- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - The Black Hills Bettys have been bopping their way across stages in the Black Hills since May, captivating audiences with their 1950s pinup styles, their energetic dance routines, and their sassy - yet classy - personalities.

Head Betty Ashley Foster of Black Hawk, known in the group as Rocker Betty, founded the group - which is named for Bettie Page, Betty Grable, Betty Boop and Betty White. “I wanted to blend my two passions: the 1950s era and dancing,” she told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1uUrPYS ).

Foster, dressed in “casual glam” pinup attire for an interview with the Journal - leopard print capris paired with a black shirt and heels, blond hair curled and pinned, and false eyelashes carefully applied - could easily be mistaken for Marilyn Monroe.

“Some of the girls dress in pinup every day,” the 28 year old revealed. “Me - I’m a wife and mother of two young kids, so it doesn’t happen all the time. Just when the mood strikes or when I’m performing.”

Foster’s love of pinup began as a girl, when her father took her to car shows with his ‘67 Camaro convertible. “He absolutely loved the ‘50s and ‘60s, and eventually, I did too. I fell in love with films like ‘American Graffiti’ and ‘Grease.’ I loved the good ‘ole wholesome American music, food and family values.”

Foster has studied dance for the majority of her life, and she was a cheerleader in high school. She is now a certified Zumba instructor at Ultimate Goals Fitness in Black Hawk, where the Black Hills Bettys practice every Wednesday.

Foster describes the style of the Bettys as “1950s rockabilly and Americana.” ”We dance to oldies like ‘Tequila’ by the Champs and ‘Jailhouse Rock’ by Elvis, some swing, some ska, and even a few modern songs. We always incorporate ‘50s-era dance moves. We like to stay classy - and we always keep our moves PG-13. We are certainly not burlesque.”

The Bettys are hired by venues across the Black Hills to perform. The group’s first gig was the July 4 parade in Deadwood, where the ladies danced on a moving trailer. “After that appearance, we went from 250 Facebook likes to 500 in a day,” Foster said.

The group has continued to perform throughout the Black Hills.

When the Bettys perform, they like to interact with audience members, sometimes bringing people onto the stage to dance with them. A family-friendly act, they dance with children and pose for photographs between their 15-minute sets. “We like people to leave our shows feeling good about themselves,” Foster said.

During performances, the Bettys dress in themes. “Some days, we’ll all wear swing skirts like June Cleaver - and some days, we’ll dress pinup casual, like Rosie the Riveter, or wear wiggle dresses like Rizzo in ‘Grease.’”

Currently, there are nine Bettys in the group, and they each do their own hair, makeup and styling. In addition to Foster, Bettys group members include Amanda Oliver, aka Atomic Betty; Megan Bellew, aka Devious Betty; Mickie Littlewolf, aka Sweet Betty; Catherine Chappelle, aka Kitty Betty; Gerri Kennedy, aka Dorky Betty; Lisa Schiesser, aka Bouncing Betty; Kate Wagner, aka Sassy Betty; and Jesenia Benincasa Marquez, aka Spicy Betty. Zach Sewell, known as Greaser Joe, makes guest appearances at events.

The group is recruiting more members who are committed to weekly practices - where the ladies learn new dances - and several events per month, along with scouring thrift stores regularly for pinup attire. Women must be 21 to audition, but all dance experience levels are welcomed.

“To audition, you must be able to move well, and you must have a strong work ethic. It certainly doesn’t matter whether you’re married, single, have children or have a professional career - as long as you’re dedicated to the group, we want to meet you.” Foster said.

“I’m excited that the Black Hills has been so accepting of our group. We’re ready to entertain as long as people will let us,” said Foster, flashing her Marilyn Monroe smile.

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