|It is not just about parading what God gave you.
Consigned to a sanitarium in California for stabbing her landlady, a woman is pleading to be released. The doctor in charge is not satisfied that her charge is no longer a danger to herself or others,
and begins to review her case.
Born into a poor family in the backwoods of Tennessee, Betty Mae was smart and pretty and God-fearing. With hard work, she wins a scholarship to Peabody, but like many before her she marries young
and follows her dreams to Hollywood to escape a life of poverty and the unwanted attentions of her father.
Too devoted to her husband to make her way onto the big screen via the time-honored casting couch, Bettie, now more sophisticated with an ie, winds up in New York in the early 1950s with hopes of being a serious stage actress.
|Christopher Comrie &
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|Photo Credit: C. Comrie|
|Her husband goes AWOL to see her, but abandons her after causing her to miscarry.
Bettie survives a violent incident in a park, only to fall into the strange underworld of bondage photography, where her relative innocence makes her a favourite among the connoisseurs. The world of 50s Burlesque film and Bondage shoots allows her to feel liberated from the pressures of having to be a dutiful daughter, a compliant wife or a talented actress. She does not even need to be beautiful; she just needs to be restrained.
Whether she is tied up, wielding a crop, spanking or wrestling other women, she manages to appear untouched by her seedy surroundings. Despite the high demand for her photos, Bettie remains ignorant of her popularity
and desperately underpaid.
She attends acting class at the famous DramArena, and falls in love with Marvin, a young Brando-wannabe. He leaves her after a disturbing encounter with one of her more obsessed fans. She finally gets a part in a Tennessee Williams play; a three-word part as a prostitute.
Meanwhile, a Senate committee has targeted pornography, and Bettie pictures in particular, as being hazardous to the American public. Bettie is called on as a witness, and then dismissed without a hearing. She goes into hiding, and her religious upbringing combines with her guilt over her modeling career and emerging schizophrenia resulting in her violent attack on her landlady.
Thed petition to get Bettie released from the sanitarium ultimately depends on her ability to overcome her feelings of invisibility, even if only to herself.