“I don’t mind living in a man’s world…”

Marilyn-monroe-reading

 

"…as long as I can be a woman in it."

— Marilyn Monroe

 

____________________________

 

 

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THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

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The Almost Marilyn Monroe, Almost Naked

Dixie and Marilyn

The renowned burlesque dancer, Dixie Evans, died this weekend. She was known as burlesque's "Marilyn Monroe." Yes, the resemblance was uncanny! See for yourself.  Here's how she built her act.

Take it off, take it all off,

— Josie

August 10, 2013

Dixie Evans, Who Brought ‘Monroe’ to Burlesque Houses, Dies at 86

By MARGALIT FOX / New York Times

Dixie Evans, a popular stage performer billed as the “Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque” — the first two words in very large letters and the last two in very small ones — died on Aug. 3 in Las Vegas. She was 86.

Her death was announced on the Web site of the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, of which she was a former curator and director.

Ms. Evans was a marquee name at midcentury, mentioned in the same avid breath as Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand and Lili St. Cyr. In later years, she was featured in newspaper articles and television programs about burlesque and appeared in the 2010 documentary “Behind the Burly Q.”

She was profiled in the 1996 book “Holding On: Dreamers, Visionaries, Eccentrics, and Other American Heroes,” by David Isay, with photographs by Harvey Wang.

Reflecting on her unlikely stardom in a 1992 interview with CNN, Ms. Evans said, “I was not that talented and I wasn’t that pretty.”

But her close-enough resemblance to Monroe — enhanced by a peroxide blond coiffure and the uncanny ability of Ms. Evans, who never met her subject, to mimic her speech and shimmy — ensured her success as a locus of transference.

“If you couldn’t meet the real Marilyn,” Ms. Evans told The New York Times in 1998, “you could come to the burlesque and meet me.”

Night after night from the early ’50s onward, at burlesque houses around the country, Ms. Evans took the stage in Monrovian garb and swung into musical numbers that recalled those in Monroe’s films. Unlike Monroe, she ended the numbers far more lightly attired than when she began.

She kept the act going for more than a decade, modifying it enough to mollify Monroe, who at once point threatened to sue. Wherever she played, she drew a devoted, even rarefied, following.

“Walter Cronkite used to come every year to see my act,” Ms. Evans told The Los Angeles Times in 1993.

Frank Sinatra was said to be a fan. So, too, was Joe DiMaggio, who was reported to have visited the show for consolation after his divorce from Monroe in 1954.

Then, in 1962, Monroe’s suicide rendered the act obsolete overnight. As Ms. Evans told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2002, “When she died, I died.”

She held a string of jobs, doing public relations for a hotel in the Bahamas and working as a nurse’s aide in California, before an abandoned goat ranch in a dusty Western town afforded her an improbable return to burlesque’s glittering glory.

 

Mary Lee Evans was born on Aug. 28, 1926, in Long Beach, Calif., to a well-to-do family. Her father, an oilman, died when she was a girl, and the family fortunes declined precipitously. Young Mary worked in the celery fields and during World War II was an airplane mechanic.

 

Dreaming of stardom, she began her stage career as a chorus girl in touring musicals. One night, in her late teens or early 20s, she found herself stranded in San Francisco between jobs with 50 cents in her pocket. She discovered that the local burlesque theater paid four times what she had been earning.

 

A few years later, when Ms. Evans was performing at a Minsky’s burlesque house in Newark, Harold Minsky, the son of the impresario Abraham Minsky, transformed her into Marilyn.

In the late 1980s, Ms. Evans learned that her friend Jennie Lee, a retired burlesque star, was terminally ill with cancer. Ms. Lee, who was living on a former goat ranch in the desert in Helendale, Calif., had created a de facto museum there from her old memorabilia.

Ms. Evans moved in to help care for her, assuming responsibility for the collection after Ms. Lee’s death in 1990. She expanded it into the Exotic World Burlesque Museum and Striptease Hall of Fame, whose holdings included Jennie Lee’s silver-sequined pasties, Gypsy Rose Lee’s wardrobe trunk, the cremated remains of the burlesque queen Sheri Champagne and — perhaps the collection’s most curious artifact — a photograph of Lili St. Cyr with Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 1991, Ms. Evans founded the Miss Exotic World pageant, an annual competition she liked to call the Olympics of burlesque.

In 2006 Ms. Evans moved the competition and the museum, now known as the Burlesque Hall of Fame, to Las Vegas, where she made her home from then on.

 

Ms. Evans’s marriage to Harry Braelow, a prizefighter, ended in divorce. Survivors include a sister, Betty, and many nieces and nephews.

For years in the 1950s, Ms. Evans was a fixture at the Place Pigalle, a burlesque house in Miami Beach. One night, she was arrested.

“Whenever it was election time in Miami, they’d raid the strip joints,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 2009. “I told the judge, ‘Your Honor, this is the same act you saw at the policemen’s show.’ ”

His Honor dropped the charges.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 11, 2013

An earlier version of this obituary omitted a survivor, Ms. Evans’s sister, Betty.

(c) 2013 New York Times


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NaNoWriMo Tip #22: If your dialogue doesn’t match the character, fix it. Now!

Tfios_soundtrack_coverMost novelists have several characters walking around in their heads at any given time. Sadly, not all authors take the time to bring these wonderful imaginary people to life.

Where they fail most often is in the words they put in their characters' mouths.

If all of your characters sound alike to you and to your critique partners, rewriting their dialogue may actually save your book.

Here are three steps to take in order to bring your characters to life:

1. Know your characters.
Where are they from, originally? How were they raised? What do they do for a living? What are their fears? How about their desires? As with all of us, these live experiences shape us, and affect the words that come out of our mouths.

Some authors I know actually do character bios: not just for their heroes and main characters, but for every character in the book. It's really a great exercise, and may make the difference in how your characters act– and react — on the page.

Actors do this, too. Michelle Williams (in the photo, above) is proving to be one of the foremost actresses of her generation because, like a Meryl Streep or a Kate Winslet, she is a different person in every film. One of her movies, My Week with Marilyn, is proof that she can lose herself in the iconic Marilyn Monroe: not just with makeup, but in the walk, the voice, and by saying the words written for her character in a way that rings true.

2. Do your “dialogue” homework.
Just as you'd research a moment in time for an historical novel, or a place (say, the Vatican, if were you Dan Brown, and writing The DaVinci Code), you should also research the tone, cadence and slang of your characters.

A female college student from Berkeley in the 1960s won't speak — let alone think — the same way as one who went to school at Wellesley. That is also true about a father raising his children in downtown San Francisco, and one raising his kids in Dunwoody Georgia. 

If these characters inhabit your book, it's time to do a little research into their lives, and how it affects the words that come out of their mouths

The most common dialogue mistakes come when an author is (a) writing in the voice of the opposite sex, or (b) writing a character who comes from a different country.

In my very first novel, True Hollywood Lies, the anti-hero, Louis Trollope, was both: male, and from England. Not only did I tap into my male side (the yin and yang/dominant and recessive traits are something we all have, and must use if we are involved in creative writing) and have my husband vet my male dialogue, I also sent the manuscript to a male friend who grew up in England, to check the authenticity of my slang research. It was a great move, as he was able to tweak a few phrases, and to verify much of what I'd written was in fact “spot on.” (Love that term. Used in Britain more than here, but it aptly makes the point.)

3. Read your dialogue out loud to yourself.
Charles Dickens was an actor as well as a novelist. He knew the power of great dialogue. It was part of his writing routine to read his chapters out loud to himself, in order to hear the flow of his prose and gauge the authenticity of his dialogue. 

You should do that, too. If it doesn't sound real to your ear, it won't sound right to anyone else, either.

 4. Unless your character is Father Knows Best, a super hero, Ghandi, or Mother Teresa, he or she is not perfect–and that's okay.

So write them that way. Let them make mistakes. Let them do, and say, stupid things. Let them do things that will come back and bite them in the but later in your plot.

In other words, let them be real people. Because no one is perfect.

Except for you.

At least, according to your mother.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All Rights Reserved

The photo above: from the movie “The Fault with Our Stars” 

__________________________________________

Question of the day: How many times do you re-read your manuscript before sending it out into the world?  And honestly, do you feel it's enough?

 

— Josie

 

Supreme Court on the gender bias class action case against Wal-Mart is narrowed to those women with grievances.

Some_like_it_hot_trio
On one hand, I was disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling that threw the gender bias lawsuit against omnipotent retailer, Wal-Mart, out of court. I would imagine that if it were a company-wide policy, then EVERY woman should have been included in this class-action case.

But who is to say, if only a handful came forward of the thousands of women who at Wal-Mart work, or have worked there over the years?

On the other hand, the women who actually stood up about these practices should be the ones to reap the benefit from the outcome of the case, should the court rules in their favor–

Of course, the attorneys will be getting their cut first, so it may be a hollow victory at best.

To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot? "I'm tired of getting the fuzzy end of the lollypop?"

You can watch that scene here…

–Josie

HAH Hanging Man V2

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

ORDER NOW,  from

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Enter The Housewife Assassin's Handbook Contest to win free movie tickets to AMC theaters, or another theater near you! 

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CLICK HERE TO READ THE CONTEST RULES…


Marilyn Monroe’s little white dress…

Marilyn
They auctioned off Marilyn Monroe's iconic white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch. You remember the one: as she stood over a subway grate in front of the Trans-Lux Theater, it billowed up around her thighs. The way it was written into the movie, the object was to keep her cool–

Or was it to make every guy watching her get hot under the collar?

That was the case with her husband at the time: Joe DiMaggio. Afterward they had a shouting match in the theater lobby. She filed for divorce soon afterward.

The dress went for $4.5 million. It was sold by actress Debbie Reynolds, who, besides starring in several Hollywood classics herself (Tammy and the Bachelor, The Unsinkable Molly Brown) has a true appreciation for Hollywood lore. For years, much of her collection was kept at her hotel in Las Vegas, where she performed. A bad real estate investment forced her to sell off various pieces. This time around she also sold Monroe's red sequined dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (it went for $1.2 million, albeit it was projected to bring $200,000 – $300,000), and another of my favorites, Audrey Hepburn's Ascot dress from My Fair Lady, which sold for $3.7 million.

Other pieces sold by the auction house, Profiles in History included:

Judy Garland's blue cotton dress used in test shots for The Wizard of Oz, $910,000 (estimate: $60,000-$80,000)

Grace Kelly's rose crepe outfit from To Catch a Thief: $450,000 (estimate: $30,000-$50,000);

Marlon Brando's elaborate coronation costume from Napoleon Bonaparte: $60,000 (estimate: $60,000-$80,000);

Claude Rains' ivory military suit from Casablanca: $55,000 (estimate: $12,000-$15,000);

ElizabethTaylor's brown period dress from Raintree County: $10,000 (estimate: $10,000-$15,000);

Madonna's black evening gown and shoes from Evita: $22,500 (estimate: $4,000-$6,000);

Mike Myers' swinging '60s  suit from "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me: $11,000 (estimate: $6,000-$8,000); and

– A high-school graduation dress of Natalie Wood's: $4,250 (estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Reynolds a few years back. In fact, it was my very first celebrity interview. I remember her as gracious, witty, and vulnerable: she is every inch a star, but a sweet human being as well. I could have hung with her all weekend, if she'd have let me. Seriously, she is that much fun. 

And so candid. She answered all my questions, even the sticky ones. If I find that interview, I'll be sure to post it here.

As I was leaving I mentioned that my favorite of all movies was one of hers: Singin' in the Rain. "I'll sign the DVD, if you have it," she offered.

Stupid, stupid me! Why didn't I think to bring it? I never made that mistake again!

Oh, well. In hindsight, I should have asked her if I could try on Marilyn's dress, just once!

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Just watch the video clip below…

 

Enjoy,

–Josie

HAH Hanging Man V2

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

ORDER NOW,  from

Amazon.com

BarnesAndNoble.com

Also in in the Apple iBookstore!

Enter The Housewife Assassin's Handbook Contest to win free movie tickets to AMC theaters, or another theater near you! 

I'm giving away $50 in Fandango Bucks
to some lucky winner who likes thriller movies as much as romantic suspense!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE CONTEST RULES…


 

 

 

 

 

 

Rediscovered Marilyn Monroe Photos: Before the Fuzzy End of the Lollipop

Marilyn475  From the archives of Life Magazine comes a series of photos taken when Marilyn Monroe was just twenty-four, and had only appeared on in one: THE ASPHALT JUNGLE.

This is my favorite of the bunch. It looks like she's holding a script. Perhaps ALL ABOUT EVE?

Today, June 1st, is her birth date.

To see others from this photo shoot, click here…

Before life sucked on the the fuzzy end of the lollipop,

—Josie