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Leslie’s On Zee Go Newsletter
April 2020

“It seems that I must do a nude. All right, I’m going to do them a nude . . .”
-Artists Édouard Manet



Day “Trip”
 

I thought after 20 years of going some place every month this was going to be the first month where I would post something like the above picture. A “day trip” to the grocery store would be my only outing. I’ve worked during all my pregnancies. I’ve traveled and been on the move, interviewing, researching and writing and I miss it. Luckily, we managed two nights in Palm Spring!!! Masks and gloves on for the flight. In record breaking weather (yes, it was 106 and yes, I loved it). Kids are still doing remote learning, so it makes no difference if we are here or there. But mentally, it felt fantastic. I hope we all can get back to adventures big and small.
 

Very Different Easter

We missed sharing Easter with others but had a very unique one. One of our little people created two original ballet dances for us, complete with costumes and prizes. It was the absolute best. A good lesson in making the most out of our time at home, having fun and dancing through adversity. Instead of a brunch, which is what we usually do, we had high tea. It was so good. I hope you all ate too much, whatever you had.

 

Brigadier General
 

I did my first live Instagram with my friend and fellow historian, Danielle Colby, you probably know her from “American Pickers.” We were thinking, what can we do through corona to connect, to share our history, our love of costumes and women’s’ history. So, if you tuned in you know we showed some remarkable memorabilia and I talked a bit about my books. One of our chats was about Sherry Britton (who is in my film and book “Behind the Burly Q” and I also talked about her on my YouTube channel). Sherry was a New York queen of burlesque. She had a long career, a varied career. She not only stripped, but she sang, danced to classical music, learned other languages, was smart as a whip, engaged to about a million movie stars. I met her in her elegant apartment on Gramercy Park which she had shared with her last husband, “an ugly man,” according to Sherry. But one who made her laugh. During WWII she entertained the troops and for that was made an Honorary Brigadier General. She had an absolutely brutal childhood. Brutal. Rapes, abandonment, attacks. I have much of her collection and papers and plan on writing more about her someday. She said to me she was surprised that with all she had gone through that she remained “a decent, loving person.” She was big, mostly in New York. She hated burlesque. Vehemently hated it. But she meant the theaters. She worked 14th street, which was sleezy and rough. She didn’t mind stripping. She actually loved performing in the clubs like Leon & Eddie on 52nd Street (then known as “stripty street). She was gorgeous and had an 18” waist. She would have made Scarlett O’Hara jealous.

If I don’t have this exact costume, I have one really similar.
 

Guess Who the Nudie Is
 
Back to Manet and nudes. During the Second Empire, Manet painted a picture of a naked woman, maybe his lover, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. The painting, Olympia, shocked Paris. It was 1863 and Parisians were not exactly prudish. They had a decadent Emperor, flaunting his numerous mistresses along with the rest of the aristocracy. It was a time of pleasure. Olympia represents a prostitute or courtesan, comfortable and nude, waiting for her next lover or client. She defiantly faces the viewer, unashamed, attended to by a servant and a black cat at her feet. At the time critics laughed at the piece. They called the model too white, the figure corpse like. They said her face was “stupid.” I believe they hated her for being comfortable in her nudity, in her showing herself to the world, in the bareness of her being. And the world couldn’t take it. And they still can’t take a woman comfortable with her body, whatever its shape. How dare she show it? How dare she be proud of it?

 

Nude. Naked. Bare. Undressed.

 

Whatever you call it, it is amazing to me that some people still – in the 21st Century – get their panties in a twist over someone’s nudity (or even semi-nudity). Walk into any museum and what hangs on the walls? Nudes have been painted by Courbet, Manet, Gauguin, Degas and about a trillion other artists. Nudes have been sculpted by Michelangelo, Camille Claudel to name two of a zillion. Women go topless on the beach in many countries including France and Italy. And yet . . . and yet some still cry out “disgusting” or “lack of class” or various other judgmental statements. Somehow nudity is associated with stupidity, desperation and lack of education. Personally, I think there is much humor in nudity. But why do some people – and I’d have to say 99% of them are women – attack someone who poses sans clothing, even if their private bits are completely covered? It is 2020, and what a 2020! I mean don’t we have more important things to get our panties in a bunch over. Like it or not, and you know where I stand – the lady occupying the Orange House (I mean White House) posed nude numerous times. Here are some other famous nudies; Marilyn Monroe, Joan Collins, Halle Berry, Helen Mirren, Bridgett Bardot, every supermodel from the 1980s and forward and Betty White. Yes! Hold the phone – or pasties in this case – did Betty from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls” pose topless, and bottomless in the 1950s? Supposedly. Now I cannot verify it from her own mouth, but supposedly our little nudie cutie above is Betty in all her bareness. She was 21 years old. Today Betty is 98 and I very much doubt she has any regrets taking it all off. Why did she pose? Who knows, maybe she needed the money, maybe she was just expressing herself for a photographer or painter. But who cares? I look forward to being 98 and looking back at pictures of me and saying, “Wow I looked good.”

 

On article I read reflected that once a woman reached “80” it was “adorable” that she had once been hot. Why can’t we appreciate the woman now, whatever the age, for feeling comfortable in her skin? Why is it even a discussion anymore? I went through this years ago when I started interviewing burlesquers. “They were really prostitutes weren’t there?” people asked me. Or “They did porn, didn’t they?” Why is a naked body still associated with “bad” things, “bad women?”

 

When women leave snide remarks on my friends’ (many who are current day burlesquers) Instagram (or mine, but I just delete them) I think that’s not even “slut shamming” cuz slutting has nothing to do with it. So, wear your head-to-toe coverups and leave everyone else alone. Betty White doesn’t give a shit what you think! This bugs me to no end. Can you tell?

 





Absolutely Fab Champagne Cake (cigarette is a prop)
 
Cooking Through Corona. You’ve gotta try my Absolutely Fab Champagne Cake. The best. All the vids are on my YouTube Channel. Here is the link. It might involve champagne. It might involve a lot of champagne.
 


New Logo


Stories Matter


The latest for Stories Matter: The above logo was done for me by the artist James Harter (he’s on IG and FB). It’s hard to know if we’ll be able to go forward in September, and to what peoples’ schedules are, but I’m pushing forward. I am working with some other online entities to partner for the young women to publish or present their work to the world. I have gotten commitments from a couple very special guest speakers I’ll be revealing as we go along. And here is a little info on one of our mentors: Mary Pauline Lowry. She has a fascinating story. This author of two novels was a firefighter! Her current book is The Roxy Letters. She has an MA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Texas and an MFA in Creative Writing from Boise State University. She is also the author of the novel Wildfire and is a regular contributor to O Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Millions, and other publications. She is going to add so much to our event. I’ll be adding information about the event on my website.

A Mentor and a Hell of an Author

 


Have you subscribed to Coco’s You Tube channel? Here’s the link:
  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj2i8cr83ezcPjQ-vEv4ASA
 

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A Dog’s Life
 
Coco is getting shaggier and shaggier. We finally had to let her go with her trainer to get her inch-long nails trimmed. Hoping we can get the groomer soon (ME TOO!)

Burlesque and Pinup Emojis
 

If your BOOK CLUB would like me to visit via Skype, I’m available. It’s been fun coming into your homes, sending specialty FAN cocktail recipes before for you all to try. email me at staar@staarlet.com if you want me to join in. A questionnaire is on the website to download for your Book Club.


Corona Reads

 

Check out Steph Cha’s masterful novel about the LA riots. Remember those? Where were you? This is a compelling story about a Korean family and an African American family, mistakes, a secret in someone’s path and a murder. I could not stop reading this. I don’t want to give too much away because it’s that good.

 

Other honorable mentions are “Catch and Kill” – EXCELLENT! “Ava: Portrait of a Star” – a somewhat soft version of a time in her life written by an ex publicist, still interesting. And “Life Isn’t Everything” about Mike Nichols, especially great if you are a film and theatre buff.

 


Corona Reads

 

Check out Steph Cha’s masterful novel about the LA riots. Remember those? Where were you? This is a compelling story about a Korean family and an African American family, mistakes, a secret in someone’s path and a murder. I could not stop reading this. I don’t want to give too much away because it’s that good.

 

Other honorable mentions are “Catch and Kill” – EXCELLENT! “Ava: Portrait of a Star” – a somewhat soft version of a time in her life written by an ex publicist, still interesting. And “Life Isn’t Everything” about Mike Nichols, especially great if you are a film and theatre buff.

 


This!!!

 

This book is so extraordinary I had to include it in this month’s picks. Aija Mayrock wrote and self-published this book when she was 16 years old. It’s a quick read. But an important read, whether you are a victim of bullying, a parent, teacher or a bully! (You know who I’m talking about!) She believes the bullying will never stop but wants to give young girls tools to feel better about themselves, how to reach out to someone for help, to create through it and to thrive. She’s 24 now and a powerhouse. We are going hear a lot from her. And she was a Santa Barbarian for a while. Give her some book love.

 

And what I’m reading or recently read
for complete list, I have everything on Good Reads
as I can’t remember them all!




See ya between the pages next month . . . lets never shake hands again!

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