Flash In The Past Brings Vintage Pinup Glamour to Downtown Tucson

August 5, 2014

The entirety of the studio and shop is just as charming as this sign.

The entirety of the studio and shop is as charming as this sign.

by James J. Jefferies

Respect for the rich history of Tucson, strong visions for themselves and the Downtown community they’re helping to build, and an intense love of their chosen field of interest. You see the same traits recurring consistently, the common threads tying together the motley assortment of intrepid entrepreneurs that have boldly set forth to make their dreams a reality in ever-increasing numbers here the last few years.

You can already partake of an immense number of small restaurants, bars, retailers, and other ventures in the area spawned by this tenacious new breed of business-savvy artisans. The promise of the Sun Link streetcar has drawn many to the fold, and the mindset these days is bullish on the future, now that the cars are up, running, and showing consistent ridership.

Among these new and exciting outfits is a vintage photography studio called Flash In The Past, operated by Ramsey Borrego, a film and animation school graduate who began pursuing her interest in recreating classic pinup imagery as a professional about seven years ago. “It was around 2007 that I started taking these kinds of photos,” said Borrego.

From left to right, Kelly Estes (lead makeup artist), Ramsey Borrego (photographer and proprietor), Natasha Noir (lead hair stylist). Not pictured: Donna Dungan, (lead makeup/location assistant).

Flash In The Past Staff: (left to right), Kelly Estes (lead makeup artist), Ramsey Borrego (photographer/owner), Natasha Noir (lead hair stylist). Not pictured: Donna Dungan, (lead makeup/location assistant).

Flash In The Past hosts a very impressive little studio, with a mind-blowing array of props adorning the walls, that would allow anyone who wants to make themselves the star of a vintage pictorial for a day to do so with a vast spate of potential creative options.

This new 6th Avenue location exudes confidence in its vision, and actually marks the third iteration of Flash In The Past, which operated previously out of a much smaller space near Speedway and Tucson. “The very first ‘office’ was actually inside my house,” said Borrego.

Flash In The Past also features a small green-screen setup, which allows for additional flexibility when creating those signature images with solid colored/digitally enhanced backgrounds, many of which are viewable on the extensive portfolio hosted on their website. Just a short perusal of their enormous gallery is enough to set your imagination in motion.

And if that isn’t enough, one look at their tremendously well-stocked boudoir should do the trick. They literally have more than 110 vintage swimsuits, some of which are the exact same variety as worn during the glory years by Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. Hats, shoes, stilettos, feather boas, old-school sunglasses, you name it, they’ve got it, and will make it work better than you can imagine! Classic Mouseketeer look? Yup, they can do that, too.

The front third of the studio is a retail shop, bursting at the seams with sweet retro/vintage pinup-themed goodies!

The front third of the studio is a retail shop, bursting at the seams with sweet retro/vintage pinup-themed goodies!

Of course, all of the delightful vintage clothing in the world isn’t enough by itself to truly put you in the right place, in terms of attitude, to be photographed. You need star treatment, and thankfully this is an area in which Flash In The Past is certainly not remiss.

There is a full complement of makeup and hair artists, who can transform your look into the real deal in their dressing area, during which you’ll wear a pleasantly plush custom Flash In The Past robe, nibble on Lindt chocolates, watch all the studio-system era classics to put yourself in the zone, and even sip champagne if you choose to do so from their extensive selection of potential photo-op packages.

Now, even in this amazing fantasy playground where everything seems possible, there are rules and guidelines to make your experience the best it can be. First of all, anyone getting photographed at Flash In The Past must produce ID to prove they are above 18 years of age.

Explicit/full nudity is also not permitted, as the idea here is to capture that classic pinup vibe. (The website stresses ‘TEASE!’ over all else.) Also, October through Valentine’s Day tends to be their busier season, and as such, an ideal timeframe for booking your own photo session is about a month from when you’d like it to take place.

Flash In The Past is very much a well-stocked candy store for anyone looking to invent an alternate retro reality for themselves, resulting in a day to remember.

Flash In The Past is very much a well-stocked candy store for anyone looking to invent an alternate visual reality for themselves, resulting in a day to remember.

In addition to all the above, Flash in the Past also does a variety of side services, such as doing shoots at outside locations, Sweet Sixteen parties, and their fantastic Retro Beauty classes, which begin this coming September. Do you want to learn how to transform yourself with the makeup techniques and hairstyles of Hollywood legends gone by? You totally can with these classes that are held on the first Sunday of each month, which includes a 2-hour session with Flash’s lead artists, lesson pamphlet, and free gift.

Flash In The Past is always on the hunt for additional vintage clothing and props to add to their arsenal. If you have anything that seems as if it might fit the bill, and are willing to sell/donate said item, please contact them via their web page, which you can find here. Flash In The Past is located at 43 S. 6th Avenue, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00am to 6:00pm.

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