I’m not going to preamble. I’m just going to say that I know, I KNOW, that I write about sexy historical writers a lot. I get it.
But I must insist that you TRY THIS SHIT ON FOR SIZE:
Once upon a time in Dublin there was born a little lad named Jonathan Swift. Sound familiar? Good. You might just feel like it sounds familiar because you’re just thinking of Taylor Swift and someone else named Jonathan and you’ve sort of crudely combined their names in your head. That’s fair. But for the sake of your remaining cerebral cells and wrinkles and neurons and synapses (lookin’ at you, intro-level Psych class), I suggest you never do that again, and instead make a little room for Jonathan Swift, eighteenth-century satirist, writer, and Generally Notable Historical Gentleman, up there in your brain organ.
If you did know him, it’s probably because you’ve heard of Gulliver’s Travels, which is the one where the guy washes up on the island full of tiny people, and said people, known (to those who have actually “read” Gulliver’s Travels and not just seen the Wishbone) as the Lilliputians, tie him up. Also, not to beat a dead horse (isn’t that one of the worst idioms? I fucking hate it), but my boyfriend-in-my-head Jason Segel stars as a brave li’l Lilliputian in the recent film version. Which I didn’t and probably won’t see, because Jack Black is the lead and I can only subject myself to so much eyebrow-arching and sing-talking at a time. But if your heart isn’t warming up at the mere thought of a pocket-sized Segel, I want you to leave this blog and never fucking come back. Don’t actually leave though, because we don’t want to lose our only readers who aren’t LHB’s immediate family.
Suffice it to say that Jonnie Swift wrote a lot of shit and had his fingers in a lot of different pies. And vaginas. I’m going to focus on the latter.
Swifty came from good literary stock; through his grannies he was distantly related to John Dryden, Walter Raleigh, and even ol’ Billy Shakespeare. So it came as no surprise when he packed up the Volvo, hugged his bros goodbye, and moved into Trinity College to get a Bachelor’s and start working on his Master’s. In what, I don’t know. Doesn’t matter. Probably something unrelated to the scandalous sex he would go on to enjoy shortly after his departure for England in 1668, when some shit called the Glorious Revolution happened with the whole British monarchy. Irish people got upset about the goings on which of course meant that a lot of stuff was being blown up, and young Jonathan’s family thought it was best they sent their li’l man over to England, where they got him a job as the Anne Hathaway to Sir William Temple’s Meryl Streep at a swank-ass mansion called Moor Park.
And like Annie, Jonathan fell in love during his time in Meryl’s employ. Unlike Annie, he fell in love with the fatherless, penniless, EIGHT-YEAR OLD daughter of a house servant. Okay, I shouldn’t say that they fell in love YET, because for a while Swifty just acted as her tutor/older and wealthier male friend, and people are still debating whether or not he hit that. But I mean, my boy totally hit that. When she was of a certain age, of course. He nicknamed her “Stella,” he decided to tutor a working class girl, which never, ever happened without at least some inappropriate touching (according to Masterpiece Theater, anyway), and he published a volume of her “witticisms” called “Bon Mots de Stella.” I don’t read French, but I’m pretty sure that means “I Had All Kinds of Sex With Stella,” doesn’t it? In any case, in 1702, when Esther was a very bangable twenty-year old, she traveled with Jonnie to Ireland. Which means that after twelve years of will-they-or-won’t-they worthy of a primetime sitcom, they PROBABLY DEFINITELY ABSOLUTELY BONED!!!!!!!!!!!1
And then Jonnie promptly moved on to another Esther with a more ethnic last name – Esther Vanhomrigh. This Esther (Thister? Thester? I really want that to work) was also sans-father figure and also struggling socioeconomically. If you’re wondering if this was some sort of weird fetish for Jonnie – no dads, no dollaz, Madonna’s Jewname – you might be right. I mean the man was Irish, so it’s also quite likely that he confused young bangmaid Esther J. with even younger bangmaid Esther V. after a long night of self-pickling. But who knows. Everybody’s got their jam, and Jonnie Swift’s was Esther-flavored.
This Esther was a couple dozen years Jon’s junior, and apparently was a little manly. But Jonnie was so into that and became her tutor for a while. Then when her mommy died (sad) Esther V., like Esther J., followed him to Ireland so they could be/bang together secretly (yay!), but she ended up really hating the lovely greenery and sheep and kind people and was absolutely miserable during her time there. Yeah, I know I would totally hate it if my sexy, revolutionary, brilliant writer/boyfriend MADE me go to Ireland with him, where I could snuggle sheep and drink beer all day, just so we could be together. MEN, am I right?
Swifty stayed with this bitch for seventeen years, God bless him, and wrote a shit-ton of verse dedicated to her. Oh, and I forgot to mention that much as he had with Esther J., Jonnie gave Esther V. a nickname: Vanessa. He actually invented the name – took the “Van” from her last name (Vanmdgkjfhgkrktoe or whatever, it’s not important) and “Esse,” which was a diminutive of Esther, and badabing badaboom, name invented. So to J.Swift I’d like to say thank you for Redgrave and no thank you for Hudgens.
That’s right: not only did this asshole force her to go on my mom’s dream vacation with him so that they could live happily together, he fucking invented a name for her because he loved her so much.
So naturally she, after a years-long assault of Jonnie powered by general annoyance and fuckery, was HELLA PISSED in 1723 when he started dipping his long, hard, quill pen in Esther J.’s ink bottle again!!!!!!!!!!!1
Other Esther’s reaction: death. Seriously. She just died. Historians (Wikipedia) will have you believe that her death was the result of a broken heart and/or Swifty’s harshness. Science will have you believe that it was tuberculosis. It pains me to say it, but I’m going with science.
So Swifty ran back into the willing arms of Esther J., and the two of them enjoyed non-marital banging for five years or so. Then in 1728, Jonnie was visiting little Alexander Pope (seriously, he was like 4’11”) (he also had a lot of scandalous sex and a hunchback, so obviously look for a post about him from MRG in the near future) when he got word that Esther/Stella was dying. Shit. So he SWIFTLY (I’ve been waiting a while to do that) headed back over to the Emerald Isle to be with his main lay-dy at her deathbed. And after she died, he was really sad because there were no Esther-pieces left for him to slam, so he wrote an elegiac little ditty called “The Death of Mrs. Johnson.” Which was really nice of him. Less nice: a lock of lady hair that was believed to have been attached to Esther J.’s cabeza was found in Swifty’s desk wrapped in a paper that said, “Only a woman’s hair.”
But he must have been a little depressed about the loss of his most reliable ditty-bag, because by 1731 he’d written his own obituary. He died ten years later after being declared “unsound in mind and memory.”
Swift’s legacy as a writer and activist lives on in the many shitty remakes of Gulliver’s Travels and many incorrect political references to A Modest Proposal. But he was as prolific a banger of comically younger women as he was a writer of satirical texts.
Jonnie Swift: historical discourse, sexual intercourse. BOOM, trademark.
If you’re an American, you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. And if you’re a red-blooded American woman like LHB, JAF, and myself, when your family made everyone around the table share what they’re thankful for, you had one thing in mind. And I don’t mean “family” or “friends” or “health” or any of that pansy-ass horseshit. No. Things got a little weird at the table after it was our turn to broadcast our thanks. Because we at For Shame were, are, and always will be thankful for hot dudes. Specifically, hot dudes who routinely star in historical films.
So instead, we bring you gratuitous photos and idolatry of attractive men in period clothing. You know you don’t hate it.
Lee Pace. I’m sorry I need to go change my pants after just typing the name. Oh god, I just changed, but it’s happening again because I went back and reread my first sentence. Here I come, pair of panties #3! (Making a conscious effort not to read any of the above material.) Ok. From the majestic, furry, caterpillar brows that he may or may not have sold his soul to acquire from face of Peter Gallagher, to his Tyra-good ability to smize, this man has stolen my heart on more than one occasion. I can think of two: Lee Pace (panties #4) in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and Lee Pace (panties #5) in The Fall. Before you get your (damp) panties in a twist because neither of these films are historical or literary costume dramas, why don’t you step back for a second and be THANKFUL that I’m showing you pictures of this hotty patotty in the first place and not get so caught up with details, mmkay? Miss Pettrigrew, not historical per se, but is historical fiction, and involves 1940s cabarets, air raid sirens, Frances McDormand looking sloppy then fierce, Lee Pace (panties #6) playing piano (panties #7) with dapper hair with the dejected yet hopeful look of a man without a penny who has everything in the world because he’s in love, and Amy Adams wearing fabulous vintage. Who I now hate because of how many times her lips got to make contact with Lee Pace’s face. She probably touched his eyebrows a couple of times. THAT WHORE.
The Fall is a little more difficult to justify because most of the film is expressed through the imagination of a little girl being told a story by Lee Pace (panties #8), while they are both in a hospital in southern California in the 1920s. (Steinbeck would have loved this shit.) The imaginary part is kind of timeless, but the hospital parts, totally historical, and let me tell you, Lee Pace rolling around in a 1920s wheel chair. Hot. Seriously. Hot. I don’t know about you guys, but I am thankful…that I brought more than just a couple pairs of underwear home for thanksgiving because after reading the rest of this post, I’m definitely going to use every last one (LHB).
Henry Motherfucking Cavill. My name is MRG, and I am addicted to period films. And it all started with Cavill. You might know who he is because he’s going to be in the new Superman movie or whatever. But I’ve been
fantasizing inappropriately about following Cavill for a long time. I guess you could say that I first became aware of his preposterously attractive face and body when I saw the shit-tastic Count of Monte Cristo starring Jesus and that guy from Memento. Sweet, young Henry, barely twenty years old, stole the show as Albert (pronounced al-BEAR, it’s fucking French) Mondego, illegitimate son of the eponymous count. The movie fucking sucked, but in a huge pile of shit, he was a gleaming, criminally hot diamond of hope. And he made twelve-year-old MRG feel a little tingly. THEN the next year he was in the film adaptation of I Capture the Castle which was and continues to be one of my favorite books. It’s about a really poor, really well-read family living in an English castle between the wars, there’s love, there’s coming-of-age, it’s fucking magical, you get it. And what was also magical was Henry Cavill’s face and also his portrayal of the kind and earnest and ultimately jilted family farmhand, Stephen. Stephen makes out with the main character, Cassandra, in a beautiful forest clearing filled with bluebells. And just when you think they’re about to bone, he’s like “No, don’t let me do this, I love and respect you too much blah blah blah.” More like a field of blueBALLS, am I right?!??! I think you can imagine what kind of a
role this film, specifically the picturesque heavy petting session and the fact that Henry obviously shares literary interests with me (obviously), played in my journey to ladyhood.
Then Cavill laid low for a little while, and so did my ladyboner. He showed up in the cinematic shit stain that was/is Tristan + Isolde as the petulant/unloved younger son, but imma let JAF discuss that gem in more detail below. And just when you think Cavill’s TOO PERFECT and TOO HOT, he fucking shows up on The Tudors as Henry VIII’s main compadre, Charles Brandon. Who is naked as the day he was born in like the first episode. And with that, the ladyboner was back. And the Cavill only got better – by Season 4 he was werking a very scruffy, very sexy beard. Now he’s in some shitty looking pseudo-300 kind of thing called Immortals, wherein he is shirtless for the entire movie. It’s about the Greek gods or some shit, I think he plays Theseus, I don’t know. But I do know that I’m going to rent it and watch it privately. As JAF would say, his body looks to be chiseled out of sex. Ladyboner (MRG).
Get ready for much poorly thought-out food-based wordplay, ’cause it’s JONHAMMTIME. Let me make one thing clear, right off the bat. I do NOT watch Mad Men just because it is a brilliantly crafted character study and examination of a time so markedly foreign but disturbingly parallel to our own, with a fetishistic attention to period detail that rapes my willing eyes every Sunday night. I watch it for that aforementioned genetically-blessed slab of delicious, mouthwatering, no-water-added, man meat.
But forserious, anyone who has read 3 consecutive sentences on this blog knows that MRG and I (and hopefully in the future, sweet and wayward young LHB) would give our spare ribs to be on that show (TAKE NOTE MATTHEW WEINER TAKE FUCKING NOTE). So there’s no need to dwell on Hamm’s better known feast-for-the-eyes. Instead, let’s take a journey down ‘Independent Cinema Lane.’ It’s just past the ‘Anonymity Outlet,’ behind the ‘SAG Award Store,’ and adjacent to ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams.’
Howl. Nobody saw it. It was fucking innovative. Let’s not talk about it (but we’re talking about it). Let’s talk about the fact it starred one Jonnifer D. Hamm, AS WELL AS another for shame! fav, James “Plant ‘o da’ Apes” Franco. That’s right biddies, this is a twofer. A tagteam. A gangbang of historically dressed hotness.
See, Franco’s a repeat offender. It’s hard to remember he does good things in between absolute piles of horseshit like Eat, Pray, Love, or, Annapolis, or, 127 Hours. Besides Howl, in which, if I do say so myself, he pulls off an excellent and very bangable (-confusing-) Allen Ginsberg, you can also check Jimboy’s uncannily drug-addled face and phD-gaining tight little patootie in such historical gems as James Dean, Flyboys, Milk, Tristan+Isolde (because we weren’t mindfucked enough by Baz Lurhman already), and of course, Nights in Rodanthe.
But back to Jon. As if to make things come full circle. To connect the beginning of the section to the end, through the same subject material. Like a word sandwich. OR A HAMM SANDWICH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 I’m absolutely sure no one had any idea where I was going with that one, it was so good. So good like A HAMM SANDWICH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
But really, he hasn’t been in too much. Just take Mad Men and Howl. They’re satisfying enough (JAF).
MRG here with another piece of man meat, this time more British and less punny. Matthew Macfadyen. Oh, Matthew Macfadyen. I’m going to quote JAF again, because she so rightly pointed out that Macfadyen “feeds his children with period drama.” He’s got AN historical face, and he knows how to use it.
Unlike Cavill, Macfadyen doesn’t necessarily exude the sex. But like the Cavill, the Mac first entered my consciousness/provoked a ladyboner when he appeared in the film adaptation of a beloved novel about British girls wookin’ pa’ nub. He walked a mile in the kid leather riding boots of a one Mr. Colin “MRG’s #1 Older Man Crush Forever of All Time” Firth (who really sort of began the Costume Drama Hotties Renaissance, actually) and played Mr. Darcy in the 2005 Joe Wright Pride & Prejudice. Lots of Janeites trashed it, but say what you will, it was a beautifully made movie with a damn good soundtrack and, of course, a dashing, haughty, NAUGHTY, totally Brit-hot leading man in The Mac. Darcy’s a hard role to play because it calls for an actor to be a smoldering hot, socially awkward, unforgivably rude, ultimately endearing asshat. Those are a lot of conflicting qualities, but the Mac mustered up all the subtlety he could and nailed it. Nailed it like I wish he would nail me.
The man’s IMDB page reads like an un-chronological history textbook. From P&P he moved on to some Brit miniseries about the Schmazis and Schmueremberg, and then he had an ASTOUNDING turn in Frost/Nixon as Frost’s bff John Birt. I knew the Mac was a man I could get behind (or in front of, or under, or on top of, amiright?!) (that was gross, sorry) when I saw this film for two reasons: 1) the man’s got acting chops and some serious breadth – not many thesps could play 18th/19th century literature’s #1 heartthrob AND a middle-aged dude in the 70s, and 2) they tried to hard to make him unattractive, SO HARD (seriously, look), and I still had a massive ladyboner throughout the whole movie.
And speaking of ladyboners, how fucking good was Any Human Heart? I’ll answer for you, since you probably didn’t see it (not a lot of people did). IT WAS SO FUCKING GOOD. SO FUCKING GOOD. It’s on the Netflix. I haven’t not rewatched it twice in the past year. Basically it’s a miniseries based on a book with a beautiful title about a man who lives through all of the most important events of the twentieth century. Plus he meets Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Waugh (whose novels produced some damn good historically-costumed man candy in their own right), and our old inebriated friend Ernie Hemingway along the way. If you want to laugh and cry and cry some more and observe how good Macfadyen really is at his job, watch Any Human Heart. Seriously. He was also in Pillars of the Earth with Eddie Redmayne (another fine historical ack-tour, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, anybody? No? Okay.) In Pillars he plays a monk. A sexy, sexy monk. Did I, as an arbitrary Catholic, feel weird about finding a monk so attractive? Sure. Did I give a shit? Absolutely not. Macfadyen: breadth and bangability (MRG).
Deep Breath. Ok, this is big. This is big for me. I’ve loved James McAvoy since I was 14 and went to see Wimbledon with my biffle. I went for Paul Bettany, the greatest historical dilf I will even encounter, despite the terrible, terrible films he’s been in lately (of which I have seen all), I will always love him for being Geoffrey Chaucer, That Hot Surgeon That Gets Shot On That Ship In That Really Long Movie From That One Time, Russell Crow’s Imaginary Friend, Mrs. John Krasinski’s Creepyass Advisor, Sexually Repressed Medieval Sherlock Holmes, and Charles Darwin, even though he had mad male pattern baldness. I mean, God bless that man. He can wear the shit out of some britches and it must be in his contract that he has to be half naked in every film. God bless Paul Bettany. But, I digress. I went for Paul, I came out enthralled with James. His baby blues, his lopsided smirk, his tousled brown locks. This type of obsession only led to McAvoy Marathons and a desperate attempt on my part to six-degrees myself closer to him (I’ve been told I look like Meryl Streep. Meryl Streep has a son. In this picture, Meryl Streep’s son sort of looks like James McAvoy. BOOMILOOKLIKEJAMESMCAVOYYESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS).
The versatility! The panache! The shear bloody talent of James McAvoy on display, in all films, but when dressed up in some hawt 1930’s gardener garb… irresistible. If you haven’t see The Last King of Scotland, where he’s the hottest morally-bankrupt dirtbag you’ll ever set eyes on, put it on a double Netflix bill with his sexually saintly turn in Atonement, then come and tell me you don’t wish you were Anne Hathaway (that slorebag!) in Becoming Jane. There were two reasons I went to see X-Men: First Class, and neither of them are because I care a whit for superheros. One was James McAvoy, doing his three-piece-suit-goddamnest to make me drop all sense of propriety I ever learned from a conservative upbringing, right there in the dark of the theater, and run screaming towards the screen, ripping clothes off as I went. The other was a a certain man named Michael Fassbender. My colleagues can also illuminate their feelings regarding this new, unbearably alluring, for shame! favorite (JAF).
That part in Inglorious Basterds when he shoots the Nazi in the balls was the most delicious thing since someone started putting thinmints in the freezer. Oh, and I hate that slut from Jane Eyre who gets to kiss him all of the time but she’s so so cute and I love her so it’s so hard to hate her. But I do. So much (LHB).
The first time I saw Michael F. Assbender (thank you, TSI), it was in a shitty Sherlock Holmes BBC thing and he played a pyscopathic butler, and his twin, who was obsessed with feet and high fashion. He was great and weirdly sexy and I was a
little lot frightened that I thought I might let him lick my toes then dump my body in the Thames. Whatever, we all go through phases (JAF).
I first encountered the Fassbender in the new Jane Eyre (the one LHB mentioned), which is a beautifully executed send-up of ol’ Charlie Bronte because it draws heavily-but-subtly on the Gothic undertones of the novel and doesn’t shy away from the grittiness of life in nineteenth-century northern England. Another reason that it is an excellent movie is Fassbender. No one ever has or ever could make fits of rage, wife-hiding, and blindness so very, very sexy. His portrayal of Rochester makes me want to slap on a corset, become a dowdy governess, and undo a hundred years’ worth of women’s rights. Sure, it’s culturally problematic. But you can’t fight an insane lady-crush like that. Also, here’s a video for you to watch all of the time for the rest of your lives, fellow Fassbenderophiles (MRG).
And remember dear readers, for every one hottie we mentioned, there are dozens more that go unrecognized. So please, contribute generously to the For Shame! Ladyboner Fund, and we will sponsor a beautiful, strapping, period-piece actor, so that he can continue appearing in all your silver-screen costumed fantasies.* And from all of us, Happy Day After Thanksgiving, and to all, pleasant wet-dreams.
MRG, LHB, and JAF.
*This charity does not exist, but you can send us money anyway. Please make all checks to cash.
[Editor’s note: Hey readerz, we know that you like many things about this blog (all of the things), but we’re going to hazard a guess based on our good ol’ site stats that you like it when MRG, LHB and I do NOT in fact write the posts. So yes, we’re a little insulted, but we’ll give you what you want, like the poor mother you browbeat into submission with your incessant, querulous, childhood whining. In honor of Dedication/Remembrance Day, which remembrances the original Gettysburg Address of 1863, we dedicate to you a Civil War themed guess post, courtesy of CHR, a true holdover from another, more dapper time.]
Those of you that live outside of the City of Enchantment (by which I mean Gettysburg) may not be familiar with some of the shittier aspects of living here (by which I mean most of them). Aside from the misinformed and mildly racist populace, the blatant commercial exploitation of one of the worst events of our nation’s history there are a few bright spots. The local custom of commemorating Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on November 19th is one such pearl-in-the-dungheap. Old Abe was many things, a statesman, a manic-depressive, a rail splitter and a story teller. Unfortunately; a collector of poon trophies (poonphies, if you will) he was not. With that in mind we are going to move just a few hundred yards south on the battlefield, past a row of ghost tours and our historic KFC, to the spot where General Dan Sickles put the cherry on his bamf sundae. But all that guts and glory can wait a few short paragraphs. Let us first turn to the genesis of old Devil Dan, the greatest coochie campaigner of the war and of the age.
Dan Sickles was born in one of 5 years at the beginning of the 1820’s. We’d report his actual age but he lied about it consistently to cover up the fact that he would eventually marry a barely pubescent Italian girl (but more on that later). His father was a successful lawyer who managed to get Dan admitted to the bar without ever actually going to college of any kind. Dan further exploited his dad’s connections to score a job with the city of New York where he did nothing but collect sweet sweet monies. It was around this time that he got involved with the Democratic party’s political machine in New York, Tammany Hall (more like SLAMMANY Hall amirite???). He once printed 40,000 certificates of citizenship and handed them out to Irish immigrants in exchange for votes (goddamned illegals). He then proceeded to take every Republican pamphlet out of every mailbox in the city’s main post office and burned them like vanities in the post office lobby. He spent his evenings talking with ex-pat Italian and dirty-old-man-extraordinaire Lorenzo Da Ponte, a collaborator of Mozart’s on the ultimate snatch-grabbing stage-spectacle Don Giovanni. Lorenzo taught Dan everything he knew about how to get out there and “grabba da’ poosie,” little realizing that the “poosie he was’a gonna grabba,” was that of Lorenzo’s 15 year old, very Catholic niece, Teresa. Against the wishes of both families, a 34 year old Dan married this little bit of Jesuit Jailbait before you could say “quinceanera.”
Being a typical 19th century gent (by that I mean, having no interest in the fledgling condom industry) Dan put a baby in that almost as fast as he put a ring on it. Apparently though, that fresh miss thang wasn’t enough to maintain Dan’s interest. He kept up a lively game of bang-around-the-rosie with Fanny White, the madam of downtown New York’s most notorious whorehouse. Sure, Dan had a lot of ho’s, but Fanny was his favorite, his ho-mate if you will. A year later when the baby that Teresa had popped out of her shiny-new uterus was a few months old, Dan was appointed special envoy to London with future shitty president James Buchanan. Teresa couldn’t travel because of the baby, so Dan took Fanny with him to London instead and left the Teresa at home to deal with all the little kid poop. While in London Dan wore such a pimptastic uniform that on at least one occasion a visitor handed his hat and coat to Buchanan, assuming him to be Dan’s butler. Fanny wasn’t happy playing the bit-on-the-side and wanted to meet
ol’ lady twatslammedup Queen Victoria herself. Dan managed to get them an audience, and in the greatest gesture of “suck-it” since the Andy Jackson gave Prince Albert a Prince Albert, Dan Sickles introduced New York’s most prominent whore to the ruler of over ¼ of the world’s population. Dan finally made it back to New York where he took Fanny on a tour of the New York State senate chamber, for which he was formally reprimanded (how the other senators knew she was a hooker wasn’t mentioned in the censure).
Eventually Dan managed to get himself a spot in the House of Representatives proving that you don’t need to wait until after you’re elected to start showing people your dick. After the move to Washington, Teresa took a page out of Dan’s pooty-tang playbook and started shacking up with a bang-butler of her very own. Teresa had found Phillip Barton Key, the district attorney of Washington D.C. And Francis Scott key’s nephew. Oh say can you see the shame! Key was famous for being a handsome playboy around town and for spending almost no time at the office which he blamed on his fragile health. The two didn’t put too much effort into concealing their bangings-on about town, and one Sunday morning, Dan caught sight of Key waving his handkerchief across the square from his house, which everyone in D.C. knew was his signal for some pound time with Teresa. Dan grabbed two pistols and ran outside. The point I’m establishing here is that Dan Sickles had no qualms about ripping you out of your home and eliminating you if he thought you were nasty. Dan Sickles didn’t give a shit. He called out to Key and pulled the first gun. Key, ever the man’s man, threw his opera glasses at Dan just as Dan shot him in the groin. He lived long enough to ask Dan not to shoot him again. Not one to be told what to do, Dan shot him again, several times in the chest, killing him real goodly. President Buchanan had the chief witness shipped away and after a few weeks imprisonment in a palatial office suite, Dan was found innocent by reason of temporary insanity (making him the first mothersucker audacious enough to actually use this fakeass defense successfully in court). Teresa was made to write out a public confession which was published in all the national newspapers and Dan summarily divorced her and shipped her upstate to manage a farm and exercise the trampiness out of her.
Dan kept serving in congress and was made a Brigadier General when the Civil War got rolling. It was at Gettysburg that he made a real name for himself. Unhappy with the position assigned to him by his commanding officer, George Gordon “Da Big G” Meade, Dan moved more than half a mile in front of the main Union battle line, stretching it thinner than a child-sized hello-kitty shirt on an aging Marlon Brando. Dan also took a cannonball to the leg, so he would have to conduct the rest of his tramp trampling career as a hop-a-thon. Even though some haters say he nearly shit the proverbial bed, Gettysburg went down as a Union victory and Sickles fought on through the end of the war.
Dan may or may not have shacked up with Teresa a few more times as he got older, but all we know for sure is she totally wanted another mustache ride from the old general ifyaknowwhatimean. Dan went to Spain in an attempt to buy Cuba from their newly formed government, and managed to bang the hell out of the deposed queen, leading some to call him “The Yankee King of Spain.” He must have eaten that shit up. He stayed in Spain until mounting debts and angry dads chased him back home. Dan held on for the rest of the century and when he died in 1914, he was living with a mistress less than a quarter of his age. So on this Remembrance Day, uncork a vintage whisky, give an enemy some high impact lead poisoning, and tell your special someone that you’ve been having sex with another special someone; and do it all for Devil Dan: The Star-Spangledest Cooter-Catcher of them all.
Ernest Hemingway was a real fucking man. He was a mustachioed man-steak not seen on this earth for generations, and maybe that’s for the best. One Hemingway was enough to tear his way through big and small game from the heart of North America to deepest darkest Africa. One Hemingway was enough to pen some of the greatest, primally emotional and brilliantly simplistic prose in the English language. One Hemingway was enough to sweat his way through countless hours of biddy boning and genuine-honest-to-God-death-defying-love-making with ladies across multiple decades and continents, siring suitably fucked-up kids along the way.
I know I’ll never get to sip Cafe Americano in a hipper than fuck Parisian coffee house, nor go swig for swig on a bottle of bottom-shelf gin at one in the morning on the darkened steps of some great French architectural marvel. I’ll never talk smack about the Fitzgeralds with him, then dine with them later that night, nor read his thought-to-pen words before anyone gets a chance to sully their manly-as-balls truth. I’ll never share a Bolshevik roll-up with him, nor earn his ‘admiration’ or ‘respect,’ but every day and in every way, I am trying and trying to live The Ernest Hemingway. As should you, dear reader, so get off your ass (not yet, sit down, finish reading) and get fucking sloshed, then kill something or nail somebody. Preferably all three.
Any hipster worth his salt wants Hemingway’s life of chauvinistic ‘authenticity,’ whether they know it or not, and since ‘Hipster’ was my second major at my mid-sized east-coast liberal-arts college, of course I wish I lived in Paris in the 20s and did the shit he did. So prepare for a loving-ass word-portrait, dear reader, in which I make it painfully clear that all I want to do is spend the rest of my God-given days between the sheets with Ernest Hemingway.
Born in 1899 to a fairly wealthy mid-western family, from an early age Ernest was taught to use such ‘fine and good’ language in his part-time journalistic pursuits as would characterize his later writing. He believed in the merits of experience and hard liquor. He learned to fish, hunt and camp, and developed a love of solitude and nature. I mean, come on. He’s prefect.
Ernest’s relationships with women were precisely as complex as they should have been for a man who
ate pink tacos faster than McRibs constantly created and redefined the literary ‘ideal woman’ for the four decades of his career. To go through all his wives, lovers and
female friends could fill a book, but none the less, I’ll do my best to not skip any sex-having.
Reportedly, Ernest hated his mom, but (thankfully)(?) since he wasn’t banging her, that Freudian bit of trivia need only be mentioned as highly formative, then set aside in favor of graphic, colloquial terms for vagina.
In 1918, Ernest volunteered as an ambulance driver and was sent to Italy. He managed to get himself blown (up) within a couple of days and was shipped off to a recovery hospital so as to not let his mangled, shrapnel-ridden legs depress anybody at the front, since everything was all so hunky-dory before that. Upon arriving in Milan, he fell mad in lust with a sweet slice toting a nursing license and an unfortunate name, Agnes von Kurowsky. The two apparently agreed to marry, but when Ernest was sent back to America after the war, he got a Dear John that said, “Oh yeah, hey, oops, I’m
banging engaged to this Italian guy now. Kthaxbi.” From that day, truly, Ernest was fucked (but not). He continually searched for a bangmaid with Agnes’ nurturing characteristics, imperviousness to danger/sense of adventure, and most importantly, an American who loved Europe. F. Scotty Fitz thought he needed a new woman for every book, and Ernest certainly made enough eviscerating/sanctifying portraits in fiction of his favorite (and in fact, all) sausage-wallets that I’m inclined to believe him. But as Billy Faulks, his greatest literary rival
astutely sneered, “Hemingway thought he had to marry all of them.” Ah, the folly of youth.
Ernest got over Agnes by getting a quickie marriage to the American Hadley Richardson in ’22. They were a good match, despite her being 8 years older (cougar territory, rawr), and since she was an accomplished pianist and financially independent outdoorswoman with half a brain and a nickle’s worth of imagination, she was ready to gtfo of Illinois. They moved to Paris where Ernest got work as a foreign consultant, and the couple soon became friends with like-minded ex-pats:
-Sylvia Beach- who ran Shakespeare & Company, and who apparently met Ernest when he walked into her store, five years before he ever published anything other than a newspaper article, and declared “I’m Ernest Hemingway,” then proceeded to tell her stories about the War, and showed her his scars.
-James Joyce- with whom Ernest used to have massive benders which would often involve Joyce picking a fight with someone he didn’t like, then making Ernest fight them, yelling “Take care of him, Hemingway!”
–Ezra Pound– who Ernest revered as a sort of saint, and attempted to have released after he was committed to an insane asylum.
Pound saw talent in Ernest and brought him to Gertrude Stein, thus beginning the Hemingway’s relationships with the greatest fucking drunks in Paris.
Ernest and Hadley traveled extensively with the literary jetset, including annual trips to Pamplona for The Running
of the Bulls. Hadley got up the duff and for some ungodly reason the Hemingways moved to Toronto for the birth of their son, John. But after realizing that being in the cultural capital of Canada is almost—butnotquite—the same as the cultural capital of the planet, they soon moved back to Paris and reunited with their friends. I can only assume that around this juncture Ernest found himself knee-deep in snatch, because upon his return, shit starts to get real. This was during the period of writing and revising The Sun Also Rises, which had been inspired by one of the Hemingways’ trips to Pamplona, accompanied, among others, by Harold Loeb and his foxxy lover, Lady Duff Twysden. Ernest wanted to bang Duff, and strangle Harold, but was disappointed on both counts. Reeling from this rejection (which seems to have been his first serious poon interest– poonterest, if you will– outside his marriage to Hadley), he pursued Pauline Pfeiffer (and her sister. I get it Ernest, better odds, I totally get it), a fellow journalist, beginning in the summer of ’25. He proceeded to take Pauline on various trips with Hadley and John. Including Christmas vacation. Hoping against hope for a threesome. Well hey, he was blinded by the secks, what can you do.
Hadley dumped him in ’26, and divorced him by ’27, and Ernest put a ring on Pauline within the month. She soon pooped him out two more sons, Patrick and Gregory, and since Pauline was loaded, they left Paris in ’28 and moved to Key West, where Ernest would keep a permanent house for the rest of his life, and do some of his most notable writing. And have a shitload of cats.
During the 13 or so years of their marriage, Ernest pursued countless woman on his numerous trips between America and Europe. He drank profusely, hunted and fished constantly, and wrote his best work while he was married to Pauline (I in part attribute that to the fact she sort of let him do whatever the fuck he wanted while she stayed at home with the kids. It’s probably why their marriage lasted so long. Depressing.). He was an established writer thanks to the huge success of The Sun Also Rises and Farewell to Arms, and had decided to grow the most resplendent lip-scarf that ever graced the face of a mortal man, so of course he played those cards to the hilt.
Among many, he did his best to slam the society staple and Truman Capote muse, Slim Keith. He took her on hunting trips and oggled her fierce diva duds, but never managed to tap dat since she was head-over-ladybits for Howard Hawkes, the movie maven.
Ernest also had it bad for Marlene Deitrich, dimepiece to the stars, though both denied they ever bumped uglies (in Marlene’s case, he’s like the only one who didn’t ring her devil’s doorbell). Ernest described them as “victims of unsynchronized passion,” which, as presh as that sounds, is a little less poetic in light of the rull graphic letters he wrote her.
He had his way between the fertile loins of Jane Kendall Mason, an attractive and wealthy woman who could, in fact, go shot for shot, and ‘fished’ with him whenever he wanted off the coast of Florida. She was energetic but high-strung and “wild-assed,” with a third husband on the way out and shopping for another. While Ernest lived in Havana they kept a house, but he was still mentally committed to his marriage with Pauline, and eventually Jane left because he kept bringing his kids around (and used her as the model for an adulterous bitch in one of his books, but that one’s up in the air as far as wet-blanketing goes). I’ll say a lot for, and a lot against the man (but mostly for), but he was always devoted to his children.
He had an affair with Sara Murphey, the wife of his friend Gerald, but it gets weird and stuff because both of her sons died the winter after he strolled down her ovary hallway. And then, since all his Paris friends knew them too, they all kind of knew Ernest was banging Sara, and he got really involved with cheering up her dying children even after they broke up, and blahblahfuckingblah, it got uncomfortable, lets move on.
Ernest had formed a friendship with the Baron Bror Blixon (oh those wacky Swedes and their alluringly alliterative appelations), who had once been married to Karen Blixon, who we all know as burnette Meryl Streep from Out of Africa. When Bror knew Ernest, he was on his third Baroness, Eva, who was twenty-something years younger, a former race-car driver and liked to walk around half naked a lot. The Blixons, the Hemingways and a couple of other friends from the Paris days, stayed on Ernest’s boat for most of the summer of ’35, and Ernest stayed in Eva’s cabin. I have no idea how Bror and Pauline were cool with this, but it’s not for me to paint you ’emotion’ portraits, now is it.
This was also around the time rumors of Ernest being into dudes started to seriously circulate (Zelda Fitzgerald had in fact accused her husband of playing Hemingway’s rusty trombone, but come on, she was obvi just jeal). When once criticized about his overt displays of masculinity by the writer Max Eastman (“Come out from behind that false hair on your chest, Ernest, we all know you.”), Ernest ripped open his shirt to display his chesthair, then punched Eastman in the face. That’s how you prove you don’t touch any dick but your own.
In 1937 Ernest went to Spain to cover/fight in the Civil War. While there he was ostensibly contacted to write a film script for an anti-facist propaganda movie, and met his soon-to-be third wife, Martha Gellhorn. She was a tough-as-beef-jerky, respected war correspondent, and it was clear she was going to bag him from the minute they met if he was the last thing she sank her proverbial whore talons into. They traveled around the world together as journalists, covering the start of the Second World War, and lived the rest of the time together in Havana. When Pauline gave in and divorced him in 1940, his and Martha’s relationship only lasted through the end of the War because he was such an asshat (in ’45 he made her cross the Atlantic in a boat full of explosives because he refused to do her the favor of getting her an airplane press pass) and she was such a SBW (she told him he was a bully and that her jukebox was no longer accepting his quarters), that without the excitement and constant threat of death that generally goes along with war, neither of them could stand the other after the bullets stopped flying. She was, in fact, the only of his wives to start divorce proceedings, and by all accounts, Hem didn’t really know how to take that. I imagine though he dealt with it the way he dealt with most things- with excessive alcohol, sex and blood-sport. Their complex relationship of mutual respect, competition, and sexual whizzbang is given the wonderfully tawdry treatment only the Home Box Office could provide in the classic Hemingway and Shithorn. Do yourself a favor and seek it out, like Scott Fitzgerald to gin.
SUPER BONUS FUN FACT- during the post D-Day retaking of France, Ernest was riding in a jeep with some resistance fighters and they got caught in machine-gun cross-fire, so they jumped into a ditch were Ernest proceeded to offer around a thermos of pre-mixed martinis. It’s good, it’s too good.
In Spring of ’46, Ernest married his final wife, Mary Welsh, who stuck around partially through sheer tenacity until his death, and partially because he’d adopted a ‘cheaper to keep her’ mentality about the marriage. They’d met during the War, and while he was still married to Martha, Ernie smoothly asked Mary to be his wife on their third date. They spent much of their marriage hunting in Africa or formerly-glacial America, and survived two plane crashes, an affair with the 19-year old ‘ethnically beautiful’ Adriana Ivancich, another with Ernest’s secretary, Nita Jensen (whose own parents thought was a floozy and who he first seduced by asking on the dock by his boat, “Has anyone ever made really good love to you?” TRUTHFACT.), and perhaps most trying of all, a Nobel Prize. Ernest had health problems in the last decade of his life, which, along with legal troubles, the deaths of most his friends, and an alarming and escalating daily alcohol intake, contributed to the depression which would make him kill himself in 1961. But first he finished his Parisian memoirs, A Movable Feast, which is his best and truest pieces of writing, and, in essence, a love letter to the city, the art of writing, his (ex-)biffle, Scott Fitzgerry, and his first wife, Hadley. I’m not even gonna joke about that, because my throat is too tight.
So, am I over-romanticizing an alcoholic, paranoid, womanizing, all-around-sonovabitch? Probably, but then again it was a romantic-fucking time, when there was no word for depression so you were called ‘artistic;’ when men were real men, and when woman didn’t spread those legs unless they were goddamn wooed apart. I can forgive a whole lot when it comes to brilliant and talented men. Remember that, Marcus Mumford
[Ed. Note: You’re about to read something very special. So unzip your pants and unscrew your favorite flask because For Shame! is bringing you, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME (like a virgin, in case that wasn’t clear), a post by a guest writer! That’s right, it’s our very first guest post and we couldn’t be more excited. Let this be a lesson to all you scandal-lovers that if you’re funny and are amused by sex that happened a long time ago, you too could one day write for this very blog. I’m just saying, dream big, ok? Dream big. Without further ado, a guest post by KAB.]
When you think about the 1920’s, some pretty fly people come to mind: Velma Kelly, Al Capone, Albert Einstein, fucking George Gershwin. But I hope you know that I speak from the bottom of my heart when I say all of these bitches were tame compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre. Said Lillian Gish, just one of their beautiful dirty rich friends, “They didn’t make the 20’s, they were the 20’s.”
Scott wrote a little number called The Great Gatsby, now forever populating Facebook favorite quotes and Tumblr accounts alike. He also had a bromance with Hemingway (to rival Tommy & Ezra’s, I think), peaced the fuck out of Princeton to join the army, and had a dope-ass haircut. Did I mention he lit cigars with 5 dolla bills? Ain’t no thang.
Now let’s talk about Zelda. In an era of (illegally) drunk bitches running around smoking and wearing obscene amounts of fringe, Zelda set the trend. I’m pretty sure they were all little monsters to her Gaga. With their forces combined, Scott and Zelda formed one of the most scandalous, mythified, and seriously fucked up romances of all time. These guys lived fast, drank hard, and were quite possibly the worst sinners since Adam and Eve.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Scott and Zelda met when he was stationed at Camp Sheridan during his I-want-to-be-a-war-hero stint. They hit it off at a little country dance (read: underground Alabama club scene), and Scott immediately has a hard-on. He said that he “fell in love with a whirlwind.” Such a way with words.
And let’s be honest, this chick’s name is Zelda. Tell me I’m wrong, but she has one of the biggest legends of all time. Not to mention girl was voted “Prettiest” and “Most Attractive” in her high school class. Legit as fuck.
So after a brief courtship and at least a dozen handles of gin, Scott built up the courage to ask for her hand in marriage. Zelda was interested in Scott for sure, but at this point Scott was not super successful. I’m not saying she was a gold digger, but she wanted a bit more financial stability to lead her ideal life of sex, drugs, glamour, and a dash of alcohol.
Scott was pretty keen on snatching up this bitch for life, so he hauled ass to St. Paul, wrote This Side of Paradise, and had it published by Scribner’s in a year. This Side of Paradise made critics AND readers blow their loads, so around this point Zelda caved and agreed to marriage. For the wedding, Zelda wore a midnight blue suit and matching hat with leather ribbons and buckles. She had an orchid bouquet. There were no photographs. Jazz age SWANK.
Here’s where the fun starts. Scott was on fire after This Side of Paradise; every post-WWI kid felt like Scott just understood him. What do we do with ourselves after this time of destruction, war, and existential crises? Get shitfaced, obvs.
The Fitzgeralds were the anti-Brangelina of their time. Instead of adopting babies and trying to save the world, they were just hedonistic hot hip things that lived like kings. Everyone wanted to know what they were doing, what they were wearing, how much they were drinking, and what the fuck they did while drunk, which included:
- Jumping into the Plaza Hotel’s fountain fully clothed.
- Riding an open car through the streets of New York City (probs more scandalous than it sounds).
- Getting thrown out of their honeymoon suite for rowdiness. I guess that’s why Scott would later describe their behavior as “sexual recklessness.” Was the kama sutra a thing in the ‘20s? Either way, I’m sure lots o’ blowies were involved. (See LHB? I used blowies!)
And then, outta the blue, Zelda’s knocked up! They go to Europe because they feel like it––EXPATS EY OH. They start in England, but they thought it was boring, so they moved to Italy, which they didn’t like, and were finally satisfied with living on the goddamn French Riviera. When their daughter (Frances Scott “Scottie” Fitzgerald, talk about living in Daddy’s shadow) is born, Scott writes down Zelda’s first drugged words after giving birth: “Goofo, I’m drunk. Mark Twain. Isn’t she smart––she has the hiccups. I hope it’s beautiful and a fool––a beautiful little fool.”
Then the dynamic duo and their new baby side-kick returned to the good ole USA where they rented a place in Great Neck, Long Island (English major side-note: the place that would inspire West Egg in Gatsby! Cool story, bro!). You think you’ve been to some crazy ragers in your time? Think again. The Fitzgeralds would have house rules, like asking their guests not to break down doors in search for liquor even if Scott and Zelda, in a drunken stupor, told them to do it. Another rule was a safeguard against guests spending the night even if Scott and Zelda, still in a drunken stupor, told them they were welcome.
Bored again with the USA, they returned to the French Riviera. Scott was busy with his whole writing gig, and Zelda was bored as shit so she found herself a French pilot, Edouard Jozan, to toy around with on the beach. Supposedly the relationship was unconsummated, but that’s boring, and Zelda was not a boring bitch. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions with that one. This is around the same time Zelda called Scott a fairy and accused him of having an affair with Hemingway. To prove her wrong, Scott called up a female prostitute and had sex with her. Why Scott couldn’t have just had sex with Zelda? Good question. Another good question: What the fuck was Scottie doing this whole time?
Scott and Zelda went on a violent streak, and not in the sexily deviant way. While vacationing in the Mediterranean, Zelda threw herself under their car and dared Scott to run her over. Rumor has it that Scott actually started the car. (In all honesty, it would have saved him a headache later.)
Shit gets even shittier. At a party in St. Paul, Scott casually hits on this dancer chick Isadora Duncan. Scott def keeps his dick in his pants, but either way Zelda is not a happy camper. This slut Isadora goes a bit too far, strokes Scott’s hair, and calls him her “centurion.”
And, in what is perhaps an overreaction, Zelda throws herself down a staircase for attention. When the hosts find her, they actually think she might be dead. Thankfully, she recovers to continue a string of mild overreactions to Scott’s flirtatious tendencies, including:
- Stealing all the bling from her rich-ass party guests, putting them in a boiling pot of water, and pretending to make soup.
- Throwing her platinum watch off of a moving train.
- Setting fire to her clothes in a bathtub. (Zelda actually causes two separate fires––one of which burns down an entire building––and then she ends up dying in a hospital fire. Sorry, but crazy had it coming.)
At this point, everyone’s kinda wondering what the fuck is going on with Zelda. She starts to obsessively practice ballet––we’re talking 10 hours a day. Bitch wanted to be perfect (but probably not as much as Nina, amirite?). Zelda was taking dance lessons in Paris and once ran out of her taxi through through traffic in a tutu to make it to her class on time. She also started to burst into inexplicable bouts laughter at meals. Scott and their flapper friends are reasonably concerned.
In 1930, she’s checked into Malmaison clinic outside of Paris, and from then on is in and out of hospitals for the rest of her life. At this point, Scott and Zelda are kind of calling it quits. She writes him letters from the hospital of happier days, he continues to support her financially, but they’re pretty much caput.
Actually, not true, they take one last hurrah vacation to Cuba, but all that’s not well, um, does not end well. Scott drinks his ass under the table and tries to break up a cock fight, and then gets the shit beat out of him. And that’s the last they saw of each other. Try not to swoon.
All right, so they loved each other for a while, then hated each other, then made each other’s lives miserable to the point of insanity, but isn’t that what love is all about? Come on. They even wrote thinly-veiled passive-aggressive accounts of their lives together in books published back to back before they died. That, my friends, is too cute to be forgotten.
In history, there have been a lot of famous bromances. And in literary history, there have been a shit-ton. John Keats and Charles Armitage Brown. Alfred Tennyson and Arthur Henry Hallam. Kerouac and Ginsberg (probably definitely boned). Affleck and Damon (probably made out a couple times). Sometimes a dude and another dude can just be best friends. It’s complicated affection, but it’s real. And it’s totally not gay.
And I’m of the opinion that when a pair of expats dives into this crazy thing we call manlove, the general lack of beer/America in which said pair is immersed only serves to make the bromance that much more complicated and affectionate (but still totally not gay). Which brings us to MRG’s very own installment of Expats Week, in which she will try to tackle two giants of Modernism who fucking hated America but loved hugging when no one was looking: T.S. ELIOT AND EZRA POUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Now these two were fucking heavy hitters in the whole “literature” thing, but they also hit a lot of international tail. So I’m going to try to do them the justice they deserve. Or just do them.
Let’s start with Tom Stearns Eliot (note that it’s one L and one T – pet peeve), shall we? I feel like you should know that I, like so many humanities undergrads, love his poetry. And not the mainstream shit (which is not shit at all). And all this despite the fact that Andrew Lloyd Webber, asshat to the stars, fucking based Cats on Eliot’s late whimsical work. Not children’s work, mind you. Fucking whimsical. Anyway so yeah just go see Cats, I’m sure it’s a literary thrill ride. I’d rather throw myself into a vat of boiling oil.
Sweet Tommy was born and raised in St. Louis, so naturally he looked around, realized he was an artist, realized that artists don’t fucking live in Missouri, and got the hell out. So after working at Harvard for a little, he went to the Sorbonne in Paris and then Merton College at Oxford. But he “didn’t like university towns” so he fucking dropped out. FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS. We all got ’em.
Anyway, it was about this time that Tommy realized he was just where he fucking wanted to be. Meaning not America. And he wanted to stay in not America as long and as legally as possible, so he looked to the left, looked to the right, looked back to the left, and saw a totally hot governess who would bang and marry him, probably in reverse order because he was RULL Catholic (or he eventually became rull Catholic. Whatever. Unimportant). Her name was Vivienne Haigh-Wood. Bet she made ol’ Tommy’s Wood rise pretty Haigh, AM I RIGHT?! (When they had sex, you guys).
This is where young Ezra comes in – he was working in London (more on that in a sec) and totally got Prufrock published for Tommy in 1915. And Ezra was like “Tom, you’re a poet. So you gotta stick your D in Viv’s V, you know, because of feelings, and then you gotta make an honest woman out of Viv, you know, because of Catholicism.” So acting on Poundie’s (I don’t like that, I’m sorry I did it) advice, they got hitched. And then shit was ROCKY like Balboa for a long-ass time. Turns out she was just the tiniest bit manic-depressive, and she had a little (big) affair with the philosopher Bertrand Russell. And after 18 years of that bullshit, Tommy was like HELLS NO and quietly arranged for a separation that he hoped would be amicable. But it was exactly the opposite, because Viv became even more batshit crayzay and started following him around to all of his readings in London. Carrying her dog. Wearing all black. An all black Fascist’s uniform. Love is a many splendored thing.
So they never get a divorce, and Viv’s crayzay lands her in a sanitarium, where she kicks the bucket in 1947. Which is a little sad, but you know, Fascist’s uniform. And in the meantime, Tommy has become super famous and super religious, so he’s like FINALLY I can get my dick wet again! Cause of the morals and the ethics and such. So he spends 10 years on the market and, at 68 motherloving years young, marries like his assistant’s assistant, the very foxy, totally not gold-digging, 32-year-old Valerie Fletcher. In secret. With only her parents as witnesses. At 6:15 AM. For to keep it secret. To be fair, Val (who’s still alive) has dedicated her life to getting new editions of Tommy’s work published. But she also definitely had sex with a really old (talented, brilliant, anthologized as fuck, but old) dude, probably because he’s famous. Hey, we’ve all got our junk.
KNOW WHO ELSE HAD JUNK (LIKE, PENIS JUNK)?????? EZRA POUND!!!!!1
But first, an intermission, because this post is damn long. Pee and get yourself a snack.
Okay we’re back.
Ezra Pound was hot. I said it. Tommy didn’t have the face genes and he was a little bit of a bitch, but Ezra? Damn. And he was also exponentially more scandalous than Tommy, so I’m going to try to werq this shit out.
Okay, so LHB told us all about Gertie Stein and how she basically invented Hemingway and Wilder and all those expats. Ezra sort of did the same thing for Eliot (which is how the bromance began) and James Joyce and Robert Frost because he was a literary agent. But he was also a writer himself (and a damn good one) and invented his own branch of literary aesthetics, you know, just shooting the shit. He called it Imagism, and it was a reaction to Romanticism and Victorian poetry – it was stripped down and simple.
KNOW WHAT ELSE WAS STRIPPED DOWN? EZRA’S PALE, FRAIL BODY WHEN HE HAD LOTS OF PROMISCUOUS SEX.
Okay, so before he became an expat, Ezra was wicked smaht and got into UPenn (not this one, but this one) at 15. I got waitlisted there at 18. Apples to apples. And while at Penn he started boning an astronomy professor’s daughter, Hilda Doolittle. So more like the University of PEEN, am I right?!
Hilda was a hottie. They were too hot for their own good, and definitely too hot for America. She said that their lives were “inextricably entwined,” and she followed him to Europe in 1908. He had proposed the previous summer, but her dads struck that shit right the fuck down (with his telescope, because he was an astronomer). So when they got to London they were living in sin, and also he was Pound-ing a couple other expat ladies (he tried to put a ring on one of them, too). He headed back to ‘Merica and got a teaching job at some shitty college in Indiana that he called “the sixth circle of hell,” and he hated it so much that he just fucking broke every rule there was. And he was caught “in flagrante” (meaning “with his P in a V”) several (meaning “dozens of”) times. Sex and high academia don’t mix, so he got REAL fired REAL fast and headed on back to Europe and back to Hilda’s vag. But then Hilda ended up banging Richard Aldington, who was sort of kind of a lot hotter than Ezra, and they got married in 1913, leaving Ezra all alone. You know, except for all the casual sex with prostitutes. And non-prostitutes.
BUT THEN he met the daughter of W.B. Yeats’ former lover Olivia Shakespear, both of whom you totally remember from LHB’s Pulitzer winning* post on 20th Century Hipsters. So you know that young Dorothy Shakespear came from goodly slampiece stock. They boned a lot, and then they got married in 1914. April of 1914. Just a few months before that whole Franz Ferdinand assassination-sensation. Also, they moved in with Hilda Doolittle and her new husband. Oops. The war and the I’ve-seen-your-significant-other-naked thing made everyone a little antsy, so by 1920 Ezra and Dot moved to Paris, where they met Hemingway, Gertie Stein, and also where Ezra immediately started Pounding Olga Rudge, who had an unfortunate name, low-self esteem, and a nice face.
Now pay attention, because shit’s about to veer into Maury territory and I’m not sure if you’re ready for it.
Dot and Ezra move to Rapallo, Italy, because of the war and probably definitely because of the affair with Olga. Soon after, Olga shows up at the villa molto prego (which actually means “very you’re welcome” in Italian, and I meant very pregnant, you get it, shh) with Ezra’s baby. She gives birth to little Mary Pound in 1925, who is subsequently handed over to some German lady in the hills whose own baby has just died. Which is nice, but real fucking convenient for Olga, who heads back to Paris but continues to get Pounded. Dot’s reasonably pissed about the whole thing, she goes on a little year-long Egyptian sojourn with her MILF, and comes back pregnant. Hmm. Ezra’s in Paris for the premier of this opera he’s written in which Olga is playing the lead (priorities), so Hemingway has to drive Mrs. Pound to the hospital for the birth of young Omar Pound. Who is a) not Ezra’s, and b) also promptly handed over, this time to Olivia Shakespear to grow up in sexy luxury in London.
Before we know it, WWII is going on and Ezra decides that this Ben Mussolini guy’s on the right track, and Olga drinks the Kool-Aid and buys a house in Venice. She also starts seeing little Mary from time to time, although like NO ONE knows about this weird Italian/German kid who looks a lot like Ezra Pound. In the meantime, Ezra and Dot find themselves being evacuated from or kicked out of their house (there’s debate, but he was an enemy alien, so I’m going with the latter) in Rapallo, so ol’ enterprising Pound is like “DOT, I GOT A FRIEND IN VENICE. A SEXY FRIEND WHO WILL LET ME POUND HER. WE’RE GOOD.” And Dot’s like “Stop it with the Pound jokes. And I guess I owe you one because I got knocked up by some Egyptian man but my illegitimate child can grow up in high society with my fierce mom but yours has to eat worms or whatever.” So Ezra, Dot, and Olga ALL FUCKING MOVE IN TOGETHER IN VENICE FOR A COUPLE YEARS. And during that time Ezra starts writing anti-Semitic literature for Italian newspapers, which he signs “Hiel Hitler.” Nice.
After the Allied Invasion/assassination of Mussolini, Ezra’s arrested for all kinds of treason and put in solitary until he goes a little crazy. He’s transported to St. Elizabeths Hospital in DC, and upon release he and Dot MOVE BACK TO OLGA’S, but this time they bring along the very young and very fetching teacher Ezra met in the hospital, Marcella Spann. So he is living with three women, one of whom is his wife, three of whom he wants to Pound. That rascal!
Dot and Olga manage to get the fresh meat (fresh Pounded meat, mind you) sent back to America, but they still hate each other. Ezra loses more and more of his mental faculties and probably starts to smell like pee, which is sad. Dorothy’s like “BITCH, he’s yours,” by 1961, and she moves to Rapallo with Omar – remember him? So finally, finally Olga’s the only one left and she’s at his bedside when he dies on his 87th birthday in 1972.
PHEW. I need a Gatorade. Or absinthe. Or opiates. But definitely not a Pounding.
Eliot and Pound loved like six ladies between them. But I think we can agree that guy-love, that’s the greatest love of all.
Worth a try, amiright?!
For the first installment of Ex-Pats Theme Week, we’ll be turning to everyone’s favorite 20th century lesbians, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas who were, admittedly, not that hot. Or scandalous, if we’re being honest. Explicitly at least. Because even in 1920s hipper-than-austin-tx-during-a-film-festival Paris, to be a lady who was into other ladies was still pretty taboo. But regardless of their scandalosity, Stein and Toklas were the uncontested leaders and organizers of the 1920s expat scene in Paris and no For Shame! ex-pat theme week would be complete without them. So we’ll do the best we can here, and if I have to make up some imaginary lesbian sex dialogues, so be it.
Stein and Toklas met in Paris in 1907 on Toklas’s first day in the big city, and it was love at first sight. This is what Alice wrote about Gerty the first time she saw her:
She was a golden brown presence, burned by the Tuscan sun and with a golden glint in her warm brown hair. She was dressed in a warm brown corduroy suit. She wore a large round coral brooch and when she talked, very little, or laughed, a good deal, I thought her voice came from this brooch. It was unlike anyone else’s voice– deep, full, velvety, like a great contralto’s, like two voices.
Did your heart just melt a little? Yeah, mine too. Bitches be sweet. They were swapping panties from that day until 1947, when Stein died of stomach cancer. During their life together, their home in Paris was the most important Salon for budding writers and artists during Europe’s interwar period.
They collected paintings, they read manuscripts, they sat for paintings, they rejected paintings, they rejected manuscripts, they sold paintings, they stood for paintings, they sat for readings – Stein and Toklas were the artistic and literary barometers of 1920s Western Europe. It is arguable that Thornton Wilder, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso among others are all well known because Stein encouraged and promoted their work and deemed it good. If she had told Hemingway that he sucked and his work was no good, we probably wouldn’t know who he is now. If she hadn’t started buying Picasso’s painting or letting him paint her, or other people, in her salon, he’d just be some Spanish douchebag with a paintbrush and sex problem. Point is, we have these bitches to thank for, like, half the MOMA’s permanent collection, and probably a third of the Penguin Classics. As they say, behind every good artist is a good lesbian.*
To keep this puppy short, let’s just do a good ol’ list of ways that Stein and Toklas scandalized shit up in their time as Europe’s #1 lesbian couple:
- Stein’s book, Q.E.D. (Things As They Are), which was published by Toklas posthumously, is considered to be the first coming out story in history. Pretty big fucking deal if you asked me. It was also the first book to use the word “gay” to mean “homosexual.” And she used it over, and over again. So people who didn’t understand that thought it was just a book about a lot of really happy women.
- Stein’s most famous book, from which you probably read an excerpt in high school, or on an AP exam or something, is called Tender Buttons. WHICH I JUST FUCKING REALIZED IS A METAPHOR FOR CLITORISES!!! How did I miss that all these years? She was the biggest lesbian in the world and her most famous book is called Tender
Buttons. DUH. OF COURSE IT IS. Why didn’t Mr. Snyder, my 11th grade English teacher, tell us that?! In the text, she repeatedly uses the words “snatch” and “box,” (MRG and my favorite vaginal euphemisms, respectively.) That sneaky, sneaky bitch. Tender fucking buttons. You sneaky bitch, Gertrude Stein!
- I just learned this while doing my “research” for this post. Did you know that Stein and Toklas were hard-core political conservatives? Weird, right? Considering they had vaginas, and liked vaginas so much, and were both Jews from the Bay Area. But it’s true. During WWII, they retired to a little cottage in the French countryside and weren’t bothered by Jew Hunters because they had a friend in politics who collaborated with the Vichy government. Wuuttt?? And then, after the war, when their buddy was imprisoned for being a collaborator, they helped to fund his escape! So maybe that wasn’t exactly scandalous, but kind of surprising right? It subverted my expectations, ‘aight?
And now, as promised, an imagined lesbian historical dialogue from For Shame!’s resident thesBian (that’s me), unto you:
Gerty: Alice, TWAT did you think about Pablo’s latest work?
Alice: I TWAT it was rather pedestrian.
Gerty: Really? I was thinking I might SNATCH it up!
Alice: That’s curious, because I would put it in my BOX of things that suck.
* Joke courtesy of good friend and lover of the blog, LP.