Border Town Betties bring pin-up culture to the Twin Ports
The group blends vintage fashion with women's empowerment and hosts fundraisers to support the community.
SUPERIOR — What started as a passion for vintage clothing evolved into a pin-up social club focused on women’s empowerment and fundraising for causes that make the Twin Ports a better place.
The Border Town Betties formed in 2019 as a social club for people who appreciate vintage fashion and brought the pin-up community to the Twin Ports.
“Ever since I was a kid, I was just super-enamored with vintage fashion and fashion from the 1940s and ’50s,” said Becky Scherf, president and co-founder of the Border Town Betties. “So I started dressing that way, and by dressing that way, I found out about the pin-up culture.”
However, that group of like-minded individuals didn’t exist in the Twin Ports.
“I have been involved … since I was 18 years old,” said Scherf, who goes by the name Brody Bombshell in the pin-up world. “And I was always having to travel to do events all over the country. There was never anything local.”
Then Scherf learned about a pin-up contest at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center during Motorhead Madness. She met Molly Stonesifer, who was running the event, and the two decided to start a group in the Twin Ports for women with an appreciation of vintage fashion.
The Border Town Betties were born, and the Miss Motorhead Pinup Contest became their inaugural event.
“I met Becky through buying vintage dresses and vintage clothes,” said Megan Hendricks, vice president. “I’ve always had a love of ’40s, ’50s, ’60s fashion, but I never really thought of myself as doing pin-up stuff, but I love wearing the clothes, makeup and hair.”
Hendricks goes by the name Poppy Paramour.
The social club holds a different event every month.
“We do different charity events, and also non-charity events that focus on women empowerment,” Scherf said.
In April, members donned fashions that spanned seven decades for a Fashion through the Ages show at the Douglas County Historical Society. Lady Outlaw Vintage provided the fashions. The show honored Doug Moen, who was an icon for Scherf in vintage fashion. She said proceeds benefited the historical society because she felt he would have wanted that.
On Saturday, May 14, they’ll be hosting Surf’s Up, a 1960s surf rock party to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The Fractals will headline the event, which also includes a performance by the Duluth Dolls. It will run from 6-10 p.m. at the Douglas County Historical Society.
“Around Christmas time, we did a Sponsor-a-Family event,” Scherf said. “We raised about $4,000 to take four different families shopping in the area. It was a little bit different than the traditional toy drive: We raised the money, then we brought the families to the store to pick out the gifts for their kids.”
She said the goal was to add a level of dignity by allowing parents to pick out gifts their children would open on the holiday.
“It was our first year, and it was a big success,” Hendricks said.
“We’ll definitely be doing that again,” Scherf said.
In addition, the Border Town Betties provide volunteers to support Bluebird Foundation events in Duluth and will provide volunteers to help the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center with their Memorial Day picnic.
But it’s the pin-up contests the group is best known for. The Twin Ports Lady Liberty pin-up contest has become a July 4 tradition held in conjunction with the Dennis Van Alstine Memorial Car and Motorcycle Show.
“Those are just a really good way to get women in the community to feel good about themselves, to feel empowered, to get on stage and show off themselves,” Scherf said. “It’s just a really great bonding event and a way to get to know each other, locally and non-locally. People travel from all over the place.”
Scherf said there are 28 members of the organization with varying levels of participation, but she’s hoping the social club, which is seeking nonprofit tax status, continues to grow and take on larger projects.
“We’re always recruiting, and we do have an application process that we do have to do now because we’re in the process of getting our 501(c)3,” Scherf said. “We’re just waiting for that to be approved by the (Internal Revenue Service).”
For more information or to sign up for the Twin Ports Lady Liberty pin-up contest, visit www.twinportsladyliberty.com . For information about the Border Town Betties, visit www.bordertownbetties.com or message bordertownbetties on Facebook or Instragram.
IF YOU GO
What: Surf's Up, a 1960s-style surf rock party
When: 6-10 p.m. Saturday, May 14
Where: Douglas County Historical Society, 1101 John Ave., Superior
Music by: The Fractals and Duluth Dolls
Cost: $20 in advance; $25 at the door
Includes: Hula hoop contest, raffle prizes, silent auction
Benefits: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital