It's my pride and joy to pay homage to pin-up art's best kept secret-- HILDA! We never even allowed this full-figured gorgeous mirthquake to become a footnote the in annals of American glam art. I'm here to hopefully change all that.
Quite a few Summers back (1999) while perusing a local outdoors antique show, I came across a vintage calendar from 1965. There were three things about it that arrested my cornea immediately. One, it was beautifully illustrated. Two, it featured a gorgeous pin-up girl . And three, that gorgeous pin-up girl was a big beautiful woman.
This astounding treasure was just lying there on a table, unprotected from Mother Nature's elements and various other dangers of swap meet madness. As my eyes settled on this fine peice of lost Americana, all else slipped away. A light from the heavens shone directly on Hilda's sweet, rosy face, fiery red mop top and that incredible abundant anatomy. The world stood still. I was in love--not only with Hilda, but also with the sheer brilliance of the concept. I had to own this rare and wondrous prize.
Barely able to contain my excitement, yet not wanting to let on to this proprietor that he had such a priceless object in his possession prompting him to drive the price astronomically high, I very cooly asked, "Uh, how much for this old, useless collection of drawings that seems to be the perfect size for that hole I need covered up in my basement?". Let me tell you, my heart was pounding, my pulse was rising, my palms were sweating--I was nearing an aneurysm!
"Ten dollars," the fool said.
"Hmm, well, I don't know," I said, compelled to be cool, yet fearful that if I showed my actual unrestrained enthusiasm the guy would change his mind and snatch the calendar back, crumbling my very world!
"OK, eight dollars then," he said. Ha! The folly of the foolish!!"OK," I responded, my voice cracking as I thrust a five and three ones in his direction.
I grabbed the calendar and quickly made off with it before he could come to his senses and realize what a sorry deal he had just cut. Having made the purchase of a lifetime, I made off for my Toyota Corolla like a thief in the night.
As I browse through the incredible paintings in this calendar, the personality of this zany redheaded maiden of mayhem unfolds; curious, creative, giddy, anxious, exasperated, troublesome, but always fun.
Her large, full breasts, her round and gentle tummy, her thick curvaceous legs, and her fresh and fun-filled freckled face create a symphony for the eyes. She's simply peachy-keen.
As you will soon see from my scans of five years of Hilda collecting, she's not what everyone would consider fat. At best she's "pleasingly plump", but none-the-less her size has set a precedence in the realm of pin-up erotica as we have come to know it.
Hilda was rendered by Duane Bryers (more about him later). His painting technique is impeccable, absolutely top-notch. He had the chops to have been one of the greatest pin-up artists in America, but possibly his lust for ample-size women prevented that.
His work has all the classic characteristics of great cheese cake art: loose, carefree brush strokes make up the backgrounds of Hilda's world, with great effort, detail and sensitivity saved for the point of primary concern (Hilda herself). The background colors of each of the seven illustrations (one painting for every two months, including the cover art above) are cool, muted light tones smartly chosen to help raise the temperature on Hilda's warm golden body and flaming red hair. Unfortunately Mr. Bryers' continuity skills weren't perfect (which he admitted). Her face and body looked different from calendar to calendar, and often from page to page. Was he unable to keep the same model to pose for his paintings? Read my interview with Mr. Bryers to find out, kiddees.
I find it fascinating that Duane Bryers didn't do what one might have expected an artist from our politically incorrect past to do, and that is to create derogatory poses or situations poking fun at Hilda's blossoming figure. I expected to flip back the cover and see Hilda trying to work her rump out of a cracker barrel she accidentally fell into. Instead Hilda is portrayed as a sexy, playful and bountiful babe, inspiring strong sexual sensations in any red blooded woman-lover. The fact that the artist refrained from giving her, say, a large, clownish nose and opted instead for a pretty face implies his
intention was to seduce the viewer. The fact that she's void of clothes most of the time validates that. The only thing I found disrespectful about the handling of this lovely lady was her very name. In my opinion the name Hilda sounds like the name of some stern, sexless, matronly frau, which this girl is desperately not. But I have to admit, over the years the name has grown on me.
Hilda is the only known ample sized icon in pin-up history that I have come upon. And yes, she very well does qualify as an icon. After some research I discovered that she must have achieved some level of celebrity back in the 60's, as attested by the photos I've provided of drinking glasses, playing cards and fancy prints emblazoned with her image. I found out that the Hilda's publishers Brown & Bigelow have never stopped releasing calendars featuring Duane Bryers' reprinted art. If you own a hot property, might as well recycle and exploit it for all it's worth.
I can't think of too many other fictitious calendar/pin-up queens of ANY size with a forty-seven year legacy.
--Les Toil 1999
More Hilda History!!
Syndicated newsmagazine TV show INSIDE EDITION did a great news story (featuring an interview with yours truly!) on Hilda but unfortunately all that remains on the net is a brief article. Take a peek.
Beloved blogger Messy Nessy's piece on Hilda from 2013 which probably did the most to exposing the world to Hilda by inspiring a ton of similar pieces on Duane Bryers and Hilda--including Inside Edition's piece on them.
Here's a great piece commemorating the life of Duane Bryers following his passing. It gives a decent little history of his life.