How to become a Pinup Model – The Truth Behind the Red Lipstick

  I really don’t have an easy way to say any of this, and I feel that it is necessary to write this seeing that I like so many other pinup models have received a slew of emails asking this very question:

 How do I become a Pinup Model.


 Well I will answer this and more, as I break away all of the lights and magic and reveal the truth within.

  So like I said, there is no real easy way to say any of this, because I feel like I am about to tell a bunch of  5 year olds there is no such thing as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I am brashly honest because this is the only way I know how to be, and I have to be blunt with you all.



  Being a Pinup Model or Alt model or whatever you want to call it is not glamorous, at all. You have false idols and ideals of what this world is like, by other models and myself.  I do not model for a living, I do not nor have I NEVER made any real money to survive for a living to pay my bills as a model. I have NEVER been paid for a magazine cover or article. That is correct, you read that right, NEVER PAID, NO REAL MONEY. I have on occasion gotten compensation for modeling over the years, but if you compare it to the cost of upkeep of hair and make-up I would say I am negative a few thousand dollars.


  Anyone can be a model or pinup, and anyone can be a burlesque performer. There are several amazingly talented photographers out there that we have all paid to take photos of us to build our portfolio or make gifts for our significant others. You don’t have to be on the cover of a magazine to be a model. You don’t need a title to be considered beautiful. That is the part that makes me the most frustrated, you need no vindication for any of this, do it because you love it.



  Once you have some amazingly well done photos by one of the many photographers out there you can hire, you can submit them to any magazine that takes those types of photo submissions. Many photographers already have relationships built up with publications and can submit you themselves. Retro Lovely is one of the publications that loves to publish new faces and photographers. Photographer will run you $250 - $450 and up depending on who they are. Makeup and Hair will run you $125.00 and up depending on who you use or if it is included in your photo package. So out of the gate you are starting in the negatives of $375 - $575. For me just to get myself photoshoot ready we are talking 2 - 3 hours, that is time you can never get back.



  Clothing companies are not going to donate or let you borrow free clothes, so be prepared to invest a lot of money in vintage or repro clothing for your shoots if the photographers do not provide clothing. Some girls even make their own clothing, spending hours of work and hundreds of dollars of fabric and trims. I am not even going to discuss how much I have spent on clothing for shoots or projects because it will hurt my feelings to think about it. I rarely ask people for free product without giving them anything special in return as I know how many hours of work goes into each item. 


  Did you know that many Burlesque performers can spend as easily as $10,000.00 on just basic costume components, rhinestones and props. You have to mix your own music, make your own props or hire people to do everything for you, which will cost even more money since you are saving your free time. Dance lessons or training will run you up even more money, and here is the real kicker. You will be LUCKY to even get paid to perform. Many performers will make as little as $75.00 a gig which means you will need to perform 133 times just to cover the cost of that one costume. Not many performers get even remotely as much money as Dita requests per performance.



  I am not a professional model, nor could I call myself one since I don’t make a living doing it. There are always exceptions to the rules of course, and these exceptions have given so many girls false ideas of what this is all like.

"She is also the most famous stripper in America, even if tabloid readers only know her from her marriage to (and divorce from) Marilyn Manson. To her legion of fans -- who include fashion designers, artists, dandies, style aficionados, club kids and fetishists -- she is famous for reviving the burlesque genre of variety show, long after the form was thought to be dead. To her detractors, and they are legion as well, she is famous only for being famous." Taken from Dita's interview with LA Weekly.

  We are often the rule and never the exception. In this case Dita Von Teese has created this exception, for everyone to think if they model, or do burlesque they will be or become like her. But you won’t, no one will, since she is the exception. She started as an exotic dancer, and began doing fetish adult modeling and burlesque pinup work. She even did adult movies aka porn. Now her life changed from me seeing her in small fetish clubs at 15 opening up for Mistress Persephone to being married to Marilyn Manson. When you get that pedestal take full advantage of it. She was smart with her choices and worked everything to her advantage as her career and life progressed. Something you get accustomed to here in California.

"Dita Von Teese feels very lucky she can afford to buy a taxidermied ostrich on eBay, mount it on the living room wall and put a rhinestone collar on it. (That means every time someone comes over she can ask, in a goofy, droll way, "Have you seen my ostrich yet?") And though her ascent was lucky in many ways, in others, luck had nothing to do with it. She is a hard worker." hard work pays off at the end of the day.

  So maybe if you marry a rockstar or like Snooky you get on a reality TV show you can parley your future with these pedestals. Again they are the exception not the rule. Just doing burlesque or pinup modeling you will never gain millions of dollars and millions of fans. You must only do this if you enjoy performing or if you enjoy modeling and that is it. So few people have things of grandeur out of this lifestyle.


  We are all as guilty of giving you an idea of this glamorous lifestyle you may think we lead, but in reality it is far from it. I have a real job, and always have and always will. I work 40-60 hour weeks as a Production Manager.


This is a description to what I do for a living:


Production Management

 or operations management

Planning, implementation, and control of industrial production processes to ensure smooth and efficient operation. Production management techniques are used in both manufacturing and service industries. Production management responsibilities include the traditional “five M's”: men and women, machines, methods, materials, and money. Managers are expected to maintain an efficient production process with a workforce that can readily adapt to new equipment and schedules. They may use industrial engineering methods, such as time-and-motion studies, to design efficient work methods. They are responsible for managing both physical (raw) materials and information materials (paperwork or electronic documentation). Of their duties involving money, inventory control is the most important. This involves tracking all component parts, work in process, finished goods, packaging materials, and general supplies. The production cycle requires that sales, financial, engineering, and planning departments exchange information—such as sales forecasts, inventory levels, and budgets—until detailed production orders are dispatched by a production-control division. Managers must also monitor operations to ensure that planned output levels, cost levels, and quality objectives are met. See also productivity.


  My career and talents outside of my physical self pay my bills. I balance doing art, make-up, hair, teaching, modeling and my personal life in the few hours I have outside of my job is not an easy task. We all have real jobs, or other talents that allow us to pay for all of our modeling expenses.



  Another example is my friend Masuimi Max, she works out EVERYDAY to maintain her body and form for contortion and modeling. Masuimi has been modeling and performing for over 10 years she began doing fetish modeling, fire breathing and contortion work. Her talents and looks separated her from the rest. She has built her empire on hard work and more hard work. She is much more than just a Pinup Model and travels the world performing at Fetish events. She has also owned and operated her own adult site for several years. There will never be another Masuimi Max, she is the exception not the rule. She does this for a living and is currently in the works on releasing her own line of make-up among other projects. She is the most dedicated model I have ever met and has the most amazing butt I have ever seen because of her dedication.


  This is not a career, this is a hobby, and I can guarantee every “model” either has a real job they don’t or won’t talk about, a husband or man that pays all their bills so they can do this full time until they “make it”.  There are always a few exceptions to the rules, and as time progresses you will see many models break out and start their own businesses or continue their careers, though most of us fade off into the sunset over time.

  So now that you know that Santa Claus is not real and you might think I am an asshole for being so honest with you, just know I am being 100 genuine in my advice to you. Do things because you love them, have a career that you can fall back on or rely on while you peruse your hobby of being a Pinup Model. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t become the next Dita, just be happy with being you.



Views: 106480

Comment by Michelle Pia on August 25, 2012 at 4:14am

Appreciate your honesty, and love the candid behind the scenes shots.

Comment by Myrtha Meadows on August 25, 2012 at 4:47am

I've been modeling for free for quite some time now, but people - especially my blog followers who don't really know me - think I earn lots of money, and live a life of luxury. Haha! So thank you for telling people the true story about alternative modeling! Collecting and wearing vintage is a lifestyle for me, so I do have lots of clothes I use for shoots. But I still don't want to think about all the money I spent on this little "hobby"...Now I have to get back to glueing expensive Swarovski crystals on some pasties... :) xx

Comment by Dottie La Dimplrs on August 25, 2012 at 7:24am
I'm glad you talked about this a lot of models don't ever want to. I do modeling as a hobby nothing more and I have 2 jobs! One is to pay for my modeling and the other for living lol :-)
Comment by Maryssa on August 25, 2012 at 7:26am
This just made my day lol..i am a tattoo artist but also currently work at jack in the box till my apprenticeship is over ,I've modeled a little for magazines promoting the shop but nothing big but to me it's still such an accomplishment and I'm really happy :).And this blog made me have more vindication about be on the right road for me :). And how lucky I am to do what I love and still have a regular Job like everyone else till I get where I'm meant to be.Thank You.
Comment by Piper Marie on August 25, 2012 at 7:40am

I feeeel this post! I'd never wanted to be a model or anythangg, but when I started getting into pinup I did shoots because I had ideas I wanted to produce, most the shoots I've managed to do have been me and a photographer friend getting together and making something neat happen :) when peeps ask how much I get paid for all these shoots I do I'm kind of tickled at their reactions when I say "nothing" the following question of "well, why do you do it then" comes along and my reply is simply because I really enjoy it, being a part of something creative and what I'm into is fun. Anyone who gets into pinup modeling because they've certained themselves that they'll become the next Dita is baffling o.o Your realness is always much appreciated Micheline! <3 :)

Comment by Kerosene Deluxe on August 25, 2012 at 9:02am

If I had a penny for each person who thinks I'm rich because of modeling I'd BE rich....

Comment by Julie Wanda on August 25, 2012 at 11:48am

This is awesome, Micheline! I totally appreciate your honestly A lot of people think that because I am a dj, that is my full time job, or that I make enough money to do nothing else but dj. What they don't know about is the TONS of money I've spent on gear, or the thousands that I spend on music! It's the same with modeling and dancers, for sure.
I think the most important part of your blog is the last bit - do what you love because you love it, and love being yourself - not because you are looking for validation or because you think you will get rich! Thanks for being real!

Comment by Monique Charity on August 25, 2012 at 1:15pm

well said Micheline. Thank you for your being brutally honest and keeping it real! <3 you.

Comment by carmalee on August 25, 2012 at 1:27pm
Real talk!
Comment by Heather on August 25, 2012 at 3:11pm

Great article! A lot of people hope to model as a career but in reality it's a hobby. When they find out its a tough industry to break into and doesn't pay the bills, they may end up modeling nudes, and in some cases can lead to porn. Thanks for the inside scoop on building your own wardrobe, I was one of the many who thought an apparel model gets "hooked up" with free clothes!


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