There is a NASA legend that in 1952, the famous stripper Bettie Page did a private show for the German rocket scientists stationed at Redstone Arsenal, in Huntsville, Alabama.

After months of shooting off captured V-2s topped by WAC Corporals in hopes of making 2-stage rockets (many of which failed miserably), the boys wanted to unwind. One of them, we don't know who, was a devotee of American burlesque and was spellbound by Bettie Page. He had seen some of her stag loops and thereafter she filled his dreams.

Feeling a little nostalgic, the group devised a one-night revue, The Woman In the Moon, after the 1929 German movie of the same name. The movie had a special resonance with the scientists since some of them, including Hermann Oberth, Willy Ley, and Wernher von Braun, had been technical advisors to director Fritz Lang.

Nothing was too good for our pet rocket scientists. In an anonymous room at the Arsenal, on a set that resembled by turns the interior of a rocket and a moonscape, Ms. Page did a burlesque act interpreting the movie. She played Friede, one of the crew members, while Ley and von Braun played her fiance (Windegger) and lover (Helius), respectively. When Friede and Helius embraced on the moon as the ship returned to earth without them, there was not a dry eye in the house.

According to accounts by the lucky support workers who worked the show as stagehands, the revue was not as spicy as Bettie's usual act. Though some of the German scientists might have known of Count Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (to von Braun, a fellow blue-blood), these old-fashioned types did not share his tastes (not for them the varied delights of Weimar Berlin; once a nerd, always a nerd).

Relics from the show--such as costumes and props--are impossible to find and may be lost to history. I heard the story from somone who had worked on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975), but had heard it from older colleagues who'd worked with von Braun and the others in the Mercury project days (1962-63). Bettie Page, though still alive, will carry this secret to her grave.

Ha ha