Monday, December 15, 2008

Tanya Cheex on Bettie Page

Photos and links added by me (Jo).


Click the image above to buy it from art.com.

Bettie Page Has A Secret
Bent over, trussed up and in an impossibly uncomfortable position, the brunette with the shiny bangs, always looked like she was in on the funniest joke. She was my shoe-laced bondage Barbie dolls come to life.

Yes, my naked Barbie Dolls enjoyed a life of flimsy Japanese rope bondage and I never quite why. I was brought up on a steady diet of my Dad's Playboys, where SM was a rare occurrence. Did I see a Olivia illustrated Bettie Page tied into a stiletto, maybe or maybe my reptilian brain was just wired that way?

Bettie didn't rear up into the picture till years later when my fascination with Golden Era strippers sent me on a quest for men's old stag mag like Twitter and Wink. The girl with the stockings and the pointy bra was in on the joke and well , the others albeit lovely were doing their job. I landed a job in a secondhand bookstore that carried some old porn. Evey once in awhile some old sap would die and a red-faced relative would bring in the boxes. The staff would gleefully sort out the good, the bad and the ugly. We had rules about what could grace our paint chipped selves. The discard pile sat under the desk like a musty Pandora's Box. It was mine or another employee's depending who got to it first! On top of the over glossed Euro SM mags were some little black and white digests and in them was my Bettie but resplendant in corsets, thigh boots and whips. I had the Holy Grail in my dirty hands! The secret joke continued whether Bettie was the gagged damsel in distress or the snarling dominatrix. Bettie got me, and the rest, well...

Bettie's visage dominated my sketch books and I ransacked vintage clothing stores for black lacey merry widows and spiraled torpedo bras. I set up ottoman back drops with old curtains to mimic Irving Klaw's spartan sets and snapped myself and girlfriends in compromising positions. Feminist aquaintances angrily challenged my projects aslking how could I objectify myself like that? Those uber trappings of female were harmful and suppressive! No, not Bettie! Don't you understand? She was fierce and in control of every page, every clumsy reel. I think it went over their shaved heads. Give me glossy hair, glossy lips and some glossy boots!

With trunks filled with the said shiny and the said lacey, I entered the world of lucrative trade. In gentleman's clubs I was a novelty but in the chain walled dungeons I was a Bettie, laughing and winking my way to the bank. Ten years later, with a bad case of fetish fatigue, I started up a burlesque troupe. With very few proto-types, Bettie was again my not so secret muse. One of my first acts was a reverse strip based on an Irving Klaw reel with Tempest Storm as a lady of leisure and Bettie as her mischievious maid. It was important to me to have a girl in my troupe at all times who would be my Bettie. I had four!

Another ten years have passed , my burlesque troupe has its rhinestone anniversary and on the night of my show, I find out my Bettie has passed away. I shed a few cocktail soaked tears remembering her twinkling smile as I laid my glitter encrusted head to rest, knowing that the world was soon to be in on her joke. Rest in peace sweet Bettie, you'll never be forgotten


Tanya Cheex


Skin Tight Outta Sight Rebel Burlesque
www.skintightouttasight.com

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