Monday, May 12, 2008

Icons and Role Models: Betty Davis

I appreciate negativity and all, but now I feel it's the time to do one of my more positive posts, and that is is about Betty Davis. Betty released three funk albums in the 70s, including a self titled album, They Say I'm Different, and Nasty Gal. She's known for being raunchy and forthright, and though it's unlikely she would be considered quite so "nasty" had she been a man singing the same words, her candor, sass, and grinding growl of a voice are still ahead of their time today- consider songs such as "If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up", or "Don't Call Her No Tramp."

It's always a rare performer who can "own" their sexuality- good examples are early Madonna and Prince- both are people who got in trouble for being too direct, dirty and crass. Artists like this are millions of miles away from the various "sexy" perfomers and pop tarts who are continually thrown in our faces; they, instead, project agency and control when singing about these things, and that seems to be part of what freaks people out. (Not to go too much on a tangent here, but even though I personally did not buy that album/never will, I thought Christina Aguilera's off-parodied Dirrrty or however many Rs it had was a good example of this too- it certainly wasn't dirrrrtier than whatever Brtitney Spears was doing, but the fact that she called the shots and seemed so genuinally into it obviously distrubed everyone.)

If I was to attach an MP3 to this post (does anyone want to teach me how to do that?) I would pick her excellent "Game is My Middle Name."

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, Betty Davis looked really awesome. She had the sort incredibly glammed out/space age funk thing that was popular in the 70's (which deserves a post in of itself, really) but also this amazing 70's tramp look with short shorts and whatnot, plus an afro which is a hairstyle I have always been fond of. It's a look that many could not pull off or put together well, but she really manages.

Wow, look at this cover! Covers like this alone are worth having records and not CDs so you can actually see the often amazing cover artwork and photography. Anyway, this shows that funk-space-glam look really well. The back of this onesie like thing flips up to a sort of Egyptian headdress, which is visible on the back of the album. Also, maribou trimmed platform turquoise booties- yes!

Everything about this outfit is 70's, from the high-waisted short shorts to the tied up floral shirt to the turquoisey jewelery to those silver platform boots. (It's kind of Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, you know?) God, don't you wish you were a teenage girl in 1973 so you could put up a poster of Betty Davis on your wall and style yourself after her?

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