Upon waking up to the news of Bettie Page’s death this morning, I was filled with thoughts that I didn’t expect. She was a peculiar fixture at Bubbles in the Think Tank for years. Why peculiar? Well, she had no recorded material to speak of, making it somewhat challenging to be a fixture on a radio show.
So how did this manifest? There’s a tradition in Think Tank land that brings listeners, young and old, near and far, past and present, to the studio for the heap big Christmas Mad Lib. All come bearing presents, and we, being the gracious hosts of the show, bring presents for everyone we know will be there and then some. The pile of gifts each year rivals my childhood memories of presents under the tree. Maybe that’s just because these meant so much to me. But I digress.
Over the years, I could not even begin to enumerate the Bettie Page themed gifts given and received in those funky WAIF studios. I’m not really sure how it even happened that items from t-shirts to mugs, playing cards to coasters, calendars to address books, worked their way into the ritual. But it seems like she’s there every single year in some form.
But why was Bettie Page so important to the people of Bubbles in the Think Tank? From my vantage point, her treatment during the Kefauver Hearings investigating pornography and indecency certainly won over my heart given my free speech sensibilities. Especially by today’s standards, those images and films are mighty tame, but then again, I always thought our show was tame. Yet that has never stopped people from calling the show shameful, filthy, or pornographic. You and I both know that it has never been any of those things. Just as Bettie Page’s work never was.
Plus, she loved monkeys just as much as us.