Now a journalist on a London newspaper, and with a publishing career stretching back almost 30 years, Beverley Glick got her first taste of the media high-life as a secretary on the London music weekly Sounds.
Becoming involved with one of the paper’s journalists, a geeky-looking bloke by the name of Tony Mitchell, she soon found herself embarking on a new and exciting double life as a pop writer and founder member of the original Skin Two club that, in 1983, spawned the London fetish scene.
Taking the name Betty Page as her journalistic pen-name started out as an in-joke, but it stuck, and as ‘Betty’ became increasingly famous for championing the new breed of synth-popsters such as Soft Cell and their contemporaries among the New Romantics, Beverley became increasingly confused about her true identity. Her double-life was great fun, but it also took her to some places where she really didn’t want to go.
Fast-forward a couple of decades. Aware of the enduring fascination with an era of pop she was intimately involved with and had documented extensively in her day-job, Bev decided last year to commit her wide knowledge of ’80s pop life and her memories of personal encounters with many of the period’s most colourful characters to permanent record.
Her book, Hit Girl: My Bizarre Double Life in the Pop World of the Eighties, is now finished, and as a prelude to its appearance in print, its content has been neatly condensed into a very readable blog on her MySpace page, MyNameWasBettyPage.
Here, we present a selection of her blog entries, along with a gallery of pictures of the author, incidentally also the owner of the most famous ankle in the history of fetish iconography…
Semi-detached suburban Miss
Plain old Beverley from suburbia’ is what Marc Almond called me in his autobiography Tainted Life but, hey, the truth hurts. Born in 1957, I was a suburban bore through and through and never expected much more from life than a decent wage, so I became a secretary. I spent the Silver Jubilee dutifully dressed in red, white and blue, working for the Civil Service when the Sex Pistols’ Establishment- bashing God Save The Queen was released. But I did sing in a band — a nine-piece pub-rock ensemble called Tennis Shoes — which led me indirectly to a job as secretary to the editor of Sounds, a leading music paper. Elvis died, closely followed by Marc Bolan, and I suffered for my art as Tennis Shoes became semi-professional and there was even talk of making a single…
Richard Branson was my baby
Tennis Shoes finally made a record — The Medium Wave — that garnered plenty of radio play thanks to my new friend, John Peel. I became close to Sounds writer Tony Mitchell and we discovered a mutual interest in Debbie Harry and sexy female clothing, resulting in a display of schoolgirl-inspired eroticism for the aforementioned DJ. Tennis Shoes’ 15 minutes of fame ran out after almost signing to a major label and entertaining the Monkeys' Davy Jones. The band played at the launch of Richard Branson's Venue and the entrepreneur and his friend Mike Oldfield, dressed as babies, tried to get far too familiar with my ankles.
Betty Page is born again
I wanted to be Debbie Harry but became Betty Page. New boyfriend Tony introduced me to a different world in which I met musicians such as Talking Heads, the Police, XTC and Bill Nelson. Then Tony asked me to help him write his reviews. I started to tire of my secretarial role — after all, now I was visiting rock stars’ mansions and dressing in saucy outfits to spice up trade fairs. Tony encouraged me to write a review of my own, which was published under a pen name stolen from a 1950s bondage model. It was the beginning of my double life. Betty Page was sharpening her claws and her tongue.
‘We want to be the band to dance to when the bomb drops’
On the promise of a ‘scene like the Blitz’ in Birmingham, I travelled north to do the first proper interview with five precocious young men called Duran Duran, whose plan for global domination was already in place. I was suitably impressed by their youthful enthusiasm and confidence — but not enough to accept Simon Le Bon's offer of a cup of cocoa back at his place. At the same time, the label ‘Futurist’ was emerging to describe the new breed of experimental electronic bands that were exploiting the latest cheap synthesiser technology. The term was coined by an odd young man called Stevo, a DJ who put together a compilation of this new music called the Some Bizzare Album. And it was indeed bizarre.
A beautiful new world with rubber edges
The best tracks on the Some Bizzare Album were performed by an electro-pop duo called Soft Cell and bunch of Essex boys named Depeche Mode. I interviewed both groups — the latter a shy bunch of callow youths who displayed pop potential; the former a pair of kindred spirits — oddballs, really — intrigued by the seedy side of life. I felt embraced by Marc Almond and Dave Ball and it was the start of a relationship that would affect me deeply.
Turning Japanese (I really think so)
I met the reclusive front man of Japan, reluctant heart-throb David Sylvian, before clinching a deal for Tony and me to fly to Tokyo to interview Yellow Magic Orchestra, who had inspired so many British electro-pop groups. We travelled on the bullet train, met Sandii, Japan's answer to Debbie Harry, and played party games with Ryuichi Sakamoto. The Betty Page World Tour came to an end but, rather than face reality, fantasy took over my life. I was becoming Betty in more than name — reproducing her look and the images of her in bondage. A little bit of disguise made it easier to flash my fishnets with impunity and soon I was being photographed as much as Marc Almond.
‘Betty in Blancmange boo-boo shocker!’
’The death knell sounded for the New Romantic movement when Spandau Ballet went mainstream, started topping up their tans and trying to compete with Duran Duran. The latter, back from a US tour, wanted to entertain me, and made it clear they remembered everything I’d ever said about them. I teased them about their James Bond lifestyle; they teased me about weird sexual perversions. Simon Le Bon reminded me of the cup of cocoa I had turned down after our very first interview. “That was the winning gesture, wasn't it, Betty? You've never been able to resist us since…” Meanwhile, Tony and I blagged our way to Manhattan to interview Soft Cell and we were in the mood to experiment…
Non-stop new York ecstasy
Soft Cell’s Marc Almond had the keys to New York City and copious amounts of his favourite drug, Ecstasy, to share with his friends. It stripped away my inhibitions to such an extent that I happily posed for a foot fetishist and almost agreed to become a trainee dominatrix. After a quick diversion to Los Angeles to interview Talk Talk, we returned for further adventures in New York and found Marc to be a man in turmoil, trying to escape from the “tinselly little thing” everyone expected him to be. By contrast, I had glimpsed liberation. The combination of a remarkable drug and an extraordinary set of circumstances had changed the way I behaved.
My No1 is bigger than your No1…
The race was on between Spandau and Duran Duran to reach No1, but the latter won with Is There Something I Should Know?, even though the former’s True stayed there for longer. By the time that contest was resolved, Boy George’s ego was beginning to spiral out of control and he chastised me for wearing a micro mini skirt. I was dispatched to interview George and his drummer Jon Moss after their successful American tour and found myself in the middle of a verbal tennis match that later transpired to be a lovers' tiff… My interest in dressing provocatively finally found its ultimate outlet in a club launched by former Blitz Kid David Claridge. Called Skin Two, it had a strict dress code of rubber and leather. It was a bridge between the posing of New Romanticism and something far more taboo and challenging. Now I had an alter ego and a second skin — latex!
Roland Rat’s happy shiny people
I was made an honorary member of Skin Two. My dominatrix rôle was strictly for show and I enjoyed the feeling of control it gave me. David Claridge was living a double life as well. His puppet, Roland Rat, was busy reversing a ratings slump at TV:am while the puppet master was dressing in rubber at night. Tony and Betty returned to Manhattan to see Soft Cell play what would turn out to be one of their last-ever gigs. Marc took us on a whirlwind tour of the most unusual nightclubs in New York, the Hellfire and the Anvil — which specialised in S&M scenarios of every description. My designer rubberwear caused considerable excitement among a group of voyeurs; Mr Almond watched as they deposited strings of sperm on my stilettos. How perfect: me and Marc bonding over other men's spunk.
To read more of Beverley’s MySpace blog and view all the pix, click on the link in the left-hand column.