Forget flowers and candlelight dinners—there’s a new way to bring sexy back into your life. Mia Allen is the owner of Pinup Jane (974 E. 2100 South, Suite D, 801-903-3300, PinupJane.com), which does pinup and retro photo sessions for women of all ages and shapes. By shooting women in the style of Bettie Page and Marilyn Monroe, and even the recently popularized ’60s business look (a la Mad Men), Allen is in the business of making women feel beautiful—for themselves and for special romantic gifts.
What is pinup?
It’s this really healthy, fun-loving, balanced exploration of the attraction between us, whatever your sexual preference is. It’s a freedom of expression of attraction, and it’s very reciprocal. In pinup, the women are always having a good time, and they’re throwing their hair back and laughing, and that’s so beautiful, wholesome and genuine, and it’s really exciting and fun.
What’s your vision for your business?
I really love to embrace the authenticity of the true vintage pinups, and it was very much the age of innocence. A lot of times it’s all about what you don’t show, and it’s sexy because it’s cute, not because it’s sleazy. It’s all about women who are beautiful and women who are pretty. There is this ideal balance to achieve between any two extremes, and the two that are being explored here are feminism and chauvinism. Feminism is this big attack on women being objectified, and chauvinism is this big movement to suppress and subdue women, and I feel there is this beautiful balance in between the two where women are feminine and they’re celebrated and they’re in the role they choose for themselves.
How risqué do you get?
As risqué as the client wants. It is Utah, so I have girls who say, “This is for my honeymoon and I want it to be sexy, but my shoulders can’t show.” On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve got girls who walk in and say, “OK, the tattoos are here, here and here, and I want them all to show at once, and I want to be naked, and I’m going to hold this bouquet of flowers.” The more risqué photos I choose not to display on my Website or my Facebook page because I’m not really interested in the type of audience that that could potentially attract. I do have them available in my studio for my clients to see in their consultations and get ideas and see my work.
Who are your clients?
They’re women from all walks of life. Most of my private clients have never done anything like this for themselves; they’re a little self-conscious, they’re out of their comfort zone and it’s a process to warm up. But once they do, it’s this incredible transformation.
I even did a shoot with a woman who was 90. She was pretty reluctant at first; she kind of felt she was past her prime, but it was neat because she was actually around in the ’40s and ’50s when pinup was so big in the first place. I had this big white petticoat, and by the end of the shoot, she was swooshing around in it, so excited that she knocked herself over.
I get a lot of divorcees. They’re often women who have been shut down for so long, and now they’re not doing it for anyone but themselves, and that’s really cool.
Can men be pinup models?
I don’t have as much wardrobe for men; my focus is on women. But I do get a lot of requests for sessions with men. They can do full-on drag, super flamboyant, rockabilly style if they want. Men of a slight frame can do the sweet and sassy pinup-girl style. Or they can do just more of the boyish good looks, like a sailor boy. I also really like to do the rugged, rough-and-tumble kind of chauvinistic man of the 1950s.
What products do you offer?
One that’s a personal favorite of mine are personalized playing cards, like the ones that GIs would play out at war with pictures of their girls on them. So a client can come in for Valentine’s Day and get a deck of playing cards with her picture on them and give them to her boyfriend. That’s one way to be represented at boys’ poker night and make all the other guys jealous. I also do calendars, posters, stickers and more.
We also do gift certificates—for Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s always fun to explore this gift that keeps on giving. The guy can get his girlfriend a gift certificate, and she comes in and has this incredible experience and then shares the photo with him. It’s this really cool everybody-wins situation. I’ve never once had a husband complain about how much money his wife has spent on getting more photos; in fact, they almost always come back and demand that she buy more.
What do clients like most about the photo shoots?
It’s really a celebration for these girls—they feel great. And then the photos are just a reminder. Every time they look at them, it helps them remember how good they felt. It’s proof for even on a bad hair day that this stunning, flawless photo is you, that’s who you really are, and it helps bring out a lot of confidence.
Who’s your favorite classic pinup model?
I love the story of Hedy Lamarr. She was a pinup model, but she was also an inventor. She invented this radio frequency technology that was used in the war and it’s still used today. So she was just absolutely brilliant, lived this diverse life, and I find her life story fascinating.