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Modern Femme Fatale: Lana Landis

Lana Landis
     Several years ago, when retro pin-ups were just starting to appear on the web, one of the models you couldn't help but notice was Lana Landis. It was as if a Gil Elvgren or Alberto Vargas painting had come to life. This blonde beauty was the embodiment of the playful and sexy girl-next-door. Her website LanaLandis.com was the model of how to mix technology and style. She had it all. Then she dropped out of site. Usually, that's the end of the story. But we are happy to report that Landis has returned to pin-up modeling and the world is a happier place for it.
     Here now is an exclusive interview with Lana Landis as well as a selection of her pin-up photos.

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(Interview from May 2007)

Java's Bachelor Pad: Your pin-up style seems very rooted in classic Hollywood glamour. Are there specific influences to drawn on for your pin-ups? I'm guessing it has something to do with your namesake Lana Turner. Am I right?

Lana Landis: Absolutely. Lana Turner, Veronica Lake, Grace KellyRita Hayworth all influenced me. I get a lot of ideas from watching those screen sirens. It could be a hair style or a dress that they wore. I take little pieces from all of them. I work with an amazing costume/clothing atelier so I have a lot of vintage dresses and pinup clothing made for me for a specific shoot or event. 

JBP: Your pin-ups also seem very influenced by the great pin-up painters like Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas. Talk about the elements of their pin-ups that you use in your work.

LL: Whenever anyone asks me how to be a pin-up I tell them to study the work of Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas. Nobody has ever captured the essence of the pin-up better than those two in my opinion. The hair, the make-up, the pose, the facial expressions- impossible for any real girl to compare to that but we can certainly try!!! 

JBP: How do you approach modern pin-ups? Some gals I know want to stay as true to the classic style as possible. Others take a more post-modern approach. Where do you come in?

LL: I think it's great that there are so many new pin-up models and photographers now. Many of them putting a lowbrow spin on their images which is cool. The rockabilly scene is huge and has brought out a whole bunch of new gals that rock. My style has always been very classic. It's fun to try new things and I enjoy experimenting with different looks but I know what works for me and what doesn't so I try to stay true to that. 

JBP: I love the playfulness in your photos. There's that girl-next-door innocence...but there's also an undercurrent of sultriness. You have these great "good girl" photos, but your also have a series of very sexy noir photos. You have even recently done a series paying tribute to Marilyn Monroe's famous Playboy centerfold. How do you strike that balance between playful and sexy? 

LL: Oh, thank you! Aside from the hair, sets and wardrobe, that playful sexiness is what separates cheesecake pin-up from overt "in your face" images that we see so much of these days. 
     Bettie Page personified it. She could be in a very suggestive pose with a crop in her hand and a bad girl look on her face but with a playful smile and that was why she was so great. Marilyn mastered it. She always had an innocence that balanced her sexiness, that's why women loved her just as much as men.
     Noir is all about mystery, beauty and telling a story with the eyes. I just try to have fun whether i'm playing the girl next door or the femme fatale. 

JBP: Talk about some of the recent photos you've done. Tell me about the "Venus on the Half Shell" ones. What other projects have you been working on? 

LL: It's kinda funny. I had that sea shell in my head for years before I finally had it made for me this year. I get these ideas stuck in my head and I can't let them go. I have a bunch of other beautiful over the top props I'm working on. I will probably incorporate them into a live performance or they will just remain in my basement and I'll sleep in my giant sea shell from time to time. heeeee. I have a 4,000 sq ft basement that has been transformed into a boudoir/studio filled with pillows, backdrops, fur rugs and giant props. 

JBP: How did you get started in pin-ups? 

LL: About 10 years ago i was looking through a book of Bernard of Hollywood photos and I thought...hmmm, someone needs to bring this back. The internet was saturated with porn and Baywatch looking models. At that time there was only one other model doing vintage pin-up (that i knew of) and that was Dita Von Teese--whom I still think is one of the best pin-ups.
I booked my first photo shoot with Robert Jensen and the images from that seemed to strike a chord with people. I pretty much made a name for myself  from that one shoot.

JBP: Tell me about some of the photographers you've worked with. How do their styles differ. Who's your favorite to work with? Anyone you would love to work with?

LL: I've worked with many of the known photographers within the scene. Danielle Bedics way back when she first started doing pinup and we both lived in SF. Tom Eitnier, Mark Miremont and of course Robert Jensen. I like different things about each of them. Right now i'm working with Lou Freeman who shot for playboy for a long time. She will probably be my resident photographer for awhile. I would like to do something with 666 photographer. I think her work is amazing. I'm also going to be working with one of Gwen Stephanie's favorite photographers Mark Squires.

JBP: A few years ago, I was seeing pictures of you everywhere. Then you dropped out of site. Now you're back. Is there a story behind your absence? I hope you're back for good.

LL: Yep. I took a long hiatus from modeling. I moved from the west coast to my birth city of Atlanta. I also had to take a break to have a baby and get married. I didn't  think prego pin-up would go over so well. I'm so happy I made that decision because my son is the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me. 

JBP: What's in store for Lana Landis?

LL: Well, those who know me know that music has always been my first love. I've been working on a lot of music lately. I am all about incorporating amazing cover art like the old album cover art on the Capital and RCA Victor record labels from the 50's and 60's. I also have a lot of pinup shoots planned and some burlesque inspired video vignettes. 

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