Once Upon a Time,<br />
When We Were Glamorous

Dionne Warwick

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doesn’t focus on pin ups, she reflects, “In those days, if you were a model, or if you were an actress… a dancer and it’s 1930s and ‘40s, you don’t have certain rights as a human being in this country, and you are deciding for whatever reason to make your living as a burlesque performer or as a dancer. It’s not the easiest road to take. So you have to kind of give them credit."

Either way, from traditional glamour shots to the more risqué, the images represent a found history that has captured the imaginations of many modern day fans. Angelique Noire says she often receives requests from Black women asking her to show them how to replicate pin up hairstyles for natural hair, which she obliges on YouTube.  Meanwhile the Brooklyn-based Brown Girls Burlesque revue enjoys a national cult following and has spawned a weekly workout inspired by the performance art. And then there are the myriad Pinterest boards and blogs inspired by this glamorous slice of African-American nostalgia.

Gainer welcomes the interest and looks forward to the exhaustive exploration they could produce. “There’s so much in our history, Black history,” she says, “that is worthy of study.”

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is the author of the novel Powder Necklace and founder of the blog People Who Write. Follow her on Twitter @nanaekua.