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Black Pinups #8 The Secret History of African-American Pinup Models Afro Antics Vintage Sleaze


Women of Color from...
By Jim Linderman

Did Vargas, the "King of the Pinup Illustration" do any sisters? Yes, and I suspect reluctantly and with pressure from his clients, including Playboy who printed "And that, Mr. Bigelow, is yet another definition of Black Power" above in 1967. A reclining "Black Pride" painting in September 1970 followed with a caption reading "I believe in Black Pride, but there are some things I would rather take lying down." I would hardly call it progress for the race, as Vargas was already long dated and blase, the work tiresome, old-fashioned and not the least bit interesting, so I mention his African American portrait work only in passing. Plus he used plenty of white paint on them. I'm showing only the faces because the illustrations had perky ta-tas which exist only on canvas and in his imagination.

Playboy had their first Black pinup in 1965, I believe, and their first black cover in 1971. It took them until 1974 for a Hispanic pinup. To be fair, Hefner was an advocate of racial equality, women's rights, against the Vietnam war and more, but he was a bit behind the curve(s).

All the large circulation magazines had some catching up to do. The streets were churning, Black Power was real and not just a caption for smarmy pinup art. What might have once been called "uppity" was now just an explosion of Black life...a rich, full, deserving and long overdue life. Somehow the controlling interests in America figured out African-American women were Black, Proud and Sexy.

Over the counter publications were, and are, mundane by virtue of the hunt for big readership. The REAL action in sultry sisters was in the sleaze magazines.

What we begin to see at the end of the 1960s and the 1970s was the first smut directed at a Black audience. Not "exotic black models" for the curious Caucasian or ignorant "voodoo dark sex" articles which were aimed at whites for which even a casual relationship with other races was unusual, far less a sexual one. Plus the Black market could finally both afford and enjoy soft-core porn with models of their own race. Uplifting?

That might not be the right word, but it worked. We began to see African-American models on the covers of smut magazines...usually with a title relating to color, but still. Cloud 9, Black Bomber, Sepia Sirens, And the story of the Black Pinup here moves from soft-core to hardcore, and I suspect you will begin to see some black bars over parts of the black women! Sorry

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Black Pinups Afro-Antics is a regular feature of Vintage Sleaze the Blog, this is the number 8 entry in the 10 part series. The goal of the series is to tell stories and present a history neglected for too long...the Black Pinup.

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