Pinups and pompadours - Brooklyn Paper

Pinups and pompadours

Rock it: Bettina May, known for her elegant burlesque performances in the style of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, will perform at the Rockabilly Night Market.
Bettina May

Dance like you’re wearing blue suede shoes.

A burlesque performer named Bettina May is bringing back the gee-golly good old days of the ’50s at a Rockabilly festival for fans of the era like herself who find modern life to be a let down.

“Growing up, I would watch ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Leave It To Beaver’ and I thought that’s what life would be like as an adult,” said May. “When I grew up and everyone was wearing sweatpants and pulling their hair back, I was very disappointed.”

May has done a good job of creating her own reality. She dons floor-length silk dresses, wears Marilyn Monroe-hairstyles, and dances to music such as Andrews Sisters recordings.

“I love the music. It was like the punk rock of its day,” said May. “I love expressing that through my burlesque performances.”

May will give one of her popular burlesque performances at the Second Annual Rockabilly Night Market at SRB Brooklyn in July. The event will also include a handful of rockabilly bands, a car show, a pinup photobooth, and a record fair.

Night Market organizer Shien Lee said that the success of the festival shows that the styles of the ’50s are back — or never left.

“The ’50s have their own elegance but also a sense of rebelliousness,” said Lee. “It was the birth of rock and roll, so it meant a loss of innocence.”

May, who is also obsessed with vintage clothing, hairstyles, and performances, travels the country teaching workshops on how to look vintage.

“I teach them how to set and curl their hair in vintage style and teach them about vintage makeup,” said May. “I show them how cool our grandmas were for inventing these styles.”

The Rockabilly Night Market at SRB Brooklyn [177 Second Ave. at 14th Street, in Gowanus, (718) 499-1700, www.srbbrooklyn.com]. July 4, 7 pm, $10–$15.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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