In LADY OF BURLESQUE ( a film based on Gypsy Rose Lee's mystery novel THE G-STRING MURDERS) Babs plays Dixie Daisy, a burlesque headliner and the smartest, savviest, least whiny member of the troupe. In many of her films, notably THE LADY EVE and BALL OF FIRE, Stanwyck embodies the quintessential dame. Supremely feminine but also sharp as a tack (certainly sharper than the men around her), self-reliant, quick with a quip to defuse and debunk, and clearly as tender as she is tough. It's hard to get a decent print of LADY OF BURLESQUE, but it's practically a manual for how to get by in life living la vida dame.
Sorry about the cheesy music; couldn't find another clip without this. But what a great example of how we may have advanced technologically, yet culturally...maybe not. In 1943 pop culture strippers were whipsmart heroines, while today they're relegated to objects or tired plot devices. They're maybe holding a whip, but not so smart.
Look, this thing is so huge and overwhelming that I need to process it a bit before writing. I mean, I'm in that age group between 40 and Death, and 2 years ago I would have bet BIG money I'd never have a boyfriend, much less a fiance. (Fiance, fiance!)
What I do know now though is this: ladies, never say never. And that, now that is HUGE.
I am the luckiest girl in the world to come home every evening greeted by a giant pink octopus chandelier. Here is a photo of it before the artist, Adam Wallacavage, personally installed it on my foyer ceiling.
Adam is a great artist with at heart, a great soul, and a prodigious talent for making under-the-sea creatures chandeliers. If you're in New York, check out his upcoming exhibition at the Jonathan Levine Gallery, June 28 through July 26th. (I'll be at the opening reception the night of the 28th.)
I love me some Apartment Therapy. The first book was genius and very influential to me and my current apartment. Although I didn't maintain the purity of my Girlie Kitsch Moderne vision (Maxwell says pick a theme for your abode and stick to it) I am much the better for having read his book years ago. I was honored to have my first apartment on his site, and my current apartment, aka Bluebird Manor, is not only on the site but in the new book! Though they took the photos soon after I moved in and the pictures do not reflect the lavish, fabulous dame den I have now (I actually have a real bed now, for example, and a gorgeous pink octopus chandelier) how cool is it to be in a book with cool people? The answer: Very.
Despite it taking over an hour to get a cab (!) I finally made it to Le Boeuf a la Mode for last night's swingin' soiree with the infamous Les Dames du Boeuf. The dames were as fetching, fascinating and well-dressed as advertised. One cute vintage outfit after another, oh, and the hairdos! I was among many women who share my abiding love for the short bang. I don't know what the other patrons thought of the big, loud table of women sporting Eisenhower era frocks and Bettie Page fringe. Each of the women though had her own unique style and story to tell and I was thrilled to be with so many like-minded vintage vixens.
After polishing off my 2 salads (I'm a vegetarian after all, no boeuf or rabbit sausages for Dixie) I had a plate of frites. Around dessert I regaled the poor, trapped ladies with The Cutest Story Ever Told tm -- the story of how I met my boyfriend which involves metaphysics, pricey underwear, philosophy, the New York Transit System, pancakes and adultery. It takes about 8 hours to tell and they were all very patient. I made it home close to midnight and Dr. Waffles and Lulu were mighty glad to see me, especially their bladders.
And here's my adorable palsy walsy, the cute cute cute Coco Doane, with me apres le Boeuf bash. She is hilariously showcasing my business card, whilst I look on, apparently, musing on man's inhumanity to man.
(And check out my groovy 50's "Try Your Luck" Las Vegas purse with glitter and real dice.)
You can keep your Nobel Prizes, your Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, Sneezys and Grumpys; I am about to receive one of the highest honors known to dames. The Dames du Boeuf have invited me to one of their rarefied outingss tonight. Les Dames are a select group of groovy ladies who appreciate the finer, older things in life. These vintage vixens get together every few months or so to have some smart cocktails and dine at one of New York City's old-school boites.
As their feature in the New York Times put it: "They favor places with a sense of history and glamour, even if the former is sketchy and the latter has faded. And they dress the part, donning vintage clothing culled from years of diligent thrift shopping. With their combination of appetite, style and moxie, they manage to resurrect and inhabit a bygone New York most of us know only from the movies."
And, as if that weren't enough -- and let's face it, it IS -- the Dames even have their own insignia. I'm down with anyone or anything with an insignia. (I'm thinking mine would include a picture of a lipstick, a puppy, and maybe a stack of pancakes on it.) The insignia is "shaped like a heraldic crest...[and] features a fork and a knife, a cocktail shaker, a diamond and a "No squares" symbol. Many of the Dames proudly wear the emblem on a notebook, a wallet or some other accessory. The other marker is a medallion with a steer's head depicted on the front. (It was a part of the uniform Miriam Linna, a Dame member, wore when she waited tables at a Brew Burger in Manhattan in the 1970's.) At the conclusion of each outing, the medallion is awarded to the Dame who best exemplified the group's ethos that night."
Anyway, my friend the preternaturally adorable Coco Doane is one of the beefy "dame-sels" and through her sweet efforts tonight they have seen fit to let me in on the action. As if eating weren't enough -- and let's face it, it is -- I get to meet some fabulous women who love les vielles choses as much as I. For once I won't be the only woman in the joint flossin' a wasp-waist and rhinestones.
True to form, tonight's restaurant is charmingly antiquated; there's apparently no door, one has to be buzzed in. When I arrive I won't be a bit surprised if I see Anita Loos and Robert Benchley at the bar, telling me yes, I am in fact dead and I've arrived in heaven just in time for cocktails. Whee!
Here is my affirmation: I am easily, playfully writing the first chapter of the book. The ideas and words come fast and fabulous. I am disciplined and sit down every day to write -- every day. I am not reclining, but actually sitting up, in a chair, writing the book. I am not checking Facebook. I am not checking gossip sites. I am most definitely not trolling ebay with search words like "Chanel belt," "DVF wrap," "Agent Provocateur," or "stripper ice cube trays."
Nope. No siree. I am easily, playfully writing the first -- and second, and third -- chapters of the book.