From June 11th through June 13th, the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California hosted the Ink N Iron Festival for hot rods, art, fashion, live music, and, of course, tattoos. A weekend of punk, psychobilly, and greasers, however, is only completed by a stunning burlesque show. The alternative pin-up scene, especially in Los Angeles, is as vibrant and burgeoning as the nuanced punk music it often accompanies. With great pleasure, I discovered that a childhood friend of mine won this year’s Miss Ink N Iron title.
Gia Genevieve flourished in a smart, black, traditional 50s pin-up dress. The sexy black frock oozed sexuality and confidence with a sharp red trim and front-side bow, which was cheekily placed between her two glorious breasts; her long black gloves matched serious FMPs. With her red hair, glistening green eyes, delicate cheeks and lips — all on a heart-shaped face — she seemed like the almost-obvious choice, just based on looks alone.
Without question, Gia Genevieve possesses a deep sexiness. However, Genevieve did not win a fashion or beauty contest — it was a test of attitude. Her gait and posture were ablaze with profound confidence — a boldness far more overwhelming than her dramatic curves. She was fiery, but maintained cool restraint on the stage while the other competitors varied in their authenticity. Gia Genevieve, however, stood out in her simple, sincere garb: the contest was based on the womens’ appearances in casual 1950′s dresses. While many might scoff and say, “Oh, another beauty pageant,” I don’t consider the Miss Ink N Iron to be merely just another forum in which the patriarchy have colonized our bodies. Rather, I think the variance in body styles and sensibilities of the competitors’ reveals that this award has more to do with a persona.
Other Miss Ink N Iron hopefuls darned outfits that awkwardly attempted at retro with contemporary “sexiness” in mind. Perhaps what made Gia Genevieve’s performance the overall favorite was a fundamental commitment to her loving her body, being comfortable in her skin, and of course, the era.
Clearly, Burlesque is a subversive and transgressive performance art form. It considers desire as something that can be owned and wielded. Bettie Page positively emanated confidence and talent, for example, as she single-handedly created her legacy of fashion, art, and modeling, for many pin-ups in the day were nothing without the artists that drew them, like Charles Dana Gibson or Art Frahm. The culture of burlesque is fundamentally a culture of exchange, having at least some of its roots in the exchange of scandalous photos among G.I.’s.
Modern pin-ups certainly rely on working T&A, but the art form emerges in the persona the create, embody, and live. When I knew Gia Genevieve, she was Argia Laws in the 8th grade. She was a very full-figured woman already… and everyone was aware, yet it’s amusing that the standards of “hotness” in one’s early teen years seem particularly warped and hypocritical. I, myself, remember the great ambivalence I had towards my rack—boobs were cool, but if they were too big, they were gross. It seemed there was a threshold for how much one’s body should be sexualized at that age.
Gia’s performance called to mind the burden that boobs can be. But ultimately, she fiercely exhibited that an individual defines the sexuality and sensuousness of their own body.
Congratulations Gia Genevieve, and keep rocking!
You Might Also Like ...