Bunny Yeager’s Nude Camera
Those of you unfamiliar with Bunny Yeager are probably at a loss as to why she has several films following her around on her job. Until you learn her job is taking cheesecake photos of naked women at a time when there were few photographers making a living at that job and even fewer women photographers making a living at that job.
Anyone who has spied an old old issue of Playboy (or a newer issue reprinting some of the old photos, or even random Tumblr reblogs) are probably familiar with her work without even knowing it. Though Bunny did spend a little bit of time in front of the camera, her fame came from being behind it and getting large supply of women taking tasteful photographs. Bunny’s strength was her womanhood, which made her 1000 times less creepy when she approached a girl to ask if she would model, as opposed to some greasy-looking old guy. The most famous of her many models was Bettie Page, and Yeager’s iconic photographs of her wearing a leopard print bikini (made by Yeager herself!) helped turn Page into one of the biggest pin-up models in history. Yeager is also credited with taking the famous shots of Ursula Andress in a white bikini on the set of Dr. No.
Bunny Yeager’s Nude Camera takes great pains to let us know that Bunny doesn’t consider what she’s doing exploiting women, but in fact elevating them and freeing them from set rules of society. They are able to slip free from their defined roles, given an opportunity to make money, and even their boyfriends who object to the idea often warm up when the pictures are shown or the money paid out. The threadbare plot involves convincing a young woman to pose, as she wants to earn extra money so her and her beau can get married quicker. The girl is given the ability to make her choice of marriage quicker than if she didn’t have the ability to get naked for money. One could argue that it is a shame that educational and employment opportunities for women in the 1960s were such that taking it off was the only real option for some, and I will not deny that. Nor will I deny that many of those problems still exist today. But I will not deny that women and men have the right to strip off if they so desire. As we see in the film, Yeager did all this with a family, able to go out and do photo shoots because her husband Bud worked at home as a print artist (magazine and album covers and such).
Director Barry Mahon is a story all to himself. The man who directed the Thumbelina’ portion of Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny? Barry Mahon. Mahon was born in the US, but joined the Royal Air Force in 1941 and became an ace on his 98th mission, which also saw him getting shot down and captured. He was interned at the POW camp Stalag Luft III (the camp from The Great Escape) where he escaped twice and was recaptured twice. After he was rescued in 1945 and the war ended, he became the personal pilot for Errol Flynn, and then became involved in the entertainment industry as Flynn’s manager. Mahon’s commpany, The Production Machine, was on the forefront of modernizing production, pioneering use of spreadsheets and computers to handle production work. He also directed an amazing array of films: oddball pro-Cuban Revolution fake documentary Cuban Rebel Girls (featuring Errol Flynn narration!), awful nudist films such as The Beast That Killed Women, propaganda-fest Rocket Attack U.S.A., filmed children’s plays The Wonderful Land of Oz, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Santa and the Three Bears (through his Childhood Productions company), strange erotic films such as Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico and Fanny Hill Meets the Red Baron, and this pseudo-documentary film about Bunny Yeager then puts himself and his airplane in the middle of it. It’s also interesting how he portrays himself as a jetsetting playboy when script girl Clelle Mahon is Barry Mahon’s wife. Mahon followed up Bunny Yeager’s Nude Camera with Bunny Yeager’s Nude Las Vegas.
The credits are a mix of models who have drifted to obscurity and pseudonyms that aren’t fooling anyone. Yanka Mann? Irish O’Brien? There is also a Rusty Allen credited, but if she is the famous Rusty Allen, I cannot say. Bunny operates out of Miami, which at that time was a mecca of the tiny but fierce adult entertainment industry. After the Supreme Court allowed filming of nudity on nudist colonies, Florida’s great weather year round and mock-vacation culture (people would work all summer up north, then use the money to live in Miami during the winter) was the perfect place to film and photograph. Like many of the nudie cutie flicks, Bunny Yeager’s Nude Camera is awash with padding. From long shots of various girls posting for photographs to a strange side quest to Key West, the script seems mostly improvised and then narrated over after the fact. Even the tiny bit of plot – the dilemma of if potential new girl Terry’s boyfriend will be okay with her posing in the buff – is a minuscule conflict at best.
The print is chopped up with sound samples missing, but it is probably the only copy left, so stop complaining!
Bunny Yeager’s Nude Camera is shot pseudo-documentary style, though everything is obviously staged and planned out ahead of time. Besides the slight plot mentioned earlier, we also see scenes of Bunny’s home life. How much of this are the real people versus actors hired I cannot say. Most are as bad as you would expect real people would be, but also as bad as terrible actors on a shoestring budget would be.
At one point we enter the Twilight Zone with Bunny calling the director and cameraman of her movie Barry Mahon! Barry Mahon even shows up as himself with his airplane to fly Bunny down to the Florida Keys to pad the film with random street scenes, costumes, and parade floats at the Jose Gasparilla celebration festival.
Everything else you need to know is that we follow Bunny Yeager around Miami for a few days as she constantly takes photos of undressed women in different spots. The narration by Bunny explains how she chooses girls, even picking them up off the street. Bunny explains how she gets access to neat locals, rich looking houses, prevents unwanted watchers, deals with people thinking her girls do extra work on the side (if you know what I mean), and even sells her shots. Besides regular commissions, Bunny is also attempting to get a new model for a big payout photo shoot, and thus the new girl plot intertwines there. Will Bunny convince her to pose in time to win the big contest? Duh!
The narration also lets us know what types of girls sold at that time. Magazines wanted real girls, girls next door, girls who pose rarely or never before. In this world of made up, fake blonde, fake breasted, lip enhanced, plastic, botox, silicone celebrities, reality stars, and porn actresses, it’s nice to know that at one time real trumped all of that. It still does in my opinion.
The photo shoots range from your normal fair to weird costumes and pseudo-creepy things. Photo shoots…with towels, Indian headgear (and tomahawk!), viking outfits, creepy creepy animal masks, and all sorts of stuff that may or may not have made it into the wide world of underground men’s magazines. This being the early 1960s, there is no digital anything, everyone is shot on real film, with no photoshop to cover reality (and I’m sure airbrushing was too expensive for most of the clients as well!) I hope you like the photo shoots, because they make up the majority of the film’s running time.
None of these girls are real actresses, but this film is strangely interesting…far more than you would expect from weird schlock like this. Bunny actually sounds more natural during the acting portions verses the narration readings, which makes me think she didn’t write the final copy. Her friendly personality and honest looks served her well in catching many girls into modeling that wouldn’t have even looked back had a male photographer approached them. Bunny ends the day racing after another hot girl to get her to pose for her. Go get her, Bunny!
Rated 6/10 (Something Weird, something looted Asian art, something magazine man, something boyfriend, something girlfriend, something decoration)
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