Cinderella of my heart

Pierre Arnold Bernard (1875-1955) had an abiding interest in Tantra

“Known in the popular American press as “Oom the Omnipotent,” Bernard became notorious throughout newspapers and journals as a spiritual leader and philosopher as well as a philanderer, seducer of women and purveyor of scandalous indecencies.

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Wily con man, yogi, athlete, bank president, founder of the Tantrik Order in America and the Clarkestown Country Club …the remarkable “Doctor” Bernard was all of these.

Bernard simulating his own death

In 1904, Bernard established a clinic in San Francisco where he taught his own versions of self-hypnosis and yoga, which eventually became known as the “Bacchante Academy.” Even then, Bernard had become something of a scandal in the California press, who charged that the Academy “catered to young women interested in learning hypnotism and soul charming by which they meant the mysteries of the relations between the sexes”

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Teaching Hatha Yoga downstairs and offering secret Tantric initiation upstairs, his Oriental sanctum quickly became an object of scandal in the New York press: the notorious “Omnipotent Oom” was charged with kidnapping and briefly imprisoned, though the charges were later dropped. “I cannot tell you how Bernard got control over me or how he gets it over other people,” said one of the alleged kidnapees, Zella Hopp, “He is the most wonderful man in the world. No women seem able to resist him.” The press reported “wild Oriental music and women’s cries, but not those of distress”

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Apparently, Bernard also believed that for certain individuals (particularly overly-repressed women of the Victorian era) more drastic surgical measures might be needed to liberate their sexual potential. Sexually unresponsive women could be helped by a form of partial circumcision in which the clitoral hood was surgically removed, an operation believed to improve female receptivity by exposing the clitoral gland to direct stimulation.

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One of the wealthy men associated with Bernard was Ed Browning, better known as Daddy Browning.

Real estate multi-millionaire Edward West Browning married Nellie Adele Lowen in 1915. He built a 24 room Manhattan penthouse for them that included an interior aviary, a miniature lake stocked with Japanese goldfish, and a turtle and frog garlanded fountain that spewed the colors of the rainbow. In 1918 Nellie adopted three-year-old “Little” Marjorie, and in 1920 five-year-old Dorothy “Sunshine.” But by 1923, Adele had had her fill of Edward, and she ran off with a dentist, taking Little Marjorie with her. Divorce followed.

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Browning tried to make up for the loss by providing Sunshine with ponies and miniature railways. For transportation she selected a peacock-colored, stretch Rolls Royce “equipped with a 4 foot high motion picture screen.” The child, however, still suffered from loneliness and Edward placed adoption ads in 1925: there were 12,000 applications from which he chose 16 year old Mary Louise Spas. The adoption was later annulled as it was discovered she was 21.

To assuage his failure at marriage and adoption, Edward became active in sponsoring youth-oriented dancing clubs and high school sorority dances where he met Frances Belle Heenan, a tenth grader. She was described as buxom, with a peaches and cream complexion. “Peaches is the Cinderella of my heart,” he said. Thirty-seven days later, on her sixteenth birthday, fifty-one-year-old Daddy married Peaches.

Daddy doted on Peaches, spoiling her with a four and one-half carat diamond ring and Fifth Avenue shopping rampages. There was much activity after their marriage, including social engagements and a stroll along the Long Beach boardwalk with their pet African Honking Gander on a red ribbon leash. But six months after the marriage, Peaches left Daddy, claiming abuse.

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Court room details of Peaches’ assertions of Daddy’s excessive eccentricity, included contact with the “Love Cult” High Priestess of Oom, sandpapering shoetrees at night, prowling and barking on all fours, and placing at the end of his lit cigar a white tablet that produced a large snowflake.

Michael Greenburg has written a book about their exploits called “Peaches and Daddy”. And on this site here you can see more photographs like the one below of their pre-marital abode.

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 8:10 am  Comments (37)  
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pink bits

Sir Mark Palmer, baronet and former pageboy to the Queen, declared himself a fashion oracle in 1967.

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“Sir Mark Palmer predicts that pink will be the popular shade in menswear next season. He has set up a shop in Chelsea and revolutionised the image of the male fashion model.

A staff of 35 English boy models are kept busy at £15 an hour. They must be 6′ tall, weigh 140 lbs and not be more than 36″ around the chest.

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When we met Mark Palmer he was wearing a sky blue flat felt hat, blue striped red blazer, flowered Moroccan vest with striped tie around the waist, pink pants and pink shoes. “Painted the shoes myself” he said with pride.

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“We’re riding the crest of the wave he said. “The shape of men’s bodies had already changed before we pointed it out but nobody had noticed. Male models should look like poets. Who wants to look like a 35 year old muscular Australian male model? Young girls don’t want to be seen with that type any more.”

David Genat

In 1968 he had an epiphany and set off in search of a Shangri-la in Cornwall

“The fifth baronet has grown his hair to shoulder length and sleeps in a brightly painted wagon pulled by a carthorse. Several women, nine puppies, four horses and a lamb have joined his hippie band. He has cashed in his inheritance to buy an estate but at the moment lives in a derelict lodge.

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Sir Mark, who went to Eton and Oxford (“not really my scene”) is wearing hand sewn moccasins, gold socks and trousers, red trimmed vest, flower patterned shirt and yellow flower embroidered open jacket.

Nice to know he was still interested in fashion. For several years he travelled around Britain in a horse drawn caravan. He was also a friend of the Rolling Stones

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“Palmer’s revised modus vivendi was to live out, eat au naturel and to sleep rough, late and with whomever he could. Villagers became inured to the sight of Palmer’s numerous acolytes appearing in the local shop to buy cigarette papers or a magazine of astrological data.

Eventually he married one of the aficionados of astrological magazines and became a horse dealer and father to artist, model and aspiring trapezist Iris Palmer.

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‘A touch of the Iris Palmers’ is fashion-speak for not smiling. The one-time face of both ‘ready-to-wear’ (Chanel and Lacroix) and ‘already worn’ (Oxfam), Iris is a product of St Mary’s Wantage, the rather more liberal Bedales and Chelsea Art School. She first turned up at her modelling agency, Storm, in a micro-miniskirt, fishnets and spike heels, took acid at Glastonbury, grew her armpit hair for a Helmut Newton shoot and is a demon ping-pong player. She’s now editor-at-large of Cheap Date, a magazine advocating ‘freedom from fashion’. ‘All my clothes are second-hand and cost less than a fiver. I never wash them – I just chuck them in a terrifying pile, and I may not see them again,’ she says. Her paintings of robust nudes are not admired by critics, but Helena Christensen bought one for £2,000. Recently, to the amazement of the fashion world, Iris has joined a travelling circus, and hopes to learn the trapeze. Audiences report that she has even been spotted smiling.

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Published in: on May 5, 2010 at 8:20 am  Comments (42)  
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