One of the most incredible illustrations I think I have ever seen, by the legendary Philip Castle. I think it even out-does The Real Appeal of the Heel…
The other weekend, when Senti and Charley were in town, we wiggled along to the South Bank to watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with my friend Laura (with whom I have regularly duetted, drunkenly and soberly; in public and in private, in brilliant renditions of Just Two Little Girls from Little Rock and When Love Goes Wrong…) which has formed part of their ‘Blonde Crazy’ film season.
I was genuinely astonished by the quality and clarity of the print they were showing. There were all kinds of details I had missed on years of ropey VHS copies and even my current DVD. Background artistes, details on costumes…. But most noticeable was how utterly camp and ridiculous the Olympic athletes look in Jane Russell’s big number, Ain’t There Anyone Here For Love, to which I was newly alerted by the giggles around me in the cinema. I have been watching this film since I was about 10. I never batted an eyelid at their flesh-tone swimming trunks and I certainly never noticed the borderline pornographic incident which occurs at 2.40 in the following clip….
I’m a huge Marilyn Monroe fan, and always take on her huskier tones in my duets with Laura, but I also just realised how much Jane steals the show. She’s raucous, sharp, hilarious and [controversially] probably a hell of a lot sexier than the blonde.
“The chaperone’s job is to make sure no one else has any fun. But nobody chaperones the chaperone. That’s why I’m so right for this job.”
People are always surprised to find that I’m a big fan of Marilyn. I think it must seem at odds with my appearance and my usual choices of inspirations and icons. But she’s been one of the longest running, and I definitely feel a strong affinity to her. So in honour of her Reincarnation Day yesterday, here are a few favourite photos.
I really need to stop talking about famous people who are in their twilight years. Firstly I was discussing Harold Pinter on Christmas Eve, then Eartha Kitt on Christmas Day. Either I’m psychic or slightly responsible. Not sure I’m comfortable with either.
Anyway, Pinter was no particularly great icon to me (Though I enjoyed Betrayal at the Donmar recently….Toby Stephens…..mmmm). But Eartha???? I loved Eartha.
She wasn’t even my favourite Catwoman. Although given that she was up against the magnificent Julie “Seven Brides” Newmar in my affections it’s not entirely unexpected. But an LP of her singing Live at Tivoli from my grandparents’ house became regular listening for me when I was younger. I’ve never been crazy about very refined singers, I like my girls to sound a bit breathy and natural. Wobbles in the voice and all (hence the great Marilyn love). Clearly Ms. Kitt was a superior singer to Ms. Monroe, but they both engaged me in a way very few other singers can.
I was also slightly freaked out by how much she actually resembled a cat. But freaked out in an I-think-it’s-awesome kind of way.
So now the great lady has passed away, on Christmas Day of all days, and I’ve remembered how important she was to me a few years ago. I may have to go out and find an album or two to reaquaint myself. Eartha, I salute you! Rowwwwrrrrrrrrr!