Please note: This post discusses my personal sex life, sexual fantasies, and tastes in porn, in some detail. Family members and others who don’t want to read that, please don’t read this one.
I have a confession to make.
From a purely erotic, purely visceral, “what do I watch in porn to get me off?” standpoint, Bettie Page has never been a huge favorite of mine. Of course she was beautiful; of course she was lush; of course her playful manner and big, cheerful grin were irresistibly charming. It’s just that I have a strong preference for authenticity in porn: for porn that looks like the performers are really getting into it. And I never quite got that from Bettie. Whether she was getting spanked or tied up, or spanking or tying up another girl, the playfulness and the grin made it impossible to believe that she was taking any of it seriously. It always looked like a little kid playing Cowboys and Indians. Even when she was scowling or hollering, you could see that she was grinning inside.
But I loved her anyway.
And I loved her for the very things that made it hard for me to genuinely get off on her movies and her photos: her playful manner, and her big, cheerful grin.
Bettie Page was doing erotic and fetish modeling during a time — the 1950s — when these activities were not only illegal, but surrounded by a dark cloud of secrecy and intense shame. And yet she posed in her photos and performed in her movies with a shameless joy. Not the wild, defiant, “fuck you and your shame” Jezebel sort of shameless (which I’m also fond of, don’t get me wrong), but the sort of shameless that doesn’t even see what there is to be ashamed of. She was sex-positive before we even had a word for it. She was a role model for fetish pride, for taking pleasure in bodies and in sex, for women proudly and cheerfully claiming their sexuality… way the hell before it was cool.
And even when she became a born-again Christian and left the world of erotic and fetish modeling forever, she never (to my knowledge) disavowed it or spoke of it as anything to be ashamed of. As recently as 1998, she said in an interview with Playboy, “I never thought it was shameful. I felt normal. It’s just that it was much better than pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, which gets monotonous.”
Bettie Page died on Thursday, December 11, at the age of 85. She will be missed.
Video below the fold. (Video not for people under 18.)