Bernie Dexter was born Bernadette Belle in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania in 1978 to a former sailor and a burlesque dancer. According to her biography on her website, she wanted to be a performer from an early age and studied tap dancing and her mother's dance routines.
As a young girl, she moved to California and began to enter beauty pageants. She was not the typical "bleach-and-tan" model so prevelant in California culture. The signature bleached blonde hair and tanned hides of the "beach bunny" look covered most of SoCal in the early 90's. Women who were ready to shed their identities to fit into a Barbie mould were the popular norm.
This didn't stop Bernie, whose signature good looks included her smoky dark brown eyes, soft white skin tone and raven black hair, from being named Miss Teen San Diego in 1996. She went on, like many struggling models, to get her Cosmetology license and work on other model's photo shoots. In 2002, she married a rock-a-billy musician from the U.K. named Levi Dexter.
Together they began working as a husband and wife team on pin-up photos after dealing with unwarranted weirdness with photographers who were used to doing more explicit work. According to a 2007 article by Stephanie Nolasco on the web site for fashion magazine Papierdoll Levi Dexter would go so far as to carry a loaded gun to her photo shoots and dressing rooms for her protection.
For those who haven't been on a typical modelling shoot it's usually 7 or 8 guys and one female model. A lot of bad things can happen to unwary, ambitious models in these situations. The Dexters didn't want any part of this unprofessional but institutionalized exploitation - as it's bad for everyone and hurts the work.
After getting fed up with this, and being no amateurs to wardrobe and make-up, the Dexters started up their own outfit. Having a 32-24-35 figure with a great sense of photogenic appeal set Bernie's "old-fashioned" fully clothed work apart from the appeal of the hardcore porn regularly churned out of SoCal. Her natural charm and chemistry with the camera (like Bettie Page and Karen O) has outdistanced her from much of her competition as the current incarnation of "the pin-up girl".
As a model, she's the sweetest damn thing on this side of a Georgia peach. She stands at five feet two inches tall, very vivacious, very creative and is gaining a wider base of clients and friends since launching herself into her career in 2002. There have been an estimated 150,000 pictures taken of her largely used to market clothing and music on a variety of American and German web sites and catalogs. She's been at her photographic prime for almost 5 years which is much longer than the average pin-up's career from the hey-day of the 50's and early 60's.
Wikipedia, Bernie Dexter
The Official: Berniedexter.com
Papierdoll.net, Better Than Cheesecake by Stephanie Nolasco
Javas Bachelor Pad, Bernie Dexter