing costume, or just being given a theme and getting to present your ideas for it. It keeps my work fun and introduces me to so many interesting people.
Q: There are tons of local costume designers, burlesque performers, and models who love DIY fashion and making hats and costumes. Given your design experience, what do you consider to be the most common costuming/hat-making errors that you’ve seen in the industry? In your opinion, what makes a bad costume or hat “bad”?
Too many bobby pins! Please attach an inner comb or headband! I once saw a beautiful silk and felt floral cocktail hat with at least 8 pins in holding it down. It completely overwhelmed the hat which is so sad because she clearly put a lot of work into it. For burlesque costumes, if you’re going to use Velcro, I think you should dye it to match the fabric. Even in large theaters, you can see that strip of fuzzy white from the back row. It might just be for a second, but anything that draws the eye away from you is bad.
Q: When did you release your Classic Harlequin line? What are your goals for Classic Harlequin (and beyond, for that matter)?
Classic-Harlequin.com was launched in October as my ‘ready to wear’ line. I wanted to create a line of hats that could be incorporated into your daily wear so that it no longer looks like daily wear. I’m so happy that it’s been well received by the retro and burlesque crowd, including the Pin-Up Society. That’s a group of girls who know how to dress (and drink!). I’m hoping that it continues to be successful and fuels interest in my custom and one-of-a-kind pieces.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
Yes. Custom work is temporarily on hold until July. I’m touring a few art and music festivals in California this summer to sell my hats and spread the word about the south’s growing burlesque scene. But people can still see a gallery of past work, join my mailing list, or request work for when I get back by going to classic-harlequin.com or sending an email to AmberryJam@gmail.com.
God Bless Lili St. Cyr!
By: Hella Goode
“God bless Lili St. Cyr!” Janet belts out in the mock-burlesque musical number “Wild and Untamed Thing” in the movie Rocky Horror Picture Show. I tried for years to figure out what she was saying. Thanks, Pin Curl, for guiding me to my answer.
Mike Wallace interviewed the legendary burlesque striptease icon, Lili St. Cyr in October of 1957 expecting to meet a run of the mill, heart of gold, bad girl who is really a good girl who fell into an unfortunate lifestyle according to standards of the day. What he found was something entirely different. He met a brutally honest woman who had no qualms answering his questions of how she really felt about her profession and herself.
Lili St. Cyr, born Willis Marie Van Schaack, on June 18, 1918 in Minneapolis, MN into a family where she wasn’t necessarily wanted or needed. Her unstable childhood, although still producing an intelligent, beautiful and talented woman seemed to have left its mark on her self-esteem.
St. Cyr never really aspired to become a burlesque star. Lili was first hired as a dancer by accident. She accompanied her sister to an audition and was offered a job as well. She danced at venues such as Florentine Gardens and the Music Box, and began to concoct her own signature style of fanciful and creative numbers beyond simply removing clothing. Anyone can do that. St. Cyr created storylines in her routines that came to be what voyeurs expected from her, to be enticed, but also entertained. One such move was the ‘Flying G’ in which her G string would be caught by a fishing rod and pull her off stage. Some of her most well-known numbers were “Jungle Goddess,” “Persian Harem,” and “Ballet Dancer,” the latter in which she incorporated the years of ballet lessons from her youth.
Lili St. Cyr was photographer, Bruno Bernard’s muse, too. She was also in a few films, but usually as a striptease artist and was not granted acting roles that other actresses were offered. She was meant for live performance and continued to wow audiences with routines that included bubble baths and even a backward strip. In the backward strip, St. Cyr entered the stage barely covered and would provocatively redress herself.
This backward strip might have been symbolic of her struggles with her self-esteem and her career. Audiences applaud at the end of an act, so if they could applaud her for being herself and fully-clothed, she might begin to feel legitimized about her career again.
In the Wallace interview, after about 15 years in the scantily-clad spotlight, Lili admits she wasn’t proud of what she was doing for a living and was embarrassed by it. She expressed wanting to leave the business but needed to support herself. Sadly, she did not feel herself capable of doing anything else to make a living. St. Cyr, married at the time, wanted to quit her lusty life of burlesque as soon as she could be supported by her husband at the time. He was one of six she had in her lifetime.
Lili also admitted to not being part of any major religion and had no desire to bear children. In the 1950’s coming out with these statements instead of slopping frosting on her feelings to say that of course she one day dreamed of dancing around the kitchen surrounded by babies and attend church in her best every Sunday, was somewhat shocking.
These were not rash statements Ms. St. Cyr gave. They were truth. In Kelly DiNardo’s biographical book on the star, Gilded Lili, she reveals that she has had more than one abortion. Grief after an abortion as well as low-self esteem or failed marriages, or disconnect in her family life or all of these factors may have lead her to experiment with heroin. However, Lili herself had said that using was part of the Hollywood lifestyle and that some did it for attention from others, and others still to have a non-existent moment of privacy in the public eye.
She continued to battle with heroin years later and was seen less and less in public. She died January 29, 1999 in Los Angeles at the age of 80 (thus not a death likely caused by heroin, more likely from old age), but like a stained shroud, left her mark in burlesque herstory.
For the above mentioned Interview with Miss St. Cyr, please click here.
With summer travel season upon us, we decided it was the perfect time to start this Monthly Feature that we’ve had in our pockets for a while now. We will feature a new Burlesque Haunt every month. Have a local legend of haunted theaters, celebrity burlesque ghosts, or the like? Shoot it over to email@example.com we’d love to hear from you!
The Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona
Sounds of laughter, yelling, and music are heard and the smell of whisky and cigars fills the air, silhouettes of ladies in late 1800 period costumes walk the balcony- –only problem is — no one is in the theater — no one living at least. These are the claims from many visitors to The Birdcage Theater, which is now a museum and free of alcohol, smoke, and sadly — performers.
The Bird Cage Theater opened its doors in 1881, only to close them in 1889. During the eight year run, it was home of the longest running poker game in history, pool sharks, vaudeville and burlesque stage performances, and of course — working girls. Twenty dollars would by a bottle of whisky and a gal for the night; you had your choice of any gal displayed in their seven foot tall bird cages. The theater was open 24/7- even on holidays. The New York Times called it, “the wildest, roughest, wickedest honky-tonk between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.” Doc Holiday and Johnny Ringo had the infamous “handkerchief dual” in its gambling hall, and with patrons like this; it’s no wonder the theater saw a reported 26 deaths in its eight years.
The Bird Cage Theater was empty for decades, until it was reopened in the 1930s in an effort to preserve the history of Tombstone, Arizona. Today it serves as a museum and the tourism center of the town. Ruth, who works at the modern day Bird Cage Theater, shared her personal experiences with me by phone.
Almost everyone who works here has had an experience of some kind with the “Lady in White”. I myself have seen her. She came down the stairwell and into the poker room. She wore a white dress and a white bonnet. She stood in front of me for a very long time without reacting to my presence at all- it’s like she didn’t even know I was there. She’s what they call a “residual haunt”. No one has ever identified who she is. A bonnet indicates she was a proper lady, and no proper ladies ever came in here. Most of us who work here think she came in with the hearse and is now trapped here.
Two notable paranormal research teams have conducted investigations, one being TAPS (yes that TAPS, of the Sci-Fi channel) and Southwest Ghost Hunters Association. The latter visited the venue three times, and each time had a semi- interesting story to tell. The SWGHA reported high EMF spikes, noting that the stairwell was the area with the most activity. On the third trip, the team noted cold spots that were ten degrees colder than their surroundings, and batteries draining completely and immediately, in addition to the EMF spikes of earlier tours.
TAPS, on the other hand, had more startling “evidence” to share. Jason and Grant hear cards being shuffled and a hard rubber ball being bounced in a back room. When they go to investigate the noise, they catch a shadow that they are both unable to debunk, and unable to explain. In the auditorium, Brian and Steve smell perfume, hear noises, see shadows, and have one of their heavy electrical cords taken off of the bell it was wrapped around twice and drop to the floor. Everyone sees the Woman in White on the stairs, and when separated, they all describe the exact same vision. What was the official conclusion according to TAPS? This place is haunted.
Tips for your trip: Take a photo of “Black Mariah”, the hearse that was used to take bodies to the Blue Hill Cemetery, which is now parked inside the museum. Visitors sometimes have a figure appear behind it in the photograph.
Summer just started, but here in Texas its already HOT! Hot sticky summers make me think of swimming pools, watermelon, and frozen drinks. Here’s a recipe that combines two out of three:
4 TBsp Tequila
2 TBsp Vodka
1 TBsp Triple Sec
2 Cups Watermelon, seeds removed
1/4 Cup Sugar
3 Cups Crushed Ice
Salt- for rimming
Rub the rims of two margarita glasses with a slice of lime each, and dip in salt. Squeeze juice from remaining limes, add all ingredients except ice in blender and process until smooth. Add ice slowly in thirds, blending after each new scoop. Pour frozen mixture into prepared glasses, garnish with twist of watermelon rind or slice of lime.