Teaserama (1955) (NTSC)
|Category||Documentary||Main Menu Animation|
|Year Of Production||1955|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Irving Klaw|
Joe E. Ross
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
“It’s more tease then sleaze.”
In the 1840s Burlesque was a theatrical art form that humorously satirised such upper-class entertainment as Shakespearean drama and ballet. It also challenged male and female gender roles by having the women actors clad in corsets and masculine thigh-high breeches during a time in history when doing so in public was considered indecent and scandalous.
Over the decades, Burlesque evolved into a genre all of its own. It became less about lampooning traditional theatre and leaned more towards sexually charged, provocatively staged spectacle. Working class males could go along and ogle the female form, which was held teasingly out of reach in G-strings, tassels and fish-net stockings and laugh at the ribald humour without the burden of melodrama and high-browedness usually associated with the theatre.
Internationally, by the 1950s Burlesque was well-established as strip-tease entertainment. Artistes like “the flying G-string girl” Lili St Cyr, “that lovely hurricane of delight” Tempest Storm, “Miss spontaneous combustion” Blaze Starr and cult fetish icon Betty Page thrived on the stage. To spice up their acts they used all sorts of paraphernalia including live snakes, swimming tanks and bubble baths. Whilst in Australia, Burlesque was very much an underground phenomenon, relegated to queer fringe theatre and later seen in the sleazy strip clubs of Sydney’s Kings Cross with our own Sandra "topless" Nelson creating a sensation for appreciative local audiences in the '60s.
Produced by world famous pin-up king, Irving Klaw, Teaserama offers a rare glimpse into the tawdry world of Burlesque. It showcases a number of well-known, full-bodied buxom striptease queens such as Betty Page, who later became an all-American bondage pin-up gal and Tempest Storm, a famous Las Vegas showtart who insured her breasts with Lloyds of London for a cool million. Other acts include Chris la Chris, Twinnie Wallen, transvestite Vickie Lynn, Cherry Knight and Trudy Wayne. The very tame routines are book-ended by badly dressed male comedians telling corny jokes – “Marriage is like a warm bath, once you get used to it, it’s not so hot.”
The stripping and dance moves are endearingly awkward and simply choreographed. In the opening number, Betty Page demonstrates that she can’t dance, but certainly makes up for it with her sharply manicured bangs and long flowing black locks that offset Robert Crumb-esque full curves and non-surgically-enhanced assets.
Teaserama is presented in a standard 1.33:1 NTSC format and not 16x9 enhanced. This does not appear to be the original theatrical aspect ratio as there are moments such as at 12:51 where Betty Page and Tempest Storm have the tops of their heads cut off and a couple of cue cards that introduce the girls don’t quite fit the screen. However, where it counts not an ounce of “important” information is lost.
Shot on 35mm film stock, considering its age and obscurity Teaserama is in surprisingly decent shape. There is a slight softness to the print and a thin veneer of grain evident throughout. Sharpness is acceptable while shadow detail and black levels are of a satisfying clarity and depth.
The bright candy-coloured purple, blue and red palette of the costumes and backdrops are generally rich and vibrant. However, red tends to appear oversaturated and bleeds around the edges of curtains especially (0:55, 43:44 for example). Regardless, Betty Page still looks an innocent treat in her jaw-dropping red and white corset during her opening routine.
Once noticed, edge enhancement is a slight irritation. However, I doubt that you’ll be looking around the perimeter of the gals’ bodies anyway, so it’s really a redundant concern.
Film artefacts like white speckling, scratches and print blemishes are prevalent throughout. Fortunately, the worst times are during the mind-numbingly corny comedy routines which are mercifully brief. The actual striptease routines are relatively clean and well-preserved.
Skin tones appear unnatural and mannequin-like under the harsh lights - Tempest Storm’s Barbie doll wig and facial features look like they are glowing (33:58).
The mono mix is adequate. The muted trumpet, rollicking drums and teasingly quaint clarinet score during the routines burst out through the centre speaker with tinny relish.
There are remarkably very few clicks, pops or dropouts in the sound. There is a faint scratchiness and audio hiss evident throughout, but considering the age and source material it’s within acceptable levels.
Dialogue? Who cares about dialogue?
The subwoofer and surrounds are as quiet as a black velvet glove caressing silk sheets.
|Surround Channel Use|
In this fascinating commentary track, exploitation king David Friedman offers an insider view of the rise of Burlesque and its close relationship with exploitation cinema. Never at a loss for words, Friedman is constantly the showman and his enthusiasm is infectious. Mike Vraney doesn’t need to say much, only occasionally changing the direction of Friedman’s thoughts.
Unfortunately Friedman didn’t work with the reclusive Betty Page, so any interesting insights about her were lacking. Regardless, this is a highly recommended listen.
As an Egyptian princess, Betty Page strips down then winks and frolics around in a bubble bath in this beaten and battered nudie-cutie.
Lacking audio, this black and white peep show (an intertitle even pops up at regular intervals alerting the viewer to “Deposite (sic) another coin for the next part”) has Betty oohing and aahing while showing off her six-inch black stilettos and abundant thighs and buttocks.
Teaserama trailer (2:18)
Teaserama is coming to this theatre soon…seeing is believing!
Varietease trailer (1:47)
It’s new…It’s daring…It’s exciting. Filmed in dazzling Eastman colour…
The Girl Can’t Help It (3:10)
Rock, Rock, Rock (2:04)
Va Va Voom! (1:18)
|DVD||Yamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output|
|Display||Yamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||get a marshall stack, and crank it up.|
|Speakers||2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.|