We chatted with Bettie Butcher ahead of the GreazeFest Kustom Kulture Festival:
Tell us how you become Bettie Butcher?
I grew up as a tomboy, riding motorbikes, and tinkering on cars with my brother and father. Girly things never interested me, so after experiencing extensive bullying because I was a ‘goth’, I left school early. I never considered being in the spotlight and was quite awkward when photographed, but this all changed in 2005 at GreazeFest Kustom Kulture Festival when I was photographed, sitting in a purple and yellow custom pickup truck by Pix by Pete. The photo was later published in Cruzin’ magazine, giving me the confidence boost I needed to change my shy attitude and never let anything hold me back.
How did you get involved in producing pageants and rockabilly events?
My first pageant experience was in 2008 at the Garterbelts and Gasoline Festival, and although I didn’t place, I loved how much confidence it gave me and the friendships I forged with other finalists (who I am still friends with today!). In 2010, I entered two national pageants – Miss Pinup ‘Deadbeat Magazine’ (judged by international icon, Sabina Kelley) and Miss Ink Australia. Would you believe I won both, feeling I’d achieved all I ever wanted, it was time to hang up the sashes and try something new!
The following year a host didn’t show for an event so I was asked to step in, I’ll admit I was nervous and scared due to my anxiety, but I didn’t want to let them down, and the rest is history! Being part of the rockabilly and pinup culture for so long gave me an established name, which has helped give my events a glowing reputation and the support of our wonderful community.
In 2010, I started hosting a couple of events, but now I host and produce most of the major pageants forging Queensland as a leader in the Australian pinup community. I’ve even produced a number of charity rockabilly events across Queensland with my husband Rastra Lyall! I love the opportunity to produce events where women can build their confidence and create lifelong friendships. They are not beauty contests – they are personality showcases where anyone can win. I’ve worked on over 60 events including hosting pageants, workshops and teaching hair and makeup for more than ten years.
Tell us about some competitions you have won?
I really hit the spotlight when I was crowned the winner of one of the first Australian pinup pageants at the Sydney Tattoo and Body Art Expo 2010. This was followed by taking the title of Miss Ink Australia in the same year! Winning the title of Miss Pinup and Miss Ink Australia gave me so much exposure that now I’m household name in the Australian pinup and tattoo culture. I’ve been published on the cover of a number of international pinup and tattoo magazines (which I’ll have at my stall at Greazefest) and this has helped expand my career into regular trips around Australia and to the USA, where I’ve been blessed to work with some of the worlds most talented photographers.
How are you involved in this year’s GreazeFest Kustom Kulture Festival?
I have been going to GreazeFest for over 14 years, so I’m thrilled to be hosting the second annual Miss Tiki Wahini and Miss Hot Rod Belle pinup pageants. I’m also holding my very first stall with artist (and my husband), Rastra Lyall. We’ll have custom ray-gun and metal sculptures, pins, stickers, vintage clothing. I’m really excited to launch two new t-shirt designs, including one shirt to raise money for Dolly Dream – a charity set up in memory of 14-year-old Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, who took her own life after an extended period of bullying and cyberbullying.
What are you looking forward to at GreezeFest?
I bet you think I’d say the pageants, but to be honest I love checking out the art show. Every year Australian artist take the theme (this year it’s Atomic) and express their creative skills to create artworks based around this. I may have even taken the theme into account when deciding my outfits, you’ll just have to wait and see. Where else can you see so many talented artists in one place, and possibly snag yourself an original piece of low brow art!
What do you love most about modern pin-up parades?
I love seeing the modern twist women put on ‘pinup’. Let’s be honest, it’s not the 50’s anymore and these days we’re about vintage vibes, not vintage values! Seeing pinups with bright coloured hair, tattoos and piercings shows just how far the pinup community has come to accept everyone no matter their age, size, sex, race or background. As we say, there are no rules in pinup! My greatest achievement is watching women grow from being shy, to bubbly and confident, making new friends, and even going on to host pageants of their own.
What appeals to you about the pinup lifestyle?
It’s the all-inclusive nature of the pinup lifestyle, that there are no rules and everyone is accepted for who they are, not what they are wearing. A chance for women to dress up and feel even more beautiful than they already are. Women building each other up! There are women who live and breathe pinup every day, some who only wear vintage (like Sandy from Grease), and some who are more rockabilly with tattoos (more like Rizzo). It’s about everyone being an individual and putting their spin on pinup, because although pinups draw inspiration from icons like Bettie Page and Dita Von Teese, how boring would it be if everyone just imitated them.
What’s your secret to perfect winged eyes?
My secret is the Vamp Stamp, it’s a tool that gives you perfect winged eyeliner every time (even for hooded eyes!). You simply stamp the tool into black eyeliner and then stamp on your eye, hey presto! Perfect liner in seconds and hygienic!
How do you mentor other pinups?
I encourage women to give pinup a try as all women are beautiful no matter their age, shape, or background! I create opportunities for pinups to go from models to hosts, passing on my experience and knowledge to help them book venues, gain sponsors, write scripts, create judging scorecards, and publish in magazines. I really pride myself on creating opportunities for others and help photographers to network with pinups, give advice and posing guidance at photoshoots to help women build their confidence. I host causal meet-ups where women can come together in a relaxed environment and make new friends, including monthly roller skating nights, meets at Hub Brewing Geebung and weekend lunches.
I am the vintage styling teacher with the Bombshell Academy, teaching way to set hair and makeup in vintage styles but with modern products. I run annual workshops to help empower women to start their pinup career covering – how to choose your pinup name, writing bios, creating social media accounts, as well as advice on working with photographers and for photoshoots, through to how to style garments for specific eras.
How did you overcome being bullied?
I have unfortunately seen bullying in the culture before, but I was brought up to stand up for what’s right. I wanted to do more for my community, to make a change and ensure all women were treated equally in a fair and transparent manner. I already guaranteed my events have a zero-tolerance for bullying, I even took a position on the committee of a national pageant with a history of entrants feeling intimidated. But after trying to make a positive change with no results, I resigned from the committee. I felt I had let women down! After my experience being bullied, I’d had enough! I knew it was time to do something, to take a stand and speak up.
The Bacon Bots campaign was born when Brisbane pinup, Farah Day Cage, suggested turning a negative into a positive and help change the culture around bullying while raising funds for the charity, Dolly’s Dream. I continue to make a difference as an anti-bullying advocate through Pinups of Australia, a community by women for women, giving free advice, raising money for charities and creating safe environments for pinups everywhere.
Who or what inspires you?
Women everywhere inspire me, from my mother, Lynne, who always taught me to stand up for what’s right, to my fabulous group of friends who are strong independent women who take no bull! It’s Brisbane women achieving great things that inspire me. Such as Mimsy from Mimsy’s trailer trash tattoo – a talented and creative businesswoman who is known worldwide for her cute tattoo style and friendly nature, Mel Love who independently runs Crown and Co Barbers / King Tiki Bar in Fortitude Valley – one of the most business-savvy women that I know, my headmistress at Bombshell Academy, Lila Luxx – who always goes above and beyond for anyone in the burlesque and pinup culture, and of course Fanny from Mermaid Salon – who helped to get the revenge porn laws passed here in Queensland.
What are the plans for the future?
I want to focus on the Pinups of Australia community that I created – it’s a place where women who are interested in pinup can come together and network with experienced pinups in a safe and supportive environment. We support every Australian pageant with handmade commemorative gifts as a reminder of how proud women should be just for taking the stage. We’re here to support everyone and grow this culture!
About GreezeFest Kustom Kulture Festival
GreezeFest Kustom Kulture Festival is an annual event held at Redland Showgrounds. The three-day family-friendly festival will shine a spotlight on the passionate rockabilly and hot rod community, with revellers rocking ‘n’ rolling their way back in time to celebrate all things vintage.
For further details head to the website: www.greazefest.com