THE VALKYRIES IronPrincess Battle Scenes Series

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A series of photo “covers” staged to simulate “stills” from an action-film showcasing physique women attired as “warrior-women” in the vein of “Xena/Red Sonja,” and engaged in battle scenes against unspecified contemporary enemy soldiers armed with modern weapons, as an alternative to the deliberate (“side-of-beef”) muscle-pose and/or boudoir photos done by virtually every “physique photographer.”


 While the warrior-woman archetype has existed since the dawn of civilization, most attempts to render her in popular culture have been largely restricted by societal standards of femininity. Some comic and fantasy artwork, like that of Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, etc. do celebrate the mesomorphic female.

But others weren’t always so kind… note the role assigned to this female in battle by Frank Frazetta:

And if action heroines ever do make it on-screen they’re always depicted by undeveloped (often skinny) female Hollywood starlets: Sandhl Bergman as “Valeria” (in Conan The Barbarian), Brigitte Nielsen as “Red Sonja,” Lucy Lawless as “Xena,” Angelina Jolie as “Lara Croft,” Keira Knightley as a “Woad” warrior, Laurene Landon as “Hundra,” etc.

Hollywood action heroines: muscle is prohibited 

No muscle here either: stills from a pseudo-trailer for a pseudo “Wonder Woman” film

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Meanwhile, women who DO have developed physiques are purposely excluded from the film world except as oddities -notably physique women (bodybuilders, Figure and Fitness competitors, etc) and strength/ power competitors. When these women are filmed, it’s in competition, training or “posing.” The last of these consists entirely of various self-conscious, deliberate poses in various outfits, against various backgrounds, which are normally the stage, gym, hotel room, studio backdrop (with or without props) or outdoor scene. In every instance, whether or not the woman is being directed to look into the camera, awareness of the camera/viewer’s presence is obvious and deliberate (in the cinematic world this is known as “breaking the fourth wall”). The sole focus is on her physical development, either for its inherent impressiveness or for sexual fetish purposes (including boudoir photos), and no attempt is made to disguise this. Even when the subject is wielding a tool, weapon or other prop, there is no real attempt to create the impression that she’s actually using it rather than merely posing with it. Similarly, the background/setting is nothing more than a “prop” -it’s not a world she inhabits, and she has no interaction with it. 

The Physique-photo World: Look into the camera and flex… actresses need not apply

THE VALKYRIES IronPrincess Battle Scenes Series attempted to bridge the gap by rendering these women as “actors” in a simple pseudo-cinematic “narrative”: she’s fighting off well-armed, masked soldiers. Unlike physique photography, this is both drama and composition-oriented: while her physique development is deliberately highlighted to maximum effect, it is done within the context of the “scene.” Thus we see the musculature of the entire body engaged organically (as opposed to gratuitously, as in all physique photographers’ photos) as it would be while drawing a bow to shoot arrows at an advancing enemy, swinging a sword or grappling at close quarters. Not only do we see her, but we see her adversaries, both living and dead, as well as other aspects of a battlefield setting. Unlike in physique photos, she will not necessarily be in the center of the photo, but often to one side of it, forming a composition that allows inclusion of the results of her “handiwork.” The purpose is to create a unique series of tableaus that offer an alternative to “clinically-atrophied” Hollywood versions of woman-warriors and the “pose-for the camera” muscle-mannequins of the physique photographers, by melding the cinematic aspects of one with the visually-arresting physical aspects of the other. This can add another dimension to the photo portfolios of physique women, many of whom would welcome the chance to appear in films but will never have the opportunity. At the same time it offers a view of what the cinematic characters might look like with physiques appropriate to the roles. And the truth is that most admirers of muscular women are also fans of heroic female action-figures, and would hail this conjunction. Why have no physique photographers done this already? The short answer is that most physique photographers, many of whom are excellent at what they do, don’t think outside the box. But in all fairness, to be done right, such a shoot requires far more time, effort, resources, planning, coordination and expense than most photographers can justify commercially. And while they’d be loathe to admit it, almost their entire market consists of males with a sexual fetish for muscular women. That market isn’t especially interested in renderings of warrior women -no matter how muscular- who aren’t deliberately displaying T&A.   

DETAILS   The IronPrincess is attired somewhat similarly to a Red Sonja/Xena character, not as an attempt to render those or any other specific fictional characters, but to reveal as much of her physique as possible within generally-accepted norms of decency – none of the emphasis on T&A that characterizes most female physique photography. Her weapons will never be firearms (a 5 year-old can kill with a gun), but those requiring and displaying physical strength and athletic skill: Bow, Blade and Body. Conveniently, these all facilitate the display of muscle in functional, organic  action.  Similarly, her adversaries are not Romans, Nazis, Telemarines, Orks, etc, but “Malgynians” -generic modern-day militarized thugs from today’s world headlines, in camouflage uniforms, armed with modern firepower (pistols, assault rifles, etc). They’re masked, not only for practical reasons (they’re mostly dummies!) but to depersonalize them as well as “villain-ize” them; in line with today’s headlines, they could be narco-terrorists, insurgents, militias, radical extremists, or any of the other multitudes of militarized thugs, like those who kidnap (and presumably rape) hundreds of schoolgirls, massacre entire villages, behead journalists or shoot down civilian airliners. No the need to invent truly detestable villains when the world is full of them (who needs Nazis when you’ve got ISIS, Taliban, Boko Haram, etc?) so take your pick. Add that as they always outnumber and out-arm the IronPrincess, everyone enjoys seeing her mow them down. There’s no specified “story” or setting other than a generic battlefield setting where Iron Princess is facing and defeating her generic enemy. While there’s some variety in the staging, there’s no emphasis on significantly changing the settings or tableaus for each shoot: there’s a basic list of poses/setups, the variable being the different physique-women portraying IronPrincess. In a way, these settings are being used much in way as the American Flag is for the official portrait is for all US military personnel and the standard “mandatory poses” are used in physique competitions; the setting and pose may be similar but the individual brings the difference. “Mandatory poses” here, invariably with the IronPrincess depicted fighting off the last remaining adversary (a live person) while the rest (the dummies) lie already vanquished in the background, were deliberately chosen to permit the greatest display of flexed muscular development, but within the context of the action, looking the way it might if she were actually engaged in combat, rather than deliberately posing for the lens (as in virtually all other physique photography).  There are three basic scenes: Bow– archery, Blade– swordplay, and Body– unarmed combat. 

Like Hollywood, Frank Frazetta had it all wrong. We had to make it right…