Rock Reads: Kittens and Kulture- The Pinup Photography of Susana Andrea by Susana Andrea
Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki
The pinup has come a long way since having its first heyday during the World War II era, back when likenesses of pinup girls adorned military barracks and appeared on airplanes and other tools of war, giving G.I.s fighting overseas a not-so-subtle reminder of what (potentially!) awaited them back home. Pinup popularity has ebbed and flowed ever since but the genre is at an all-time high these days, due in part to the elevation of pinup photography to high art by people like photographer Susana Andrea. Andrea's photos were all produced in recent times but here they are presented by eras broken into decades, with each era being represented by the style of dress the models are wearing and the settings in which the photos are taken. The 1920s and '30s are together in one chapter, with the ladies looking movie star glamorous, some sharing the scene with equally-alluring vintage autos, and a couple brandishing the long, thin cigarette holders that were popular in the day. The 1940s chapter begins with more glamour shots but puts the models in settings where they appear to be more like the girl-next-door; talking on the phone, reading a magazine or brushing their hair. And while every photo in the book is sexy in its own way, the '40s chapter introduces the pouty-lipped, bustier and sheer black stocking wearing kitten that the book's title refers to. Some of the most fun shots represent the era of the tiki craze, beginning here in the '40s and continuing in the '50s, with the models posing in settings that conjure the tropics, with flowers in their hair, tropical drinks in hand and carved tikis in the background. The book's lengthiest section, the '50s chapter, has other playful shots like a cowgirl-channeling model in boots with a lariat, a girl looking body shop cute as she uses a grinder (yes, sparks are flying!) and various models sitting in or posing adjacent to era-appropriate autos. A chapter on the '60s wraps up the offering and includes "Swinging '60s"- inspired shots, surf, beach and hot rod scenes and a few photos featuring plus-size models. Among the dozens of models appearing are Angelique Noire, Rivi Madison, Frankie Sin, Dottie DeVille, Ashlyn Coco, Calamity Amelie, Dayna Delux, Miss Miranda, Vintage Jenna and Lisa Love.