Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Date with The Baron

Fedora Moon Goddess

A few months ago, I posted a link on my Art of the Pin-Up Girl page on Facebook declaring my love for a pin-up artist that I had recently discovered in my Tumblr travels whose signature was simply, "Baron".  I began to look for him and discovered his website, which archives his body of work and told just a few of his many great travels.  I told him in the e-mail I decided to send that I was mesmerized by his work.  One glance at this divine Moon Goddess and I'm sure you can relate to my swooning.  I explained about my Art of the Pin-Up Girl project and that I would really love to meet him.  The next day I had a telephone call from the artist himself, and he quickly invited me to visit him, since we live only an hour away from each other - as divine fate would have it!  It was one of the best days of my life.

Gerald von Lind has painted over a thousand paintings in his life, (his medium is oil on canvass) and his classic pin-ups are licensed all over the world.  He thrilled me with his stories of a life in art, especially pin-up (he was friends with Gil Elvgren at Brown & Bigelow at the height of the calendar art era), but also with his military service (18 years and he served in Vietnam), his touring as a musician (he plays bass guitar) and as a husband and father of 7 children.  I found him endlessly fascinating and a true renaissance man.  He has painted classical, pulp-fiction covers and portraits, and he is a sculptor and novelist.  He said he was afraid he would "talk both my ears off", but honestly I couldn't get enough and I still have both my ears. :)

Baron von Lind has painted movie stars like Sophie Loren and Elizabeth Taylor and even a presidential portrait of Ronald Reagan, which hung in the White House.  In his studio was a partially finished pin-up-in-progress and several other completed pieces ready for shipping to their lucky owners.  And all throughout his home, were paintings that he had done - each more beautiful than the next!  Do I have to tell you how excited I got when he showed me the wine bottles that bear his pin-ups??  (Forgive me as I swoon right now.)

Tomorrow (yes, Halloween) is Baron von Lind's birthday and although he has reached 74 years, he has the aura and attitude of a much younger man.  And at the same time, he is so full of the wisdom and brilliance that can only be earned by such a lifetime of artistic pursuits.  He has clearly lived with passion and purpose - to inspire us all.  And in his amazing generosity, he has agreed to be the official artist of Art of the Pin-Up Girl and although we shall discover many artists along our journey through the history of American pin-up, Baron's work will always be the artistic vision to grace our title and presence on the web and for all of our programming - from the stage to the screen and wherever this glorious journey takes us.  It is an announcement I am thrilled to make, especially on this day.

Happy Birthday, Baron!  You are a gift to us all!  We celebrate you!

Baron's Rosie the Riveter!

You can find more about Baron and all of his art at:

And buy his books on Amazon!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle (The Fabulous Bettie Page)

When I wrote the song, Welcome to the Jungle (The Fabulous Bettie Page) it was late at night after copious amounts of wine.  My husband (and writing partner) began playing a blues intro and I started to improvise with the singing – very badly at first – since I had never sung a blues song, let alone written one.  But a few things started to gel and we kept going – entertaining only ourselves.  I got the digital voice recorder and tried to preserve what I knew could ever so easily be forgotten the next morning.

When I played it back the next day, I hardly recognized my own voice.  I knew logically that it was me, but it reminded me of someone from another time – almost like my grandmother.  And for some reason, the song kept coming.  Songwriters may tell you that there are a million melodies in the brain, but only some of them persist into becoming full songs.   Those songs can only be seen as a gift.  And this gift became a realization of my desire to be a fly on the wall during the famous jungle photo shoot when Bettie was shot by Bunny Yeager (pin-up turned photog) right here in South Florida.

About this time, I discovered the movie trailer for the film about Bettie Page’s life:  Bettie Page Reveals All.  I had never heard the sound of Bettie’s voice before, and when I played the trailer for this new film, which she essentially narrates, I had this haunting feeling – as though the voice coming out of me was hers.

I should qualify this by saying that when I began writing the script for Art of the Pin-Up Girl, I really was not interested in writing about Bettie.  I felt that her story had been told and what more could I say that would still be engaging to a pin-up savvy audience?  And also, my premise was to see the fantasy of a piece of art coming to life – not a girl that we knew as “real” already.  That was solved by the fact that Bettie had been painted plenty – and most extensively by one of my favorite artists, Olivia DeBerardinis.

And you may say, “How can you even think about writing a play about pin-up without paying homage to The Queen?”  Perhaps that is why the messages started coming through loud and clear.  If you wonder where my inspiration came from, well, I would tell you from Bettie herself.  She came in dreams on a nightly basis for quite a while.  The song kept playing in my head every single time I took a shower and I felt this sense of urgency to finish the song, to write the lyrics line by line and finally to record it.  Believe me when I say, Bettie was very specific about what she wanted.  This song should be a show stopper!

As we continued recording the other thirteen original songs, I kept procrastinating Bettie’s song.  I knew that I must do it justice and in many ways it was a monumental undertaking.  As a result it was the last song we recorded for Art of the Pin-Up Girl, and many of my dear friends who are familiar with this work have said that it is their absolute favorite.

On October 14, I was honored to be one of the first to see the sold-out work-in-progress screening of Bettie Page Reveals All at The Jacksonville Film Festival.  To say that it was an emotional experience for me would be an understatement.  So much of her life resonated with me.  The people who knew her had wonderful things to say about her, that she was a lovely person with a zest for life and a wicked sense of humor – just as her photos convey.  But then there were the tragic parts, such as the sexual abuse at the hands of her father and later in life the mental illness that brought her to a screeching halt.  Still, she lived her life with a sense of purpose and had a strong sense of self.  She radiated beauty and sensuality, but also struggled like we all do – perhaps she had more than her share of struggles.  The thing about Bettie Page is that she is every woman – extraordinary and complex, beautiful and mysterious, both naughty and nice.  Perhaps she is what every woman aspires to be in one way or another.  I can see how she has become an icon of feminine empowerment – ironically by doing an art form that was supposed to be for the pleasure of men.  I really cannot wait for all of Bettie’s fans to see her film and have the experience of knowing her more deeply.  She is, in my opinion, an American treasure.

And naturally, when Art of the Pin-Up Girl – a musical romp through the history of American Pin-Up - is staged it will be thrilling to see a young actress embody Bettie Page and with this song accomplish what our beloved Bettie deserves:  To stop the Show!!

Bettie Page Reveals All is directed by Mark Mori.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Art of the Pin-Up Girl: A Musical Journey through the History of the American Pin-Up!

Pin-Up "Jasmine" by Baron von Lind

So here's the story.  Several years ago I began writing original music (with Greg, my honey and my composer) and an outline for a project inspired by a coffee table book I had acquired called, The Great American Pin-Up (Taschen, Martignette & Meisel).  I was so mesmerized by that book and the decades of beautiful art that had been created by real painters who were uber-talented and every bit fine artists.  These luminous portraits were used for a variety of advertisements and other pop-culture and pulp-fiction purposes.  I'm sure I don't know why, but every time I would look at these gorgeous pieces, I would think:  What if that girl came to life?  What would her story be?

And as I ruminated on that subject, a thousand images of my mad lifelong passion for musical theatre began to resurface - after quite a few years of not performing and being merely an audience member.  And since we can trace the origins of Alberto Vargas' humble beginnings directly to his work painting the Ziegfeld Follies girls for the posters in the New Amsterdam Theater lobby, the need for this story to be a musical was carved in stone.  Then, I began to study all the pin-up books I could get my hands on - and I can assure you that I am quite the pin-up librarian these days!

As I studied, a wonderful truth came into clear view:  Those women were real women - live models for the artists - who lived fascinating and often scandalous lives.  They had the brevity not only to pose with little or no clothes but quite often they had romantic relationships with the artists who immortalized them. Their stories are firmly rooted in the lore of our American theatrical and entertainment culture - from the richness of the burlesque to the Greenwich and Ziegfeld Follies, to the Golden Age of Hollywood and yes, even Playboy.

Since I am a believer in the idea that truth is way more interesting than fiction - this is a story that weaves in the tales of actual people and events into the tapestry of a glorious musical trip through the time and space of Pin-Up Art in America.  I hope you will join me in this endeavor as we share a work very much still in progress and we return to the wisdom of the Great Ziegfeld and begin to once again, "Glorify the American Girl"!  And really, don't you think it's about time??  Viva La Pin-Up!!

For more eye candy, come to my Wonderful World of Tumblr:
And get thee to my pin-up page on Facebook: