In the late 1970s, Claudette Davis was just a sweet high school student who studied ballet for fun. She dreamed of becoming a professional flower arranger. She hoped to marry her sweetheart, settle down, bake some brownies and have three kids. She was fully prepared to pretend to like watching football on TV so long as her husband kept her pretty in pink.
But then came 1979 and the nuclear catastrophe at the Three Mile Island power plant.
In a freak accident the day before the meltdown, a shipment of hair spray had been mismarked "Power Plant" instead of "PowerMart" and was delivered to Three Mile Island. A month later, the plant manager, in a fit of misplaced efficiency, sent the crate on its way.
The hair spray coincidentally ended up on the shelves of a gas station convenience store in Claudette's small home town. She was on her way home from school, when she realized she needed hair spray for her big date that night. She bought two cans of hair spray and went home.
An hour later, a gas station attendant on a cigarette break (remember this was in the days when there were cigarettes and full service gas stations) carelessly flicked a lit cigarette into a puddle of gasoline, causing the convenience store to burn to the ground. Fortunately, no one was injured and they had business interruption insurance.
When Claudette got home, she started to get ready for her date. She did her hair just so and then used the hair spray to hold it in place, filling the bathroom with its pungent odor.
What she didn't realize was that the hairspray was radioactive!
She fell into a coma. Her parents rushed her to the hospital. When she awoke a week later, she found herself filled with an inexplicable desire to play football, not just pretend to like watching it.
Title IX had been in existence for about ten years by this point, so with the assistance of her doting father who happened to be a lawyer, Claudette made her high school football team, where she learned how to block and tackle and run fast.
She graduated from high school. Despite her obviously superior abilities, no professional team would draft her.
By this point, about 1983, the radiation in her body had reached critical transgenic levels. She began to notice strange abilities. For instance, she could leap over suburban tract houses in a single bound.
She decided she would use her newfound abilities to fight super villains and the glass ceiling.
From that day on, the world would know her only as The Safety Pin Dancer, action hero!
She often used her powerful karate kick to render villains unconscious. Then she would attach a safety pin locator beacon so the police could find and arrest the perp.
She would let nothing stand in her way.
She developed special crime fighting tools, such as the projectile purple fishnet that when shot from her arm, would expand and ensnare the villain.
The projectile fishnet is very effective if the villain happens to be a madman bent on world domination who is charging in a tank, or a CEO with discriminatory hiring policies who is trying to get away in a limo.
For particularly difficult cases, The Safety Pin Dancer would call on her trusty sidekick, PhotoGrrrl, who can immobilize three bad guys at once with her amazing freeze frame powers.
Week after week The Safety Pin Dancer would ride in to save the day and triumph over one nasty super villain after another.
Through all of her adventures, she never let the action corrupt her essential sweetness or her belief in the possibility of love.
The world was never the same!
In high school, Claudette wore a Danskin theatrical pink women's cotton with lycra camisole leotard (Style 2223, $44.00). Over the leotard she wore a Danskin black women's tie-front crop top with cap sleeves for ease of movement (Style 7297, $24.00) because she liked the smooth yet textured feel of the fabric, and a Danskin lavender two-tone reversible women's wrap skirt (Style 8917, $25.00) because she liked the way the diaphaneous layers of fabric would play tricks with the light. She was partial to Danskin's classic pink women's nylon footed tights (Style 69, $9.50) and pink women's stirrup leg warmers (Style 8810, $30.00). The white moby wig is from GirlProps ($19.99), as is the ivory flower choker ($3.99).
The Safety Pin Dancer's action hero costume consists of a Danskin ballet neck tee (Style 2461, $18.00) customized with safety pins. The weave of the tee is tight enough that the edges don't fray when the fabric is cut. Her Danskin red fleece zip front jacket with pocket and felt appliques (Style 2411, $40.00) is soft and sturdy. Safety Pin Dancer modified her jacket with a microthin bullet proof lining for extra protection. She wears black fleece lo-rise sweatpants, also from Danskin (Style 2412, $38.00). The appliques are sewn on, not just glued on. The purple arm accessory is a customized fishnet stocking leg from Ricky's. The black choker is from GirlProps ($19.99), as are the gold earrings ($4.99). The Triumph motorcycle was used courtesy of Gary Breckheimer. The color illustration of Three Mile Island is based on a photo by Crispin Sartwell (also see the original photo and the article in which it appeared)..
If you like these photos, you can now purchase prints and greeting cards.
Danskin clothing can be purchased at www.danskin.com, by calling 1-800-288-6749 or at one of their many stores. Click here and learn how to receive free shipping on your Danskin purchases!
Wig and accessories provided by GirlProps. They have a generous selection of attractive, yet inexpensive, jewelry and accessories. They are located at 153 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012. Phone: 212-505-7615. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.girlprops.com. Special thanks to Pam Hysinger, owner of GirlProps, for loaning us lots of great stuff for the shoot.
"The Safety Pin Dancer, Action Hero!" was photographed at Primus Studios, located at 64 Wooster Street #3E, New York, New York 10012. Call them at 212-966-3803 if you need an inspirational space to shoot. Special thanks to Gary Breckheimer of Primus for his assistance.
The Hair and Make-up for the "high school" photo shoot was by Jackie Beller. She can be contacted at MissSarcastica1@aol.com.
The Hair and Make-up for the "action hero" photo shoot was by Portia Peters. She can be contacted at email@example.com
Photography assistance was provided by Karen Schoellkopf. She can be contacted at www.k-stop.com
For more of Lisa Allen's photography, see her ExploreDance.com index page and www.TreeHousePhotography.com
The shoot was produced by Robert Abrams, who also did the backstory photography.
Deanna McBrearty has been a member of the New York City Ballet for over ten years. She is now dancing as a featured guest artist with dance companies across the United States.