Cult Epics has basically assembled a compilation disc featuring Betty Page's main appearances, plus a decent collection of vintage Irving Klaw loops.
"Varietease" is basically an Eastmancolor burlesque show featuring a mix of "foreign talent" (Yankee girls with European-styled names) bracketed by standup comedians, some singing, and nebbish host Bobby Shields. Running 71 minutes, Cult Epics have excerpted Betty Page's brief appearance at the beginning, performing an Arabian-themed Ooo-La-La dance. Bracketed by the film's original main and end titles, the sequence runs just a little over 6 minutes, and is followed by the film's original theatrical trailer.
Another color film is "Teaserama" (with an overlaid 1993 "new edition" disclaimer), which features more Klaw models, and has Page both performing, and introducing each set with a large title card. Page's own two routines are an intro piece accentuating her athletic posterior, and a jiggle-jaunt. Like "Varietease," just Page's material has been included from the 66-minute film. Both color films are also available in their complete form, with running commentary by sexploitation icon David Friedman, from Something Weird Video [SWV].
"Striporama" is also excerpted in SWV's "Varietease" DVD, but with notable differences: the Cult disc edits the original main titles with Page's appearance; the SWV extract omits the credits and retains the bookend sketches (totaling about 3:57), with two comedians preparing for bed before Page makes her 'dreamy' entry; neither disc, however, contains the original 70-minute film's final credits.
In the hot-pink, Arabian-themed "Dream Scene," Page ever so slowly disrobes (with helpers) before stepping into a big tub, and mugs the camera in a frosty bubble bath. The stale suds never manage to get airborne as Betty winks and blows, and a wide shot reveals how every strategic sud smothers her naughty bits. Also excerpted on SWV's "Teaserama" DVD, the extract lacks a short dialogue segment, but is a better transfer than the SWV version. The rest of the disc has 13 sepia and black & white stripping loops of variable quality, and occasionally overly-tight cropping. After the destruction of Irving Klaw's original materials according to a Fifties court ruling, grainy and well-worn 8mm and 16mm prints are all that's left, and one has to bear in mind these films were never meant for legit large theatre runs. Aimed more at private backroom, leisure room, or garage exhibition, some of the prints also come with the disclaimer "If you liked this movie then you can get more of his type from IRVING KLAW" - perhaps assuming that if you're a true connoisseur of swinging hips, high heel fondling, lingerie parades, and leather training, you know whom to write.
The included Klaw loops, subtitled "The Exotic Dances of Betty Page," are "Tantalizing Betty Dances Again" (4:51), "Tambourine Dance" (4:48), "Joyful Dance By Betty" (4:48), "Betty's Hat Dance" (4:41), "The Teaser Girl, Part 2" (4:27), "Dream Dance by Betty" (4:46), and "Dance of Passion" (4:40). The more freaky variants are "Betty's Clown Dance, Part 2" (4:49), "Betty's Lingerie Tease Dance" (4:56), "Betty's Lingerie Tease Dance, Part 2" (4:49), "Betty's G-string Dance, Part 2" (4:33), "Betty's Fireplace Dance" (2:32), and the mini cat-fight epic "Pin-up Beauties Fight" (5:19). All are set to nutty pop song arrangements from the late-Sixties to mid-Seventies, with the last two using vintage tracks (including George Duning's "Moonglow").
The remaining extras are a text bio of Page, and text commentary by Page on her "wiggle dances," with some very personable recollections of working with Klaw, her bubble bath short, talking for the first time in "Striporama," and her co-stars in "Varietease."
This Cult Epics title is available separately or as part of the Bettie Page Collection that includes: “Bettie Page: Pin Up Queen," "Bettie Page: Bondage Queen," and "100 Girls By Bunny Yeager."
Also available is "The Irving Klaw Classics" collection, with additional Page material.
© 2005 Mark R. Hasan