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Pin-Up Legend Bunny Yeager on Posing Nude, Bettie Page and Photoshopping (Photos, NSFW)

Pin-Up Legend Bunny Yeager on Posing Nude, Bettie Page and Photoshopping (Photos, NSFW)
© Bunny Yeager, Bunny Yeager's Darkroom, 2012.

The photography of pin-up legend Bunny Yeager harkens back to an era before Photoshop, when breasts were real, women had curves, and sex appeal reigned supreme.

Her newest book, Bunny Yeager's Darkroom (penned by Petra Mason), features more than 250 snapshots from her lengthy career. 

As a photographer, she broke into a classically male-dominated field and despite shedding her clothes for the camera, always knew how to keep it classy. Her nude self-portraits and shots of classic beauties like Bettie Page earned her national renown.

See also:

- The Fabulous Bunny Yeager
- Pinup Model and Photographer Bunny Yeager Exhibits Self-Portraits at Harold Golen


And years later, she's still making women look sexy. At 83, she just signed a contract to create her own line with Bruno Banani, a German lingerie and bikini designer.

Bunny's stopping by the Books & Books locations in Coral Gables on October 24 and in Bal Harbour on October 25 to sign copies and answer questions, so Cultist caught up with her while she was in interview mode. The living legend spoke to us about nudity, Photoshop and the iconic Bettie Page.

Cultist: How did you originally get started taking pictures?
Bunny Yeager: I wanted to take some nude pictures of myself but I didn't have any way to take them. I'd never posed in the nude so I couldn't ask anyone, and I couldn't do it at home before I got married because I didn't have any privacy. Right after I got married I had some private time and that's when I took them. I just wanted to see what I looked like. I thought it might be nice to remember how I looked at that age. I've seen some of my models who had children, their figures fell apart and they never were the same.

That was the only time I did it until I started to do the book called How I Photographed Myself. I thought it was time to show the world. I didn't want to pose this way for a man, I didn't want to go into that whole business. I am a photographer and a model, I didn't want to get everything mixed up, I wanted to keep my photography separate. I had a purpose. I decided to make this book and get it published and it would show me the way I wanted to be seen. I didn't have to rely on some photographer taking my pictures and worrying how it would turn out. Most of the time when models pose for pictures of any kind they never get a chance to even see them. I got tired of not knowing what I really looked like. If I knew what I looked like I could look a little better. I could use it to see my flaws and learn how to correct them.

Pin-Up Legend Bunny Yeager on Posing Nude, Bettie Page and Photoshopping (Photos, NSFW)
© Bunny Yeager, Bunny Yeager's Darkroom, 2012.

How did your friends and family react to some of your more "risqué" photos?
I didn't show it to them. I didn't show it to anybody, I didn't want my family to see it. If they had discovered it I would have explained everything, but my mom and dad were old fashioned and they wouldn't understand why I would do such a thing. I think my mother saw them in a later time when she was very old. My father never saw them I don't believe.

I wasn't showing them to my friends either. I had a book published and it was hard cover and it was distributed all over the world. I had no control over who saw it and didn't see it.

What makes a great model?
Well a great model is one who doesn't look overweight but she doesn't look skinny. If you look at her and you say, oh I can see her ribs or her hipbones sticking out, or she's just fat so you can't see the curves to her body - you don't want either one of those problems. In between there there's something closer to perfection. But who's to say what figure is perfect? Some people like girls with petite bosoms, and some people won't photograph a girl unless shes a 40D+. I've never been one to do that. I never thought it was a good idea to focus on girls for that reason. I tried to find natural symmetry in the body and good looks in the face.

Pin-Up Legend Bunny Yeager on Posing Nude, Bettie Page and Photoshopping (Photos, NSFW)
© Bunny Yeager, Bunny Yeager's Darkroom, 2012.

Do you have any favorites among the models you've shot?
There are several. Everybody's heard of Bettie Page. I'm one of the few professional photographers who got to photograph her. Although she had posed for hundreds, maybe thousands of photographers, but most of the photographers she posed for were amateurs. I didn't know those stories until after. I was just lucky that she decided to come to Florida on a short vacation and we ran into each other at the right place. People told me she was in town and wanted to pose for me because she had heard about me. I had a small studio at at that time that I rented with two other photographers, so that's where I first shot Bettie.
.
Another favorite was Maria Stinger, she looked like Marilyn Monroe. She became a good friend - she and her husband became close with myself and my husband. It was fun going out nightclubbing. We made such a good looking group. They'd give us a table right up front because we all looked so show business-like. Maria would always wear low-cut tight satin dresses when she went out at night. I didn't go overboard to look too sexy but I always dressed where my clothes fit me very tight and low cut.

What do you think about today's photographers Photoshopping their work?
Well I don't know too much about it because I haven't used it. People have told me how they use it but I can't imagine myself wanting to because I'm so used to trying to make the pictures as perfect as I can to begin with. I only submit the ones that look the best, I don't submit everything I shoot. One always stands out for the way the model looks or the location or both. I tend to go for the overall effect that I get in each one of my photographs.

So I hear you you have a bikini line coming out?
It's already come out, they're taking orders for it now. They tell me it's doing very well. I have some beautiful color sketches here -- they've gotten that far. They've printed up brochures, they're selling wholesale. You'll be seeing them next season.

Do you have any favorite shots from your new book?
There's too many. I can't begin to think of what I would say are my favorite shots, because it's too thick. It just has everything and the layout artist went crazy. They wanted to put in as much as they could. Its nice, it's a heavy book, hardcover. I'm proud of it. I've probably done at least 25 or 30 books so I don't think about them too much. When the plan comes to do one I do it. I get it out of the way like an ordinary job.

Pin-Up Legend Bunny Yeager on Posing Nude, Bettie Page and Photoshopping (Photos, NSFW)
© Bunny Yeager, Bunny Yeager's Darkroom, 2012.

Anything you miss most about old Miami? Any specific memories?
It's not as easy to walk around some of the streets like you could before. At the time I was shooting Bettie, she came down from New York supposedly on a vacation. She wasn't looking to move in anywhere. I was just so fortunate that we came together at that time, I had to pick her up terribly early in the morning, we had to drive up to Boca to a placed called Africa USA. it was wild animals running around. We were lucky that we could wander around in the Jeep. We went and I would stay in the Jeep, I was a little afraid of the animals. Bettie wasn't afraid. She had been posing so much with the cheetahs that she got used to the wild animals that had been tamed, they were pleasant to work with.

I have some exceptional photos with the live cheetahs there. They had a pot over a fire, I had the idea to shoot Bettie in the pot like the jungle man was going to cook her. So I have shots like that which are not serious, but that's just the way my mind travels. I'm a bit of a comedian at times as well as serious.

Fans can catch Bunny and author Petra Mason at Books & Books in Coral Gables on October 24 at 7 p.m., and at the Bal Harbour branch on October 25 at 6:30 p.m.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

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