As mentioned last night, I spent some time yesterevening trolling my napster downloads for rockabilly worthy of committing to CD.
When I burn a CD I like to print an attractive label. My habit is to download some interesting picture from the web, type in a few words about what’s on the CD, and print it up. I don’t do jewel cases for these CDs. I just slip them into a handy 24-CD all-nylon carrying cases made by slaves in China.
For last night’s production, I typed “rockabilly” into Google to see what interesting images I might turn up.
What turned up was a bare-breasted she-devil with a Gretch guitar. Certainly, suitable rockabilly fair. I was curious what sort of hep cat might place this image on his site, so I went to the web page it came from. Turns out, the gentleman digs pinups, including this striking shot I recognized as the cover of Cowgirl A-Go-Go.
Fueled by cheesecake, fired by gin, I typed “pinups” into Google what other works of art I might find. Turns out, these treasuries of classic pinups are more numerous than swallows at Capistrano. This is a genre of art that is well preserved on the web. That’s not surprising, but I just never thought of it before. And for rockabilly CD art, what’s better to find than a group of cowgirl pinups. (I’ll leave the zombie pinups for others, thank you.) You can even find pages dedicated to the cowgirl pinup genre. I must say, though, zombie pinups.
In the marketplace of eye candy, pinups long ago lost out to porn. Oh sure, there’s still contemporary pin up artists (and some of them are quite good), but there is an innocence to the old art that is lost in our more salacious era. Pinups were not prurient so much as they were a celebration of the female form. The human body, whether female or male, when presented with some lavish attention to detail, is one of nature’s great wonders. Pinup artists understood this in ways that today’s pornographers don’t.
I’ve never understood the thinking of people — and I know some “feminists” who take this stand — that women should never be portrayed in a sexual light. That means, no skin, no tight cloths, no suggestive poses. Sure, skin tends to be overdone in our society, and you can even argue that sex, sexuality and women have been cheapened by our increasingly lascivious culture, but that is not an argument against an appreciation for the beauty of women. The status of women (or of men) is not diminished by acknowledging what we appreciate about the geometry that makes a woman a looker.
And the best pinup artists had a sense of humor, such as Gil Elvgren, who often portrayed his girls in surprising situations. The pictures almost tell a story with a punchline. Elvgren is easily my favorite to this point (one of his pictures adorns this post). He did a number of western-themed drawings, including the used on Cowgirl A-Go-Go cover. I cut five rockabilly CDs last night — all are stamped with Elvgren’s work.
Prudes have never interested me. The whole Victorian shtick is boring. I’m glad that in my corner of the world, beautiful women are not verboten.
And with that in mind, ’50s burlesque is pretty cool, too.