Venus on the Spike Heel, Rest in Peace
Rest in peace, Bettie Page.
The queen of the pin-ups is dead. She was 85. Last week, the Fifties-era model suffered a heart attack and never recovered.
Whether she was wearing a skimpy bikini or — better yet — nothing at all, Bettie Page could seduce a camera lens like no one before her or since. More than 50 years after she fled the glare of the limelight, her image continues to hold a powerful fascination in the world of popular culture.
There’s a reason for such immortality. Unlike her far better-known contemporary from the Fifties, Marilyn Monroe, the sex appeal of Bettie Page is untarnished by unsettling shades of darkness and ambivalence. Take a gander at some of Bettie’s more celebrated photos of that era, particularly those shot by Bunny Yeager, and you’ll find not a trace of melancholy or intimidation. With her razor-sharp black bangs and 1,000-watt smile, Bettie Page imbued sex with a hot-blooded, irresistible playfulness. She was naughty and nice — simultaneously.
She was “Venus on the spike heel,” according to sci-fi writer and Bettie Page enthusiast Harlan Ellison, who described her thusly: “She is lust in an ice cream cone (two scoops), enthusiasm in the whisper of nylon, post-pubescent rambunctiousness in the back seat of a Studebaker Commander.”
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