Happy Christmas in July, you guys! I have something nice for you. Because you’ve been so good.
MRG got you a bisexual, cross-dressing, opera-singing, nun-banging, murderous-ten-times-over BADASS BITCH. I know, I know. It’s what you’ve always wanted.
If that sounds like I just made this person up at some type of bespoke historical figure shoppe (million dollar idea, you’re welcome), I get it. It seemed too good to be true when my little sister, AMG, who is way smarter and funnier than I am (but it’s okay because I am just as special in other ways) and who might grace us all with a guest post in the near future, casually told me about her. But it wasn’t too good to be true. Instead, IT’S JUST TOO GODDAMN GOOD.
Julie d’Aubigny was and continues to be a next-level goddess of womanhood the likes of which have never appeared on this blog. I know I throw that g-word around a lot when a strong historical lady gets hers, but this time it’s serious. She was a pistol for the ages. She is to not-giving-a-sweet-fuck what Isis, Frejya, and Bhuvaneshvari are to their respective mythologies. She is the human manifestation of that #YOLO thing the kids do. She is everything.
And luckily, she was born (in 1670 in France) to one of those dads who maybe wanted a son real bad but instead of ignoring his girlchild he, like, still loved her. And he bestowed upon her the required education for both genders. Daddy, Gaston d’Aubigny, was the secretary to the Grand Squire of France under Louis XIV and therefore was partly responsible for the all the king’s stables, pages, and most importantly, the royal partay fund. And this is the goddamn Sun King — it’s not like he’s throwing a low-key potluck just for the girls once every couple years. Thusly, Julie’s dad was pretty well connected and had a measure of power. As a hobby, he was also a master swordsman. Whereas my dad likes to do crossword puzzles and some light woodworking.
So by the time she blossoms into young womanhood, Julie can dance, she can sew, she can read multiple languages, and oh yeah, she can kill you real good with a rapier. And it’s not that she was good at swordplay for a lady — she was just fucking good. She also liked to dress up like a boy, accost and embarrass the shit out of another boy, and then reveal her ladyness. At a young age, Julie knew her way around a dagger. And around a dick.
In her teens, she seduced her dad’s boss, the Comte d’Armagnac (and because his name is hard and he was in charge of the king’s horses, he shall heretofore be known as The Mane Man). The Mane Man, though he was an adult fucking his employee’s 16-year-old daughter (think of the HR paperwork!), was also kind of a good dude in the beginning. He undoubtedly expanded her knowledge of military weapons and strategy and also her knowledge of how to do sex. Most importantly, he introduced her to the court of the Sun King.
If ever there was a diva in need of a venue, it was Julie d’Aubigny. Mane Man, soon sensing the potential error in bringing a gender-bending, sword-confident, underage hottie with a thing for embarrassing dudes at their own game to the most public and socially narrow place in the country, decided to marry Julie off and deflect attention. This was A Thing Men Could Do. Not long after her marriage to Monsieur Maupin (of whom little is known and few fucks are given), Julie and Mane Man called it quits. It’s probably likely that Mane Man was terrified of a) what Julie could to to his entrails and b) word getting out that he’d dated a woman with “talents” and “opinions,” so he invented a position in the French countryside for Maupin, assuming Julie would dutifully follow her new and uncharismatic husband. You know what they say about assuming. It’s a dumb fucking thing to do.
See, Mane Man’s plan really backfired on him. As a married woman, Julie really didn’t have to worry about the moral and social expectations that the court had for marriageable girls. And her husband, being a Toby Flenderson-type, was essentially powerless when it came to sexual politics. In the Maupin marriage, not only did Julie wear the pants, she had one of those giant MTV Cribs-style, apartment-sized closets full of pants. Pants on pants on pants. So naturally, when Mr. Maupin packed up the U-Haul and headed for the hills, Julie didn’t go with.
Instead, Julie. Went. WILD. Slapping shopkeepers? Check. Publicly taking the piss out of aristocrats? Check. Boning a fencing master wanted for murdering someone in an alley? CHECK.
Julie and her new slice, Serannes, Bonnie-and-Clyded their way through Paris, and when trouble found them, headed to Marseilles, where Serranes claimed he had the means to support them. He fucking lied. Rather than immediately impaling her lover, though, Julie, ever resourceful, essentially enslaved him as one half of a song-and-sword duo to pay the bills. Did I mention that our Jules was a fucking gifted contralto? She was. It was also around this time that Julie picked up that cross-dressing thing again, because the swordplay part of their act required ease of movement, and seven layers of petticoats are not so conducive to that sometimes/all the time. A cross dresser with the voice of an angel — maybe it’s a Julie thing.
Anyway, the pair were the talk of the town before long. The plebians ate that shit right up. And of course, because Julie was an Inigo Montoya-level swordist and wore pants, those same plebians thought she was a dude. Rumor has it that one night a crowd was so raucously convinced that she had a dick, Julie ripped open her shirt, showed them her tits, and said “Who’s the dick now?!” Or something like that.
Of course, a bold and beautiful ingenue of the stage and sword was going to be bored by her murderous, less-talented boyfriend. In fact, Julie was pretty bored by men altogether. She was just better than them at pretty much everything. But she still wanted to get hers — an Earth-goddess still needs to get her rocks off. And as we’ve established, our sweet JuJuBee gave zero fucks about social strictures or propriety. Julie looked around, noticed that women were a large group of people she hadn’t tried to seduce, and went for it. Bless her.
And here’s one of my favorite stories I’ve come across during this 2.5-year blogsperiment. Julie, somewhere in the middle of her lady-fucking rampage, fell in love with a cute blonde. Blondie’s parents, of course, were terrified of the Amazon who kept sending their daughter home flushed and extremely satisfied, so they decided the best course of action was to ship her off to a convent. That’s how Jules came to bone a nun. A self-proclaimed wife of Jesus. Yes. Of course, it became hard for them to meet, let alone plan liasons, so Julie took these Six Easy Steps to get her lover back:
1. She took Holy Orders herself.
2. She made sure she was assigned to the same convent as Blondie.
3. She waited for an elderly nun to die, then disinterred her.
4. She placed the body of said nun in Blondie’s bed.
5. She set the convent ON FIRE.
6. She and Blondie stole away into the night and never fucking looked back.
Turns out even that John McClane-like endeavor bored our Julie, and she broke up with her nunpiece a couple months later but stayed on the lam. Since body snatching and arson and kidnapping are crimes, Jules was tried in a Marseilles court in absentia and condemned to death by fire (eye for an eye, I guess). So Marseilles was no longer a great place for her to be, and she hopped from Paris to Orleans to Poitiers and back to Paris again, renewing her vaudeville-vagabond-crossdressing-disco-spectacular. Life’s a fucking hustle, man.
Along the way, Jules was doing her best Victor/Victoria in Villeperdue when a young roustabout in the audience realized she was a woman despite her pantaloons. Supposedly he accosted her by shouting, “Pretty bird, I’ve heard your chirping. Now let me see your plumage!” which is nothing if not a tightly constructed metaphor. Julie responded in the only way she knew how: by challenging him and his two best friends to a goddamned duel in the middle of the show. In the scuffle, Jules ended up putting her sword straight through the dude’s shoulder and out the other side, at which point he was like “Okay, ouch, sorry, geez.” Julie then dropped the mic and took a nap.
She still had a conscience, though. Hurting that defenseless manchild weighed on her, so the next day she asked the hotelier who she’d stabbed. Louis-Joseph d’Albert de Luynes, the son of a duke and therefore some kind of viscount. This made Julie feel bad but also made her see the glistening mountain of francs that could be hers if she played her cards right. When one of Lou’s squires visited Julie later that night to convey his master’s apologies for saying all that nasty shit to her, Julie was like, “I’ll deliver my response in person. With my vagina.” She boned him that night and many more nights. Extortion turned to love. They continued to bang for decades in like a friends-who-fuck-and-also-sort-of-love-each-other-but-keep-it-casual kind of way. Think about how much game you need to have to get a guy you RAN THROUGH WITH A MOTHERFUCKING SABER and HUMILIATED PUBLICLY to fuck you forever. This is real history.
And did I mention all of the above shit happened within four years? Yeah, on our timeline, Julie is 20. Really makes college feel like a waste.
Naturally, Julie’s career as a vaudevillian segued into the chance to sing in the Paris Opera. La Maupin, as she was called (going by her noodle of a husband’s name is probably the most heteronormative thing about her) was soon a bonafide opera star, and brought real-life badassness to notably badass roles like Athena, Dido, and Medea. It was like the opposite of method acting.
By now you’ve deduced that our Jules was also a bit of a wild card when it came to her temper, so it should be no surprise that she once whacked the shit out of a fellow actor in a dark alley with a wooden cane because he was creeping on one of her actress friends. When he showed up at work with two black eyes and a limp, he said he was beaten and robbed by four street youths. Julie, hearing this, said “HAHAHAHAA,” and handed the guy his pocket watch and empty wallet in front of everyone.
And of course, given that she and Lou had a loving and VERY open relationship, Julie fucked a lot of her co-workers. Both tenors and sopranos, if you catch my drift. Just once, Jules fancied a lady who gave her the ol’ I-just-wanna-be-friends, which led Julie to attempt suicide. She really only had one speed, our girl.
I know you’re all getting tired here, but I have just one more Julie story, I promise! Also, what the fuck guys, she’s amazing, I want to talk about her forever, you should want to know everything there is to know about her, etc. etc.
Okay, so Julie’s operatic fame led to her reintroduction to court life, which of course led to her being invited to a ball. And Julie just wanted to dance. Really get down. And she couldn’t twerk in a heavy dress, so she of course wore a full-on cavalier’s uniform. Much pearl-clutching ensued, because not only did she not hide the fact that she was a woman in manpants, she also openly danced and MADE OUT WITH the belle of the ball. In the middle of the Sun King’s dance floor. Je SCANDAL!
Belle-of-ball’s suitors were shocked and immediately directed a collective “Not cool, bro” Julie’s way in the form of a duel invite. Apparently talking things out was not a viable resolution method in seventeenth-century France. Julie had been outnumbered by a bunch of dudes before and was probably bored, so she agreed. They got a-fighting right there in the middle of a waltz and Julie defeated all of them handily. Mr. Sun King himself, pissed that Julie diverted the groveling masses away from him, reminded her that he’d recently instituted a law against dueling. Julie was sent away thinking that this might be the end of the road for her. You don’t piss off the Sun King. He could actually have you killed for sitting without his express permission. True fact. One would imagine that killing three dudes in the middle of his nice party might not fly.
UNLESS YOU’RE FUCKING JULIE D’AUBIGNY MAUPIN, WARRIOR PRINCESS.
The next day, after preparing to hear that she was going to die, Julie got a message from the King that essentially said, “You’re pretty that thing you did was funny I like seeing people die I guess my no-dueling law can just apply to men.”
And Julie celebrated by moving to Brussels and becoming mistress to a goddamn Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and opera-ing on the side until she died in 1707.
Except I’m pretty sure she’s not dead because goddesses are immortal.
Happy Birthday America! I know we haven’t graced the pages of the interwebs for quite some time, but it’s because we’ve been waving flags, camping out and having picnics, and celebrating various reasons to be proud of our country (well, except that last one, but you know what I’m getting at).
So on this, the fourth day of the month of July, we’re taking the opportunity to bring you not the scandal of a founding father or an illustrious politician, but rather the epitome of the actual idols in America: a celebrity athlete.
BUT WAIT, I know you’re thinking there’s a disconnect between the social progress made by our nation in the past week, and the inexplicable hero-worship of someone who tosses balls for a living. WELL HOLD ON PATRIOTS, CAUSE IT’S ABOUT TO GET SCANDALOUSLY PROGRESSIVE UP IN HURR. And regular scandalous too, don’t worry.
For you see, on this day in 1910, Jack Johnson, an African American heavy-weight boxer, knocked out his white rival, Jim Jeffries, sparking race riots across America.
The bout was deemed the “Fight of the Century,” in which formerly undefeated Jeffries came out of a six-year retirement to fight Johnson, the current heavy-weight champion. The total winnings (split 75/25) were equivalent to over two million dollars in today’s spacebucks, and tickets to the 20,000 seat sold-out spectacle were being scalped for almost triple their original price. President Taft and Arthur Conan Doyle had been approached to guest-referee. The match was held in Reno in 110 degree heat, and scheduled for three 45-minute rounds. Jeffries had very little interest being the representation of the white race in taking down this troubling black upstart, and originally refused the fight multiple times, but was eventually persuaded (I’m assuming by that two million dollars, but, hey, I could be wrong). All in all, it was a B-fucking-D.
Racial tensions were running high, and no alcohol (normal) or guns (psst, lame) were allowed within the arena. By the fourth round, it was clear that the older Jeffries was going to lose, but the blood sport continued for another eleven rounds, with Jeffries being knocked down twice, and nearly KO’d. However, the NYTimes remarked at the time that never had a fight been so one-sides, but that Johnson had fought fairly throughout.
Here would be a nice moment to pause and give a bit of background on Jack Johnson. The son of former slaves from Galveston Texas, he could read and write, which was plenty scandalous for the time. Well, that, and HE LOVED DATING WHITE LADIES. AND PROSTITUTES. OPENLY.
He reportedly had so many biddies on rotation in and out of his hotel room, that a keen-eyed reporter once asked him how he did it, to which Johnson replied “eat jellied eels and think distant thoughts.” And I mean, come on, are we gonna blame them? The man was beautiful.
According to Johnson, though no record survives, he first married another African America woman named Mary Austin, back in Texas in 1898, though it appears they separated by 1902. He then took up with a black prostitute from Philly named Clara Kerr, who lived with him in California until she ran off with his friend, taking most of his clothes and jewelry. He tracked them down in Tuscon and had Clara arrested for burglary, but apparently they reconciled and started living together. This lasted until he couldn’t find any money-making fights, and she up and R.U.N.N.O.F.T.
During a fight tour of Australia, he had a fling with white Alma “Lola” Toy, which scandalized the Sydney press. From this point on, while he did not exclusively see white women, he said publically said he would never marry another woman of color because of the heartaches he had suffered with Mary and Clara. I mean, that’s kind of like saying you’ll only eat apples because you ate two rotten oranges… Whatever dude, just pick some better fruit next time.
When he returned to America in 1907 he took up with Hattie McClay, a white prostitute from Manhattan. Their relationship was plagued by societal outrage–hotels refused to admit them, and several matches and even a parade were cancelled because Jack was travelling with a white woman who he referred to as “Mrs. Jack Johnson” (though they were never legally married). By 1909 they were separated, but continued to bang on the sly until 1911, when Jack paid Hattie $500 for the return of all their steamyass correspondence. A tale as old as time, true as it can be, barely even friends, because one is a prostitute, not-so-unexpectedly.
He next started seeing Belle Schreiber, another woman of easy virtue at an exclusive, all-white brothel in Chicago. At least five women were fired by the madams there for sleeping with Johnson, but Belle hung on and became Jack’s new main lay. Even during his first legal marriage, Johnson and Belle continued to play bang-around-the-rosie, ’cause, you know, why not? Now Belle was a tenacious little miss thang, and much like a bad penny (though come on, she’s at least a six or seven), just kept comin’ back. More on that later.
Ahem, so, after that lengthy bonerlude, back to boxing.
For years, Johnson predominantly fought other black boxers, eventually becoming the World Colored Heavyweight Champion, and gaining the nickname, “The Galveston Giant.” While whites would fight black boxers, the World Heavyweight Championship was reserved for whites only. In 1902, Joe Gans became the first African American World Lightweight Champion, and finally in 1908, Johnson was able to fight against the white Tommy Burns, beating him with a knockout after fourteen rounds. So there’s just a lot of “issues” going on around here.
Johnson was troublingly vocal and proud of his physical prowess, and I would go so far as to maybe even call him a bit of a, howyousay, “dick.” But then again, if you’d grown up in a society where you’d been constantly made to feel worthless because of the color of your skin and not the content of your character, you’d probably be a bit of a dick as well. For one thing, he was open about his penchant for not just white laydays, but laydays in general. He verbally taunted his opponents of all races, in an out of the ring. He loved cigars and fur coats and opera and fast cars and tailored suits, and really just all the finer things. He was once pulled over for a speeding ticket for $50, gave the officer a $100 bill and told him to keep the change because he (Johnson) would be returning at that speed.
Straight up, Jack, straight up.
Thus, racial tensions are running high on that July 4th in Reno, with people calling for a “Great White Hope” to knock Johnson out. The 1910 match with Jeffries was supposed to be Johnson’s great takedown, and instead, we’ve got a black boxer who refuses to be defeated, is flamboyantly proud, hyper-masculine, dates white ladies, and has just knocked out the former reigning world champion. HnnnnnnnnnnnghI’msouncomfortablewiththissituation.
The fight triggered huge riots that night in more than 25 states, with whites taking to the streets in protest just as African Americans were heading out to celebrate. Eight blacks and five whites were killed, and hundreds were injured across the country.
U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.! S.! A.!
Johnson became even more famous, and continued his wildass partying and pastyladyboning. In 1909, he’d met a white, wealthy, socialite divorcée named Etta Terry Duryea. They married in 1911, but the union was not a happy one to say the least (cf the “dick” moniker). Johnson regularly physically abused Duryea, who suffered severe depression and took her own life in 1912. *teethsuck* THEN, less than three months later, Jack married Lucille Cameron, who was, yes, you guessed it, also of the Caucasian persuasion. Heyyyyyy.
This marriage was deemed to be in violation of the Mann Act, which said you couldn’t transport a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. Supposedly Lucille was a “prostitute,” and apparently Johnson was “black,” but you know, we may never really know the details. Either way, Lucille refused to press charges and the case was dismissed. Though about a month later, Jack was charged for the same thing with, waitforit, BELLE SCHREIBER!!!1! Boom, full circle.
He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, but, like many good Americans, skipped over to France when shit got a little too real stateside. He and Lucille lived in Europe, South America, and Mexico until 1920, when he surrendered to federal agents and in fact ended up only serving 355 days out of his 366 day sentence. Hey, look at that leniency!
Sidenote: Around about this time, Johnson opened a swank night club in Harlem, which he sold in 1923 and which would then become the famous Cotton Club.
Jack kept up his philanderin’ ways, and Lucille eventually divorced him in 1924. The next year, he married Irene Pineau, who stuck with him till he died in 1946, and who, as far as Wikipedia tells me, was not a call-girl.
So there you have it! Jack Johnson: ladylover, barrierbuster, kindofadick, American.
Also, a special thanks to my friend, DCH, whose blog History’s Hotties, was a big inspiration for MRG, LHB, and myself to have our own blogbaby (blayby). She first wrote about Jack Johnson before it was cool. You can read her post here.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young Hollywood starlet in possession of a lot of residual royalties checks must be in want of media attention. And then that starlet will go cuckoo banana crackers in a sad-but-engrossing kind of way.
I’ve been really worried about Amanda Bynes, you guys. She’s outpacing 2007 Britney when it comes to terrifyingly public emotional and physical descent. Shhh. I know. We are powerless to stop it. All I can do is put on the aesthetic nonpareil What a Girl Wants, watch that inspiring scene in which Daphne (Amanda, duh) and her dad (Colin Firth) bond while vintage shopping at a fictional London market (sort of in the way that romantic couples bond? It’s hella weird upon re-watch) in an exceptional early-2000s smash-cut montage AND TRY NOT TO CRY OVER WHAT ONCE WAS.
Okay, so I don’t actually love Amanda as much as it seems I do. I just really like What a Girl Wants because it’s the perfect balance of terrible and amazing and because Colin Firth. (Like remember Ian, Daphne’s gadabout jack-of-all-trades British kinda-boyfriend who makes out with her in a swan boat? Yes. Great.) It’s just that I, and I’m sure a lot of my generational cohorts, totally forgot about her until she started wearing that wig and talking about vagina murder. And I feel guilty about it, because I sort of feel like it’s our collective fault. We forgot about her, so she made us remember.
If an Amanda Bynes throws a bong from a significant height and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?
So anyway, I naturally got to thinking about other starlets and their inevitable public meltdowns. Britney, of course, and Lindsay Lohan. Poor Amy Winehouse in the “My Blake Incarcerated” days (RIP though forreal). Drew Barrymore was a hot mess in the 80s, before she went back to high school to write that article. And there are many more, going way back.
But who was the Ur-Hot Mess? Who made tabloids worth buying in those dark B.K. days (Before Kardashian)? This movement needs a standard-bearer, dammit. And I’ve decided that the face of this plague is Clara Bow, inspiration for Betty Boop, original It Girl, and possible fucker of domesticated animals.
After what seems like a pretty shitty childhood in Brooklyn during which her family lived at 14 (fourteen!) different addresses over 18 years and her mom died of epilepsy, Clara was discovered in what I can only assume was the pre-television ancestor of that America’s Idol Got Talent Voice show in 1921. The Simon Cowell of that production said that young Clara possessed a “genuine spark of divine fire” (which is sort of nice, so maybe it was the Paula who said it? I only ever watched one episode and it was in 2003 so forgive me). Armed with the spoils of victory and a lot of gumption, Clara went from audition to audition until she was finally cast in a few bit film roles, including a tomboyish part in Grit, which, interestingly, was penned by our sad alcoholic friend Scott (between rounds of wife-wrangling, no doubt).
Clara’s offers got bigger and more frequent, so she moved to Hollywood in 1923 where her career really took off. But like many of today’s starlets, she had daddy issues and wanted to bring her ol’ pops in from New York. Her producers didn’t want that to happen, which I didn’t understand until I read what Ms. Bow later said about their reunion: “I didn’t care a rap, for [what the mean producer guys thought], or my motion picture career, or Clara Bow, I just threw myself into his arms and kissed and kissed him, and we both cried like a couple of fool kids. Oh, it was wonderful.”
Remind you of some other couple we know? Maybe an Electra complex is a real accelerator in the starlet meltdown thing. Is there someone I can tell about this? I’m just genuinely worried about the Fanning sisters. They’re so blonde and wispy.
Anyway, by 1924, she’s a Certified Film Star. She had the all-important combo of earthiness, girlishness, and fuckability that is essential in any ingenue, but she was also one of the first actresses to have it. Remember when everyone was obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence a few months ago because she was so funny and pretty and talented at the same time? I imagine it was kinda like that, only amplified, because around this time, a full 50% of all Americans went to the movies at least once a week. That’s a goddamn lot. So when I say she was a star, I mean it — everyone knew who Clara was, and subsequently, everyone wanted to know EVERY MOTHERLOVING THING about her.
I should also mention that a piece on Clara around this time in Photoplay included this delightfully unsubtle sex allusion: “What is this quivering – pulsating – throbbing – beating – palpitating IT? Undeniably IT is a product of this decade. Indeed, you might say IT is a product of this hour. But what is IT?” So Clara’s production company slapped together a li’l movie called – you guessed it – It, and BOOM, Clara Bow is the world’s first “It Girl.” She was the girl everyone wanted to bone and befriend.
Clara-hunger among the plebians was at an all-time high. At the height of her fame, she was receiving 45,000 letters a month, which is probably the 1920s equivalent of 45 billion retweets. It was easy for the ‘bloids to talk about her supposedly “dreadful” manners and “bohemian” lifestyle and sell a few copies. But it was a hell of a lot easier when she started scandalizing so hard that every shitrag in town was calling her “Crisis-A-Day Clara.” Not as good as “Lindsanity,” but I’ll take it.
Now up through 1930, most Clara-related pearl-clutching had to do with this terrible thing she did called “dating,” wherein she was “seen” with “men” in “public.” Except for one time when she boned a married doctor and Mrs. Doctor subsequently named Clara as the reason for separation. But I mean what starlet worth her salt hasn’t broken up a marriage, right? Right.
In 1930, Clara and her BFF/hairstylist/secretary/ancilla Daisy DeVoe (whose name makes her sound like a cartoon villain and/or burlesque artist) got in a little tiff about cash, as so many stars and their human accessories do. Mo money mo problems, am I right? Things escalated, and while no one knows what really went down, by the end of it Daisy stole away into the night with a satchel full of Clara’s personal papers.
A lesser, clumsier slave-friend might have set Clara’s house on fire or permanently scarred her bankable face or something, but Daisy was no chump. Blackmail was her game. Clara, sensing this, called the fuzz instead of coming up with hush money. This ended up being a huge mistake.
For whatever reason, tabloid press were allowed in the courtroom during the subsequent trial. All those mags that were previously shocked by Clara’s man-dating WENT APESHIT with Daisy’s accusations. Clara Bow was a drunk. Clara Bow spent herself into destitution. Clara Bow did drugs. Clara Bow fucked a lot of men (later, an ambitious biographer would incorrectly say she fucked everyone on the USC football team). Clara Bow fucked a lot of women. Clara Bow had sex in public. Clara Bow participated in orgies. Clara Bow, when without a man, woman, tight end, or orgy, fucked dogs. Dogs, guys. Dogs.
This was actually printed in an actual publication that people actually read. And because she was the “It Girl,” because “it” was really “lots and lots of sexy sex,” because everyone knew who she was and wanted to be her and/or do her, people believed it. When someone’s nickname means “Sex Girl,” it’s pretty easy to believe that she has sex, and with lots of people. And dogs, I guess, though that seems morally and physically difficult.
The public, shitrags in hand, staged a massive campaign calling for her studio to fire her. Which happened. She made a couple more movies with different production companies, but by 1932, the Depression set in, and everything Clara represented — mirth, inhibition, pulchritude, champagne, sparkles — felt somehow inappropriate to people who didn’t have food to eat.
With her career irreparably fucked, she married a guy who became the Lieutenant Governor of Nevada. They settled on a cattle ranch and had two kids. So not as bad as you expected, right? Maybe there’s hope for Amanda yet. I mean, sure, Clara checked into a sanitarium in 1949 because she was having hallucinations and belly aches, and yeah, her psychiatrist’s notes reference a mysterious “butcher knife incident of 1922,” and okay, she became severely agoraphobic until her death in 1965.
But Amanda, listen to me. Sister to sister. Take off that wig, pull out those terrifying dimple piercing/implant things. Take a bubble bath. Eat a kale salad. Get it together. Call Britney. She should be your spirit animal. She is a success story. Talk about the fame, and the fans, and the pressure. Listen. Learn.
And then maybe call Colin because I’ve been waiting for a What a Girl Wants sequel a longass time.
Happy Memorial Day, scandal lovers! I hope you’re getting yourself prepped for what appears to be (at least on the eastern seaboard) an historically chilly final weekend in May, because, you know, spring, whatever. Light that grill, thaw those processed meat products, and head on down to your closest Norman Rockwell reallifepaintingtownplace and remember to forget that today is about veterans.
Ok, woah, #sorry, pause, no, I’m not making a blanket statement (though we here at for shame! love blanket statements) about how maybe kinda sorta the last Monday in May has become more of a balls-to-the-wall celebration of all things America, rather than a relatively somber occasion to honor those who died serving in our armed forces, despite numerous flag ceremonies, public addresses, and various local military parades and demonstrations. But let’s be real, when it’s nice outside, anything goes so long as it’s garbed in the red, white and blue. And while no parade is a true parade without the participation of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, this blog at least deals in “history” of “things,” such as the true meaning of Christmas Memorial Day. And we talk also about sex scandals. And this post elegantly combines both!!
So in honor of both the armed services of the United States of America, and our blog mantra (blantra)— re: the loving recitation of history, warts and all—I bring you a double-header of historical military sexploits.
*Also, disclaimer, I apologize that this post in particular is riddled with Arrested Development (Easter) eggs. I’m just so excited to look at fourth season, Michael.
TOM DOOLEY (I) PUTS THE SYPH IN SYPH-IL WAR (not our best, but it’s a holiday after all)
So first on the docket is a FUN FACT: Memorial Day was originally conceived in remembrance of the sacrifice of soldiers in the Civil War, with my very own alma mater spearheading the movement in the immediate aftermath of the war. Thus, truly, madly, topically, we come to our first Tom of the day (and I don’t know about the rest of you, but he sure ain’t gonna be the last ifyouknowwhatImsayinIthinkyoudouptopfordrunkbonfiresyesssssanyway).
Thomas C. Dula (pronounced “Dooley” in the local twang) was an impoverished Confederate solider from North Carolina with an early taste for tail—aided, I can only imagine, by his brand loyalty to Dapper Dan pomade. Though his age at the time is unknown, he was apparently nailing the literal girl-next-door, Ann Foster, when she was 14. He failed to put a ring on it, and Ann married a man named James Melton in 1859. Tom and James both fought in the war, and were both taken prisoner, both survived and probably got some sweet scars and sweeter prison tats, you know how it goes.
But as soon as Tom, dat rascal, got back home, he got right back to riding that
But, as Tom knew, one is never enough, so why not keep your dick in the family? Pretty soon he hopped on one Laura Foster’s poontrain, Ann’s cousin.
Laura started to grow some bellyfruit, which was probably Tom’s, and he promised to marry her. So she set off one morning in 1866, apparently to rendezvous for their elopement, but was never seen again. WoooOOOOoooOOOOO!!!! *flashlight waving*
While there are multiple folkloric suppositions as to who did what why, the simple fact remained that Laura was dead, her body dumped somewhere, and Tom probably did it because he had commitment issues, or Ann did it because she was jeal. It was as Ann as the nose on plain’s face.
See, Tom thought Laura had given him the syph while they were riding the bonercoaster, and that was just plain rude. He actually in fact may have caught it from ANOTHER Foster, Pauline, who was treated by the same doctor that testified both Tom and Ann had it, then passed it to Laura. But either way, Tom passed it on to Ann, then she to James, and this is how you get those terrifying charts they have in Health Centers were you just want some goddamn aspirin rather than a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that sure as shit isn’t your hangover. Jesus, kids these days.
Anywho, the novelty of a murder in a relatively small community, combined with all the Sex and the Appalachian Trail stuff going on, made the case supah famous. Tom fled to Tennessee, but was brought back for trial (represented by Zebulon Vance, who is the absolute tits, as far as living Faulkner characters go). Tom testified that Ann had nothing to do with it all (cause that’s love, guys), and though he maintained his innocence throughout, he was executed by the state after two years of imprisonment, in 1868.
Subsequently, a romanticized mythos grew up around the story, with poems and ballads composed even to this day. Because what’s more romantic than boning half the chicks in town, then killing the one you knocked up. America, amirite?
TOM DOOLEY (II) PUTS THE GAY IN MILITARY RE-GAY-LIA (again, cf ‘holiday.’ )
And on a brief, slightly more reverent note, our second Mr. Thomas Dooley was a humanitarian and author, and openly homosexual Navy physician.
According to those close to him, while his sexuality was never discussed, Dooley made little or no effort to conceal it, and openly carried on relationships with other men from adolescence onward, even exploiting his appeal to other gay officers in order to receive choice assignments after joining the Navy in 1944.
After med school, Dooley worked in refugee camps in Vietnam, and became a symbol of Asian-American cooperation and humanitarianism, despite having also been a CIA informant. In 1956 he wrote a book about his experiences in Laos in the 1950s, and while on press tour, he was investigated for homosexual activities and forced to resign from the military. He returned to Asia independently, then was forced back to the US by malignant melanoma, dying in 1961.
Openly flamboyant, and also openly and devoutly religious, he was even considered for canonization, received a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal, and JFK cited Dooley’s example when he launched the Peace Corps. I mean, there’s no two ways about it—you’re a good man, Tom Dooley.
So yes, we joke a lot, but this piece is dedicated with genuine honor and deepest gratitude to those who gave their lives so that I could live in country where I am both allowed the education which introduced me to history and humor, as well as the freedom to express my opinion without fear. I can never truly thank you.
FOR SHAMERS! I have not posted in a while, but that does not mean this blog isn’t perpetually smoldering in the dark, perverse corners of my mind. For example, only yesterday I was all over my Twitter feed like Woolf on Sackville when I came across this article about EROTIC POETRY published online by The Guardian.
Turns out it’s part of a series by Billy Mills that highlights specific topics in poetry and encourages readers to write their own. Previous topics include religion, chocolate, just about every month of the year, and Poverty. Why it took so long for Mr. Mills to land on EROTICA, I just cannot tell you.
My favorite poem that the article mentions is this anonymous excerpt written in Sanskrit probably sometime around 0 – 1000 AD (large range, I realize):
I like sleeping with somebody different often it's nicest when my husband is in a foreign country, and there's rain in the streets at night and wind and nobody
I could snap all day long to that bit of wisdom. But the article is full of little gems like that, so read away! If you’re in the office, you might want to pull the blinds.
And, if you’re so inclined, write an erotic poem yourself! Don’t be embarrassed. We all want to try. Here, I’ll go first:
You turn the lights off
I take my tights off
We both say let’s get off
And ooh, baby, ooh
We totally do
WELCOME, SCANDALITES, to the FIFTH edition of Search Term Referrals! We’ve been neglecting you, we know. So we thought it was only right to bring you what has become our pedigree: the fucking weirdass shit people type into Google that gets them to our humble blog.
a motswana pussy — And I motswana penis.
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teen slut meme
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la dolce vita schandaal
schandaal la dolce vita — The Holy Trinity.
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LHB, MRG, KAB, JAF.
I know what you’re thinking. “You only picked this Marbles lady because you knew you could word play the shit out of that obvious (and hilarious) surname.” You’re not not right. But I’m also attempting to diversify our artisitic-politico-literary tendencies with a madame who knew how to play “sports.” So, a lady named Marble who knew how to hit a Ball: a perfect for shame! subject. You’re welcome.
Marble moved to San Francisco when she was five, in 1918. She was really good at “athletic” things like softball, and she wasn’t even a lesbian. Her brother thought she should play a more lady like sport, like tennis. And now I’m thinking of McEnroe dressed like a Victorian lady and playing tennis. Once you get that picture in and out of your head and manage to stop giggling, join me in the next paragraph.
Alice picked up a racquet, and then like a couple months later she was one of the best tennis players in the world. Her training was complicated by the fact that when she was 15, she was raped while walking home from practice. To add to an already traumatic adolescence, she also managed to witness her BFF getting run over by a San Francisco street car. Ouch. She overcame that nightmare of a childhood to become one of the top lady tennis players in all of “sports” history.
In her career, she won 18 Grand Slam championships —
(I know you’re confused right now because you’re all “Grand Slam? I thought that was what happens in the game with the stick and the ball that Madonna played in that one movie.” I get it, shhh, allow me to explain: Grand Slam also refers to the top tennis tournaments that happen every year all over the world. They are: the Australian, French, and US Opens, and Wimbledon. They are also sometimes called “the Majors” — which is also reminiscent of America’s greatest sport, but whatever, we’re talking about that
feminine European sport now.)
But let’s talk about how Alice Marble handled balls OFF the court, shall we?
After a stellar amateur career — which in those days involved a lot champagne drinking with movie stars on boats, with, like, cravats and shit — she turned pro. Turning pro meant that you got paid a fudge-ton of cash to go play in “exhibition” tournaments all over the world. (Which I believe also involved a lot of making out with girls in front of Clarke Gable at parties with champagne fountains.) She settled down and married Joe Crowley in 1942. He shipped out to fight in the European Theater shortly after their marriage. But they had managed to do some baby-making and by 1944, she was avec fille, as they say.
Then, a series of unfortunate (and, sure, kind of scandalous) events began to unfold. First, Marble was in a car accident and had a miscarriage. THEN, a little bit later, found out that her husband’s plane had been shot down over Germany and he’d be killed in action.
This was a little much for Alice, and really, who can blame her? She attempted suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills, but her old tennis coach Eleanor “Teach” Tennant found her and took her to the hospital. She survived, overcame her depression, and went on to, GET THIS:
That’s right. In 1945, the Allies were all, “Come be a spy for us, sexy tennis star.” And she was all, “Those Nazi bastards killed my husband, you bet your balls I’ll spy for you!” She actually said that she felt like she “had nothing left to lose but my life, and at the time I didn’t care about living.” Which, jeez, ok, a little heavy for this blog. Moving on.
The mission: Seduce a former lover, a Swiss Banker suspected of providing services (of the financial, not the sexual, variety) to high-ranking Nazi Officials, get him in the boudoir and get the deets on his elicit behavior.
Mission accomplished. Especially the boudoir part. She showcased her
boobies talents by playing in high-profile tennis tournaments in Europe, and the Banker sought her out in order to entangle her romantically. This was, of course, exactly what she wanted. She got all sorts of intel on him that she was able to report back to the CIA before the Nazis found out and she got — GET THIS — shot in the back! Like, with a bullet!
Miraculously, she survived and then led a pretty normal life after that. She retired to Palm Springs and probably, like, watched Wheel of Fortune and stuff.
I should also add that during her retirement, she worked for DC comics and, according to Wiki, is credited as an associated editor on Wonder Woman, because she wrote the comic’s feature section called “Wonder Women of History” where she told stories of history’s most wonderful women. I really like the idea of Susan B. Anthony drawn as a super hero and I like to think something like that made it into an issue.
And as if fighting Nazis wasn’t enough, she also decided to take on the whole problem of racial segregation in 1950 (she was kind of ahead of her time, even for a white lady) when her African-American colleague Althea Gibson was banned from playing in the US Championship. Marble wrote an open letter published in World Tennis Magazine (not sure what its readership was, so, you know, take this however you want) saying,
If tennis is a game for ladies and gentlemen, it’s also time we acted a little more like gentlepeople and less like sanctimonious hypocrites. … If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of women players, it’s only fair that they should meet that challenge on the courts.
And in 1950, Althea Gibson became the first African-America to play in a Grand Slam tournament. In 1956, she became the first African-American player to win a Grand Slam title.
So maybe you’re like, what’s scandalous about this bitch?? How about the fact that her spy job involved DOING IT with a NAZI COLLABORATOR?!
Maybe it’s a stretch, but she’s still a really cool lady and I bet you’re not not super happy you know about her now.
Balls to the walls. Or wall. What is it?