Not the same old iconic photos you’ve seen a million times before – real photos of real people in real sixties clothing. If you’d like to be part of my gallery, please post here or email me and your modeling career will commence.
It was thrilling to explore a legendary venue like the Hollywood Bowl. Actually, any casual visitor to LA can explore its exterior – the site is neither gated nor guarded. Tourists can park in the lot, stroll up and down the shell, even take the stage if they choose on off-season days when no one is doing a sound-check or performing.
Backstage, of course, is off limits. That and its exclusivity endows it with irresistible mystique, at least to me. I’ve been backstage at a few rock shows (notably Bruce Springsteen, Motley Crue and Kiss) but on those occasions I was so in awe of the performers that specific details about the surroundings were a blur.
The tour Michael arranged was perfect. Our guide, who’d worked there for years,entertained us with anecdotes about the rich and famous and we could take our time. I took a lot of photos, many already in the clubs and venues section of my site, some reprinted here.
Why my interest in the inner workings of the Hollywood Bowl? I’m writing a novel about a defunct rock’n’roll band, famous in the sixties. One member went on to success beyond his wildest dreams. My hero did not. The book – half of which takes place in the 60s – is about their attempt to reunite 25 years later. Will the secrets and betrayals that shattered them in the seventies resurface in 2000? Have any of them really changed?
I served as a bridesmaid six times – all after being a bride myself – and this was by far the best dress. I was far crueler to the five women who participated in my wedding (below). The lace overlay, garden party hats, puffed sleeves – any one of these might be an unpardonable fashion sin – put them all together and this is what you get.
In my defense, the year was 1975 and I’d go with five different colors again today. I doubt my bridesmaids wore their dresses again aside from the occasional costume party.
While it’s an honor to be asked to serve as a bridesmaid – and I don’t mind admitting I was miffed on a few occasions when I thought I’d be an integral part of the wedding party only to find myself seated on the brides’s side with the rest of her friends who didn’t rate – it’s not all fun and games.
Standing up for your friend as she/he exchanges vows with the person they plan to spend their lives with becomes uncomfortable when you’ve got a strong intuition this union won’t survive the sniffles, forget until death do us part. I’ve been there and I’m usually right.
Not always, though. No outsider can fully grasp another couple’s relationship because we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. One of my cynical writing professors told me not to bother justifying why two mismatched people stay together in misery all their lives. “The same reason most relationships stick together. Inertia and fear of change.” Dramatically, he’s probably right. Realistically, he’s probably right about a lot of couples – but not all. I’ll never give up on the romantic ideal of people who promise “till death do us part” and mean it with their whole heart.
This event was an anomaly, the farthest thing from a typical day in my life. My prior attempt to model a dress I made in 7th grade home economics came to a humiliating halt when I discovered I neglected to leave arm and neck holes in my garment. (How did this happen? When I failed to spot where I’d made a mistake, my teacher smirked and urged me to “model it for the class.” It was a lesson I never forgot.)
How did I come to model chinchilla coats and wraps? JoAnn aspired to be a model and her father raised chinchillas. In 1969 it was not politically incorrect to wear fur or raise animals to become fur. Almost six feet tall and gorgeous, JoAnn was the show-stopper. I tagged along because at 5’9” I was one of her taller friends.
Somebody else did my make-up and hair. Never – not before or since – has my hair looked anything like it did that night. Given my life has been one long bad hair day, I’ve got no right to complain – but still. Let’s just say my up-do hasn’t stood the test of time.
Much like my other insane early aspirations – trapeze artist, ballerina and cowgirl spring to mind – I daydreamed about a thrilling career as a model. I suspect a lot of girls did the same because superstars like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton made it look so gosh-darn cool. My one night modeling furs at the Hyatt House was as close as I ever came.
This is a party I’d like to throw again. As the invite explains, the concept was excavate your most repulsive fashion mistakes from the dark recesses of your closet and wear them to this party. I had no shortage of strong contenders for the honor in 1979. Today, I’ve got far more – a bottomless stash of trash.
How did I collect so much crap? By not throwing anything away. Like my mother before me, I save for rainy days because “you never know when this torn pair of plaid knickers might come in handy. Maybe they’ll come back in fashion. What if it’s the perfect costume for a theme party? It might fit my daughter, if I give birth to a daughter. I could cut it in squares and make a quilt.” Any reason will suffice to hang onto a purple polyester pantsuit I’ve never worn – but maybe someday. If I lose ten pounds.
If the world runs out of polyester, I’ll be sitting on a gold mine. It could happen.
The other cause of my cluttered closet of fashion disasters is – as I’ve discussed in prior diary-blogs – sometimes I forget who I am. I’ve bought tennis outfits that would flatter me on the court – only to recall, too late, I don’t play tennis, never have, never will. I’ve purchased jodhpurs without a horse, sky high heels as stable and comfy as strolling on stilts.
I don’t wear heels. Why, then, did I whip out my Visa and buy two pairs, one black, one taupe?
In all probability, the tipping points were magic words like FINAL SALE, DEEP DISCOUNT, BARGAIN, LAST CHANCE.
I buried these ridiculous outfits deep in my closet for decades. The time has come to expose these shameful secrets. Next week, I’ll open a fashion victim gallery featuring sartorial disasters starting with my own faux pas but hopefully incorporating contributions from others. I can’t be the only one with this problem!
It’s easy to participate. Model your worst, shoot a selfie, email to me. You might be too late to save yourself, but at least you can serve as a warning to others.
With any luck, the abominations “coming out of my closet” will inspire me to go where I’ve never gone before. My new mantra is TOSS IT NOW. So what if it still bears original price tags? Ebay buyers don’t want lime green jackets with gigantic shoulder pads – and, trust me, that look won’t be back in vogue in my lifetime (I can only hope).
But just in case –
 My mother suffered a Depression era childhood – that’s her excuse. I did not.
I’m not sure today’s millennials could survive the sixties high school experience. While searching for a photo of the frigid Wilcox High swimming pool, I unearthed an impressive array of “Mermen” shots – but this was the sole illustration of girls in the water. (I’m so disappointed I couldn’t show you the hideous dark green maillots we wore.) In fact, this was the only photo I found depicting girls in any athletic endeavor. Based on my Wilcox yearbooks, athletics and team sports were a “Men Only” preserve – not that my consciousness was high enough to perceive this slight at the time. Until I sought a photo for this blog, I never noticed the omission. Although Friedan’s Feminine Mystique was published in 1963, feminism wasn’t on my radar.
In addition to an outdoor pool in the dead of winter, the class of ’69 was the last to be subjected to a dress code – which meant girls wore dresses every day. If your hem failed to skim the floor when a teacher ordered you to kneel, you were sent home to change. Once a year – on “Grub Day” – girls were allowed to wear pants to school. The top photo of me with the rest of the Literary Magazine staff illustrates typical Wilcox style. For the epitome of high school fashion, see the photo below of the pair my class voted “Best Dressed”.
High school has loomed large in my writing career and I will revisit aspects of my experience in future diary-blogs. If you recognize yourself in a photo, please tag it!
Sadly, I felt fat A LOT because this brown and white poncho is featured in numerous photos from the mid-sixties (b/w photos) until the mid-seventies (the sole color photograph, with college boyfriend Tom, in suede jacket.) Truth is, I might still have that old wool poncho, although I haven’t worn it in a decade (which is not to say that I haven’t felt fat. Just not fat enough to don the poncho.) As you can see, it conveniently conceals the entire mid-section and – at the time – I truly believed it epitomized hip. Is the poncho due for a fashion comeback?