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January 06, 2015

The Claire Sinclair Show

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Nico B - 2014
Cult Epics Region 0 DVD

Until this DVD found its way to my mailbox, I had never heard of Claire Sinclair, or known of the existence of the Erotica Channel, apparently one of the many channels found on YouTube. As a result of a couple of serendipitous events, catching the eye first of pin-up artist Olivia De Berardinis, leading to an introduction to Hugh Hefner, Sinclair became the 2011 Playmate of the Year. Sinclair interviews herself via cross cutting between two sides of the stage, with each version of herself distinguished with a change of clothing and make-up. Some shots of Sinclair nude indicate that she is, convincingly, abundantly all natural.

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That in itself wouldn't be enough incentive to check out this disc, but an interview with Bunny Yeager was cause to take a look. As it turned out, what is documented here is a last interview with Yeager and what is listed as her last shoot, with Sinclair as her subject. If the name of Bunny Yeager is unfamiliar, most would know of her most famous muse, Bettie Page. The most commonly reproduced photos of Page were those shot by Yeager. Sinclair does her darndest to be a second Bettie Page, but doesn't have Page's disarming smile that transformed tawdry cheesecake into not quite innocent fun. What might be said of Sinclair is that she appears to be smart enough to know how to make the most of her fame, and not find herself in the kind of precarious financial position Page was in after she stopped modeling, or discovered that others, much later, were making money from her name.

Yeager, who died last May at age 85, deserves mention as a pioneer. A former pin-up model herself, Yeager found lasting fame behind the camera, not only as one of the first models to become a photographer, but with her niche of gorgeous women in various states of undress. Amazingly, the collaboration with Page only lasted one year, 1954. Yeager discusses how Page wore costumes designed by Yeager, and how she made her models feel comfortable in front of the camera.

Yeager mentions photographing Maria Stinger, dubbed the "Marilyn Monroe of Miami" due her close resemblance to the actress. Further investigation shows that a deeper interview would have been fascinating, as Sammy Davis, Jr. acted as an photographic assistant to Yeager in 1955, and also did the iconic photo of Ursula Andress in the white bikini, undoubtedly helping sell tickets to a public about to be introduced to a character named James Bond.

Most of the shots of Bunny Yeager photographing Claire Sinclair, concentrate on Sinclair, which I guess is fitting since it is her show. We do see some shots of Yeager operating her camera. What I would have liked is if the soundtrack, a variation of a theme by Bill Haley, had been dispensed with, and instead, we would have heard Yeager coaching Sinclair on her poses, as well as directing how lighting would be used. Sure, the cheesecake can often be delicious, but I want to know about this particular chef's recipe.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at January 6, 2015 06:38 AM