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?
I’m about to drop a TruthBomb on you, For Shame! Faithful, and it’s going to fucking hurt. LHB has barely recovered herself, and she’s known for weeks. I shudder to think what JAF will say. KAB and I are new friends, so she’s probably cool with it.
THE TUDORS HAS BEEN SUPPLANTED AS MY NUMBER 1 FAVORITE PREMIUM CABLE SMUTTY HISTORY PROGRAM.
Shh. Calm down.
I remember all of those things. I do. Which is what makes this so hard. I just…I couldn’t control myself. This whole joblessness thing has turned me into a monster. An online video-streaming monster. I spent a whole month on a Netflix trip, and when I came to, the N just wasn’t enough for me anymore. I needed something else. So I turned to premium cable shows. And that’s where I found it. My new TV drug, The Borgias.
When it premiered last year, I read an article or two about it and dismissed the show as a blatant attempt by Showtime to recapture the success of history/blood/boobs circlejerk model that was The Tudors (RIP 2007-2010 Gone But Never Forgotten). You can’t just fucking put Jeremy Irons in a pope outfit and call it a new show!
But, dear buttons, that was when I was a young, naive little guppy, still in school, writing a thesis and auditing extra classes. I didn’t have time for a new television addiction. I had books to skim and beers to demolish.
Yet now that I am comically un-busy, I have watched this program, this seeming pretender to the Jonathan Rhys-Myers Memorial Sexy Historical Pay Cable Program Crown®, and I have seen the error of my ways.
The Borgias is fucking fantastic for many reasons, so in an effort to be brief and not spoil anything I will summarize, telegram-style: Pope in Renaissance Rome has kids, 3 sons, 1 daughter, a mistress, and an unnofficial wife. -STOP- Eldest son super fucking hot despite Cardinal outfit and curly shoulder-length bob. -STOP- Next son petulant but charming; in command of papal army but shitty at the job. -STOP- Daughter totally pretty and sweet and marriageable. -STOP- Other son unimportant to plot because he’s like 10 and can’t have sex with or kill anyone yet. -STOP- Mistress and wife smart, savvy, respect one another. -STOP- Political intrigue clear and important, but nuanced relationships, personal and divine, are central. -STOP- Phenomenal character arcs. -STOP- Subtle and funny references to Italian Renaissance culture/figures. -STOP- Beautiful costumes and sets. -STOP- Excellent plot development and pacing. -STOP- Lots of butts and boobs, but not too many. -STOP- Appreciate the depiction of my cultural heritage pre-mobs, pre-pizza. -STOP- Did I mention the hot Cardinal son?
So it’s RULL good and I can’t recommend it enough. And much like its inferior stepbrother, The Tudors, The Borgias is absolutely RIPE with based-on-actual-historical-events sexy scandal.
Showtime, you beautiful bastards.
Anyway, I couldn’t resist profiling one of the Borgias after I finished watching the only two seasons that have aired. I’m sort of going through Borgia withdrawal. So today I’m going to focus on the sexytimes of Lucrezia Borgia, the aforementioned sweet and marriageable daughter of Pope Alexander VI, but please rest assured that every fucking one of these mofos was laughably promiscuous and corrupt.
Not much is known of Lucrezia, really, as with most historical ladies. But that’s the way the gender-inequality cookie crumbles, I guess. Historians think she was born in or around Rome in or around April of 1480, but they know she was the daughter of then-Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (the future Pope Jeremy Irons Primus) and his main mistress, unofficial wife, and mother of his four known children, Vannozza dei Cattanei.
Now the actress they have playing Lucrezia on the show, Holliday Grainger, is wonderful at her job, has a great showbiz name, was in Any Human Heart, and seems pretty visually accurate, given contemporary descriptions of Lucrezia. Additionally, I sort of kind of want to be her.
This is a roundabout way of saying that The Real Miss Borgia was the fucking shining exemplar of ideal feminine beauty in late fifteenth-century Italy. She had blond hair that fell past her knees, hazel eyes, big boobs, straight white teeth (which was a BFD in an era before dentistry, mind you), a long graceful neck, and people said that she walked like she was “floating on air,” which apparently was pretty boner-inducing among the cortigiani. Anyway, she was widely renowned for her beauty, mostly because every painter in the Eternal City wanted to get their paws on her, plus her popedaddy could afford to commission a lot of paintings of her. Plus-plus, in a country without a centralized monarchical system (this was when the Italians were still down with all that feuding kingdoms jazz), she was essentially the Princess of Christendom once pops put on the Holy underpants, which made her HELLA marriageable in addition to being HELLA pretty.
Maybe I should pump the brakes here. From your extensive knowledge of Catholicism, you’re probably thinking that this all seems a little…unCatholic. Because of that little priestly celibacy rule. Were Mr. Borgia celibate, Lady Lucrezia would not exist. And even if Mr. Borgia managed to cover up the fact that he was getting his D wet all over Rome, one would think that perhaps he might not want to parade his beautiful daughter around for suitors, or appoint his younger son Giovanni head of the papal armies, or very publicly name his extremely hot older son Cesare a Cardinal. That’s the thing about these Borgias, people. They just don’t give a fuck! Watch the show! Mr. Pope Borgia was like “I am Pope. I have sex. These are my kids. They exist and will get nice things because I said so. Kiss my goddamn ring and bring me a calzone.”
He spake and it was done.
And one day, while he was calzone-grubbing, Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pisaro, cousin of the powerful Duke of Milan, barged into the PopeRoom, and was like “GIMME DAT DAUGHTER.” Such a marriage would be politically advantageous, so the Pope finished chewing and was like, “Blokay” and shipped his THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD BABYDAUGHTER off with this hairy caveman of a dude twice her age.
Naturally this was probably not what happened, exactly, but I like to pretend. Keeps me young. Anywhooo, the show depicts this marriage as terrible and abusive for little Lucrezia. No one knows how it really went, but it is known that fairly soon after the wedding, the Pope really didn’t need this cousin-of-someone-important in the papal court so much anymore, politically speaking. He realized he could use Lucrezia’s hand in mawwiage for more useful alliances were she conveniently not married, so after planning to have Sforza murdered, the big softie had a change of heart. Instead, he summoned his daughter and her cavehusband to Rome for a groundless annulment hearing in front of the entire College of Cardinals.
Sforza, although a Neanderthal, knew he had a good thing going with his beautiful Renaissance trophy wife, and refused to agree to the annulment. That’s when Lucrezia, daddy’s little girl, pulled out the big guns and claimed that the marriage had never been consummated due to her husband’s impotence.
EXCEPT, OH YEAH, SHE WAS SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT. On the witness stand. No one knows who Lucrezia made that little guy with, but she named him Giovanni (possibly after her Neanderhusband) and he went on to be remembered as the Roman Infante.
Sforza, understandably, was pissed. He was being emasculated in front of God, the Pope, and the forty most important men of the cloth in Christendom. So he accused Lucrezia, her father, and her super hot Cardinal brother Cesare (played on the show by up and coming ladyboner insipration Francois Arnaud, whose name is comically sexy) of some kind of incestuous love triangle thing. It was probably a last-ditch effort at saving face, but historians believed for a very long time that the Roman Infante was actually Cesare’s son. Which is icky and most likely untrue, but TOTALLY SCANDALOUS. Now it may seem that Lucrezia did not deserve this divorce, what with being visibly pregnant and really having no case whatsoever, but one of the perks of being the illegitimate child of the Pope is getting whatever the fuck you want, so BOOM, annulment acquired by 1497.
Next, daddy needed a little help from the Neapolitans, so he had Lucrezia marry Alfonso of Aragon, the brother of her youngest brother’s wife (take a second to process it) less than a year after the divorce and a few months after giving birth to her son (and possible son-nephew if the incest thing is true). He died by 1500, and Cesare might or might not have killed him. But probably not. Italians: great at pizza and paintings, not so much at keeping accurate records.
Third time was a charm for Lady Lucrezia, who married Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, early in 1502 (people did not fuck around when it came to getting hitched back then – in frequency or efficiency). By this marriage she’d presumably figured it all out; she popped out a lot of kids for him, but also embarked on a couple long-term affairs almost immediately after the honeymoon was over. First girlfriend flipped back through her 1497 little black book and booty called Francesco of Gonzaga, who’d been her brother-in-law when she was married to Sforza the Milanese Yeti. According to Mother Wiki, their affair lasted a while and was “more sexual than sentimental as can be attested in the fevered love letters the pair wrote one another.” They had to call it quits when Fran got syphilis BUMMER. Lucrezia also boned the poet Pietro Bembo, and their letters have survived. Lord Byron famously called them “the prettiest love letters in the world,” and when Lord Byron gets a woodie from your writing, YOU KNOW shit was hot.
Lucrezia died in 1519 at 39 giving birth to her eighth child, after a life of distinguished boning. Yes, she was essentially a political pawn for her father in the early years, but you’ve got to admire the sexual gumption it must have taken to juggle innumerable lovers (ITALIAN lovers, at that) across marriages, illegitimate kids, and social diseases. Additionally, she might have had sex with her hot brother, and I know incest is bad, or whatever, but………he’s so fucking attractive on the show…let’s just call it a gray area, okay?
So let’s all watch The Borgias, raise a meatball, and pour out some Prosecco in honor of Lucrezia Borgia, who didn’t let Catholicism, conventional gender roles, a Neolithic first husband, or shared genetic material get in the way of her boning spree. Cin cin!
Additionally, I don’t know if I’ve articulated this clearly, but BROTHER HOT ON SHOW.
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
My cousin is a fashion designer who, after working for a big label for a number of years finally broke off and started her own line about a year and half ago. You’d think that was cool, right? Like “Oh biiitch, you so lucky, I betchu get free clothes all the time!” HA! WRONG. Why am I telling you this, you ask? What does this charming familial anecdote have to do with scandal of yore? Well, patience is a virtue, motherfuckers, so see the next paragraph, why don’t you!?
A while ago, my good-for-nothing designer cousin said that if I talked about her in for shame! she’d give me a lil hand out. So I told her she needed to get her ass a little more famous, do something scandalous, and then let a bunch of years pass and then we’d be all over it. But she’s busy being “professional” or some shit, not to mention contemporary, so I’m settling on a couturier a tish bit more fragrant and hoping I score some free shit anyway due to the linkage above. So yes, I’m a sell out. But, as the title indicates, at least I’m not a treasonous slut bag.
If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to spritz your favorite No. 5 all up in your pale pink tweed suit jacket (because I know we all have those things that aren’t not imaginary), now’s the time because today we’re exploring the scandalosity of none other than Coco Chanel.
Listen, I want to give the bitch some cred before I start making everyone feel uncomfortable reading about the outrageous degree of sexploitation that defined her personal life. As far as fashion/art/modernist design goes, she practically introduced Jersey fabric to womenswear. So all of you hipsters who don’t shower but shop at American Apparel like a squirrel at an acorn store, you have her to thank. Before Chanel, Jersey fabric was only used for men’s underwear. Now it’s used in practically everything,(including the $18 queen size sheet set I got at target this summer!!) She was one of the first and certainly the most important female couturiers in Paris in the 20s. Before Chanel, corsets were the thing. (And by “the thing,” I mean causing women all over the Western world serious and irreparable health problems.) But then Chanel came along and pretty much pioneered the look of the New Woman of the 1920s. Yeah, that was our bitch! She designed loose, comfortable clothes for women that were still elegant and timeless. The Chanel aesthetic really hasn’t changed since the 20s and I mean, that’s really freakin’ cool, huh? OH YEAH. And she invented pea coats and bell bottoms. God bless Chanel.
But enough nicey-nicey. Let’s go all housewives on this bitch and talk shit, shall we? Childhood in a nutshell: Mom dies young, dad says “layta playas,” she grows up in an orphanage, nuns teach her to sew, she’s good at it. She moves to Paris and starts “dancing” in a “cabaret.” And by “dancing,” I mean “showing her boobies to wealthy french men.” And by “cabaret,” I mean “a place where venereal diseases grow in wine glasses.” She met a guy named Etienne Balsan who was, conveniently, a textile manufacturer. She became his mistress, or his “coquette,” which means “kept woman.” She later claimed that’s how she got her nickname, “Coco.” It’s from “coquette.” [SIDE NOTE: Now, don’t you think that would kind of be like if you slept around a lot and then people started calling you “who-who” because you were a “whore.” Just saying.]
Next on the agenda was Boy Capel, a friend of Etienne whose blazers we have to thank for Chanel’s fabulous menswear-inspired design aesthetic. Their steamy affair began in 1909 and continued after his marriage in 1918 and until his untimely death in 1919 in an auto accident that occurred on his way to a secret, Christmas-day meeting with Coco.
The Coquette met Igor Stravinsky, the composer, in 1920. They were introduced by one of her top gays, Sergei Diaghiliv, who frequently choreographed Stravinsky’s ballets, most famously The Rite of Spring. (They were kind of the most important dance/music team of the modernist period. No big deal.) Anyway, I haven’t seen the movie, but apparently in Coco & Igor or whatever it’s called, they knew each other in 1913 because she was at the notorious (B-I-G) premiere of The Rite of Spring at the theatre du champs elysee. I did a little research outside of wikipedia (SO NOT LIKE ME) and I couldn’t find anything to confirm that, but who knows.
Actually, great question and the answer is: no one. No one knows if the two ever had an affair or not but Coco claimed later in her life that when she invited Stravinsky and his wife and kids to summer with her somewhere outside of Paris, that the two took to boning and didn’t feel so bad about it. Hey, they were artists.
BUT HERE’S WHERE SHIT GETS REAL.
You’re probably thinking to yourself: “We’re three affairs in and it’s getting real now?!?!” Well, hold onto your imaginary Chanel pearls because I’m about to make you think twice before spritzing your stationary with No. 5 before you send those love letters to Jason Segel, MRG.
Chanel lived in Paris in the 40s. Remember that time? Well, if you don’t, allow me to refresh your memory. There weren’t many Jews around. They were off at … uh … camp. Does that ring any bells? Yeah. It was WWII. The Holocaust was happening. The Vichy government was all up in Paris’ grill. It was a dark fucking time and our little friend didn’t, like, really care that much. Yeeeeahhhh. Actually, she sort of hated the guy who backed her perfume. His name was Pierre WERTHEIMER. He and his brother Paul (who I think was dead at this point – research was unclear) were the money behind Chanel No. 5 and took like, 90% of profits or something. So she wasn’t really too upset when he gtfo-ed in the early 40s because she used his absence to gain financial control of the company. She became one of the richest women in the world during the war years BECAUSE the JEWS who made her company possible were running away from fucking Nazis. Nazis who SHE was FUCKING.
WOOPS! IVE SAID TOO MUCH. OK, here’s what happened. A NAZI SPY named Hans Gunther von Dinklage (probably with a large ding dong) arranged for Coco to live in a fancy schmancy hotel in Paris where he was also staying. And then they OCCUPIED themselves with fucking during the Nazi’s OCCUPATION of France. She was also really good friends with a guy named Walter Kutschmann who killed thousands of Jews in Poland early in the war years. AND she was such good friends with another Nazi fucker named Walter Schellenberg that when he died penniless and alone (BECAUSE HE WAS A NAZI) she paid for his burial.
Listen. I’m not saying that she was actively oppressing yids, but she wasn’t exactly broken up about the whole fiasco either. I still think the clothes are fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but the Frenchies who weren’t such fans of being terrorized by anti-semetic fascists for 4 years were not such fans of Coco or the Chanel label in 1945. So she moved to Switzerland until the mid 50s.
From there, shit gets less juicy. Her line still is outrageously successful and a major cash cow. And almost 100 years later, her aesthetic is still a cornerstone of womens fashion. Probably THE cornerstone of womens fashion.
But here’s what’s up: Bitch got herself unofficially exiled from Paris. I mean, she was shacking up with one Nazi and in cahoots with at least two others.
At that, the nuns from your childhood and I would just like to say to you, What the fuck, Chanel? We gave you the best life we could. What the fuck?
Okay ladies and gents, it’s time to get our anniversary on. A sassy little lady by the name of Anne Boleyn was beheaded on May 19, 1536 on the orders of her caring husband, and as we’re coming up on the 475th deathday of one of history’s sexiest ladies, we thought we’d be remiss if we DIDN’T celebrate. Specifically by dedicating a week to the truly astounding sexual legacy of Anne’s husband and England’s undisputed fornication champion, Henry VIII. We’ll look at each of his six wives who were all scandalous in their own special way, and at the end of the week, we’ll examine his extramarital affairs (this will be a very long but exceptionally juicy post).
This theme week is perfect for several reasons, aside from its timeliness: JAF knows a shit ton about
everything the Renaissance in England, to say that LHB idolizes Anne Boleyn is the understatement of the millennium, and I’ve seen seasons 1-3 of The Tudors. Clearly we’re experts.
Look forward to posts dedicated to:
Wife 1 – Katherine of Aragon, who may or may not have boned Henry’s brother.
Wife 2 – Anne Boleyn, who literally lost her head over the guy.
Wife 3 – Jane Seymour, who wooed Henry with her seemingly pure feminine wiles.
Wife 4 – Anne of Cleves, who was quite unfortunate looking but lovely on the inside.
Wife 5 – Catherine Howard, who was an eighteen-year-old hoebag married to a 49-year-old rotting mound of flesh.
Wife 6 – Catherine Parr, who was married twice before Henry and once after.
The Mistresses – Bessie Blount, Mary Boleyn, Jane Popincourt, Anne Bassett, Elizabeth Carew, Margaret Shelton, Katherine Willoughby, and about a thousand more promiscuous Renaissance ladies.
Seriously, this is going to be a good week. I know LHB’s Anne Boleyn post will be her life’s opus. Enjoy!
Break out the tiki torches and mom’s Malibu rum, because For Shame is about to get real tropical. And real scandalous. INVERSELY SCANDALOUS, in fact. But more on that later.
That’s right, for our penultimate installment of Diversity Week, we’re checking off that most coveted of college application ethnicity boxes: Asian/Pacific Islander. We’re going to Hawaii! Beautiful beaches, probably unsafe volcanic activity, coconuts, coffee, Lost, Barack Obama, a twelve-letter
alphabet, poi. So many wonderful things to be had.
And one of the most interesting things about Hawaii is its complex royal history. Only four states were independent nations prior to joining the home of the brave/land of the free – Vermont, California, Texas (typicallll), and you better believe it, HAWAII! And not only that, Hawaii is the only state to have been a motherfucking kingdom before William McKinley came in and annexed that shit right up just to be a douche (and probably also for other legitimate political reasons). I’m not saying that McKinley’s assassination was deserved (Kahma’s a bitch, am I right?!) but I’m also not not saying that it was deserved.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s head back to 1810, when the eight main Hawaiian islands were unified under Kamehameha I, who was the first monarch. He had a ton of kids (being a royal and doing it right) and that’s where we begin our INVERSELY(!) scandalous tale of royal lovin.
Our hero, Kauikeaouli, was Kamehameha’s second son. His big bro Liholiho took the throne as Kamehameha II when papa Kam died in 1819; Kam II died in 1825 in London on a diplomacy trip after catching measles.
Which left young Kauikeaouli King of Hawaii at the age of 11. Upon ascending the throne, his name became Keaweaweʻula Kiwalaʻo Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kalani Waiakua Kalanikau Iokikilo Kiwalaʻo i ke kapu Kamehameha. Just rolls off the tongue. The history books call him Kamehameha III, but even that’s too long for me and my digital-age attention span, so I’m going to call him K3.
K3 was sort of a loose cannon. When he was a kid, his stepmom acted as Queen Regent and was a huge Puritan. John Winthrop would have been proud. K3 was faced with a choice: Should he respect his stepmom by buying into her Western Jesus nonsense? Or should he honor the awesome traditions of his people? I can only speak for myself here, but even if you just look at the fashion, it’s an easy choice. Modest bonnet or grass skirt? Black scratchy wool dress or coconut bra? High ruffled collar or lei?
But K3, respectful young man that he was, had a hard time deciding. And in response to his anxiety, he did what any young (seriously, he was 11) person of means would do: he got smashed.
The mayor of Oahu was a close family friend and was moonlighting as a liquor store owner, and he hooked our boii upppp with the finest tropical beverages. More Mai Tais than you can imagine. All the Bay Breezes you could ever want. Obviously, an endless Blue Hawaiian river. Actually, K3 wasn’t a middle-aged woman so it was probably just rum and malt liquor. Either way, his drinking subverted the shit out of his stepmom’s Puritan ideals.
And oops, she acted as his regent until he was eighteen! So needless to say, there was some tension in the Royal Hawaiian Palace. Anyway, she died in 1832, and K3 was free to rule.
Q: When a young man ascends the throne of any nation in history ever, what’s the first thing he should do to make sure everyone calms the fuck down?
A: Find an appropriate lady, marry her, and knock her up, STAT. Repeat as necessary.
K3 was no dummy. He knew what he had to do. And if you recall, he was really into honoring Hawaiian heritage.
And according to ancient Hawaiian traditions, the best way to keep the royal bloodlines so fresh & so clean was to marry other royals. Other Hawaiian royals. From an isolated chain of islands. On which there was an absolute monarchy. Which can only mean one thing…INCEST!
Now, this wasn’t any of that FDR/Eleanor fifth cousin-once removed bullshit incest. This was brother-sister, Flowers in the Attic incest. And among royals, this kind of incest was not only acceptable to the public at large, it was sort of the best possible thing that could happen to the royal bloodline.
So K3, good king that he was, wanted to do things by the ancient Hawaiian book. And he thought, “Welp, this feels a little weird, but my grandparents were also half-siblings, and they were fucking great. Hmmmm, who could I marry? Hey, my sis Nahienaena has been looking FINE lately. And she’s fucking marriageable as shit. And I always liked when we played with blocks together as kids. BOOM, Queen chosen.” Plus, according to many accounts, Nahienaena was also in love with him.
Now get out your old Calc book, because it’s INVERSE time!
K3 and Nahi were all set to tie the knot and get down to business (the business of babymakin’). The bridesmaids’ grass skirts were being fitted, Nahi picked out a beautiful white satin Swarovski-encrusted coconut bra, and the whole island was gearing up for what promised to be history’s most bitchin’ luau/wedding reception. But remember K3’s Puritanical stepmom? She’d invited all kinds of Christian missionaries (haha it’s also a sex position, you guys) to the islands during her lifetime, and most of them stayed along and still had some measure of influence in court. And those missionaries DID NOT like the whole incest idea.
So they flagged what would have been a lovely, happy marriage, satisfying to the bride, the groom, and a lot of Hawaiian subjects. They even found K3 another less-related woman to marry. She was the daughter of the governor, she was hot, and she was wicked smaht, but the heart wants what it wants. K3 pussyfooted around for two years(!) until prospective wife number 2 died. Then the missionaries found him a Chiefess to marry, but she was the daughter of a sea pilot (ie commoner), and K3 said, “Okay missionaries, I see your poor second attempt and I’ll raise you an education requirement.” He demanded that the Chiefess undertake years’ worth of schooling to match his intellectual prowess. You know what they say: never engage in a battle of wits with a Hawaiian. That’s the saying, right?
Meanwhile, K3 and Nahi were getting their bone on. You might be squirming a little bit. I get it. But they loved each other and it was normal according to their heritage which is more than you can say for a lot of royal fornicating. Anyway, Nahi got knocked up and gave birth in 1836. And K3, badass that he was, said “Hey fuckers, this is my kid, I love him, he’s royal as shit, and he’s going to be my heir whether you like it or not.”
But then the baby died a few hours after birth. And Nahi died a couple months after that. I just fucking turned the tables of sympathy, didn’t I?
K3 was left all alone. And the missionaries won. So K3 was like “Fuck it, bring me the dumb Chiefess. Let’s do this.” And the Hawaiian people were absolutely pissed that these missionaries would fuck up centuries of tradition. But they were married and had two kids who died before reaching adulthood.
And therein lies the inversion: he wanted to be with his sister, and the Hawaiian people were scandalized when he didn’t/couldn’t marry her.
Kamehameha III went on to rule Hawaii for almost thirty years. He’s known as one of its greatest kings, he oversaw a switch from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy, and his biggest goal and success was in balancing Western ideologies with ancient Hawaiian customs. He was sort of a great dude. Herman Melville (who based a book on K3), didn’t think so, but he was an ass (Not really, he was awesome. But wrong about our friend).
Ultimately, this is the story of a man who said, “Aloha,” and then sadly, “Aloha,” to personal happiness. Sure it was incest. But it was socially acceptable and hoped-for incest. And you can’t fight a love like that.
Many people may call me crazy for thinking that Orson Welles is one of the most bangable people to ever grace God’s green earth. But it wasn’t only this youthful undergrad who found herself trapped by the seductive powers of his radio-ready dulcet tones, his truly revolutionary brilliance that he brought to stage, screen, and Spartan, or his sensuous lips.
No, I was not the first. In fact, even after ballooning to nearly 400 pounds in his late years of manic-depressive self-exile, Welles had a lotta lays, 3 wives, multiple “possible” children, and died in 1985, many years before I could have had the chance to entice him with my feminine wiles and nab the title “wife numba 4.” Shit ain’t fair.
But for the sake of brevity, I will generally focus on his better known bangs rather than all the rumors and (sadly) skip over the man’s insane ego/intelligence.
Orson Welles was born beautiful, I’m convinced.
By his mid-teens he was a 6-foot slab of man steak that the ladies clearly wanted to sink their teeth into. He started early at age 17, when he first met the Latina bombshell Dolores del Rio, even though she was mad older. They didn’t actually start a recorded affair until 1938, but I bet there was some hanky-panky, or at least a good deal of eye-fucking.
He got married first at 19 to Virginia Nicholson, who he had met working in radio, then promptly put a baby in her belly. This child, though a lady-baby, was named Christopher. Go figure. I haven’t gotten to the part in This is Orson Welles where he explains that one. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) while he was married to Virginia, Orson was slaying just about every “up and coming” (HA!) young actress in New York. He was making a name for himself by, you know, revolutionizing theater and radio and scaring the living poop out of America by saying aliens invaded New Jersey (Fortunately? Naw, just kidding NJ, God love ya. New York’s waste has gotta go somewhere.).
After years of marriage and about a bazillion affairs, Virginia and Orson divorced, leaving Orson legally free to immediately shack up with a bunch of slam pieces amongst the jetset of 1940’s Hollywood (Including going public with Dolores, and making her get her own divorce in 1941. Guess she thought that stallion could be tamed…). But the most sizzling by far was Rita Hayworth. Yeah, that one. Long considered the sexiest woman of her age (or any age), Orson was attracted to her for obvious reasons. But also she was a real sweetheart, and from reading the letters sent between them it was clear they loved each other. Orson once wrote to Rita, like a love-sick teenager:
“You are my life — my very life. Never imagine your hope approximates what you are to me. Beautiful, precious little baby — hurry up the sun! — make the days shorter till we meet. I love you, that’s all there is to it. -Your boy, Orson”
Balls. I mean, I’d be happy if anybody wrote that to me, let alone Orson Welles.
Even while they were going through the process of divorce, he still cast her in The Lady from Shanghai, and their chemistry is off the fucking charts. Rita once said she “couldn’t take his brilliance any more,” and Orson similarly said of their marriage that he could never make her as happy as she made him. That, and I mean, he kept doin’ it with a lot of girls, so I’m betting that was a factor.
But some of Orson’s best work came out of that holy union, including Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, both considered two of the greatest films of all time for their innovative storytelling and visual design, massive scope yet intimate character study, and the fact that they were pure American poetry (Yeah, I did just say that.). Unfortunately from here on, because Orson’s foray into Hollywood was neither economically successful nor critically well-received, his career began to take the downward turn that from which he would never recover (which is why the last thing Orson ever did was the 1985 animated Transformers movie, and it best known even to our parent’s generation as “that guy from the wine commercial”- quote, my mom.). This did not mean the man didn’t continue a brilliant output of work, such as his proto-surrealist adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial, excellent adaptations of The Merchant of Venice and Othello, and the just plain sick-nasty espionage classic, Mr. Arkadin, not to mention his acting turns in classics like The Third Man, Touch of Evil, and The Stranger. But who remembers that shit? We remember the fact that he ballooned to the size of a baby elephant and hid away in the Italian mountains for like, ever.
WHICH brings me to Orson’s third wife, Countess Paola Di Girifalco, or better known as the actress Paola Mori. They were married in 1955, but estranged by the 1960s and never actually divorced. After that, Orson had basically slowed down doin’ the nasty, but he still managed to make it in 1966 with the greatest piece of Eastern-European ass since Russia decided its newest export besides vodka, literature and sadness was gonna be models, Oja Kodar. She stuck with him for the last 24 years of his life, and I’m betting they were a pretty good match for each other, and bitch even built him a monument . What?? Anyway, he cast her topless in a lot of shit, so that’s what matters. Thanks bro, I’ll drink to those.
Orson died never having won true recognition for his work (and also having never met me, but we’ve established that already), but is finally now experiencing a great popularity—mostly among baby-boomer film snobs and hipsters, but hey, we’ll take what we can get. Hopefully now he can also be recognized as the Master of Bone that he was—far better than any Oscar. You know why? ‘Cause an Oscar’s not gonna seduce you like those lips would.