With her trademark bangs and super high heels, Bettie Page sadly waited late into her life to cash in on her status as an icon. A lot of the obits have focused on her decline but we’d rather remember her in her heyday. Bettie made light S&M look joyous and fun. Her shoots never featured men — only women as master and servant — and most of the time she is pictured with a broad smile on her face, even when trussed up to the nines. In the sexually-stifling context of 1950s America she showed men and women that sex (and pretty subversive sex at that) was positive and even a bit of a lark. Was she exploited? Yes, but by those who replicated and marketed her image without paying her — not those who called the shots. It was not to be until the 1990s that Bettie started to recoup some of the money that had been made out of her image. And by then, an icon was born.
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