What are your first thoughts when somebody mentions Betty Page? The fifties, famous Bettie bangs, pin-up girl, fetish model maybe? These are all correct, but what you may not know is that, besides all of this, Betty started a certain sexual revolution and she was an inspiration to many feminists, a fighter for a free expression of female sexuality and sex appeal.
Bettie Page, a girl with the perfect figure, as she was often called, was born in April 1923. As one of the six children, she had a modest childhood in a family that, according to her own words, lived basically almost on beans and potatoes. Her problems began at an early age, thanks to her father, who molested her and abused his three daughters. When her mother finally gained the courage to leave him, despite Betty’s expectations that things would go better, she and her two sisters ended up in an orphanage, where she had to put up with verbal and physical violence once again. In order to distract themselves from everyday problems, Paige sisters would often imitate pin-up girls they saw in magazines. Like Betty said, she never had any sense of embarrassment, because she firmly believed that God had nothing against the nudity, since Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden.
Although she was extremely ambitious about her education, the only thing she managed to get was a one hundred dollars scholarship for George Peabody college for teachers. Once she graduated, she began dating sports star and classmate Billy Neal. Whether because growing up in a bad environment or because of her extremely open-minded world perception for that time, this was not the only relationship with a “bad guy” she had. Once he got a call from the Army, Billy rushed Betty to marry him, and after World War II and the post-traumatic syndrome he got, he became very jealous, accusing her she slept with, basically, everyone while he was gone. Despite his threats and situation in which he would hold the knife on her neck, Betty decided to divorce and move to New York. Her dream was to be an actress, but she to pay the rent, so she danced at night. After a horrible incident, she suffered one night at Broadway, where she was abused by several men, she decided to change her career. She went to Ford Models agency, where she was refused because she could never be a model due to large hips and not high enough. Good luck smiled at her in October 1950 when she met a cop and amateur photographer Jerry Tibbs, who thought Betty can be a great model. He offered to make her a free portfolio, but not just that, her famous bangs were his idea. Betty started her modeling career when she was 27 years old, but thanks to her young looking face, many hired her thinking she was in her early twenties. She earned about twenty-five dollars per day, posing in a bikini, and very soon received recognition among photographers who said that she looked like she is laughing with her whole body. What is truly interesting is that Betty is in charge for most of the designs of bikinis and underwear in which she posed. Many thought that she could have a successful fashion designer career if only she knew someone to guide her, but Charmand company stole her sketches and sold them under the name Betty Page bikini, along with photos of her. Later, Betty regretted not sue them at the time.
During 1952 there was a major turning point in her career when she started posing for a photographer Irving Klaw and became world’s most famous fetish model. On the set, where Betty was in a role of domino lady usually or submissive one, he never included a man because of the respect. Despite this, the US authorities blamed her for the death of a seventeen-year-old boy, who hung himself, allegedly after seeing one of her photo in which she was in a role of domino lady. Although an appeal was made, the government ordered that every single negative should be destroyed. Despite that, in January 1955 Betty way declared as a Playboy girl of the month and later that year she won the award for Miss Pinup Girl of the World.
You can say that her life was nice and quite calm by then since she made the promise not to date bad boys anymore, one night group of photographers got her drunk and did a couple of pornographic, full naked photos, that they put on sale later. She decided to leave New York because of this incident. She quit her modeling career when she was thirty-four years old because there were way too many of her photos out there. What confused many people was her sudden and mysterious withdrawal from the pin-up scene, which many thought it was caused by her rediscovered faith in God. In order to smooth relations with the church, she remarried her first husband, Billy…. Until he tried to strangle her, accusing her that she has an STD. At the very same moment, he asked for a marriage annulment. The seventies were everything but not easy for her. After she claimed that she heard voices, who were telling her about the angels and the devil, she spent two months in a psychiatric institution. Unfortunately, that didn’t help and she had a nervous breakdown which resulted in stabbing a woman nearly twenty times during a fight.
She got a diagnosis of acute schizophrenia and was declared innocent due to her mental illness. She spent eight years in the hospital and once she was released, in 1992, she was really surprised to see how popular she still is. And even today, after her death, people consider her to be pin-up queen, and Betty is one of the most imitated pin-ups ever. Her erotic photos, open mind, free spirit, and diversity represented the beginning of sexual revolution, even before the sixties and hippies, but also possibility to be a fetish model and pin-up girl, and admired and respected at the same time.
By Miss Psycho Cat