Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, the retro-chic women of Mad Men -- the pin-up girl aesthetic has clearly made a comeback. The wholesome, all-American girl showing off just enough skin is on the rise after staying quiet for decades.
The pin-up girls of the mid-20th century fell into obscurity in later decades, when more overtly sexual images of women grabbed the attention of the mainstream. But now the sexy, retro aesthetic is hailed as classy -- mostly because on today's "putting it out there" spectrum, it totally is.
The revival comes at a perfect time for the theater world, too. It sets the scene for Florida playwright Heather Storm's brainchild 10 years in the making, Art of the Pin-Up Girl, a musical that explores the lives of pin-up artists and models, and the relationships that sparked in between.
It all started when Storm fell in love with pictures from the coffee table book The Great American Pin-Up. "I just thought, 'God, what if that girl came to life?' And that's what I wanted to do: bring her to life," said Storm.
After she started researching the histories of pin-up stars, Storm dug up tales of scandal and glamour, and a story fell into place. "Their lives were all so fascinating and outrageous...they needed to be shared," she said.
The musical's 15 original songs were composed by Storm's husband, Gregory "Popeye" Alexander, a South Florida composer, producer, singer, and radio personality. The chronicle recalls legends Bettie Page, Anna Mae Clift, and Rosie the Riveter, as well as greats like pin-up painters Alberto Vargas and Baron Von Lind.
"The narrative is actually based on Lind, the last living artist of...the era," said Storm, who sought out Lind in his home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. to help with the play's development. "He was there, he knew all of them." Upon meeting, Lind also excitedly agreed to construct original pin-up art for the show.
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The musical is loosely based on true stories, but some parts are complete fiction, according to its creator. One scene, for example, reenacts Bettie Page's famous Jungle Bettie shoot by Bunny Yeager. "The dialogue is basically my imagination of being a fly on the wall when Yeager painted her here in South Florida," said Storm.
Storm and company are traveling to New York July 21 for the first staged reading of Art of the Pin-Up Girl at Shetler Studios & Theatres. If all goes as planned, Storm hopes to introduce her world of red lipstick and one-piece bikinis in late fall or early winter in South Florida this year.