Whether we like it or not, South Florida is known for sun, beaches…and skin. Back in the 1950s, pin-up model Bettie Page posed for some of her most classic photos here. Her black bangs, red lips and playful gaze were a hit in the pages of Playboy. These images were created by local model turned photographer Bunny Yeager. Clotilde Luce reported on the woman behind these icons of 1950s fashion and photography and her recent discovery by the art world.
You might not have noticed it, but there’s quite a bit of tropical foliage in the background of Bunny Yeager’s photos. Yeager liked accenting the sensuality of her models with beaches, mangroves and tropical plants. One of her most well-known photo shoots was staged at the old Africa U.S.A. theme park in Boca Raton. Page posed with cheetahs in a leopard print bathing suit Yeager had originally designed for herself.
Yeager ended up having Page wear it: “I was going to pose at Africa U.S.A.—that was my dream. I realized—fortunately– there was no way I could take pictures of myself with a camera on a tripod with all these wild animals running all around me. I think I probably shot from the Jeep—I can’t remember getting out in the herd of animals. I wasn’t in a hurry to stay out there. But, Bettie wasn’t afraid! She was just fine.”
The songs you heard in this piece were “Dreamland” and “Adventures in Tourism” by The Gold Dust Lounge, a Miami band that describes their music as “ambient rock, spy-fi, and exotica surf rock.”
Bunny Yeager appears at the Miami Book Fair International on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m.