Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The bikini made its debut 69 years ago this week

Maria Kanellis

While poking around on the Internet this morning I learned that the bikini was first introduced 69 years ago this Sunday, on July 5, 1946.

The bathing suit's debut came less than a week after the United States conducted a test of the atomic bomb near the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. 

And that's great ... because I've been looking for an excuse to post a photo (above) I shot a few years ago on Miami Beach of a model named Maria Kanellis.

(We did the shoot behind the Delano Hotel. Afterwards some guy approached us and thanked us profusely for picking that particular stretch of beach for the shoot. Maria went on to bigger and better things after she left Miami Beach.)

Seven years after the bikini's introduction, some people were having a hard time accepting the fact that women would actually wear something so scandalous.

In 1953, a Miami minister named John Henderson went bonkers after seeing a 4th of July-themed photo of a bikini-clad model in a newspaper.

"I am humiliated to think that a city like Miami would celebrate the Fourth of July by disgracing womanhood," Henderson was quoted as saying.

Miami Daily News, June 24, 1953. 

And a year later, the bikini was in the news again.

A story that ran on page one of the September 1, 1954 issue of the Miami Daily News reported that a South Beach stripper named Patrona Bugg stopped early morning traffic on the MacArthur Causeway after she decided to strip down to a bikini and wade in the waters near Palm Island.

Miami Daily News, Sept. 1, 1954.
As hundreds of workers drove past at 7 a.m., Patrona calmly disrobed and waded in the water.

She put on a leopard-cloth bikini bathing suit, obviously made from a very small leopard.

No fewer than four Miami Beach cops quickly responded to the scene and took Patrona into custody.

Later, during a court appearance,  the News reported that Patrona told a judge she didn't know that she had been breaking the law.

"I did not know it was against the law to take a swim in Miami Beach," Patrona told Judge Lawrence Hoffman in a voice which mingled innocence with a heavy Latin accent.

Hoffman let her off with a suspended sentence.

Footnote: A week later, Patrona was back in court after getting into a fist fight with another woman on the sidewalk outside a South Beach club.

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