Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Bettie Page, Icons, Leather and Hotness
In a sad moment, or maybe an uplifting moment there have been some recent celebrity deaths of late that shook my heartstrings. Eartha and Bettie Page both passed on recently and served to remind me that real human beings can often surpass their own existence into the realm of iconic greatness that becomes unattached, unchained significance. This must have been perplexing to the living artists when their captured works become culturally bigger then their own lives. These two arguably contributed so much to fashion, fetish and my interest leather inextricably due to their unique beauty and extreme and interesting personae. Bettie was the most incredible combination of brunette physical "natural" symmetry and perfection, combined with an open innocent sexuality and sexual image that she defined "hotness" for millions of twentieth century urban pinup suicide girls. Her use of skin tight iconic clothing imbued everything that was good about well fitted clothing and sexiness of the all American girl.
Eartha who was also iconic, broke ground with her triple threat talents, politics, and sex symbol status (Catwoman etc..) as a powerful black woman. Often representing everything that was possible in American culture today (i.e. Obama) years in advance of her time. She dared criticize the President in the sixties suffering great personal and career criticism, and similarly took on the role of Catwoman and reinvigorating a new sexiness to a role when smart talented women of color did not feature prominently in the period. I thank the universe for these two, because they forever changed culture, sexuality, politics and fashion in a way that we only are beginning to understand, and in a way martyred their own lives for it. Neither benefited greatly from their own genius. Certainly draconian copyright never figured into Page's status until the later years of her life. She never benefited from the use and wide cultural importance of her image living a rather modest existence, only profiting in her later years. The open exchange and use of her images grew her cultural relevance far beyond "pin up girl" and serves as a lesson to many of the industries today who seek to command and control their "cultural production" well beyond their rights to do so.
Thanks ladies we are all richer because of you!