Welcome to the Mr. Showbiz Celebrity Lounge. Joining us today is Bettie Page, who is ready to take your questions.
73370.3536 from compuserve.com at 3:28pm ET
Hello, Betty! My did is from Nashville and I still have a lot of family there. Can you tell us about your experiences growing up in Tennessee? How did your time at Peabody prepare you for your later career?
Bettie Page at 7:00pm ET
I was born almost in a movie theatre down on 7th Avenue below Broad Street. I guess she knows where that is. I went to Hume-Fogg High School and won a scholarship to Peabody College for Teachers for the first year and the other three years I worked as secretary to Dr. Alfred Leland Crabb who wrote novels about the Civil War and I typed all three novels. It was most interesting work. Some of it he would dictate to me in shorthand and other parts he would write on long, yellow sheets. I had a terrible time deciphering his handwriting. I graduated in June, 1944. That had no connection to modeling, but I was interested ina cting and plays in the Nashville Community thetre and at Peabody. I alwsys thought of going to New York. I thought I mght want to study acting just to see fi I could do it. I did. I studied with Mr. Edward Burghoff for 3 years.
Paul from play.com at 3:28pm ET
How many years did Bettie Model? Did she feel famous at the time? After her retirement, when did she realize she had such a large cult following (ie. what year, where was she, who told her, and how did she feel about it)? Before she was found a few years ago did she ever think about contacting anyone to take advantage of her new found popularity? Thanks, Paul Montgomery
Bettie Page at 7:03pm ET
I modeled from 1950 - December, 1957, so there were about seven years all totaled. No, I never felt famous at all. In fact I think 'm better known today than back then. Strange as it seems. I guess I was a celebrity. From what I've been told and as many pictures as are out on me. I think I found that out from Dave Stevens, the artist. He featured me in his comic book The Rocketeer. I think that began the recent publicity on me, as well as Robert Blue's paintings. His bondage shots of me. I didn't know Blue or Stevens. He said he was 17 when he first saw me. He was spellbound. He's been a big fan of mine ever since. He lives not very far from me. He takes me to movies, to dinner and other places. He's a really wonderful fellow.
Kriero from aol.com at 3:26pm ET
Dear Wonderful Bettie, I have wondered what you thought of peers, such as Tempest Storm, Lily St. Cyr, etc.? Were they friends? Did tyou envy their success? Who was your female idol in the 1950's? Thanks for your answers.
Bettie Page at 7:05pm ET
My idol, among models was June King. She was, next to me, the most famous model Irving Klaw ever had. She was married but her husband didn't mind her doing the bondage. Tempest Storm was very sweet and nice. I never met Lily St. Cyr, even though I appeared in one of her movies. She wasn't at Irving Klaw's.
mark victor from [18.104.22.168] at 6:57pm ET
Have any of you assignments placed life or limb in danger. i.e. "Bettie, stand on the rim of that open volcano and smile", or "pose with that man eating tiger" type of situations?
Bettie Page at 7:11pm ET
The only thing was in 1954, whcn I was posing for Bunny Yeager, the pinu=up photographer in Miami, we had an appointment, at Rural Africa, all those animals, I had a cottage in Miami and I was finishing showing my little leopard skin outfit that I was going to wear for African posing, it was about 21:15, my landlady was gone, I went back to my cottage and I remembered there was no wind blowing the bushes. When I got to the cottage and wa sundressing all of a sudden I strted haering scratching sounds. When I started hearing those sounds, I thought it was the wind. But a big pain shot through me, there was no wind. I knew somebody was at my window. I tiptoed over to the window and shut off the light. There was a big black form bent form taking off the last of the latches on the screen. I couldn't sayany thing, I said in a big loud voice, "I'll give yoyu two seconds to get away from that window or I'll blow your brains out." A ngiht watchman cam runnin gover. I stayed over there with him. I sat at the main house until daylight. Bunny came at 7:00 a.m. to go to Rural Africa. I hadn't slept and I was still upset. I didn't feel like, nor look like, posing. She insisted i pose anyhow. In half the pictures I appeared with circles under my eyes. She didn't retouch any of them. Two cheetahs had been sick all night. They didn't look well.
David H. from aol.com at 7:03pm ET
Who do you think is the Bettie Page of the Nineties? In particular, I wonder what you think of Baywatch's Pamela Anderson Lee?
Bettie Page at 7:14pm ET
I've seen her and her big boobies. She has long blonde hair. I guess I like Claudia Schiffer. She doesn't look at all like me, but I like a lot of her poses. I have a copy of her latest book. It has a lot of beautiful poses. I like Cindy Crawford. I'm just surprised that fashion models can be busty ones like Claudia and Cindy and nothing was thought of it. In my day you had to be flat, no hips and skin and bones. I never had very big breasts. I think mine were just average. I wish I had a little less on the bottom. I pulled in my stomach from force of habit, ever since I was a teenager. I always held my stomach in.
Sarah R. from aol.com at 7:07pm ET
If a movie were made about your life, who would you cast as yourself?
Bettie Page at 7:16pm ET
No. I just don't think my life was that interesting to be a full length movie. What did I do that would be that fascinating. I doubt if anyone would go to see the thing. I don't know anybody that would look at all like me in the movies today. I don't guess she'd have to look like me as long as she had long hair and bangs.
John Skirtich from msn.com at 3:32pm ET
Betty, I had read in an article some time ago that you dropped out of public life after a brief stay in a convent, then spent several years studying the Bible; is this true? If so, what did you experience that promped you to make such a dramatic change in your life?
Bettie Page at 7:23pm ET
It was my younger sister, Joyce, who ws in a vonvent in Memphis for a while. I went to three bible schools. I went to the Bible Insitute of Los Angeles for a year and a school in Chicago. with money I saved in Chicago I went to Multnomah School of the Bible near Portland, Oregon. I loved bible school but not a convent. They were very strict. We weren't allowed to go to movies. The only movie I saw was "The Ten Commandments." They didn't even want you to watch TV. No smoking, drinking or drugs. I never had a problem with those three. I was a big movie fan since I was 9 years old. I thought they were too strict. You couldn't even wear slacks on the cmapus of the bible schools. I had maried my second husband, he was 12 years younger than I was, I was a fool to marry him. All we had in common was sex, movies and hamburgers. We had an argument and I walked out to the beach just before New Year's. It was as if someone took me by the hand across the street to a church. I stood in the back and the pastor started preaching a salvation message. I started crying. I could hardly wait to go hear that man the next Sunday. Through him I received thr Lord, Jesus Christ, as my savior. I threw out a lot of my pin-up costumes. I went to visit my brother, Jimmy, in Los Angeles, and wondering what God wanted me to do. I saw an ad for a secretary in downtown Los Angles. I was walking along Hope Street near the public library. I heard gospel music coming out of an overhead speaker. I saw girls coming out of a building with books. I needed to find out what that building was. I asked them what that building was and they said BIOLA -- Bible Insitute of Los Angeles. They took care of me.
The Moderator at 7:23pm ET
Alot of people don't realize that you made alot of your bikinis and costumes yourself. Did you enjoy being a designer?
Bettie Page at 7:25pm ET
I always liked to sew ever since I learned how to sew at a little park center near my house. I used to make most of my clothes, at least half of them. My dresses, blouses and skirts. I had fun designing thoe bikinis. They were an outrage then in America. Only over in France and other places in Europe were they worn. I ordered some sexy panties and bras from Frederick's of Hollywood. That flimsy, long, black negligee that belonged to Bunny, I posed in it.
Mike F. from [22.214.171.124] at 7:18pm ET
In so many of your photos, what set you apart from the rest was you seemed so natural, comfortable and relaxed. Even in some of the crazy positions and scenes you were posed in, you always looked like you were having a good time. Was it as fun and lively as you made it look?
Bettie Page at 7:28pm ET
I enjoyed it all. I had always known how to pose. One year when my mother and father were divorced, my two sisters and I were put into an orphanage, and in the orphanage my sisters and I would play a game called "program" We would get movie star pictures from the newspaper and we would mimic the movie star poses. I guess that's where I started learning how to pose. I jut always knew what to do with my body. The only thing that frightened me at all, was one of the bondage set-ups that Paula and Irving Klaw designed. It was outdoors where I was spread-eagled, with my legs tied to trees and my hands up high and my feet about 8 inches off the ground. I thought they were going to pull my arms out of my shoulders. I heard that Irving said those picture ssold more than the movie star photos. Sold more than any other models' pictures. A lot of men like to see women helpless.
Cameron from uu.net at 7:17pm ET
What was the 'furthest you went' in posing? And how do feel about the posing that people do now?
Bettie Page at 7:30pm ET
I think some of them are on the nasty side and shouldn't be done. Back in the 50's we were very conseravtive. The only thing, one time I went to a party at a camera club that I posed for often, with two other models, and they talked me into taking several drinks. I had never been drunk. I don't even remember much of the evening. I remember posing, starting to pose for them. But that's the only time I can think of when those bad pictures, you could call them pornographic pictures, but several of them were sold "under-the-counter" and they were the only bad pictures of me ever out. They should never have been sold. I would never do strip set. Although there's one strip set in the book. It was considered taboo back in the 50's.
Timmy from aol.com at 7:11pm ET
Do you still earn royalties on all those old photos?
Bettie Page at 7:35pm ET
I never got any royalties from any of them. All I got was my initial modeling fee, which was $10 an hour. Nobody ever gave me a cent, no matter how many pictures were sold, not even Bunny, with the two hard books she put out on me. I never got any money until recently. Nowadays, I'm on the quiet side. I don't run around like I used to. I'm a fiend of watching old movies on cable TV. I stay up late every night until 2 or 3 in the morning watching old movies. I still sew quite a bit. I do exercises. I started up my walking program recently. I go to movies once in a while, but mostly I watch them on TV. I cook a lot -- I like to cook.
Mindy from [126.96.36.199] at 7:32pm ET
Are you glad you became a pin-up model? Do people on the street recognize you?
Bettie Page at 7:39pm ET
Oh, yes, over the years a lot of people have recognized me. A lot of times I wear my hair in a ponytail. I don't curl it every night like I used to. People still recognize me. I've gained quite a bit of weight during the past few years.
Cameron from uu.net at 7:33pm ET
Do you have any idea why there is such a furor about you now? For instance, I wasn't even born when you were posing and I stumbled upon an old magazine in a used bookstore in '72 or '73 and 'fell in ...er...love'
Bettie Page at 7:40pm ET
No, it's still a mystery to me. I never knew of any other model whose pictures sold more 40 years later than at the time of her so-called fame. I don't know why all kinds of memorabilia and books and posters have been selling about me during the last 4 or 5 years. I just don't know why.
Bob Bahrami from inreach.com at 3:06pm ET
Hi Betty, You seemed to have two very different personas during your career - one was the "Bondage Queen", the other the "Bikini Girl". Did you have a favourite?. Also, it seems that Bunny Yeager took you into the Bikini scene away from bondage - did you prefer her over male photographers?
Bettie Page at 7:44pm ET
I might have felt a little more at ease posing in the nude for Bunny. Although the first time I posed in the nude was for a camera club. I didn't feel uncomfortable about it. I never thought it was wrong to pose in the nude or be in the nude. God made Adam and Eve in the nude and they lived in the nude in the Garden of Eden. I don't think God disapproves of being in the nude. It would be early in the morning when we would go out to pose. We would be in the water and in the wods naked as a jay bird. I still like to be in the nude. You feel free as a bird. Unencumbered. I liked posing in the bikinis better. I was always trying to see how many poses I could think of. We would sort of laugh sometimes at the bondage. Irving Klaw was the only one I posed for using whips and things. Men used to write into Irving and tell them explicitly what they wanted me in. One man wanted me in a pony outfit, down on all fours. There was a leather outfit to cover me from head to foot.
domingo from starwave.com at 7:40pm ET
how can I get a signed copy of the new book about you?
Bettie Page at 7:47pm ET
You can get it through I've signed about 1,200 copies a week or so ago. We were at it for 3 days. A couple hundred of them were personalized.
To order a signed copy of the book, contact: Glamourcon, Inc.,P. O. Box 2594, in Woodinville, Washington 98072. Phone: 206/821-1760 or you can order it over the Internet at Glamourcon@aol.com. The book is $49.95 for a singed book. Plus $4 for shipping.
Bonnie Burton from [188.8.131.52] at 7:42pm ET
Have you met any of the artists that ever painted you, such as Olivia?
Bettie Page at 7:48pm ET
No. The only one I've met is Babe Stevens. I haven't met Olivia. She made me look so much prettier, body and face, than I ever was. The only thing I don't understand is one painting of my back with a cat about to eat a little mouse. How did she ever paint something like that on my back. But it's a good picture of me otherwise.
John M. from [184.108.40.206] at 7:46pm ET
What's the oddest rumor that you've heard about yourself over the years?
Bettie Page at 7:50pm ET
The wildest one was I was married to Irving Klaw. He was happily married. When I came to California in 1978, even my newphew, Bob, was just positive I had been married for years to Irving Klaw. I asked him where in the world did you get that? The next strangest thing I was married to a shah of Iran. Can you imagine that? I don't know who dreamed up those wild tales. Then there were things, like a famous Swedish sculptor once offered me $15,000 to pose for him. Hog wash. No model was ever offered anything like that.
davomini davomini from ds2.ncweb.com at 3:08pm ET
Bettie, just wondering, if you had it to do all over again, would you? What would you do differently if you had the chance? Thanks, Debbie
Bettie Page at 7:54pm ET
No. I enjoyed all my modeling years--the fetish, the bondage, all of it. You had to do bondage working for Irving Klaw. I would do it all over again. I enjoyed all my modeling years. I would pose for two hours and make more than working all week as a secretary. I had plenty of free time to decorate my apartment. I had a nice little apartment with a small bedroom and living room, a small kitchenette, on 46th St., right close to Broadway, and all I paid was $46.29 a month. It was dilapidated. It was so cheap I could take off and go to my sister in Florida, or my brother in Nashville, keep my apartment and have somewhere to come back to.
The Moderator at 7:56pm ET
Bettie thanks all of you for your questions and sends each of you a big kiss. Thanks, too, for visiting the Mr. Showbiz Celebrity Lounge.