EDITOR’S NOTE: Bunny Yeager died last Sunday at the age of 85.
Bettie Page may have already been a well-known pinup and fetish model in the New York area when she met model-turned-photographer Linnea “Bunny” Yeager while vacationing in Miami, but by the time Yeager’s photo of Page wearing nothing but a Santa hat graced the pages of the nascent Playboy in January 1955, both women’s respective profiles were raised considerably. Page became an international sensation, and Yeager became one of the most in-demand photographers of the pinup era, not just because of her talent behind the camera, but also because as a woman herself, female models felt more comfortable being photographed nude by her.
“It was very unusual that a woman would photograph the body of a woman,” says Helmut Schuster, whose Galerie Schuster represents Yeager’s work. “Many times it was the view of a man of a woman’s body. She decided she had something to say, and the woman has a different view of a woman’s body.”
That “different view” will be on display during Bunny’s Bombshells, an exhibition of Yeager’s photography showing at Sin City Gallery in Las Vegas from June 5 through July 20. The show will include several Page photos, artful silhouettes and even a male nude, as well as shots of Yeager herself, who refined her craft by taking amazing self-portraits throughout the years, a process she documented in her 1965 book, How I Photograph Myself.
“She certainly was ahead of her time with regard to today’s culture of a selfie,” says Laura Henkel, owner of Sin City Gallery.
Yeager’s work has experienced a renaissance of sorts in the last several years. Not only has Schuster helped mount several exhibitions of Yeager’s photography across the globe, but he also helped bring to life her bikini designs (made out of necessity for photo shoots in the 1950s, when the tiny, European-style bathing suits were hard to come by in the United States) through an eponymous line of retro-style swimwear launched in 2012 by German clothier Bruno Banani.
“It is amazing how her work in the ’50s has influenced pop culture today,” Henkel says. “The introduction of the bikini from France to the U.S., and, of course, neo-burlesque and rockabilly stylized fashion.”
Sin City Gallery, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., Suite 100, (702) 608-2461
Pj Perez talks about the work of Bunny Yeager on 97.1 the Point. Listen to the broadcast below.