Even if you don't know the name Bettie Page, you've probably seen her face or its likeness. Her appearance in dozens of pinup magazines and on postcards has ensured her familiarity; her reclusivness later in life cemented her cult status. In Teaserama, Page is the undisputed star of the show and the only reason to watch the proceedings.
Teaserama is hardly a movie in the traditional sense. It's a filmed burlesque show, in which various striptease acts make their way across the stage, punctuated by occasional standup comedy routines. It's not the sort of thing you watch all the way through in a sitting, or even really something modern audiences would call entertainment. Today, Teaserama is merely a curiosity for die-hard Page fans and film buffs.
The movie starts with Page wiggling her assets in the air for a few moments, which is great if you can simply stare at a beautiful woman for minutes on end. Otherwise, you'll be bored to death. This is followed by the headlining act Tempest Storm, who, in an incomprehensible act of striptease weirdness, gets out of bed wearing nearly nothing and then proceeds to get dressed. Huh? Isn't that the opposite of stripping? We were robbed! Actually, this is par for the course in Teaserama -- if you're expecting more than a glimpse of pastie-encrusted teat, you've come to the wrong movie, buster.
Why yes, all French maids wear
6-inch spike heels and
assist in the daily
dressing of their employers.
Fortunately, Storm is assisted by (you guessed it) Page in a stereotypically skimpy French maid costume. Page steals the show by being sexier just standing there than Storm is while doing a full jiggle-and-shake routine. At the end of the routine, Page mimics Storm's mincing walk, only to be punished by some awkward hair-pulling. It's not the world's most exciting striptease ever, but it has its amusing moments. Although she was the main attraction of the film at the time, Tempest Storm is mostly a disappointment. However, she does eventually border on bawdy in her third and final act, which wraps up the movie.
The comedy acts which break up the dancing girl bits are of the oldest and lamest kind. You will actually hear the phrase: "Take my wife -- please!" The less said about this, the better, although it does bear mentioning that Joe Ross of Car 54 fame ("Ooh! Ooh!") is one of the comedians.
For our continued fascination and edification, we are treated to a pair of Spanish dancers named Peppe and Roccio. If Roccio isn't a man, she's the most masculine Spanish dancer ever to grace the silver screen. And Roccio's not the only female impersonator in Teaserama. Vicki Lynn drops by to assist in the comedy routines and even does a striptease of his/her own.
A few more striptease routines are thrown in, but by this point most viewers are probably fast-forwarding to the next "intro" bit in which Bettie slinks across the screen with a name placard, usually pouting that she's not the one getting to do the next number, but always genuinely pleased just to be in front of the camera. We are treated to one more Bettie Page number before the show is over, and then Tempest Storm gives us her best shot before the credits roll. When Bettie wasn't on screen, we found ourselves reflecting on the fact that in the 1950's, men apparently thought nearly-nude women doing calisthenics were extremely sexy. Today, though, these things are more likely to inspire laughter than lust.