In Part 2 of our Adore Pin Up interview, we chat to Editor Brianna Blackhart about why it’s important for the magazine to contain empowering and intelligent content and what she looks for when choosing content for Australia’s number one pin-up publication.
Retro Betty: You focus on a lot of empowering and intelligent content in the magazine, so it’s a great read and not just lots of pretty photos, why do you think that is important?
Brianna Blackhart: I think it is absolutely essential that if we are going to recreate the fashions and pop culture of the mid century era, we make a concerted effort to not replicate their values – not just in avoiding statements about how we were “born in the wrong era”, but in practice.
For me that involves putting the spotlight on the voices of women. In particular, I attempt to share the stories of women who experience different intersections in their identities, and have experiences and ideas about undoing racism or other forms of prejudice. I also attempt to support women with small businesses by showcasing them to my audience.
One of my cover models said something to me after our interview about how she was relieved to not be asked the same throwaway questions she usually receives like what her favourite colour is, and that made me feel like I was really on the right track.
RB: What advice would you give pin-ups or photographers looking to submit work to Adore?
BB: The two most important things for me are trying to create ‘full package’ photos, and unique concepts. By ‘full package’ I mean paying attention to every aspect of what constructs the photo shoot – the photographer you choose, their editing, your posing, your hair and makeup, and the styling. The best things you can do for your photos are researching the right team, practicing your posing and collecting inspiration from images you think really work.
If you’re new but want to try and get work made that is at a high enough level to publish as soon as possible, invest money into a highly reputable photographer who has been published before, knows the style well, and has a beauty team who are on point. There’s no point going cheap and doing your own hair and makeup when you aren’t ready, and then ending up with photos that you feel you can’t use.
Unique concepts are also really important to me. It doesn’t mean your photos need to be cutting edge postmodern art or have a deep emotional message, but they should stand out as different to what everyone else is doing.
I’m a big believer in location shoots and vintage clothing to help with this. Locations add this whole other level of interest to your images and if shot in the right way, they make each frame we publish very different. Cheesecake pin up is a great style that will always be at the heart of pin up photography and I’ve shot in it myself, but I feel the market became a bit over saturated by it, and editorial style vintage photography always tries to offer something new.
Vintage clothing isn’t a must but it will automatically set your photos apart from the images where we see the same dresses used over and over. A ‘concept’ is also a lot easier to create when you mix things up between your photos, changing what part of the location you are using and changing your outfit, hopefully to create some kind of story (maybe not a narrative but a mood – a hint of a narrative). The more difference there is in your set, the more likely we are to publish it as a longer feature. Make sure to communicate with your photographer about the concept in advance, and scour op shops, vintage stores, Etsy and even social media for unique pieces.
RB: Who is your pin-up inspiration? (or inspiring women in general if you like!)
BB: I’m such a wordy person and bad at making decisions, so thank god for the second part of that question making it plural. I never would have chosen any of my cover models if I didn’t find them inspiring as people and admire their work, so I want to mention them here: Frankie Faux, Bianca Bombshell, Kat Creasey, Felina Vie, Teer Wayde, Madalaine Rose, Lady Medusa, Sina King, Cherry Dollface, Olivia Dantes, Victory Lamour/Tara Moss, Addie Hamilton, and Tara Radcliffe, as well as a couple more under wraps to come.
I also have a “dream models” list of women I haven’t featured before (or that I have pictured but not interviewed) who I have been following a long time and would love to get into the mag. So in answering your question I will share some of that list with you: Doris Mayday*, Sabina Kelly, Miss Rockabilly Ruby, Dita Von Teese, Angelique Noire, Jasmin of Vintage Vandalizm, The Pink Collar Life girls Ashlyn Coco and Tara MiSioux, Stefania Ferrario, Renae Olstead, Masuimi Max, Raquel Reed, Winny Queen, Lisa Love, Roxi D’Lite, Felicity Hayward… I could go on for a long time and will probably never make enough magazines for everyone I would want to include.
(Editor’s note: Doris Mayday was revealed at Adore’s latest cover girl post interview)
RB: Who has been your favourite personality to interview for Adore and why?
BB: Having the opportunity to feature Victory Lamour (Tara Moss) on a cover was a huge opportunity for me. She wrote really thoughtful responses to my interview questions, and the feature covered topics including exploring nostalgia in a way that is positive for the future; online harassment; age diversity in the pin up scene; and how she navigates traditional aspects of femininity within her activism and writing work where she experiences the sexist stigmas that associate things like red lipstick with self-obsession. Tara also sat down with me in the gorgeous retro styled QT hotel in Sydney, and it was really lovely to be able to have a separate, no-pressure conversation that wasn’t being recorded for an interview. It allowed me to get to know her and share things about myself in a way that I don’t usually get to have with the magazine’s cover models. Because I want to work in legal advocacy for survivors of family and sexual violence in my future career, being able to talk to her about her work with the Full Stop Foundation and UNICEF, and have a dialogue about our passions, was a fantastic experience.
RB: Finally, can we ask you to do our Betty’s Fast Five (we ask all our interviewees the same five questions!)
Betty Grable or Bettie Page? Bettie Page
Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash? Johnny Cash
Wet set or victory rolls? Wet set
Wiggle dress or swing skirt? Wiggle dress
Chevy or Ford? Chevy