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Bettie Page, FBI Informant
The Smoking Gun
April 14, 2010
Though J. Edgar Hoover’s minions often probed the interstate transportation of obscene material featuring Bettie Page, the notorious pin-up model was nonetheless willing to help agents when it came to FBI inquiries about the production of certain “flagellation and bondage pictures,” according to bureau records. When a 1957 police drug raid on a Harlem apartment turned up a cache of obscene magazines and photos, paddles, a riding crop, a whip, and lengths of chain, rawhide, and rope, FBI agents contacted Page for some expert guidance. Specifically, they wanted to know if the apartment was a photo studio where obscene material was produced. According to the below memo sent to Hoover, Page told investigators that she “had never heard of that type of photography being made in Harlem.” An agent reported that Page also advised that the “flagellation and bondage pictures that she had posed for” were shot “in photographic studios or photographers apartments.” The seized porn, which included “two books and four pictures depicting Betty Page in various poses,” was shipped to Washington for “examination” by the FBI Laboratory, according to a second memo. At some point, agents planned to quiz the apartment’s inhabitants about “what the source of these items was, and to what use they were putting them to.” The FBI documents were included in Page-related material released following a TSG Freedom of Information request. Page died in December 2008 at age 85. (5 pages)
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