Wild, aeronautical Daffodil: thank you so much for your concern about my silly little 'flu. And I shouldn't fret much about TB. If there is one thing to be said for the Iron Curtain, it's that Tuberculosis can prove rather difficlt to get through it! (But it's getting easier fast, I hear.) And as for treatment, well, I should think that it isn't just the ones in Quirinelle and Kadoria, but Aristasian doctresses in general who provide rather better medical care than a girl would get anywhere in Telluria, since the corridors of medical power, as it were, are in Aristasia bound to be free of the brutish pompousity and wickedness that have crowded them for so long in Telluria.
Hark, pettes, to what Miss Barbara said about True Diversity. I believe she is quite right, and furthermore, that what the Pit (or mainstream Western Tellurian "culture") really espouses is globalisation in place of diversity. By "globalisation" I mean, of course, corporate Pit-colonialism in the guise of "breaking down boundaries" between people and cultures. While there are at least small pockets of resistance to this deliberately false definition of diversity, the dominant Pit-idealogy is absolutely about the most power-wielding organs of the most economically powerful (masculinised) society forcing that society's culture, values and industries onto the whole of the economically "weak" (feminised) world - and in the process rapidly destroying the indigenous cultures along with the health and livelihood of the peoples therein. And as we all know only too well, that most-economically-powerful-society happens to be none other than the very "heart" of the Pit.
This subject is so enormous, pettes, and it's damaging effects on Feminine Existence are so many and so grave, that I shall muse here on just one little aspect of resistance which, while morally cheering, is destined to be short-lived. See, when one observes any "third world" country, one notices that while the em-ee-en can constantly be seen sporting the inevitable ill-fitting t-shirt and baseball cap (often advertising some kind of beer or football team), the ladies are often clothed, at least partially, in traditional garments. I know that the reason for this is partly that the em-ee-en demand that "their" women obey tradition and "modesty" as status symbols, whilst the hypocritical Strange Creatures themselves do nothing of the kind, ( and in fact quite frequently indulge in the exact opposite.) But I am sure that the women's intuitive steadfastness and fidelity to beauty and truth make up the greater motive for their rejection of commercial Pit-garments. Witness a phenomenon of colonial times: when some em-ee-en gained status and began to associate with Westerners, they made a habit of pressing western dress and social manners upon their wives - but rather than eagerly accepting this, most ladies could only be torn with great effort from their innate sense of style, expression and community. It was not merely blind conformity; for in these circumstances, they were the ones who were conspicuous at genteel tea-parties. At any event; no matter how the em-ee-en may twist and abuse this fact, it is surely true that woman is the upholder of all that is good and pure in tradition.
One last little "serious" thing, girls, if you'll indulge me (as you clearly already have) I should like to express a bit of a reservation about what dear Miss Barbara said regarding the real world's appreciation of "the true differences between pettes." That reservation is, well... let us not forget that it was in the real world that the second world war took place, and a great many other, earlier and later, atrocities besides. It was a deep, (and dare I say) evil, lack of appreciation of the differences between people which, combined with the deadly force of masculine brutality, drove such unspeakable events. Freedom from these gruesome elements is, after all, why I prefer the sacred land of Aristasia to both the Pit and the Tellurian real world.
Well girls, I shall waste no time now in climbing off of my hat-box, for I must ooh-and-ah a bit about sweet Charmaine's exquisite ball-gown. Yes, I know that we've already heard the great chorus of blonde sighs which arose as she brandished the photograph of the mannikin, but pettes - it looks ever so much to me like the sort of gown one might see swirling about a proud Arcadian Gypsy-girl with a scarlet rose 'twixt her teeth... In fact I had to look very closely just to be sure the mannikin was truly roseless. When I tried to imagine the dreamy thing in purest white, I could only think of the same Gypsy; except this time curtsieing to the photopette on the day of her grand wedding. So you see what witchcraft that insidious Norma has wrought upon my poor, flightly little mind!
MISS MINA KUMARI
The new book on Aristasian/essentialist philosophy, The Feminine Universe is nearing completion, and while we are on this subject, we can't resist quoting one of the footnotes from it, on the false "idealism" of the Pit:
"The only other 'ideal', presented in various guises, is 'diversity', which again is not an end in itself, but only a means to the preservation of worthwhile things such as traditional cultures, all of which are in fact systematically destroyed by deracination; while 'diversity' itself is primarily a corrosive used against the remnants of true Western culture. To 'celebrate diversity' while undermining all culture except deracinated mass-culture is like celebrating houses while murdering their occupants."
When Monday morning rolled round, poor Esther was still under the weather and I could still abide nothing that covered any more skin than my bathing suit had, that is, I was more or less sentenced to rather scant undies for the duration, so it was Carmen who had to call Central Casting on behalf of the three of us.
Here she is at the pay telephone in the basement of the "Y," calling in for the thirteenth time. Carmen, you can see, is a very lovely blonde; she is trying to hide her disappointment as the Central Casting operator tells her, for the thirteenth time, "Sorry, Honey, nothing right now. Try back again later." And here, at the other end of the line, is the Central Casting operator herself, telling Carmen to call back in ten minutes or so. A girl could run out of nickels in a hurry in the course of a morning!
Pettes, had I not been oars de combat on account of my sunburn (thats French for rowing upsteam while fighting a strong current with every stroke, that is, to be in a rather tight spot), I would have been right there at the telephone myself, telling that fresh operator that Miss Lucille Riggs, casting interviewer, is my very dear personal friend, and that only two days ago, on Saturday, Miss Riggs said that she would tellthe Central Casting operators all about me, Ariadne, to grease the stays for my launching, so to speak, and now this was me, Ariadne in person, speaking on the telephone, calling in for an assignment for myself and my talented blonde sisters Esther and Carmen, didnt they have a script that called for a trio of tap dancing blondes to sing and jump out of a cake? That wouldve worked in a mome, operators respect authority in a blonde, you know, but I was, um, indisposed, and could not get downstairs to the telephone seeing as I could not put any clothes on over my sunburn and a girl does not make calls from a public telephone in her underwear not even in Hollywood.
So I must finally admit that today I was just the teensiest bit worried for the very first time that my Big Break might not be just round the corner and that I might have to look for a temporary situation until things begin to look up. Dont worry, though, darlings, I have lots of ideas and fifty dollars left. Something will turn up on Tuesday. Its bound to.
My dear Miss Barbara, speak not of bartering. The labours of the day I sell; but the fruits and flowers of my garden are a gift from Dea, and like Her other gifts, held in trust until we can honour Her by giving them again. A dear friend gave me a bottle of home-made wine last week, and I asked, "What can I give you in return - some oregano pesto? dried rosemary? lemon balm and peppermint tea?"
My friend smiled and said, "You don't have to give me anything in return, but if you want to give me something, I would like to have something you're proud of." I'm proudest of my raspberry jam and my red current jelly, which shine in their little jars like jewels, and soon they shone in my friend's kitchen. Isn't it amazing how a good, true thought can elevate the simplest transaction?
So Miss Barbara, it would be my pleasure to share with you as much lavender as I can send you; if you give our hostesses permission to send me your address. And I would be proud to sew it into a sachet for your linen, or an herb pillow for your bed (that's a flat sachet that you slip between the pillow case and the pillow, and it gives the sweetest dreams...) or would you just like it loose? And we may talk a little more, and maybe there will be something you will want to send me.
Candida, I have every confidence that lavender fairies can live in the smallest clump of lavender, but I expect you just haven't found the right kind of lavender for your soil and drainage and all those technical things. I grow three kinds of lavender and they are all quite different. English lavender (lavandula angustifolia) comes in many different varieties, and some are great big English-country-garden clumps behind which a little girl could hide, and some are dwarf varieties that could fit on a window-ledge, and some are hardy through the frost and snow, and some just give up the ghost and move to Florida, and they can be light purple-blue, pink, white, and shades thereof. French lavender (lavandula stoechas) is only "half-hardy" (I have no idea what that means, except it's not guaranteed to survive winter) is dark purple and even the leaves are scented, and the scent is different from the English lavender, a little lemony and sort of, well, French. So you might want to hunt about for a lavender plant that agrees better with your garden. Meanwhile, I would be delighted to send you some (vide my comments above).
Oh, I long for spring, when the lavender will send up its new green foliage and the trilliums bloom in their secret shady places, and the fawn lilies dance under the alders, and the ducks come back to my pond. In the long fragrant spring of my valley, the baby bunnies play along the hedges, and the plum tree flowers, and in the morning I can walk from the crest of the hill to the creek with my eyes closed, and pick the exact moment when the scent of the lilacs from the hill is overtaken by the perfume of irises from the creek. Spring gives me hope for all the world. Oh well, it won't be long now; there are pussies on the willow tree, and robins in the lawn.
First, they are really not fashion designers at all. Real fashion designers, save for the most exclusive couturieres, design for the anonymous woman, who may be size 6 or 16 or anywhere in between. Her fashion designs may be manufactured by the dozens, hundreds or even tens of thousands. Most are mass-produced.
A Hollywood designer, on the other hand, is really a costume designer: she is usually designing for not just for a particular actress, but for a particular actress in a particular role. Her designs are not mass-produced, but cut by her table ladies and sewn by hand by her seamstresses right there in the studio, sometimes overnight, if the directress is one of those hard-driving, perfectionist brunettes who has her finger in absolutely everything. True, several identical gowns may sometimes be made for a film. For example, Miss Ginger Rogers' gowns are often made in triplicate: one for rehearsals - usually completely worn out by the time the film is in the can - one for final takes, and one for Miss Roger's stand-in. But that's the exception, because Miss Rogers is a dancer. Most elegant Hollywood gowns are one-of-a-kind, and, as we shall see a bit later, have a very short life expectancy.
The successful Hollywood costume designer must follow the script, just as the actresses and the lighting and sound crews must do. For example, in Gone With The Wind, when Scarlett O'Hara gets married almost overnight, she wears her mother's wedding dress, as she does not have the necessary four months to order one from Paris. From the book, we know that Scarlett's mother is taller than she, and, of course, her mother's wedding dress would be hopelessly out-of-style for a girl of Scarlett's age (and preoccupation with fashion). So the costume designer had to create an expensive-looking wedding dress, but of the wrong period and in the wrong size! If Gone With The Wind happens to be showing at your neighborhood movie house, notice how miserable Miss Leigh appears, wearing such an "emergency" wedding dress! It's at least two sizes too large and three inches too long, with folds of fabric lying like a puddle on the floor in front of her!
As you may imagine, some starlets' gowns are terribly costly, especially those covered with bugle beads or sequins or those fringed with pearls or brilliants, all sewn on by hand one at a time. The studios are not, after all, fashion museums, they are money-making enterprises. So, after a film has been shot and all the publicity stills completed, glorious gowns may be re-used, cut up, cannibalized, utterly destroyed! Furs are almost always of the best quality, but they are so very expensive that they are generally rented and returned to the furrier, just as rented jewels are returned to the jeweler; if the costume merely has fur trim, the trim is removed and either re-used, or, if rented, returned. So you can see why I have a job merely archiving all the costumes before they disappear forever: my 8 by 10 glossies are often all that survive of these wonderful gowns.
All right, that's enough theory for now, (you say), let's have some actual gowns. But how shall I present these to you pettes? By actress? By where in Trent the gowns come from (Eastern, Central or Western)? By costume designer? No, I think I have a better way. Why don't I organize them by fabrics and general styles? So we can look at, say, brocades and satins, laces and prints, furs, feathers and period costumes, hostess' gowns, town dresses and evening wear, wedding gowns, play clothes, bedroom and boudoir attire, and so on. Sound O.K.? Good!
So let me begin with an utterly feminine fabric: chiffon - sheer and lightweight, made from silk or, more recently, of rayon, too. Chiffon can be virginal, as in a wedding gown, it can be cut to cling closely to a girl's figure without being blatantly seductive, or it can be free and airy and open. In any case, chiffon conveys a sense of delicate, slightly vulnerable and charming ultra-soft femininity. Though generally more suited to blondes, chiffon can be successfully carried off by certain brunettes, generally those not involved in banking, finance, manufacturing or real estate.
Now behold Claudette Colbert's gown of white chiffon, with a graceful Empire waistline and fashionably new, wide straps that look almost liked capped sleeves, though the gown is actually sleeveless. The skirt is a soft, sweeping bias sheath over a clinging underskirt of sheer white crepe, which adds a faint but delicious audible element to the ensemble, which I cannot possibly convey to you in writing, but which would be electrifying to hear approaching you from behind in a drawing room during a lull: you would be forced to turn your head and look! And here's a fascinating little detail: Trent, as you may know, has film censors, appointed by the District Governess. The censors in Eastern Trent, where Miss Colbert is presently making films, have forbidden any display of such, um, items as garter tabs, cleavage of any degree, bare breasts and navels! But Miss Colbert's figure is so very perfect, and the cling of the chiffon so very faithful, that her navel is most unmistakably limned as the gentlest and most demure of feminine depressions, that carnal link through endless generations back to Dea herself. I do hope the rigors of transmission through Elektraspace do not spoil this most special effect of this most charming gown, its simple lines set off by a pendant of diamonds and rubies - the rubies providing the only color besides that of the woman herself.
Though chiffon conveys, as I've already mentioned, delicate feminine softness and innocence, it can also be enticingly alluring on the right actress. Although lacking the stunning effect of sequins or bugle beads, or the "come hither" and frankly seductive look of satin, chiffon can, nonetheless, be effectively exciting, but in the most civilized and understated way, with which the censors rarely take issue (they may even be dozing, knowing chiffon is about to be displayed!)
Here is Sandra Storme, the blonde English beauty, wearing a full-skirted, strapless chiffon gown, alluringly backlighted in this extremely glamorous publicity still. The sheer pleated cape is clearly being held out by a wardrobe girl just beyond camera range. But, darlings, you must imagine this ensemble on the living girl, filmed in motion, no wardrobe assistant needed! Imagine Miss Storm standing before you on a veranda some soft summer's night, a warm breeze stirring both gown and cape in the moonlight. I dare say the Eastern Trent censors bit their lips rather hard over this shot when they took their wives to the film, having passed over it in their slumbers! (All the censors are older brunettes, you know.) If I ever leave the costume department, it will be to become a censor. What a job for a brunette, especially if she can stay awake!
ANITA, TRENTISH BRUNETTE AND HOLLYWOOD COSTUME ARCHIVIST
Golly, Lycress, old darling, I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say that bongos have a say in all worlds! They certainly have not in Aristasia, do they? Not that the poor things have a say in any world, or even in the pit. They are controlled by the octopus, poor creatures, without their knowledge.I think that it is so sad. They are the victims of endless tricks and methods to make them think what the octopus wishes them to think. They suffer fifteen years of the octopus's education, followed by every single thing around them reiterating the message, bombarding them with falsehood. I could say more, a great deal more; but it is too distressing, so I'll change the subject, and return my thoughts to Elizabeth Ruth's lavender.
Lavender is one of my favourite scents. It always smells clean and I think that it is mentally stimulating. I should think that your linen drawers smell delightful, with your enormous harvest of the flowers. Jennifer would put lavender in my wardrobe, but alack! I think that my soil is too damp or too dry or too middling for it to grow successfully in my garden. Instead of a wonderful, huge and scented bush, all buzzing with bees in the summer, I have a tiny wee stump. With two flowers. I hope that it is sufficinet for the lavender-fairy to live in--but it isn't sufficient for me!
I should love some lavender, if you have any to spare. Perhaps we could arrange a little Aristasian bartering? Your lavender for an up-to-date magazine from the province of your choice (Trent- Infraquirinelle). Or, if you give me your size, a pair of stockings or a nice Quirrie or Kadorie frock? My coffers are full, but, alas, I have no aromatic herbs to use in my bath at the mome.
I love your Cocktail Bar contribbers, by the way, and always look forward to hearing what you might say next.
Oh Dolls! I am simply Beside myself! I am just returning the most Delightful, Exquisite Quirinellian enclave across the pond. The most exciting thing, you see, and its located in the Center, the very Heart, of Pit-New York! So unfortunate that it is merely temporary. Oh dears, I'm breathless and so very Trembly. You Quirinellian maids absolutely must experience it.
But hold, first a peppermint schnapps to Calm my nerves. Ahh, yes much better. Dear me, I believe I'm Blushing.
The News! You see, the most Talented clothes designer in all Quirinell is having an exhibition of her Latest Work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Pit-New York. Yes, Christine Dior has her absolute most Current pieces on display. Each dress, gown and coat reflects her New Look with the closely mapped upper body, the Emphatically tiny waist, the Vast and Sumptuous full skirts. But allow me to quote her:
Miss Dior said her New Look succeeded because it caught a postwar longing to remember and recapture things past; it was "a mood that sought refuge from the mechanical and impersonal in a return to tradition and enduring values." She declared, "In an era as serious as ours, where national luxury means artillery and jet aircraft, we must defend every inch of our own personal luxury."
How very Astute, no? My absolute Favorite creation? It must be her black "Mystere" day coat. It shadows the upper torso closely, secures it by means of four large black buttons, then suddenly lets pleats of green taffeta flower above the breast and below the waist. Heavenly!
PS: I love the magazine. I curled up in bed with it last night and dreamt of flowers and dancing.
There is a green-and-yellow trolley that goes from in front of the "Y" right to the beach, so we packed a beach blanket, some towels, a beach ball (nothing goes over so well as a pretty blonde trying - and failing - to throw a beach ball, so three blondes trying - and failing - is three times as good), sandwiches and Coca-Colas, and set out with the greatest of expectations for two bits apiece, which is what Culverians call twenty-five pesos. It was a perfect day, but, then, we hear all the days are perfect in El Lay, which is why films moved here from Astoria, New York, where they began, because Gotham weather is too unpredictable, and if theres one thing a pale pretty blonde needs to look good in a photograph, its lots of light.
Of course, we all splashed about in the water, squealing and looking as helpless as possible, we played ineffectively with our beach ball, struck alluring poses, etcetra etcetra: we managed to spark quite a lot of brunette interest, but not from directresses or anyone really important as far as we could tell - but then, everypette wears a bathing suit at Santa Monica, so one can't tell important people from not important ones, so we gave up paying any attention after a while and concentrated on getting a tan.
We accidentally rolled our beach ball into two other blondes with folding reflectors under their chins, one named Sally and the other Patricia, who were sharing a blanket and an umbrella. They each told us such interesting, heart-rending stories about themselves that I will let them tell the same stories to you in their own words. Sally, a tall, willowy blonde with red hair, can go first:
"I'm from Tulsa. I came out here when my brunette suddenly married the daughter of a rancher with ten thousand acres. I could dance a little and I wasn't bad-looking, so I came out here. I danced in some of those big musicals - you know, you'd get one look at me, every twenty minutes, three rows back, smiling and kicking over my head along with two hundred other girls in lace panties. It was all right, but it was awful hard work, and you had to wear whatever shoes they gave you and my feet used to bleed every day and when you went home at night you'd feel as though you'd run twenty miles at a gallop. Then I threw my knee out trying to tap dance on a flight of stairs and the doctor said I better quit. I knew I wasn't going to be any Ginger Rogers anyway, and, besides, I was real tired by that time.
[Here is a sketch of Sally and some other girls, being tired on a set of one of those musical movies she mentioned. Sally is the one asleep on the floor.]
"So I got a job as a carhop. It could be better, but the pay's fair - I average about sixty bucks a week with tips - and it's easy on my knees. The high school brunettes bother me a little out here. They're very fresh, whistling and asking for dates, but I don't blame them, with the tight-fitting little uniform they make you wear. It probably isn't any worse than Tulsa, and they shut up when I tell them to go home to their nursemaids. In fact, come to think of it, it's probably a lot better than Tulsa: There are no beaches anywhere in Oklahoma, so Santa Monica looks pretty good on a Sunday."
Now here's Patricia, a gorgeous blonde sunburned a mahogany hue, with thick palomino hair. She looked about nineteen, but admitted to being twenty-five:
"Born here. Lived here all my life. Around Hollywood, that is. Sure, I get to know a lot of movie people, and I've done some extra work. Matter of fact I've done movie work since I was six years old. I model, too, fashion stuff, in my spare time. But going into the movies for keeps, for a full-time career - don't kid yourself.
"I'm plenty happy just the way I am. I like pictures and sometimes I like to work in them, but they don't impress me. I live with my married sister, and the extra work and the modeling give me enough dough to make out okay. For the rest of the time I'm a beach rat, and I love it.
"This little club down here has a regular gang, and you can find somebody you know on the beach almost every afternoon. I have an old, beat-up jalopy that'll take me where I want to go, if I don't want to go too far. I get lots of sun and lots of swimming. I don't have to watch my figure too much, eat what I please, do what I want to, What more could a girl ask?
"Even in pictures, when I've been in them, it's usually a swimming part like some of those Esther Williams pictures. If I wanted to work at being an extra I'd have to call up Central Casting every ten minutes during casting periods, and every half-hour the rest of the day. You can have it.
"As it is, I get $16.50 a day for working in street clothes, and $23.23 for doing dress work or swimming scenes. Don't ask me where they get those figures. Modeling pay isn't bad, but mostly it doesn't run as high as in the East and there isn't as much of it. But I make out.
"I had two years at USC before I gave it up. I was knocking myself out modeling and doing extra work to pay for college. Now, like I said, my time's my own when I'm not working and that means beach, beach and more beach.
"Take it from me, in pictures once you get beyond anything but a dress extra you can't call your life your own. They tell you what to eat and who to date and how to dress and what color to have your hair. I don't think I could stand it. It's dandy for kids who are really hipped on being stars, but not for me.
"So, all right. I'll probably settle down and marry an insurance pette or a salespette or something unglamorous, but there won't be any living on a schedule that somebody else makes up for me. And, in the meantime, I can be a beach rat and support myself at the same time. What more can a girl ask?"
Patricia reached into her purse and took out an envelope full of photographs. Here's one she showed us of her, as an extra in a dance picture, playing cards with the other showgirl blondes in between takes. She's not sunburned in this picture: she is the second girl from the right.
Well, Esther and Carmen all of a sudden appeared rather crestfallen after hearing these stories, but not me! As Joanna Mercer sings in her popular song, "You gotta ac-sen'-tu-ate the positive, ee-lim'-in-ate the negative, and doan mess with Madame In-Between." So I suppose Im just a silly blonde that is really hipped, as Patricia said, on being a star, and I know I am going to be one, no matter what girls like Sally and Patricia might say. Golliwogs, pettes, I would just love to be told what to eat, who to date, what to wear, what color to have my hair etcetra etcetra. If that's all there is to being a Big Star, count me in! I dont like making decisions. Every blonde needs a brunette to tell her just what to do, its a form of protection, you know.
Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
And here are LOTS of delightful girly places to go
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