Bettie Page: Bondage Queen

Synopsis: Bettie Page (in her films credited as Betty Page), famous for her pin up modeling also appeared in bondage photos and short films. These unique classics are the first film sources of today’s fetish and SM scene and appear nowadays surreal, tender and joyful.

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Bettie Page: Bondage Queen 6.75

eyelights: Bettie Page. its historical value.
eyesores: its cheap production quality. its discrepant score. its narration.

After falling under Bettie Page’s spell, thanks to the wonderful ‘Bettie Page Reveals All‘, I decided that I would explore her film work. Page’s body of work didn’t just consist of tons of sexy photographs, she also featured in a series of short films by photographer Irving Klaw.

So I tracked down an out of print and elusive Bettie Page boxed set, that included ‘Bettie Page: Bondage Queen’, ‘Bettie Page: Pin Up Queen’ and ‘100 Girls by Bunny Yeager’. I also sought out a collection of the feature films she starred in: ‘Striporama‘, ‘Varietease‘ and ‘Teaserama‘.

I had no idea what any of them were; I just wanted to see more of sweet Bettie.

‘Bettie Page: Bondage Queen’ is a compilation of two home videos that were released back in 1984: ‘The Classic Films of Irving Klaw, vol. 1 and 2’. They’re documentaries that discuss and spotlight Klaw’s 8mm and 16mm films, which frequently consisted of light bondage material.

The Classic Films of Irving Klaw, vol. 1

Narrated by Shirley Thompson, this first volume provides a background on Irving Klaw, adding that his collection consists of 4000 bondage photos and many films. She claims that there haven’t been better models than the ones that Klaw used – which is a pretty bold statement.

She also explains how the films got more sophisticated to satisfy Klaw’s clients’ demands.

Most of Volume 1 is a montage of snippets from his shorts, serving as examples of his work. We essentially watch pretty girls being tied up (trussed up, really), by other lovely girls in underwear. Some of them struggle with the gear while their subjects seem less than enthused.

I’m not at all into BDSM, so I don’t really get it. To me, it’s strange to see discomfort and sexiness mixed. I wonder if it blurs lines, if it’s truly healthy. Thankfully, there’s enough variety of models and fetishes (shoes, spanking, …etc.) that it doesn’t become too one-note.

There’s even some (inadvertently?) humourous material along the way, like this bit when two girls are trying to play chess and another one bursts in and distract them. So they tie her up. But she persists in disrupting their game, which forces them find ways to tie her up further.

It’s a bit slap-sticky, cute and funny.

Bettie Page doesn’t actually show up 33 minutes into this 55-minute doc. We’re treated to a small bio/primer of her over footage from her films:

  • Betty’s Exotic Dance in High Heels: Bettie dances around a living room in white undies and black stockings. It’s really quite nice. Bettie has a great figure and pleasing, playful moves. The close-ups weren’t very good, though.
  • Betty Page and her High Heel Shoes: Bettie puts stockings on while on a couch, dressed in black undies. Then she puts on shoes. Then gloves.
  • Delightful Betty Dresses Up: Bettie gets dressed in front of a vanity and then walks around.
  • Betty Page Gets Bound and Kidnapped: A girl knocks her out as Bettie readying (presumably to go out). She and her friend tie Bettie up, put her in chair, tape her mouth, then take her to a couch, where she’s laid down and trussed up.
  • Escape Out of Bondage: Bettie is strapped to a gurney-like platform and struggles to untie herself – which she eventually does.
  • Captured Jungle Girl: This one begins with Thompson defending light bondage. Here Bettie has her hands tied up on a pulley and is wearing a ball gag. She struggles, is spanked and spun around. Later, her ankles are strapped and her legs pulled apart on pulleys, lifting her off the ground. Apparently, it’s one of her most popular shorts.

The Classic Films of Irving Klaw, vol. 2

This one’s also narrated by Shirley Thompson and it begins with a montage of snippets, some of which we’ve already seen. She explains how Klaw’s films became more sophisticated over time, with respect to staging and camera work, providing a few examples to support her claims.

These new videos are more about women being forced into submissive positions. An interesting one is a girl being strapped in a leather sheath, hands tied to it; the contraption is unusual, like a cocoon. Unfortunately, it went dark when a leather hood is slipped over her face…

Honestly, all these women bound in creative leather gear is strange to me. I mean, I don’t find restricting someone’s movements appealing and the gear appears alien to me. It’s not at all exciting; I’m obviously more of a fan of Bettie Page than BDSM, even if the two blend somewhat.

Apparently, Joan Rydell was the next biggest Klaw girl after Bettie Page. Blonde, with tight curls, she stars in one of Klaw’s most popular shorts, which is considered one of the better examples of rope binding. In it, she and another girl methodically truss up a third girl like a calf.

It’s only at the 36-minute mark that Bettie Page finally shows up, featuring some of the last films she made with Klaw:

  • Rumble Seat Bondage: Bettie is one of two dominants, tying up a girl on a bench on a veranda. Then she watches as the other slaps the girl’s tush. When she tires of this, they take their victim to the trunk of a car and drive her to the woods and tie her to a tree.
  • Second Initiation of Sorority Girl: Bettie is dragging a girl around, cuffed and tied. Bettie is so beautiful here. Wow. Then she sits on a couch, gags the other girl and slaps her tush. She has her kneel before her and then walks her around room. Interestingly, at that point the camera focuses only on their legs.
  • Teaser Girl in High Heels: Bettie is sitting on a couch in a nightdress. She opens it to reveal black lingerie and sits to comb her hair. Then she shows off legs while adjusting her stockings.
  • Domineering Roz Strikes Again: Roz is prepping, then Bettie arrives to help her put her shirt on, then her sweater. For no reason, Roz takes Bettie over her knee. This one’s nice because of Bettie’s performance, in which she tenses and squirms so perfectly.
  • Betty Gets Dressed in Satin: Bettie is at a vanity, putting on some stockings, then checking herself out. Then she puts on a satin top.

Having been made in 1984, these videos aren’t exactly stellar productions, but they were somewhat more satisfying than ‘The Exotic Dances of Bettie Page‘ because at least a historical context was given for the shorts. And there was a little bit more variety in the material.

But it looks and sounds cheap: the credits were etched electronically and the background score consisted of really bad country music in some cases. At least the second volume dialed it up a little by offering up a lot more synth and ’80s soft jazz, but it was still painful.

Still, when I sat down to watch this, I half-expected to have to pick at it over a few days – but I was able to watch the first volume in one sitting, took a brief break and completed the set right after. It’s not all bad, production aside; it’s a decent overview of Klaw’s work.

If you’re into that sort of thing, of course.

Story: n/a
Acting: n/a
Production: 3.0

Sexiness: 2.0
Nudity: 1.0
Explicitness: 1.0

Date of viewing: August 7, 2017

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