Bettie Page & Other Paper Pinup Fantasies

There obviously some errors in the text — the misspelling of Bettie Page as “Betty Page” and frankly, I am completely lost in the description of this paper doll for playboys…

Vintage Bettie Page Paper Doll by Lou Magila 1954

However, this post is not about the text or even the fact that you almost expect one of the options to be a smooth Barbie-doll-esque image to make Bettie go bottomless; it’s about the art of Lou Magila.

Jim Linderman of Vintage Sleaze doesn’t like this artist — or at least the guys’ works. But I have to vehemently disagree.

As a woman, I often find the most real thing about a man’s fantasy is the image of a pinup or media babe inserted into some sketchy scenario. Like the pornos with the world’s luckiest pizza delivery dudes, the scene isn’t as important as just getting to the babe.

Yes, a lot of attention is being brought to the fact that the women in the photos do not even look like the women who posed for them; but the only thing faker than the photoshoped objects of desire are the scenes and situations in which men place the perfected images of women. Is there anything wrong with that? No; they are fantasies after all. (Expecting them to be real is another matter entirely, and one at the very definition of “sanity”.)

So what’s wrong with cartoons, illustrations, comics that capture that luscious and ludicrous point of view? There’s something rather charming about the obviously juvenile approach to just sticking the woman into the simple bare lines. It makes me feel like the artist was aware of how simplistic fantasies are. I don’t know Magila; maybe he was self aware, maybe not. But like a lot of art, you just look at it and get impressions. My impression is that this artist was aware.

Did Magila rip-off other artists? Maybe he or the publisher paid for the rights; maybe not. Maybe, like the altered artists, digital artists, bloggers,etc. of today, artist and publisher alike just figured if they had their hands on something that meant it was in the public domain. Or perhaps they felt that there were enough changes to defend Maglia’s work as derivative. So far, the answers to those intellectual property rights are as unclear as the artist’s level of awareness of the simplicity of male fantasies.

I hope Linderman continues to suss things out.

Lisa Bufano: Dancer/Shapeshifter

“I’m a shapeshifter… I explore the different forms my body can take using different mediums.” – Lisa Bufano. Photo by Gerhard Aba.


Lisa Bufano is a performance artist whose work incorporates elements of doll-making, animation, and dance. Bufano was a competitive gymnast as a child and a go-go dancer in college before she lost her lower legs and all her fingers due to a staphylococcus bacterial infection at the age of 21. Shortly after this occurred, Bufano went on to study stop-motion animation and sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
See on

Sonia Delaunay : Textile Artist

When reading about the history of fiber art it seems to take on many elements. The history of fiber art incorporates craft, textile and design elements that are not usually explored in regular art history. The use of embroidery and clothing inspired artists such as Sonia Delaunay who had started off as a painter and found new inspirations when she shifted her medium from brush, canvas and oil paint to needle, thread and textile printing. In exploring Sonia’s textile and wearable art works I’d like to explore her success as a woman in the art world.

See on

Desperate To Be Obscene

EBay seller LadiesOnFilm carries a large number of vintage risque and nude images from publishers of adult magazines from the 60’s through the 90’s. It’s rather clear that many of them are the unused outtakes; but then, I guess “outtakes” are in the mind of the viewer.

It’s funny how often the “bad” pictures seem more natural than the “good” pictures. I find this photo of Carol Newell (by Ron Vogel, 1968) charming. It’s how a woman sits on the stairs, relaxed, not worrying about the planes of her face and the contours of her body… There’s no arching of her back while pointing her toes. That’s how the real girl next door sits.

The women struggle to look natural in odd poses. While the props are often dated and hysterical, it’s the desperate poses for the sake of sexual puns which are far funnier. I can just hear the photographer saying, “That’s it, that’s it, baby. Now just crawl along the floor and choke that plaster snake statue…”

I’m not saying that no simply nude woman has ever taken a bad photo, but they are far more beautiful than those photographs which overreach — either in physicality or in attempts at innuendo.

I Bet You Think I’ll Hate This

But I actually quite like this vintage Scandale lingerie advertisement with artwork by Edmond Kiraz.

Impossibly long legs don’t bother me — when they are part of fashion illustration. As Slip of a Girl writes, “Illustrated ads do not run the risk of starting or perpetuating body dysmorphia or forms of self-hating body loathing because we know they are illustrations — no one looks like that. But we can pretend to…”

The female depicted as feline, while cliche, isn’t a real bother either; women have relationships with cats, like it or not.

But perhaps the best thing about this vintage ad is what I learned: Kiraz made dolls. Fashion dolls based on the artist’s Les Parisiennes series, to be precise. What Kiraz himself calls the “effigies of his work made by Birgé-Jopo”.

Often called Poupee de Kiraz or Les Parisiennes dolls by Kiraz, these 15 inch tall French fashion dolls seem to have only been made for one year, in 1967. That makes these little gems difficult to find. And playing hard-to-get does so turn me on as a collector. I am now on the look-out for these vintage vinyl fashion dolls from France. The ones with the round faces, cat’s eyes, and impossibly long and slim legs. So period. So fascinating.

All images via GGSDolls.

Vintage Seabees Art By John Horvath

Vintage Seabees art, which looks like the precursor to zines and altered paper arts and appears to be the paper version of trench art from someone in the Construction Battalion (CB) of the United States Navy.

The seller of these three works, Lynnstudios, says they are snapshot photos from the 1940s, measuring approximately 3 x 4 1/2 inches with “crudely cut borders”.

As you can see the artwork is copyrighted by John A Horvath, with a “GM” — perhaps for Gunners Mate? Not sure what the 1/6 is… Or if that is even what it is.

All I could find was this info at Worthpoint mentioning Horvath and what appears to be some of his belongings:

WW II US Navy Seabees lrg lot patch – photos etc.

Purchased from the Estate of a former SEABEE who served in WW II in the Pacific. This is a Seabees large lot which includes an original Seabees patch – has some age soil – see descriptive photos. There is a special 10 photo cards lot included which show the life of Seabees – history of the Seabees, stories, anecdotes, poems and jokes along with some cheesecake, etc copywright 1943 – John Horvath. This 10 photo card lot is VERY unusual with each card beautifully designed. Included is a photo of the 6 th Spec, N.C.B with their motto. There are approx. 20 other photos showing life in the Pacific and some at home– very interesting and unique. Most photos taken from family photo albums of former SEABEE who served in WW II in the Pacific. Most photos are snap shot size, there are also some pictures which appear to be of the Pacific islands natives and villages.

Any info on Horvath, his art, or even more art like this would be greatly appreciated!

What’s Up With ASCII Art Nudes?

Today, at Collectors Quest, I get to find out the truth behind what shocked my teenaged-self so much: keyboard art nudes.

Seems that what I’d seen then was ASCII art, but more likely done by a computer program operating off of a photograph, not a person. I guess it makes more sense that way… Some computer nerds (or geeks?) at the office goofing off with technology, not doing art for art’s sake by hand. (Though, I suppose, to be fair and sex positive, hands were likely involved at some point.)

The image is from this gallery of ASCII art nudes. This is “Ms Collins” or “Vicki” from created from Oui magazine, February 1973. I selected her because she seems a lot like one of the nudes I’d seen that fateful day.

…A day way back then, when parents could display nude artwork and not cringe or worry when they gave the babysitter a tour of their house.

If It’s Antique Is It Still Porn? (NWS)

If you thought the matter of who makes art exploring the issue of abortion difficult, perhaps the following antique erotic artworks will be too upsetting. That’s your warning to leave.

For these works go beyond the issue of basic nudity in art, beyond even the matter of erotic art, to  explore sexuality along with religion and what appears to be the opulence of wealth.

I’m no expert, in art or in the French language, but I’m rather certain these works by Marcel Vertes (Le Pays a Mon Gout aka The Country to Your Taste, 12 original lithograph prints, circa 1921) and Martin van Maele (De Sceleribus et Criminibus , 11 erotic etchings circa 1908) are not theoretical works expressing confusion or commentary on the corruption of religion or other issues of decadence, but rather are fantasies exploiting such distorted delights — i.e. they are 100% erotica, illustrated meant to arouse.

But does that make them any less interesting in terms of art? Does their age make them more credible as art? Does the status of the artists, one an Oscar winner the other an illustrator for the works of H. G. Wells, improve your opinion? Is it art, erotica, or just plain old porn?

…And if you say “porn” or “old porn,” doesn’t that mean it still moves you?

Which would rather give points for “timeless” or “classic” to the works as well as kudos to the artists themselves, wouldn’t it?

Abortive Art

Look at this sketch closely…

My first thought was that this was the agonizingly personal doodles and notations of a woman contemplating abortion. There are lists of check-marked points, like pros and cons, with one side only listing “career, “money,” and “birth control,” while the other lists “guilt,” “alone,” “instability,” “social pressure,” and “environment.”

Frankly, looking at it made me more than a little uncomfortable — not only because I felt like I was reading a page in someone’s private diary, but because I’ve had my own experiences with such thoughts. I wanted to reach out, somehow…

But this work is not the intimate struggles of a lone woman.

It’s the beginnings of a work of art.

Following up on the only credits appearing on the Tumblr page where I found the inked sketchings and notes, I discovered that this sketch is the work of Julian Murphy, self-proclaimed maker of “Tantric Pop Art.” And, according to this interview, this is indeed a page from the artist’s notebook, though no final work is noted. Nor can I identify which work it might have led to. This is problematic for me as seeing the finished work may make me feel a lot differently than I do now.

Few decision are as personal and female — and attacked — as an unplanned, unwanted, or unhealthy pregnancy. Knowing that a man created this?! It’s quite difficult to bear.

Reading the words “excuse/reason“…

seeing an arrow with the words “liquidiser” pointing below the waist on a female figure

the rectangle drawn around the words “Abortion — Liquidised Asset” in all caps…

some sort of gauges apparently measuring “justification”

the whole exercise ending in “easioption“.

Easy option?! *snort*

Anger bubbles. Foam flecks my lips.

Especially when this male artist brings you something as unoriginal as a nudie clothes hanger.

Even if he’s also done a male version.

Even if some of his works are provocative — in a good way. At least without seeing his notes, reading the words used in his process, there’s the possibility of exploration, of fantasy. But this is the male artist who brings us the blindfolded submissive woman as a vacuum cleanerwhat on earth could his intentions of a liquidizing female abortion thing be? Some sort of blender?!

I believe in the right of artists to explore issues; I’m no censor. But when a man uses such painfully loaded language to work on his concept — this concept, I really need to see the final work, to hear the artist discuss his thoughts. Maybe he is as woefully unaware of the language he is using as he is ignorant to the issues women face.

Abortions are not “easy.” Hell, they aren’t even options in many places — regardless of laws stating the right to such an option. And Murphy’s language, his “reasoning,” just scares the hell out of me.

Cool Winter Events To Deal With Cabin Fever

Despite what the official website doesn’t say, Jay & Silent Bob Get Old will be here in Fargo on March 6th — I know, ‘cuz we got tickets!

Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith will be at the Fargo Theatre to kick-off the 12th annual Fargo Film Festival. (Yes, we have a film festival here in Fargo; no, we don’t just watch Fargo.) If you can’t make the Jay and Silent Bob show, don’t worry; the duo will be recording a podcast during the Fargo appearance.

I don’t know where you live, but there’s something going on where you live too…

How about going to see Daughters Of Lot and making me green with envy?

Want to participate, more than just watch? The Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery is seeking female artist/creators and collectors of kitsch from the Mass and Boston area for a group showing March 8 through April 13, 2012, called Everything But The Kitchen Sink: Women Create and Collect KITSCH.

Work sought in varied media including 2-D works; photography, printmaking, drawings, painting, digital video, 3-D; sculpture, installations, etc. that would be considered within the category of kitsch. …Acceptance of work will be ongoing until Feb. 29. Notification will be immediate upon receipt. For consideration of artwork to be included in promotional material, please submit artwork ASAP!

Those interested should contact Ms. Laura L. Montgomery, M.F.A., Director of the BHCC Art Gallery at 617-228-2093; or email &/or

If that’s not your thing, it’s not too late to catch the gallery’s THAT’S A FACT: Young, Gifted & Black, a group exhibition of Massachusetts/Boston area African American artists under 40. Another cool Black History Month idea.

He Earned His Living Exhibiting His Nose

“Strange As It Seems” Thomas Wedders – Yorkshire, Wng. Earned His Living Exhibiting His Nose It was 7 Inches Long!

Well, you know what they say about men with large noses… So his nose was the only thing he could shows at the time. *wink*

Vintage comic drawing by John Hix, who created syndicated comic art oddity drawings similar to Ripley’s believe it or Not under the name “Strange as it Seems.” Via Grapefruit Moon Gallery.

See also: Wedders at Riplye’s.

Make Up For Breasts?

No offense to Mr. Vargas, but I think he misunderstood the task… This vintage ad was for “Twin Make Up,” not makeup for “the twins.”

The original artwork by Alberto Vargas goes up for sale at Heritage Auctions on September 30, 2011.

ALBERTO VARGAS (American, 1896-1982)
New Jergens Twin Make-Up, advertisement poster, 1943
Mixed media on board
18 x 14 in.
Signed upper left

The Breast Drawing Advice: How To Draw Boobs Without Being A Boob

We all know comic book art, pinups, and many other art forms exaggerate the human form; especially the female form. However, if you want any sort of realism at all — let alone to avoid complaints about body image, statements that comic book nerds have never seen nude chicks, etc. — check out this illustrated tutorial by Ovens (aka Unconventional oven), of Effort Comics (18+ webcomic):

In case you don’t have a pair of your own, haven’t ever seen naked boobs before, or simply forget about physics, this is an excellent reminder. It also pleases me as it points out that our female finer points move, are affected by position & gravity, may not point at all, and may even sag — all of which is natural and beautiful.

I say, exaggerate away, artists, as long as you get the most simple basics of flesh and physics right.

See also: The seventh in the I Draw the Line series by Tom Nguyen. (Sadly, this archive of the series is sans illustrations.) In his “how to draw boobs” entry, Nguyen provides the ultimate artistic breast advice:

Boobs have a general shape, yes, but keep in mind that they are soft and have weight. Therefore, their shape changes to work with gravity and clothing.

Little Jumping Joan

I always found this nursery rhyme a little unnerving…

Little Jumping Joan

Here am I, little jumping Joan,
When nobody’s with me
I’m always alone.

Apparently photographer Jonathan Hobin thinks so too; this is Jumping Joan, a little girl wearing a straightjacket, from his Mother Goose series.

Being Of Sound Mind & Body

The Archive Series by the David Garcia Studio are art installation pieces, experimental architectural platforms, specifically “investigations on space and books, aiming to blur the borders between art and design. Clearly non functional, they aim to appeal to the senses.” However, this second installation does have a function — serving as a hamster wheel for readers, or, if you prefer, an alternative to the exercise bike, treadmill, and other gym equipment that the bored read upon. The Archive Series is available for sale in custom made pieces too.

Found via this post at the Bookshelf blog.

Taking Off Those Kid Gloves About The Collectors Convention

Hey, that conference I’m presenting at, the first annual Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention, has been written up in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Which reminded me that I had not mentioned the event here, pestering you to attend. So, here it is, “Will you please attend the convention?”

I think there’s still some free commemorative bookmarks available, so check that out before you register.

And, in case you missed it, here’s my story about incidentally collecting bookmarks: When I Was A Child, I Bookmarked As A Child (Or, Seeking The Perfect Bookmark).

Image Credits: This bookmark advertising Paul Foster & Co. kid gloves also features palmistry; it was submitted to the convention’s gallery by Laine Farley.