Happy Halloween LesBees! Here’s a selection of some of my favourite Old Hollywood actresses and models posed as cheeky pin-ups and spooky witches with black cats, ghost stories, jack-oh-lanterns, and cauldrons – everything necessary for a good party. Be feisty witches this weekend! Do spells! Conjure hellbeasts! Tame them and name them after your favourite tv character! Change your costume according to venue! Indulge and enjoy the spookiest most macabre and therefore happiest time of year!
This week’s Lesbeehive Throwback Thursday revisits Bo’s never-dying adoration of Lynda Carter’s depiction of Wonder Woman, along with fantastic retro images of the Queen of the Brunettes.
Whenever anyone asks me who was my first love, I always reply, “Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.” Oh, there were other brunettes that stole my heart at an early age: Alyssa Milano; Shannen Doherty; Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins (I didn’t even know Julie was a blonde until I saw The Sound of Music when I was 12), but no one overwhelmed my senses like Wonder Woman. I was obsessed with her. Not the comic-her, though my obsession bled into the comics a bit, but it mostly stayed focused on the real life walking, talking Wonder Woman smiling at me all buxom and strong from my TV screen, eyes as pale as an icy sea, crimson lips parted in a mischievous smile. She became my idea of a perfect beauty, mixed with the mother I worshipped who also had dark hair and red lips.
I did everything I could to bring Wonder Woman into my life – I wore the underoos and effortlessly defeated my Superman and Batman clad brothers. I turned my Barbies into victims that Wonder Woman saved, or villains that she lassoed and triumphed over. When I was 4 I was Wonder Woman for Halloween. My Dad sewed a felt chest plate onto a red leotard, made me a headband with a star, and made me a lasso out of real rope. When my Wonder Woman mask broke, my Mom came to the rescue with her own Revlon Red lipstick, the same brand and shade Lynda sold in the commercials that I studied carefully, committing to memory the woman I wanted to become. She sold me beauty, but also strength, silly sweetness, and an affection for giant lensed glasses and buns. When I recall all the signs that I was destined to love women passionately and without abandon for the rest of my life, I count Wonder Woman as its inception. The little girl gazing at the woman that beautiful knew that there was someone deserving of a deep and abiding adoration.
Yesterday Yvonne Craig died, and I’ve spent today reminiscing about how much I adored her when I was young. I loved Batgirl. Look at her! She’s the good girl’s Catwoman! She’s the Elizabeth to Jessica Wakefield! Oh my god! Elizabeth & Jessica should have dressed up like Batgirl & Catwoman! I’m regressing! Deep breath.
I was a huge fan of the original Batman series. So sparkly. So ridiculous. Such a paunchy Batman. Such stunning Catwomen. Such perfectly campy villains. Adding Yvonne Craig to the roster as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl was perfection. Better than Debra Winger as Drusilla/Wonder Girl? I don’t know! Don’t make me choose!
Craig was a talented dancer, and a staple of 1960s television – guest starring in epsidoes of iconic shows like Mod Squad, Star Trek, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. She most recently voiced the character of the Grandma on the Olivia animated series. She will be missed, and remembered well.
One of the most iconic images in modern photography comes from the movie poster for Stanley Kubrick’s film adaption of Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial book Lolita. The young actress who embodied this mythical nymphette was Sue Lyon. In Stern’s photograph, her gaze meets the viewer’s straight on through the reflection of a rearview mirror, peering at you over red hearts, lips pursed on a red lollipop. The image is provocative, confrontational, sensual, challenging.
In 1960, Kubrick asked his friend photographer Bert Stern to take some pictures of the 13 year old actress he had cast in his upcoming film to generate some pre-filming buzz. Stern had already made a name for himself with his photographs of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, at the time the most controversial couple in the world. His photography was candid, intimate, larger than life. With only a few notes from Kubrick and some of lines from Nabokov’s novel in his head, he took the young actress and her mother out for the day to capture the mood of both the novel and the movie that had yet to be made. Stern stated that going into a 5 and dime store to buy props for the shoot he saw young girls wearing heart shaped glasses and knew instantly that was what he needed.
The pictures taken that day have revealed themselves slowly over the years. Some were initially published in 1960 in Look Magazine, others have been published in different retrospectives of Stern and Kubrick since. Stern, using a 35 mm camera to capture the ‘snapshot’ look he wanted, said he wanted her to look like a girl you see once, glancing around, but that fleeting memory of her stays with you. Lyon is the definition of a nymphette, lounging, playful, innocent with unwitting sensuality. The pictures’ sexuality is all within the viewer’s perception, where the mind decides to place them between child and woman. They remain to this day aesthetic defining for artists, models, designers, photographers and girls obsessed with this complex literary character.
Stage Door is a film from 1937 starring Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn as aspiring actresses rooming together in a boarding house. Based on a stage play of the same title from 1936, the film also stars a 14 year old Ann Miller and Lucille Ball in one of her earliest roles. The story is about boarding house girls gathering to trade career and relationship support and quips while lounging together in a commons area dressed in either gorgeous pajamas or gorgeous gowns. One girl keeps a cat lying on her lap or across her shoulders at all times! She has my life!
Katharine Hepburn is the rich newcomer who has decided to have a real experience by sharing a room in a boarding house. Ginger Rogers is her poor, savvy, no nonsense roommate who detests Hepburn’s upper class ways. I don’t think the creator of the play or the film meant for this to happen, but what results when Rogers & Hepburn start to bicker and tease is a palpable sexual tension between the two actresses that you can CUT WITH A KNIFE! It’s just scene-after-scene of me shouting KISS HER! at the screen. Just looking at the promos sends me. Look at the eyes they’re making at each other! Oh, they are falling in love in spite of themselves! They cannot resist each other’s charm! I can’t either! KISS HER!
The amazing documentary The Celluloid Closet discusses gay subtext in film. There are so few films made with non-tragic gay lead characters, or non-stereotypical gay characters, that queer viewers must find the subtext between film characters. We find the characteristics that we relate, expand on relationships that the film only gives us a taste of, and discover through their behaviour how they’re like us. Stage Door is an easy film for us to fit ourselves inside. Rogers and Hepburn play their characters with a vague distaste in men and an intense interest in each other. They give us enough so that a gay audience is able to believe that maybe they are falling for each other, maybe their animosity will soften into something other than platonic friendship, maybe they do want to push their beds together and make each other moan. This is what we seek, and when we find it, we hold on tight!