Saturday, October 18, 2008

Things I like, part the first.

(Warning. This post contains mild adult content. If this were a movie, I'd say it'd be rated about PG-13. In addition, I'm having a YouTube fail, and can't figure out why it's there twice. It's the same thing, so you're not missing anything by only watching one.)

Two things I cannot get enough of: Bettie Page, and music by The Cramps.

I don't know how old I was when I discovered Bettie Page, but it was some time prior to high school. The attraction was instantaneous, and a little puzzling; I didn't know for sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do it with her. (Thanks for the line, Mike!) As I've grown, and learned more about the woman in the photos, prurient interest turned more to respect. Here's a woman who was dealt an absolutely horrendous hand in life--she was molested by her father, sexually assaulted several times, and a victim of spousal abuse--who took what God gave her and carved out a niche where she was not only successful, but happy as well. And when she was at the zenith of her modeling and acting career, she walked away, turning to God, and has lived completely on her own terms ever since. To this day, she refuses to be photographed, stating that she'd rather be remembered by her fans as she was. By all accounts she remains humble about her amazing popularity. Here she is in her own words:

I don't know what they mean by an icon. I never thought of myself as being that. It seems strange to me. I was just modeling, thinking of as many different poses as possible. I made more money modeling than being a secretary. I had a lot of free time. You could go back to work after an absence of a few months. I couldn't do that as a secretary.

Keep in mind that this is a woman who by at least one estimate is the most photographed in history, and continues to have a profound influence on popular culture.

Honestly, it's hard for me to state how much respect I have for this woman. I think we could do worse than enjoying our work and being happy with where we are in life, despite the bumps in the road. It's something I've tried to emulate.

If you're interested in learning more, or just looking at more pictures of one of history's most beautiful women (and really, who can blame you) I have three suggestions:

1. Bettie's official website,

2. The most excellent book, Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend by James L. Swanson and Karen Essex. It's currently out of print, but a little searching on Amazon can find used copies for a decent price, most of the time. The single greatest resource for everything Bettie.

3. The movie The Notorious Bettie Page starring Gretchen Mol. Currently available on DVD, it's a well made film that tells Bettie's story without sugarcoating, and features one of my favorite happy endings in film history, as well as the best (and only) scene I've found where a woman in bondage talks about her faith.

I'd like to close with another quotation from Bettie herself (like the one above, this is taken from her official website.):

It makes me feel wonderful that people still care for me... that I have so many fans among young people, who write to me and tell me I have been an inspiration.

Indeed she is.

Bettie, thank you.


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