Negotiating Oral History, Documentary, and Journalism

I realize I haven’t been blogging on this site regularly for a while, and this post is going to venture into far more pointy-headed territory than normal. But as I’m moving toward transforming the feature length documentary into a book and interactive film grounded in oral history research, I think its important to share my thoughts and process.

This post was inspired by a series of conversations, where it became increasingly clear that I was working in an area that wasn’t entirely transparent to the narrators who are sharing their stories with me. I’m hoping this will help clarify things for them, and for me.


In June of this year, the Oral History Society held its annual conference in Belfast. The theme? Dangerous oral histories. The conference organizers were concerned with physical dangers and risks when gathering and sharing oral narratives, but also about the fragile emotional ground for both oral historians and interview participants, or narrators, when conduction oral history interviews and research.

That ground becomes even more fragile when working at the intersection of oral history and documentary.

I think it’s incredibly important to recognize that the feature length film Pin Up! The Movie, while based in oral narratives, is still a documentary at its heart. By this I mean it has a structured narrative, with a three act structure (beginning, middle, and end). In the film I follow two sets of women involved in pin up culture. A group in Colorado was competing to win the pin up contest at the 1940s Ball in Denver. The second group was in California, where I was following a new model to her first professional pin up shoot and publication with an established photographer.

Both “stories” were contrived in a way. The Ball (and its contest) was one of the first things I shot for the film. In other words, I knew how that story was going to end before I really began. For the pin up shoot, the photographer held a casting call where women learned pin up hair and makeup techniques. She and I consulted with who should be “cast” for the final shoot after looking at her proofs from the day. While I contributed who would be a good “talker” (based on quick interviews with the women) and made suggestions, she had the final say.

But because it was a documentary, I also took control of the story shaping in the editing suite. The people participating had little say, and only saw the assembled film once it was completed. I tried to be fair, but I was also the “auteur.”

Mitzi (left) with some of the pin ups she’s shot with (and who are in the film) on the red carpet: Ashleeta, Bang Bang Von Loola, Miss Emilie, Leslye Rox, Miss Rockwell De Vil and Sydney Ralston (with slurpee).

But during this process, I struggled. The project, initially conceived of as a stand alone documentary and website, eventually seemed to morph into a more interactive, online entity. And as such, my own approach would change. The interactive film didn’t need a traditional story line — by nature it was non-linear with no clear beginning, middle, or end. Users could navigate as they saw fit. The individual could have more control of her story.

In other words, the interactive film began to look a whole lot more like an oral history project.

Oral history, in the words of Alessandro Portelli, is “history telling.” By that he means organizing what had been told in the past, perhaps to family and friends, into a coherent narrative. It is also, as Ron Grele notes, a “shared authority” between the narrator and the oral historian, with each having equal weight as to the interpretation of historical events. As an oral historian I cannot discount the theories of individuals about their lives.

I also am tasked with inserting the work into the public sphere. Oral histories do little to advance “history from below” by sitting in an archive. It’s important for the public to hear the interviews with individuals in their own voices.

The process looks very different than a documentary film, in that narrators are given copies of the interview transcripts (and often the interviews themselves) which they can edit and use as they see fit. This is their individual life story, after all. It’s important to make sure the story is told accurately and allow them to maintain copyright of that story.

While the journalist in me (I’ve spent two decades in the field) worried about interviewees attempting to retract some or all of their interview in order to sanitize history, the reality is that the editing usually is relatively minor stuff, like fixing a date that is incorrect, or correcting spoken grammar to written norms. When someone wanted to remove an important anecdote, I would explain to them why the anecdote was important from a scholarly perspective. Only once has a person insisted a portion of her story be removed, and that was only because she had been the victim of identity theft and feared the culprit could find her again. Narrators can withdraw from participation at any time.

Oral history is also a profoundly feminist activity. And by feminist, I mean feminism that considers a variety of perspectives and experiences and doesn’t privilege one over the other (I’m personally working from the fourth wave perspective). I need to find what is missing in a given story and bring people in to help fill that hole. My role as an oral historian isn’t to make judgements, or to say that one person is right or another wrong. Instead, my role is to find patterns and themes, and attempt to understand a community holistically.

For this particular project, that meant trying to find what was missing. The feature film featured few people from out of the United States, and while it had a strong representation of people of color, it still wasn’t a satisfactory number to me. I knew there were transsexual pin ups, but I had none represented in the traditional documentary.

I worked hard to remedy that in the interactive project for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I strongly believe that seeing diversity in media projects helps to increase receptivity to diversity in the “real” world. Second, the experiences of pin ups in Taipei or Norway may be radically different from those in Southern California. Ditto pin ups from marginalized communities. I paid special attention to making sure that the project wasn’t just made up of white women from Western capitalist societies. It’s not tokenism, but rather making sure that all aspects of the culture are there. A variety of perspectives means my analysis and work can be richer and more complete.

A former professor once told me that you keep doing interviews in a project until you stop hearing something new. I took that approach into this project (and am still interviewing because I’m still hearing “new” stuff).

Photo by Michael Dooley

What was weird in this situation is that it started as a film about a subculture; a subculture with an active social media presence. In the filmmaking process I became involved with the (mostly online) community in ways that I hadn’t in other projects. Documentary and oral history work is always intimate. I personally don’t know how scholars or filmmakers avoid personal connections and friendships with the people they’re collaborating with. But for this project it became even more intense, likely because these encounters were morphing into my own online presence. I’m involved with private groups on Facebook, and regularly text or message people who are part of the project about non-project related things.

In other words, I felt like many of the women I met were becoming friends.

Hence the danger. I’m treading on treacherous ground.

The back end of the interactive documentary.

My producer and I presented on the interactive documentary project at the International Oral History Association in Finland this past June. We talked about the ways the online documentary offered collaborative potential for oral historians seeking to put their work in the public sphere. Full interviews can go on a website, and the process offers numerous ways to edit and contextualize in a more user-friendly format than a bricks and mortar archive or even a book.

Afterwards, one of the audience members asked me, “Are you sharing the interviews and transcripts with the narrators?” I paused for a moment, but almost immediately realized the answer had to be “yes.” Again, this isn’t so that they can change their stories and sanitize their lives, but rather so that they can share in the storytelling process.

Does that mean as a scholar I’m going to sit back and pretend I don’t have opinions or observations? Of course not! I’ve already heard a variety of things that complicate my analysis and work: inconsistencies between interviews and public actions, ideological blind spots, or approaches that I personally think are unrealistic. My job as a scholar isn’t to judge, but to tease out patterns (do certain sub-demographics think a certain way, even among people with the best intentions) and offer context and analysis when looking at the interviews as a whole. If there are problems, even among the best intentioned, I will point those out.

And I’m also going to self-critically look at my own role in this whole process. I’ve already made mistakes and will likely make more. Discounting them would do my narrators a disservice.

It’s the least I can do for this culture that has so willingly shared so much with me.



Your Week In Pin Up, Issue 42: The It’s Already FEBRUARY??? Edition

ywipu6 February 2017

Seriously? February?

It’s Black History Month.

Margaret Tynes, 1959. Carl Van Vechten/Van Vechten Trust/Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Carl Van Vechten

Margaret Tynes, 1959. Carl Van Vechten/Van Vechten Trust/Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Carl Van Vechten

All the better to showcase some of the awesome pin ups of color from history.

Josephine Baker by Associated News.

Josephine Baker by Associated News.

And It’s Award Show Season….


Maisie Williams channeling the 1950s at the SAG Awards.

SAG Awards. DGA. Can’t wait for the Oscar finery.

Laverne Cox at the DGA Awards.

Laverne Cox at the DGA Awards.

Oh, and Did We Mention It Was Our Instagram Birthday?


Two years. 15.8K followers.


Uhm, This.


Harry Potter Pin Up Cosplay.


Inspired by classic pin ups. Need we say more?


Artist Ginny Di is awesomesocks.

This. GIF.






Your Week In Pin Up, Issue 41: The Making It All Worthwhile Edition

ywipu30 January 2017

We Can Take a Nothing Date….

R.I.P. M.T.M.


Mary Tyler Moore died this week at the age of 80. I blogged about the impact the character Mary Richard had on my career. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. She was a feminist icon.

And Also Barbara Hale

John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

She was best known for playing Della Street on Perry Mason. But her career started as a contract player for RKO in 1943. How did she get her first role? The gal who was supposed to get it was sick.  She was 94.

Then There’s the 85-Year-Old Couture Model

Kristy Sparrow for Getty Images.

Kristy Sparrow for Getty Images.

Carmen Dell’Orefice closed out Chinese couturier Guo Pei’s show at Paris Couture Week.


Then There’s That Little Calendar Girl


Ernest Chiriaka. January 1953.

This. GIF.





It’s Time You Let Someone Else do Some Giving

Me, Mary Richards, and Feminism

I was just a kid when The Mary Tyler Moore Show was on television. I’m sure I watched the first episode, but I don’t have a clear memory of that. What I do remember perfectly is the 1972–1973 Saturday Night line up on CBS:

  • All in the Family
  • Bridget Loves Bernie (aka bath time)
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • The Bob Newhart Show
  • Mission Impossible (rarely allowed to stay up for that)/Carol Burnett Show (always allowed to stay up for that)
I’m not sure if Mary Richards was the reason I went into television journalism. I know I always thought she was something, in ways, like my mother (another Mary): a woman who worked outside the home not just because she had to, but because she wanted to. She found personal satisfaction in her professional success, and she was accepted as an equal by the men she worked with.

And that was pretty revolutionary for network television.

In 2002, in an interview with Larry King, Mary Tyler Moore said she thought that Mary Richards was a feminist:

She wasn’t aggressive about it, but she surely was. The writers never forgot that. They had her in situations where she had to deal with it.”

She asked for equal pay for equal work. She told her boss it was illegal to ask certain questions during her job interview. She was the only woman in her television newsroom to have an executive position (she became the newscast producer). Her experiences in ways echoed those of that first wave of women to make it into television news.

I benefited from her real-life counterparts.

By the time I entered into television in the late 1980s, a generation removed from Mary Richards, women in the newsroom were relatively common. We had reached the point in the industry where news directors weren’t just hiring that token female. I worked as a reporter, an anchor, and then eventually a producer. I had multiple news directors who were women. In one job, all of our executive producers and producers were women too.

But every time I moved to a new job in a new city, that theme song would play in my head. Maybe it’s because it was on a mix tape that a friend gave me as I headed off to my first job.

How will you make it on your own? This world is awfully big, and, girl, this time you’re on your own. But it’s time you started living. Time you let someone else do some giving.

I like to think that Mary gave me the strength to stand up to the sexist news director who told me in an interview:

Your look is all wrong for television. Your look, I see it on a deep shag pile carpet illuminated by firelight.

I thanked him (so Mary Richards), took my reel, and left the office. I didn’t start crying until I got to my car.

But she also gave me the tools to work with the men in my workplace. Like the engineers and photographers out on shoots, who I learned to read. To understand when subtle femininity might help me to convince them to do when I wanted, and when I needed to more forcefully stand up for my position.

In my first job, I lived in an apartment in a converted Victorian mansion, just like Mary Richards. I tell myself in my head that the house was painted a faded pinkish-beige and white, just like Mary’s (I’m not sure it was). I swear moving in was a coincidence. I don’t remember the sportscaster at her station telling Mary about an apartment available across the hall from him. But I also joked with friends that I would get a “Mary Richards” apartment in my first job.

The Mary Richards house.

Here’s the thing I loved about Mary Richards, and how she influenced my understanding about feminism: Mary didn’t lose her femininity in order to be a feminist. I remember less her not getting that equal pay that she asked for (she caved because the man had three children) but that she had the courage to ask itself. That her asking itself made a statement — that this sort of behavior was maybe not right.

She often used what have been described as female speaking traits or dodges while still advocating for her own career and interests. She supported her female friends, and called them out when they hurt her (Phyllis, I’m looking at you). She didn’t judge (Georgette and Ted, I’m looking at you). And she managed to have one of the first frenemies relationship I can remember on television, and often came out the winner in that (Sue Ann……).

But most of all, she was a success on her own terms. Right up to the end.

I don’t know how much of Mary Richards was in Mary Tyler Moore. I like to think that she held many of the same feminist values. I know she became more libertarian politically as she aged, and that she struggled with diabetes for much of her life. She served as an ambassador for diabetes awareness, and battled alcoholism. Like most of us, her life had its ups and downs.

Even if she wasn’t “Mare,” I do know that I’m glad she brought Mary Richards to life.

Seven influential MTM episodes by Variety here.

How MTM captured a key moment in history by Time here.

First published on Medium.



A Year in Pin Up 2016

Time for the annual best-of list. So here are the highlights for our 2016 Year in Pin Up.

Week. By. Week.

Week 1: January 1-7


The week we started our Instagram casting call for features in our interactive documentary.

Week 2: January 8-14

Some of pin ups (and director Kathleen Ryan and Producer David Staton) at the Albuquerque Film Festival

Some of pin ups (and director Kathleen Ryan and Producer David Staton) at the Albuquerque Film Festival

File this one under film festivals. Albuquerque Film Festival and Comic Con. Good times.

Week 3: January 15-22



Week 4: January 22-27


Our kind of Super Bowl.

Week 5: January 28-February 3


This GIF.

Week 6: February 4-10

Director Kathleen M. Ryan by Sheila Broderick Photography.

Director Kathleen M. Ryan by Sheila Broderick Photography.

A feature about the film in the University of Oregon Alumni Magazine. Love it!

Week 7: February 11-17


Did you see us at the Dirty Show?

Week 8: February 18-24


Pin up knows no age boundaries. Via Sabine Reichel and Beate Pilgreen

Week 9: February 25-March 3

From top left: Pinup Sunshine, Ria Fend, Serenity Pinup and Kitty Mansfield, our February i-doc winners.

From top left: Pinup Sunshine, Ria Fend, Serenity Pinup and Kitty Mansfield, our February i-doc winners.

That time we had four winners in our Instagram #iwannabeastar contest. Yes, it was that close.

Week 10: March 4-10


That week we went viral.

Week 11: March 11-17


The last of our Kickstarter premiums went out to their homes. The house seemed so much emptier.

Week 12: March 18-24


That dance. From the classic Metropolis.

Week 13: March 25-31

2016-04-30 15.58.12

Ethnografilm in Paris. Ooh la la.

2016-04-30 15.57.58

Week 14: April 1-7

2016-04-09 09.35.47

The week Scarlette Saint Clair SMASHED our previous Instagram voting records.

Week 15: April 8-14

2016-04-10 01.11.43

Palm Beach International Film Festival with Art of the Pin Up Girl.

2016-04-10 11.39.25-1

Week 16: April 15-21

2016-04-30 15.56.28

Viva Las Vegas. Oh, and we met Elvis too.

2016-04-30 15.56.18

Week 17 April 22-28


That week we went viral. Again.

Week 18: April 29-May 5


RIP Prince. This GIF helped us remember everything we loved about you.

Week 19: May 6-12

2016-05-09 10.31.01

Scarlette only held her crown for a few weeks when Fifi Von Tassel stole it away. Most Instragram votes in a week for our #IWannaBeAStar contest. At least to date…

Week 20: May 13-19

Screenshot 2016-05-22 18.44.57

That time we shot a music video and this happened.

Week 21: May 20-26

Screenshot 2016-05-22 18.45.27

This photo. #ALeagueofTheirOwn #RubyRydell

Week 22: May 27-June 2

That week we started crowdfunding on Marilyn’s birthday.

Week 23: June 3-9

Girls Like That (Pin Up 6) Teaser from TaylorCatProductions on Vimeo.

“Girls Like Us” teaser, part one. Full music video coming soon. We swear.

Week 24: June 10-16

Cafe Racer, 1960s.

Cafe Racer, 1960s.

Bad ass women on motorcycles. Via Dangerous Minds.

Week 25: June 17-23

Girls Like That (Pin Up 6) Teaser (the Car Show Version) from TaylorCatProductions on Vimeo.

More shenanigans. Yes, yes, we know…

Week 26: June 24- 30

The Millie Michelle from TaylorCatProductions on Vimeo.

The week we introduced one of our i-doc stars, The Millie Michelle.

Week 27: July 1-7


We had NO IDEA we were screening in India as part of Ethnografilm… until we saw this news story.

Week 28: July 8-14

screenshot-2016-12-24-15-29-55 screenshot-2016-12-24-15-30-03

The week we got listed at a highlight at Comic Con by the Huffington Post.

Week 29: July 15-21

By Frank Larson

By Frank Larson

The treasure trove of photos of New York in the 1950s… found in an attic. By Frank Larson, courtesy Creative Boom

Week 30: July 22-28

Photo by Michael Dooley

Photo by Michael Dooley

COMIC CON!!!!  Post-screening panel with photographer Mitzi Valenzuela and models Bang Bang Von Loola, Sydney Ralston, and Ashleeta in front of director Kathleen Ryan.

Week 31: July 29-August 4

Miss Merry Lou, #iwannabeastar finalist

Miss Merry Lou, #iwannabeastar finalist

The #iwannabeastar contestant who BLEW UP Facebook. Maybe we should make room for her in the film?

Week 32: August 5-11


Alberto Vargas calendar girl, c. 1948.

Week 33: August 12-18


Yes, please.

Week 34: August 19-25


The week we got some British sexiness at Sexhibition.

Week 35: August 26-September 1


The modern child as a Dutch Masters painting. Via Imagur.


Oh, and the whole burkini-ban/indecency thing. Via PBS.

Week 36: September 2-8


The week we screened at Woodstock.

Week 37: September 9-15


Rosie at 95. Via People Magazine.

Week 38: September 16-22

The week Ruby’s Musings video blogged for us up and down the California Coast.

Week 39: September 23-29


We shared a number of photos from the 1940s World Fair via the New York Public Library this year, wrapping up with this one of the Prettiest Leg Contest.

Week 40: September 30-October 6


Photo by Kevin Owens Imagery.

Sami Lee Schaefer, who turned into a good friend and a great interview. Our September #iwannabeastar winner.

Week 41: October 7-13


Halloween. Horror movie GIF style.

Week 42: October 14-20


By OC Wonderland Studios

Halloween. K Von Spun Style

Week 43: October 21-27


Halloween. Vintage style.

Week 44: October 28-November 3


Halloween.  Catwoman style.

Week 45: November 4-10


When pin ups came together in the wake of the US election to fight racism, sexism and biogtry. Don’t let the 1960s-era photo fool you.. these gals are standing for their rights, and are looking good doing it.

Week 46: November 11-17


Words to live by. Via Undocumedia.

Week 47: November 18-24


Bill Randall, November 1959 calendar.  Go, Team!

Week 48: November 25-December 1


RIP Mrs. Brady. You know Florence Henderson was a ’50s pin up before she became “a lovely lady,” right?

Week 49: December 2-8


The weekend our Seed&Spark backer Christian D. Orr and his date Nicol went to the 1940s Ball. Thanks to Sheila Broderick Photography and Cha Cha Romero for making the night magical.

Week 50: December 9-13


Our #BestNine via Instagram.

Week 51: December 14-20

A Christmas Twist. Thanks, Si Cranstoun.

Week 52: December 21-31

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: Actresses Debbie Reynolds (L) and Carrie Fisher pose in the press room at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 25: Actresses Debbie Reynolds (L) and Carrie Fisher pose in the press room at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

On Tuesday December 27th actress Carrie Fisher died. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, posted this on Facebook:

Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop. Love Carries Mother

Just over 24 hours later, Reynolds died after suffering a stroke. She was 84.

I’ll always remember her in one of my favorite films, Singing in the Rain. A even though this year had some brutal twists and turns, this clip from the movie gives me the strength to enter 2017 with optimism. Thank you, Carrie’s Mother, for sharing your gift with us.

We’ll see you in 2017.

Are Pin Ups Feminist? Why Yes, They Are.

Recently, I was talking about my interactive documentary project with some colleagues at the university where I teach. One of the women (a second-wave feminist generation) said something along the lines of,

Well, you know that many of these images would be considered problematic for women.

Why????, my brain screamed, as I politely attempted to talk with her about individual agency and the need to respect how a woman chooses to represent her body (the colleague is, after all, more senior than me).

Dapper small tv

Dapper Dan Doll, in a provocative pose that she designed herself.

Of course, I knew the answer. The women were posing in a sexual manner. They’re provocative and often wearing few – or sometimes no – clothes. The retro poses draw their inspiration an era when women were presumed to be repressed by the patriarchy, being gazed upon by men and taken (or drawn) by men. The kitschy, throwback pin up is clearly a woman repressed.

Oh. My. God.

The problem with this narrative is that it ignores not only the individual wants, motivations and desires of contemporary pin ups (and their often-female artistic collaborators), but it also ignores the feminist history of the pin up herself.

Burlesque postcard from the 1800s.

Burlesque postcard from the 1800s.

In part, I’m drawing from the research done by art historian Maria Elena Buszek, whose wonderful book Pin Up Grrrls traces the feminist and artistic evolution of the genre. According to Buszek, the pin up evolved in the mid-1800s as a type of calling card for burlesque performers, who were using the photographic based carte de visite to not only promote their acts but also to challenge the idea that a woman could only be either the Madonna or the whore. The burlesque artist hovered somewhere in between the two in a state that Buszek calls “awarishness”: consciously inserting their “improper” burlesque identities into the non-theatrical world.

Gibson girls. They're looking at a man under the magnifying glass.

Gibson girls. They’re looking at a man under the magnifying glass.

Buszek argues that subsequent iterations of the pin up would similarly challenge boundaries in a very feminist way. Gibson Girls of the turn of the 20th century? Advocates of the right to vote, whose images were used on both sides of the debate as either an argument for female liberation or an illustration of what would happen when girls go wild. Flappers of the 1920s? Ditto.


It’s when the 1940s roll around that the pin up begins to make her way into the hands of the average woman. During World War II she is increasingly making her way into the workforce in non-traditional female work, such as in the military or in factories.

George Petty Air Hostess. From VinMag.

George Petty Air Hostess. From VinMag.

Buszek found that these women began experimenting with do-it-yourself pin ups, not to share with boyfriends and husbands but to share with their friends.

They are doing it to capture their own audacity. There was something inherently dangerous and transgressive about what those images must have represented to young women.

Maria Elena Buszek


By the 1950s, pin up icons like Bettie Page and Marilyn Monroe were using their sexuality as a way to promote their images within popular culture. Yes, Page and Monroe, not necessarily the photographers behind the images. Scholar Kathryn N. Benzel traced how Monroe constructed poses, accessories, costumes and expressions within her images, forcing viewers “to contemplate an aesthetic form rather than a glamourized nude.” Page’s carefully cultivated persona, meanwhile, poked fun at the very genre itself. Buszek sees her as a counterpoint to the Playboy Playmate (who would also emerge during this era), a feminist alternative to the nonthreatening Bunny.


During the latter third of the 20th century it would be artists who would reclaim the pin up, often for very pointed commentary on the roles of women in society. But the look was also beginning to percolate in the rockabilly, new wave, and punk rock subcultures, where vintage style was often as much an economic choice as an aesthetic one. Debbie Harry of Blondie, Madonna, and Gwen Stefani of No Doubt (who’s been called “the ultimate 21st-century pin up” by Sefan Lindemann of Grazia magazine, largely due to her individual fashion-forward stylings) all adopted pin up stylings.


So what about those modern women I’ve been talking to in connection with my project? Well, here’s the interesting rub: the vast majority of them self-identify as feminists. This is fascinating to me because feminism in the mid-2010s often is fraught with a ton of negative baggage (evidence: any internet comment section about any feminist news item ever). And, the women are actively aping the aesthetic aspects of an era when female empowerment wasn’t exactly a buzzphrase. They adopt monikers that promise sexuality and submissiveness, like Delicious Ruckus or Ginger Rose.

But these same women tell fans on their social media accounts to unfollow them if they don’t support feminist issues. They post on issues ranging from pay equality to sexual reproductive freedoms. They bemoan injustices such as sexual bigotry or racism.

Evalette Bizou (left) and Coco Soleil by Nightlight Digital.

Evalette Bizou (left) and Coco Soleil by Nightlight Digital.

Evalette Bizou and Coco Soleil are examples of this modern feminist pin up. The two also share a burlesque act, and were photographed together in the image (above) taken by Nightlight Digital.

“We both strongly identify ourselves as feminist,” said Coco.
“Exactly,” Evalette said. “I strongly believe in equality, and have never been anything but a feminist.”
“All my friends, both male or female, are feminists,” Coco added.

Their feminist impulses come out in various ways. Model Delicious Ruckus and photographer Mitzi Valenzuela both consider the pin up community a type of sisterhood, where women support each other regardless of race, ethnicity, body size, sexual orientation or economic background. Both are involved with charity causes (Pinups for Charity for D-Ruck; Bombshells Against Bullying for Valenzuela). And both, like Page and Monroe, tightly controls their shoots, from the posing to the costuming.

Miss Rockwell Di Vil, photographed by Mitzi and Co. Photography.

Miss Rockwell Di Vil, photographed by Mitzi and Co. Photography.

And from this control comes something. The modern pin up looks back. Even in a highly sexualized pose, such as Valenzuela’s image of Miss Rockwell De Vil in a clawfoot tub (which is one of the promotional posters for the film), the model is catching the eye of the camera through almost-closed eyes. She’s aware – and in control – of how she is looked at.

Rockwell is like those burlesque performers from the 1800s. There’s a tension in her control of the image: and it’s empowering.

Underdog to the Rescue!

First, thank you so much. We’ve got 500+ followers which means we qualify to apply for distribution. So the next step is figuring out how to up our follower numbers to get into the Untold Story finals.

Screenshot 2016-06-30 12.41.20

We need Underdog to save an underdog. We’re in LAST PLACE of the films that have reached the 80%/500 follower threshold. We can do better.



So we have some things up our sleeve…


We we reach 600 followers, two lucky followers will get a copy of the Mitzi & Co. 2017 calendar. Free.


When we reach 700 followers, Delicious Ruckus will provide a signed and kissed copy of this print to one lucky follower. For Free.



When we reach 800 followers, five lucky people will get “pinned up” by director Kathleen Ryan, in the style of these Conan O’Pinups that we did a bit back. Your head on a classic pin up illustration or contemporary photo. Your choice. Oh, yeah, free.



When we reach 900 followers, one lucky follower will get a personal video “thank you” from some of the gals in the film and online documentary. We’ll share it with you and post on social media. Gratis.


We have until noon PT tomorrow on funding, and until 9PM PT for followers. WE CAN DO THIS!!!!

Your Week In Pin Up Edition 36: The Video Edition

ywipu20 June 2016

Videos, Videos and More Videos

Because we did have our Colorado premiere this weekend…

Like from K Von Spun


Or From the Gals at Pin Ups For Charity

At the 1940s Ball.

Or When We Judged a Pin Up Contest


Or From Our New Trailer

Pin Up! The Movie New Trailer Teaser from TaylorCatProductions on Vimeo.

Yes, it’s a teaser. Support us on Seed&Spark to see the whole thing.

Then There’s This GIF



Our Schedule

June 18th


  • noon-3pm: Pin Ups for Charity Car Show, as part of the 1940s Ball Weekender. We’re judging the pin up contest – and the winner will be cast in a role in our online interactive documentary.
  • 4pm-???: 1940s Ball. Come see us at the Pin Ups for Charity booth – and meet film stars Dapper Dan Doll and Delicious Ruckus, as well as i-doc star Ruby Red Pinup. Everything we sell benefits our Seed&Spark. #BeABacker

June 19th


  • Oh, just a little thing like our Colorado premiere. 10:15 am. Did we mention that it’s also Father’s Day?  Hmm, last minute gift anyone?


No, this isn’t an ad inserted by WordPress. It’s an inside joke… watch ’til the end and you’ll get it too.