“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
— Dr. Suess
We got a few days of pissing rain in California, finally! Which reminds me . . .
Paris (as were all big cities) in the 1800s was filthy, foul and polluted with horse dung, raw sewage from chamber pots, and the occasional animal carcass (flies and maggots galore). Men regularly urinated wherever they felt like it (reminds me of Italy today, where businessmen regularly pull over to the side of the freeway and let it pour!).
The prefect (whose job it was to maintain law and order) of Paris made the first pissoir, or public urinal. They were erected (pardon the pun) with or without screens and some being even fully enclosed, which afforded a lot of privacy, for, well . . . other things. All these new, convneinent structures were for men only. Naturally, no one thought to build anything for women, who wearing voluminous crinolines at the time would have been hard pressed to enter any small public area. These pissotières were thought to keep the men from urinating on streets and buildings (in fact, trees in the Palais- Royal gardens were dying from so much pee). These, almost cubicles, became clandestine destinations for homosexuals to engaged in activities that at the time were illegal. The most popular ones were located near the Champs-Elysées gardens (I have no idea why).
There is a story about a female lavatory attendant who would rent out a cubicle for hooking up. This was over 100 years later in the 1980s. Supposedly (and I’ve read several different articles claiming to have the “last one”), today there is only one left, outside La Santé Prison. The prison was completed in 1867 and has been used as a prison since Marie A’s head went rolling.
Also Called a Vespasiennes
Lita and Calhoun in Palm Springs
We took a three-night respite in Palm Springs to celebrate our anniversary. It rained, it was cold, it was fabulous. Reminds me I owe you a tidbit about Lita Baron, Mickey Cohen’s girlfriend whose dress I bought and fits like a glove! Well, a tight glove right now.
Lita was a Spanish-born (real name Isabel Castro) beauty who immigrated to the United States at age 5 (1928). She would sing with Xavier Cugat’s orchestra. Making her way to Hollywood, as one does, she began acting in films and married actor Rory Calhoun in 1948 in Santa Barbara. Calhoun was a handful, having numerous affairs, one with Betty Grable, whom he stared with in “How to Marry a Millionaire.” Calhoun had been a juvenile delinquent – love that phrase – dropping out of school and landing in San Quentin after armed robbery, stealing a car, busting out of a detention center and other youthful indiscretions. It was actor Alan Ladd who introduced him to his agent Henry Wilson (Rock Hudson’s agent and burlesque star Lili St. Cyr’s representation for films. Need more proof of sex degrees of separation from burlesque?) Anyhow Calhoun was a handsome man, a star and a terrible husband. Lita divorced him after 20 years.
I can’t find much information on Mickey and Lita’s relationship. She was 5’11 he was 5’5. (fun fact: For a time, comedian George Burns escorted her around). They possibly began dating around 1975 and at least long enough for him to buy her a swell mink coat. I think I tried it on.
She died in Palm Springs in 2015.
So, another quick girls trip to Palm Springs where we had to try the Pink Flamingo Drink at the JW Marriott. Of course, we only ate about ¼ of it between three of us. Its got strawberry icecream, cream, whip cream, cotton candy, 3 ounces of vodka, cookies, homemade donuts and its surprisingly delicious!
Lilly Ann Rose
We lost another one. There are so few of the burlesque men and women that I interviewed for “Behind the Burly Q” that are still alive. This month Lillian Brown aka Lilly Ann Rose passed away. I met and interviewed her in her home in Florida. She had a trunk full of photos that she had locked away and as she said, forgot about it for something like 20-30 years. Her troubled, mentally-ill mother was in burlesque as was an aunt. She started when she was 14ish sneaking into a theatre in Boston where her mother wasn’t working (she worked down the road). She ended up being a secretary to legendary tassel-twirler Sally Keith (she’s a story in herself, but you can buy the book and watch the movie). She told many hilarious, poignant stories. Her mother went missing, her family had a notorious criminal for a friend, she was accidentally nude on stage, shaved her “fur cap” and she was arrested. She was so kind, so funny, so smart, she went on to raise four children, was a writer and loved talking about burlesque. And she became my friend.
As resolutions and goals are almost upon us I got a leg up and challenged myself to return to modeling. I took some shots with my friend and sometime editor Brent Sumner and booked a job within a couple days of signing with an agency. Loved it. I have a way better attitude about it and actually enjoy it.
Santa Barbara Holiday Parade!
A Fun Adventure
So little person No. 3 was in a parade dancing and singing with a theatre group and they needed a car to tail behind, so I loaded up Tempest (my ’54 Caddy, she’s on IG with me) with pink flamingos to go with their tropical theme. Was super fun, though it lightly rained, then as our part of the parade ended it rained more! I went to get little person no. 3 and turned off car and Tempest died (bad alternator we later discovered). My door wouldn’t open so I couldn’t help the nice people who jumped my car (I didn’t even know how to open the hood). So we got her started and drove home so slow as I had no idea how to turn on the windshield wipers. Oy! But my wig didn’t get wet, so all’s good.
In no particular order; Fiji, London, Paris, Italy, New York, Palm Springs, San Diego, Aspen, Kentucky, Las Vegas, Vancouver. “There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.” – Dr. Suess.
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 cocktailrecipes before for you all to try. email me at [email protected] if you want me to join in. A questionnaire is on the website to download for your Book Club.
An “Ordinary” Woman
Squeezed in a few more books; “The Paris Architect” – good, depressing. “Such Mad Fun” about Hollywood 1930s. “Code Name: Lise.” Another very interesting, very depressing book about WWII (I think I’m taking a break from the subject for awhile, and any way I need to return to Paris. This is a true story about an ordinary French woman, living in England, with three kids, who becomes an SOE agent. On a mission in occupied France she falls in love with her commanding officer. Both are caught and arrested. Lise suffers terrible torture from the Germans, beaten, starved, tortured. It is unbelievable what she endures all without breaking or turning info to the enemy.
So that makes 92 books (with a few more almost finished) for 2019. I will challenge myself again with some “classics” and maybe other genres like YA, we’ll see. But my goal for 2020 is mostly what will be related to what I’m writing.
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 year. I personally can’t wait to see the challenges presented next year, and I hope to continue to push myself. Wishing you all a Happy New Year, health and much adventure. Thanks for tuning in.