Tuesday 30 January 2018

The Hidden Pin Up #15 - Costume Fitting

Yesterday I met up with the House of Ghetto for the first fitting of the outfit I made for The Hidden Pin Up project. This hemp costume is based on 1940's/50's burlesque styles and is in itself a burlesque of the stereotypical Western ideology of women of colour from that time.

I took influence from girly vintage magazines and Hollywood films of the vintage era to create something immediately recognisable and cliche.


I worked directly from my original drawing to make the costume as close to my ideas as possible. It was only after trying the bra top on myself I realised it needed something extra to help keep it in place and stop it from riding about. I based this asymmetric shoulder strap with a flowing back tassel on the costume worn by Marilyn Monroe for her 'Heatwave' number in 'There's No Business Like Show Business'. This is a great example of old Hollywood's version of an 'exotic' non white women, being that it is meant to portray South American sexiness (personally, I have always loved this costume, it is so well designed and put together)...

Here are a few of the other examples of images I used as inspiration for this costume, beginning with Jeni LeGon who was one of the first women I learned about back when I began the Hidden Pin Up. 

LeGon was one of the first women of colour to sing and dance in mainstream Hollywood films. Unfortunately her talents were soon marginalised to unnamed 'native' caricatures like this from the 1936 film 'Swing Is here To Stay'

Evelyn Pitcher's burlesque costume from the 1950's was a strong inspiration. She could have been posing/performing as anything, but she is shown as an exotic savage moving savagely to her 'Devil Dance'.

The White Squaw from 1956 sure knows how to pull off sexy/ savage! I thought this film poster shows the perfect mix of sexy frothy misguided ideas. She might be white but she is appropriating a crude version of non white cultures that were palatable for the Western audience.

 I'm really pleased with how the costume has turned out and after fitting it on gorgeous dancer Lenai, there are only a few minor adjustments needed.

I'm so excited to be working with The House of Ghetto for this project! This all female black vogue house are an artistic force to be reckoned with, and as their house mother and choreographer Darren Pritchard has pointed out, they have no creative boundaries. I'm really excited that this will be their first full on burlesque inspired work and I can't wait to see where this piece goes.

With my burlesque fans almost ready, the next stage is for us to get into the dance studio to begin putting ideas together for the performance.

Burlesque fan with quotes from real life experiences of racial fetishism towards women of colour embroidered into the feathers. To add your own story, get in touch! Comment on this blog or message me on my facebook page

The Hidden Pin Up is an art piece exploring the history of the black Pin Up and the racial fetishes and stereotypes that exist to this day. To find out more about this project read The Hidden Pin Up posts on this blog and follow me on Instagram @gemma_parker_artist

Massive thanks to my mum for her sewing knowledge and letting me use her sewing machine!

Friday 12 January 2018

The Hidden Pin Up #14 - Bet You're a Tiger In The Sack/ Can I Touch Your Hair?


How many of you have heard these before? It seems saying inappropriate things to women of colour is a common occurrence. I'd love to hear if you have ever had similar said to you to add to the Hidden Pin Up project. As you can see stories are transcribed in thread onto hessian feathers. The feathers make up a pair of burlesque fans which will be danced with by Manchester's House Of Ghetto, an all black female dance troupe for a performance exploring the history of the black Pin Up and the racial stereotypes and fetishisations which still exist to this day!

Here's the latest response to the call out. Tell me what you think and share your stories! You can comment anonymously on this post or contact me on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GemmaParkerArtist/ 

...a guy in a bar in Southport drunkenly staring (swaying) finally coming over to tell me “you’re pretty for a black girl”. 

Another was in Uni, a guy I was getting a little friendly with stopped what we were doing to say “this is weird, I’ve never slept with a black girl before”...