Monday, November 7, 2011
Bolles by Esquire
Is there any doubt here? Rihanna as a Bolles girl? In the past I've been guilty about making some dubious connections between Bolles and the work of others but this is just too darned close. Don't you agree? Alright I will concede Rihanna's dressed a bit differently (salad?), and I don't think espadrilles quite suit her. But that pose is no accident. So it's only too bad this connection will be lost on 99.999% of all Esquire readers. What's more ironic is that I seriously doubt the art director of this shoot has a sense of the major historical role the magazine played in the development of pinup, first with the work of George Petty and then Alberto Vargas.
Oh but what if it would have been Bolles who replaced Petty. The transition began in 1940 when Petty told Esquire he wanted a break. David Smart, the magazine's co-founder and all-around jerk, used it as an opportunity to quietly shop around for a cheaper replacement. Everyone from Alex Raymond to Zoe Mozert was considered before Smart hired Vargas on the cheap (Vargas later sued to get out of his contract), and then pulled that rude stunt with his name. The late Reid Austin, who wrote the definitive biographies on both Petty and Vargas, and was Vargas' art editor at Playboy once asked me why Bolles didn't make a play for the job at Esquire. There was just about no way Bolles couldn't have known what was going on at Esquire, but there's no record of him interviewing or even expressing any interest. Bolles was in and out of the hospital during this time so it's possible he simply missed the boat. Too bad.
P.S., Thanks to Mala Mastroberte for alerting me to this. You can see her take on Bolles here and other pinup art here.