Cheetahs, cannibals and lots of flesh: A Bettie Page photo exhibit

Do you go to a lot of art galleries? I sure don’t; well, probably more than you do. Anyway, tangents aside, here’s something for you to sink your eyes into: Naked Chicks!

Ok, if you’re making the proper connections, you should be interested by now. Hold on.

Outside of the Design District, another part of Miami’s burgeoning art scene has popped up across Taco Bell on 125th Street (pretty scary, huh?). Once my eyes pulled away from the bubble-letters blaring “Classic Gordita for only 89 cents!” (appropriately emblazoned with an American flag pattern), the Museum of Contemporary Art led me across the street to the gallery of Javogue & Ingalls, but perhaps even more importantly: to Naked Chicks!

One of the owner/operators of the gallery, Chris Ingalls, arranges showings (by appointment only) of her current exhibition, Bunny Yeager: Bettie Page in Africa, USA, a collection of pin-up style photos from the 50’s. The show has been running since Art Basel (back in December) and has a week left. The point, Ingalls informed me, was to provide the “orange juice” as an alternative to the “champagne” of Art Basel; holy mimosa. As much as I wanted to spend my time in the gallery studying the intricacies of the nipples and the curves of the butt on the nudes, I couldn’t help but take in the pictures as a whole.

If you don’t know who Bettie Page is, you’re probably around my age and far more concerned with coming up with a good line to tell that girl from “Knight’s Tale” for your imaginary date tonight (yeah, even if you didn’t see the movie, you know what I’m talking about). Back to the point, Bunny Yeager’s photos are sensual, not smutty. Somehow nostalgia makes everything seem nicer with each new calendar that’s hung up. Yeager’s work is no exception.

It’s hard to sound intelligent while talking about something that your dad probably hid under his bed, but that’s no reason not to try. So, without further delay, hold onto your butt cheeks, take a deep breath, close your eyes… woops…umm…

So, all these photos are from a shoot back in ’54, when Bunny and Bettie scampered through Miami and Boca, respectively armed with the proper equipment-a camera and a voluptuous body-and scantily covered by leopard-print bikinis. While the premise of the story behind the pictures is ridiculous (a woman plays with animals in Africa until an African chief detains her, then threatens to eat her if she doesn’t become his queen), the images captured are not. Each photograph is taken from the original black and white negatives, either colored or left alone and printed on archival paper, giving them a real air of authenticity. Even more authentic is the fact that Bunny still lives in Florida, right near the gallery.

With a career of legitimizing pin-up photography spanning more than fifty years, Bunny has hopped into the hearts of nostalgic horn-balls and humdrum Homo sapiens alike. Call up and schedule an appointment soon, but don’t forget to bring your dad.

Bunny Yeager’s photographs are on view at Javogue & Ingalls Fine Art, 771 NE 125th St., North Miami, through Feb. 15. Call (305) 981 7900.

Sven Barth can be reached at