Archive for the ‘Funny Business’ Category

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Steve Martin’s tour ideas leaked

September 30, 2010

Girls like a boy who plays music.


via buzzfeed. Click to enlarge.

If you love Steve Martin and you know it, clap your hands. An O.G. Unlikely G from Way Back.

Daily Batman: Teevee Time — How I Met Your Mother edition

August 26, 2010


How I Met Your Mother.

If you know how HIMYM turns out, please don’t tell me. I like surprises. Anyway, Robin has been my favorite character on this show (which I admit I only sporadically catch) since the time that, in a green and white button-up baseball jersey, she talked the character Lily in to ordering Chinese and smoking cigars in Marsh’s car. That is just exactly my kinda gal. And she “suited up” for Laser Tag? Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Sharon Tate’s Actual Life Awareness Month: Day 21 — Working hard for The Wrecking Crew

August 21, 2010


via beetlebum on the fotolog.

In 1968, Sharon was cast in The Wrecking Crew (Phil Karlson, 1969), the latest entry in a series of “Matt Helm,” spy-spoof films, based on the 1960 Donald Hamilton novel of the same name. There had been three previous Matt Helm movies, all starring singer and comedian Dean Martin. Sharon had the pressure of being a featured new player in an established franchise, and critics then were like critics now: they love to bash comedies. So it was a big deal.


via coolnessistimeless on the blogger.

Starring opposite Dean Martin, Elke Sommer, and Tina Louise, Ms. Tate got to make friends with some big names and show audiences her playful, comedically well-timed, blithe side. Though she had played a pivotal role as Malibu in the comedy Don’t Make Waves, the emphasis in that part had still been mainly on her beauty.


via the touching and well-curated SensationalSharonTate blog.

“My dear. You must be very dedicated to your work, to wear such an atrocious wig as that.”

“How very common of you to mention it.”

Wearing glasses and a series of wigs, Sharon got to have fun and be silly on the set of The Wrecking Crew, which must have been an especially welcome respite after the tough work she did for Valley of the Dolls (and the kind of trial-by-fire nightmare that set experience was.) With The Wrecking Crew, Sharon finally got the chance to delve in to the type of light comedy for which she hoped to become known in the industry.


via geminichilde on the tumblr.

The role also required some action and stunt work, another familiar feature to Sharon after working with former Mr. Universe Dave Draper in Don’t Make Waves (trampoline scene coming soon). In The Wrecking Crew, she was called to do fight scenes. None other than superfly jam-master BAMF to beat all BAMFs, a one Mister Bruce Lee trained Sharon for her part as Freya Carlson, Mr. Helm’s comically nearsighted and klutzy assistant. Joe Lewis was also a consultant on set and Chuck Norris had a cameo in the picture.


via geminichilde on the tumblr.

Playing Freya Carlson really was a departure for Ms. Tate, and one she was proud of. Tina Louise (Gilligan’s Island) and Elke Sommer (A Shot in the Dark) nailed down the voluptuous vixens — though they, too, gave great comedic lines — and Sharon got to shine in a chiefly buttoned-up, jokey ingenue role.

“Sharon Tate reveals a pleasant affinity to scatterbrain comedy and comes as close to walking away with this picture as she did in a radically different role in Valley of the Dolls.”

(The Hollywood Reporter, review of The Wrecking Crew, 1969.)


Judo … chop! Nancy Kwan as Yu-Rang takes an elbow to the head.

“It just so happens that I know where Yu-Rang hangs her kimono!”

” … I bet you do.”

Dean Martin raved about Sharon’s performance in all the on-set promo interviews, making it clear to one and all that he considered her not only a close friend but a major upcoming talent.


also via coolnessistimeless; more candids of Sharon and Dean there with lovely commentary.

Mr. Martin had played Matt Helm in a total of four movies to rocky critical acclaim but decent audience numbers (typical comedy reception), but, after Sharon’s death, he emphatically dropped out of The Ravagers, a planned fifth installment in the series whose title even appeared in the end credits for The Wrecking Crew. The film was shopped around but eventually abandoned and never made. The Wrecking Crew is the last in that series.

Sharon Tate Month, Day 13: A painfully shy girl with pigtails

August 13, 2010


via geminichilde on the tumblr.

Just three years ago, Sharon was a “painfully shy girl of 20 with blonde pigtails,” according to her own recollection. The Dallas-born youngster had never acted or had a smidgen of dramatic training.

Now that Sharon is an actress in the technical sense of the word, anyhow, she has set her goal on becoming “a light comedienne in the Carol Lombard style.”


“I’ll give up acting the second I’m married,” says Sharon, which leads many observers to believe it won’t happen for some time.

Most actresses would rather shed a husband than a career, but Sharon is an unusual girl. What actress, for example, would go out her way to point up the scars on her face? Sharon has a noticeable diagonal scar under her left eye. She also has a small one to the side of the left eye, and another one–“caused by chicken pox”–on her forehead.


“I suffered the big scar,” says Sharon, “when I fell on a piece of corrugated tin when I was five. I wouldn’t dream of having the scar removed. I am very proud of it. It’s me.”

(“Sharon Tate is on a crash program to get to the top.” New York Sunday News. December 18, 1966.)

So many thanks again to TheSensationalSharonTate blog for the transcript of the full and charming interview.

Girls of Summer: Dolores Donlon, Miss August 1957

August 10, 2010


Photographed by super-great Peter Gowland.

Direct from the convent, it’s the lovely and talented Dolores Donlon, Miss August 1957! Ms. Donlon (née Patricia Vaniver) hailed from Tarrytown, NY by way of Philadelphia and, according to sources, graduated from “a French convent” before embarking on her career as a model and actress.

My guess is she attended the Marymount Secondary School in Tarrytown, a school which was run by the order of RHSM. The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary were founded in 1849 in Murviel-les-Béziers, France. They are called RHSM in English-speaking countries and RSCM in French, Spanish, and Portugese. (The “c” stands for couer, corazon, and coração, respectively.)

Marymount Secondary School in Tarrytown is still a standing convent of the RHSM, but is now used as a Provincial Center and retirement home for elderly sisters of the order. The nearby Sacred Heart school in Yonkers has RHSM on staff; their order’s devotion to teaching has of course not been forgotten.

The crypt of the famous Marymount College foundress Mother Marie Joseph Butler, General Superior of the order from the tumultuous years of 1926-1940 and a major figure in the order’s history as well as parochial education in America, is at the Tarrytown convent, “down by the banks of the Hudson.”

Mother Butler, born Johanna Butler in 1860, came from County Kilkenny, Ireland. She took her vows at 16 in the RHSM order’s original center in France, then ministered in schools in Portugal until 1903, when she was sent to the United States.

During her tenure as General Superior of RHSM, Mother Butler not only extended the order to new countries and divided the order in to provinces to improve organization, she also founded the Marymount School and College at Tarrytown, and expanded establishment of RHSM schools around the country. This was very important during the Great Depression because the sisters in the new schools were called to take on, gratis, children as boarders who might otherwise have gone uneducated or spent their days at factories or in fields. This way, their parents had one less mouth to feed and could rest easily knowing the children were being taken care of with love, and, for their part, the children were given a foundation for future, more profitable careers, as well as given the chance to just be kids a little longer.

When I was growing up, there had been a Mother Butler school in San Jose and all we Catholic kids, even those like me who went to public school, called it “Ma Butts.” I think the whole city called it “Ma Butts,” really. It was an all-girls’ school and shared classes with the nearby once-all-boys-I-think-but-eventually-co-ed school Archbishop Mitty. Or maybe I’m thinking of St. Lawrence. I’ve no idea if any still exists now, nor if they have gone co-ed, but I can only imagine the shenanigans that were got up to back then. Ah. Catholicism is for lovers.

After leaving Marymount at Tarrytown, Ms. Donlon swung back through P-A, picking up the crown for “Miss Philadelphia” on the way. (An achievement that was nothing to sneeze at; between 1921 and 1940, three Miss Philadelphias were crowned Miss America. Then the Miss PA contest got off the ground a little better and Miss Phillies were no longer eligible to represent the whole state. But dang — three Miss Americas in 20 years? Philly in the house.)

Dolores became a Walter Thornton model in 1945 and moved to Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Center City (downtown Philadelphia) from which two highly noteable Funny Girls hail: SNL alumni Tina Fey and Cheri Oteri. She packed up a few months later and moved to New York City, where she modeled under the name Patricia Van Iver. In this name, she received the award of “Queen of the New York Press Photographers’ Ball.” But the accolades did not stop rolling in.

Super cool fact alert: In December of 1945, 300,000 GI’s voted Dolores’s pinup their Picture of the Year. Get it, girl! Way to keep those boys smiling. The only bummer is that I cannot track this picture down. If anyone has a scan — the name will likely be Patricia Vaniver or Patricia Van Iver, not Dolores Donlon — I’d love to be able to add it to this post. Thanks!

The late 40’s and early 50’s found Ms. Donlon migrating back and forth between NYC and Hollywood. She continued to be a successful model, winning awards and earning the title of the “Ideal Bride” of 1946 in a wedding fashion show. Her ultimate bridal role came in 1949, when she married Hollywood agent and producer Vic Orsatti. Mr. Orsatti’s first wife was the fairly popular actress Marie McDonald, and he quickly set about securing roles for Dolores: the name change was likely his idea. She was only cast in one film as Pat Van Iver, but by the time the post-production was done, she was re-listed as Dolores Donlon.

Some of the pictures in which Ms. Donlon was featured during this time include The Long Wait, Security Risk, Flight to Hong Kong, and Nude Odyssey. She also appeared on countless television shows. Standouts are Maverick, I Love Lucy, 77 Sunset Strip, and the Walter Winchell Files. Ms. Donlon also continued to model — and therein started some trouble.

In 1954, the Walter Thornton Agency brought a lawsuit of $120,000 to Dolores’s door, citing breach of contract. Ms. Donlon had signed a contract with them as Pat Van Iver (remember? back in her NYC modeling days?) and had not properly nor formally severed her contract with the agency before beginning to earn money elsewere. Under the terms of the contract, she was technically negligent in paying them owed portions of her income. Kind of a shady thing to do on both sides: for her part, she knew very well that she ought sever the contract or else pay up, ideally both; from the agency’s perspective why sneakily wait ’til your model/actress gets famous and then bring it up that she is still under contract? very unprofessional and predatory. So I can go either way on that one.

The Walter Thornton Agency was second only to John Roberts Powers in size of modeling agencies in this country during its heyday. But please consider that size of an agency is in no way indicative of quality. The titular Walter Thornton retired around the time of the lawsuit and died in 1990 of a stroke, neither of which, I’m sure, was related to the suit against Ms. Donlon, who I believe finally paid out about $20k to get them off her back. And I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty close to positive that she made damned sure the contract was over, that time.

In 1954, a picture of Ms. Donlon taken by photographer Stew Sawyer was named Best Cheesecake Photo of the year by the United Press. Ms. Donlon and Mr. Orsatti separated in 1957 and divorced contentiously in 1958 (from what I know of Vic Orsatti’s marital histories, this was sadly par for the course). Ms. Donlon continued to act throughout the late 50’s and early 60’s. She married Robert de Pasquale, a concert violinist for the NY Philharmonic, in 1963 and retired from acting and modeling to raise her family.

Special thanks to Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen for the timeline of events in Ms. Donlon’s life from which a semi-biography could be culled. Super-great site!

edit: Ma Butts is now called the Harker School and is co-ed. Archbishop Mitty is still alive and kickin’ and is co-ed. St. Lawrence Girls’ High School consolidated with Mitty at some point and is history. That’s a shame. I am a strong proponent of the unpopular idea of all-girls’ secondary schools. Girls perform better when their competition is only other girls; they speak out better and more often about their opinions; they score more highly on tests and participate more actively in class discussion than a girl of comparable age and skill-set who performs in a class of mixed-gender peers. Facts are facts. Sure, there will be gossiping and bullying and catfights — but they would have done that in co-ed school, too. I say get those girls alone with just each other in a classroom and stand back while they kick Math’s ass. I think a young woman can really come in to her own during the critical years of adolescence and form with confidence a strong, true character to her best advantage in an environment made up of predominantly females.

In a perfect world we all see and treat one another as equals, but is high school even a remotely perfect world?? Of course not. I think young women often compromise themselves, both their intellectual growth and formation of morals, for young males. I think they’re better off separated so they can form their own personality rather than learning to cave and conceal their intellect. But I know and understand that my opinion is not a popular one.

Girls of Summer: Linné Nanette Ahlstrand, Miss July 1958

July 11, 2010


Photographed by Frank Bez.

From her name and slyly amused, distinctly un-cheesecakey pose and expressions, I figured that the lovely and talented Linné Nanette Ahlstrand would be that rare beast, the international Playmate.


I love nearly all of the shots in this pictorial, but this one here is tippy toppy favorite.

Color me all wrong. Ms. Ahlstrand was actually born in Chicago, Illinois, the hometown of Playboy and a city from which a substantial number of early and heyday Playmates hailed. The text which accompanied Ms. Ahlstrand’s pictorial alluded to having discovered her on the beach in Los Angeles but it is rich with malarkey and does not even bother to feature an interview with her, so I have my doubts.

The title of her write-up was “The Laziest Girl in Town,” which also lead me to expect to find her of some German or Swedish extraction. The title comes from the song “The Laziest Gal in Town” a Cole Porter tune, which was a longtime staple of Marlene Dietrich’s performing repertoire.


Adore the color in this shot — bathing suit, lips, parasol. (kissy-finger-pop gesture) Amazing.

Ms. Dietrich was a famously German-American international treasure who kept on ticking unlike her early celebrity companions such as Joan Crawford and the great Garbo and she had begun to tour live around this time (1958) in addition to continuing to appear in movies.

As an example, she made her biggest pictures after age 35, something like an early model of Meryl Streep. Witness for the Prosecution, Judgment at Nuremberg, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright were all made when Marlene was over 40 years old. That is nothing to sneeze at. I have an album on which she sings “The Laziest Girl in Town” and she still has such a wonderful husky strong accent that it sounds like “lay-zeh-est gell een tone.” Love it.

With that in mind, I figured they were establishing with the title of Ms. Ahlstrand’s article a link to Marlene and particularly one of her former screen characters to parallel Ms. Ahlstrand bieng of foreign extraction and languishing in the Western sun. See, Dietrich played diverse roles in her youngest years under Josef von Sternberg but became indelibly known by larger and more modern audiences for portraying a sexy bargirl in the Old West named Frenchy — despite her outrageously strong German accent — in the sweeping frontier film Destry Rides Again (George Marshall, 1939).

The posters for the film claimed that it had “Corralled the greatest cast in cinema history!” Dietrich’s career-making part in Destry Rides Again was parodied by Madeline Kahn, departed queen of all that’s wonderful, in the 1974 Mel Brooks satire Blazing Saddles as the saloon singer Lili Von Schtupp (R.I.P., MK).

Of course all this conjecture came to nothing, like I said, when I realized that Ms. Ahlstrand was from Chicago and not of any exotic blonde overseas extraction. She moved from Chicago to New York to pursue modeling when she was younger, then out to L.A. and environs to dig in to acting in film and television.

Though Linné was best known by audiences for her work in television as a dispatcher on the program Highway Rescue, she was also in several films throughout the late 50’s and early 60’s, including Senior Prom, Beast from Haunted Cave, and Holiday for Lovers. Her most substantial big screen role was in Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Living Venus, in which she played Diane.

Unlike the gory funfests for which Lewis later became known, Living Venus is more of a biopic. Related to this post, the subject of Living Venus‘s rise-and-fall story is a publisher very much like Hugh Hefner. Jack Norwall, the fictionalized Hef played by Bill Kerwin, starts a magazine called Pagan.

Pagan’s success leads him to leave his loving fiancee and take up with his lovely and talented model, a waitress he discovered while hatching the idea for the magazine. Ms. Ahlstrand does not play the model, but rather the jilted good girl. The model ends up leaving him and killing herself as he becomes increasingly arrogant and tyrannical due to his success, and Norwall comes to realize that being on top was not all he cracked it up to be. But too late, as he has lost for good his fiancee, best friend, and soul.

I’d like to point out that in my opinion the only part of Living Venus that really parallels Hef is Jack Norwall starting a successful nudie mag. Hef did not leave his wife for another woman; quite the opposite actually. So, no.

A little looker, Ms. Ahlstrand was 5’2″ at the time of her appearance in Playboy, which I believe puts her on an equal footing with Kai Brendlinger (bleah) for shortest Playmate until feisty pocket rocket Joni Mattis’s famously not-nude appearance (love her forever) and eventual eclipsement by Sue Williams who at 4’11” at the time of her appearance in 1965 is the pocketiest rocket of them all, aww — that we know of. It’s tough to say for sure because, prior to September of 1959, the Playmates were not required to complete a data sheet. So unless their height came up in the article or their contemporaneous stats appeared in parallel work elsewhere, the math is fuzzy.

Click below for scans of the original article.

Tragically Ms. Ahlstrand died of cancer in January of 1967. She was only 30 years old and had been married less than a year and a half. R.I.P. to such a young talent.

Music Moment: Nobody Expects a Ukulele! Adorable Kate Micucci redux feat. William H. Macy

July 2, 2010

Nobody expects a ukulele! Kate Micucci and William H. Macy sing “It’s Time to Get Laid” in uke-strumming duet-y glory. I said goddamn, Kate “Gooch” Micucci — you are just too big a bowl of awesomesauce to even take in.


Brain asplosions.

The short, sexually encouraging video was intended to promote Bart Got A Room (Brian Hecker, 2008), in which both Kate and Mr. Macy were featured. The movie also stars Cheryl Hines of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the gorgeously spatterfaced and at-long-last-legal-to-ply-with-long-islands Alia “Maeby” Shawkat (ow!) from Arrested Development and Whip It. Previously, I featured Kate singing “Screw You” in a duet with Ted from Scrubs. The cute-as-a-button comic genius is one half of the singing comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates — and I’m glad to add that youtube is chockful of her videos — and she is such a brain-asplodingly adorable uke hero that I may have to give her her own category, soon!

Bonus picture of Alia Shawkat for, um, … Science.


I have just blinded you. With Science.

You’re welcome.

The Girls of Summer: China Lee, Miss August 1964

June 17, 2010

Dazzle your friends with correct pronunciation! Say “China” so it rhymes with “Tina,” not the clinical term for bajango.


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

During Spring Fever!, in the post on Gwen Wong, I mentioned Ms. Lee and promised to give her a post all her own in the future. Happy to say that the future is now.

Ms. Lee is a real trailblazer and true intellect. She was the first Asian-American Playmate of the Month. Not lovely Gwen Wong, and not PR (name removed at model’s request).

Extremely athletic, bright, witty, and outspoken, China (née Margaret) was totally busting up stereotypes well before it was chic to do so. Get it, girl!

Like past-spotlighted comic genius Laura Misch Owens, China Lee began as a Bunny in New Orleans before winding up at the original Chicago Playboy Club. Due to her winning combination of unique looks, well-above-average intelligence, and friendly, talkative nature, she quickly worked her way up to Training Bunny.


As the Playboy empire expanded and Hef opened Clubs in other cities across America, China got to travel and show new Bunnies — and club managers — the ropes all around the country.

Her teaching duties take her to a different location with every new Playboy Club opening — a job which suits her peripatetic nature to a T.

“If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be ‘active,'” China says. “I love to roam, and I love to keep busy!”

(“China Doll.” Payboy, August 1964.)


“Despite the fact that I’m always on the go, success has come to me without my seeking it. I didn’t even apply for my Bunny job — I was discovered in a New Orleans hairdresser’s shop.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Lee was quite the jock at this time, enthusiastically describing the various sports she participated in:

High on her sports agenda is softball: Last season she pitched and won 12 games (“My windmill pitch is unhittable”), leading the New York Bunny softball team to the Broadway Show League championship.

(Ibid.)

Screeeee. What?! The NYC Club Bunnies had a softball team in a league?! And they were champions? Anyone with more info and especially pictures needs to be my hero and send it along, stat! That sounds wonderful and fun beyond anything the imagination can conjure.

Like icy-eyed Finnish novelist Kata Kärkkäinen, Miss December 1988, China Lee cheerfully reported in her interview that she traversed traditional gender/sports lines not only with that killer windmill pitch but also by handily mopping the floor with the competition at bowling.

“Miss August is also a pin-toppling bowler (she ran up a 217 at the age of 13), prize-winning equestrienne and jumper, expert swimmer and ping-pong player, as well as champion twister of all Bunnydom.

(Ibid.)

Twister like the party game or twister like “Shake it up, baby, now, etc,” with lots of cheerful shimmying around a dance floor? I’m guessing the latter. Seems more her speed!

Very little is made in the “China Doll” article of the fact that Ms. Lee was not exactly your garden variety gatefold WASP model. There is no deliberate, faux-innocent oversight of her heritage in some effort to prove super-open-mindedness, either, which I also consider a point in the magazine’s favor. A good balance is struck.


A native of New Orleans and the only member of her family of 11 not now in the Oriental restaurant line, China says: “Though I was born in America, my folks still follow Oriental ways: They speak the old language, read the old books, and follow the old customs. In this sort of environment, the men dominate and females are forced into the background. I rebelled, and I’m glad I did.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Lee does not denigrate “Oriental”* tradition, merely comments on the aspect of that traditional environment that displeased her and from which she walked away. It’s done in a respectful and confident way. Very cool.

*When people use this word now it kind of makes my eyes itch for a second. I feel like it’s so high-handed and colonial. It’s like when people say “colored.” The original word meant no offense and is way better than a racial epithet, but we have even better ways of expressing that now, you know? It is a long-running joke with me, Paolo, and Miss D because we all lived in the Bay Area in the ’80’s when “Oriental” and “Hispanic” were leaving the vogue vocab in favor of more specific, group-elected terms. So when we see “Oriental” restaurant or “Hispanic” lawyer on a sign, we all eagerly point it out to each other the way hillbillies’ kids laugh at their grandparents for saying “Worsh.” (I can say that because I am one.)

After her Playboy appearance, Ms. Lee kept her ebullience and poise and continued to make friends and influence people. She is the dancer in the credits of Woody Allen’s first film, What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, a part which she supposedly lobbied very hard for with Allen, who was a friend of hers. The film itself is a farcical redubbing of the Japanese movie International Secret Police: Key of Keys; in Allen’s version, the intrigue surrounds the case of an egg salad recipe. China performs a striptease at the end credits for Allen, who plays himself, several dubbed voices, and the projectioner screening the film.

Here is a link to the clip of her dance on the youtube.

Ms. Lee also appeared on television series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and alongside Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate in 1967’s beach movie Don’t Make Waves. The publicity campaign for Don’t Make Waves was of unprecedented size and ubiquity — though the film failed to live up to MGM’s box office expectations, the cultural impact was still very lasting.

As an example, the character Malibu, played by sunny and curvy Ms. Tate, is generally cited as the inspiration for Mattel’s world-famous “Malibu” Barbie, and several Coppertone tie-in ads for the film are still reproduced in text books for marketing classes. I will go deeper in to Don’t Make Waves in August, during Sharon Tate’s ACTUAL LIFE Awareness Month.

Ms. Lee dated Robert Plant for a while, but ultimately she settled with political comedian, activist, occasional Kennedy joke-penner, and all around cramazing dude, one of the Comedy Greats, Mort Sahl.

Sahl’s influence on aspects of comedy from modern stand-up to The Daily Show is basically immeasurable. You have probably seen Fred Armisen on SNL perform a political comedian character he created named Nicholas Fehn who is not a send-up of Sahl, himself, but rather a send-up of Sahl’s admirers who can never quite touch the master. It’s the guy with the pullover sweater and Armisen’s own glasses, an army surplus coat and a light brown longish wig, who shows up on the Weekend Update with a newspaper in his hand and tries to make jokes of the headlines but can never quite finish his sentences: this using the newspaper as a jumping-off point for humorous discourse was a trademark move of Sahl’s.

China and Mort Sahl married in 1967 and remained together until their divorce in 1991. They had a son, Mort Sahl, Jr., who passed away in 1996. R.I.P. to him and condolences to both of them. I’m glad I got to share about some really cool, interesting people in this post. I’m feeling more upbeat than I was. Thanks for coming along!

I suspect that cover is another Beth Hyatt/Pompeo Posar pairing. Note how the pose and her dress make the trademark, cocked-ear bunny silhouette, mirrored by the small logo sketched in the sand by her right hand. It’s similar, though not as racily sexy, to the rear shot one they did where her dress was open at the back and the straps snaking around her shoulders formed the ears. This time it’s her legs and kicked-off shoes. See it?

Flashback Friday — Music Moment: Gilda Radner, “Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals”

June 11, 2010

This entry was originally posted on November 3, 2009 at 3:57 pm. It’s been slightly altered, but not much.

Gilda Radner. Love. Patron saint. Heroine. Gar. I can’t talk about it.

Gilda as Roseanne Rosannadanna, the colorful news anchor with aggressive speech patterns.

If the name only faintly rings a bell for you, Gilda is the late great funny lady who was the queen of comedy in the early years of SNL. She was the first Not Quite Ready For Primetime player officially cast on the show. Noteworthy character creations that have had lasting cultural impact were Roseanne Rosannadanna and Emily Litella.


With Chevy Chase in her Emily “Nevermind” Litella character, who had comic malapropisms and bad hearing.

This Music Moment comes from her 1979 special “Gilda Live!,” a one-woman Broadway musical and comedy revue. Song starts around :35, because it was the opening number and she gets such a huge standing o that she can’t even calm people down enough to be heard until then.

A rooster says, “Good morning”
With a, “Cock-a-doodle-doo” – “Good morning!”
A horse’s neigh is just his way
Of saying, “How are you?”
A lion growls, “Hello!”
And owls ask “Why?” and “Where?” and “Who?”

May I suggest you get undressed
And show them your wazoo? – Ohhhh,

The animals, the animals,
Let’s talk dirty to the animals.
Fuck you, Mister Bunny.
Eat shit, Mister Bear.
If they don’t love it, they can shove it.
Frankly, I don’t care! – Ohhhhh,

The animals, the animals,
Let’s talk dirty to the animals.
Up yours, Mister Hippo!
Piss off, Mister Fox.
Go tell a chicken, “Suck my dick,” and
Give him chicken pox. – Ohhhhhh,

The animals, the animals,
Let’s talk dirty to the animals
From birds in the treetops
To snakes in the grass – But,
Never tell an alligator, “Bite my…” (No!)
Never tell an alligator, “Bite my…” (Yes!)

Never tell an alligator, “Bite my snatch!”


“I’m not so funny. Gilda was funny. I’m funny on camera sometimes. In life, once in a while. Once in a while. But she was funny.” — Gene Wilder

Official site of Gilda’s Club, a “community meeting place for people living with cancer, their families and friends. There are 22 open clubhouses and nine in development in North America. Gilda’s Club was founded by Joanna Bull, Gilda Radner’s cancer psychotherapist during the time she had cancer; Radner’s husband, Gene Wilder; and broadcaster Joel Siegel. … The organization takes its name from Radner’s comment that cancer gave her ‘membership to an elite club I’d rather not belong to’ ” (the wiki).

You can make financial donations into an earmarked fund so people have a place to stay while their loved ones are getting treated, or you could send blankets and books and toys for kids to play with in the waiting room. Maybe old ipods and stuff, even, actually. Or think about donating time and creativity. Draw a comic book, cross-stitch “I’m sorry your wife is going to be bald for a while” on a tea towel with a sad face; you know, do something Gilda would approve of. Think outside the box!


“It is so hard for us little human beings to accept this deal that we get. It’s really crazy, isn’t it? We get to live, then we have to die. What we put into every moment is all we have.” — Gilda.

There is hella dust in here right now.

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: RIP, AK edition

May 25, 2010


via yawp barbarian on the flickr.

Cheez-balls — May 16th totally snuck past me. I’ve had a lot on my mindgrapes but I’d planned to throw some things up about Andy Kaufman because he died that day in ’84. Yes, he did. Up there is some referential liberated negative space in his honor to at least partially atone for the oversight.


Screencap of Andy Kaufman taken by me.

And here he is selectively lip-synching the theme song to “Mighty Mouse” on the premiere of SNL, October 11, 1975.

RIP, A.K.

Spring Fever!: Inaugural Edition feat. Gwen Wong, Miss April 1967

April 13, 2010

I’ve fallen down completely on the job of keeping up the journal, mainly because I’ve got so many dogs in the fire that I don’t know where to begin to express my feelings about them. Besides being an outlet for emotions, this so-called thought experiment was supposed to be a project that would force me to write something every day, and I have not been doing so. I’ve let feeling Ways About Things totally overwhelm me and paralyze my writing. That changes today.

The one thing that can always get some creative and otherwise positive juices flowing for me is writing about the Playmates, so welcome to Spring Fever! They say April is the cruellest month, but I am going to do my best to make it the kindest every ding-dong day. Starting ……. now.

Venus in argyle.


Photographed by Mario Casilli and Gene Trindl.

This adorable cardigan and knee-socks sporting model is Miss April 1967, the lovely and talented Gwen Wong. I think her photoshoot was really a great one.

Just well-lit, and done so with a striking ambience, not with a lot of artificial lighting, with makeup and styling that is kicky but not overly fetishistic, just a very fun and natural shoot — and, most admirably to my mind, I think it is delightfully and matter-of-factly progressive given the time and place (Cold War America at the end of the Korean War, heightening of the conflict in Vietnam, pitch of the Red Scare, a time when there was still a lot of “otherization” of the unfamiliar, etc) in which it appeared. I wish I could say the same for the text which accompanied the shoot, but overall it is not so bad that Edward Said is calling out hits or anything.

The credit of first Asian-American Playmate of the Month is sometimes erroneously given to Gwen Wong. While Ms. Wong has many awesome merits of her own, she is not, in fact, the first Asian-American gatefold model.

That honor belongs to Margaret “China (rhymes with Tina)” Lee, who was Miss August 1964 and performs the memorable striptease which runs over the credits for Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?. As further old school and timeless comedy cred goes, China was married to the great Mort Sahl from 1967 to 1991. She also dated Robert Plant.


I think this is as “typical” as the photoshoot got. That’s pretty cool in my book, all appropriate due given to the temporal setting.

But enough about Ms. Lee. I should give her her own entry one of these days, and we’ll cover that then. Don’t let me forget. Back to Gwen Wong, who justly deserves the attention.


Born in Manila during the latter part of World War Two … Miss Wong is, in fact, a startlingly beautiful blend of six nationalities: Chinese, Scottish, Spanish, Australian, Filipino and Irish.

(“Spice From the Orient,”
(groan) Playboy, April 1967.)

As you can see, Ms. Wong lists Filipino among the handful of her ethnic identities and it’s clearly stated she was born in Manila, which dramatically undermines the claim to the title of first Filpino-American Playmate made by Playboy in the lovely and talented PR (Miss November 1988, name removed at model’s request)’s write up some twenty-one years later.

If you followed NSFW November, you may remember [model’s name removed at request] as the lovely lady whose entire entry I accidentally spent describing the Thrilla in Manila fight (aka Frazier-Ali III) instead of talking a single bit about the naked girl in the pictures around the text.

I promised then, after I was done gushing about the greatest boxing match in history, that I would try and mention the other another day. That day is now and once again, this is probably not how she’d have hoped that to go — citing someone else as the real titleholder of her one noteworthy (at that time) characteristic. Sorry, kiddo, but who can deny the awesomeness of Ms. Wong?

So when I’m done with this entry on completely radical Gwen, I’ll try and work up some brief copy on the other’s bummer choices in dudes with which I can totally emapthize to appear later in the week because it turns out she’s all kinds of a quite interesting in a glass-ceiling-busting, con-man-choosing kind of way (we ladies must trailblaze). Yet again, most likely not the way anyone would’ve like to be immortalized in google’s search returns, but what can you do!


An expert cook, Miss April is equally adept at whipping up wor shew opp, scungilli or boeuf Bourguignonne. “Cooking has almost become a mania with me,” she says. “I collect cookbooks the same way people collect LPs.” Before becoming a Bunny, Gwen studied painting and ceramics at California’s El Camino Junior College. (Ibid.)


“Frankly,” she says, “most modern art confuses me, although I wouldn’t classify myself as a traditionalist. I try not to be swayed by other people’s opinions when visiting a gallery, but that’s not always easy. I like to think if a canvas is good I’ll know it — because, well, I’ll feel it.” (Ibid.)

So true.

Special K and I were at her Humboldt orientation this weekend and it happened to be the Arts! Arcata night on Friday, so while she was attending a mixer for incoming freshmen, I slipped from the campus downtown to the Arts! events so as not to be That Guy hanging around outside waiting for the kid they are chaperoning and embarassing the crap out of said kid.

The work being shown at various galleries and makeshift exhibitions inside boutiques and bars was a real mix of media as far as form, but the content and thrust of the work was generally what I think can be termed “modern” art. Some of what I saw really resonated with me, while there was other work to which I felt zero connection. But I don’t think subjectivity alone can explain why some people buy certain modern art.

I’d like to think that everyone who buys a piece buys it because they love it, but I doubt that’s so. I think there is a combination of snobbery and peer pressure, too, from other collectors and from people in the business. I hope to never buy something because I’m told it’s cool. So what I’m saying is, I understand where Ms. Wong is coming from with her statement.


Miss Wong is also a jazznik and prefers the singing of Morgana King and Ella Fitzgerald among at least a score of recording artists she admires. (Ibid.)

“Jazznik.” That is somehow quaint. Besides being a textbook great in jazz history, Mo King would also go on to feature in the Godfather movies as Carmella Corleone, second wife of Don Vito Corleone and mother to Fredo, Connie, and Michael (and I guess kind of, you know, a foster mom or whatever to Tom Hagen), positively double-cementing her perpetual place in my heart. Well-called, Ms. Wong!

According to the wiki, Ms. Wong is an artist these days. She specializes in body-casting. The wiki entry on her calls it that, but I’m more familiar with the term Lifecasting. Body casting makes me think of, like, broken hips and stuff. Bad scene.

Anyway, this has been your inaugural edition of Spring Fever! and I hope you enjoyed it.

Asked and answered: Mitch Hedberg heroism edition

March 3, 2010

Band of heroes — that is some super protection.

Asked and answered question in re: belts and the true nature of the unsung savior.


R.I.P., M.H.

(photograph via ali-sin on the tumblr.)

Valentine Vixen: Julie Michelle McCullough, Miss February 1986

February 5, 2010

I am so glad to be able to share two super-special gals with you today. First, brooding and sensitive Cheryl Kubert from earlier in the day (R.I.P. and I wish her many hopefully joyful and educational returns to this earth after her unhappy retirement; that’s what reincarnation is for), the solemn, petite brunette with tall skis and deep eyes, and now — for something completely different! — ebullient and absolutely adorable blonde ray of sunshine Julie Michelle McCullough: model, actress, stand-up comedienne, and maligned-but-triumphant victim of sitcom scandal. Take it away, buttercup!


Photographed by Arny Freytag.


“I’ve always felt that I have little eyes, a mouth full of teeth and ears that I call elf ears. They kind of poke out.” That’s her opinion. We certainly didn’t notice any flaws when Julie McCullough showed up for our salute to The Girls of Texas last February. In fact, we tucked her ears under a Stetson and put her on the cover. It was the first time she’d ever seen a copy of Playboy.


Although she was born in Hawaii, Julie was then, and is now, living in Texas. But as the daughter of a Marine Corps lifer, she has moved around a lot. “It bothered me when I was younger, but as I look back, I appreciate it, because it taught me how to get along with different types of people. If you make good friends, you never lose them.”


During most of her childhood years, Julie thought she wanted to be an artist. “I really love to draw,” she says, “but I could never see myself as a starving artist. So I realized art would have to be more of a hobby than a career. And then, in high school, I started entering pageants, and I got a couple of Miss Photogenic awards. And everybody would tell me, ‘You should try modeling; You should try modeling.’ And all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Hey!'”


Playboy’s cover picture, and the less covered picture inside the magazine, caused a furor in Julie’s home town of Allen, a rural community 26 miles north of Dallas. A local pastor, announcing that he planned to preach a sermon on the subject, was quoted as saying — we kid you not — “The easiest thing to do is jump on Julie.” He went on to say that he saw her appearance in Playboy as part of a larger problem, that of “general moral disintegration in the fiber of the nation.” (“Return of the Cover Girl,” Playboy, February 1986.)


While working as a model, she was also honing her skills as an actress and had landed a part on television’s sitcom Growing Pains, featuring Kirk Cameron. He unfortunately shared the opinion that the easiest thing to do was jump on Julie, it seems, because he used his pull with the network to have her summarily axed off the show when he learned she had posed for Playboy, accusing the network of tacitly endorsing pornography by continuing her employment.

Because Mr. Cameron was the breakout star of the show and a teen heartthrob who kept the network flush with sponsors (his charming smile conveniently moved hot amounts of Noxzema pads and Snickers bars to both cleanse and satisfy), they went along with his wishes and terminated the object of his objections.


McCullough appeared in eight episodes until she was fired in 1990, which stemmed from series star Kirk Cameron’s conversion to evangelical Christianity, a conversion that, according to “The E! True Hollywood Story” episode focusing on the show, served to alienate him from his fellow cast members, as he did not invite any of them to his wedding. He accused the show’s producers of promoting pornography. (the wiki)

Sez Ms. McCullough now:

[Kirk Cameron] thinks if I read science books that I’m going to hell. I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints … the sinners are much more fun.* And a lot more interesting than some book-burner who is still having growing pains! I am at peace with God. Kirk thinks people like me are going to Hell; if I do, then at least I’ll go well-informed and well-read!

(Ms. McCullough’s myspace.)

*That is a reference to the Billy Joel song “Only the Good Die Young,” about young Virginia, a Catholic girl who starts much too late. Rock on with it, Ms. McCullough! Good people quote the Beatles. Great people quote the Beatles, Queen, and Billy Joel.

Contemporaneous with her being fired from Growing Pains, Ms. McCullough was also stripped of her crown as Wilmington, NC’s “Azalea Queen” for posing for Playboy. Sheesh. I try to keep shit to myself, but I really feel the need to address Mr. Cameron’s and the people of Wilmington’s position on this issue. Leaving aside for now the fact that the lord decreed we enter this earth naked and that nudity is a major factor in procreation, which what good man can decry?, let us address the point where it seems people feel it ill befits a person of “good” moral fiber to celebrate the physical gift of their bodies. As a hippy-dippy meditative and soulful Christian who has thought my way deeply and thoroughly through these issues and can confidently and guiltlessly balance both Playboy and my beloved monthly The Way of St. Francis without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, loving-the-Word-but-thanking-God-for-earthly-forms-wise, I can only cite and gently suggest a review of Matthew, chapter seven.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the plank that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a plank is in thine own eye?


Thou hypocrite, first cast out the plank out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. At Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and the region across the Jordan, Jesus was talking to the multitudes gathered there after hearing of His message and of His healings to beseech them to not become like the pharisees and hypocrites who think they are above sin. (Matthew 7:1-7.)

Mmm-hmm. This is an earnestly serious ethical issue. I’m not playing about the no more judging stuff. It’s just like Blessed Mother Teresa said: “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” And which one do you think Jesus would rather you worked at doing? Get with the program!

Today, Ms. McCullough is a well-received and widely admired stand-up comedienne who continues to act.

Some of her film and small screen credits include The Golden Girls, Beverly Hills, 90210, Jake and the Fatman, the Drew Carey Show, The Blob, and Harry and the Hendersons.

She is also a published poetess, with a number of anthology and private publishing credits to her literary name, and she was on a basketball team with Casper van Dien of Starship Troopers fame (I ♥ Heinlein and Johnny Rico forever). According to the imdb, she began working full time in 2006 as a stand-up comedienne. She has performed, if the wiki can be trusted, at such well-known venues as the Palms in Las Vegas and the Laugh Factory in L.A. Right on!

In conclusion, it is a widely known but nonetheless hard and bitter truth that, frankly, haters gon’ hate. All love and good wishes to Ms. McCullough and her sunny resilience!

Music Moment: Gilda Radner, “Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals”

November 3, 2009

Gilda. Love. Patron saint. Heroine. Gar. I can’t talk about it. If the name only faintly rings a bell for you, she is the late great funny lady who was the queen of comedy in the early years of SNL. She was the first Not Quite Ready For Primetime player officially cast on the show. Noteworthy character creations that have had lasting cultural impact were Roseanne Rosannadanna and Emily Litella.

Roseanne Rosannadanna

Emily “Nevermind” Litella

This Music Moment comes from her 1979 special “Gilda Live!”. a one-woman Broadway musical and comedy revue. Song starts around :35, because it was the opening number and she gets such a huge standing o that she can’t even calm people down enough to be heard until then.

A rooster says, “Good morning”
With a, “Cock-a-doodle-doo” – “Good morning!”
A horse’s neigh is just his way
Of saying, “How are you?”
A lion growls, “Hello!”
And owls ask “Why?” and “Where?” and “Who?”

May I suggest you get undressed
And show them your wazoo? – Ohhhh,

The animals, the animals,
Let’s talk dirty to the animals.
Fuck you, Mister Bunny.
Eat shit, Mister Bear.
If they don’t love it, they can shove it.
Frankly, I don’t care! – Ohhhhh,

The animals, the animals,
Let’s talk dirty to the animals.
Up yours, Mister Hippo!
Piss off, Mister Fox.
Go tell a chicken, “Suck my dick,” and
Give him chicken pox. – Ohhhhhh,

The animals, the animals,
Let’s talk dirty to the animals
From birds in the treetops
To snakes in the grass – But,
Never tell an alligator, “Bite my…” (No!)
Never tell an alligator, “Bite my…” (Yes!)

Never tell an alligator, “Bite my snatch!”


“I’m not so funny. Gilda was funny. I’m funny on camera sometimes. In life, once in a while. Once in a while. But she was funny.” — Gene Wilder

Official site of Gilda’s Club, a “community meeting place for people living with cancer, their families and friends. There are 22 open clubhouses and nine in development in North America. Gilda’s Club was founded by Joanna Bull, Gilda Radner’s cancer psychotherapist during the time she had cancer; Radner’s husband, Gene Wilder; and broadcaster Joel Siegel. … The organization takes its name from Radner’s comment that cancer gave her ‘membership to an elite club I’d rather not belong to’ ” (the wiki).

You can make financial donations into an earmarked fund so people have a place to stay while their loved ones are getting treated, or you could send blankets and books and toys for kids to play with in the waiting room. Maybe old ipods and stuff, even, actually. Or think about donating time and creativity. Draw a comic book, cross-stitch “I’m sorry your wife is going to be bald for a while” on a tea towel with a sad face; you know, do something Gilda would approve of. Think outside the box!

“It is so hard for us little human beings to accept this deal that we get. It’s really crazy, isn’t it? We get to live, then we have to die. What we put into every moment is all we have.” — Gilda.

“I ate weaker girls for breakfast” — Tina was one of the Mean Girls

October 27, 2009


Mr. Duvall: So, uh… how was your summer?
Ms. Norbury: I got divorced.
Mr. Duvall: Oh. My carpal tunnel came back.
Ms. Norbury: I win.
Mean Girls, 2004.

Ms. Norbury: [after implying that an elderly biker is her boyfriend] I’m kidding. Sometimes older people make jokes too.
Damian: My nana takes her wig off when she’s drunk.
Ms. Norbury: Your nana and I have that in common.


“I ate weaker girls for breakfast. I really was a snarky girl. My whole thing was, if I really liked a guy and he had the audacity to like someone else instead of me, I would hate that girl and devote hours and hours of time to picking her apart and talking about her behind her back and canvassing my friends to dislike her. Just a waste of time, ridiculous, but when you’re going through it at that age, you’re making yourself sick with bile and hurting other people and their feelings.” — Tina Fey, Washington Post article “Tina Fey, Specs Appeal,” by William Booth (April 25, 2004).

Now I’m all disgruntled and pretty soon I won’t be the only one

October 27, 2009


Tina didn’t go on a huge amount of dates before she met Richmond, whom she married in 2001. “I went to a formal once in college where this guy came up to me — this really handsome, nice guy — and asked me to go to his fraternity’s formal. I said something like, ‘You are gay, right?’ He was like, ‘What? No!'” She pauses. “Then he came out — not during the date but almost that same night. His straight-dar was off.”


“Yeah, it’s tough being smart and sexy, too. I have to say, I’m really not that attractive. Until I met my husband, I could not get a date. I promise you it’s true. My husband Jeff Richmond saw a diamond in the rough and took me in.”

That quote warms my heart and makes me think of my husband. Then I remember that even though I wanted to believe that if I kept trying, he would remember the things I said and respect my fears and dreams and be there for me, and I would be safe and feel taken in, the reality was that he couldn’t make me feel special or taken care of if both our lives depended on it, and I always had to be the strong one, and nothing I said really seemed to make a dent or matter, and I kind of want to smash something against my head. I really shouldn’t write this early in the morning, I think.

Now I’m all disgruntled and pretty soon I won’t be the only one, I wager. Can I just apologize ahead of time? It’s like 7 a.m. I reckon I will have time to get back here and fix this before it publishes.

A confession

October 27, 2009

A confession: I have this recurring dream that I work for Tina Fey. She still has her old job as head writer for SNL in the dream and I’m always a lowly peon. Nonetheless, I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty amazing.

“If you want to make an audience laugh, you dress a man up like an old lady and push him down the stairs. If you want to make comedy writers laugh, you push an actual old lady down the stairs.”

One of these dreams a few months ago went all the way to the end of a week, including watching the show from monitors in a different room, to the point that it was an afterparty situation and one of the host’s friends asked me out to some club to see a midget do stand-up, and I was all pumped, and as I exited the floor I noted that Tina Fey was still in her office working, but I totally wanted to go with the host’s cute friend and see the midget do stand-up, so I skedaddled anyway, although I felt compunctions of guilt about it.

Then we were walking down this very realistic skeezy street to the comedy club, and suddenly I thought, “Oh, no! This isn’t right, I should tell him I’m married,” and I woke myself up. Cheez-its! I totally missed seeing the midget, and maybe even smoochytimes with the guy! I kill my own game in dreams constantly. I need to think about this.

Math is hard, y’all

October 27, 2009


“I like to crack the jokes now and again, but it’s only because I struggle with math.”


Is Tina Fey gonna have to kung fu kick a bitch?

It happens: Tina Fey edition

October 27, 2009

Beer. It is a thing!

“In a study, scientists report that drinking beer can be good for the liver. I’m sorry, did I say “scientists”? I meant “Irish people.””

That’s a Hangover Sunday look if I ever saw one. Friendohs know of what I speak.

Hangover Sunday (n.): usually the morning after Saturday night Band Practice and adult libations, when one shuffles about in the double digits of the a.m. with vacant-zombie-eyes and puffy faces until Paolo gets on the skillet and fries up some resurrection.

It’s a Tina Tuesday!

October 27, 2009

Suddenly I’ve got a lot of little details to attend to today. And I’m elated to say that later in the day I’m going to rendezvous with the Gentleman for some Zombieland, soosh-bombasticos at the ol’ Gardino, and hopefully some very-much-needed heavy, deep, and real chitty chat, not to mention crispy Japanese beers big as my head. All this in mind, I’m handing over the reins for the day to the auto-posting feature.

Ladies and gentleman, the lovely and talented Tina Fey!

“I used to dress up in my best nightgown, which was a peach-colored rayon number with a matching robe, and I would drink soda out of a champagne glass in the dark while I watched The Love Boat. I pretended I was on the cruise. That was so classy.”