Philly burlesque pinup now pulls for pit bulls

Deirdre Franklin never had trouble attracting attention. A model and burlesque performer, she was known as Little Darling when dancing, vamping and teasing with former Philly troupe The Hellcat Girls.

But as much as her audiences enjoyed her act, Franklin couldn’t help but think that something was missing.

“I felt empty — I was able to get all of this attention with the pictures I was shooting, but I wasn’t able to do anything with it,” she said. “It was starting to feel a little egotistical, and that’s where Pinups for Pitbulls came from.”

Founded by Franklin in 2005, the idea behind Pinups for Pitbulls is simple in the way that great ideas tend to be: If you want to educate the public about the misunderstood, vilified pit bull, include the information in a calendar that pairs the dogs with bombshell pin-up girls.

“I thought it would be a little Kinko’s calendar, but it just blew up,” Franklin said. She waded through hundreds of model applicants — all animal advocates, in addition to pretty faces — from across the globe for 2013’s calendar, a cheeky take on Norman Rockwell paintings.

While the calendar is their hallmark, Franklin — who is pursuing a graduate degree at Drexel University in public policy — and Pinups volunteers in Philly and across the U.S. work year-round. Fundraisers such as Saturday’s art auction at Jinxed gallery in the Piazza at Schmidt’s supports their work to improve the reputation of pit bulls and lobby against breed-specific legislation and discriminatory laws.

“That pit bulls are dangerous — this isn’t based on scientific fact, but on fear mongering,” said Franklin, who has two pit bulls, a lab mix and a Harrier of her own.

“We get people to understand that there are genetics, but most of it is what people are putting into their dogs.”

Follow Philadelphia entertainment editor Monica Weymouth on Twitter @MonicaatMetro.

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