Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lili St Cyr

Name: Lili St. Cyr (Marie Van Shaak)
Born: June 3, 1918
Place of Birth: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Height: 5 foot 9 inches
Weight: 118 lbs
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blonde
Measurements: 36-24-36

In the early world of burlesque and striptease, performers such as Gypsy Rose Lee and Ann Corio did much to lift the business from sleazy bars to an artform. Lili St Cyr took it a level higher, to one of class, elegance, and beauty.

Lili St Cyr was born Marie Van Shaak of German Italian ancestry, In Minneapolis Minnesota. Moving at a young age to Pasedena she took ballet lessons, and started working in modeling in her teens.
Her professional career started as a chorus line dancer at the Florentine Gardens, in Hollywood. After two years she went to San Fransisco to work at the Music Box nightclub. While earning only $27.50 a week, Lili noticed the topless dancers where earning upwards of $500 a week. It didn't take long before she changed careers and embarked on her road to legend.

It didn't start out easy though, after clumsily trying to wing it through her first performance she was fired on the spot. The manager of the Music Box Fehnova later had a change of heart and helped her work out a better routine. Lili came out wearing nothing but a g-string with an invisible fishing line tied to it, at the finale of the routine the string was pulled by a hand off stage and it goes flying as the lights in the house go out simultaneously. This trick known now as "The Flying G" made her an instant success.

Four the next five years Fehnova had Lili practice Russian ballet for 3 to 4 hours a day. This is what molded her from a young gawky kid to a graceful and highly skilled dancer. During this time is when she adopted the stage name Lili St Cyr. She got the Lili for her fondness of Lillie Langtry and Lillian Russell, and the St Cyr is from a beautiful story she had read of France.

Then began the touring. Lili was seen in most major cities across Northern America. Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, New York, and more. Her acts where quite memorable, with names like "The Wolf Woman", Afternoon of a Faun", The Ballet Dancer", "In a Persian Harem", "The Love Bird", "The Chinese Virgin" to name a hand full. Lili not only had a dislike for the normal bump and grind acts, she defied them with outrageous show stoppers like the backwards striptease. Lili would start with nothing but a g-string on and proceed to dress with the help of a maid. Lili's act even helped the newly emerging Las Vegas out of it's infancy, and helped forge it into the great entertainment mecca of today. While in Vegas she preformed her biggest and most lavish shows making her the premier striptease and burlesque act in the country. Many of the acts still seen today where trademarked and thought up by Lili St. Cyr in her Vegas days.
In 1955, Lili with the help of Howard Hughes landed her first acting job in a major motion picture the "Son of Sinbad" Sadly her movie career was short lived, and most of her parts were limited to rolls, playing an exotic dancer or herself.

After her retirement from the stage around the early 60's Lili focused her attention on, on a provocative lingerie shop on Hollywood Boulevard called "The Undie World of Lili St Cyr" Later on the enterprise was sold to another lingerie shop located in Santa Monica Boulevard which she still retains an interest in.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Club Pinup presents Betty Brosmer

Betty Brosmer has been called the definitive cheesecake model of the 1950's, and I believe it is a title well deserved. Amazingly she did so without ever revealing more than you would see at your local beach. She has a certain charm and glamour that set her apart from pack. (not to mention an 18 inch waist, wow!)

Betty was always skinny, and at the age of 11 to build up her body her aunt sent her a weight set. She had received the men's weights instead of the ladies, but decided to use them anyway. Evidently it didn't hurt, because she received her first modeling job in Sears and Roebuck catalog at the age of 14. It was visiting that same aunt in New York in the summer of 49, that met her up with top studio photographers. Those pictures where posted in Life and Time magazines as an Emerson television add.

Betty came back to L.A. around 1950-51 to pose for artists Alberto Vargas and Earl Moran. The Vargas family was very kind to her. Vargas and his wife having no children even wanted to legally adopt her.

Then it was back to New York to finish her school at Manhattan's George Washington High School. While still in school Betty received a job modeling in Blackouts at Broadway's Palace Theater. Establishing herself as a commercial and fashion model in many catalogs on the behalf of many products. All before graduating.

Now out of school she could really take off. Soon Betty was raking up the title such as Miss Television, Miss Pretty Girl, Miss Perfect Figure, Summer Queen, Venus de Milo 1952, Miss Supersonic, Miss Sweater Girl, Pin-up Queen, Miss Childs Garden, Miss Potato Chips, Miss Jones Beach, Miss Waist and Hips, Miss Cherry Queen, Miss Blue Eyes and more. She even beat out Anita Ekberg as Miss California Long Life Potatoes, receiving $3,000 for 3 days work.
Betty returned to school at UCLA and majored in Psychology, truly the ever modern California girl Betty was adherent to Zen Buddhism and Yoga, before it was trendy.

She really went big shortly after starting college, when she met up with the famous glamour photographer Keith Bernard. At first the money was good, she was making 100 to 200 dollars a day most girls only got 50 to 75. Unfortunately the contract gave Bernard exclusive rights to shoot pin-ups of her, which greatly limited her at that time. Bernard was even known to turn down work that was offered to Betty, because the contracts where so lucrative to her. (go figure?)

From 1955 to 59 Betty appeared in virtually in every top-quality men's magazine from Modern Man and Cabaret to Fling and Night and Day. She was even asked to pose for Playboy magazine, when they got word from Bernard that she would do semi nude photos. She did a photo shoot with Arthur Paul for the magazine, but the pictures where never put in Playboy due to the fact she never did pose nude for them.

April 24th 1961 Betty Brosmer married Joe Weider, and was forever known as Betty Weider. Betty had known Joe and had been his favorite model in his magazine Beauty and Figure She would later become a role model for a generation, appearing in many fitness magazines including Muscle and Fitness. She was often seen advertising fitness products, and did a monthly column in Shape magazine called 'Body by Betty' and 'Health by Betty' She can even be seen in the 'Pumping Iron' and Pumping Iron 2'.

To this day Betty remains a model of fitness, and Beauty. She maintains an incredible history and a more incredible figure.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jeanne Carmen

Jeanna Carmen

Born Lavern Carmen
Birth Date Aug 4th 1930
Birth Place Paragould Arkansas
Height 5' 6"
Hair Brown (Mink White)
Eyes Green
Measurements 38-26-36
First Cover 1952 Esquire Girl ?
First Film Appearance 1954 Striporama

Born Lavern Carmen on August 4th 1930, in the town of Paragould Arkansas. Jeanne Carmen lived and breathed the life that you could only be dreamed up in a Hollywood screenplay. A story with gangsters, movie stars, trick shot golfers, and Elvis! Paging through this script you will find tales of titillation and trauma, horror and hilarity.

Yeah ... she walked it and talked it. That's Jeanne Carmen in a nutshell Brash and Brazen. I feel honored to have met her and her son Brandon who shared much with me. These tales and images of Jeanne helped get my site off the ground many years ago.thank you, Ric

See more at

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Irish McCalla

Name: Irish McCalla
Born: December 25, 1928
Died: Feb 02, 2002
Place of Birth: Pawnee City, Nebraska
Height: 5 feet 9 1/2 inches
Eyes: Blue / Green
Hair: Blonde
Measurements: 39-24-38

Queen of Night and Day
(Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Queen of Night and Day, Queen of Pin-up)
There were two defining moments that lead Irish McCalla's cult following. First being the first great pin-up queen of post war magazines and one of the three or four definitive cheesecake models of the 50's. Second was her transformation into television's Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Sorta the 50's version of Tarzan meets Xena.

Irish was born on Christmas day in Pawnee City, Nebraska (population:2000), the daughter of a meat inspector and one of five sisters and three brothers. She was a bit of a tomboy growing up, playing softball and basket ball, and at one point an assistant lifeguard. While in high school, she briefly studied at a local art institute.
Her first debut to the public came in August 1950 on the cover of Night and Day magazine. Two month's later she launched Night and Day's new magazine Eve using her as the central image. Over 200 pictures of her were to grace the pages of these magazines.

One of the highlights of her career when she was asked by the great pin-up artist Alberto Vargas to pose for one of his calendars. His images of Irish were used in True and Cavalier magazines, and also used on a deck of playing cards. Vargas was the only artist that she posed for nude, he even helped her with own artwork.

Irish's biggest moment came when she was asked to stand in for Anita Eckberg for the lead in Sheena queen of the Jungle It didn't take long for people to wonder "Anita who?" The first episode, "Forbidden Cargo" was broad cast on September 16th, 1956; the last "Touch of Death" was seen on March 17th, 1957. The show lasted only for 26 episodes.

After television there was the films, the most noted of them would be, the cult classic She Demons The best of her films would have to be Five Gates to Hell where she plays a nun (no leopard skins involved, damn) Sadly though Irish had already been typecast as Sheena,and she would go on to make only about 6 films.

With Hollywood behind her, Irish plunged full time into the painting se had loved when she was younger. She now has created over 1,000 paintings, and had 8 collector plates and numerous limited edition lithographs to her credit. Irish's paintings have graced the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry, and has sold originals for prices up to $12,000. Most are priced around $1,500 to $6,000 (for folks like us, grin) She also runs her own company McCalla Enterprises, Inc.
Her work is on view at the Los Angeles Museum of Arts and Sciences, and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.