Watching Katy Perry shooting through the air with a comet trailing behind her at the Superbowl XLIX half time, I realized she reminded me of someone, but who? A chance trip to Steel City Video to return a movie provided the answer. There, tucked away in the B’s, between The Best of Me and the Boxtrolls was a Katy Perry lookalike peering out at me on the cover of a film called Bettie Page reveals All! Bettie Page could easily be mistaken for Katy Perry’s twin sister; but since Bettie Page, the notorious pin-up model from the 1950’s has been dead for 6 years, one has to assume that Perry for whatever reason is deliberately channeling Page with the dark bangs, the big eyes and the skimpy, (although by today’s standards), modest costumes. Bettie Page Often referred to as the “Queen of Pinups”, her jet black hair, blue eyes, and trademark bangs has influenced artists for generations. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Page lived in California in her early adult years before moving to New York City to pursue work as an actress. There, she began to find work as a pin-up model, and posed for dozens of photographers throughout the 1950s. Page was “Miss January 1955”, one of the earliest Playmates of the Month for Playboy magazine. “I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society,” said Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to the Associated Press in 2008. Controversial for its time, the kind of stuff that Bette Page did could be freely duplicated on MTV in prime time on any given weeknight today.
In 1959, Page converted to evangelical Christianity and worked for Billy Graham, studying at Bible colleges in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, with the intent of becoming a missionary. Sadly, the latter part of Page’s life was marked by depression, violent mood swings, and several years in a state psychiatric hospital suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. After years of obscurity, she experienced a resurgence of popularity in the 1980s. She died at 85.
On further research I found that Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Gretchen Mol (who starred in an earlier movie about Page) have all played with the Page look at one time or another. Fame is a strange thing. It is amazing how somebody whose fame lasted less than a decade almost 65 years ago, and who was never more than on the fringes of stardom could have such an impact three generations later.