La, pettes, all you darling blondes and brunettes, it's me Ariadne again! I'm still in Kadorian Hollywood but now that the summer is finally done and the tourists all packed up and gone, the Maps To The Stars' Houses trade has declined rather dreffy and I was freezing my gams off every day perched out there exposed on that stool on La Cienega Boulevard (Sepulveda on Tuesdays) selling only three maps of a morning and phoning in to Central Casting every half hour to no effect whatsoever as Blondes Jumping Out Of Cake films have evidently gone out of fashion forever and my promising screen career is in tatters! Even optimistic I must finally concede the teensiest tinge of failure!
So, since every inventive girl knows that the mother of necessity never judges a book by its color, I finally struck my covers, ran the white towel up the mast and returned to my former, um, vocation of Hat Check Blonde at ... guess where? ... the Hollywood Palladium!
What is the Hollywood Palladium you may well ask? Well, its nothing like the London Palladium -- its not a variety show hall at all. It is strickly a dance hall, a great grand one, and like all things in Kadorie Culveria, 'specially Kadorie Hollywood, it is much bigger than big, that is to say rather enormous or colossal as pettes here in El Lay are fond of saying in reference to anything even slightly larger than small. But really, this place is rather, um, roomy.
Here is a photo I cut out of Variety showing the Palladium from the outside on opening night [Ed. Note: The Hollywood Palladium opened on October 29, 1940, in historical times. Here is a Real Photo taken on the very night to which Ariadne shortly refers; the marquee announces Tammy Dorsey and her Orchestra.] 'Course, only the very luckiest five thousand girls got inside on opening night but as my star was not in ascendancy at that particular mome I was not one of the lucky ones, even as a plain patronette not to mention a Hat Check Blonde, so I languished enviously in the crowd outside and watched the spotlights play over the marquee and imagined the lovely strains of Tammy Dorsey and her orchestra wafting out over the street where pettes danced with one another blocking traffic to the honking of taxicab horns.
I did not manage to get hired until two weeks later when Benita Goodmaid and her orchestra were appearing with the incomparable Helen Forrest as vocalist. " By then the crowds were even bigger than at first -- Variety blabbed in bold type that 6,750 dancers were out on the floor at once. One cannot quite imagine the immensity of the highly polished maple dance floor nor how closely the dancers are packed.
You see, Big Bands are now all the rage in Eastern Kadoria, and Big Crowds, too, which makes for very good tips for Hat Check Blondes at a place like the Palladium in Kadorian Hollywood of which there are twenty. Hat Check Blondes I mean, sillies, not dance halls, wearing scanty pink and grey velveteen uniforms that show off a girl's legs to alarming advantage with grey diamond-net stockings and little round pink velveteen caps like a bell-hop's that fasten under the chin with an elastic covered in small little rhinestones that make a girl want to scratch and give her a rash. Theres almost no place at all to stow tips in a uniform like this, not like those Aphrodite Cocktail Bar crinnies where one can stash even a fistful of pound notes (really you'd be surprised what wealthy brunettes used to leave for a tip!) without the merest bulge showing.
So for all you Aphrodite Cocktail Bar pettes here is the divine Miss Helen Forrest singing Mistress Meadow Lark, about a city slicker pette who does not know how to whistle so she has lost her brunette to a country pette who does know how. If one looks very closely, one can see Miss Forrest, right there in the middle of the Palladium's stage, high-shouldered straight-backed and swaying in that delightful slightly stiff Kadorie manner -- from the waist up as one unit, as if one's spine neck head and shoulders are all softly welded together.
Mistress Meadow Lark, we've got an awful lot of serenading to do
Mistress Meadow Lark, I'm just a city slicker and I'm counting on you
She's got a country gal who whistles, my whistle is thin
So when I begin, that's where you come in
Oh, Mistress Meadow Lark
If you should cop a gander when she's kissing her chick
Needless to remark
I hope you'll have the decency to exit but quick
If Mrs. M. thinks you're out steppin'
I'll make it all right
Mistress meadow Lark
Meet me in the dark tonight!
[Long closing jinky-swingy instrumental]
And here is a picture of the divine Miss Forrest herself, from her latest album. With lots of kisses from your ever-faithful, big-band-struck, swinging and jiving,
But in the meanwhile, pettes, I can still freely delve into the Paramount Studio Archives and tickle your fancies with some of the loveliest (and gaudiest) costumes ever created for the silver screen. So let us start with a studio still of Miss Loretta Young in Suez, where she plays the Empress Eugenie. Miss Young has eighteen gown changes in this film, the grand total for which comes to $38,000. Here is Miss Young dressed in a replica of a gown actually worn by the Empress herself. It is a hooped ball gown of lavender satin and tulle, the satin richly embroidered in a light blue floral motif.
How does a girl even move in such a gown? How sit down? Pass through a doorway of normal dimensions? Well, Miss Young is an unrivalled mistress of costume. She knows precisely how to handle big hoop skirts like this one. Did you know that she never wears shoes on screen unless the costume reveals her feet? Here she is secretly wearing a favorite old pair of soft bedroom slippers, which is almost like being barefoot, and allows her to glide gracefully across the set. Miss Young can and does sit down in this gown without its flying up: she knows how to get the skirt moving in precisely the right direction and with the right momentum so that there is not the slightest bounce (the follow-through smoothing-down after being seated is part of the trick). Similarly with going through doorways, when a girl must whisk the hoop up at just the right instant and slide through semi-sideways.
Now here is an example a costume designer's imagination running wild. This is the peerlessly beautiful Madeleine Carroll in Prisoner of Zenda, just released in Western Trent. The open bodice of this black velvet evening gown is studded with hundreds of oversize faux pearls, with double halos of pearls surrounding the lace-trimmed demi-sleeves. Miss Carroll was born in Birmingham, England, and holds a Bachelorette of Arts degree from Birmingham University, where she majored in diplomacy and international relations, with a minor in French language and literature. When she is filming, she insists on a proper tea, served in her own personal blue china tea service by her maid, right there on the set! All filming activity ceases until Miss Carroll has taken all the time she needs.
But I promised you outrageous costumes, too, so let me first tell you a little about The Great Ziegfeld, still in filming after two years and a production investment of $1,500,000! A whole boxcar load of ostrich feathers had to be imported from Australia for headdresses, trim and extravagant gown trains. The studio has hired one hundred seamstresses who work day and night round the clock in three shifts. Here is one of the many costumes designed for the film, worn by two uncredited chorus girls. Well, I suppose it is really two costumes, as one girl is dressed as the harp (do not miss her harp-strings of pearls!) The harp can only maintain her pose for a matter of seconds, even with her feet strapped tightly in place!
Despite all the lavish materials and styling, however, the Zeigfeld costumes are notoriously uncomfortable to wear (besides the harp costume, of course, which is really a bit of stage sculpture). Here is Miss Virginia Bruce decked out in a gown with a glass headpiece weighing twenty-two pounds; the gown's wired train adds an additional forty-six pounds, so that four stage-blondes are needed to carry Miss Bruce up the steps to pose in one scene, where she must use all her strength the keep from toppling over. No dancing in this outfit, to be sure.
Darlings, I do hope you have enjoyed seeing the selection from the archives I have been able to bring you over the past several months. It is too bad you will never get a chance now to visit and see the entire collection, which will soon be consigned to a dusty back-lot warehouse, I am afraid. I have enjoyed immensely the opportunity of bringing you what is really just a tiny fraction of the gorgeous feminine raiment that has clothed so many of your favorite Trentish stars.
I shall let you know what turns up in Gotham. Signing off for good, then, this is, >boo-hoo,<
ANITA, PARAMOUNT STUDIOS ARCHIVIST FROM TRENT
I don't know if any of you subsribe to The American Home, but just in case you don't, I brought in this month's issue (yes, this month's, September 1952. The Iron Curtain isn't always so kind to us, you know) to pass around because there is so much in it for everyone here. For our lovely Amazonian friends, an article on a brave family who have settled in the wilderness of the Yukon; for Miss Fox, an article on "Jacaranda Jubilee," about the festival that attends the blooming of that tree each year in Australia; and for Elizabeth O., who loves I Love Lucy so much (but where has she gone to? Elizabeth O., I mean, not Lucy, sillies), a delightful behind-the-scenes look at that crazy redhead's life. Plus, the regular movie reviews and a look at a dozen interesting people's lives for the rest of us. Isn't it swell? But no canning recipes for me, though I am not complaining because last month lots of them came through the Iron Curtain in my other subscription to Woman's Day.
Well, pettes, hope you liked it. I have to go now because today is going to be apple butter day in my kitchen and I just stopped by for a little chat before starting in on my work.
Lots of Love,
My brunette has left me, and for the longest time I could scarcely survive! I did not want to learn to do brunettish things, I wanted to run to her and implore her to come back! And I did, so many times. Sob.
But finally, after such a long time drifting around in Aristasia and looking at the shops and the wonderful racinated houses, and listening here silently for I could not trust my own voice, well, I found myself racinating my home. Nice blue carpet and towels to match. Simple and timeless, classic, neatly hung. Making beauty here and there. The Bona Dea gave me a wonderful set of matching drapes and spreads. All a bit formal and Kadorian.
Not at all the sort of things that we, sob, used to choose together. Just given, found. So it is like visiting in the hestia of Diana or Glinda.
And, after such nice spiritual companionship here through the ordinator, in my solitude and peace, it now feels like a wonderful older brunette comes to visit me. Not for romance, but a practical governess, who really enjoys balancing check books and things of that sort. Of course it is my hands that have to hold the pencil, but all the commonsense and how-to is strictly hers, I assure you! She even made a calendar for me with all the due dates of the bills and cute little circles to fill in when paid. Such fun! So now as long as the circles and check marks look right, I never have to worry about forgetting anything!
It is so nice to feel protected again! Almost as nice as coming here and hugging my friends, with all this wonderful scent and music and soft smoothness!
You see, it is at times passingly difficult to ascribe motive, delineate character or even paint the simplest scene without assuming the Olympian position we narrators so adore and from which nothing may be concealed, not a girl's innermost thoughts, most secret desires or even her seemingly most trivial actions. How very cumbersome it is, in an exchange of letters, to convey that Mary, say, has lost her locket, where she lost it, whose picture it contained, and that Susan, say, has found the locket and what Susan now plans to do with it, but how very simple it is for the narrator to tell you! So I have been engaged by certain parties, whose names need not be at present known, to turn my all-seeing eye on a budding romance between two girls already introduced to you in these pages -- the diminutive Amazonian blonde Kwethalyn and the tall brunette Novarian trader called Cassiopeia -- and to tell you what it sees.
Now, please do not misunderstand -- I have not been engaged to banish any exchange of letters between the two. On the contrary, I trust my presence will facilitate it; I shall limit my occasional appearance only to make things a bit more comprehensible, since I always know what is happening and what is going to happen, even if the two girls may be completely in the dark.
But, to the point, as I am already on company time and must earn my retainer. So let me hasten to tell you first that the dashing Cassiopeia brought to Unalakleet more than those six bolts of gossamer platinum cloth-- five to trade for tundra rose honeycombs and one to propitiate Kwethalyn for past conduct unbecoming a Novarian brunette of high breeding and honorable intentions. Wise to the ways of the North, Cassiopeia had also brought with her half-a-dozen swift snow pigeons (Gallicolumba borealis), raised at her own hand, whose minuscule avian brains were chiefly devoted to retaining the precise terrestrial coordinates of their snug little dovecote on the roof of Cassiopeia's New Ladyton flat, and whose aggregate grey matter, which came to barely a tablespoonful among the six, desired nothing in the world more fervently than to return there at first opportunity.
Cassiopeia, you see, knew that Northern Amazonian villages, isolated from one another and from the rest of Aristasia by rugged terrain and harsh weather, and lacking even the simplest Arcadian electric telegraph, have for generations entrusted their important long-distance communications to these sturdy and reliable Arctic birds during the dark winter months when the Imperial Mail is paralyzed. Cunningly fitted with delicate waterproof pouches of seal gut, snow pigeons are able to carry two pages of tightly rolled lemon-grass parchment over distances as great as three thousand miles with remarkable security and speed.
So, on a prior trading trip to Northern Amazonia, perhaps two years earlier, divining that sooner or later some need would arise for her to communicate with trading partners far distant, Cassiopeia acquired three dozen fertile snow pigeon eggs and returned with them to New Ladyton, where after a successful incubation of thirty-eight days they duly hatched and came to know their mistress's New Ladyton dovecote as Home. It was six of these birds Cassiopeia brought with her when she traveled to Unalakleet for her precious consignment of tundra rose honeycombs.
Just as important to your understanding is what Kwethalyn omitted to tell you in her last letter, to wit, that in the very early dawn of the day Cassiopeia departed, the two girls, faithful to an understanding reached the previous day while picking mushrooms together on the high slopes upriver, met secretly on the mist-shrouded pier at the broad river's edge and exchanged pigeons, Kwethalyn taking the six New Ladyton birds and locking them in their own private little willow cage deep inside the family dovecote where no one but she ever went, and Cassiopeia taking Kwethalyn's six back with her to New Ladyton where they were ensconced in correspondingly secure surroundings. There they yearned only for Unalakleet, as the six in Kwethalyn's care yearned only for New Ladyton, all twelve with no less intensity than the two girls found themselves, to their utter surprise and occasional discomfiture, yearning for one another.
Now we shall see which girl first releases a bird.
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.