Kiss Them for Me
Updated: Apr 20
"It glittered, and it gleamed For the arriving beauty queen A ring and a car Now you're the prettiest by far
No party she'd not attend No invitation she wouldn't send Transfixed by the inner sound Of your promise to be found
"Nothing or no one will ever Make me let you down." Kiss them for me; I may be delayed Kiss them for me if I am delayed
It's devotion, oh, it's serene In the fountains, pink champagne Someone carving their devotion In the heart-shaped pool of fame
"Nothing or no one will ever Make me let you down." Kiss them for me; I may be delayed Kiss, kiss them for me; I may find myself delayed."
I left my apartment on Sunday around 4:45 PM to start my Reba Douglas Jubilee promptly at 5. The Reba Douglas Jubilee was a drag show I hosted every Sunday at a speakeasy in the French Quarter called the Golden Lantern. I played ringleader to a cast of characters with a steady flow of regulars and people who heard the chaos on their way to Frenchmen Street and had to stop in.
The walk from my apartment was a quick five-minute one. I pulled my orange suitcase on wheels carrying my costumes; My wigs were hanging from the handle on a wire clothes hanger. As I rushed this Sunday, I exchanged waves with two beautiful men waiting to cross over Esplanade Avenue into the French Quarter. I looked something like Peggy Guggenheim covering my makeup with my four pairs of false eyelashes that I double stacked, two on top and two on the bottom. I had on my usual caftan, a head wrap, and my favorite $2 huge round hoop earrings from the wig store on Elysian Fields. Yes, I was an original.
I didn’t realize my wigs had fallen off the suitcase in my rush. The guys rushed to catch up with me to give me back my wigs. We introduced ourselves, and I invited them to stay for the show. Afterward, they were off to enjoy dinner at one of the quaint cafes in the Quarter and then to the hidden vampire cafe somewhere on Bourbon Street. Andre the quieter of the two., had those beautiful lips that you see moving but can't hear anything they're saying because you can't stop looking at their lips. Josef, the one who looked like a beautiful Peter Murphy, and I hit it off right away. We exchanged numbers and became text message pals. He introduced me to his world of Marlene Dietrich and Siouxsie Sioux and to a woman with whom I would soon begin my love affair and obsession with Jayne Mansfield.
Jayne kept me busy researching and watching youtube videos. It kept my sanity in check during our forced exile from Covid quarantine. Jayne never told the same story in the same way twice, so there was always something new.
Josef told me his fascination with Jayne Mansfield started when he was a kid. He would ride his bike to her house and sit on the fence surrounding her home. He said he saw her ghost come onto the balcony from her bedroom. Who says New Orleans is the only place with spirits?
Jayne was a self-created genius and the original queen of self-promotion. She was an entrepreneur in the industry who had no room for women in the business part. Men ran that.
I began posting the many gorgeous images of Jayne I found on the internet on my social media pages. Everyone was held captive at the time with our forced isolation glued to the internet. I've always been one to overshare my current obsessions, and Jayne was it at that moment. If folks were following me, they were forced to follow Jayne. Jayne believed in the power of self-promotion through the press. She would do it herself if the movie studio didn't give her work. She took time for photographers who followed her, showing her great images and creating great press. Jayne was the original Instagram/reality star making her private life public.
Jayne and the Hollywood side-eye.
Jayne knew the score. Jayne didn't care. She owned it.
Jayne created a road map for others to follow.
Madonna by Steven Meisel.
She brought the kids along wherever she worked. On one of her appearances on the Merv Griffin television show, the youngest of the brood, baby Mariska stole the show from all the adults while her two brothers watched and Jayne's beloved chihuahuas barked.
Spoke five languages
Played piano and violin
There was much to learn about my new obsession. There were millions of beautiful photographs, movies that she starred in, documentaries, and countless books and articles written about her.
There's a made-for-tv biopic starring Loni Anderson and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jayne and he husband Mickey Hargitay. Knowing how bad it was, I refused to watch the biopic, but my friend Jody convinced me I had to watch it. She, too, has a fascination with Jayne. After watching it again, I decided the acting and production were of a Lifetime 80's era. Still, I featured Jayne's clothes, some furnishings, and her 1957 pink Cadillac convertible and filmed in Jayne's beloved pink mansion.
The pink palace was formerly owned by crooner Rudee Vallee whom Jayne purchased with the inheritance money she received from a relative's passing. She had Mickey paint the exterior pink. Mickey, her husband, was an electrician and plumber before becoming Mr. Universe and went to work immediately customizing the pink palace in Jayne's pink signature style. He created a heart-shaped bathtub in her bathroom and installed a heart-shaped swimming pool and garden in their backyard.
Mama Cass and Ringo Starr rented the house at 10100 Sunset Boulevard. Ringo Starr said he painted the walls in Jayne's pink, and it kept bleeding through. Engelbert Humperdink, the last owner, sold it in 2002 to developers.
Still, Jayne's pink palace is one of Hollywood's most remembered celebrity homes. The fantasy of what it would have meant as a museum still fascinates me.