Thursday, January 10, 2008
Nude and Tattooed
One thing I've noticed about the modern pinup girl is that she is often tattooed. And I'm not talking about some little butterfly on her inner ankle, I mean large and colorful art from her shoulder to her elbow. This is in stark contrast to what I've seen of pinups in the fifties, whose skin was left blank but for its natural beauty.
I view tattooing as a form of tagging. It's one of the many ways a person can make their body truly unique. I myself have a couple of tattoos, and I love seeing someone else's back and thinking how in that same spot on my own body, I chose to mark myself with symbols that mean something to me. Tattoos (and piercings, for that matter, of which I also have several) are a way of expressing your individuality. In the case of a pinup, you're quite literally branding yourself--for example, Peekaboo Pointe could put on whatever wig or mask she wanted, and I would know it was her from twenty feet away because of her gorgeous tattoos. Whereas with Dita Von Teese, part of her image is 1940s glamor, which just doesn't include body art.
I love the new burlesque movement in part because of the way it clashes the old with the new. At the Crazy Horse in Paris, the women couldn't have anything that distinguished them from any other girl on stage. The vision of a line of identical and beautiful naked women dancing before you was part of the magic, and fostered the aesthetic distance that remains necessary for people to be whisked away into fantasy. Burlesque has always been a form of expression, but watching how it has grown and developed somewhat signals a change in what we now perceive as attractive. Even Crazy Horse evolved, allowing Dita the privilege of being their first showcased performer since they opened their doors in 1951.
Masuimi Max's tattoos are hot. Every time I see Angie Pontani perform, I want to run off to the tattoo parlor and have my arm done. Maybe some of the change has to do with the way tattoos in general are viewed now--they're not just for sailors anymore!--but to me it seems they have been reappropriated by burlesque dancers as part of the act.