It's become a bit of an iconic image — a young woman wearing a cactus bikini. The photo dates back to 1940 when the Tucson Sunshine Climate Club dressed some University of Arizona coeds up in cactus apparel as a publicity stunt. Of course, it wouldn't have been called a 'bikini' back then, since that term wasn't yet coined. It was called a "cactus sun suit." The suits were made out of Saguaro and prickly pear cacti.
The photos then spread far and wide, including into Nazi newspapers, where they were offered as examples of American decadence, "a peak of utter lack of taste."
"You've heard women say they haven't anything to wear. Well, next time they say it, men, look around the house a bit and see what you can find. Miss Myrtle Reinhart at the Chicago Merchandise Mart's home furnishing show produced this lampshade outfit." (continued below)
Pittsburgh Press - July 18, 1937
"Golfing Outfit: At least it would draw attention away from those dubbed shots. It wasn't really designed for the links, however, but to demonstrate the new streamlined underwear. Myrtle Reinhart and Don Fristy do a bit of golfing on the roof of Chicago's great Merchandise Mart with the above-mentioned streamlined undies and a coverall of cellophane for appearance's sake."
Star Tribune - July 17, 1938
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Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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