A very sweet story-- and EXTREMELY rare interview-- with Bettie Page from the LA Times. There's no shortage of stupidity in the commentary -- absurd to describe her as a "a soldier in the sexual revolution"-- but Harlan Ellison strikes the right note when he mentions the Golden Mean. Miss Page is a gentle soul who inhabited an archetype and survived the experience. Her biography taught us a lesson about the humanity behind every pinup. "Bettie" is the Anti-Femme Fatale. All the sad sweet funny pretty girls in comics, from Sophie Bangs as Promethea to Francine to Maggie Chascarillo, owe a debt to Bettie Page.


Anonymous said...

Good interview--I see her as being a female Forest Gump. "Life is just like a box of chochlates (sp)you never know what you're going to get." Glad she got rewarded with funds and attention --finally. Smile, Dee Ann

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

Interesting that her blonde shadow, Norma Jean Baker, did not survive her adventures at the so-called "higher" end of the socioeconomic scale.

I'm disappointed to hear that the HBO film "The Notorious Bettie Page" doesn't spend much time on the survival and resurrection, which is the more interesting part of the story (if a lot less, um, visual).

Bettie was NOT despite the ad spin, a widely known image for men in the '50s. Her images were rediscovered and used as reference models by comic and fantasy artists in the 1980s, especially Dave Stevens, who I believe tracked Bettie down and still drives her to church and to the movies once a week. (Jennifer Connelly plays a "Bettie" variation in "The Rocketeer".)

Stevens and Hugh Hefner, to his credit, apparently heard about Bettie's poverty and hired the lawyers to get Bettie some small portion of the fortune she made for others.

chidder said...

Is that story correct, about Dave Stevens still driving her to church and a movie each week? I'd never heard that before. Great if it is true...

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

The friendship is on record any number of places; here's an online quote from Bettie herself:
"'Dave and I are good buddies," Bettie-then 73--told Gretchen Edgren, author of "The Playmate Book," in a rare 1996 telephone interview. "He chauffeurs me around to the doctor, to dinner, the movies, concerts and all. I like my good old-time melodies, and the original rock music from the Fifties. I don't care much for this hard rock or sheet metal or whatever it is," she said, chuckling.'

and from a Stevens interview:
CBA: Is she still around?

Dave: The real Bettie? Of course! She just turned 79-she's determined to see 100 and she's stubborn enough that I'm sure she will. She's a real ball of fire. I really admire her. She's been through a lot and still has tremendous faith in humanity. She likes to take people at face value which, in this day and age, is a rare and often dangerous thing.