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Modern Femme Fatale: Kate Donovan

Kate Donovan
    Anyone who gets an eyeful of the lovely Kate Donovan knows instantly how well she personifies the classic image of the pin-up. Every pose perfect. Every smile hinting at something saucier. But Donovan isn't a gal who lives solely in the past. She is undeniably modern, building on all the themes and styles set forth by previous generations of cheesecake models. Not only is Donovan on the cutting edge of pin-up modeling, she is also at the forefront of creating a larger pin-up community. For these reasons and many more, we are proud to add her as one of our Modern Femme Fatales

     Below is an exclusive interview with Kate Donovan: Don't forget to scroll all the way down to see a gallery of her photos.

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Java's Bachelor Pad: First off, I have to tell you that I have been a fan of yours for a long, long time. Your look is so perfect. You are a gal who really does her homework. When did you get started and what drew you to cheesecake modeling? Who takes your photos?

Kate Donovan: Oh Goodness, thank you sooo much!!! Comments like that make it all worth while! Let's see, I put my first site up in October 2000. I started taking pictures for it in September of that same year.

Well, my mom was always into the old classic styles, she always said  they never go out of style they just keep coming back around with a new accessories. Growing up I was very influenced by my grandparents, Mom and I lived with them quite often. They loved having cocktail parties  and they were always such gracious hosts. I grew up wanting to be just like them! My Grampa also had all the old Playboy mags in his closet that I used to sneak a peek at! I remember being about 4-5 when I discovered them for the first time! It's been a life long desire of  mine to emulate the beauty, playfulness and grace of the ladies in  those pages. Mix that with wanting to be just like my grandparents and  one might think I am in the wrong era!

As of now I have one main photographer that works for me, Kitty-Sue Perrmann. We have been working together for the last three years now and there are no signs of that changing any time soon! I have done a couple of shoots with a friend of mine in the UK as well, her name is Catherine Bliss. She owns a wedding photography company and does boudoir  photos as well. The sets with her are more for her to learn my style and integrate it into her own for her business. The early photos on my  site, 2000-2002, where shot by my ex-husband. I did retain all rights and ownership to them so don't worry they won't disappear! 

JBP: When I look at your photos (and I do quite often!) I really see that sense of playfulness that made classic pin-ups so fun. What is your approach to pin-up modeling? Who do you get inspiration from?

KD: Hmmm...I would say I take the art of classic pinup very much to  heart. I really try to emulate a sexy, playful and teasing girl/lady. I  love to communicate to the viewer through the camera! I often tell  stories in my sets, which along with some great sexy pictures it can  also lead to some pretty silly pictures! It's fun and the viewers seem  to enjoy it as well, so I get to be sexy and fun with out loosing the erotic element, how cool is that! I find looking at my sets that  the more clothes I take off the bigger my smile gets! 

My greatest inspiration has always been the classic pinup models/artists. I prefer the slightly campy or flirty posses that they did and I love to use my imagination to theme my sets so that they have a story line running through them. I think that the best themes I have done and which were really great fun to do were Naughty Nautical, The Unusual Suspects and Bus Stop Brother. I love looking at the old movies  of the 40's and 50's getting ideas for clothes and sets. As I also  really enjoy the old fashioned feel of the movies this is more like relaxation than work!

JBP: Another thing I admire about you (and there is a lot to admire) is that you're a real do-it-yourself'er. From what I understand you do everything yourself from creating the scenes, getting the props, and taking the photos. Do you just find it easier to do it that way?

KD: I am most definitely a perfectionist and sometimes this causes problems when it comes to putting it all together. When working with friends we can sometimes have very different ideas. I do enjoy all the banter that goes on while we work our way through from the original concept to the final set. Discussing through a story line and altering the original concept can make it perfect but it can often mean we create a totally new and different set to that originally conceived. It just goes to show the ideas and options for sets are endless and it is so fun coming up with each and every one! With the concept decided on we then spend time perfecting the set and the wardrobe. The thing that then takes most time is getting the makeup and hair absolutely perfect.

All the bouncing ideas back and for stops me form getting stale. It also means that from time to time one of my friends will come up with a really great idea which is fresh and new to me. I love doing those sets just as much as the ideas I have come up with myself.

JBP: To go along with the last question, you seem like you're always taking photos--which is great for fans like me. How hard is it to do something you haven't done before? Where do you get your ideas from? How have your pin-ups changed over the years?

KD: I am really lucky to have Kitty-Sue Perrmann as my photographer! Kitty-Sue
is so good about letting ideas develop whilst we are shooting so that we always get the best results. With both of us being perfectionists some times the fur can fly! We always resolve our differences in the end though and we produce sets we are both immensely proud of.

Some times the technical stuff can be a bit overwhelming. Lighting has been a baggy for me in the past but I think we are getting this sorted. As for posses and props I try new things every time I shoot. We always take plenty of test shots so that if any of it doesn't work we just  chuck it and start again! Technically lighting and angels are the hardest and fortunately for me those tend to be the things Kitty-Sue is most passionate to learn more about!

Over the five years that I have been doing this my sets have changed  quite a lot. I think I am braver now about trying new things and not worrying about whether they will work technically. I am into more classic poses now than I was at the start and I think my sets have a greater style now. I have more props and my wardrobe is much larger so I can create more variety. I have also changed quite a lot physically and emotionally in this time and I am really comfortable in my own skin  now. I think my new physique is much more suited to the pin up genre and I hope you agree! It has all been a learning process as I have had some really tough personal stuff to deal with over the last 5 years, don't  fret as I have come through it all now.

JBP: I have to tell you I was knocked out when I saw that Bettie Page/Tempest Storm homage you did with the lovely Bernie Dexter. Talk about being in pin-up heaven! I know that you make it a point to work with other up-and-coming models. Why is this important to you?

KD: WOW Thanks!!! Bernie and I had sooo much fun planning out that shoot! Do you know it took nearly a year for that shoot to happen!?!?! hehehe "Sometimes the best things are worth waiting for!" said Kitty-Sue. 

Working with up and coming models Bernie, Lana (Landis) and Kitten on The Pinup Portal is great. We have had tons of fun when we  have done sets together but I am only comfortable doing this because we  were friends first and they truly wanted to do retro pinup. I not sure  if I would ever be comfortable working in the mainstream.

Part of the fun of being in The Pinup Portal is that I can help the new girls not to make the same mistakes I did. I can pass on my knowledge of the technical stuff and help them to develop their own style. When you look at their pictures you can really see their personalities shining through and I like to think I have helped them in some small way in achieving this. In return they help to keep me fresh and enthusiastic. All the girls on the Portal have their own totally unique style, abilities and flair! I love looking at their latest sets and celebrating their successes with them. All of this means that together we each continue to expand our horizons and express new thoughts and more feeling into our posses and themes.

JBP: You've been talking about The Pinup Portal. I've been to the site and it looks exciting. Tell us more about it.

KD: Having been able to make my site reasonably successful I have now turned my attention to the pinup genre as a whole. Put simply I love pinup and everything it embodies such as tease, erotica, glamour and celebrating the "art of being a woman." I think it has a very important place on the net despite all the lewd and hardcore sexual imagery that is so freely available today.

The Pinup Portal is a service designed to help those already in the pinup arena and those wanting to become a part of it. If you are an aspiring pinup model or a business associated with the world of pinup. If you want a reliable, flexible and powerful online presence with the minimum of financial outlay. Then The Pinup Portal will provide everything you need.

I want to see this new breed of retro styled Pinup blossom and become a mainstay again! With the contributions of The Pinup Portal's guests and the addition of more and more like minded pinup genre people I know it will get there! From models to artists, clothing companies to antique retailers, custom car shops to history buffs and so on and so forth!

JBP: Sounds like you're a busy gal. Do you have any other projects in the works?

KD: Oh...there is always something more whirring around in my head, you know me always looking to the future! I don't plan to stop until I'm dead so you can bet I will always have something new and exciting to work on! 

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