Katy Perry isn't the first pop star to expertly work the tease angle. Here are six cute, coy forebears, all of whom you could take home to Mom — but whom dear ol' dad approved of as well. Sean Daly, Times pop music critic
Never mind the tabloid affairs and presidential predilections. Norma Jean's public persona was all wide eyes, breathy coo and curvy fun, whether she was having her dress blown up by a frisky grate or cuddling with the cross-dressers in 1959's Some Like It Hot or famously opting for friendly diamonds over dudes.
Long before Brunette Annette did the Frug with Frankie in Beach Blanket Bingo, she was the '60s teen queen of the Mouseketeers, Uncle Walt's G-rated star. But don't be fooled: There was something toying in the way she swirled her skirt. And much to Disney's dismay, her rush into puberty filled out her clubhouse sweat shirt scandalously. Poor Cubby: He never saw it coming.
Yes, she grew up to become one of the greatest — and flat-out sexiest — divas in the pop pantheon. But in the beginning, Lady D was just Berry Gordy's shy, quiet Detroit discovery, the pretty Motown singer with the golden vocal Supremely crying for her Baby Love.
Maybe it's that disarming Smoky Mountain giggle. Or the voluminous blond hair reaching for the sky. Or the fact that she writes songs as beautifully as she sings them. Whatever the case, since the '60s, Dolly has walked a brilliant showbiz tightrope between hoedown and hubba-hubba, making her bold bosoms a sort of winking family entertainment.
Ms. She's So Unusual doesn't flaunt her beauty; since the '80s, she has been hiding it beneath neon hair, thrift-store dresses and a Noo Yawk accent that can be ratcheted up to wallpaper-peeling shrill levels. But Cyndi wields her bratty, chicks-rule demeanor like a superpower, and Girls Just Want to Have Fun still retains that boy-tweaking subtext.
The No Doubt tomboy and solo star has become altogether glam over the years, channeling her inner Veronica Lake. But before the peroxide explosion, Gwennie started as Just a Girl, an Orange County mall rat who wanted to hang with the boys, "all pretty and petite" — until she got bored and totally messed with their minds.