Saturday, March 27, 2010

Resurrection of Venus - Wingate Paine

I was born in Los Angeles during 1966. It was this time photographer Wingate Paine published his boudoir book of muses 'Mirror of Venus.' It's been noted that Paine burned and destroyed all the negatives after the publication. It has also been said that the models were all friends and lovers.

I held little charm with my biological parents at this time, two mythological persons I call the Bios. You see, after three months with me they left me with the nuns where I was quickly claimed by a lovely Dutch couple who showed me the world so that the Bios could go on with their life. All that's known of them barely fill page in a profile of feedings and sleep habits. It's been written that he was a poet and she a clerk. He was dark and small in stature. She was tall with long red hair and big blue eyes. So why do I think of the Bios at a time like this? I'll get to that.

Almost forty three years later Wingate Paine's images of muses were celebrated once again in a lovely little vintage clothing store called Resurrection on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood last month. Designs by Katy Rodriguez, walls adorn by the women of Wingate Paine. The images captured theses beauties in intimate moments that give you that feeling of a time filled with morning luminosity after the surrender when the mood is light and warm. A time between the purity of the 1950's and the sexual revolution of the 1960's. Rodriguez designed a collection inspired by this celebration of female openness and femininity and is quoted in saying, " The book is “fashion without clothes,” whose designs have a lot of Paine’s girlishness to them." The collection was donated from private collectors. The exhibit ran from May 21 to June 15 this year under the title "Venus Revisited."

Viewing and admiring the frivolity of these moments of women playfully running nude on the beach, laughing in the bath and posing within clean white sheets I began to speculate the relationship of the Bios. Was she the muse of his creativity? Did he destroy the remnants of words as he blatantly threw me away? Did she in fact survive the artist muse relationship? My entire existence in fact based on question and query, never to be answered. However, not worth tormenting oneself. I now posses a sense of romanticism when it comes to the Bios. Maybe he wrote of a smile and pleasant afternoon that seized him with a passion to burn all that was lost.

"Wingate Paine, 1915 – 1987, was a member of a Mayflower New England family with ties to law, banking and the ministry. He broke from those traditions and became a Marine captain, connoisseur of French wine, devotee of Hatha-Yoga and finally a gifted photographer and filmmaker. Described as his “visual valentine to feminine beauty,” Paine’s series of female nudes were published in his 1967 book Mirror of Venus. This 1960s classic was printed in ten editions and features text written by Federico Fellini and Françoise Sagan. Paine later abandoned photography for sculpture. Mirror of Venus represents the culmination of his photographic career."

Written for Imeem August 23, 2009.
Photography by Wingate Paine.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


"You always read about it:
the plumber with the twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.

Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son's heart.
from diapers to Dior.
That story.

Or a milkman who serves the wealthy,
eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk,
the white truck like an ambulance
who goes into real estate
and makes a pile.
From homogenized to martinis at lunch.

Or the charwoman
who is on the bus when it cracks up
and collects enough from the insurance.
From mops to Bonwit Teller.
That story.

the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed
and she said to her daughter Cinderella:
Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
The man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid.
She slept on the sooty hearth each night
and walked around looking like Al Jolson.
Her father brought presents home from town,
jewels and gowns for the other women
but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.
She planted that twig on her mother's grave
and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
Whenever she wished for anything the dove
would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.

Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market.
The prince was looking for a wife.
All but Cinderella were preparing
and gussying up for the event.
Cinderella begged to go too.
Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils
into the cinders and said: Pick them
up in an hour and you shall go.
The white dove brought all his friends;
all the warm wings of the fatherland came,
and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.
No, Cinderella, said the stepmother,
you have no clothes and cannot dance.
That's the way with stepmothers.

Cinderella went to the tree at the grave
and cried forth like a gospel singer:
Mama! Mama! My turtledove,
send me to the prince's ball!
The bird dropped down a golden dress
and delicate little slippers.
Rather a large package for a simple bird.
So she went. Which is no surprise.
Her stepmother and sisters didn't
recognize her without her cinder face
and the prince took her hand on the spot
and danced with no other the whole day.

As nightfall came she thought she'd better
get home. The prince walked her home
and she disappeared into the pigeon house
and although the prince took an axe and broke
it open she was gone. Back to her cinders.
These events repeated themselves for three days.
However on the third day the prince
covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax
and Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it.
Now he would find whom the shoe fit
and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.
He went to their house and the two sisters
were delighted because they had lovely feet.
The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on
but her big toe got in the way so she simply
sliced it off and put on the slipper.
The prince rode away with her until the white dove
told him to look at the blood pouring forth.
That is the way with amputations.
They just don't heal up like a wish.
The other sister cut off her heel
but the blood told as blood will.
The prince was getting tired.
He began to feel like a shoe salesman.
But he gave it one last try.
This time Cinderella fit into the shoe
like a love letter into its envelope.

At the wedding ceremony
the two sisters came to curry favor
and the white dove pecked their eyes out.
Two hollow spots were left
like soup spoons.

Cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
That story."

Anne Sexton

Photography by, Tim Walker.
Originally posted for Imeem.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Photo taken by, Eleonor Martin edit by me.
Texture by  JoesSistah...

she can taste the borrowed color on her lips

sweet that stings of a perfumed kiss

the poison aches within her blood

as she fades behind their ardent love

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton

At the market today I found myself entranced by this elderly gentleman in line right in front of me. He was dressed elegantly in his crisp white shirt and loose trousers. He moved very gingerly with purpose and care. I’d say he was in his mid eighties perhaps. I began thinking... what was he like in his day, a ladies man of course, charming at the very least. I imagined by the way in which he carried himself, that self assurance and enjoyment, meant a well lived life. I began un-loading his cart with him. He looked into my eyes and smiled and I swear I saw a sparkle in his. My posture straightened with poise reminiscent of my dance days as a child. I think even my voiced changed a bit.

When he was done with his business he turned to me before leaving and said, “I wish you nothing but joy Miss.” Caught me by surprise and for some reason I can’t stop smiling today. When I got home I wanted to run and play Billie Holiday records, draw and drink cappuccino. However, I have no Billie Holiday records I don’t even have a record player anymore. So I reach for some Nina Simone. Cappuccino? Try Folgers, I don't drink coffee to tell you the truth. As for the drawing, I assure you when I'm done sketching he will have some sort of hat on even though I'm pretty sure he wasn't wearing one. I think of a friend whom I miss who spoke with such intellect and grace. I do hope he comes back soon!

Just a moment in a lifetime of moments.

Written for deviantArt December 1, 2007.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Her Kind

"have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind."

Anne Sexton

Photography by Deborah Turbeville.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Light Warriors

When I was a little girl my father would close the house like a tomb. So silent and dark I could hardly breathe. A stage for music, cinema and slide shows without ever letting the world in. On an occasional warm Sunday he would open one curtain to run a small air conditioner. The sunshine would spill into the room settling into a steady flow. I would slide my little body underneath the ray of light, fan my hair onto the carpet, only to catch it, that ever so warm and decadent feeling... Pulling at each strand, carefully combing with my fingers and counting the gold and red highlighted waves that would glisten from my dark mane... A youthful form of self adoration only beset to a child. I would reach up to the stream of slow moving dust particles just above my head gently poking and changing their path as I drift into a daydream with my father asleep in his easy chair only two feet away. The hum of the forced air would lull me to sleep and sweep me away from my siesta ritual.

All my life I never stopped reaching for the light. It was always there to bend it, to flirt with, to paint it... like an old friend. I will always be a lover to its illumination. To consider it a benevolent gift to give and one to be had. Just one very long day ago a dear friend, gentle and new, found me in a dark place... my eyes swollen with tears my head throbbing with pain. I don't know where she came from, she must have been an angel because she took me in her arms from the unknown and promised me light in the morning. A gesture I hold in my heart.

I've come to realize that light can be fleeting, for one to forever chase.
There to warm you from within... To shed all possibilities and at the same time perpetually breeding new life. I'm no stranger to what people think of me. Warrior is not the word that comes to mind for some... Perhaps, a sensitivity that can often be misunderstood, a sentimentalist at best. However, I like to think that strength comes from places far more complex than most people realize.

Joyce Tenneson

Noted photographer Joyce Tenneson's exemplifies the spiritual and visual aspects of a woman's life and her direct and indirect relationship with the light in her book 'Light Warriors'. "what fascinates me is life's complexities, the darkness as well as the light." Perhaps we are drawn to people as we are the illumination of light. The imagery she puts forth is quite strong and one can't helped but be moved by the portraits of these remarkable women who give themselves over to you. I know what draws me to people, the wonder of that person the way in which I was stirred and forever touched. I believe some people are like fireflies... they just aren't meant to be caught they illuminate you from within. That's why I know I will always reach for a source of light...of wonder and ultimately. . . well. . . the possibilities are endless don't you think?

Joyce Tenneson

All photography by, Joyce Tenneson
Written for Imeem, May 20, 2009.