Thursday, April 19, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith: Blond Inferno

Ravenously hungry for some real old school, voluptuous glamour, it would be hard to exaggerate the effect that Anna Nicole Smith's 1992 nine-page Guess campaign had on me and my young friends, both male and female, all of us film classic buffs. The supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer had never appealed to us with their faux reinterpretation of the 1950's bombshell. Madonna was still vainly ripping off Marilyn Monroe but her bulging triceps and six pack just didn't cut it and we hated her for trying to hijack her legacy. Even British Vogue committed the mortal sin of comparing the rail thin Christy Turlington to "a young Sophia Loren," an act that would surely send them to hell, we mused. Quickly seeing through the clever clothing tricks and PR hype, we knew all of these wannabees were about as close to Monroe, Loren, and Bardot as New Kids On The Block.

Would the media ever really deliver "the real thing," much less a reasonable facsimile?

One day our prayers were answered. The terrifying "heroin-chic" waif model movement lead by Kate Moss and Kristen McMenamy was just gaining force, and yet suddenly, all over the magazines, there was this bodacious blond nearly 6 feet tall with complete curves everywhere. Large breasts, small waist, an unheard-of set of 39 inch hips and strong, solid legs with healthy thighs. Her doll-like face and cupid's-bow mouth radiated a true vintage pinup look which was set off by the most unearthly shade of platinum blond since Harlow. In some shots she danced in a clingy dress, her full, wide backside left unadulterated by the art department; in others, her bodacious calves and thighs wielded a pair of six-inch stiletto platforms with all the dexterity of an expert flying twin kites on a blustery day. She looked sophisticated and commanding, a true amazon and the only heir apparent to Anita Ekberg, one of my most adored actresses.

So a few months later, when my best friend Trisha and I saw a picture of Anna Nicole Smith in her previous and small-chested incarnation via an old photo sniffed out by US magazine we were disappointed to learn she was not 100% natural. But she had already grown on us by then and we were not ready to divorce her. She was after all a young mother, she'd come from poverty, she had a cartoon-like personality and an ancient husband who had put a huge diamond on her hand. She liked to eat and obviously loved sex more than the gym. Natural schmatural, the implant acceptance culture started with Anna Nicole Smith because they looked so good.

The guys I knew were less concerned about the origins of the curves or even if she could talk..

"Hurt me!" was the response of Matt, the guy who sat next to me in English homeroom, "Anna can do whatever she wants with me, I don't care if they're fake!"

And in an odd way, authentic size queens that we were, neither did we.

My close friend Brian K who holds three, count em, three degrees from Stanford and has serenaded Polish busty sensation Ewa Sonnet, recalls his discovery of Anna Nicole at the age of 16:

"When I was in high school back in her Guess? Girl days -- before Playboy, before reality TV -- Anna Nicole was like a muse to me. I had never been interested in the mainstream models at the time, and suddenly she came along and I realized what I had been missing -- a voluptuously feminine beauty, vivacious and proud to be different. I taped one of her Guess? layouts up in my room before anyone knew who she was. I can remember wanting to meet her... My days meeting models may be over, but I'll always be inspired by such types. If only there were more..."

Because she was making fun of herself all the time when pretension reeked out of every sex symbol from Sharon Stone to Elle McPherson, we just plain liked her. Anna was a lovable goofball in films like Naked Gun 33 1/3 or wearing velvet muumuus in skittle shades to the Oscars as she rapidly grew more out-sized and buxom. An incredible spread in the 1994 Valentine's issue of Playboy had Anna Nicole fully nude in a hot bath hands and legs interlocked with a hunky stud, her eyes rolling back in her head. Her female maid actually accused Anna of coming onto her and Anna later admitted that having a French maid around for "hot sex" was one of her fantasies.

"She's becoming an exhibitionist," Trisha remarked.

The New York Times magazine tried to take her out at the height of her fame by using an unflattering photo outtake of her eating potato chips for their 1994 "White Trash Nation" issue. The premise was that performers like Smith were creating a trailer park environment in the media (Predictably, Madonna, who had recently been on Lettermen discussing how cool it was to pee on herself and acting raunchy, was never mentioned once in the article). Anna later sued The New York Times unsuccesfully.

As time marched on and I focused on different stars and started to forge my own glamour persona, Trisha and I would still remark on the wacky latest bit of Anna Nicole news.

Trisha was a young mom too, with a son a few years younger than Anna Nicole's. He was and still is the center of her life. I remember her calling my once upset about her elderly grandfather's sudden passing. At first I thought something had happened to her son Jordan.

"Oh no, if it was my son who had died I wouldn't be on the phone right now, my car and I'd be slammed against a wall and be gone from this earth to be with him."

This coming from a reasonable and balanced woman who never shared any of Anna's problems with substance abuse or men.

And that's why Anna's gone. Forget all of the other crappy sensationalist theories, the paternity tests, methadone rumors, diet pills, the hangers on and fights for inheritance, her son was the only thing she ever really had to depend on and love and after his tragic death following the birth of her daughter Danni Lynn, it was most likely just a question of when she'd leave to be with him.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but history has shown us that sexually provocative and outrageous women have little they can really depend on and have been marked at birth for tragedy. Women are too intimidated to be their friends and men usually too threatened with how sexual they are. They may think it's great at first but ultimately most men can't deal with the 'it factor' and feel overshadowed. Intimacy becomes a continual source of resentment and ultimately an impossibility for the majority of bombshells. It's a testament to her spirit and to some extent those who did try to help her, that she made it as far as she did.

Jayne Mansfield, who Anna emulated in that very first Guess campaign, was said to have taken the myth of the platinum blond with her when she died in 1966 in a now notorious car crash. Anna Nicole did the impossible, she resurrected an archetype that was long gone and lived it to the hilt, and while that may be a dubious honor it would be unfair to not celebrate Anna Nicole Smith for what she was--a living piece of pop art, bold, annoying, dazzling, beautiful, bizarre, at times bombastic and excessive but ultimately, like Mansfield, a beautiful blond inferno and an American original.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Conversation: Part Two

For your viewing pleasure:

Hello all,

I submitted a short film entry to the First Annual Rosso & Bianco Theater Movie Contest. This is the winery "directed" by Francis Ford Coppola, award-winning director of The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, etc. It is departure from the YouTube stuff and has me out of the super Amanda costume and in the vineyards doing, as my friend Lauren said, my impression of a velvety malbec.

The Conversation (Part 2) Bianco Rosso Film Contest

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Thanks to Third of Never's Jon Dawson I found out about the contest just in time for the April 15th deadline!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Feminine Chauvinist Mistake Part One: Leslie Bennetts

I've always felt that all women were simply feminist be definition, no matter where you fall politically, reproductive rights, wages, etc will effect you as a woman at some point in your life and you usually can't opt out. The majority of "politically active" feminists turned me off early on in college because they seemed to care more about pop culture critiques and materialism than the aforementioned basics. I was not that surprised when Naomi Wolf wrote an interesting book about beauty with glaring inaccuracies and then became a conservative mom flip flopping on abortion rights and opening an expensive charmschool for wealthy post grads...zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Glaring examples of what I loathe (and what we should all be aware of) can be summed up clearly by looking at two recent books causing the obligatory post-modern brouhaha in the media; Ariel Levy's "Feminist Chauvinist Pigs and Leslie Bennett's "The Feminine Mistake." Levy's book explores "The Girls Gone Wild epidemic" of women acting trashy and slutty while Bennett's implores stay at home moms to get out the house, get their kids into day care and garner career skills lest the bread winning hubby suddenly depart.

First things first, any woman (or man) employing a full-time childcare provider or domestic worker of any age, race or background to whom she is not paying a living wage, medical and dental benefits and sick days/paid vacation to has absolutely no right to call themselves a feminist-EVER. They should also reconsider calling themselves a Christian or a Buddhist etc either as religions teach us not to exploit others.
The career oriented lifestyle that Bennetts advocates for most women conveniently leaves out the other sector of millions of women (many of color) that will get screwed over in the process as women leave their children and go back into the work force and that's why her book is a horrendously awful read. She indirectly advocates that women step on other women-not a very ethical example to set for our children.

The upper middle class feminist elite realized early that like workers in sweatshops, the childcare provider is invisible and when they could no longer be aloof such as failed Clinton Attorney General nominee Zoe Baird's "nannygate" the elite fems still never spoke out and waited for it die down. These same women, who would scoff at the notion of a childcare provider getting healthcare or god forbid a 401K, think nothing of spending thousands of dollars a month on fresh flowers and cosmetics, they along with their husbands, rationalize being exploitive everday.


It's actually the parents with less money who have not only tried to pay better wages but co-parent with their caregivers instead of viewing them as cogs in a machine to amass more money and security. Many single or working mom's have even started to hire only part-time childcare as a way to make it easier on everyone, agumenting caregivers with family members and starting babysitting COOPs with other parents but once again these are usually middle to lower class women willing to scarifice money for more time with their children and their own sense of decency towards others.
For various, historically entrenched reasons rich women depend on the class system and many of these women participate in female rights groups, new age religions and even charities! If you want proof just go to a wealthy part of town and you'll see the full-time nannies, usually non-English speaking immigrant women of color or a college student of any race raising, the children of the wealthy.

Leslie Bennetts claims she's simply posing a list of important data and not being judgemental as she issues a warning for stay home moms. She just wants them to know the potential pitfalls that can befall the unskilled (as if this was news to ANYONE) but she does not include any statistics on the growing epidemic of Autism and childhood violence all potentially connected to the reaction that children have when they are marginalized from birth into the realm of "quality time."
Nor does she recognize a very vocal and angry group of young men and boys who've come up in childcare and have propably spent more time downloading hardcore porn and playing multi-user internet games than getting to know themselves or their parents.

Bennetts is a People magazine/Vanity Fair writer who obviously wants a piece of the media action (like many of us do) in a debate that is so much more important than gaining your own blog on Huffington's site--a blog on which she refused to publish my feedback comments.
Like a kid waiting for a ride home from school it should have showed up by now.

COMING SOON! Part Two: The Real Raunch Culture Queen (Sorry Ariel but it isn't Paris Hilton...)

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Monday, April 02, 2007

One With Nature: Wichita Lineman Video Shoot

Today I was kissing trees, posing with a Wonder woman lunch pail and then carrying a tire iron about the orchards. There were telephone poles, planes, miles of young corn and grapefruits plus a friendly police officer who never stopped to ask us why we were trespassing ;)
I sang der "Wichita Lineman" and it seemed is if my voice became even deeper which at this point means I could probably make the final five to replace Felipe in The Village People.

So I sang higher and girlie but it was all treacle and treble, so after TEN takes ( nominal by traditional Who/Pete standards)I sort of got it right...actually i think it's flat and odd but oh well I'm doing this with a digital camera, boom box and a dream!

It is the hardest song I will ever sing, opera is actually easier.

On You Tube there is a Sergio Mendes version, a Stone Temple Pilots to a Hall and Oates style synth from 1989 and of course a band from Spain; virtually EVERYONE has covered this song!
Now I have tons of footage to edit and my camerman's tire iron to find somewhere out here in the fields. I don't usually look this mean and hard but I was definitely feeling Varla in Faster Pussycat!Kill!Kill!