In this first of a regular series, the columnist looks back on an icon of sexuality. In this case, Bebe Buell.
The year was 1970. Beverle “Bebe” Buell received a convertible for her 17th birthday. “I was dangerous and damn good-looking,” she wrote in her memoirs, Rebel Heart: An American Rock ‘n’ Roll Journey. “I had acid and a car!”
From this beginning, Bebe Buell indulged in a life of sexual freedom. She lost her virginity to the guitarist Todd Rundgren. That relationship floundered in infidelity. Buell wrote in her memoirs, “Todd would always be f—ing these nondescript road tramps, whereas I would be f—ing major icons.”
The major icons included Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Steven Tyler and Elvis Costello.
In 1974, Bebe Buell made the big time. She became a Playboy playmate of the month. In that photo spread, her confidence in her sexuality was startling. She arched her topless chest; she squared her shoulders; she offered a hungry, almost insatiable stare. She dared the viewer not to touch the photography of her body.
Playboy compensated Buell for her sexuality. She became the first playmate to receive $10,000 for a centerfold.
In that same edition, by the way, Playboy did a pictorial on “Sex in Cinema.” Linda Lovelace assumed her famous “Deep Throat” fellatio pose. If America knows anything about blow job technique, Linda Lovelace is the reason why.
In 1977, Bebe Buell became pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter, Liv. For the first twelve years of her life, Liv believed that her father was Todd Rundgren. She changed her name, however, when she discovered the true identity of her father — Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith. Tyler, apparently, was too stoned for fatherhood. His daughter went on to star as an actress and model, with her mother’s managerial help.
In 1981, Buell began a music career. She teemed with famous musician/boyfriends to help produce and promote her music. Ric Ocasek of the Cars produced her first album, while John Taylor of Duran Duran financed her second.
Today, Bebe Buell is 58-years-old. She has a grandson, Milo, by her daughter with Steven Tyler — Liv Tyler. She has a band, the Bebe Buell Band. She hopes to soon release a new album.
Still she offers a sad epithet of her life. “I was from a generation that didn’t think that far into the future,” she wrote in her memoirs. “We thought opportunities would always exist, that we would be fifteen forever.”