Monday, March 12, 2012

Celebrating Pinup Mamas: Denise-Bella Vlasis

Pinup Mama~Denise-Bella Vlasis

 Way back in September 2011 I had the honor and privilege to spotlight four amazing Pinup Mamas. Now this week I have five more amazing ladies to add to this growing list of women who balance both world of pinup and motherhood beautifully.

My first Pinup Mama is Denise-Bella Vlasis who has been a performer most of her life and also runs an incredible business called Tribute Productions. Within her company she also runs a company of Cigarette Dolls called MrsBellasDolls.

How does this mama balance it all? Let's find out!!!

What attracted you to the world of pinup?

I believe "pin up" and "all things "vintage" have always "found me". I have always been attracted to 1920s-1930s-1940's and being a dancer and performer all of my life, I would always seem to be cast in those kinds of roles. As a young girl and all the way up to adult life (from my very 1st tap dance at age 7 to "Goody-Goody" dressed in satin high waist shorts, pill box hat & fishnets to playing the part of an Andrew Sister act in Clint Eastwood's "Flags of our Fathers" a few years ago. Looking back at my career, I realize there has always been a vintage theme & influence (even my work as Madonna's double has had much "old Hollywood movie star" look to it. My beautiful Mom (certainly a Pin Up Mama herself) was a huge influence on me as well, introducing me to Betty Boop when I was 5 years old,  Marilyn Monroe and all the classic starlets. I thought my mom WAS Marilyn when I was a little girl so naturally she was a great influence on my life (and still is).

Why did you choose to be a pinup?
I have re-invented myself (in my 40's) to move on from my career as "Madonna's Double" to pursue things that inspire me more fully, and that certainly is pin-up & old Hollywood glamor. Because I run a Production Company now days Tribute Productions ;  (since the birth of my daughter) I have found my "niche" in booking, producing and creating vintage entertainment. Mostly my Cigarette Girl Company Mrs. Bella's Dolls has allowed me to fully embrace myself as a "pin up spokes person" if you will, in that when I (or my girls) work events- we bring back the nostalgic characters of pin up to the event and interact live with guests as this "pin up girl" character.
It's funny to me that I have found more fun in playing this part than many jobs working "as Madonna". I LOVE being a pin up cigarette girl and I think this is why my company has had amazing success. I have always bought pin up style clothing, and now I have a great excuse to wear the looks (heehee). I am super excited about my newest branch of my company -- Champagne & Martini Dolls (pin up girls in my life size Martini Glass- talk about PIN UP!) you can see them at

Who are your inspirations (pinup world)?
Marilyn, Jayne Mansfield, Betty Page, I guess I am more inspired by the original women but do love the modern styles of Bernie Dexter, and Dita Von Tease.

Denise with her beautiful daughter Sofia

How do you manage balancing the world of motherhood and the world of pinup?
It's not always easy to balance them both but for me my child comes 1st-always has & always will! I actually teach my little one all about my work and what I am doing. She has watched all the photo shoots Mommy has been in or Mommy is shooting for her Company. She sees me creating costumes, inventing new ideas and will say (she is 5) "Mommy this costume would be perfect for your Cigarette Girl Dolls" when we are out shopping and you can imagine the looks I get!
I feel the gifts my Mom gave to me (showing me how to be creative, inventive, resourceful) are powerful things I want to pass on to my child (things they don't get in school in my opinion) so I have always included my child in all of my work. I also want her to learn to "celebrate the human body" and never have shame with being beautiful as a woman should she have curves like Mommy and Grandma some day. I struggled with that as a  young girl trying to make it as a dancer- so thank goodness for "pin up" and helping to "embrace my curves"- its only in this community (pin-up) women can feel beautiful with what God gave them- so I am grateful for Pin Up!!
I choose Motherhood first and the rest falls into place from there.

What do you want to gain by being a pinup? (do you want to inspire, help others, self esteem..etc)
I have done so much with my work that goes quietly un-noticed by most (coaching, encouraging other people), but mainly to (hopefully) be an example of embracing ones unique self, face, body type and age! Society has its own version of what it shoves down our throat as "this is beautiful and if you don't look like this-  you are not". Pin Up says : anything goes, retro, current, hips & booty, thin, its a wonderful meshing of all things and that is what our world is today (in my opinion). I am excited to see what the younger generations will take it (what is "beauty").
So in my Pin Up work- I hope to bring that essence to the world AND have a company that hires ALL women to "represent" this. I hope to allow a place for all unique, beautiful females to express themselves as a "Pin Up Model". I love having that opportunity to book girls who may never get that chance.

What ways have you changed because of it?
I am not sure "I have changed" I have always been a creative girl who has challenged "the norm of society". Pin Up gives me opportunities to express this part of myself.

Denise with her Cigarette Girls (& Sofia!!) How cute!!

Being a mother is filled with daily sacrifices (as well as joys), in what ways have you sacrificed in order to become a pinup?
I feel I have been blessed to do both and of course there are times I choose to not take a job because I can't "fly to London on a moments notice" any longer, but so far I have made decisions to make them both work together. I do more bookings than jobs, but that's perfectly fine for me. I have had an amazing 25 + career so having a child later in life is just a God send! I feel I have done it all and so blessed!

When it comes to sexy pin up modeling, how does your husband/partner react?
Hmmm I think most men prefer "Pin Up" vs. that image of a waif thin model society crams down their throats. Nothing is wrong with thin, don't get me wrong, but let's face it most women don't look like that. I used to wear sports bras growing up to "flatten my chest" (I know crazy! my girlfriends all though I was nuts) but I guess I was trying to do what was so called "beautiful" trying to hide and flatten my curves. Today I celebrate my curves and NO one loves them more than hubby!

What advice do you have for other aspiring Pinup Mamas?
Find your voice, find your niche, find your own passion and creativity to express who you are right now. It's never too late no matter what age you are. Re-discover, un-cover, and keep discovering who you are right now. Women-who are all collective, unique, different beautiful beings and don't have to try to emulate one another, or fit into categories, or try to look like someone else to be beautiful (ironic coming from the mouth of someone who had a career as a Impersonator) but I have found my own beauty strength, and magic NOT from "trying to be Madonna" but by embracing the things about ME that come from my personal joys and from things that inspire me. My love for vintage allows for me to express a part of myself with the world, and that has brought me so much more than I ever expected because its authentic (vs. emulating someone else as a career). Pin-Up allows me a freedom to celebrate who I am in so many facets. I would hope other Pin Up Mama's find their own beauty in getting in touch with what is hidden in their hearts and find an outlet to express it.

I also think it is important to "live in the present" (I am not a Pin Up everyday) so find the balance of living in the world and in the present, and allow that inner Pin Up a place to play.

Remember at the end of the day, its your FAMILY that will be there to root you on. And on that note, its time for this Pin Up Mama to go play "Barbies".  XOXOXOXOXOX

Thank you Denise for being a part of my way of celebrating mothers who are pinups and who love the vintage world. And thank you for being such an inspiration!



  1. I LOVE it Bunny!! thank you so much! I am honored & flattered! Love to you and all the Pin Up and future Pin Up Mama's!!! xoxoxox

  2. Yeah! So happy you did! Thank you again for doing ti-it meant a lot to me!!! xox

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