Friday, 30 December 2011

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

"I am not a myth"

From TriBaby website:
"Was there anyone as glamorous as Marlene Dietrich? Indeed, the very word may have been invented for her. Perhaps she really was nothing more than a figment of our collective imaginations, an impossible creature with a husky voice, fabulous legs, astonishing eyebrows, and a way with a cigarette that could make the thing actually seem alluring.

Indeed, Dietrich may have been no more than a figment of her own imagination. As her daughter Maria Riva revealed after the legend's death, Dietrich often spoke of herself in the third person, saying things like, "Oh, Dietrich would never wear that hat," or "That is how Dietrich would do it." She worked hard all her life to cultivate that aura of perfection and glamour, playing a perpetual part any time she was in the public eye.

The contradictions in her personality seemed to confound all the laws of man and nature at once. She could look glamorous whether in a fabulous Travis Banton confection or in full male formal dress. She was at once a prima donna full of attitude, and an extremely disciplined, hard worker on the set. Though she remained married to Rudolf Sieber her entire life, the stories of her legions of lovers of both sexes are legendary. And though one might think of her as no more than a Hollywood cream puff, she spent several years of World War II in great danger in Africa and Europe entertaining the troops extremely close to the front.

"Dietrich" was not a real person at all, but a lifelong work of art cultivated by one Maria Magdalena Dietrich, born in Berlin in December, 1901, and maintained right up until her death in May, 1992. Admire not the person she was, but the illusion she created."

"America took me into her bosom when there was no longer a country worthy of the name, but in my heart I am German - German in my soul."

"Darling, the legs aren't so beautiful, I just know what to do with them."

"Glamour is what I sell, it's my stock in trade."

"I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men."

"I am not a myth."

Marlene Dietrich (27th December 1901 – 6th May 1992)

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Nobody's business

It's worth reflecting while the crackers are pulled and the roasts devoured that Miss Eartha Kitt died on Xmas Day...

"When we want to have our own style of living, it is nobody's business but ours. What we do in private is our private business."

"I've always said to my men friends, If you really care for me, darling, you will give me territory. Give me land, give me land."

"Jewellery, to me, is a pain in the derriere, because you have to be watching it all the time."

"Dr. Einstein was not successful in school, but he found something in the air from his own imagination and his own brain power, and look what he did."

"I never take anything for granted. I may slip any minute."

Eartha Mae Kitt (17th January 1927 – 25th December 2008)

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The sweetest-smelling actress

"Popularity is a curious thing. The public responds to a dimple, a smile, a giggle, a hairstyle, an attitude. Acting talent has less to do with it than personality."

"I know all the swear words. I just don`t use them. There are worse things in life than being called a Lady."

[Cary Grant] "said I had perfect timing in comedy and that I was the sweetest-smelling actress he ever worked with."

"I love beautiful things, but a woman who considers herself best dressed usually spends all of her time at it."

Irene Dunne (20th December 1898 - 4th September 1990)

Read my previous tribute to the lovely Miss Dunne over at Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle back in 2009

Saturday, 17 December 2011

"I never tried to be controversial"

Polo Spill (1936)

Bar Italia (1956)

From The Body Politic by Steven Jenkins:
"In the gorgeous, occasionally garish, always gratifying works of the great American artist Paul Cadmus, sailors and sunbathers, models and mannequins, nitwits and nudes all are suffused with a sensuality born equally of idyllic splendor and urban squalor, natural grace and graceful artifice. Active since the 1930s as a renderer of pretty boys and ugly ploys, Cadmus spent many remarkable decades honing a singularly complex style of idealized sexuality and vivid displeasure in justly celebrated paintings, drawings and etchings of nude figures, fantastical scenes and supercharged allegories."

Finistere (1951)

The Bath (1951)

Paul Cadmus became infamous almost overnight when a major artistic scandal erupted over his risqué, and much publicised painting, The Fleet’s In in 1934.

From The Kings Galleries website:
"It aroused the anger and ire of US Navy top brass, not only for its depiction of the Navy but also its obvious sexual connotations that fed into the myth of naval life. Suspiciously it vanished for decades from the public view, only later to turn up in the possession of a deceased admiral. That painting, as well as many of Paul Cadmus‘s subsequent paintings and drawings, featured heroic tight muscled handsome young men, and Paul Cadmus was later recognized as one of the first contemporary American artists to chronicle what was later to be called “the gay lifestyle"."

What I Believe (1947)

"I never tried to be controversial. It just seems that people took it that way."

"As an unknown artist at the time, I benefited from the censorship controversy - and I am eternally grateful to that offended admiral."

"Gayness is not the raison d'être of my work."

"It seems that [according to the public] genitalia equal pornography. My penis is not the most important organ in my body. My eyes are."

Paul Cadmus (17th December 1904 – 12th December 1999)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Oh for the wings...

To celebrate the restoration of the museum after a short and most unfortunate hiatus...

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Brian Sewell on sex

Arch art critic and much imitated archetypal "posh" person, the waspishly camp Brian Sewell is remarkably candid in this extract from his forthcoming memoir...
"To these gatherings we were expected to take a bottle of wine for immediate consumption and a friend to exchange for the night. Much the same entry fee was charged at not quite so frequent orgies in Emperor's Gate and Little Venice. At these the sexual activity was immediate, common, multiple and public, and beginning at once, might last till morning; at one of them, in Little Venice, there was a posse of London Transport staff and for weeks after I had assignations with a bus driver on the 46 route that meant my waiting at a particular bus stop for him to whisk me off to the terminus in Wembley; at another there was a policeman based in Hyde Park who, infatuated, entertained me throughout the summer with theatre tickets given gratis to his station - never opera, always musicals or Saturday Night at the Palladium - until, with relief, I broke the contact.

In all this there was always considerable risk and yet not once was there a betrayal of which I am aware - though betrayals there must have been, for these circles reached across London and beyond (as any casual visitor to the old Turkish baths of Greenwich and Bermondsey must have known). There were too the contacts made in the open, effected with nothing more than a glance, a turn of the head and a pause in the stride - all so easy once one had the knack. The easiest place for this was the street, any street a happy hunting-ground, but it worked in a bus queue too, scanning the oncoming walkers, and in the Underground or walking the aisle to descend from the top deck of a bus. At weekends museums and galleries were the encountering points, none better, even on a fine Sunday afternoon, than the free-standing glass cases of the V&A. One exhibition there, of Italian Bronze Statuettes in 1961, produced a particularly rich crop of casual lovers, and I realise now that the exhibition catalogues that crowd my bookshelves are as much reminders of such episodes as records useful for the jobbing art historian."
Remarkable. But is anyone really surprised Mr Sewell is gay?

Read more in The Evening Standard (of all places!).

Outsider: Always Almost: Never Quite by Brian Sewell is available from Foyles

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Sarong lady

"I was the happiest and highest paid straight woman in the business."

"I made 60 motion pictures and only wore the sarong in about six pictures, but it did become a kind of trademark."

Dorothy Lamour (10th December 1914 - 22nd September 1996)

"She was a lady of quality, beauty and class."
Bob Hope

Friday, 9 December 2011

A triptych

Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer. Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Monday, 5 December 2011

Queen of the beehive

"The bigger I got, the bigger the beehive got!"

An interview with the marvellous Miss Wilson is published in the December 2011 issue of Beige magazine.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Un ballo in maschera

As Nicolas Roeg receives a well-deserved "Dilys Powell Award for Excellence" - the London Film Critics' Circle's highest honour - for his contribution to film-making, so we should also recognise the great man's contribution to camp in cinema.

He began his hit film-making career with a bang - several, in fact, if rumours about how realistic the sex scenes were in the film - with arch-camp performances in Performance from Mick Jagger, Edward Fox and Anita Pallenberg:

Despite its elements of Gothic horror, his classic adaptation of the Daphne DuMaurier chiller Don't Look Now is a masterpiece of cinematographic high camp. With its moody Venice settings, the bizarrely melodramatic blind psychic, and of course the wonderfully over-the-top ending replete with flashbacks and a psychotic dwarf, it is also (quite rightly) lauded as one of the best films of all time:

Mr Roeg was also responsible for bringing "Lady Stardust" himself Mr David Bowie to the big screen, quite brilliantly playing to type as a victimised alien in The Man Who Fell To Earth:

To finish this little tribute, his film for the collaborative project Aria (alongside contributions from the likes of Robert Altman, Ken Russell, Julien Temple and Derek Jarman) couldn't be more magnificently camp if it had been done by the late, great Ken himself...

Un ballo in maschera, Part 1:

Un ballo in maschera, Part 2:

Nic Roeg biography from the BFI

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Objects of desire, part 2

Marilyn Monroe “Cherie” iconic green and black-sequined leotard designed by Travilla for Bus Stop

Tallulah Bankhead silver lamé robe designed by Rene Hubert from A Royal Scandal

A second auction of Debbie Reynolds’ Hollywood collection is set for 3rd December 2011 in Beverly Hills, and there are many more beautiful objects of desire up for sale this time round - if only one had the money!

The magnificent Debbie Reynolds Collection auction in June far exceeded its initial estimates, and earned a place in the Guinness World Records after selling Marilyn Monroe's iconic white "Subway Dress" for $5.52 million (£2.8 million), making it the world's most expensive dress. Will they break records this time around, I wonder?

Betty Grable heavily beaded aqua dance costume designed by Earl Luick from Springtime in the Rockies

Gladys Cooper aubergine period gown and coat designed by Edward Stevenson from At Sword’s Point

On sale this time are at least two of Betty Grable's shimmy dresses, Tallulah Bankhead's silver robe, several gowns by Adrian and Travilla including those worn by Zsa Zsa Gabor, Alice Faye, Sonja Henie and Norma Shearer, Marilyn Monroe's basque from Bus Stop, Mitzi Gaynor's feather showgirl hat, Barbra Streisand's swan outfit from Funny Girl, period costumes worn by the likes of Gladys Cooper and Olivia de Havilland, and outfits worn by Esther Williams in her Busby Berkeley aquatic extravaganzas...

My favourite of all the items must be this fantabulosa silver and black sequined star outfit designed by Donald Brooks for Julie Andrews in Star!


Debbie Reynolds - the Auction, part 2

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Glad indeed

Among the fabulous items to come on sale at a forthcoming Heritage Auctions jewellery sale in Dallas Texas are these gorgeous pieces from The Gladys Glad Jewellery Collection.

A principal highlight is Glad's Retro Diamond, Ruby, Platinum, Gold Jewellery Suite by Merrin of New York, estimated at $15,000+. The lot includes the original artwork for the earring design.

Of course that raises the question, "Gladys who?"

Ms Glad was apparently in the 1920s and early 1930s one of the highest paid showgirls on Broadway. She rose to fame as the most celebrated of Florenz Ziegfeld's renowned "Ziegfeld Follies Girls," and performed in the Ziegfeld productions Rio Rita (1927-1928), Rosalie (1928), Whoopee (1928-1929), and in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1931.

With her husband, columnist, movie producer and scriptwriter Mark Hellinger, she made up one half of a powerful Hollywood couple in the media of the day. After her showgirl career was over, she spent a few lucrative years dispensing beauty tips in syndicated newspapers. She lived on until 1983.

With the able assistance of photographer Alfred Cheyney Johnson, however, Miss Glad's ultimate legacy - her iconic beauty and style - is forever captured...

And here, for your delectation, are some of Miss Glad's coiffure tips:

More about the auction