When it comes to sex appeal, Bunny Yeager is a legend. Her nude self-portraits and steamy shots of sexpots like Bettie Page helped bring women's bodies out of the Puritanical darkness and into the light of the 21st Century.
And the now-83-year-old icon is still going strong. With a recently released book (Bunny Yeager's Darkroom, by Petra Mason), a bathing suit line (by Bruno Banani), and the opening of a Wynwood studio this week, her creative juices are till flowing. We spoke with Bunny about cold modern women, sexting, and Lindsay Lohan.
Cultist: What inspired you to get back in the game?
Bunny Yeager: Well, I've had people pushing me to do this. They want to see more activity from me. I've just been content to write my books and work on some other projects, and they want me to come out of my cave and do what I normally do. It's OK -- I just wasn't thinking about it yet.
What are your plans for the new space?
We want to have a lot of new ideas. I've suggested to them several things, one of which would be a big cutout of me that people could pose with when they come in and say they were posing with me. People could take their own pictures in the corner, set up something like a studio. Everybody seems to like that idea -- we're gonna try it out.
Do you have any upcoming projects planned?
Well, I have a lot of girls trying to get me to photograph them now. I don't have time to pay attention to that right now, but it seems to be if there are enough, maybe I could do a whole new book of the girls of today.
What's different about the women today versus the women you used to photograph in the Bettie Page era?
There's something cold about the women now. They seem distracted, they're not into what I was working with before. But that doesn't mean one was right or one was wrong. It's just that I have to adjust myself a little bit to new attitudes and see how it works out.
What do you think of the rise of smartphone photography?
I have no idea what a smartphone is. I don't know if it would be something I would want to touch or just leave.
Well, some people use smartphones to take nude pictures of themselves and send them to someone else. It's called "sexting."
Oh, I could never do that! I'd be too shy to do that.
And when you send pictures out that way, you never know where they could end up.
That's what I was thinking of too, because you could come out with good intentions when you do it, but it could backfire and cause you misery in the future.
Has anything changed about your approach to photography over the years?
I usually approach my photos the same way. You know, I just analyze what I like about a girl when I meet her, the things I want to change or rearrange -- a hairstyle or something. I like to settle all that before we actually go to shoot because I can usually tell what I want. I don't have to wait to take photos and then say, "Oh I have to change this." I like to do it in the beginning.
Are there any famous women you've always wanted to shoot?
The only one I can think of is -- I call her the girl that's always getting in trouble?
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Yes, Lindsay Lohan. I can't help it because she seems to have that attitude about herself from that era, and she, you know, she has a certain type of face and body. It just would be somebody who looks like they came from the past. I don't know whether she'd like to hear that or not, if she'd like to be thought of as something from the past -- she's today. Of all the girls, she might be somebody I could produce something nice with.
Bunny's new studio is hosting an opening exhibition this Thursday. The address is 557 NW 27th St., Miami, and the reception runs from 7 to 8 p.m., followed by a fashion show with designs by Lingerini and models from Nicole Shelley Models and Miss Latina International. Reservations are required, and attendees can RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-571-1415.