Ronald loves Harry who loves Gaby who just wants a pearl necklace

Ronald Firbank (1886-1926) was already a published author and a fully formed personality by the time he entered Cambridge at the age of nineteen.

Ronald Firbank

“In 1907 he converted to Catholicism, a religion whose ornate rituals, costumes, symbols, and pageantry provided him with a vehicle through which to express his homosexuality obliquely. Firbank visited Rome with the intention of taking holy orders; however, as he later revealed in a letter to Lord Berners, “The Church of Rome wouldn’t have me, and so I mock her.” Accordingly, his fiction is populated with a ribald gallery of homosexual choirboys, lesbian nuns, cross-dressing priests, salacious bishops, flagellants, and self-canonized saints.

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His last and most explicitly gay work, Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli, appeared in 1926, the same year as Firbank’s early death at the age of forty. The book begins with the cardinal baptizing a police puppy named Crack, and ends when the naked cardinal drops dead while pursuing a choirboy named Chicklet around his church.”

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Gaby Deslys (1881-1920) was a famous French dancer and actress of the early 20th century.

Gaby

“She had many admirers among royalty, most notably Manuel II of Portugal. Deslys became a celebrity following newspaper stories which gossiped about King Manuel’s infatuation with her. Manuel is thought to have given Deslys a pearl necklace worth $70,000 after first meeting her in Paris in July 1909. More gifts soon followed. One was a diamond necklace with black and white pearl drops set in a platinum band. Deslys cultivated a pearl fetish. She collected so many that before she died she said she owned her weight in them.

Gaby

Her American feature film debut was in 1915 with Her Triumph costarring her dancer boyfriend Harry Pilcer. The film is lost but surviving stills show a scene with Deslys and Pilcer and also the intro card with Deslys’s picture in the credits. Deslys made only two more French silent films in 1918 and 1919, both with Harry Pilcer in the cast, before getting the illness that would take her life.


Harry

Her carved and gilded bed, in the form of an enormous swan, was bought at auction by the Universal Studios prop department, and was used in the 1925 film of “The Phantom of the Opera”. In 1950 it was in “Sunset Boulevard” as the bed of Norma Desmond.

According to Beverley Nichols, Gaby spent most of her stage career stalking up and down staircases in the traditional manner. When Ronald Firbank first saw Harry Pilcer dance, he was chasing Gaby up one of her staircases at the time. Firbank was so overwhelmed that he rushed out and bought a huge bunch of orchids which he sent to Pilcer’s dressing room accompanied by an invitation to supper.

“Whether Pilcer ever got the flowers we shall never know; he gave no answer. Whereupon Firbank, with tears streaming down his face, returned to the theatre. Still sobbing, he advanced to the front row and walked slowly along by the side of the orchestra pit, tossing cypripediums and odontoglossums with tragic gestures to the astonished musicians. “

Orchid Mantis found here



Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 7:38 am  Comments (38)  
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sisters play havoc

Little June Havoc could dance on point at age two.

Baby June was appearing regularly around Seattle, once as part of the bill on Anna Pavolva’s farewell tour, inspiring her mother to change her billing to “Baby June, the Pocket-sized Pavlova.”

Soon she was launched in vaudeville and also appeared in Hollywood movies. She couldn’t speak until three, but the films were silent and she could cry for the cameras when her mother told her dog had died.

June had a big sister, Rose Louise. Their mother, also named Rose, wanted stage careers for her children.

Madam Rose taught the girls to lie about their ages to truant officers and railway train conductors, steal blankets and sheets from hotels, and sneak out without paying. She wasn’t above sabotaging rival acts and was masterful at conning well wishers out of money with her genteel, brave-but-helpless single mother act. June later said that after the age of five, she never believed anything her mother said. A tiny, delicate looking woman, Rose nevertheless once managed to push a hotel manager out of the window.

By the late 1920s, vaudeville was dying and Dainty June was getting too big for a kid act. The girls never knew their real ages until they were grown. June thought she was 13 when she eloped with Bobby Reed, but she was probably three years older. A furious Rose jammed a gun into Bobby’s chest and pulled the trigger but the safety catch was on. (She later pulled a gun on Louise’s first husband too, but it wasn’t loaded.)

With backing from Rose’s father, they recruited a half dozen unprepossessing adolescent girls who wanted a career in show business. Louise made babyish costumes for them, and they hit the road as Madam Rose’s Dancing Daughters with a pig named Porky and an act in which they held dolls. The act wasn’t a success.

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The act was renamed “Rose Louise and Her Hollywood Blondes,” and they worked their first burlesque house, The Missouri Theatre in Kansas City. It was then that Rose Louise Hovick changed her name to Gypsy Rose Lee

Meanwhile, Dainty June, now billed as June Havoc, had worked her way back from obscurity. After her smash performance in the Rodgers and Hart musical Pal Joey in 1940, she went on to a long and distinguished career in movies and on Broadway.

Rose (senior) died in 1954. In later years, she had run a lesbian boarding house and farm. One of her guests was shot at a party, and the verdict was suicide, but her grandson, Erik Preminger, is quoted in a Vanity Fair article saying that the victim was Rose’s lover, and that Rose killed her in front of many witnesses after she made a pass at Gypsy.


Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 7:18 am  Comments (36)  
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