Posts Tagged ‘alzheimer’s’

E.E. Cummings Month: “‘kitty’. sixteen,5’1″,white,prostitute.”

August 12, 2010

— Sorry for the sparseness and lateness of posts today, dudes, but my grandmother is having a really Bad Day. The human brain can be such a bastard. —


“kitty”. sixteen,5’1″,white,prostitute.

ducking always the touch of must and shall,
whose slippery body is Death’s littlest pal,

skilled in quick softness. Unspontaneous. cute.

the signal perfume of whose unrepute
focusses in the sweet slow animal
bottomless eyes importantly banal,


Kitty. a whore. Sixteen
                                                   you corking brute
amused from time to time by clever drolls
fearsomely who do keep their sunday flower.
The babybreasted broad “kitty” twice eight

— beer nothing,the lady’ll have a whiskey-sour —
whose least amazing smile is the most great
common divisor of unequal souls.

(E.E. Cummings, “‘kitty’. sixteen,5’1″,white,prostitute.” 1923.)

“Whose slippery body is death’s littlest pal.” God.

The poem is designed to shock and it is shocking — not so much her age of 16, which was consenting in most states at that time, and there is no harm in a consenting human exploring their own sexuality, but the idea that Kitty is such an old and careful but hopeless hand at the sex trade that it is her sole living and she has abandoned her childhood likely earlier than she would have liked, implying her experiences began at a far more tender age — as well as containing a moral without being overly pedantic about it: my interpretation is that Mr. Cummings finds the youth of this prostitute, Kitty, sad and abhorrent, and is taking to task the entire trade, together with its purveyors, its proponents, and its “banal” and wicked pervasiveness, which can crush the spirit of a child and that can drive the spark and spontaneity out of the eyes of a “cute,” young girl. He is disgusted that a young woman’s agency has been foreclosed to a system that allows her no real freedom. That is my take and I stand by it staunchly. If you take the poem to mean that Mr. Cummings is fine with teen prostitutes, I’m interested to hear your argument.


Girl sold by her family in Thailand. Please only follow this link if you are not the weepy kind. (I am.)

In a lot of Eastern European and developing Asian countries, this problem is so nauseatingly endemic that its only solution is harsh, swift, Actually ENFORCED sanctions from other countries.

For those in more “developed” nations (raise your pinky, okay, cause we are sooo evolved with our computers and cell phones), I think the greatest way to prevent a sad poem like this from becoming the reality for that sullen girl-woman you see with her arms folded in front of the cosmetics display at the grocery while her mother fills the cart with gin and baby formula is to start coaching early and hard in strategies for self-esteem and success the likely victims of the child prostitution trade. I take no such high road as Mr. Cummings about obliquely non-pedantic “you should stop this,” methods: he is far more subtle and poetic than I, obviously. With protection of those vulnerable targets in mind, here is a short and very hastily-assembled list of groups that I think do that. If you have any to add, please, please do.


Organizations for child advocacy


— In the U.S. (all of these non-profits have been rated A or higher by charitywatch.org; do not leave home without it … wish they would start tackling and rating more international non-profits) —

  • National Alliance to End Homelessness. Common factors in teen prostitution: runaways; homelessness. Donate time or money.
  • Save the Children. Mainly focused on the United States, but also offers opportunities to better the lives of children in other countries
  • — In the U.K./Europe —

  • STOP (Trafficking UK). In support of the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 and the sanctions established against the trafficking of humans, espeically women and children, by the U.N. in Palermo in 2000, STOP (Trafficking UK) is an advocacy group for helping those who have come to the U.K. via the channels of the illegal sex trade — women and children — to find jobs, parents as need be, literacy coaches, counseling, and any other support they need. A new but excellent group.
  • UN.GIFT (the United Nations Global Initiative to Stop Human Trafficking). “UN.GIFT works with all stakeholders – governments, business, academia, civil society and the media – to support each other’s work, create new partnerships and develop effective tools to fight human trafficking.” UN.GIFT is a great jumping-off point for finding ways to help in your specific country.
  • — Other efforts abroad to advocate for disadvantaged youth and stem child prostitution —

  • Pearl S. Buck International: founded by the author of The Good Earth. Through PSBI you can arrange an inter-racial adoption via Welcome House or you may choose to sponsor a child. Special program for children in Asia, where many countries’ lax laws governing prostitution make it a viable and thriving trade, via Opportunity House.
  • The Global Fund for Children. Well-rated, takes your money and spreads it around well-researched country-based special needs groups.
  • And of course, UNICEF, the United Nations International Childrens’ Emergency Fund. I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but it’s what Audrey would want.


  • Photo credits, top to bottom: Jodie Foster as Iris “Easy” Steensman, Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976); Brooke Shields as Violet in Pretty Baby (Lois Malle, 1978); Iris and Travis Bickle dine out in Taxi Driver — Jodie again with Robert De Niro; I credited the center one below the picture itself and I again find it flabbergasting and horrifying; Brooke on the cover of People in May 1978; Jodie again from TD, heartbreakingly young in the green sunglasses — to me this has become an iconic outfit, summing up totally her character and Iris’s backstory and motivations; Brooke again out of costume on set for Pretty Baby, a surprising addition to the so-called “Raider Nation.” I assume the Raiders were still in their brief stationing at Los Angeles at this point.

    Movie Moment: Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman

    July 10, 2010

    Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman (Nathan Juran, 1958).


    Credit for all these great screencaps is due to meltdownclown on the lj.

    Oh, no, it’s a giant lady and is she pissed. I think everyone should see this movie so I will only give you the barest bones of the lowdown and let the caps do the convincing, here. I think I’ll blather about Allison Hayes after a brief plot summary.

    Allison Hayes plays Nancy Archer, a wealthy but unhappy wife with a dick of a husband who drives her to drink. All that dandy Harry, played by William Hudson, wants to do is hang out at the bar with his trampy girlfriend named (wait for it) Honey.

    Honey is played by the lovely and talented Yvette Vickers, who we will see much more of, well, ALL of, later this month in her Girls of Summer appearance.

    Besides Honey and Harry pissing her family money away on gin and poorly rolled cigarettes in a van down by the river, Nancy has other troubles too, as ladies sometimes do, such as spending time in sanitariums and getting hit with rays from alien orbs that make her huge.

    When Nancy sees evidence of aliens landing and insists on her story’s truth, Harry decides it’s the perfect opportunity to get her committed for good, the better to spend her money and bang Honey free of nagging.

    Because it’s hard to ask your husband where he’s going or how come a check bounced when you’ve got that clampy-downy-so-you-don’t-bite-off-your-tongue-while-the-jokers-make-an-epileptic-of-you electroshock mouth guard thingy in your mouth. Better living through electricity. Tell a friend.

    Honey and Harry, because they are good and god-fearing people, flirt with the idea of just o’d’ing Nance on her sedatives, but it’s too late! The most repressed and angry drunk in town, pretty much the last person you’d ever want to grow into a strong super-giant, has — grown into a strong super-giant!

    Oh, shit, you did NOT expect her to come down to the bar and wreck the joint. And even if you thought it was a dim possibility, you probably didn’t picture her 50 feet tall.

    Nancy’s well-deserved rampage doesn’t come until nearly the end of the film and is sadly brief at that, but she does manage to kill both Honey and Harry, so that’s a check in the win column.

    Allison Hayes (née Mary Jane) was labeled by Life magazine in one of the few other before Fifty Foot Woman pics I found of her as “Miss Washington 1949,” confusing all the way around because she was really Miss District of Columbia and it was as a Miss USA candidate, NOT Miss America. More on Miss USA in a sec.

    According to the wiki she was also crowned Miss Dixie in 1951, which pageant has come up before in our Valentine Vixen post on Nancy Jo Hooper. The lovely and talented Sophia Loren lookalike Ms. Hooper was runner-up in the 1962 Miss Dixie pageant. Remember?

    To refresh your memory on the super-fair and reasonable rules of the beauty contest, via pageantopolis: “Each contestant was judged on five qualities: intellect (5%), personality (10%), appearance in evening gown (15%), talent (30%), and appearance in swim suit (30%).”

    “The judges each picked the girls they rated from first to seventh in each classification of competition. The girl with the highest cumulative point score became Miss Dixie.”

    You may sneer at the low rating of intellect on the judging scale and I agree it’s not entirely amiss. But if you are ruffled by the equal weight of “talent” and “appearance in a swimsuit” please remember that the Miss USA pageant continues not to have a “talent” portion at all.

    Let’s give credit where credit is due: kudos to the Miss USA organization for not sugar-coating the fact that this is a contest where what really matters is bikinis.* Let’s call a spade a spade and make no bones of this thing — leave your cello at home, honey, because what we want to know about you is how you look in a “formal” dress that would make a pimp blush.

    *The Miss USA pageant organization and its sister organization, Miss Universe, provide women with the opportunity to travel, further their education and serve the international community through philanthropy. Charities aligned with the Miss USA organization include the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Foundation, the USO, and, most importantly to me, Gilda’s Club.

    I’m not knocking Miss USA herself nor any titleholders or competitors past or present. They’re hard working good looking gals and that’s great. I’m just saying — a talent portion would make the pageant look better. Also, no more Donald Trump and reality television programs built around it would help.

    Ms. Hayes was lifelong close personal friends with the quietly wonderful fag of our fathers Mr. Raymond “Perry Mason” Burr, beginning with the time of filming 1954’s Western film Count Three and Pray. After her own tv and screen careers started petering out, Burr wrangled her 5 separate guest appearances on Perry Mason.

    That makes so much sense cause everyone knows that gay guys love beauty pageants, am I right. Hey everybody it’s mildly-hateful generalization day! mildly-hatefully generalize with me! Black guys like purple. Chicks like shoes. Irish people unilaterally drink.

    I’m sure you will be shocked, given the care and craft evidenced in these photos, to learn that Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman was made for only around $88,000. The picture was a huge hit and talk of a sequel was shopped about but never materialized.

    There was a 1993 remake by Christopher Guest (Best in Show, Spinal Tap) for HBO that was rated a critical failure. I disagree but I am widely known for my devotion to its star, one Miss Daryl Christine Flyass Mothafuckin’ Hannah!!!, so I admit to enormous bias.**

    **Flyass Mothafuckin’ is a family name. If she was a boy it would have been her first name, not her middle. Girls in the family are named Daryl and boys are named Flyass Mothafuckin’. Did You Know?***

    ***This is the opposite of true.

    In the 1993 update, the Nancy character is not so much an alcoholic, though she is neurotic and repressed. There is also the addition of a really overbearing father and her husband is bossier with her too. As with the original, when she gets her “day,” you are pumped as shit for her.

    I like this type of story. I always liked to see the quiet kid with glasses ignoring his lunchroom tormentors just up and flip the fuck out and go nuts and bloody noses and make rich kids cry. But the truth is, the couple times I’ve seen something similar, and I am this way as well, come to think of it so I’ll switch to “we” on this one — it never quite works out.

    We hold-it-all-in types are so out of practice at being expressively furious that we tend to sputter when we try to swear at our oppressors, and somehow we do not entirely break things that we throw at the wall even if we thought we threw it pretty hard.

    Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman has been widely satirized and paid homage to, I hope I am convincing you justly.

    As a few examples, the image of Nancy in her white dress from the poster pops up on album covers for alternative bands now and again, and on people’s walls in movies a lot. The shot of her next to the power lines (to demonstrate her shocking height!!) has become fairly iconic because it’s a great composition.

    In the recent animated film Monsters vs. Aliens, the character of Susan, voiced by Reese Witherspoon, is an obvious parody of Nancy Archer. When Susan first becomes Ginormica, she is exactly fifty feet tall, although she grows slightly larger a few times throughout the film.

    Susan/Ginormica’s character backstory is also similar to Nancy’s. She is a sweet, self-sacrificing girl who is put upon by her arrogant, grandstanding fiance, and frequently represses her own feelings in favor of giving his primacy. She does not consider herself strong and generally relies on others to rescue and advise her.

    By the end of the film, she has become resolutely strong and self-sufficient, and it’s a very enjoyable transition to watch. I think I might have to give it its own Movie Moment one of these days, because it is also hilarious.

    Subject jump. The mind is such an extraordinary thing. My grandmother has been having a terrible Bad Day, and keeps insisting I take her home and that we are in Idaho and not California, and that I am her cousin and not myself and she is sad because she keeps remembering that all of her brothers and sisters are dead and she just wants to see her dogs, and it has basically been a heartbreaking afternoon —- but as I was putting this post together and selecting the pictures for it, she came by and stood behind me (probably to ask me again to take her home, which we are driving to Washington/Idaho next week to do but likely only to clean it up and sell it, I hope to God that does not sink in).

    She saw the pictures on the monitor and said immediately, “Oh, Lord, I remember that at the drive-in! That must have played all Summer after it first came out. What’s her name? Hayes, Hayward?”

    I said, “You got it. Allison Hayes.”

    She laughed and shook her head and said, “Fifty foot woman. My word. I think everyone in Spokane probably saw it three times each.”

    Now she is on the phone with my mother patiently explaining that when she comes home from work, could she please just run her home because Priest River is not so far from Spokane and then she could sleep with her dogs tonight.

    I hate what’s happening to her. I think I hate it enough to maybe need a book about how to deal with it or a meeting to go to or something.

    Spring Fever!: Felicia Atkins, Miss April 1958

    April 19, 2010

    I was feeling down, but I’m pulling myself out of it. I need to have more faith that things will work out for the best, for one thing, and for another, holy cannoli, is it ever a gorgeous day out there! I’ve been sitting on some of these shots for just about forever. I love this shoot. Lots of red clothes, cute hats, and opera-style makeup? Yes, please — I am a big These Pictures Guy from Way Back! Miss April 1958 is the lovely and talented Felicia Atkins.


    Photographed by Bruno Bernard and Bill Bridges.

    An awesome vintage brunette wonder from Down Under, Ms. Atkins still holds the record today for being the longest consecutively-employed showgirl in the history of the storied Folies-Bergère Revue at the Las Vegas Tropicana. Get it, girl!


    Felicia Atkins: Pussy Magnet. Ow!

    I find the history of Old School Las Vegas really interesting (mainly a result of the intersection between my undying love of The Godfather movies and the fact that I’m perpetually interested in the persistent concept of the fast-and-loose, fancy-free frontier “west” in the American mind especially as it played out in increasingly swift travel methods available to the middle class seeking recreation in the twentieth century — first, trains to national parks, then big steely cars on the new highways roaring along state routes dotted with crummy roadside teepees and Bob’s Big Boys by the mid-century; that interests the shit out of me, seriously), so I’m going to reproduce Ms. Atkins’ original write-up in its entirety and then go in to some historical Las Vegas points of emotional interest as far as the Folies-Bergère goes (went).


    Gone are the drear, dread days beyond recall when we were led to believe that showgirls had a pretty bad time of it in the sunshine-and-health department — late hours, smoke-filled rooms, nightclub pallor, and other offenses to God and man. Today, tongue-clucking do-gooders would find it a tough task convincing us that the life of a showgirl (in Las Vegas, anyway) is anything but Reilly. Look at Felicia Atkins, if you haven’t already.

    (“Showgirl in the Sun: A Vegas Venus Mixes Vitamins with Va-a-voom.” Playboy, April 1958.)


    She spends her nights in the chorus line of the sumptuous Hotel Tropicana, gladdening the eyes of all beholders with her finely fashioned five-feet-seven-and-a-half-inches.

    (Ibid.)

    By day, she sleeps late in a swank suite of the same hostelry, eats a mountainous breakfast, then squeezes into a bikini and slips out to soak up a skinful of Vitamin C and splash about in a cool pool until it’s time to dry off the corpore sano andfoi get ready for the evening’s extravaganza. For this, mind you, she gets paid. Another nice thing that’s happened to felicitous Felicia is her appearance as our Playmate for the month of April. It’s nice for us, too. (Ibid.)

    /End drivel. Phew! Before I go in to more about the show for which she famously worked, a few notes on Ms. Atkins — from what I can gather, after leaving the Folies, she went to work for the MGM Grand, which buffs know was bought by Bally’s. Sometime between the Bally’s acquisition, some bartending gigs at what is now the Crazy Horse, and the revamping of Vegas in to a family destination in the 1990’s (darkly pleased to see it returning to its roots after that failed experiment — boo to themed roller coasters, yay to sequined pasties), Ms. Atkins retired back to her native Australia.


    The “Folies-Bergère” opened at the Tropicana Hotel in 1959. Famous for its Cancan girls and statuesque showgirls the “Folies-Bergère” has outlived many hotels as well as shows. The longest continuous running production show in Las Vegas has been updated many times over the years to keep its status as a sophisticated Parisian spectacular.

    (“Folies-Bergère: We Can-Can,” Hooper, R. Scott. vegasretro.com.)

    When you hear “showgirl,” and automatically picture a leggy glamazon in ostrich-tail and resplendently over-the-top headdress, you are picturing a girl from the Folies-Bergère, the hip grandma of all Vegas revues. As VegasRetro reported, it was the longest-running show in the history of the City, and Ms. Atkins, here, was its longest-running performer. That is really something!


    Folies-Bergère, known the world over for gorgeous dancers is not just a show … it’s a legend. The theme of “women through time” beginning in the 1800’s to present day has gone unchanged, but the new interpretations enhance the Folies-Bergère experience.

    (“Les Folies-Bergère.” PCAP, Las Vegas Lesiure Guide, 2003.)


    The Dressing Room number gives the audience a behind-the-scenes feel of how the gorgeous showgirls prepare for their nightly appearance on stage. Each scenario flows seamlessly into the next such as in La Vedette where male dancers present a stunning showgirl who materializes through smoke with giant butterfly wings on her back.

    (Ibid.)


    Another popular scene is fashioned in the 1920’s where “women of darkness” were known as vamps. A private boudoir moment, black silk and velvet dressing gowns accompanied by tassels used as erotic props emphasize the sexual natures of these women.

    (Ibid.)


    The Las Vegas Folies-Bergère, which opened in 1959, closed at the end of March 2009, after nearly 50 years in operation.

    (the wiki.)



    The Folies-Bergère showgirls have been entertaining audiences at the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for 49 years. In the show’s heyday in Vegas, “The Trop,” where they performed, was considered the “Tiffany of the Strip,” attracting stars like Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Patrons came to rub elbows with stars and with the Folies’ showgirls, who would “dress up” the hotel bar after performances.

    But times are tight in Las Vegas, and the Tropicana can’t afford to produce the Folies-Bergère anymore. The showgirls’ last performance will be March 28, 2009 — just a few months shy of the show’s 50th anniversary.

    (“Folies-Bergère to close in Las Vegas.” Meraji, Shereen. 23 February 2009. NPR.)


    Coupl’a’fine-ass kittens chillaxin’.

    These days, Felicia is, like I said, back in Oz. She now lives in a senior care facility where you can write to her at 4 Muller St., Salamander Bay, New South Wales, 4317. Be respectfully advised she has recently started being treated for advancing dementia and may not now recognize photos and autograph requests.

    Speaking of these kinds of subjects, I need to go because I am being summoned to have a conversation with my grandmother, who is hot to tell me for probably the sixth time today about how her brother Alvin got the first Model T in Priest River when she was a kid with graduation money from their grandmother and he took all the kids in town for rides in it, and they were speeding and hit a bump and he had to jerk her back down on to his lap at one point because she flew up in the air and almost out the window of the car. She loves that story. He was her favorite brother. I don’t mind when she gets stuck in a groove for a day on the really sweet and good memories. It’s a wonderful break from the Bad Days, plus the repetition ensures that now I will hold on to the memory for awhile. And that’s what we’ve all got ears and got voice boxes for, most likely. Right? It happens. Catch you later!