Poster Peepshow: The Art of the Pinup at Gallery Nucleus Brings Out Julie Newmar, Olivia De Berardinis, Lenora Claire and More

"Dita - Pink" by Olivia De Berardinis
"Dita - Pink" by Olivia De Berardinis

Gallery Nucleus is one of Los Angeles' secret treasures. Located in the small town of Alhambra, a bit off the beaten path, the intimate gallery was transformed by a monsoon of glitter and glitz for the opening reception of its current exhibit, Poster Peepshow: The Art of the Pinup

According to Nucleus, the exhibit "celebrates the pin up girl by featuring original artwork by contemporary artists and pays homage to pin up masters such as George Petty, Gil Elvgren, and Alberto Vargas. Over the past decade it has become impossible to ignore the growing popularity to recapture the nostalgia of pin up glamour."

Opening night guests included famed artists, pinups, celebrity debutantes, students and more, all who gathered to celebrate female empowerment and making women feel beautiful.  Julie Newmar, the iconic actress and model best known for her role as Catwoman in the original 1960s Batman TV series, spoke to L.A. Weekly about her entrance into limelight. 

"I started off as a musician and a dancer," Newmar said.

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"Did you ever think you would be this popular?"

"In those days it was not such a big deal as it is now."

Julie Newmar at Nucleus
Julie Newmar at Nucleus
Hugh Melrose

Surrounded by the flash of cameras Newmar signed pictures for adoring fans, both young and old, who brought her roses and magazines that she was featured in. "It's fun to be pretty!" Newmar exclaimed, flattered. She insisted that in her time, before photoshop, the secret to great pictures was all about lighting: "All you need is good light." Newmar pointed to one picture and said, "That was my mother's bathing suit.  I loved my mom."

Newmar continued to share more of her secrets including her favorite places to get "extraordinary lingerie" and her favorite hidden place in Los Angeles: her garden.

Later we tracked down Craig Elliot, concept artist, illustrator of fine art and jeweler, who explained his motivation for participating in the exhibit.  "I think part of the reason I paint women is because I feel like I can make a difference in their lives," Elliot said. He also disclosed that he had previously been the victim of a brain tumor and became very thin because of the treatment: "When I was thin, I could completely relate to how women felt."

Model and special guest Lenora Claire voiced how she'd also had experiences in the past where she didn't feel her best. "How do you stay so confident?" we asked. Claire replied, "I'm confident?" She gave this advice for aspiring pinups: "Do not be afraid to embrace what makes you unique."

Also present was renowned artist Olivia De Berardinis who signed copies of her books. Olivia spoke about her mother who introduced her to the world of pinups.  "She did these really terrible impressions," De Berardinis said. "[But] When you're little you think your parents are the most gorgeous people."  

With Olivia De Berardinis and husband Joel
With Olivia De Berardinis and husband Joel
Hugh Melrose

De Berardinis' husband Joel Beren gushed about his wife: "I collect erotica and art and saw so much of her work... I just had to meet her."  Beren believes his wife's art is similar to greats Alberto Vargas and George Petty and said that they even "met Vargas on their honeymoon."

Poster Peepshow: The Art of the Pinup will be on exhibit to the public at Gallery Nucleus until  February 28. This is a show you simply do not want to miss.

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