She Wants T'be Wuvved By You
LC Van Savage
There are so many people I admire in this world, people I’d love to emulate but know I never can. Some folks just seem to be born to do good in the world, to help all humankind, to always say the right thing, to always come up with the absolutely perfect bon mot, mots that often change people’s lives for the good, and of course, forever.
But no. I lack the---well, pretty much the everything. My positive influence on humanity is negative zero, so I want to write today about a lady who’s added much positivity to the world and who’s greatly influenced my life. OK, that’s such a cliché. But it’s true, and although I worship her, I am also extremely jealous of her. She wore miniskirts before they were invented. She had a figure that was curved and jiggly and never skinny, and she never cared if her dress made her look fat because she only wore one dress for her entire life and she hardly cared if her posterior was too rounded. In fact the rounder the better. She had a very short neck and short curly black hair, big, long eyelashes, huge black soot-lined eyes, and in an era when it was frowned upon, she tossed and swayed and shook her sexuality around like kids will toss fall leaves into the air, and she got away with it. She wore high heels, hoop earrings, necklaces, bracelets, that very tight black dress, and she flirted outrageously with everyone. Wives allowed it to happen because they knew the little vixen would always look and sound better than they, so they just gave up. This very female threat was really no threat at all, they’d think nervously. She had one theme song to sing, sung in a sweet, girlish voice with a thick Brooklyn accent while batting those thick eyelashes. She would win over their husbands anyway, so why fight it? There was no hope.
Yep, we are talking about Miss Betty Boop, sexy, freewheeling, wiggly, jiggly, pouty, provocative Betty Boop. I have a serious wannabe issue with Betty. I wanna be her. Now. Today. This instant. I’ve been jealous of her all my life.
She was born fully grown 8 years before I was, in 1930 where she sashayed herself onto the screen in “Dizzy Dishes.” Betty was designed by a man with a somewhat downer first name, Grim Natwick, a great animator. Yes, Betty was born at the end of a pen dipped in ink and out of Grim’s active, creative brain. He built her out of two popular showbiz people of the day, singer/actress Helen Kane and Clara Bow, the latter dubbed “The It Girl” with the Cupid’s bow mouth. Every actress had that mouth back then, small, baby-dollish and pursed, just as every actress today has gone in the opposite direction and has huge, thick and flaccid gross plumped up lips, looking as if they’d been injected with Italian sausages.
Clara Bow and Betty had a lot in common, but alas Clara, who was wonderful in the Silents, never made it into the Talkies because she had a thick, heavy Brooklyn accent and her audiences couldn’t deal. Betty however, adopted that accent and used it well, as she shimmied her sexy stuff all over the screen, flirting outrageously with both viewers and onscreen characters. She was a hoot!
Many actresses back then yearned to be hired to do Betty’s voice, but the one who got to do it the most was one Mae Questel. Betty was a star, she could sing, she could shimmy, she could shake her bootie, and she never, ever was seen without her spike high heels and straight seamed stockings with just the hint of a garter showing. Bump and grind? Betty’s invention. Blatant unafraid audacious everything? Hers. I don’t give a damn attitude? All Betty. Oh my, she was wonderful. I wanted to be her and to stop being an uptight rigid WASP who lived in terror that my slip would show, that my stocking seams would be crooked, or my hair would be messy, or I’d pick up the wrong utensil at a dinner party, or a poppy seed would be stuck between my 2 front teeth. How stupid. What a waste of time. Who cares? All that anguish. Betty never thought about that stuff. Could not be bothered. Ms. Boop was free and happy; the rest of us languished in the prisons of the social gaffe terrors, and found it nearly impossible to escape. Betty helped us escape.
Betty was created before the ponderous, ridiculous Hays Code began, (absolutely no double beds for married film characters, never saying or being pregnant on film, etc. etc.) so she could get herself into compromising situations and embraces, and her films went out to the public with no holds barred, nothing left to the imagination. The Hays group moved in with all their stupid, Victorian, prudish forbiddens, but Betty still managed to get her message across. Even pompous, hung-up old Mr. Hays couldn’t quell Ms. Boop’s love of good old ess—ee—ecks. She sold it well, and everyone was buying!
In 1934, Helen Kane tried to sue the creators of Betty B. saying her personality and image had been exploited. She was, after all, the Boop-Boop-A-Doop girl in the 1920s. In the 1930s her career had halted, but the lawsuit ended in a big snarl and fizzled away. Betty won. Betty always won, and she sang “Boop-Boop-A-Doop” for the rest of her life which hasn’t ended yet.
Betty Boop succeeded even though she never had a husband, (Betty was way into women’s lib long before the phrase was invented) and only rarely did she have a boyfriend, but she was teamed for a very long time with her adorable little puppy, “Pudgy.” A Grampy occasionally floated in and out of the Boop cartoons and she was up against some very formidable competition—Mickey and Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. And of course that scamp, Popeye. But you can’t keep a good sexpot down and even tough Betty’s last cartoons came out in 1939, she just won’t go away, appearing not regularly but fairly constantly year after year, everywhere. Imagine, staying juicy, appealing, young, flippy and adorable for nearly eighty years. Hey, most of us only manage to hold it together for a couple of choice decades before it all begins to sort of vanish from, or enlarge in our reflections.
But not our Betty. She’s still around. Talk about longevity. She’s still struttin’ her stuff, still short, chubby, curvy, pouty, beautiful, wrinkle free and very very sexy. She’s still daring anyone to stop her, and no one can. La Monroe took a good shot at doing a Boopster imitation in “Some Like it Hot” and did a fair job of it, but the real Boop-Boop-A-Doop girl Betty made Monroe look like a prim girl recently escaped from a convent. Sorry Marilyn, but no one could ever be Betty Boop. There’s only one. Folks, Google a list of Ms. Boop’s films and see for yourself.
Betty, you’re one of a kind. You GO girl! May you live long and prosper. Nobody does it better. Oh, how I yearn to be Betty Boop, so strong and unfettered, so aware of her abilities, her freedoms and lack of boundaries. Oh moy, I could not a-spoy-yuh to anythin’ hoy-yuh.
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