Did you ever wonder where are all the black pin ups? I mean you don't see many references of pin up culture in African American history, but surly it existed. Unfortunately there's not a lot out there, till this day we don't see many butterscotch pin ups, as if red lips are reserved for everyone but us. In the forties and fifties as a people we were still regarded as less than human to many, and certainly not openly regarded as sexy, but fear not I have a gem.
Not to validate our greatness with comparison to a white counterpart-yes I had to take it there- but Marilyn was undeniable a pin up icon, but did you know there was a " black Marilyn Monroe?" A black diva with killer curves known as the bronze bombshell with a four and a half octave voice described as the "voice you'll always remember." She was included in Ebony Magazine's list of the most beautiful women in Hollywood amongst Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge, AND she was darker than most of her mainstream counterparts ya'll. Her official biographer Jim Byers stated she was 'America’s first dark-skinned woman promoted as a love goddess.' Wow, I wanna be a love goddess when I grow up!
Her name is Joyce Bryant, she was a jazz singer raised in Los Angeles who's ultra sexy image and suggestive music eventually came under fire and even banned from the radio. It's said she adopted her bronzed coif to avoid being upstaged while performing with Josephine Baker. Now we all know 'Jo' (she's totally a friend in my head) is all extra with banana costumes and the likes. Not to be outdone Bryant sprayed silver radiator paint in her hair and completed the look with a silver dress. The crowd and even Jo was impressed. She never gained the fame of her counterparts, leaving the entertainment industry during career highs due to the internal conflict of her religious background and sexy image. I'm sure having to wash your hair with paint thinner, enduring a beating by a gangster who's advances were denied and owing the IRS didn't help... : /
There is soooo much more to her story as well as a documentary called The Lost Diva that will hopefully be available soon. It
excites me to dig and discover some beautiful, glamorous, retro
inspirations that look more like me, and hopefully it will inspire you also.