Vargas In Boston

Painting by Alberto Vargas
By Jim Botticelli/Dirty Old Boston

She sits over the bar inside the Intermission Lounge right next to the Theater District. Once a seedy stop on the way to the Combat Zone, the Intermission has evolved into a respectable place to cap off a night of theater with a cocktail and a bite. A Vargas over the bar adds zest to the otherwise unremarkable lounge. The painting is framed but we cropped it a bit due to flash interference. We can't attest to its absolute originality but it is not small and it certainly appears to have been there a long while. The bartender on duty knew nothing.

Alberto Vargas, a Peruvian by birth, studied art in Zurich and Geneva, and while there was impressed with the magazine La Vie Parisienne. In the 1940's he became known as the painter of the iconic "Vargas Girls", a series of fantasy pinups that appeared in Esquire magazine and became popular with G.I.s overseas. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, a one time employee of Esquire, told of how Vargas' work was challenged by the U.S. Post Office who refused to mail the magazine due to the Vargas drawings within. Hefner started Playboy soon afterward and by the 60s Alberto Vargas was again a busy artist with shows all over the world. His wife's death in 1974 devastated him and he stopped painting. She was not only his wife, but his model and business manager as well. His autobiography came out in 1978 and he came out of his self-imposed retirement to do Dirty Old Boston a solid. He designed the cover for The Cars 1979 album Candy-O.

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