Bonjour, mes amis. Puetetre vous etes pissed off at moi parce-que mon terrible francais et le non posting a la blog pour un long time.
I get it. I’m sorry. Unemployment, depression, employment again, busy again, commuting, 7th grade French. The usual story. Let’s move on.
Disclaimer: I’m like 2.5 glasses in, and I FEEL GREAT.
Today, we’re going to talk about a lady named Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. But you might know her as the lady who wrote the novel on which the popular 1958 movie-musical starring Audrey Hepburn Gigi was based. Oh, no? You’re not a movie musical person? You didn’t grow up watching 1776 and The Music Man whenever you had a free minute after you finished all the homework you loved doing? No? Just us?
[And also LAUREN too, probably — she’s the Suggest a Scandal-er who’s getting a shout out today because of her Bad-A, spot on, and really, let’s be honest, inspiring suggestion.]
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was known, eventually, as “Colette.” Sort of like Madonna and Beyonce. She is an SBW* for many reasons, but (for me at least) the main one is this: She lived (as a functioning, conscious adult) in Paris during not just La Belle Epoch, not only the 20s, not merely the Vichy regime — but ALL THREE. She got to be one of an extremely limited number of people who died with memories of and significant cultural contributions to three at once uniquely beautiful, terrifying and distinct eras of French, NAY, European history. Pretty fricken cool if you ask me.
But not only did she live through and remember these time periods, she also had a boatload of sex during them. And isn’t that what’s important, after all?
We think so.
Let me just share with you the first four sections of her Wikipedia Index to give you a sense of the kind of charlatan (THAT WAS A HARD WORD FOR ME TO SPELL IN MY CURRENT STATE) we’re dealing with here.
- Early life and Marriage
- Music Hall** Career, and Affairs with Women
- Second Marriage, affair with Stepson
- Third Marriage
Not to copy Wikipedia’s format (which I so often do), but I think we should start with Marriage Numero Uno, which joined (legally speaking) the lady in question to a “literary…degenerate” who went by “Willy.” Colette wrote her first novel, Claudine, using “Willy” as a pen name. The novel was so shocking, so dirty, so scandalous that Willy started to earn his “degenerate” epithet. He was also sleeping with a lot of prostitutes, which helped, too.
Eventually, Colette started to tire of that, and left her husband for greener pastures. These pastures came in the form of the music halls** of le Belle Epoch Paris — you know, like, the Moulin Rouge, (that movie with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, and Nicole whatsherface). Colette and a woman who went by the name of “Missy” (which is sort of saucy and erotic, for whatever reason) became a duo. And by duo, I mean they wrote and performed in an act that ended in a smooch, which caused a pandemonium that only police intervention could quell. They were practically the Amy and Tina of their time.
Oh, and they also were lovers who did it a lot and lived together. But after their riot-inducing performance at Paris’s most notorious house of sin, they weren’t able to live together openly. Even though it was Paris, Gerty and Alice hadn’t quite settled there, so them Boston marriages weren’t cool yet. But the two did still get busy widdit (and each other) off and on for about five more years, which is like an eternity in early 20th century Parisian leztime.
Meanwhile in 1912, Colette marries her second husband, Henri de Jouvenel, a newspaper editor. At this point (just to give you a little perspective) it’s the WW1 time frame and she is 39 years old. Henri has a really hot stepson named Bertrand, and they start to all live together (as a big, happy, effed up family) in 1920. It’s hard to imagine because it’s kind of a fat-kid name, but trust me, Bertrand was a looker, ‘specially when he was 16. (Yeah, I said it.) But it was at age 16 that he began a steamy, smoldering, super hot, hollywood movie-inspiring ro-MANCE (although I’m not sure one was every made) with none other than his 47 year old step mother. Many people believe that Colette’s famous novel Cherie (starring Michelle Pfeiffer and a hot guy whose name I don’t know) is based on her relationship with her stepson. BUT, it seems like they didn’t actually meet until about half of the novel was published already — so probably she was having a different affair with some other hot young thing when she was writing it. That’s the soundest logic there is.
Their affair was majorly on the DL due to the fact that Colette was married to the father of her lover. (Who vommed in their mouth a little just then? Whatever, get it, gurl.) But as soon as Henri found out that his son was boinking his wife (so the story goes) he packed his bags and left. It was a huge scandal in Paris — even the French, the inventors of fellatio were like, “Not cool, lady.” The scandal was over the 1920s equivalent of Page 6. But, I mean, think of the timeframe: this is when all the cool kids were there, so EVERYONE would have been talking about it in between the absinth binging and the trips to Gertrude Stein’s house. Colette was like, “Please don’t go. I ‘love’ you” to Henri. But despite that rock solid argument, he left anyway. A few hours later, Bertrand moved his fine ass into her house and they continued their affair.
Eventually that petered out, and Bertrand started shacking up with Martha Gellhourn (which marks the second time that Nicole Kidman has casually come up in this post so far. Coincidence? No. One. Will. Ever. Know.)
But I’ve focused too much on the scandalous things Colette has done. Well, I suppose that IS the point of the blog, so maybe I haven’t focused too much on it, but there are some aspects of Colette’s life that we need to honor and not just be entertained/turned on by. For starters, she left behind over 50 published works written over about a 50 year career as a writer and sex haver. Much of her work was autobiographical and dealt with much darker relationship/sexual issues than had ever been discussed in literature before — let alone by a woman. During the Vichy occupation of France, she was a baller at helping her Jewish friends, most notably husband number 3 who she hid in her attic Anne Frank-style throughout the war. And during the Great War, she converted her husband’s estate into a hospital and received the Legion of Honor in 1920 for her work there. OH, and did I mention that she discovered Audrey Hepburn? Like, literally, she just saw her walking through a hotel and was like, “She’s my Gigi.” So, I think it’s safe to say that we have her to thank for Breakfast at Tiffany’s (not to be confused with The Breakfast Club, which I ALWAYS do) and Sabrina. She was also the first woman in French history to receive a State funeral.
It’s women of the past like Colette who remind women of today to get out there and get what’s theirs. Even if it’s their hot, teenage stepson. AMIRIGHT, PEOPLE?
*Strong Black Woman, what have you never read this blog before?
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.
My second-tier, private, northeastern university does not cancel class for Veterans Day.
You’re probably outraged. You might be thinking, as you thumb through your pocket constitution and turn your John Phillip Sousa Pandora station down so that you can concentrate better, “Do they hate bravery!? And freedom!? What, do they think democracy is, like, overrated or something?”
Or maybe it’s more likely that you’re thinking, “Yeah, neither does my almost-as-good-as-Dartmouth private, liberal arts college. What gives? It’s NBD!”
Well, think again, asshole, because it IS a B motherfucking D. November 11, 1918 was the biggest D of all the D’s. (That’s what she said.) Eleven o’clock in the morning on November 11 of that fateful year was the moment that Europe’s Great War finally came to its long-awaited end. It was also the moment that, many historians would argue, its second great war began. And now that I’m done hyperbolizing the shit out of Armistice Day (as they call it in the U-Kizzle and its Common-Wizzles), I should also note that November 11, 1918 is of particular interest to us because it marks the beginning of a time period characterized by the mass movement of a lot of attractive and smart, whiny, angsty, and sexually charged young people with ironic mustaches, fountain pens, venereal diseases, and Moleskines, to a little place called Paris. These artistic and francophilic motherfuckers got themselves into a lot of scandalous positions. Literally. And because of that, they are certainly the stuff of For Shame!
And so in honor of Armistice Day, the historical start-date of the interwar shit-show we call the ’20s, we’d like to bring you EX-PATS THEME WEEK. All week, leading up to 11:00 am on November 11 of 2011, (most popular wedding date ever? – there should be a TV special. You’re welcome, TLC!), we’ll be bringing you stories of sex and scandal from some of our favorite ex-patriots. Now, you’re probably thinking, “HOLD THE PHONE BITCHES, you’ve already done like a million of these guys.” And to that, we would blush and reply coyly, “Please! We haven’t DONE a million guys.” But you’re right, we have written about this group of people quite a bit. And you know why? It’s because they’re interesting as shit, they had more sex than, like, anyone in history (and you can tell Genghis Kahn I said so), and the sheer quantity of them makes these lords and ladies an inexhaustible resource for us. I mean, if this blog was only about interwar European scandal, it’d take us a really long time to run out of material.
So even though you’re not going to get out of class to honor the men and women who fight for our country/the men who fought in WWI, make sure you stop on by your local historical scandals blog this week to learn about all the sex people had after it was all over. Because isn’t that what’s really important? We think so.
I’m not in a good place right now. I just feel like I should tell you that before we get started. You know, “journalistic integrity.” I’m not going to get into it, but LHB is on a wonderful dream vacation in the land of efficiency and modern art and pretzels and men wearing thick-rimmed glasses, I finished watching Arrested Development for the first time last night and subsequently there is a hole in my chest, and Stand By Me has been on TV all weekend, which is A) one of the best coming-of-age movies ever made and B) really fucking depressing and beautiful now that I’m not eight years old anymore and the dramatic irony of River Phoenix’s death has sunken in. Remember the last scene of the movie? When sweet River says, “Not if I see you first?” My throat is so tight.
Obviously, I’ve got a lot of
white girl problems feelings. But that’s fine, because so did EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY!!!!!!!!!!1
If you follow us on the Facebook, you may recall that we gave you a special treat in honor of our 10,000th hit. We let one of YOU choose the subject of our next post! You’re fucking welcome. And dear Kate, one of our Bath buddies, she of the fierce clothes and lovely flaxen hair, suggested we look into the life and sexy times of Miss Edna. So we did. Kate, thank you for a fantastic suggestion and for generally being such a good bitch. And for letting LHB and I come over and watch True Blood with you and JAF every Thursday night.
Edna was so sexy for so long that it was impossible to isolate just one scandalous incident, so we’re going to DO them all. Brace yourselves.
Miss Millay was from Rockland, Maine, which coincidentally is where the asylum that inspired Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” is located. You know, the whole last section with the “I’m with you in Rockland” anaphora bit (Listen, I’m an English major going into my senior year. In May I’m going to hate myself and my life decisions. Indulge me.)
Anyway, dear Edna and her two sisters were raised by her mommy, who moved from town to town in Maine with a big ol’ trunk full of literary classics, struggling to stay above the poverty line. As a result of the lack of food/preponderance of good books, Edna was wicked smaht and good at writing poetry from a young age. She published her first and maybe best poem, “Renascence,” when she was like 19 or 20. What was I doing last year, when I was 20? Fucking working at an ice cream store. Prior to this she’d also been published in several national anthologies and won a couple of poetry awards. Again, I was working in an ice cream store. Choices.
All these accolades must have provided Edna with some kick-ass personal statement fodder, because girlfriend got accepted with a capital A at Vassar when she was 21 in 1913. She was kind of oldish to be starting college, but none of her lady friends seemed to mind since she made out with most of them. THAT’S RIGHT, y’all. Edna, like many young coeds, probably indulged in a few too many skippies during her first year and started kissing the ladies. And then also probably had lady sex with them. Just saying. One of those ladies was Edith Wynne Matthison, who went on to become a noted silent film star. By “noted” I mean “I’ve never heard of her but Wikipedia says she’s famous so she was probably really important.” I sort of wish they’d stayed together because “Edith & Edna” would look real fucking cute on a civil partnership celebration invite, am I right?
But Edna had bigger fish to fry. She went on a little trip to Paris, got knocked up by a French violinist, got a li’l abortion, and came back to the US of A. She moved to the Village, where, like many young ladies who move to the city, she said “HEY WORLD, I’m here, I’m bisexual, get used to it.” She also started writing prolifically to keep herself afloat, and then started boning a lot of dudes, including Floyd Dell, a fellow writer who said she “had a mouth like a Valentine.” Which is sweet, but also doesn’t make any fucking sense. Anyway, Floyd, the poet Witter Bynner, and Edmund Wilson, a VIP in the New York literary/critical world of the 1920s (just ask F. Scott), proposed marriage to her, but girlfriend was an Independent Woman. Also I’m thinking she wasn’t ready to commit to the penis just yet.
Plus her career was really taking off, and a ladywriter in this time really needed to keep her game up if she wanted to be taken seriously. She won the Pulitzer in 1923, which was like, the biggest big fucking deal ever. I guess from there she decided that she could settle down with a nice man or woman and have babies or a lot of cats, depending.
Well score one for the dicks, because Edna married Eugen Jan Boissevian that same year. He’d been married to Inez Milholland, one of Edna’s friends and possible fuckbuddies in the Village. Interesting. Anyway, they were married for twenty-six years, but really took that whole “love, honor, and cherish” thing with a big ol’ grain of salt, in that they both had a lot of extramarital sex with a lot of extramarital partners. Specifically Edna. Old Euge liked to do chores and shit, he was profeminist, and sort of a pussy (obviously imagining Tobias Fünke right now), so I’m thinking she was really cleaning up in the adultery department.
Her most scandalous affair was with George Dillon, whom she met in 1928 after she gave a reading at the University of Chicago. He’d just graduated and was twenty-two to her thirty-six. To which I say, WERQ, woman. And because I never miss an opportunity to use 1920s slang or to colloquialize historical exchanges:
EDNA: Well hello there, fish.
YOUNG GEORGE: Aw, I’m no fish. Your poetry is just the berries, plus you’re a real Sheba.
E: Oh, applesauce!
YG: Let’s go beat our gums somewhere else. Come get some giggle water down at the gin mill with me, doll!
E: As long as you don’t mind this handcuff I got!
YG: Horsefeathers! You’re a real bearcat, aren’t you? Listen, I got my breezer outside. We’ll go to the juice joint and get some hooch and skip the light fantastic, whaddaya say?
E: Cash or check?
YG: I have no idea what the fuck we’re saying.
E: Me either. Let’s have sex, though.
And that’s exactly what they did. Edna ended up writing fifty-two (!) sonnets about George in a work that she called Fatal Interview published in 1931. They had a rocky relationship, and although the juicy details haven’t survived, I think it’s safe to say that Edna wasn’t taking any shit from her boylover. I’ve never read anything in Fatal Interview, but just the title sounds fucking sexy. I’m not NOT looking it up on my library’s online card catalog right now. And hey, despite their little tiffs, Edna was one professional bitch and helped young George translate some Baudelaire in 1936, presumably after their relationship had ended. Although let’s face it, nothing reignites an old flame like a nineteenth-century French literary critic, so there was probs some boning going on too.
Anyway, from there Edna’s love life sort of took a backseat to her involvement in political things, like protesting the Sacco and Vanzetti case and Fascism and what not. You know, “current events.” She started writing propaganda verse for Uncle Sam, but that fickle motherfucker had deadlines, and Edna couldn’t handle that. She was an ARTIST, dammit. So she stopped writing for a while, and never really picked it back up. I like to think she went back to having sex with inappropriately younger partners, but I can’t confirm that.
Ultimately, Edna died after suffering a fall in her sweetass upstate New York farmhouse in 1950. She caught a lot of flack for being a Romanticist in a time when Modernism was all the rage. But you know what’s always in style? BONING.
So here’s to Edna St. Vincent Millay, a fierce, sexually curious bitch, and Kate, the For Shame friend who brought her sexploits to light.
But honestly, probably the sexiest Edna of all time, right? Shit, she subverted that name real hard.
Imagine that you’re an early twentieth century aviator trying to fly around the world because no one else has yet and really, what else would you be doing, you’re a professional pilot? Now imagine that only one person is accompanying you on your long-ass flight, and that person is a fetching young specimen of whatever gender you’re attracted to (subtle political correctness is our forte at For Shame). You’ve got a lot of long, quiet days and nights to look down at the sleeping world below. So you start to chat a little bit. Have to pass the time somehow. And then you start to notice things about your companion: the way their leather aviator cap seems to glow in the setting sun, the way their goggles frame their doe eyes just perfectly, and how effortlessly lovely that long white scarf looks draped around their neck. And then BOOM, you’re in love. As soon as you touch down, you have someone gas up the biplane, find the nearest hotel, get a room, and get boning.
Everything that I just described happened to Bill Lancaster, today’s scandalous piece of sexy pilot ass. ‘Everything’ meaning ‘roughly fifty percent.’
Before World War I, young English Bill emigrated to Australia. Where they sent the criminals. RED FLAG, people. Red fucking flag. In 1916, he first started flying planes for the Australian Army, and then remained in England following the war. He got married in 1919, then spent some time in India in the 20s doing important Royal Air Force shit.
Bill loved to fly, but he was tired of doing it for the man. He wanted to be free. He also wanted to make bank. And boop ba doo, a young Australian lady journalist named Jessie “Chubbie” Miller with stars in her eyes and gold falling from her pockets met Bill at a partay and offered to fund a flight from England to Australia. But only if she could come along, thus becoming the first woman to fly such a distance. So he thought, “Hey, I’m a hotass pilot, I can fly the shit out of any route you throw at me. You’re gonna pay me HOW MUCH?! Don’t mind if I fucking do. See you on the tarmac, bitch.”
You might be thinking that this seems like a bad fucking idea. And it probably was, but Chubbie (whose self-esteem must have been through the fucking roof with a nickname like that) was going through a bit of a time. She’d just separated from her husband and girlfriend needed some self-righteous-privileged-white-girl alone time. Alone time with a brawny-ass pilot. Alone time that would last for months. People bitch about the 22-hour US-Australia flight situation they have going on now, but imagine flying down there in a 1920s biplane that tops out at like 50 MPH. That’s probably inaccurate, but my point is that it was a long motherfucking flight.
Anyways, Bill’s wife agrees to this sketchy-ass adventure and he and Chubbs hit the skies. It took them five months to make the 14,000 mile flight. Five months of adverse weather conditions, weird plane repairs, constant flirting and intermittent boning. These two were probably the undisputed President and First Lady of the Mile High Club. And also they fell in love and blah blah blah.
After they touched down, Bill and Chubbie had to face reality – they were both still married, and although Chubbie’s hubby (HA) didn’t give a shit about their relationship, Bill’s wife was absolutely NOT having any of that divorce malarkey and moved to London with him to make shit work. But it didn’t, and Bill moved back to the USA with Chubbie.
You might think that this is the scandal portion of the post. BUT YOU’RE FUCKING WRONG. It gets so so so much scandalous-er. So sit the fuck down and be patient.
Did I mention that they became celebrities in the good ol’ United States? Well they did. I mean, Chubbie had the distinction of being the first woman to undertake such a long air journey, so she was basically the Oprah of her time. And like O, Chubbs felt that she was famous enough to massacre the American book charts. Instead of starting the world’s biggest (and dare I say most shit-tastic) book club, though, Chubbie just decided to hire a pretty young thang named Hayden Clarke to ghost-write her memoirs. Young Hayden headed on down to Miami where Bill and Chubbie were shacking up. But oops, the Depression happened and Bill had to don his favorite sombrero and head south of the
border to find a job. After he left, Chubbie was left alone with sexy Hayden. You can imagine what went down. Or WHO went down, KNOW WHAT I’M SAYIN?! (I’m saying that Hayden likely performed cunnilingus on Chubbie, just for the sake of clarity).
Their love was fucking real, and Hayden decided to ask Chubbie to marry him, she accepted, they were fucking thrilled with their attractiveness, you get it. Still in Mexico, Bill heard the news on Telemundo and hopped the first flight out of the country (which was his own flight because he was a pilot). He got to the Miami house and begged Chubbie to reconsider. And oh yeah, Hayden was still living there. So things got a little heated, and the three of them stayed in that house all night long.
And then Hayden was rushed to the hosp with some mayjah cranial damage as a result of close-range gunfire. Believe it or not, he didn’t make it. WHOOPSIES!
Police found two suicide notes, one to Chubbie and one to Bill, at the house. And hey, turns out Bill wrote those. He was the most likely suspect and was arrested. There was talk of the electric chair and everything. The evidence was overwhelming. But you heard it here first: Bill Lancaster was a charming motherfucker. AND HE WAS FUCKING ACQUITTED! He convinced the jury that Hayden was a crazy drug addict bigamist menace II society. He BROUGHT IN THE GUY’S DECAYING HEAD to demonstrate that the wounds were self inflicted. He even got Chubbie to testify AGAINST Hayden. What the fucking fuck?! That’s some crazy Harry Potter/True Blood mind control shit right there.
THEN CHUBBIE TOOK HIM BACK! And they went to England in 1933, where he decided he needed to attempt one more virtually impossible flight, this time from London to Cape
Town. He wanted to beat the four-day, six-hour record. He told his family that it would be his last attempt at a cray-cray flight and that he didn’t want to come home a failure. And don’t worry guys, he didn’t. Because he was lost in Sub-Saharan Africa, a place called the ‘Land of Thirst.’ He managed to survive for eight days after he crash-landed, which is pretty good considering ‘scientists’ say that the body needs at least two gallons of water a day to survive that shit. And to give you an idea as to how isolated he was, his inexplicably-mummified body (creepy), the wreckage of his plane, and his logbook weren’t found until 19fucking62 by a group of bored French dudes.
The last entry in his logbook: “So the beginning of the eighth day has dawned. It is still cool. I have no water….I am waiting patiently. Come soon please. Fever wracked me last night. Hope you get my full log. Bill.”
Which is sad. I know. I get it. But I can’t help but think that had he not MURDERED SOMEONE because he was jealous of his still-technically-married lover’s lover despite the fact that he was also still married, this shit might not have happened. Although I guess since he was found not guilty of the murder everything’s still up in the air. GET IT?! Because a plane is also up in the air.
Anyway, it’s as simple as this: Bill and Chubbie met and fell in love, and their relationship really took off. Bill just couldn’t keep his joystick under control. They hit a little scandalous, possibly murderous turbulence.
I’m finished with the aviation puns now.
Ah, the American presidents. What a minefield of scandal. There’s the whole Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemmings debacle, obviously JFK’s numerous affairs (which may or may not be the subject of a week’s worth of future posts – stay tuned), and dear Uncle Bill’s Oval Office shenanigans.
And then there’s Warren G. Harding, he of the strong eyebrows and mysterious mid-term death in 1923.
Harding sort of epitomizes the frivolity of the American 1920s, in that he used malapropisms (“Return to Normalcy” was his 1920 campaign slogan. “Return to Normality” would have been correct. But he was only running for President, so you know, no biggie.), openly served and consumed bathtub gin in the White House during the Prohibition, and showered his friends with gifts, perks, and Cabinet positions. Also, his middle name was Gamaliel, which wasn’t even an unfortunate family name or anything. It has nothing to do with his personality or actions, I just think it’s weird.
Ultimately, he’s remembered by critics as sort of a terrible President who oversaw lots of labor strikes and administrative scandals. And he was remembered by at least two sassy ladies as a terrible sugar daddy.
That’s right, Warren had two known mistresses, one of which was probably delusional. Let’s begin there, shall we?
Nan Britton (who after some Googling, I learned was apparently a character in an episode of Boardwalk Empire. Who knew?) grew up in Marion, Ohio, which was Harding’s hometown. He was a friend of her father’s, and she developed a little crush/unhealthy obsession for him. You know what, no – the bitch was a stalker. When she was 16, she used to wait outside of the newspaper office where he worked every day, hoping to bump into him on his walk home. To his wife.
Anyway, apparently the teenage creeping worked. Mr. Britton talked to Harding about the situation, prompting Harding to talk to young Nan. And by talk to I mean bone. He was also having an affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips at this time, but more on that later.
Nan and Warren did their thing (each other) for a little while, then she graduated high school and moved to New York to become a secretary (the loftiest of female ambitions), and things fizzled. But after Harding died in ’23, she wrote what a lot of people consider the first kiss-and-tell book, aptly titled The President’s Daughter. Aptly titled in that girlfriend claimed WGH knocked her up, and that he had promised to support her and young Elizabeth before he died. Convenient? Sure. DNA testing wasn’t an option yet, so who knows. But the remaining Hardings, specifically Warren’s wifey, Florence, weren’t having any of that.
As for the book, I’d love to get my paws on it. Nan claims that she was Harding’s mistress before and during his presidency, and there’s apparently a famous passage in which they do it in a closet in the executive office. If this is true and if Nan was still alive, she’d get a big high-five from me. Because bitch was BOLD.
But she wasn’t nearly as bold as Carrie Fulton Phillips. She’s the only woman to successfully blackmail the President of the United States, and she was also sort of crazy. Both fantastic character traits.
Carrie moved to Marion, that star-crossed hamlet, when she married the owner of a dry-goods business there and she and her husband rose through the proverbial ranks until Carrie became pretty tight with Mrs. Harding. Girlfriends were so close that they decided to hit Europe together with their husbands, and all those Parisian nights must have gotten to Warren and Carrie, because pretty soon they were getting fancy all over the continent.
After they got back to Marion, Mr. Phillips and Mrs. Harding got wind of the naughtiness afoot and decided it was best that the Phillipses skip back over the pond, this time to Germany. Where Carrie became obsessed with German culture, maybe probably inappropriately. In roughly 1918, Harding was running for Senate and this little conflict called the First World War was a-brewing, so everyone headed back stateside. And those two crazy kids picked right back up where they left off, irreparably damaging two marriages! Can’t fight a love like that.
In 1920, when Harding won the Republican presidential nom, he told some VIPs about his ‘delicate’ situation, and that oops, Carrie felt passionately about the German cause in the war, and that ooops, Carrie had hundreds of love letters, and that oooops, many of them were written on Senate stationery.
Hoping to quietly resolve a potentially disastrous situation, said VIPs said “Hey Phillipses, remember Europe? Wasn’t it great? Want to maybe go back to there? On us?” To which dear Carrie said, “Aw HELL no,” and like a mob boss in the back of a New Jersey Italian restauarant, she dictated her terms. She would keep quiet if:
a. The Republican Party paid for a long, exotic-ass trip to Asia and the Pacific.
b. They also paid her a tidy annual sum for her silence for the rest of her life.
Girlfriend worked that negotiation, and the GOP paid up.
But her brilliance waned when she continued to support the Germans during World War II. Yikes. The government kept tabs on her for a while after that. And then she sort of went crazy. She had A LOT of German Shepherds (we’re talking Animal Hoarders status), and she used to walk them wearing only her finest mink coat. So you know, things didn’t really end so well for her.
But she did hand over those Senate-stationery letters, and after much legal action, it was ruled that they would be opened on the 100th anniversary of Harding’s death. So mark August 2, 2023 in your iCal. You heard it here first: shit’s getting real.
So what is it about Warren Harding? Did they have to be crazy to fall in love with him? Or was it loving him that made them crazy? The world will never know (except maybe in 2023).
Personal conclusion: Nan and Carrie couldn’t resist the raw sexual power of the eyebrows. Either that or the last name was pretty indicative of what old Warren was packin.