|The Tampa Film Review for December by Nolan Canova
"Yes Man" by Mike Smith
R.I.P. Bettie "Queen of Curves" Page, 1923-2008 by Lisa Ciurro
Christmas Matinees -– Forgotten Holiday Turkeys! by ED Tucker
|GROWING UP FANBOY
March of the Wooden Soldiers by Chris Woods
Whatever Happened To Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer? by Paul Guzzo
Last Week .... So What He Really Wants To Do Is Direct? .... Movie Notes .... Music Notes .... Passing On .... The Year That Was: Part One .... .... .... And The Oscar Should Have Gone To... a by Mike Smith
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R.I.P. Bettie "Queen of Curves" Page, 1923-2008 Infamous 1950s pinup model Bettie Page, 85, died December 11, 2008, of pneumonia following a heart attack.
Betty Mae Page was born into an impoverished and dysfunctional family in Nashville, Tennessee on April 22, 1923. Being the second oldest of six siblings – and the oldest girl – who were shuffled in and out of orphanages over the years because of their family's poverty and the father's molestation of his daughters helped mold Page into the strong-willed, independent free thinker she became as an adult. Page changed the spelling of her name from "Betty" to "Bettie" and earned a college degree at a time when it was uncommon for women to do so.
After earning an education degree from Peabody College in Tennessee in 1944, Page embarked on a short-lived teaching career and anxiously awaited the return of her newlywed husband from his wartime service in the Navy.
"I couldn't control my students, especially the boys." – Page, about her looks getting in the way of her early teaching career
Known throughout her entire life for her captivating beauty, Page found teaching difficult because her male students couldn't stop staring at her long enough to concentrate on their lessons. Page also found marriage difficult and went through the first of several divorces in 1947.
One day at the beach, Page met police-officer-by-day-amateur-photographer-by-night Jerry Tibbs, who became her boyfriend and an ultimately life-changing influence for her. In addition to the shock factor of a southern white woman dating a black man in the 1940s – GASP! – it was Tibbs' suggestion that Page wear her hair in bangs that established the iconic "Bettie Page look" with which we're all familiar. Tibbs began photographing Page as a lark, just for fun, and inadvertently launched her career as a pinup model.
It was a safe bet, given her looks, that the camera would love Page. It was an unexpected surprise, however, that Page would enjoy posing as much as she did. She felt completely comfortable in front of the camera and it showed. Her ease and lack of inhibition made sexy photos even sexier somehow. Tibbs helped her put together her first portfolio and then faster than you can say "One-two-three-CHEESE!" Page was in demand as a model.
Bikinis. High heels. Lingerie. Topless. Whips. Tied up. Spanking other women. Leopard print outfits. Completely nude. Laughing, smiling and pouting, but always with those trademark black bangs and always with a sensual air of innocent fun. Over a period of several years, Page posed for approximately 20,000 black-and-white bondage and fetish photographs for brother-and-sister photographers Irving and Paula Klaw. In 1955, Page posed for the centerfold of the second issue of Playboy wearing nothing but a Santa hat.
Back in the days before internet porn and gas-station magazine racks, the mail-order smutty photograph – or erotica, to be more polite about it – business was booming. Bettie Page's bondage photos were a huge hit in magazines like Gaze, Chicks and Chuckles, Wink and Beauty Parade. She appeared in three burlesque films and in numerous 8-mm and 16-mm film loops. Page helped usher in the sexual revolution, inspired numerous imitators and became one of the most photographed women of the 20th century.
Then in 1958 Bettie Page disappeared from public for decades.
"I have no idea why I'm the only model who has had so much fame so long after quitting work" – in an interview in 2006
In 1955, Page received a summons to testify before a pornography-investigation Senate subcommittee headed by fellow Tennessee native Senator Estes Kefauver, but was never made to actually testify. (In addition to his investigations into illicit girlie photo trafficking, Kefauver served on the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, which held hearings on how graphic comic books contribute to the delinquency of minors. A true American hero, that Senator Kefauver.)
THE LATER YEARS
In her decades out of the public eye, Page (in no particular order) experienced a religious conversion, moved to Florida, went through two more failed marriages, experienced violent mood swings, had her image emblazoned on playing cards, refrigerator magnets, shot glasses and practically everything else under the sun, became a recluse, was a voracious reader, tried to serve as (but was rejected as) a Christian missionary, lived solely on Social Security, allegedly stabbed someone in a fight, was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, worked for the Reverend Billy Graham, studied homeopathic medicine, spent time in a mental institution, became a cult figure when her photos were rediscovered, wrote her autobiography, collected royalties for the use of her likeness, was a devout Christian and authorized a collectors' series of guitars.
After two decades of doing media interviews only under the strict condition of not being photographed, Page appeared in public with Anna Nicole Smith in December 2003 for Playboy's 50th anniversary party and posed for a photograph for the first time in decades.
"When I turned my life over to the Lord Jesus I was ashamed of having posed in the nude. But now, most of the money I've got is because I posed in the nude. So I'm not ashamed of it now. But I still don't understand it." – in a 2007 interview with Playboy
THE CONTROVERSIES, RUMORS AND MYTHS
**Page stated in various interviews that her father sexually molested her, as well as her two younger sisters.
**She dated a black man, which was pretty shocking thing for a southern white woman to do in the 1940s (or even today, in some parts of the South, some would say).
**She attended a spiritual retreat in Boca Raton known as Bibletown, which at the time had the reputation of being "nonsectarian and interracial".
**And of course we can't forget about those one or two fetish and bondage photographs (ok, more like 20,000 of them) that depict all sorts of things…things that earn a girl a Senate subpoena and lifelong notoriety.
Page was buried near Marilyn Monroe in LA's Westwood Cemetery in a private ceremony. Coincidentally, she was recently voted Ultimate Sex Goddess over Marilyn Monroe at a TVGuide.com poll. She has been copied, honored, paid homage to, referenced, imitated, merchandised, written about, filmed, interviewed, drawn and painted in countless formats by countless people, far too many to describe here.
Men, of course, will remember Bettie Page for her sexiness, sweetness and sensuality (and the lingerie and the whips…). But women will remember Page too: for her independence, her self-reliance and the determination to live her life her way, by her own rules. In a way, Bettie Page was the ultimate fangirl.
Rest in peace, Bettie. And thanks.
(Sources used for this article include: CNN, The LA Times, Grrl.com, Jesus21.com, BettiePage.blogspot.com, BettiePage.com, Wikipedia, The New York Times, IMDb.com and probably one or two others I've accidentally omitted.)
"FANGRRL" is ©2008 by Lisa Ciurro. All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.
Infamous 1950s pinup model Bettie Page, 85, died December 11, 2008, of pneumonia following a heart attack.