A pinup, rockabilly tech geek

One of the images that won Helen Hansen a spot in a pinup competition. Photo by Colin Thurgood.

Cambridge’s Helen Hansen has to be one of the ballsiest shooting stars this town can claim.

She’s our own version of the ‘Big Bang’s Bernadette’, a little bit rockabilly and a lot more besides. When not ‘managing a floor of geeks’ as an IT manager for TechLads in Hamilton, she’s working on how to rock the judges’ socks off at the inaugural Miss Vintage Australasia pageant being held as part of the Vintage Fest event in Lincoln next month.

Helen will compete in three categories – Everyday Vintage Wear (think classic housewife), Summer Wear (swimwear, picnic wear and the like), and Formal Wear (think vintage Hollywood). She will also enter Miss Media, a category judged via Instagram on her Miss Pandelina personalised brand and the lead-up to the event.

She got into the finals via a selection of photos shot around Cambridge by her partner Colin Thurgood, plus some chat around herself and her ‘vintage values’.

Just 10 finalists will vie for the title of Miss Vintage Australasia, Runner-Up Miss Vintage Australasia, Miss Personality and Miss Media. They must do their own hair and make-up and will be judged on their full outfit, accessories and overall look.

Alight with excitement and nerves in equal measure, she’s up for the challenge. Lincoln won’t be her ‘first rodeo’, despite the fact she has been part of the pinup community for only about 18 months.

“It all started after I lost 65kg over two years. I went mad over clothes while I tried to settle on a style I liked. I guess I’d always dressed a little differently, a little alternative,” Helen explained, “now, I dress like this every day. I’d describe my look as modern pinup with a touch of vintage. I also flirt a little with the goth look… I did something with that recently as Miss Boon de Lux.”

Since dipping her toe into the pinup pool, she established her on-stage persona and brand, Miss Pandelina, with a leopard print heart at the centre of her logo and business card design.

“It’s symbolic as I’m known in the pinup community for my love of leopard. I wear a lot of leopard print clothing, I have leopard pinstripes on my Mini, a leopard print tattoo on the back of my leg, and one of my outfits for the competition is leopard.”

Her first onstage outing was at Frankton Thunder 2021 as part of the crowd best dress. At the same event, she entered and won Best Overall Female in the Frankton ink tattoo competition, winning a Day of the Dead Metal Art piece as a trophy. She started appearing in other pinup pageants, and although still a relative ‘newbie’ at all this, appears at classic car shows, Beach Hop, vintage day out events and more.

Miss Vintage Australasia will be her biggest event by a country mile. She said its vision is to bring together Australian and New Zealand pinup communities, and encourage women of all sizes, colours and beliefs to celebrate their shared love of vintage. This is the first year Miss Vintage Australasia will run, and although there are no Australian pinups competing this year due to Covid restrictions at the time finalists were selected, plans are to run the event here and in Australia in alternate years.

Helen Hansen, aka Miss Pandelina, is a finalist in an Australasian pinup competition. Photo by Colin Thurgood.

The aligned September 24 Vintage Fest is themed ‘wartime and the victory era’ this year, and a Victory Dance over the weekend will see proceeds going to Te Kiwi Maia, a charity providing assistance to New Zealand frontline workers and defence forces injured in the line of duty.

“There are only 10 women entering from around New Zealand. I really like the community, they’re very welcoming and supportive, happy to share their knowledge,” Helen said. “I’ve still got loads to learn and I know I’m going to be a nervous wreck, but I’m pleased I have enough balls to do it.”

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