Pin Up! The Subculture

Negotiating Agency, Representation & Sexuality with Vintage Style

by Kathleen M. Ryan (Author)
©2020 Textbook XIV, 272 Pages


WINNER! NCA Diane Hope Book of the Year Award.
Dangerous. Sexy. All-American—or rather All-World—Girl. Pin Up! The Subculture is the first book to explore the contemporary international subculture of pin up, women (and men) who embrace vintage style, but not vintage values.
Award-winning filmmaker and author Kathleen M. Ryan spent more than five years in the subculture. It’s a world of cat eye makeup, carefully constructed hairstyles, and retro-inspired fashions. But it’s also a world that embraces the ideals of feminism. Beauty, according to the pin up, is found not in body type or skin color, but in the confidence and sexual agency of the individual. Pin ups see their subculture as a way to exert empowerment and control of their own sexual and social identities—something that is part of the pin up’s historical legacy.
This lavishly illustrated book includes interviews with more than fifty international pin ups and helps readers to understand how they use social media and personal interactions to navigate thorny issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, sizeism, and other difficult topics. Ryan demonstrates how even within subcultures, identity is far from homogeneous. Pin ups use the safety of their shared subcultural values to advocate for social and political change.
A fascinating combination of cultural history, media studies, and oral history, Pin Up! The Subculture is the story about how a subculture is subverting and reviving an historic aesthetic for the twenty-first century.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1 The Curious Case of the Pin Up
  • 2 Circuits of Community
  • 3 Remaking Marilyn
  • 4 The “F” Word
  • 5 “Symbolic” Resistance or a Less Toxic Feminism?
  • 6 Let’s Talk about the Confederate Flag in the Room
  • 7 “Go Eat a Cheeseburger,” “Gorditas,” and Other Sizeist Fandangos
  • 8 Negotiating Representation
  • 9 When Best Intentions Go Awry
  • Epilogue
  • Index

←viii | ix→


Cover:Broderick, Sheila. Bang Bang Von Loola. 2014. Sheila Broderick Photography. Frederick, CO.

Figure i.1. Grimshaw, Nicola. Ria Fend. 2016. Nicola Grimshaw/My Boudoir UK and Ria Fend. London, UK.

Figure i.2. Photo montage: Ashleeta by Mitzi and Co. Photography, Miss Rockwell De’Vil by Kat Spoer Photo, Kat Stroud by House of Winter, Paula Luv Kasun by Jason Frazee, The Urban Pin Up Self-Portrait, and Ruby Feldman aka Ruby’s Musings by Megan Ewbank.

Figure 1.1. Ash, Jessica. Bunny Lucille as Hilda. 2017. Jessica Ash and Bunny Lucille. Clearfield, UT.

Figure 1.2. Gibson, Charles Dana. The Weaker Sex. First published in Collier’s Weekly, July 4, 1903. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed November 24, 2018.

Figure 1.3. Mozert, Zoë. A Run on Sugar. c. 1945. In The Great American Pin Up by Charles Martignette and Lou Meisel (Köln, Germany: Taschen, 2011), color plate 368, 206.

←ix | x→

Figure 1.4. TuPu Art. Diamonds. 2017. TuPu Art/The Urban Pin Up. London, UK.

Figure 1.5. Donigan, Daemon. Dapper Dan Doll. 2015. Donigan Artworks and Dapper Dan Doll. Arvada, CO.

Figure 1.6. House of Winter. Kat Stroud as Hilda. 2018. House of Winter and Kat Stroud. Sacramento, CA.

Figure 1.7. Myla, Karissa. Brickhouse Betty as Hilda. 2018. Karissa Myla/Charm City Curves and Brickhouse Betty. Baltimore, MD.

Figure 2.1. Facebook v. Instagram followers by country.

Figure 2.2. Facebook v. Instagram followers by city.

Figure 3.1. Henry, Shimona. Jen Kaboom. 2013. Jen Kaboom and Pin-Up Perfection Photography. Vancouver, BC.

Figure 3.2. Tisarazzi Photography. Miss Autumn Devine. 2018. Tisarazzi Photography and Miss Autumn Devine. Seattle, WA.

Figure 3.3. Lopez, John. Natalie Noir Pin Up. 2017. John Lopez Photography and Natalie Noir Pin Up. Los Angeles, CA.

Figure 3.4. Court, Romain. Angelique Noire. 2015. Angelique Noire. Los Angeles, CA.

Figure 3.5. Court, Romain. Angelique Noire. 2017. Angelique Noire. Los Angeles, CA.

Figure 3.6. Toon, Leon. Candace Michelle. 2015. Candace Michelle/Black Pinups. Dallas, TX.

Figure 3.7. Why Moments Photography. Juwita Pohan. 2018. Juwita Pohan. Jakarta, Indonesia.

Figure 3.8. Meow, Miss Alice. Self Portrait. 2018. Taipei, Taiwan.

Figure 3.9. Castigliano, Chad. “The Wistful Warrior” from The Whimsical Woodsman and Friends calendar. 2017. Chad Castigliano/Chronicker Photography. Michigan City, IL.

Figure 3.10. Adivari, Joseph. Dusty Mae as Marilyn Monroe. 2017. Joseph Adivari and Dusty Mae. Los Angeles, CA.

Figure 3.11. Richmond, Paul. Stop, Shop and Drop. 2010. Paul Richmond Studio. Seaside, CA.

Figure 3.12. Richmond, Paul. Blast from the Past. 2010. Paul Richmond Studio. Seaside, CA.

Figure 3.13. Richmond, Paul. 2018. “Kilted Brothers” from Cheesecake Boys: An Adult Coloring Book. Paul Richmond Studio, Seaside, CA.

←x | xi→

Figure 4.1. Morrissey, Celia. Evalette Bizou and Coco Soleil of the Bluestocking Burly-Qs. 2014. Celia Morrissey/Vintage Beauty Photography. Denver, CO.

Figure 4.2. Valenzuela, Mitzi. Miss Rockwell De’Vil. 2014. Mitzi Valenzuela/Mitzi and Co. Photography and Miss Rockwell De’Vil. San Dimas, CA.

Figure 4.3. Donigan, Daemon. I Dream of Dapper Dan Doll. 2015. Donigan Artworks and Dapper Dan Doll. Arvada, CO.

Figure 6.1. Running, Nicole. Sindy Seylon. 2018. Classic Pictures and Sindy Seylon. Omaha, NE.

Figure 6.2. Valenzuela, Mitzi. Pinup Little Bit as Barbie. 2015. Mitzi Valenzuela/Mitzi & Co. Photography. San Dimas, CA.

Figure 7.1. Doll, Emily. Screenshot of Self-Portrait “Photo Shoot Done, New Video Shot.” 2014. Emily Doll—The Vintage Doll. Facebook photo, https://www.facebook.com/TheEmilyDoll/photos/a.533848380021703/693817454024794/?type=3&theater.

Figure 7.2. Doll, Emily. Screenshot of Video “This is My Response to All of the Negative Comments Made about My Last Photo Post of Me in a Swim Suit.” 2014. Emily Doll—The Vintage Doll. Facebook Video, https://www.facebook.com/TheEmilyDoll/videos/693966680676538/.

Figure 7.3. DMR Depictions. Fran Robertson Winning Miss Viva Las Vegas. 2018. Miss Rockwell De’Vil/Viva Las Vegas. Las Vegas, NV.

Figure 7.4. Bullied into Greatness (@bulliedintogreatness). Inspirational Memes. 2018. Bullied into Greatness. Sacramento, CA.

Figure 7.5. Von Hunter, Eric. Ready to be Sunkissed? 2018. Amoureaux a la Mode/Moiselle Amoureaux. Los Angeles, CA.

Figure 8.1. Ewbank, Megan. Anniversary Dance, Ruby Feldman, aka Ruby’s Musings and Husband. 2018. Ruby Feldman. Anaheim, CA.

Figure 8.2. Kasun, Paula Luv. The “Girl Gang” The Motor City Kitties. 2018, Paul Luv Kasun. Detroit, MI.

Figure 8.3. Carlson, Marissa. The Time Bombshell. 2017. Marissa Carlson. Los Angeles, CA.

←xi | xii→

Figure 8.4. Barbera, Gina. Pinup Little Bit Winning Miss Viva Las Vegas. 2016. Miss Rockwell De’Vil/Viva Las Vegas. Las Vegas, NV.

Figure 8.5. Justice, Judi. Susie Dahl Winning Miss Darling Dame, Viva East. 2017. Susie Dahl. Marlborough, MA.

Figure 9.1. Ruckus, Delicious. Screenshot of Facebook Post. 2015. Facebook post. Deactivated account.

Figure 9.2. The Vintage Ladye. Publisher Candace Michelle with Copies of Black Pinups. 2018. Candace Michelle/Black Pinups. Oklahoma City, OK.

Figure 9.3. Alias, Markus. Ashleeta in Josephine Baker Banana Skirt. 2017. Markus Alias—Photographer/The Brazen Booties. Los Angeles, CA.

Figure 9.4. A Miss Called Vicky. Self Portrait at the Great Los Angeles Air Show. 2018. A Miss Called Vicky. San Pedro, CA.

Figure 9.5. TaylorCatProductions. Bang Bang Von Loola After Winning Miss Starlight 2013 at the 1940s WWII Era Ball as Seen in Pin Up! The Movie. 2015. TaylorCatProductions. Longmont, CO.

Figure 9.6. Kasulka, Jason. Portrait in Traditional Vietnamese Dress. 2018. Ah-Mei Zhing. Austin, TX.

Figure 9.7. Shalimar, Leila. Self Portrait Inspired by 1960s Afghan Street Style. 2018. Leila Shalimar/The Desi Pinup. Perth, Australia.

Figure 9.8. Oliphant, Brittany. Chai Cheesecake. 2018. Brittany Marie Photography and Retouching and Tas Al-Ghul. Los Angeles, CA. Originally Published: Pinup Kulture Magazine, Vol. 3, Issue 10.

Figure e.1. Mullins, Melissa. Delicious Ruckus in Milk Bath as Rosie the Riveter. 2017. Melissa Mullins Portraits. Denver, CO.

←xii | xiii→


This project would not exist without the consultations with Maria Elena Buszek, Mitzi Valenzuela, Louis K. Meisel, and Khyentse James, who helped in the initial development and production of the feature film and interactive documentary film Pin Up! The Movie. Mitzi and Khyentse specifically introduced me to women within the subculture and for that I will be forever grateful.

I also am indebted to the pin ups, photographers, and other members of the subculture who welcomed me and shared their time, insight, and images, and who allowed me to follow their interactions within the community both online and in person over a period of six years.

Thank you to the supporters on Kickstarter and Seed & Spark who helped make this project a reality.


XIV, 272
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (September)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XIV, 272 pp., 48 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Kathleen M. Ryan (Author)

Kathleen M. Ryan (Ph.D., University of Oregon) is an award-winning filmmaker. She explores the intersection of theory and praxis within evolving media forms in hybrid projects dealing with issues of gender, self-identity, and visuality. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.


Title: Pin Up! The Subculture
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
288 pages