Queen Bettie: Hell on High Heels

Studies have long shown that wearing high heels, especially the towering, sky high variety that Bettie Page popularized during her pinup career, can lead to all sorts of aches and chronic pain. Habitual wearers oh heels can do a real number on their feet, legs, hips, and backs. Ouch. Clearly, Bettie Page suffered for her art.

Other studies have shown that people tend to believe heels further accentuate the beauty of even the most shapely of legs, and for Bettie they only made her even more appealing to photographers and customers in the underground camera club world of 1950s New York City. Her innate sex appeal was further enhanced by thigh highs, garter belts, and high heels—or, as we might call these items, the tools of Bettie’s trade.

Bettie’s rise to pinup fame happened during the age of the moral panic over sexual deviance and other perceived self-abuses of the body, mind, and soul. The camera clubs where she became a star were a place for patrons to satisfy their interests in looking at gorgeous women, plus an outlet for the models to express themselves freely in ways deemed too lurid for society. Knowing as we do the results of countless studies where men are asked to watch women walk in heels or in flats and choose which is sexier (hint: the heels usually win out), it makes complete sense that Bettie gravitated towards high heels that would create a leaner, longer line to her legs. Bettie loved looking sexy for her modeling work and her confidence blossomed in front of the camera. She seemed to have been born to perform for the camera.

Bettie spent long, grueling hours on her feet in those famous pumps, strappy heels, dominatrix boots and scores of other painful yet sexy footwear. Her stamina is legendary.* Her trusted camera club friends and professional partners Irving and Paula Klaw—who owned and operated Movie Star News, where they took legendary photos and short films of Bettie—were always astonished at Bettie’s commitment. She pushed through the exhaustion of fetish and bondage photo shoots that called for her to be on her feet or bound and gagged for lengthy stretches. Famously, she never complained. She just did the work, and enjoyed it every high heeled step of the way.

*Not only was her stamina for pinup and fetish modeling legendary, but in the documentary Bettie Page Reveals All—which is narrated by Bettie herself—a few former lovers enthusiastically praise her stamina in bed too! I know, it’s like I just validated all your Bettie fantasies. You’re welcome for that.

What is it about Bettie in an ankle strap heel that sends us into fits?

The woman even did Karate Kid crane poses in her towering high heels.

The Queen of High Heels.

Whoa, hold the phone: ankles straps and crisscross straps?!? Bettie, have mercy.

The classic black pumps that Bettie wore so frequently, and so well.

These dominatrix boots were definitely not made for walking.

I suppose the focus here is less on Bettie’s black pumps than it is on her sheer top, but so be it!

Just another day at the office for Bettie.

I repeat: just another day at the office for Bettie.

Those are sky high stilettos, wow. No wonder she’s putting her feet up for a spell.

Just a quick strap adjustment and Bettie is ready to shine in this beautiful session with photographer Bunny Yeager.

This session is such a classic, so here’s one more.

Okay, one more.

How does anyone walk in those heels??

Honey, it’s how ya makin’ money
Boys call ya
Hell on high heels
Baby, the way ya walk it, talk it
Boys call ya
Hell on high heels

— Mötley Crue, “Hell on High Heels”

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