Book Review: Keyhole Cuties: The Pin-up Art of Celeste Giuliano (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, March 17, 2014
I've covered quite a number of books for Mania in my time here, but I have to admit that I wasn't quite sure how to best approach Keyhole Cuties: The Pin-up Art of Celeste Giuliano. Ironically, I know even from the outset that Maniacs will eat this book up, devouring its pages with gluttony normally reserved for our cosplay galleries. That makes total sense, since a subset of modern cosplay has roots in the retro styling of vintage pin-up art, and indeed both scenes are enjoying a thorough renaissance right now. There is a ton of fan overlap for Pin-up art, and it isn't just among the convention going crowds.
By their very natures, the horror and retro crowds have an enormous amount in common. Nostalgia is the glue, forever binding them at the spine. The modern resurgence of burlesque, pinups, and hotrods serve as natural bedfellows for the vintage crazed slasher fans, and so these ideas are often seen mashed up with a dash of tattoos and splash of sideshow to form an underground offshoot. It's a fascinating genesis to behold, and as an unintended side effect, a copy of Keyhole Cuties: The Pin-Up Art of Celeste Giuliano has landed on my coffee table for review.
This is indeed a girthy volume, well worthy of proud display on your coffee table (or piled pizza box equivalent). The cover displays a gal in a retro two piece, equipped with heels and dolled up hair, on a black background. The real magic happens with the slip cover on board; what was before a strikingly classy cover now harbors an air of cheeky naughtiness, as you glimpse her through a literal keyhole. This very clever juxtaposition succinctly encompasses the tone of Keyhole Cuties: teasingly playful, yet elegant and glamorous.
The classy dames featured here are not models, rather they're regular gals from among the photos shoots conducted by Philadelphia photographer Celeste Giuliano. Her studio offers retro chic packages for solo, group, and couple shoots, with all the appropriate make-up, costuming, and sets which these sessions require. Indeed there is a diverse spectrum of tones and styles on display here: sailors girls, Bond girls, 40's swim suits, cowgirls, Hollywood starlets, librarians, space girls, and the gal next door all make appearances. It forms a cornucopic treat for the visual senses. Giuliano has a real flare for vintage flavor, composing images that are evocative and thought provoking. It's all soaked in the neo-burlesque scene, and then set out to dry on a clothes line of class.
You'll be titillated and teased by Keyhole Cuties: The Pin-up Art of Celeste Giuliano, available now from Schiffer Publishing as a handsome Coffeetable volume, for $45.99. Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.
Mania Grade: B
Author: Celeste Giuliano
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
Book Genre: Pinup Coffeetable Photobook