I imagine that upon seeing this new post, all two of you said something along the lines of “it’s about fucking time these lazy bitches get their collective acts together and write another post that I probably won’t actually read unless the pictures are funny.” Listen. It’s late July, Mr. Jesus decided that 110 degrees was a great fucking heat index for the eastern United States last week. I’m having trouble sleeping. I have two jobs. I’m trying to figure out my “future.” And it’s my last real summer vacation. So excuse me for neglecting to post as I sleeplessly watch my childhood dissolve while sweating all over the place. We’re trying our best here.
Alternatively, you probably didn’t actually say anything like that and didn’t deserve my sassy reply. In which case…oops!
Okay, subtle subject change. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever seen a certain thing or person or something EVERYWHERE in pop culture for like weeks straight? As though every time you turn on the TV, or read the paper, or go online, that thing is there, stalking your life?
Well it’s been happening to me. And I have a message for the state of Alaska: get the FUCK off me.
1. The Proposal has been on TV a lot recently, it takes place in Alaska, you get it.
2. While I was home I caught a little TV with my dad, which means I had no say in what we watched and he was going between the Phillies and a Deadliest Catch marathon. Naturally. Anyway, crabs, dead seabirds, Sig, and most importantly, Alaska.
3. Like many of you I ran to my nearest Borders this weekend. I got a cookbook in the “liquidation” sale (which means 10% off, apparently), but anyway it has a recipe for Baked Alaska that I read at least seven times because I just really wasn’t getting it – it’s an ice cream dessert covered in meringue. I’ve watched enough Food Network to understand the concept, but this recipe called for you to PUT IT IN THE OVEN. Not just under the broiler, mind you, but in a motherfucking 350-degree oven, door closed, timer on. But it still comes out as ice cream. I’m no physicist, but it seems to me that that’s impossible. Nevertheless, I read the recipe for about 20 minutes because I was so befuddled. ALASKA.
4. My mom left our local newspaper open to the Associated Press page which contained an article about a grizzly bear attacking four teenagers in ALASKA. Which is sad for them but equally annoying for me, am I right!?
5. I was on IMDB looking something up and the front page news story was that John Cusack, nonthreatening, semi-neurotic, sweater-wearing older man of my dreams (second only to Colin Firth, of course), is filming his new movie in ALASKA.
6. No joke, a Red Lobster commercial featuring an Alaskan fisherman is on right now as I’m typing this and I’m afraid, so very afraid.
And all this in the last week. AND that’s just the stuff I vividly remember. Is this enough evidence to support the claim that Alaska needs to get the fuck out of my life for a little while? I think so.
Anyway, I’ll have to wait another day because all this Alaskan stalkage inspired me to do a little sexy scandal investigation about the Last Frontier (starting with the state’s Wiki page, which told me that its official nickname is the “Last Frontier”). AND WE’RE IN LUCK, because there was one fine lady making miners sweat all up and down the Bering Strait…..Kathleen “Klondike Kate” Rockwell!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
With a nickname like that, this has gotta be good.
Sweet young Kate was a child of the frontier, growing up in Oregon and Washington state during the late 1800s. Actually, not really, her stepdad was a BFD and they lived in a big ol’ mansion in Spokane. It’s not like she was killing squirrels for dinner or wrestling bears. She had a comfy childhood, but she was a tomboy – she liked to wear boys’ clothes. Which is fine, if it’s not the 1880s and even the ladies who don’t cross-dress are
having a fucking hard time with the whole social mobility thing. So anyway, with a rebellious preteen Levi’s-wearing stepdaughter on his hands, aforementioned stepdad went ahead and did what any Victorian patriarch would do: he sent her to boarding school. And then she was promptly kicked out for bad-assery.
Eventually she and her mama moved to NYC, where she unsuccessfully tried to make it on Broadway. After failing as an actress, young Kate was in a bit of a pickle. Actually, not really. I’m pretty sure she could have found something to do in New York. But maybe she’d just had enough of you know, civilization, because girlfriend’s next move was to work as a tap-dancer in bars in Whitehorse and later in Dawson City, both “major” cities in the Yukon Territory (which included parts of present-day Alaska). I imagine that she performed for three miners and a couple moose families. Just kidding, there were at least ten miners.
And this job made her…wait for it….it’s really good…a Klondike barmaid. HAHAHA puns!
Anyway, Katie was a hottie, and she somehow waded through all the bear and elk suitors and met Alexander Pantages, who was 100% man. And probably 100% lonely and horny, since he was a bartender in northern Canada and his only human companions were grizzled miners (really every time I reference these miners I’m just picturing Yukon Cornelius). So Kate and Alex got their flirt on, and he opened a/the only theater in the Yukon in which his new fine young thang could work hard for the money and where they could swindle the shit out of said desperate miners. And all that swindling must have been hawt – I imagine after opening night he probably took her back to his ski lodge, cracked open a couple Molsons, and was all like “Hey gurl, know the best way to keep warm up here in the Great White North? BONING.” Because these two got busy, let me tell you. I hope they were fans of the Old King Clancy. And I hope they spent their post-coital time smoking pine needle cigarettes and watching the Aurora Borealis.
Now you might be thinking, “Sure, good for them, it’s fucking cold and lonely up there. And I bet no one gave a shit that they weren’t married.” Because you, avid For Shame reader, have learned by now that premarital sex is the surest way to get your scandal on.
But there was one person who gave a shit that they weren’t married after a few years of fornication. KLONDIKE motherfucking KATE, especially after she realized that Alex was cheating her out of a shit-ton of Canadian pennies.
The theater, backstage after Kate’s show. Kate sits at her vanity, pulling on her Mukluks. Alex walks in.
(Note: read Kate’s lines in the style of Sarah Palin.)
ALEX: Hey bitch, great fucking job tonight. I’m cold. Let’s bone.
KATE: Okay. No maple syrup this time though.
(Kate pushes Alex away.)
KATE: Wait! I am a lady, despite my transvestite beginnings! I refuse to be your harlot. I can’t imagine what the moose must think of me. Therefore I must insist that you PUT A RING ON IT.
ALEX: ……………………………………………………………………………….HAHAHAHAH BITCH PLEASE. Now shut up let me smear this maple syrup on your face.
And Kate, modern woman that she thought she was, was like AW HELL NO and left his ass in the dust. And by “the dust” I mean that he went on to become sort of really famous and well-respected in the entertainment industry. But Kate had her dignity. The fact that she left at all was a very big deal, because Kate was really the only person who could in any way be considered a celebrity for thousands of miles. Miners’ wives from
Fairbanks to Flin Flon read about the scandal in their Us Weeklys with shock and disgust. As a result, Kate headed to British Columbia, and then to Oregon. Despite her popularity in Canada/present-day Alaska, Kate sort of became a recluse once she moved stateside; her career took a serious hit. I would imagine that humans are a lot harsher than woodland creatures when it comes to performance criticism.
She ended up alone and sad. But was a great philanthropist in her old age and now there’s a theme restaurant named after her in Delaware. So that’s good, right?
For shame! has gone real European on everyone’s asses lately. I mean, I guess we do have some of our favorite sex-driven ex-pats coming up in the next couple of weeks but let’s get real. Gertrude Stein was about as American as a French fry. Fuck! We even wrote about English royalty for the 4th of July. Shit’s fucked up. But listen, everything’s about to get a lot more patriotic because we’re heading to…the border. Uhhh…all right, so maybe the stigmas attached to the border between us and the poor part of North America (like the tendency to illegally cross it) aren’t the first things you think of when someone chants “USA! USA!” but just go with it, ok?
Today we’ll be zeroing in on the historical scandalosity of New Mexico at the very time that it was becoming the 47th United State. (That’s SO American, what am I talking about?!) Specifically, we’re going to sexplore the sexploits of its capital city, Santa Fe — a place steeped in more Mexican and indigenous cultural influence than you can shake a stick at. And hey, what’s more American than a city with a Spanish name within a state named after a foreign country? Uh…Fuck it. It’s more American than some french guy who paints other people’s girlfriend’s vaginas, amiright?
So, fuck the Moulin Rouge! (Not literally. There’s gonorrhea all over that vag castle.) You know what had way hotter prostitutes? The wild, wild west is what. And I’m not just talking about your favorite Will Smith movie, either. The American Frontier, specifically turn of the 19th century Santa Fe New Mehico, was home to some of the hottest, most badass, most scandalous women practicing the world’s oldest profession.
But let’s get specific, shall we, because that’s kind of our thing. We’re talking about the Mexican mistress of the night, La Dona Maria Gertrudis Barcelo. Quite a mouthful. (THAT’s WHAT SHE SAID!!) When she made it big [insert penis joke here], girlfriend went by La Tules — which made some people think she was French and some peeps started calling her Madame Toulouse. But Bitch was Mexican (New Mexican), and don’t you forget it.
Before she hit it big time, she met a guy whose name…isn’t in her Wiki article. So we’ll call him Juan. Seems like a safe bet. She and Juan fooled around in the back of a wagon or something and then 5 months later, she was like, “Uh…I haven’t had the bleeds in a while.” And then they got married. Sadly, her first child, a boy, died in infancy. Not funny. Getting married 5 months pregnant in the mid 1900s, not funny then. Kind of funny now? Dead baby, never funny. Baby number two also died in infancy and it was probably her husband’s, but no one’s really sure because she was also sort of kind of a prostitute and her husband was like, “Whatevs” about it.
Before you put your judgment panties on, just fucking read on for a hot sec, will ya? Because being a prostitute in the American Southwest, in mining towns or big cattle towns or transportation hubs was NBD. Actually, it was kind of a sweet gig. It was a great way for women to get out of isolated farm-life childhoods, make some cash, and find herself a nice cowboy to marry. You could also wear those fun saloon girl outfits. Win win, I think. Granted, finding herself a nice man to settle down with wasn’t really La Tules’s thang since she already had herself a baby-daddy. What she was into, however, was winning a shit ton of money.
Girlfriend was the best monte player in the west. Early in her 20 or 30 year career as a madame, gambling house owner, monte dealer, and gambler, she won a few big hands and made it big. And instead of trashing her all around town, the men who lost money from her (mostly Mexican) went around telling people how freaking amazing she was. So she kept winning money from the guys who heard about her skillz from the first guys who she beat. The white guys who she beat ran back to their mommies and told them about the scary Mexican whore who stole all his money. The quickly earned the reputation of dirty, Mexican prostitute in the Anglo American community as stories of her gambling house/brothel made their way into some of the first travel logs and reports back east of frontier Americans. For white Americans looking to annex New Mexico at the start of the Mexican-American war, our Latina harlot came to symbolize the immorality of the New Mexican territory and its need for moralizing white influence.
But bitch didn’t give a shit because she was busy making a crap ton of money and developing a taste for ‘spensive thangs. Like diamonds. And houses. And wealthy men.
Her most famous illicit affair was with Manuel Armijo (pronounced ARM-ee-HO, you yanks). He was at the time, no big deal, the governor of Mexico. To be fair, no one knows for sure if they were hooking up. But they spent a LOT of time together and I bet did some major eye fucking at political balls and shit, so my conclusion is: he was putting his pepe in or on her for a number of years.
And she was fiiine with it because it meant she got to meet a lot of important politicos (I believe that is Spanish for “politician,” but don’t quote me on that — I grew up in Texas and took French in high school. Idiota!) at a really exciting time for politics in New Mexico. She died in 1852, just a year before her long-time loverrr, in her early 50s, most likely. (Mexicans didn’t keep great birth records in the 1800s apparently.) She had, like, four different houses to her name and about $10,000 — which according to a nifty inflation calculator I just used would have been like well over $250,000. Not bad, Madame. Not bad.
She used that money, posthumously of course, on a lavish and extraordinary funeral that lasted days. A funeral fit only for a high class prostitute who was, of course, a devout Catholic and could deal any man in the West under the table, while giving the governor a handy. Also probably under a table.
I’ve pretty much said it all about this badass Mexican frontierswoman/harlot/gambler, so I’ll conclude simply by saying that I’d give anything to enjoy a tamale or two and a game of cards with Gertrudis. And by anything I mean, like, several pesos.
Before I get into the good shit, there are some points that need to be made:
1. Yes, we were shut down for roughly 12 hours earlier this week because WordPress thought we were spam robots. Because what robots AREN’T writing about historical sex scandals these days, RIGHT?! Anyway, even though he’ll never ever see this, we want to thank kind, sweet Anthony at WordPress headquarters for very promptly and apologetically righting this grave, grave wrong.
2. In related news, we recently were on the receiving end of the best spam comment of all time ever in the history of spam the internet junkmail thing and also Spam the canned pork product. It was that good. It was an ad for a free eBook on giving blow jobs. I just….it’s too perfect. I mean I half believe that it wasn’t spam at all and that someone, after reading a post or two, thought, “Know what, I got just the thing for these sassy little ladies – my eReader-compatible sex tips book.” The idea of a blowj instructional guide on a Kindle will never NOT make me want to pee my pants. So here’s a message for that robot/person who knows us so well: I know it’s free (and God bless you for that) but take my credit card number, take my Social Security number, take my firstborn child. I want that blowj eBook more than I want Paul Schnieder, Chris O’Dowd, and Jason Segel to be my brother husbands. And I don’t even believe in eBooks.
3. Another thing that I want is for someone to Google any one of those three celebrities plus “blow job” and/or “free blow job ebook” and subsequently find our blog. Because this is just where that person should fucking be.
4. Remember that time I wrote a post about the Effie Gray/John Ruskin/John Everett Millais love triangle? Well, Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney, for you unsophisticated ones) (by unsophisticated I just mean that you, unlike me, haven’t deluded yourself into thinking that you’re worldly because you watch a lot of British costume dramas) must have read that gem, because I just saw today that she’s turning that scandalous story into a moviefilm. I’m sure she’ll be in touch about giving us a cut.
5. The GRE is the worst, and if you invented it I want you to bury yourself alive, after which I will stick a funnel into the earth and softly whisper words like “abstemious” and “virago” and “splenetic” that no one ever needs to fucking know nonstop until one of us dies.
Okay, now for the fun. It’s time for MRG to shamelessly continue her pattern of desperately writing posts loosely relevant to significant historical events according to the date because she’s not creative or motivated enough to search for lesser known scandals anymore and you don’t like those posts as much anyway!
According to Les Miserables, some shit went down on July 14 in France in 1789, and according to the Wishbone episode based on The Three Musketeers it all happened at the Bastille prison, and according to the shit-tastic Jason Schwartzman vehicle Marie Antionette, a lot of important Frenchies got their heads chopped off as a result. Don’t ever say we don’t cite our shit here at For Shame.
We’re talking about…….BASTILLE DAY!!!!!!!1 A day that changed France forever. At least politically. I’m pretty sure they all smelled bad and ate snails and wore berets before the storming of the Bastille just as they do today.
Anyway, ever since we started this li’l puppy we’ve had a lot of people suggest that we do a post on the Marquis de Sade. And ever since four days ago I’ve wanted to do a post on a Revolutionary Frenchie. I’m no scientist, but I think that A + B = a veritable match made in sexy, scandalous heaven. And I’m no scientist, but I think that was math and not science.
The Marquis de Sade was a nasty, deviant, freaky, scary sex maniac. To say that he was a prolific libertine is like saying Oprah is a taciturn woman of modest fortune. The term “sadism” comes from his motherfucking name, so you can only imagine. Actually, you don’t have to imagine because I’m going to tell you all about it and try not to throw up or have nightmares. He was an aristocrat writer, philosopher, and hedonist living in Revolutionary France and bangin as many ladies (and men) as he could along the way.
Starting in 1763, Parisian prostitutes started complaining about him and his bedroom demands, which apparently were pretty fucked up, and by 1768 he had been incarcerated and exiled to Lacoste (the town, not the alligator polo shirt company). Note that the first anecdote in this story is that several PROSTITUTES, women who illegally have sex with men for money, were so revolted and disgusted by him that THEY had him put away. It can only get better from here.
By 1768 Sade decided it was time to get back in the saddle, so he hired another prostitute (because he’s had so much luck with the ladies of the night already) and IMPRISONED HER IN HIS HOUSE and sexually abused her for a week until she was finally able to climb out a window or escape via a tunnel she chisled with a rock hammer and hid with a poster of an Old Hollywood film star or something. He decided the best fucking time to do this was Easter Sunday. BUT his mother-in-law (oh yeah, he was married and had kids) managed to get him a lettre de cachet from Louis XV, which was essentially a piece of paper saying “BE COOL, dudes. This guy’s with me.” Which meant that he was not under the jurisdiction of any French court. Excellent use of your power in a time of growing civil unrest, Lou.
Now this is where shit starts to get real. If you’re reading this to a child, grandparent, or boss, stop.
This handout from his mommy-in-law convinced Sade that his wife Pelagie was going to be a big help in his quest to earn the title of World’s Disgustingest Man Ever No Matter How Long the Human Race is in Existence. And help she did: after this little rape/imprisonment incident during a little spring cleaning at their Marseilles home, he said “Oh mon petit fleur, I was Swiffering the basement, and I had the greatest idea. You know how we’ve been saying we want to entertain more? Why don’t you get four prostitutes to come over and we’ll all have an orgy?! And by ‘all’ I mean me, my manservant Latour, and the ladies. You’re not invited.” And she must have emphatically said “OKAY!” because that’s exactly what happened. Actually THIS is exactly what happened:
This elaborate encounter, which took place on July 27, 1772, involved the consumption of Spanish fly, and a number of ménage a trois scenarios, wherein the Marquis would either whip a prostitute while masturbating his valet, make love with a prostitute while being sodomized by his valet, or sodomize a prostitute who was simultaneously performing fellatio on Latour. Among Sade’s more bizarre and startling requests was for his female companions to consume a great deal of his Spanish fly candies: his goal was to give them gas so that he might “take in their wind,” as it were. He also requested that he be able to whip the young women with a particularly violent-looking implement, one that was already covered with his own blood. (Don’t yell at me. I got this here.)
And it gets better/worse: Sade planned on this orgy of terror lasting SIX motherfucking WEEKS. Let’s put that in persepective. Remember when you got your ears pierced and all you wanted to do was change your earrings but you had to wait FOREVER so that your ears didn’t get infected? Yeah, also six weeks.
Anyway, the prostitutes were held against their will and I guess did what they had to do until Sade and Latour finally let them leave. But then they weren’t satisfied, so they went out and got ANOTHER hooker with a heart of gold named Marguerite Coste, who was like “You’ll pay me HOW MUCH?” and subsequently made the biggest mistake of her undoubtedly mistake-ridden life when she agreed to come over for a little par-tay. Sade wanted to do anal, but she was like “Uhh no way dude, don’t you know sodomy is illegal????” Oh, Maggie. So sweet, so naive.
Anyway, I guess she felt bad about denying him (the customer is always right), so she went ahead and ate a whole box of those Spanish fly candies. Which Sade had because the Spanish fly was supposedly an aphrodisiac (who the FUCK discovered that?), but it was also poisonous in large doses. A whole box of Spanish fly Tootsie Rolls = a large dose.
Sade was like “SHIT” and booked it outta there faster than you can say “c’est la vie!” Maggie survived just long enough to give testimony to the local magistrate, which was also compatible with the testimony of those four prostitutes. Sade and Latour were being tried for sodomy, and would receive the death penalty if (when) convicted. So naturally they got the fuck out of there and went on the lam in Sardinia. Because what’s more unnoticeable than a pair of powdered, silk-clad French sodomites on an island populated solely by swarthy Mediterranean fishermen and their tuna?
Anyway, he was eventually found and ended up spending a couple months in the Revolutionary France version of a minimum security white collar prison. Upon his release, he went right back to the same shit and recruited his crazy bitch/wife to help him with that whole six week orgy thing.
I know this is getting long, but we’re approaching the climax (which is a euphemism for orgasm lolzZ). And that zenith of Sade’s sexual deviance has come to be called “The Little Girls’ Affair.” Holy shit. Holy, holy, holy shit.
He had his lawyer go into town to hire six teenageish girls to work as maids in la maison de Sade, and then proceeded to keep them there for said six weeks, the whole of which was an elaborately orchestrated bacchanalian non-consensual sex fest, featuring fellatio, sodomy (of the man and of the lady persuasion), sodomy chains (!!??!?!!!?), masturbation, and lots of whipping and hitting and stuff. This probably would have gone on for a while had the parents of said girls not looked into it. You may be thinking that it was shitty of these parents not to check this out sooner, but shut up. Remember that in this time, domestic service was a 24/7 job and you almost never got to see your family; you only wrote to them, and only when you had money for paper and postage. So the girls got out alive, but as per usual de Sade gave his typical “Uh well I was drunk or something? I don’t know, I’m rich and the King likes me,” testimony and basically got a slap on the wrist. Which probably gave him a boner, because he was into that shit.
This post has gotten really long and depressing and it’s sort of impossible to make jokes about behaviors this terrible and true. But hey, America’s about to come to the rescue like she always does! So that’s good, right?
By “come to the rescue” I really just mean that it was 1776 and we were all holed up in Independence Hall exploring Enlightenment ideas about justice and freedom and whatnot, and even though he was on the run Sade probably saw what we were doing and thought “OUI, IT IS TIME FOR ME TO MAKE AMENDS!” And so he decided to head to gay Paris (which is the center of government and therefore last fucking place a fugitive should go) to apologize to his mother-in-law, who understandably hated him.
He arrived at his li’l Parisian pied a terre, opened the door, and was greeted by an investigator holding a warrant signed by Louis XVI. BOOM, arrested!
And he eventually ended up at the Bastille! Where he remained until July 2, 1789, until someone took a second look at his file and said “OH, this motherfucker is crazy!” and he was transferred to an insane asylum. The storming of the Bastille happened twelve days later.
Anyway, after he got out in 1790 he continued publishing and having lots of sex, although less weird and more legal. But he had to go out like a champ – four years before his death in 1814 at age 64, he’d begun a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl. There’s our guy!
Listen. This might have been one of the longest posts to date. But I think that the length of the post should match the size of the libido, don’t you?
And instead of ending pithily, I’m just going to show you some drawings printed in his “philosophy” books. And then I’m going to clear my browsing history. Enjoy, buttons!
Before business time, let’s just address the big ol’ elephant in the room. We haven’t posted in a while. You’re probably upset about it. I would be too if I was you seeing as we’re fucking hilarious and you probably miss laughing. But listen, MRG was cramming for the GREs and I was working like 40 hours last week and watching Battlestar Galactica. I’m a busy bitch, ok? But it’s my turn to deliver some historical scandal unto you and so I shall.
Rainer Maria Rilke is my favorite poet. Of all time. Granted, I could probably only name you like 6 poets. Maybe 4. Not many. You get the gist — I’m kind of a literary nincompoop. But I love me some Rilke. At my high school, about a quarter of senior AP English was dedicated to reading Rilke’s schmoetry and instead of hating his guts like most of my classmates, I embarked on my first and probably only literary love affair to date. It turned out to be pretty useful since I’ve encountered him at least twice in different classes in college. Plus it turns out that in addition to writing some pretty bangin’ lyrical prose, he did another kind of bangin’ that for sure makes him the stuff of for shame!
Rainer (nee Renee) was born in 1875 in Prague to a cra-cra mommy and a military nut job papa. The Rilkes had lost a baby girl before they had their son and as a result, Mrs. Rilke thought it would be a great idea to dress her son in girls’ clothes for most of his childhood. His father thought he would counteract this gender-bending by sending his son to a hard-core military school. But the kid’s an artist, ya know? He’s not into that shit. And at this point, he’s pretty fucking confused. Heck, I would be too if I spent my childhood thinking I was a dude and then started entering beauty pageants. So it’s a good thing that when he was 22 he met the married psychoanalyst Lou Andreas-Salome so she could straighten that shit out.
Lou was an alternative motherfucker who was known for her brains and her willingness to bone pretty much anyone as long as it wasn’t her husband. After she had her fill (EW) of Nietzsche and Freud and a slew of other big wig German philosophizers and intellectuals and artists, Rilke managed to dip his D in the Lou Pool. Their affair last about three years, until 1900. During that time, they went on a bunch of trips together — including a little hop and a skip over to Moscow to meet Leo Tolstoy where her husband joined in the fun. Who has a keyboard in front of them and thinks that must have been awkward? This guy! (Me. I’m talking about myself because I think it’s awkward and I’m typing on a keyboard.)
Later in 1900 he went to live at an “artists’ colony” in the north of Germany which I choose to imagine as a sex den with, like, paintings on the walls or something. At the colony/sex den, he met the sculptor Clara Westhoff and they hit it off right away. A few months later they were married and Clara had them a little baby named Ruth 9 months later.
Throughout their marriage, Rilke remained real tight with Lou…which probably wasn’t the biggest deal ever to Clara because she was training with Rodin and a bunch of other famous male sculptors and I just wouldn’t be surprised if she extramaritally touched parts with one of them at one point or another. Just saying.
Rilke was also BFFs with an abstract expressionist painter named Paula Becker who died tragically of an embolism days after giving birth to her first child. She and Rilke were very close “artistically” and it fucking destroyed him when she died. BUT we managed to get some of his greatest poetry EVERRR out of her death, so I’m not too broken up about it.
During the war years, he had an affair with a different Lou, Lou Albert-Lasard, a German Jewish painter lady. She and Rilke lived together in Vienna from 1914-1916 while she was still married. AWKWARD. But they ran with a really sick crowd while there. Regular invites to their love den include Paul Klee and Stefan Zweig.
Rilke and Clara wanted to get a divorce probably around this time, but WOOPSIES, Rilke was an official Catholic and there’s no getting out of that marriage shit when you’ve got the pope riding your ass, youknowwhatimsaying?! So they remained married until Rilke’s death of leukemia in 1926. Meanwhile, they both probably did a lot of illicit and uncatholic things with a lot of different people. Artists!
I’ll geek out for just a hot second now before signing off. My favorite poem of Rilke’s is called “Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes.”, it isn’t one of the famous Sonnets to Orpheus, but it’s still kind of amazing. The poem tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice but puts an emphasis on the experience and perspective of Eurydice, the woman. It is quite wonderful. My other favorite thing that he did, which I read in high school, is the Letters to a Young Poet. It is a compilation of the ten letter correspondence he kept with Franz Kappus, a 19 year old military school student who wanted to be a poet and wrote to him asking advice. I’m trying not to sound like a little bitch here, but Letters to a Young Poet is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever experienced. I know you’re probably not going to run out and get a copy, even though I’ve provided you with such a convenient link, so here’s a little excerpt. Indulge me and read it, assholes:
For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. That is why young people, who are beginners in everything, are not yet capable of love: it is something they must learn.
Uhhh, and also fuck bitches and shit.
[Editor’s Note. LHB here. MRG is really busy serving people ice cream and celebrating the birth of our nation, so I’ll be publishing this scrumptious post this evening. The article can be credited to MRG, lover of America and connoisseur of Independence Day celebrations. Only the images and captions were chosen by me. Enjoy the read and FOR SHAME if you don’t have the best, most intoxicated 4th of July EVER.]
THE FOURTH OF JULY IS MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY. I’m yelling that, because it’s in caps. I love the Fourth. I love it. I said it. And I don’t love it because I love America. I mean America’s fine, it’s been good to me (aside from the processed foods and age-inappropriate television that defined my childhood). But I love the Fourth of July because I grew up in a tiny little suburb of Philadelphia that gets less Pleasantville and more South Philly every year, and the ONE THING we do right is the Fourth of July. Every year at midnight on the third, a little cuteness fairy flies over town and sprinkles us all with adorableness dust, and we wake up as precious as a basket of week-old kittens. We turn into Stars Hollow for one day.
One day of parades, decorated bicycles, sack races, balloon tosses (which MRG and her BFF Maggie OWNED for a few years in the early 2000s), doughnut-eating contests, string band music, and endless hotdogs and birch beer. My throat is getting a little tight just thinking about it. I love the Fourth of July because I love the nostalgia. And the fireworks. But mostly the nostalgia. Did you know that “nostalgia” is a combination of the Greek words for “ache” and “returning home?” FUCK, I’m crying already (except not really because I don’t cry).
ANYWAY, given my attachment to the Fourth, naturally I demanded that I write the Independence Day post. As you may recall, we recently finished up a week of posts all about the Founding Fathers. And then we sort of collectively said “SHIT, that would have been good for the Fourth of July.” So we had to do a little quick thinking. But don’t worry, Americans. Aunt MRG’s got a li’l treat for ya.
Take a second and think back to the fifth grade. Remember learning about the Continental Congresses? Remember learning about the taxes? Stamp Act, Sugar Act, Intolderable Acts? Remember that little thing Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1776? Where he used “he” about a hundred times? Who was the antecedent to that pronoun? Who levied the taxes? Have I asked enough questions yet?
That’s right, buttons! Today’s post is about how the Fourth of July became the special day to get hot dog drunk and set things on fire that it is today. We’re learning about….KING GEORGE III!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
And even better for you, this post is going to be short & sweet (like LHB) because when Georgie wasn’t being a big ol’ anti-colonial douche, he was mostly dealing with his own madness and his future-regent son’s stupidity and frivolity. He wasn’t having a lot of the inappropriate sex, and I like to think it’s because he was married to a FIERCE bitch named Charlotte who really kept his pantalooned ass in line. She was a great patroness of the arts, but more importantly, she might have had a somewhat ethnic (ie Portuguese or Vandalic) ancestor like 9 generations back, which of course meant that people referred to her as “mulatto,” “Moor,” or “African.” So for our purposes, Charlotte was LITERALLY a strong black woman who would not allow any adulterous shit from George.
This makes finding a scandal a tish bit difficult, but hey, keep your bloomers on. I got it.
Prior to marrying
Beyonce Charlotte, George was just a lovesick teenage puppy like all the rest of us. Except being a good Hanoverian, he was really into Protestantism. So to a young, pious, horny teenager, what’s hotter than a sexy older Quaker lady? Nothing, that’s what.
Enter Hannah Lightfoot, who was a commoner (!), a Quaker (!!), and eight years older than the 15-year-old Prince of Wales (!!!!!!!!!!1). She also had a great last name. Anyway, she married a London grocer named Issac Axford sometime in 1755, and by January of 1756, bitch completely disappeared. No one knew where she went. I mean no one. Her mom died in 1760 and in her will said “I am not certain whether my said daughter be living or dead I not having seen or heard from her for about two years last past.”
SUPPOSEDLY, ALLEGEDLY, MAYBE George met her in 1753 or 1754, just before her marriage to young Isaac, and thought DAYUM let me hit that Quaker cougar. And SUPPOSEDLY, ALLEGEDLY, MAYBE organized a li’l kidnapping-type plot, so that Hannah was abducted after her wedding and brought to George, who was probably still struggling to grow chest hair. But that’s beside the point. SUPPOSEDLY, ALLEGEDLY, MAYBE they got married in secret and had two kids together, one of which was named George Rex. “Rex” meaning “king” and not “dinosaur.”
I know we’ve written about a lot of stories that are of questionable veracity, but this is probably the questionablest. Historians have really only found concrete reference to George and Hannah’s relationship in contemporary gossip magazines, which mentioned the Prince of Wales keeping a Quaker woman who had his children. GRAIN OF SALT, people. Because if we believed everything printed in US Weekly the world would be a frightening (and FABULOUS!) place. The story grew in popularity, and for some reason people were really into it in the 1830s. There were three different secret-lives-of-the-royals type books published during that decade that mention Hannah. So who knows. Maybe they did get their bone on.
Here’s my thought: Quakers are so great for so many reasons. I mean there’s the oatmeal, obviously. And the founding of my home city & state. But they’ve also got a great liturgical lack of hierarchy. And they call themselves Friends! And George wanted to do what any young prince does: bone inappropriately. But he also wanted to make sure his slampiece was as virtuous as it gets, so he made sure she was Protestant and then married her before shit got too immoral. It makes sense. Shhhhh, it does.
Anyway, Hannah either died or just disappeared again or something, because then George got really upset and took it out on the colonies like a little bitch via questionable taxes and occupation by poorly-mannered Redcoats.
And that’s why we have the Fourth of July. USA USA USA USA USA!
My cousin is a fashion designer who, after working for a big label for a number of years finally broke off and started her own line about a year and half ago. You’d think that was cool, right? Like “Oh biiitch, you so lucky, I betchu get free clothes all the time!” HA! WRONG. Why am I telling you this, you ask? What does this charming familial anecdote have to do with scandal of yore? Well, patience is a virtue, motherfuckers, so see the next paragraph, why don’t you!?
A while ago, my good-for-nothing designer cousin said that if I talked about her in for shame! she’d give me a lil hand out. So I told her she needed to get her ass a little more famous, do something scandalous, and then let a bunch of years pass and then we’d be all over it. But she’s busy being “professional” or some shit, not to mention contemporary, so I’m settling on a couturier a tish bit more fragrant and hoping I score some free shit anyway due to the linkage above. So yes, I’m a sell out. But, as the title indicates, at least I’m not a treasonous slut bag.
If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to spritz your favorite No. 5 all up in your pale pink tweed suit jacket (because I know we all have those things that aren’t not imaginary), now’s the time because today we’re exploring the scandalosity of none other than Coco Chanel.
Listen, I want to give the bitch some cred before I start making everyone feel uncomfortable reading about the outrageous degree of sexploitation that defined her personal life. As far as fashion/art/modernist design goes, she practically introduced Jersey fabric to womenswear. So all of you hipsters who don’t shower but shop at American Apparel like a squirrel at an acorn store, you have her to thank. Before Chanel, Jersey fabric was only used for men’s underwear. Now it’s used in practically everything,(including the $18 queen size sheet set I got at target this summer!!) She was one of the first and certainly the most important female couturiers in Paris in the 20s. Before Chanel, corsets were the thing. (And by “the thing,” I mean causing women all over the Western world serious and irreparable health problems.) But then Chanel came along and pretty much pioneered the look of the New Woman of the 1920s. Yeah, that was our bitch! She designed loose, comfortable clothes for women that were still elegant and timeless. The Chanel aesthetic really hasn’t changed since the 20s and I mean, that’s really freakin’ cool, huh? OH YEAH. And she invented pea coats and bell bottoms. God bless Chanel.
But enough nicey-nicey. Let’s go all housewives on this bitch and talk shit, shall we? Childhood in a nutshell: Mom dies young, dad says “layta playas,” she grows up in an orphanage, nuns teach her to sew, she’s good at it. She moves to Paris and starts “dancing” in a “cabaret.” And by “dancing,” I mean “showing her boobies to wealthy french men.” And by “cabaret,” I mean “a place where venereal diseases grow in wine glasses.” She met a guy named Etienne Balsan who was, conveniently, a textile manufacturer. She became his mistress, or his “coquette,” which means “kept woman.” She later claimed that’s how she got her nickname, “Coco.” It’s from “coquette.” [SIDE NOTE: Now, don’t you think that would kind of be like if you slept around a lot and then people started calling you “who-who” because you were a “whore.” Just saying.]
Next on the agenda was Boy Capel, a friend of Etienne whose blazers we have to thank for Chanel’s fabulous menswear-inspired design aesthetic. Their steamy affair began in 1909 and continued after his marriage in 1918 and until his untimely death in 1919 in an auto accident that occurred on his way to a secret, Christmas-day meeting with Coco.
The Coquette met Igor Stravinsky, the composer, in 1920. They were introduced by one of her top gays, Sergei Diaghiliv, who frequently choreographed Stravinsky’s ballets, most famously The Rite of Spring. (They were kind of the most important dance/music team of the modernist period. No big deal.) Anyway, I haven’t seen the movie, but apparently in Coco & Igor or whatever it’s called, they knew each other in 1913 because she was at the notorious (B-I-G) premiere of The Rite of Spring at the theatre du champs elysee. I did a little research outside of wikipedia (SO NOT LIKE ME) and I couldn’t find anything to confirm that, but who knows.
Actually, great question and the answer is: no one. No one knows if the two ever had an affair or not but Coco claimed later in her life that when she invited Stravinsky and his wife and kids to summer with her somewhere outside of Paris, that the two took to boning and didn’t feel so bad about it. Hey, they were artists.
BUT HERE’S WHERE SHIT GETS REAL.
You’re probably thinking to yourself: “We’re three affairs in and it’s getting real now?!?!” Well, hold onto your imaginary Chanel pearls because I’m about to make you think twice before spritzing your stationary with No. 5 before you send those love letters to Jason Segel, MRG.
Chanel lived in Paris in the 40s. Remember that time? Well, if you don’t, allow me to refresh your memory. There weren’t many Jews around. They were off at … uh … camp. Does that ring any bells? Yeah. It was WWII. The Holocaust was happening. The Vichy government was all up in Paris’ grill. It was a dark fucking time and our little friend didn’t, like, really care that much. Yeeeeahhhh. Actually, she sort of hated the guy who backed her perfume. His name was Pierre WERTHEIMER. He and his brother Paul (who I think was dead at this point – research was unclear) were the money behind Chanel No. 5 and took like, 90% of profits or something. So she wasn’t really too upset when he gtfo-ed in the early 40s because she used his absence to gain financial control of the company. She became one of the richest women in the world during the war years BECAUSE the JEWS who made her company possible were running away from fucking Nazis. Nazis who SHE was FUCKING.
WOOPS! IVE SAID TOO MUCH. OK, here’s what happened. A NAZI SPY named Hans Gunther von Dinklage (probably with a large ding dong) arranged for Coco to live in a fancy schmancy hotel in Paris where he was also staying. And then they OCCUPIED themselves with fucking during the Nazi’s OCCUPATION of France. She was also really good friends with a guy named Walter Kutschmann who killed thousands of Jews in Poland early in the war years. AND she was such good friends with another Nazi fucker named Walter Schellenberg that when he died penniless and alone (BECAUSE HE WAS A NAZI) she paid for his burial.
Listen. I’m not saying that she was actively oppressing yids, but she wasn’t exactly broken up about the whole fiasco either. I still think the clothes are fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but the Frenchies who weren’t such fans of being terrorized by anti-semetic fascists for 4 years were not such fans of Coco or the Chanel label in 1945. So she moved to Switzerland until the mid 50s.
From there, shit gets less juicy. Her line still is outrageously successful and a major cash cow. And almost 100 years later, her aesthetic is still a cornerstone of womens fashion. Probably THE cornerstone of womens fashion.
But here’s what’s up: Bitch got herself unofficially exiled from Paris. I mean, she was shacking up with one Nazi and in cahoots with at least two others.
At that, the nuns from your childhood and I would just like to say to you, What the fuck, Chanel? We gave you the best life we could. What the fuck?