A curious case of cheesecake and the quest for the perfect bottom


bettie pagebettie-page bettie-page2There is a scene in the movie The Notorious Bettie Page where Gretchen Mol, in the role of Bettie, explains to a fan that he can only photograph her from behind. This is because of obscenity laws that prevent any hint of the pubic region or as my grandmother might have quaintly called it, the front bottom area.

This problem explains some rather curious little snippets unearthed while researching spanking and Hollywood (a project still ongoing). Apparently during the cheesecake era there were professional models who had the kind of personal layout (how else to put it?) that meant that whilst in a normal pose and viewed from behind there is no hint of their more forward charms.

It is actually an issue I have considered before but hadn’t realised it was a professional ‘thing.’ Namely, I tend to, and virtually always do, avoid pictures that are too revealing or containing full frontal nudity. However, sometimes this is difficult as even in relatively innocent photographs some women are apt to ‘show’ from behind; as if women didn’t have enough to put up with in the body fascism stakes.

It is not an issue that usually matters, I suspect, except if one is living in an era when nudity was banned or severely restricted.

Now this brings us to the point. In a magazine cutting about cheesecake one woman is described as an ‘ass model.’ She is quoted as saying ‘that some knock out girls used to get canned just because they had camel-toe issues, back as well as front.’ She on the other hand could be pictured from behind clothed or unclothed ‘without showing the goods.’

A very delicate matter to be sure, but just who had the job of assessing these girls? I bet he was pissed off when the permissive society got going. But then maybe it was a woman: the Brooklyn Bridge going cheap, anyone?

More to the point, another article in the same search suggested that bottom models were used in close up for any delicate situation, not only to make the artist look good, but to ensure ‘appropriate levels of propriety.’ More of the same issue then, we might suspect?

But what delicate situations do they mean? Apparently spanking was the big one. Not only did a girl need a ‘good seat’ for presenting a target when the script called for it, but a girl had to take a ‘decent spanking’ for sometimes up to ‘three or four dozen takes.’ The headline actors were reluctant to suffer that much for there are and besides it could hold up production. Not that some actresses didn’t occasionally take one or two for the team.

Now I wonder if there were auditions and who had that job.

2 Responses to “A curious case of cheesecake and the quest for the perfect bottom”

  1. 1 Pecan nutjob

    I’ve read some weird things about Australian obscenity rules (unsure whether they are laws or whether it’s just TV rules). Showing labia is a no-no, so the… “front bottom” is digitally touched up so as not so show the pink bits. I also reckon hair should be kepts to a minimum.

    The problem is that girls and women in the audience think this is how normal women should look, thus prompting some to get some reduction surgery (ick!).

    • 2 DJ

      As I said briefly there is a whole lot of body fascism going on. It isn’t just this issue – look at how the Kardasians are airbrushed to the point of fakery.

      All sorts of people are pushed to extremes to meet this impossible standard. 😦

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