Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Garters and stockings and heels...oh my!

I saw pictures of women with whips, wearing garters, nylons and high heels for the first time fifty years ago when I was going through puberty. I was very interested, but also flabbergasted. At that age the pictures didn't look like any kind of sex I could relate to. I liked them anyway, even if the women, had I met them in real life carrying whips, would have scared me to death.

Occasionally I surf the Internet looking for these images. At my currrent age and with half a century behind me, they look more quaint to me than anything else. I don't see the danger that I see in the hardcore BDSM I'm unable to avoid during my Internet travels. The whips don't look like they've ever laid open any flesh, and the women look about as dangerous as the housewives I see in the supermarket. It was all just fantasy, to appeal to those guys who needed a little extra spice in their pin-ups.

 Bettie Page was then, as now, the face (and body) of the underground fetish biz. Page had the fresh look of the girl next door, if you liked the girl next door playing dominatrix, tying up other hot women. Bettie Page was called before a Senate committee investigating pornography, then quit the business and went into personal obscurity, while the photos of her live on and on. She’s deceased now, but her image is now so mainstream there’s a store chain named after her.

The top picture is a modern recreation of Bettie, and the other two a couple of retro-modern cuties.

The sixties gave us beehive hairdos and patterned stockings.

Today some photographers try to capture that old-time look, but it's a different world today, and while the pictures evoke the old photos, they just don't have that background of sleaze and sweat the originals came from. In those days it was a very specialized field. The pictures were sold in specialty shops, like in Times Square, New York. When we saw them in my little town they were strictly underground. I remember them being passed around my junior high gym class (confiscated by the coach, who did who-knows-what with them). They were a forbidden thrill. The vintage pictures appeal to me for a perverse reason:  the underworld connection. That connection is removed by mainstream sexy lingerie stores like Victoria's Secret. In the old days the women in the pictures were strippers and part of the sex business run by organized crime. The fetish photos, unlike the “safe” stuff  of the time in newsstand girly magazines, weren't cheesecake, they were sleazecake.

Looking at these old photos today is a reminder of a time when even a picture of a girl dressed in a bustier with garters and nylons and high heels—who might be carrying a whip—was considered by some to be the rankest form of pornography. Too bad those bluenoses of the forties and fifties couldn't glimpse the Internet of today and see what real pornography is. Then they, like me, would see these garter-stocking-heels pictures as a kind of sexy folk art.

Your great-grandma showed her stocking tops.

Even Sophia got into the spirit of the thing.

The girl on the phone is Kevin (yes, Kevin) Daley, “Miss Army Day 1949” — really. I would not kid about a serious thing like that.

A mask and a gun.

G’bye…and y’all come back now, y’hear?

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