I Used To Be Charming Part Two

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on April 12, 2022

This is part two of the chamblee54 syllabication of I Used to Be Charming. IUTBC is a collection of magazine articles, written by Eve Babitz, aka LA Woman. Considering the later turns in her story, maybe we should call this a MAGA zine. Other episodes are available. one three four five
Venice, California (Vogue August 1979) is about living in a funky house, somewhere near the beach. It is noteworthy for a comment on page 131, where Eve extols the joys of rollerskating with Annie Leibovitz. The photographer is mentioned in another Eve article. “She navigates the city’s highs and lows during weekday mornings spent ‘maniacally’ roller-skating with her lover Annie Leibovitz.”

Details of the Babitz-Leibovitz thing are tough to come by. Lists of Eve’s playmates usually include Ms. Leibovitz, along with other suspects. “The photograph on the striking cover of Eve’s Hollywood was taken by Annie Leibovitz (the two are lifelong friends).”

“I never talk about politics … Although I was so happy [when] my friend Linda [Ronstadt] was going out with Jerry Brown.” … VC mentions women trying to look like Linda Ronstadt. The singer keeps turning up in Eve’s work. Only her hairdresser knows for sure.

Eve is better known for adventurism with men. Dan Wakefield has an amusing story. “Eve always woke before me and was often on the phone, sometimes talking to girlfriends with uncensored intimacy, never bothering to whisper. She evidently assumed that if my eyes were closed I was fast asleep. Not always. … I was not a rock star — that was okay. But then she went on to compare my private parts to those of one of her rock stars, Jim Morrison, describing mine as a “nice” change for the smaller. I was not asleep anymore. My most private part (“private” no more!) was now the subject of discussion, and I was coming off second best — it sounded like a distant second best.”

Honky-Tonk Nights (Rolling Stone August 23, 1979) It was a Magic Moment. A beautiful Sunday morning. The washing machine wasn’t spilling over the drain pipe. I decided to look at my book. H-NN is juicy. It’s about Eve’s groupie adventures at an LA club called The Troubadour. We’ll get to the the rest of the story in a minute, but first the magic on page 112. “… made things seem legit even on nights when Gatsby, Steels and Nosh (what someone dubbed Crosby, Stills and Nash during a particularly horrendous time when they were in the middle of recording that first album and everyone was thinking it should be called Music From Big Ego…”)

“… I was a groupie I posed as an album cover designer and photographer, while others disguised themselves as tailors, record company secretaries, or journalists. For women like us, hanging out in the Troubadour bar every night was, you know, business. I mean, I told people—even myself—that I had to do it. But when I dyed my hair the color of a pumpkin, even my sociology professor uncle, who only knows what he sees on The Merv Griffin Show, wondered if I hadn’t become one of those groupies. …” Eve was dying her hair pumpkin orange when Donald J. Trump was writing “C” on lease applications. The girl was MAGA before MAGA was uncool.

“… You had to wear a diaphragm just to walk through,” Susan Smith, one of the waitresses, told me. “The semen potential was so intense it was enough to get you pregnant just standing there.” Meanwhile, Steve Martin was sitting alone at the bar, drinking a glass of white wine. “Oh, poor Steve, he just has no sense of humor.” …

“ … Steve Martin used to say, “You’re like Linda. You’ve got opinions about things.” I used to worry about that since having opinions about things—if you were a woman in those days—didn’t seem to inspire mink coats or foaming lust … but it was true that Linda and I were somewhat alike, because we both read … and we were both always on diets. In our opinion, the best way to lose weight fast was to go on a fruit fast, and we did this once together—telephoning the other when we ate so much as a single orange—until at the end of the week we both lost twelve pounds. At this transcendent moment, I took a bunch of pictures of Linda to document her perfection: she looked like a French convent girl on her way to seduce a lecherous old count.”

The Troubadour is a trooper. It is still open, all these years later. Alas, when you go to their website, you are assaulted by a popup announcement: “The City of West Hollywood requires all patrons, staff, and artists to be fully vaccinated. To attend a show at the Troubadour all attendees 12 and over will need to provide: Photo ID with Proof of Vaccination (card, photo of card, or CA QR code) Final dose being at least 14 days prior to the show. More information available at″ CA QR Code would have been kinky back in the day.

Anna’s Brando Esquire October 1979 I started to write about Marlon Brando. I typed the word Brando, but spelled it Brand0, with a zero at the end. There is something groovy about calling the actor Brand Zero. Like that song I heard years ago on the radio. “You were Marlon Brando, I was Steve McQueen, You were k.y. jelly, I was vaseline.” It was such a disappointment to learn that boring old Leonard Cohen wrote that.

I was reading AB in a zhugh gothic waiting room. This was where Anna Kashki Brando told about her first encounter with steatopygous glory. STEE-ah-toe-pee-gus means having a fat butt. “Living in rooms opposite these slave girls, and seeing them at all hours of the day and night, I had frequent opportunities of studying them. They were average specimens of the steatopygous Abyssinian breed, broad-shouldered, thin-flanked, fine-limbed, and with haunches of prodigious size.”

Brando for Breakfast, by Anna Kashfi Brando and E. P. Stein, is the topic here. “Anna Kashfi was born Joan O’Callaghan in Darjeeling, where her father, William, worked for the Indian State Railways. Like many Anglo-Indians, William and his wife, Phoebe, decided to relocate to the UK following Indian Independence.” Anna wound up in Hollywood, and married the steatopygous method actor. Anna was the mother of Christian Brando, who was his own brand zero.

After leaving the zhugh palace, I went to a nearby Kroger. The couple in the car beside me were having a loud, entertaining argument. Meanwhile, I read this passage in AB: “In her mixture of rectal conjecture and quotes from Pauline Kael cut in half so that they mean the opposite say the opposite of what they meant, Anna seems to speak for all of them—one long wail of howling outrage.”

Out of the Woods American Film May 1987 It was the next to last year of the Reagan regime. Ronnie was an actor, playing the greatest role of his life. Ronnie did not dye his hair, it was prematurely orange. Eve got a deal to interview James Woods, another actor with a conservative bent.

“Yeah, I put batteries in my alarm clock and try to get here on time. … I admire James Cagney ‘plant your feet on the ground, look the other guy in the eye, and tell the truth’ school of acting. I’m not into the ‘four hours before you go to work pretend you’re a radish’ school of acting. … This guy wants us to drain his blood and sleep in a coffin. It’s like Laurence Olivier’s great line to Dustin Hoffman, who stayed up four days to look tired. He said, “Can’t you try acting?”

Part of the Eve legend is the conversion to MAGA politics. In her groupie pieces, she doesn’t talk about politics. While the entertainment industry is reputed to be wildly liberal, the bottom line is still the bottom line. There is a lot of money in show business, and people do what they have to do. Eve may have been the closet John Bircher at the Troubadour.

Lily Anolik is famous for luring Eve out of her shell. During an appearance, Ms. Anolick talks about how she charms Eve. “she’s my indifferent mistress, and I buy her stuff … These out of print volumes that are enormously expensive about Chinese history. Ann Coulter books, MAGA hats. … just little love tokens, which I always get her … when I’m in Los Angeles …”

Throughout it all, Eve is a white woman. Some sjw-types have taken note. “It’s a breezy rebuff of heteronormative relationships, while also alluding to a seductive life of carefree sex influenced by her own life experiences. But it’s also saturated, as so much of Babitz’s writing is, with a carelessness afforded by whiteness and beauty. Her blithe acknowledgment of her own beauty’s benefits — “I looked like Brigitte Bardot,” she writes in Eve’s Hollywood — ignores the fact that this likeness would not be so advantageous if it did not signify the blonde, fair-skinned aesthetic venerated by the whole of the Western world.” Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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