In The Haute Seat: Maybelle Lee
Name: Maybelle Lee
Occupation: Pin-up model
How did you get into modeling?
I’ve always been into the car scene, going to the car shows with my dad when I was younger and I started noticing, as I got older, the girls involved. I admired them, but I was always too shy to model myself. Then a year ago, my husband encouraged me to model forMitzi & Co., so I booked a shoot. I went in because I wanted to do it for him, but I really liked it. I was a lot more comfortable than I thought I was going to be. She offered me another job after that and it just kind of opened from there.
Your husband sounds very supportive, is he into cars also?
He’s a little rockabilly guy, greased hair back, he’s got the whole thing going. Right now we’re working on our ’58 Ford. As far as my modeling, he’s more into it than me sometimes. He’s just excited about everything I do. It’s awesome. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have his support. .
How did you get into cars?
My dad’s stories. We’d go to car shows a lot and they were all really fun and he’d tell me all the cars that we’d see, but his own stories were my favorite. He and his brothers – he has six brothers – they would get cars and trick them out and race them. There were all kinds of crazy stories of those wild days. That’s what I loved the most about the car scene. My dad was so passionate about it and that passion ignited me.
Do you work on cars at all yourself?
My first classic car was a 1963 Bel Air, a two-door hard top. I was 17. I would always help my dad when did stuff on his cars, but when I got my own, I kind of got lazy. A couple of the first old cars I had, I let them run into the ground. This one I have now, the ’58 Ford, we’re starting from the ground up restoring it. I’ve done a lot of work on this one. It’s just a sedan, four-door, but the body style is actually not seen a lot and that’s what caught my eye about it.
You said you always admired pin-up/car models – what was it about them that you loved?
When I was younger – this is pretty funny – I loved Bettie Page. I know she did a lot of nude and bondage stuff, but when I was younger, I didn’t know any of that; all the pictures I had of her, they were all really classic pictures. Just beautiful. I just remember something so mesmerizing about her look. She wasn’t overdone. She was simple and I loved that pure beauty.
I look back to her when I’m modeling and I get my ideas from posing and facial expressions. She’s the one I refer to. I also like Ava Gardner. I like her story, how she was a country girl and got to Hollywood. I love the stories of these all-American girls, these classic stories at the heart of this country.
Pin-up modeling has a great advantage over conventional modeling because they embrace the curves of a woman – how important do you think this is for little girls who look up to fashion figures?
Well, there is a dark side to pin-up, because a lot of models do a lot of bondage and fetish modeling, too. But classic pin-up is great because it shows little girls that women are more than a size zero and that you can be comfortable in your skin no matter what the size.
What is the most awesome car you have shot with?
I did a shoot in Santa Maria last year in May with a beautiful maroon Zephyr. Those cars are really rare, so it was really cool to sit down in one. It was such a cool experience. It’s hard to say which is the most awesome, though. Every car I come across — I have such an appreciation for each one — it’s hard to distinguish which is better than the next, or which is cooler. All the customizations are so unique, they’re all really cool.
How do you think being part of this creative culture of cars enriches the lives of children?
My son is only three and he knows that our car is a hot rod, two-tone and different other customizations. Car culture is a great environment for kids because of all the creativity. You always see hundreds of kids at the car shows. It’s a great place to learn to express yourself.
HOT: Snowboarding, working on my car, my family, vintage finds, true old school hillbilly rockabilly.
NOT: People who are not open-hearted or open-minded, catty girls, creepy crawly bugs, I’m really easy-going, I guess that’s about it.