Pinup Revival

By Tenley Woodman, Boston - July 2006

           Curves, curls and a ruby red pout are a gal's best accessories in the revival of 1940s and '50s pinup girl culture. Pinup revival: Pink hair, tattoos and piercings don't hurt either.
               Women active in Boston's underground rockabilly scene, a culture dedicated to the styles and country-rock music of the 1950s, are putting their twist on the classic pinup styles created by Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth and Jayne Mansfield.
               The modern version features vintage clothing and hairstyles and pairs them with a punk edge.
               Allston-based pinup Dee Dee Desire and singer-songwriter/pinup Black Betty have gained national recognition for their work.
               "It's cool to be able to go to a show, and have a band that I like know who I am," said Pamela Hughes, 26, the face and body of Desire.
               "There's always something more going on in the picture. It's not just a chick in a bikini. There's an entire package that goes along with pinup. It's like we have tattoos and weird-colored hair but we can still look like women," she said.
                Hughes is a featured model for Mode Merr clothing in Rochester, N.H., and Stop Staring in California, both high-profile outfitters in rockabilly circles.
               "Eighty percent of the time I'm Black Betty," said Jenny Langer, 22, lead singer of the band Black Betty and the Bad Habits. "For each of us girls, we are creating our own characters. I was kind of a geek growing up so once I got out of it I created Black Betty and she's strong, powerful and sexy."
               Black Betty, who trained at Berklee College of Music, is Mode Merr's artist of the month. Go to
               Pinup, while not new to the scene, is enjoying a spike in popularity. "The fashion aspect (of rockabilly) has been exploding," said Kara Mae, 25, founder and editor of the Baltimore-based pinup magazine Star & Garter. "Pinup was born from the fashion."
               Stylist Marcella Termini, 27, of Merrimack created her own retro styling company Hollywood Ultra two years ago.
               "Basically, there were a lot of female rockabilly singers coming out of the woodwork. They had the voice, but they didn't have the look," said Termini, who styles local burlesque group Thru the Keyhole.
               The pinup scene also has gotten a pop culture boost with recent films "The Notorious Bettie Page" and "Mrs. Henderson Presents."
               But with popularity comes the danger of trendiness.     "For me a lot of models and photographers, it's not that they are annoyed that it's becoming mainstream, they're worried. Everything is carefully posed. Just putting a flower in your hair and slapping on some red lipstick doesn't make you a pinup," Langer said.

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