Mamie’s memories

Mamie Van Doren has led a pretty wild life which she enjoys sharing with others. One of her first studio dates was with Rock Hudson.

Mamie found here

“Oh, there were rumors about Rock even then. Some of the other actresses under contract had told me that on a date with Rock, I would be as safe as though I was in my mother’s arms. It was, in fact, a publicity stunt on the part of the studio to get Rock out on the town with the newest sexy starlet in their stable.

Rock found here

I was ready when the doorbell rang, done up in a prom-queen gown that the studio’s Wardrobe Department had created for the occasion. It had a strapless, beaded bodice and layer after layer of crinolines under the skirt.

Rock and I sat at a table with Joan Crawford and her date. Joan was pounding down the booze with a vengeance, eyeing me from time to time the way a barracuda eyes a crippled grouper. She snubbed me totally except to loudly proclaim that I must have diligently fucked my way to the threshold of stardom where I then stood.

Joan found here

When the evening was over, Rock took me home. My parents were asleep, and we tiptoed into the kitchen where we necked, panting heavily, and sank to the floor. I helped Rock unzip his fly, only to discover that it was no pebble he was hiding in there. Zowie! Rock was sporting a boulder! He rolled on top, but found himself engulfed in a cloud of crinoline.

Conversation skirts found here

I tried to guide him inside me but couldn’t reach him through the forest of underskirts. We slid on Mother’s waxed linoleum, struggling for traction.  Rock let out a long sigh and his weight collapsed on top of me. “I’m coming,” he groaned. We got up and repaired the damage as best we could. It’s hard to wipe anything off of crinolines.

I took the dress back to the Wardrobe Department and hurried out before they could look at it. For all I know it’s still hanging there in some dusty corner, un-dry cleaned forty-plus years later, mute and crusty testimony to Rock Hudson’s at least occasional bisexuality.

image found here

Fast forward to when Mamie was appearing in a string of pictures for MGM

“Among them was “The Beat Generation” in which I starred opposite a burly, rough-hewn hunk named Steve Cochran. Steve and I launched into an affair that had the cast and crew whispering behind their hands. No sooner would we finish a scene than we would disappear for a quick fuck while they set up the next shot.

Steve found here

Location never mattered much to me. If I had the urge to do someone in an elevator or a taxi or the swimming pool, that’s where it happened. Steve and I had dated for a short time when I found out that he was also seeing Mae West on a regular basis. He explained that whenever he was called to service Mae, he had to show up with a recent negative test for venereal disease. Mae always liked a man who was dark and dangerous-looking, with large equipment. Steve fit the bill perfectly. If I ever would have participated in a menage a trois, it would have been with Steve and Mae. I was never asked. 

Mae found here

On June 15, 1965, at the age of 48, Steve Cochran died on his yacht off the coast of Guatemala due to an acute lung infection. His body, along with three alive but upset female assistants, remained onboard for ten days since the three women didn’t know how to operate the boat. The boat drifted to shore in Port Champerico, Guatemala and was found by authorities. There were various rumors of foul play and poisoning, and Merle Oberon tried to use her influence to push for further police investigations. No new evidence was found.

Steve found here

Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm  Comments (45)  
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dante’s inferno

Lana Turner’s eighth husband led an interesting life….

image found here

“Ronald Dante, or Ronald Pellar, or whatever his name really is, is not just any old guy, but a prolific con man with a history that is almost impossible to believe. 

In the 1970s, he was convicted of trying to murder a rival hypnotist.

A decade earlier he was actress Lana Turner’s eighth husband. She was one of his seven wives.

Lana Turner as a child found here

In the 1990s, he operated one of the greatest diploma-mill scams in U.S. history, although in his opinion it wasn’t a scam at all. The government disagreed.

Dr. Dante, a name he made up when he was a young man because he liked the way it sounded, said he was born in 1920. When he was 5, Dante claimed, he and his family were in Kuala Lumpur when Malaysian insurgents attacked. His mother, father and sister were killed, leaving only himself and his 10-year-old brother, who were sent to a Chicago orphanage.

image found here (click to read fine print)

At 11, Dante said, he walked away from the orphanage with his brother and hit the streets. His first “business venture” involved buying gold-plated watches for $2.99, packaging them in cases with a $150 price tag attached, and selling them to businessmen who assumed they were buying stolen merchandise for $25.

erotic watch found here

Dante, who still speaks in the deep baritone that made him a sensation as a hypnotist, said he attended several colleges as a young man, including the University of Wisconsin. It was there he met a hypnotist who taught him stage presence, he said.

In 1969 he met “sweater girl” actress Turner in a Los Angeles discotheque called The Candy Store. He soon would become her eighth and final husband.


He had a persuasive voice and strange, compelling eyes,” she wrote in her 1982 autobiography. “He claimed to have been brought up in Singapore and to have earned a doctorate in psychology there, but the press dug up something to debunk that. Shortly after our wedding he was shot at, or so he said, in an underground garage, by a gunman wearing an Australian bush hat. It got a lot of attention in the papers – maybe that was what he wanted.”

image found here

Six months after the marriage, she found Dante’s motorcycle and all his belongings gone and a note typed on blue stationery. “It’s obvious that you have your thing to do, and I have mine, and I have to keep on doing it,” the note said.

Dante continued to perform as a hypnotist, and in the early 1970s was working in a Tucson nightclub. In 1974 he was found guilty of attempting to contract for the murder of Michael Dean of San Diego, the widely known hypnotist and entertainer. 

image found here

After being released from prison, he created a permanent-makeup business in which he taught thousands of people how to tattoo eye liner and lip liner, using felt-tip pens and cantaloupes as demonstration tools. The Federal Trade Commission had problems with the company. For one thing, Dante said, he called his graduates “dermatologists,” which angered legitimate dermatologists, who are physicians. The government sued and eventually Dante settled the civil case.

image found here

From the mid-1980s until the late 1990s, according to court documents, Senate committee transcripts and official reports, Dante made somewhere between $10 million and $20 million selling advanced degrees to people in one of the great diploma-mill scams in U.S. history. 

Dante bristles when “diploma mill” or “scam” is mentioned in the same breath with Columbia State. “They all realized what they were getting,” he said. “I mean, come on, who’s kidding who? They were getting a Ph.D. in a month.”

image found here

After an ABC television news show featured him in a story about Columbia State University, he was kidnapped – he says by Mexican federal police – and taken to the United States, where a five-year prison sentence was enforced.

At the time of his kidnapping, Dante said, he had $26 million stashed on the yacht in cash, gold coins, cashier’s checks and American Express checks. While he was in prison, all the money disappeared.

 These days, Dante makes paper flowers, a skill he said he learned while married to Lana Turner. He also has put together a DVD he hopes to sell about how to make the flowers, as well as a DVD about being a hypnotist.

paper flowers found here

His website correctly says he has been listed in Guinness World Records for almost 20 years as having been paid the highest lecture fee: more than $3 million about hypnotherapy at a two-day course held in 1986 in Chicago.

 “That was a good weekend,” Dante said.

 He proudly produces a copy of “Marquis Who’s Who” from 1993, which lists Ronald Pellar as holding a doctorate from Columbia State University and of having been a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.

 Is the Marine Corps reference true?

 Dante smiled slightly. “Of course not,” he said

image found here

worthy of an Oscar

Oscar Levant (1906-1972) was a concert pianist, composer, actor, comedian, radio personality, television host, and bestselling author.

image found here

In 1932 Oscar married Barbara Wooddell, a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl. Walter Winchell wrote in his newspaper column, “Barbara, who is lovely and nice, is marrying Oscar Levant, who isn’t.” Oscar and Barbara were divorced less than nine months after getting married. Oscar said later that, “Besides incompatibility, we hated each other.”

image found here

In 1939 when Oscar married the movie actress June Gale, Walter Winchell wrote, “Oscar Levant, who knows most of the answers, explained that June Gale married him for his beauty, when everybody knows she married him for his theatre passes.”

image found here

In 1938, after an article in the New York Post declared Oscar to be “the wag of Broadway”, and gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen devoted a New York Journal piece to “Town Wit – Oscar Levant”, the producers of a new radio show called “Information, Please!” hired Oscar to appear as a guest. The response to Oscar’s spontaneous wit during this program that challenged “experts” to answer questions sent in by listeners was so phenomenal that he was immediately hired to be one of the show’s four regulars.

In 1940 Oscar began to perform in what were called “concerts with comments”, where he preceeded and followed his piano pieces with humorous comments often made at his own expense.  In 1947 Oscar was invited to perform for President Harry Truman in the White House. His recital was attended by eight justices of the Supreme Court, various cabinet officers, congressmen, and senators, and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. As the Levants were leaving the White House after the recital Oscar turned to his wife and said, “Now I guess we owe them a dinner.”

Harry Truman aged 13 found here

In 1944 Oscar received a draft notice from the army. One of the army’s examiners asked him, “Do you think you can kill?” Oscar replied, “I don’t know about strangers, but friends, yes.” He was sent back to civilian life. 

His caustic repartee occasionally got him into hot water: one television offering, Oscar Levant’s Words About Music, was yanked off the air in 1956 when he commented on a certain starlet’s conversion to Judaism and marriage to a well-known playwright: “Now that Marilyn Monroe is kosher, Arthur Miller can eat her.”

image found here

Among the things that Oscar had a phobia about were any mention of the word “death”, or any word associated with death such as “funeral”, “coffin”, etc.; the numbers 13 and 411 (the hospital room number his mother was in when she died); lemons (which reminded him of the lemon he was awarded in his youth for being the worst dancer at a party); cats (a bad omen); dread of the word “luck” in any connotation, especially when being wished “good luck”; a hatred of the name Sarah (his sister–in–law’s name); and blackbirds (which filled him with terror because they were funereal–looking).

image found here

In July, 1965, Oscar Levant published a volume of random memories titled “The Memoirs of an Amnesiac”. Four weeks after its release it appeared on The New York Times bestseller list. While promoting his book on The Merv Griffin television show, he was asked what he would do if he had his life to live over again. Oscar responded, “I’d talk my parents out of it.”

Some of his more well known quips…..

Of Elizabeth Taylor: “Always a bride, never a bridesmaid.”

image found here

Of Perry Como: “Perry Como’s voice actually comes out of his eyelids.”

Of Debbie Reynolds: “She’s as wistful as an iron foundry.”

Of Grace Kelly: “She just married the first prince who asked her.”

image found here

Of Doris Day: “I knew Doris Day before she became a virgin.”

Of Richard Nixon: “He swings a big mouth and carries a little stick.”

Of Zsa Zsa Gabor: “Zsa Zsa Gabor has learned the secret of perpetual middle age.”

image found here

“Someone once asked me where I lived and I said, ‘On the periphery ‘.”

“I paid thousands of dollars to psychiatrists to forget my childhood.”

“My psychiatrist once said to me, ‘Maybe life isn’t for everyone’.”

“I was thrown out of one mental hospital because I depressed the patients.”

“There is a fine line between genius and insanity, and I have erased that line.”

wherefore art thou?

Robert “Romeo” Coates (1772-1848) was the son of a wealthy sugar planter in Antigua.

more Antigua carnival images here

As a young adult, he emigrated to England and became an amateur actor. His self-image included a highly mistaken belief in his own thespian prowess. After professional theatrical producers failed to cast Coates in significant roles, he used his family fortune to subsidize his own productions in which he was both the producer and the lead actor.

His favourite part was Shakespeare’s Romeo, hence his widely-used nickname. He appeared in a costume of his own design: a flowing sky blue cloak spangled with sequins, red pantaloons, an enormous cravat and a plumed hat – not to mention dozens of diamonds – which was hardly suitable for the part. The audience cracked up with laughter.

Romeo Coates found here

***The glittering outfit was so tight that his limbs bulged out like sausages. In the middle of the play his pants burst open at the seat. Audience members watched in disbelief at the sudden extrusion of a quantity of white linen which was visible whenever he turned around.

image found here

Coates was convinced he was the best actor in business yet he forgot his lines all the time and invented new scenes and dialogue on the spot. He loved dramatic death scenes and would repeat them – or any other scenes he happened to take a fancy to – three to four times over.

Romeo and Juliet by Annie Leibovitz

At the end of his first appearance as Romeo he came back in with a crowbar and tried to pry open Capulet’s tomb. In another of his antics he made the actress playing Juliet so embarrassed that she clung to a pillar and refused to leave the stage. Eventually no actress would agree to play the part with him.

image found here

His fame spread and people would flock to see whether he really was as bad as they had heard. In 1811, when he played the part of Lothario in The Fair Penitent in London’s Haymarket Theatre, the theatre had to turn thousands of would-be spectators away. In another performance in Richmond, Surrey, several audience members had to be treated for excessive laughter.

image found here

Outside the stage Coates continued to amaze the public with his taste in clothing. He wore furs even in hot weather. He went out in a custom-built carriage with a heraldic device of a crowing cock and the motto “While I Live, I’ll Crow”. In receptions he glittered from head to toe with diamond buttons and buckles. His predilection for diamonds of all kinds gave him the nickname “Diamond Coates“.

Joe Namath in fur coat found here

His ridicule and fame increased with each month. “At Home”, a spoof of Coates’s acting, ran nightly at Covent Garden Theatre. When an appearance by “The Celebrated Amateur of Fashion” was promised after a performance of Othello, curious audience members waited back to see him.

The curtain rose to reveal Coates sitting at a table drinking a glass of wine. He strolled to the edge of the stage, drank to the audience’s health and launched into a poetic recitation. A single actor onstage drinking wine and inviting his audience to join him was unlike any performance ever seen at Haymarket before. The crowd roared its approval.

image found here

Eventually though, his plantations on Antigua suffered reversals and he found himself with less income to flaunt. His star faded from the British stage and he retired in his fifties, married and moved to Boulogne-sur-Mer. Sometimes when a visitor recalled the old days in London, he could be coaxed into giving one of his famous recitations, but he refused to ever take to the stage again.

*** excerpt from Banvard’s Folly by Paul Collins

circles of purchasable beauty

Sophia Baddeley (1745-1783) was a celebrated actress and courtesan.


In 1764, Sophia eloped with Robert Baddeley, a Drury Lane theater player almost twice her age. The marriage was not a happy one, but Robert Baddeley recognized an opportunity when a rich Jewish friend of his approached him about becoming involved with Sophia. Robert encouraged her to accept, saying that such rich friends were not to be slighted.

Rich but definitely not Friendly

Most scholars record Sophia’s first acting gig as her 1764 role as an understudy for the role of Cordelia in King Lear; when the lead was unable to perform, Sophia Baddeley played the part. However, she’d never actually seen the play, and upon seeing the actor playing Mad Tom she was so afraid she screamed and fell over. The audience was immediately emotionally drawn to her, and thus began Britain’s love affair with Sophia Baddeley.

Not this Mad Tom

As a courtesan, Sophia Baddeley was renowned for her beauty. One of Sophia’s many paramours, the Duke of Ancaster, compared her eyes to that of the basilisk. “Absolutely one of the wonders of the age. No man can gaze on you unwounded…whose eyes kill those whom they fix on.” In 1771 Samuel Foote opened his satirical comedy The Maid of Bath at the Haymarket. The playwright himself acting in the play extemporized, “Not even the beauty of the nine Muses, nor even that of the divine Baddeley herself, who there sits, could exceed that of the Maid of Bath.” Upon remarking on Sophia’s magnificence, he pointed to where she sat in a theater seat, and she stood, bowing. Twenty five minutes and three encores later she finally sat back down.

more amazing eyes here

Most women who were in “circles of purchasable beauty” were all the rage for a short time before their popularity waned. Sophia Baddeley’s rampant desirability and vogue as a top courtesan only lasted from 1771-1774. Her extravagance makes one gasp: she spent the modern equivalent of £200 a day on hothouse flowers, a quarter of a million on diamonds, and thousands a month on hats and linen. A present from Lord Melbourne for the equivalent of £3,000 would last her barely four days. But then with sex with this gentleman Sophia had much to endure. “Lord Melbourne bored Sophia, she often had a headache which mysteriously disappeared as soon as he was gone.”

flowers found here

Sophia’s memoirs were penned by her lifelong friend and companion, Mrs. Eliza Steele. Eliza was noted to wear men’s clothing and declared that she had fallen in love with her. To protect Sophia, she also carried a pair of pistols. Today, there is much speculation over whether there was any erotic or sexual relationship between Steele and Baddeley.

Girls’ Rifle Team found here

Her husband, Robert, is remembered for something other than his love life.

In his will Baddeley bequeathed £650 towards the maintenance of decrepit actors. He also left £100, invested at 3% per annum, to provide for a twelfth night cake to be supplied to the Drury Lane cast in his memory. This sum covered the provision of a good quantity of ‘lamb’s wool’, wine with baked apple dissolving in it to give a woolly texture, but that part of the tradition seems to have gone by the wayside.


Many years ago, the New York Times reported on one such celebration here:

Oscar Wilde, in conventional evening dress, apologises to young Tennyson, a handsome bright faced youth, as he pushes by him to make a place for Jennie Lee. Oscar has grown stout and looks domestic.


The curtain rises on a stage with a small white table in the centre and long white tables on either side. Banks of crystal glasses glitter and the dark green bottles of champagne have a cool inviting look. Mr Fernandez, custodian of the Drury Lane fund, takes up a Damoscletian sword and holds it over the large round white cake with red and green icing.

Endless bottles of champagne flow like water, their consumption greatly disproportionate with the cotelettes de homard, foie gras and other delicacies. The dance begins. It is a gay scene, very gay, and it rapidly grows gayer and gayer. The theatre rings with laughter and music and the popping of more champagne corks. Not until the yellow sun is beginning its daily struggle with the London mist do the guests go forth to slumber more or less disturbed by memories of the Baddeley cake.

image by Dav Thomas

Published in: on December 19, 2010 at 8:08 am  Comments (34)  
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the finger power of Cyclops

Throughout history weightlifters have performed some amazing feats.

The early Roman Emperor, Cains Maximus, who was reputedly 8 foot tall, was said to be able to squeeze stones into powder with his fingers. In the middle ages, a Richard Joy from Kent, England could tear apart a rope which had a breaking strain of over 35 hundredweights with his bare hands.

Beckham on a rope

One of the most famous early English strongmen was Thomas Topham (1710- 1749), a publican living in London. He was not a huge man, being about 5 ft. 10 inches and around 14 stone. Topham could snap pipe stems in his outstretched fingers, could crush pipe bowls by squashing them with his first and second fingers with just lateral pressure, bend thick pokers by stroking them in a blow across his forearm and would bend thick iron bars around his neck. He is also credited with being able to lift 224 lbs. (101.6 kgs) overhead “easily” with just his little finger.

pipe found here

Less than a handful of men have been capable of bending or breaking coins by the pure power of their fingers alone. Peter The Great, first Czar of Russia was said to be able to break silver coins with the strength of his tough hands and fingers. John Marx (Grunn) the Luxembourg strongman (1868-1912) better known for his ability to break horseshoes was also reputed to have broken American coins in front of witnesses of repute. Polish strongman Franz Bienkowski whose stage name was “Cyclops” was known as “The Coin Breaker” busting coins apart, again in front of expert witnesses.

Learn how to bend coins here

It’s difficult to find photos of Franz Bienkowski, but Oldtime Strongman has some here. While trawling for photos I got waylaid reading about actor   Albert Dekker whose most famous role was playing a mad scientist in the movie Dr Cyclops


Albert Dekker, still dapper at sixty-three, and his longtime fiancée, Geraldine Saunders, made a distinguished couple. On Thursday evening, May 2, 1968, they attended the opening of Zero Mostel’s new play, The Latent Heterosexual. “He was in fine spirits,” Ms. Saunders said later. “We were going to go out again on Friday, but my numerous phone calls to him that evening went unanswered.”

First thing Sunday morning, she went to his Hollywood apartment only to find his door covered with notes from friends who were also trying in vain to contact him. She slipped a note of her own under the door. When she returned that evening and found it still in place, she went to the manager. He opened the front door (which had been locked but not bolted) and found the bathroom door was chained from the inside. He then forced it open — and Saunders passed out. “It was so horrible,” she said.

The 6 feet 3 inch, 240-pound Dekker was kneeling nude in the bathtub, a dirty hypodermic needle sticking out of each arm. A hangman’s noose was around his neck but not tight enough to have strangled him. A scarf was tied over his eyes and something like a horse’s bit was in his mouth. Fashioned from a rubber ball and metal wire, the bit had chain “reins” that were tightly tied behind his head. Two leather thongs were stretched between the leather belts that girded his neck and chest. A third belt, around his waist, was tied with a rope that stretched to his ankles, where it had been tied in some kind of lumber hitch. The end of the rope, which continued up his side, wrapped around his wrist several times and was held in Dekker’s hand. Both wrists were clasped by a set of handcuffs. Written in lipstick, above two hypodermic punctures on his right buttock, was the word “whip” and drawings of the sun. Sun rays had also been drawn around his nipples. “Slave” and “cocksucker” were written on his chest. On his lower abdomen was drawn a vagina. He had apparently been dead since Friday.


During the brief investigation, detectives noted that there were no signs of forced entry or a struggle. They labeled the death “indicated suicide – quite an unusual case.” Finding no convincing evidence for suicide, the coroner rejected that theory. His final report said “accidental death, not a suicide.”

The police toyed with a theory that Dekker was a closet homosexual who practiced his eccentricities very discreetly with anonymous male prostitutes, and that this time, something had gone wrong and the frightened partner had quietly let himself out. They made inquiries, but Dekker had no reputation among male hustlers. Nor did any of his friends consider him the least bit kinky. County Coroner Thomas Noguchi’s theory was autoerotic asphyxia.


the gay lord and the doctor of lust

Helmut Hauser had a normal happy childhood until he contracted tuberculosis of the hip when he was sixteen. His parents sent him to a sanatorium in Switzerland run by a doctor named Benedict Lust.

Benedict Lust

Dr Lust was the founder of American naturopathy and the author of a book on zone therapy. Dr Harold Dick was also a naturopath who became interested in this field when he was miraculously cured of boils and his sister in law expelled a cancerous tumour through her vagina – all thanks to one of Dr Lust’s follower’s, Dr Carroll.

Helmut was so impressed with Dr Lust‘s cure that he decided to devote his life to the promotion of nutrition, health and beauty. For this venture he adopted the new name of Gayelord Hauser and launched Swiss Kriss Laxatives.

Gayelord and Garbo

Inspired by this early success Gayelord moved himself and his well-cleansed bowels to pre-War Hollywood where he found a welcoming milieu: the narcissistic youth-obsessed movie community. Soon Marlene and Gloria and all the girls were in the thrall of the good-looking “doctor” who promised to add years to their pampered lives while making them even more beautiful.


Nobody was immune to the audacious and over-reaching pronouncements of Herr Hauser:

– “Lack of calcium produces fear of the dark, nail biting and gossiping.”

– “Worry turns the hair grey by destroying the adrenal glands.”

– “Blackstrap molasses will add five years to your life and re-grow hair on bald spots.”

“that wonderful body of yours”

Was he a quack? Maybe just a little bit, but so what! At least he had charisma and fabulosity. When he wasn’t lounging around his groovy pad in Sicily with his boyfriend Frey Brown and his longtime beard Greta Garbo, or playing canasta with Paulette Goddard and the Duchess of Windsor, he was snapping up 90210 real estate. Gayelord was cool because he took his gay tubercular hip and made an unstoppable brand out of it. Having bought whole chunks of Rodeo Drive when it was cheap, he died a wealthy poofter at the ripe old age of 89.

Paulette Goddard and the hard-milled facial that lasts

trapped by a fetishist

It appears to me that more people in the arts have polygamous relationships than us ordinary folk. Or maybe no one writes about the ordinary folk who are having them


Wonder Woman was created by Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston, who wrote the stories under the pseudonym Charles Moulton. Marston is also known as the inventor, or at least the most enthusiastic advocate, of the polygraph lie detector. Marston led a colorful and unconventional life. In his first of several popular psychology books, Emotions of Normal People, he discussed emotional states in terms of “elementary behaviour units” in the activities of dominance, compliance, submission and inducement.

One study in Marston’s book involves the “baby party,” a strange sorority ritual held at Jackson College. Freshman initiates were required to dress like babies, bound, prodded with sticks, and wrestled when they resisted. One of Marston’s theories was that America would become a matriarchy, and in many of his writings he espoused the view that women could and would use sexual enslavement to achieve dominance over men.  His ideas landed him the post of consulting psychologist for the women’s magazine Family Circle.

order your adult baby dresses here

His research assistant on that study, Olive Byrne, was also the woman who, as Olive Richard, conducted the seminal interview published in Family Circle. In fact, Olive moved in with Marston and his wife Elizabeth. William Marston fathered two children each by each woman, and the extended family lived together harmoniously.


Artist Sir Stanley Spencer also had an unconventional love life.

“He viewed sexual union as a sacrament. A man raises a woman’s dress with the same passionate admiration and love as the priest raises the Host on the altar,’ he wrote.


Stanley met his first wife, Hilda Carline in 1923 and they eventually married in 1925. Their first daughter, Shirin, was born the same year and their second, Unity, in 1930.

In 1933 a fellow artist, Patricia Preece, began to model for him, first in a conventional way – there is a portrait of her in striped jersey in front of his gramophone – and later wearing increasingly few clothes.

Patricia Preece – Self Portrait

Stanley quickly became infatuated. Hilda wrote to a friend: ‘She vamped him to a degree unbelievable except in cinemas. If he went to her house, she always received him half or a quarter dressed. He showered her with presents, from the lacy lingerie in which he painted her, to gifts of cash.

Carline divorced Spencer in 1937. A week later he married Patricia, knowing she, however, was a lesbian. She continued to live with her partner, and though she frequently posed nude for her husband, refused to consummate the marriage.

Patricia found herself trapped by a fetishist. As she said years later, he bought her ‘innumerable pairs of bright, beastly shoes with enormously high heels, in which he stared at my legs and feet with fascination‘. When Spencer’s bizarre relationship with Patricia finally fell apart (though she would never grant a divorce), he returned to visiting Hilda.


Then there’s Australian actor Jack Thompson who spent 15 years in a ménage à trois with two sisters, Leona and Bunkie.

“Know how difficult it is living with the woman you love?” Thompson is fond of saying. “Try doubling it”. Though the living arrangement came to an end, Thompson has no regrets, “I wouldn’t have missed it for quids.”

Glenda Jackson & Jack Thompson 1975

Perhaps most famous of all were the complicated goings on of the Bloomsbury Set.

Duncan Grant had always been actively homosexual but a relationship blossomed with Vanessa Bell who was in a relationship with his friend, artist Roger Fry. Grant eventually moved in with Vanessa and her two sons by her husband Clive Bell. Then Grant’s new lover, David Garnett arrived.

Vanessa Bell aged 2

Relationships with Clive Bell remained amicable, and he too stayed with them for long periods fairly often – sometimes accompanied by his own mistress, Mary Hutchinson. Vanessa very much wanted a child by Duncan, and became pregnant in the spring of 1918. Although it is generally assumed that Duncan’s sexual relations with Vanessa ended in the months before Angelica was born, they continued to live together for more than 40 years.


Published in: on October 24, 2010 at 6:17 am  Comments (36)  
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follow me to Shangri-La

Shelley Winters was a great character actress who portrayed a drab factory girl in A Place in the Sun and a sex starved mother in Lolita. She wasn’t particularly beautiful but her love life was steamier than most other sex symbols of her time.


“Yvonne De Carlo told me that Mr Erroll Flynn was giving a small dinner party and asked if I wanted to go so I put on my red satin you-know-what-shoes and drove out to his place in Hollywood Hills. The butler handed me a double martini in a silver goblet and Yvonne and I  were introduced to Mr Clark Gable and another couple.


We ate at a glass top table in an outdoor dining room surrounded by flowers and birds, and there were real gardenias floating in the pool. While we were having Irish coffee a doctor arrived and all three men left the dinner table. I heard each of them yell “Ouch” and one by one they returned buttoning their shirts and rubbing their right shoulders.


After the second “ouch” I excused myself and sneaked down the hall so I could peek in the room where the doctor was. I saw Mr Flynn with his shirt off and the doctor cutting a little flap of skin on the back of his shoulder, inserting a capsule, then stitching it back up. It seemed very weird  and to this day no doctor has ever been able to offer an explanation for what I saw.

Before we headed into the screening room to watch a movie, Yvonne invited me to go to the ladies room with her. “Which one do you want?” she asked. I hesitated and she said “I think Erroll really likes you so I’ll sacrifice myself and take Gable” and that’s how we decided.

Sacrificial Yvonne

As the lights went out Mr Flynn put his arm around me and I swooned like a Victorian heroine. I couldn’t tell you what the film was about but half way though watching it something shiny caught my eye. Mr Flynn must have pressed a button because a 12 foot panel slid back to reveal a raised platform with a huge satin covered bed with the top sheet turned back, ready. Around the bed were books, telephones, a bar, an icebox, a radio and a phonograph. On the ceiling was a mirror which also slid back to reveal the moon and stars through a flowering magnolia tree.

seduction den found here

When the movie ended everyone got up to leave but Mr Flynn’s arm kept me pinned to the seat. Maybe I wasn’t trying too hard to escape. He said to the others “Don’t worry about Shelley, I’ll see she gets home.”

“Remember she has to be at work at 6:30 on Monday morning” said Yvonne. I wondered what the hell she was talking about, it was only Friday night. In those days when the film industry considered a scene censorable, the camera would pan to such things as the fireplace or waves on a beach or fireworks in the sky.

So… cut to:

A fire ROARING in a fireplace

Waves POUNDING on a beach


Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, WITH CANNONS

Sydney fireworks 2007

By the way I WAS late for work on Monday…….

the prizefighter, the alleycat and the president


When I think of Groucho Marx I think of cigars and animal crackers and nights at the opera. He also wrote fine letters to people he admired such as T S Eliot

November 1, 1963

Dear Tom

Since you are actually an early American, (I don’t mean you are an old piece of furniture but you are a fugitive from St Louis), you should have heard of Tom Gibbons. For your edification, Tom Gibbons was a native of Minnesota which is only a stone’s throw from Missouri. That is, if the stone is encased in a missile. Tom was, at one time, the light-heavyweight champion of the world.

Tom Gibbons

The name Tom fits many things. There was once a famous Jewish actor named Thomashevsky. All male cats are named Tom – unless they have been fixed. In that case they are just neutral and, as the upheaval in Saigon has just proved, there is no place any more for neutrals.


The third President of the United States first name was Tom…. in case you’ve forgotten Jefferson.

So, when I call you Tom, this means you are a mixture of a heavyweight prizefighter, a male alley cat and the third President of the United States.

Albert the Alley Cat

I have just finished my latest opus, “Memoirs of a Mangy Lover.” Most of it is autobiographical and very little of it is fiction. I doubt whether it will live through the ages, but if you are in a sexy mood the night you read it, it may stimulate you beyond recognition and rekindle memories that you haven’t recalled in years.


I would be interested in reading your views on sex, so don’t hesitate. Confide in me. Though admittedly unreliable, I can be trusted with matters as important as that.

My best to you and Mrs. Tom.

Yours, Groucho


Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 8:52 am  Comments (54)  
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