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Pinups, Contraband & Aging On Stage

The Perfect
Father’s Day Card?

I considered sending this card to my dad in prison for Father’s Day. Christian said it would never pass inspection to reach him. “Way too pornographic,” he said. “Yes, it will,” I insisted. “There’s not even nipple!”

When Dad is released we will all definitely need therapy.

Dad loves the risqué vintage postcards I send him. They, umm, fill a void since he’s incarcerated and pornography is prohibited. I stopped sending them for a while when things got harried and overwhelming for me. In short, I built & opened QED, Mom came to live with us, I got sober from booze & sugar only to get cancer. I had a whole lifetime crammed into three years. Who has time to send half-nude pinups to their jailed Deaf dad, ya know?

While I was trying to stay alive and keep QED afloat, Dad was sending long lists of questions, needs and wants in every letter. Finally, I begged him to lay off. “Give me some time and space! Life is really hard for me right now!”

He was sorry; he didn’t want to be a burden, but maybe I could send a quick pinup postcard? “I really like and miss those,” he said. I felt terrible for him, alone and lonely. You want some Sorority Sluts, Dad? You got some Sorority Sluts!

To offset the ickiness and make use of my time and the stamp, I wrote some serious business on the card. I need power of attorney so I can help him with his pension applications & look into getting him dentures now that the TDCJ is changing their policy. This card ensured me that he’d read my note!

While the TDCJ had no problem with Sorority Sluts, the Father’s Day pinup of the lady on the bearskin rug was indeed returned in an envelope stamped in red ink and capital letters, “DENIED.” Not for the content, but the lack thereof. I sent it blank w/the blank envelope it came with which makes it contraband and can be used as currency. Logical in hindsight. #TheMoreYouKnow Dad desperately wanted to know what he missed and begged me to send it back. This time I had to write in it, so I chose to send him the biographical history of the artist behind the pinup.

Gil Elvgren was an American artists born in Minnesota and whose work was mostly in adverstising a Brown & Bigelow, a company founded in 1896 and still operating today. Many of his pinups were painted on the noses of military aircraft during World War II.

While digging around for Elvgren’s bio, I came across the original model photo as well as the work of Dutch artist Erwin Olaf. I remembered when Olaf debuted his “Mature” series in New York in 2001 which featured women between the ages of 61 and 89 reconstructing in the style of pinups by Elvgren, Alberto Vargas and others. It dominated the press here in NYC for a few days and sparked conversations about sexuality and aging. One of his recreations that I recalled from 2001 was a mature lady reenacting the “Bear Facts” pinup by Elvgren. It was only when seeing it again I put it all together. Funny how things go in circles.

This led me to read article: Aging, Performance, and Stardom: Doing Age on the Stage of Consumerist Culture. As I and my performer friends are now solidly in mid-life or older, it’s interesting to see how we adjust from the type of stories we tell, the audiences we cater to and how we spend our free time. Personally, I found Olaf’s photos pretty saucy and inspiring. But the big question is: will the TDCJ find the *real* photo of the mature lady’s “Bear Facts” contraband or not? Christmas is around the corner, so we’ll find out soon! ;-P

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