Sunday, June 5, 2011

Autobiography Pt. 38

In the end, THE BETTY PAGES, and everybody else who hopped on the bandwagon caused ripples felt around the world. The 1950s sexual style rediscovered, an appealing naughty decadence, lurking a fraction of an inch below fabric a fraction of an inch thick. Her strumpet costume hidden, like her strumpet side, a fraction of an inch below the surface. Lingerie, which had won the disinterest of women decades past the sexual revolution, was not a point of focus now. Images from the ‘50s which would have been improper for men to enjoy, and absolutely forbidden for women. After all, what kind of woman gets-off by looking at gorgeous women in hot foundation garments, or, gasp, even HALF-NAKED? “L” word. Wink.
       Just as the young women of the early ‘60s seized their sexual autonomy with the pill, and late-‘80s and early-‘90s females claimed their sexual style, via Betty Page and her fashion sense. Undergarments were now something to wear during sex, rather than discarding before. The proud foundation of a wardrobe, rather than some anonymous base. “Not only am I me on my outside, check out the inside me!”
If the lady wanted to get spicy, she’d reveal a taste of it through her outerwear, and in doing so enjoyed a teasing flirtation with a man or a woman. Something else missing for decades: Tease.
       I suppose burned-bra nipples showing through thin fabric was a little bit like this, complicated by the idea that she probably wasn’t wearing panties, but sometimes more is more. The top of that stocking defines the curve of the leg. The bra defines the curve of the ribcage and chest. For the new guys, it was like discovering sexual 3-D. As or the old-timers: “I remember that!”
Even if a lady hadn’t had any contact with Bettymania, she’d seen lots of hair dyed black and cut into bangs, and considered how she’d look with the style. And like stones in a pond of water, the rings spread far, and intersected each other often.
       So-called High Fashion quickly picked up on the look, and designers went nuts coming up with their versions of ‘50s fetish wear. My guess is many of the outfits had been floating through designer skulls for years without a venue. The result was runway couture dripping with sex and style, and the magazines and newspapers immediately picked-up on the latest trend.
       More ripples.
       Bettymania crossed all boundaries. Goth kids liked the black outfits, Rock-a-billies enjoyed the retro aspect, B&D enthusiasts found a new lodge, and the casual viewer got off on a fresh look at sexuality. In a world so intent on showing you the most intimate details of every intimate act, it was something new, and everybody likes something new.
       It hit a note.
       Few men get to. Most men never do.
       In the end, and I write this with no humility whatsoever, I was one of a handful of men who changed sexuality during the 20th century.
Not to say I have the skill, business sense, or brains of Kinsey, Hefner, Guccionne, or Flynt, even close. I’m simply contending that through fate and timing, my contributions to 20th century sexuality land me near the top five.
       At least nobody has come up to me and quizzed, “Hey, didn’t you used to be Greg Theakston?’
       People assumed that because it was on the world radar, I was making millions. During the six years I was involved with the Betty Page story I made an estimated $150,000 hard earned exploitation bucks. Sub-divide that by six years worth of effort and you get about $25,000 a year, sub-divided again that’s under $500 bucks a week.
Now, subtract the ten percent $15,000 I sent to Betty at the end, and the figure begins to stink like minimum wage always does.
Still, fame and fortune was never my intent, though the small taste of the former was nice. The upside was that I got to explore a great mystery on my own time, got to meet many new heroes and a handful of villains, and chart history where no man had gone before, and that’s very hard to find. Not much of the modern world is uncharted, though new news about unknown stuff continues to surface every day.
New truth at minimum wage?
        That’s very hard to find. 

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