Do you remember the first time you saw a Bettie Page picture? The image of the 50s era beauty is hard to miss. The Pin Up Queen’s lingerie and swimsuit modeling shots have become so iconic that fifty years after the once-racy pictures were released, they have moved from under-the-mattress fetish mags to fill teen mall stores, fast fashion outlets, and record shops. Her visage graces countless biceps, posters, lunchboxes, even birthday cakes.
So, what is it about Bettie Page? How did a nice girl from Tennessee and aspiring missionary (no, really) end up inspiring twelve pages of craft projects on Etsy? Part of her charm is clearly her good looks. Her trademark black hair, bangs and red lips have spawned a legion of rockabilly copycats. But it’s hard to look at Bettie Page and not also be reminded of scandal. Her face launched a thousand irate letters, caught a smut-fearing senator’s attention, and Playboy founder (and pajama enthusiast) Hugh Hefner’s eye. Whether by accident or by wile, Bettie Page’s fetish photographs indirectly gave birth to modern pornography. Yet, her face fills shelves at Hot Topic.
The 2005 film The Notorious Bettie Page, takes a look at the life of the woman behind the ubiquitous image. Gretchen Mol stars as the nice girl from Tennessee whose ambition took her to San Francisco and New York City and eventually to the status of pop culture icon. Bettie Page proved that nice girls don’t necessarily finish last.
Here’s the trailer:
The Notorious Bettie Page airs on IFC at 8:25 p.m. ET