8 March 2011

Book review: Viva's Pinups

I discovered Viva Van Story a couple of years ago, and my first thought was “Why doesn't she have a book yet?” Fast-forward a bit and that's just what the ridiculously cool UK publisher Korero came out with a while ago - much to my delight.

On a simple level, Ms Van Story does retro-style pinups. Now, I like old-style pinups as much as the next guy (well, actually, probably rather more than the next guy) and I'm genuinely more than happy to look at racy material of years gone by. Having said that, things have moved on a bit in the last half a century, and Viva expertly blends the titillation and sauce of the classic pinup, with the edginess of alt culture and fetishism. And in doing so, I think she very much captures the spirit or the original era, when you had to be a lot less racy to be more racy.

A look at her site - and at Korero's page on the book - will give you an idea of what to expect. Lots of gorgeous girls, including many familiar faces (and figures, of course) including Mosh, Angela Ryan, and Masuimi Max - some inked and pierced, some not - but all looking equally ravishing. And plenty of new (at least to me) models - one standout was Kitty Kosmo, although sadly there was only one shot of her.

And all are wrapped up in a dizzying array of nylons, fishnets, sheer and high-waist panties, corsets, boots... (er, I'll stop now). And with a moderate level of explicitness - plenty of toplessness, not much full-frontal nudity... but who needs it when the girls and the outfits are as good as this?

What won't be obvious until you get the book in your hands is the progression through her changing styles and moods as a photographer. It starts out with some studio cheesecake, then goes through a hotrod/kustom phase (girls with  welding torches, oilstains...) and then finds it's feet in a perfect range of sets - retro interiors, kitchens, boudoirs - where the lace, silk and tassels alternate with latex and PVC.

Towards the end of the book, we see a different, darker angle to Viva's work - some bondage, blindfolds, abandoned buildings and much moodier lighting... which doesn't work quite as well for me but is still exciting stuff and no less interesting for it.

I'll go so far as to say that Ms Van Story is undoubtedly the queen of contemporary pinup photography - the book is a perfect sampler of her work and ranks among my favourites.

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