Teaserama (1955)
By: J.R. McNamara on June 30, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). Region 2 & 4 NTSC. 4:3. English DD 1.0. 66 minutes
The Movie
Director: Irving Klaw
Starring: Bettie Page, Tempest Storm, Cherrie Knight, Trudy Wayne, Chris LaChri , Twinnie Wallen
Country: USA
The history of burlesque performance is an interesting one. Originating in the mid 19th century, burlesque was a form of comedy that focused on mocking normal social graces. It received a reputation as being crass from the upper class, as they were the ones the comedy usually mocked. Burlesque was known mainly for its dance routines and bawdy humour; as time wore on it streamlined until it became a combination of dancing girls in very, very small outfits, and stand up comedy. Burlesque was the entertainment that sat somewhere between vaudeville and striptease, which was the eventual reason for its demise…why go a see a sexy girl dancing in little clothing when you can see a sexy girl dancing in her birthday suit? Teaserama was the second feature by Irving Klaw, who was best known for his cheesecake and B and D photography, which he sold through his mail order business, and which very rarely featured nudity. Bettie (or Betty) Page was probably one of, if not THE most popular subject photographed by Klaw, and she features extensively in this feature: it is obvious that Tempest Storm is the featured star, but almost all the acts are introduced by Bettie Page, in the role of a boxing ring styled 'card girl'.

There is no storyline to Teaserama. Teaserama is a collection of burlesque performances and stand up comedy that feature no nudity, and no swearing. Sure some of the jokes lean on the edge of double entendre, but you would be hard to find anyone who would find any of this offensive. This is a cinematic gem that features performances by people who, like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, have become iconic. A warning though: if you are buying this disc for titillation, these girls are fuller figured, natural women, not the stick insect styled supermodel types that are filled with so much silicon they qualify as computer hardware that Playboy and Penthouse feature within their pages these days. Remember, Monroe was a size 12, and she is regularly described as the sexiest woman in history. It stars some of the big names of burlesque, including Tempest Storm, Cherrie Knight, Trudy Wayne and others, not to mention the comedy stylings of Joe E. Ross and Dave Starr, and a little of female impersonator Vicki Lynn.

One thing that Teaserama proved was that Klaw had certainly made note of any of the faults of his first feature Varietease, and had improved his style to make a more sleek production. He had obviously discovered that he could utilize the features of cinema, especially by removing the MC that was a regular in his Varietease, and replacing him with the silent, and much easier on the eye Ms Page, not to mention ditching some of the completely ridiculous acts, like the scatting be-bopper. The wonderful thing about this piece is to see Betty Page in action. We have all seen the image of her, be it from her fan magazine The Betty Pages, or from the many pieces of memorabilia that Dark Horse Comics produce featuring her image, or through the pages of Dave Steven's (Brinke's ex) wonderful comic The Rocketeer, so seeing her in motion, for fans, is a treat. It is clear that Bettie Page is being promoted as the star of this feature by Umbrella Entertainment's cover blurb of 'The Notorious Bettie Page stars in…' considering 'The Notorious Bettie Page' is the name of the biopic about her.
The image on this disc is dreadful!! It has more artefacts than an archeological dig, but the fact that this print is taken from the Something Weird release means that it is business as usual: no cleaning up of the image! Also due to the costumes they wear, being so covered in sequins and frills, there is a fair bit of aliasing as well.
Considering its age, the 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack has survived quite nicely. It suffers at times, and you will too when you hear the music!!
Extra Features
The commentary on this disc is done by Mike from Something Weird Video, who is basically interviewing exploitation legend, David F. Freidman. His knowledge of the entire burlesque scene is astounding and if you have even the slightest interest in Ms Page or Ms Storm, or in burlesque in general you will find this commentary a wealth of information.

Also included on this disc are trailers for Teaserama (2 minutes 20 seconds) and Varietease (1 minute 50 seconds).

As a bonus there is a Bettie Page scene from Striporama (3 minutes 17 seconds) and another one from Teaser Girls in High Heels (7 minutes 41 seconds).

There are also other Umbrella trailers: The Girl Can't Help It, Rock Rock Rock! and Va Va Voom!
The Verdict
This is an odd feature really only of interest for it kitsch value. A bit of fun with a little bit of sauce, Teaserama is the quintessential movie for fans of burlesque. It is a real shame it has not been treated with a little respect and the image cleaned up.
Movie Score
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