… VERY much a departure from what I normally do … and for that matter … what I’ve ever done.
I admit … this image I produced may look somewhat ‘familiar’ to many of a certain ‘vintage’. However, I can assure you that it is brand new. The ‘polar opposite’ of photojournalism, documentary, reportage etc, it does, indeed, tell a timely story I wanted to tell.
The year 2022 marked the 60th anniversary of the death of arguably the planet’s greatest ever sex symbol … movie star and blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe. She died at just 36 …
There were many thousands of photographs made of Marilyn (Norma Jeane) during her stellar but far too short career as an actress, model, sometimes singer … and undeniable centre of massive unrelenting attention.
What I aimed to portray in this work was a recreation of ‘Marilyn’ in the vintage style of the days of the mid last century when she captivated audiences around the World … and in Cairns character and model Bonn Marie I knew I had just the person to make that happen. (Bonn had previously featured in one of my works that gained a fair bit of International attention.)
In particular … this image I made of Bonn (below) mirrors one of the works of US photographer Tom Kelley who had the enviable task of shooting Marilyn’s infamous ‘red velvet’ set in 1949 before her acting career took off (when she had red hair pre the ‘blond bombshell’ era). Strangely Tom’s image didn’t receive lavish attention until Hugh Hefner selected it for the first centrefold in the first ever edition of Playboy Magazine in 1953 !
I still can’t get over the fantastic job that Bonn (aided by the mastery of make up artist Sue Kim) did in morphing into Marilyn’s character and look … the resemblance is chilling. Despite the fact that I didn’t attempt to copy the original pose in Tom’s work directly … the similarities in body shape, pose, style, expression and more are obvious. Bonn created a damn fine Marilyn …
A couple of little interesting asides about the original Kelley image. Originally … pre Playboy … Marilyn faced right to left in the frame. Hefner decided to reverse it in the magazine centrefold … and that’s the way I made the ‘tribute’ image with Bonn. As well as making Hefner’s new magazine a massive success, Kelley’s image … an image of tastefulness and sophistication … became truly historic, played a key role in shaping 20th century history, led to a redefinition of female sexuality in America and spawned a sexual revolution.
This is the first time ever I’ve ‘remade’ an earlier image by another photographer … and I’m damn sure it will also be the last … but I do hope you enjoy the resulting work, Bonn’s amazing ‘Marilyn’ portrayal and the rationale behind retelling a pivotal and timely part of the Monroe story.
This “Marilyn” – Bonn large framed work (below) is currently pride of place on the wall in the exhibition “Red Hot” (and available for sale) at the Kite Gallery in Cairns. The exhibition of great works runs until 16th January 2023 and is well worth checking out.