sash boys are safe

Elsa Maxwell* was an American gossip columnist known as the Hostess with the Mostess. She wrote several books including the memoir this excerpt is from

Elsa and Maria Callas found here

“Much as I dislike to mention a distasteful subject I cannot gloss over the shocking increase in homosexuality that is apparent today. Thirty years ago, lesbians and sash boys were almost unknown to the majority of people. I call them ‘sash boys’, because they always go about as though waving a sash in their hands and because I prefer that euphemism to the commoner terms I do not care to use. Perhaps I was more naive at the time, but I never saw a woman who was an obvious Lesbian until I went to Europe. Of course there were homosexuals in theatrical and artistic circles, but outside that one rarely, if ever, encountered one. Now it is like a contagious disease, spreading here, there and everywhere.

image found here

The incidence of homosexuality always has been greater in some countries than others. It varies in time and place. I believe in England it can be attributed in some measure to the general custom of sending boys to boarding-schools at an early age and confining them in this unnatural environment during adolescence. But there are so many confusing and contributing factors to the disease that it is difficult to isolate one particular cause. I have seen scores of thoroughly normal men and women turn to perversion in their forties or fifties simply through boredom, or idleness, or dissatisfaction.

Mr Sulu became bored

In a large measure, women are greatly to blame for the increase in homosexuality. They are unconscious carriers of the germ. For older women, particularly those who are rich and manless, whose husbands have died or who have never married, the homosexual is the complete answer. 

image found here

A further carrier of the germ is the mother caught up by an almost incestuous love for an only son, whom she constantly keeps beside her, pampering him and denying him the normal friendship of other women. Little do such mothers realise the perverted prison to which they condemn their beloved sons.

nursemyra’s eldest son

A number may say, ‘How can you take up this attitude when you know very well a number of these men are among your friends and acquaintances?’ It is quite true. I am guilty of contradiction here. But I just cannot apply the same rules to genius. It may be morally indefensible but I feel there must be one law for the especially rich in mind and another for the remainder.

image found here

Until last year dressmakers and interior decorators were holding their position on the social roost in Paris. Now I see a change; there are signs that their prestige is on the wane, in a word that they are slipping from their favoured niche. People are growing a little bored with them. And something of the same thing is happening, in Paris at least, with the sash boys. At my last party out of four hundred there were only nine present.

To my mind, it is in the power of women to stop the spread of homosexuality, to set up a barrier to their effete, lavender decadence by no longer courting and coddling their presence in their homes and at their parties. A dearth of hospitality will achieve a quicker death to homosexuality than any act of Parliament.

Most chroniclers of Elsa Maxwell’s life claim she was a lesbian. She lived with Dickie Gordon-Fellowes for nearly fifty years.

image found here

*from a review by Brooks Peters found here

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35 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So according to Elsa, homosexuality was acceptable if accompanied by genius. And homosexuality in a son was totally the fault of the mother. I wonder if anyone asked her who was to blame for lesbians. Thank goodness for the modern New York.

    btw, 1st Cousin marriage is legal in more US states than Gay marriage.

    • But there was a big victory for gay marriage in New York today wasn’t there 😉

  2. “I feel there must be one law for the especially rich in mind and another for the remainder.” In that case, bye bye Elsa, you can stick to your super-rich ghetto.

    Very common of course for sash boys and dykes to be vociferously homophobic in public to cover their tracks. F***ing hypocrites. The House of Commons is full of them even now.

    Love your son’s stylish headgear. Didn’t it win the Turner Prize recently? Let’s hear it for effete, lavender decadence. The more the merrier, I say.

    • Sadly, no Turner Prize in the family yet. But we do have several Diva Awards

  3. Well, I was going to say “brilliant timing”, but Archie was first.
    I’ve always felt that Elsa looked like Golda Meyer.

  4. Familiar with term “hostess with the mostest” but never knew origin. Comedian Jack Carter had the offshoot gag “coffee, tea or me?”

  5. I think she and J Edgar Hoover would have had a lot in common. Both would have denied it strenuously of course although I’m pretty sure he would have looked much better in a dress than she ever could.

    Your son is lovely and so is his headwear.

    • Thanks, I’ll tell him you said so.

  6. Wow.

    How narrowminded that person was.

    Interesting to see that the people who were most often the loudest to complain about something (like homosexuality) were one themselves.

    Definitely a piece of interesting headgear your son has.

  7. See what you’ve done to Jake!

    Luckily there’s genius in the family…

    The King

    • I take full credit.

  8. Figures she would live with Dickie.

  9. Mothers blamed for homo boys? I know many mothers’ boys in my community who are far from being homos.

  10. That was just plain ugly. Now I need a bath. Bad enough that someone would think like that but then that other people would print and buy it! Blech!

  11. Wow… I wonder if she was actually that hungry for publicity…

  12. i must have spread the germ… having sent two gents sashaying off into the pink sunset, i should probably never have sex again.

    • Ha! Yeah right….. 😉

  13. Now, myra…the son with the headgear isn’t even the homosexual one, is he? Or have you enriched our world with more genius than I’d imagined?

    “Dickie”? Why bother to make stuff up, when the truth is so much more telling?

  14. I shall have to have strong words with my sister regarding my nephew Tim.s preferences! Tim’s my regular model.

    As for Elsa Maxwell slagging off gays and lesbians what a hypocrite!

  15. For a narrow minded psychotic harridan, she could turn a nice phrase. “Effete, lavender decadence”. There. That’s the name for my house.

    Your son is adorable! Was he able to get the hat off eventually? If so, it probably wasn’t a perverted prison. Hahaha!

    • Can you bring an aura of effete lavender decadence to our New York lunch date next month?

  16. I blame broccoli …. for almost everything actually.

    • Nope; Brussels Sprouts!

      • Oh poor maligned sprouts, I like them caramelised with crispy bacon

  17. Maxwell’s vitriol is unsettling: is she trying to be satirical? fascinating act of self-denial, this. Meanwhile, welcome back from your winter holiday!

  18. Sad. That kind of self-loathing always makes me sad. 😦

    And yes! Welcome back!

  19. Great — now I’m craving effete lavender decadence.

  20. Thank you- I was able to describe a co-workers behaviour as effete lavender decadence today which made him shriek (and sort of proved the point). I did cop to the source and showed him the blog which he now loves. So Elsa Maxwell improved a gay man’s day which I’m sure would disappoint her massively.

    • How delightful! My son is currently single. Is he interested? 😉

      • Nurse, I like you and by extension your family, so I’m not sure I’m willing to inflict JJ on you all, although I’m sure he’d be on a plane in a flash for a trip to Australia involving handsome young men.

  21. Fedoras are so cool…
    don’t think I could quite pull one off, though…

  22. According to Elsa, I was an earlier bloomer, as I turned to perversion in my twenties.

  23. i think the “hostess with the mostess” was pearl mesta.
    “call me madam” with merman was based on her.

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