Monday, April 9, 2012 | 2:30 p.m.
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The pinup beauty who stole the show at the annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend wasn’t even there -- except in spirit. And thanks to the world premiere of the documentary “Bettie Page Reveals All,” her images, photographs and videos were there, too.
The debut of the film was the highlight of this year’s rockabilly festival at the Orleans, and it drew 2011 Playmate of the Year Claire Sinclair, burlesque legend and Las Vegas resident Tempest Storm, “Absinthe” star Melody Sweets and many other glamour girls and Bettie Page lookalikes.
Throughout the weekend, rockabilly fans who traveled from as far as Australia and Europe fashioned low-cut gowns to show off cleavage and legs, corsets, seamed stockings and fancy hats. As my colleague Andrea Domanick reported, the girls had glittering lips and luscious curls, while the guys had slicked-back ’dos and abundant tattoos.
It was one, long, 96-hour party with car shows, pool parties and events with music and DJs who spinned until 7 a.m. Watching over it all was Bettie Page, the legendary queen of provocative pinup photography.
“She was one of a kind,” redheaded Tempest told me. “There was no one like her before, and there has been no one like her after -- except for the pop and fashion stars who copied what she projected.”
Claire was there with Tatyana Khomyakova and Jan Glaser from the Bettie Page retail clothing stores, Miss Rockabilly Rumble Michelle Gannon and burlesque dancers and models Bettina May, Ludella Hahn, Angelique Noire, Cherry Club, Tiffany Tutor and Coco Lectric.
Before the screening, Claire arrived in town to dine at STK in the Cosmopolitan, where she tackled her steak with a $15,000 diamond-encrusted knife created by Jason’s of Beverly Hills. She said that she’ll be back here next month to celebrate her 21st birthday.
Mark Mori, the documentary’s producer and director, introduced me and gave me credit for bringing back Bettie into the spotlight on an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.” She’d vanished and spent four decades living anonymously and struggling on her Social Security check in a trailer park as an overweight, poverty-stricken recluse outside L.A.
The film features Tempest, Hugh Hefner, Dita Von Teese, pinup artist Olivia De Berardinis and many others. Mark said: “Although she shot to fame in the ’50s with her fetish modeling and racy pinups, she still continues to this day to enchant and inspire generations of women.
“They still dress like she did, and she’s still one of the world’s most recognized and controversial sex symbols. But her story behind that allure, the real person beneath the timeless, sexy, youthful images, had been a mystery -- until now.
“For the first time, she told her own story in her own words before she died at age 85 in 2008. It’s the only feature-length movie she authorized and has never-before-seen footage and unpublished, rare photos. She was a force of nature representing joyful, sexual freedom, and right up to her death, she could never understand why people made such a big deal about her.
“We shatter some of the mystique about her, but we have at the same time created a new mystique.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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