My story with Bettie Page goes quite a way back: earlier than my articles about her shocking life, earlier than the stage play I wrote about her infamous trial, and earlier than my conferences about her cultural meaning for feminism and the social discourse on sexuality. As it happened with many pre-Internet old geezers like me, she was in fact the very first woman I saw modeling a fetish shot. It was, of course, part of the legendary Irving Klaw photosets: series of four or eight black and white pictures that today would be considered too tame for billboard ads, but which for decades were quite the only “special interests” images around.
As you can read in the items linked above, it was a confluence of laws, mores and technology that kept the fetish culture from really happening until the late Eighties – this was understandable enough. What nobody could get around to, however, was why the most recognized Playboy model of them all and a sexy icon had disappeared from the face of Earth right when she was at her peak. Suspicions and urban legends abounded until the incredible truth (involving a religious conversion, attempted serial murders, a miracle healing and science fiction comicbooks, among others) was revealed in 1992. Even then, all information was however second-hand, coming through trusted contacts with the now octuagenarian starlet.
Bettie Page briefly appeared in public only shortly before her death in 2008. I was then very surprised when director Mark Mori announced his documentary Bettie Page reveals all, tracing the model’s whole turbulent life and including late interviews in which she finally cleared things up about the spottiest part of her story. Previous biopics, likeThe notorious Bettie Page or Bettie Page: dark angel, only got to her disappearance: this is going to be a great opportunity for a larger public to learn about her entire, fascinating life.
The indie doc comes out at the end of the month in the United States, headed for a tour which will probably earn it a larger distribution, at least on disc and television. In the meantime, here is the trailer.