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Kiss Them for Me

Updated: Apr 20, 2023


Part 1:

"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.



Jayne Mansfield


Measurements 40-22-35


IQ 163


Spoke five languages


Played piano and violin


Career Girl


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.


The Big Picture


Vera Jayne Palmer convinced her first husband, Paul Mansfield, to move to Hollywood to follow her dream of becoming a movie star. She dropped the Vera out of her name but kept the Jayne and the Mansfield.

After two short months, Paul realized movie star life was not for him and returned to Dallas, leaving Jayne to take care of little Jayne Marie by herself. Jayne worked, posing for photographers, and barely made enough for food and the rent. She brought Jayne Marie to all of her gigs.

Jayne's hard work paid off, landing some minor roles in a few movies; she auditioned and won the leading female role in Broadway's "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" getting "knock-out" reviews. Studio moguls noticed and decided to give her a contract making her promise she would not get married or have children because it would hurt her career. She was about to do just the opposite.

After the success of both the film version of "Will Success...." and "The Girl Can't Help It" and her not hiding her marriage, the studio retaliated by loaning her out to foreign studios for $200,000 a pic but only paying her her weekly contract salary of $1,200. When Jayne discovered what they were getting for her to be in their films, she retaliated by creating a new business model for herself as the "Queen of Openings." She'd get paid to make personal appearances at the openings of grocery and furniture stores. She would laugh and say, "Watch me turn $200 worth of publicity into $10,000.

Jayne and Mickey needed to furnish their new home, so they got photographed in an empty living room with an ad asking if someone had a sofa they didn't need and could loan or donate it to them. Photoplay magazine started an ad campaign that furnished her beloved pink palace with furniture and a white baby grand piano. She did celebrity endorsements with things like the Jayne Mansfield hot water bottle.

The girl couldn't help it; she worked with what she was given.

KISS THEM FOR ME

Part 2

written by Siouxsie and the Banshees


On the road to New Orleans A spray of stars hit the screen As the tenth impact shimmered The forbidden candles beamed Kiss them for me; I may be delayed Kiss them for me; I may find myself delayed Kiss them for me, kiss them for me Kiss them for me; I may find myself delayed Kiss them for me, kiss them for me


Jayne began doing a nightclub act that also proved successful, making her the first female to headline her show in Las Vegas. Her pay was $200,000 for ten weeks of shows. How ironic is it that the studio received the same amount for loaning her out to the foreign movie industry?


Her final performance at Gus Stevens Supper Club



Gus Steven's Supper Club and Buccaneer Lodge were located in Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The coast was known as the American Riviera. Hurricane Camille destroyed the coast in 1969. Then it was lined with hotels, nightclubs, waterparks, and restaurants that fashionable people patronized-mid-century modernism; the coast's architecture stood out, standing next to the traditional southern gothic homes.

Gus Stevens Supper Club was the epitome of a Vegas-style showroom where celebrities were known to stop by to see their show-business friends perform.


Jayne's performance on June 28, 1967, was reported to be more than just schtick-it showed a softer, more intimate side people hadn't seen previously. They said she was in a good mood sitting on a lone male customer's lap and kissing him on his bald head.

It was to be her last performance.


After she finished her show, Jayne and Sam Brody, her lawyer/business manager, and Ronald Harrison got in the front seat of the 1965 and headed to pick up the kids from the Stevens' home, where Gus's wife babysat. They were going to New Orleans for Jayne to make a television appearance on WDSU that day. Ronald, who was driving, headed across Lake Pontchartrain on the Rigolet Bridge, crossing onto Chef Menteur Highway; he attempted to pass a truck spraying for mosquitos. Losing visibility, they suffered a fatal crash killing all three adults in the front seat while Jayne's three kids riding in the back seat were left unharmed.

Jayne was wearing her diamond bracelet that was still on her wrist. She left the club wearing her 10-carat diamond ring that was never found.


Her body was held at the New Orleans morgue until Mickey proved they were still married and then taken to the Bultman Funeral Home on St. Charles Avenue. The funeral was a small intimate service in Pennsylvania, away from all the paparazzi Jayne loved so much.


.The kids were driven to Oschner by an anonymous couple who brought Little Mariska a teddy bear the next day. They never gave their names or allowed themselves or be photographed.

Mickey made all the formal press statements and told the children of their mother's passing.


When little Mickey asked where his mother was, Mickey told them, "She had a date with God. That she will be with God from here on." He said that as far as the other children, when they asked, he would tell them.

A reporter asked if Miss Mansfield was the person the public knew-the Hollywood sex symbol.

"I wish the whole world would remember her as I do. She was a remarkable woman and a great mother. I am so sorry nobody knew the honest Jayne.



.

Jayne died with half a million dollars owed in debt. Jayne and Sam Brody were not legally married, so his wife sued the estate for the gifts he had given to Jayne and settled out of court. Mickey tried later to sue the estate for the care of the kids and lost because of "debt owed."

CMG Worldwide -an intellectual property management company, acquired her estate.

From Hollywood's Dearly Departed Tours, Scott Michaels bought the fatal car for $8,000 in 2016.




Photo from the crash by Terry Friedman for the Times-Picayune June 30, 1967.


The crash site is located deep in the swamps of East New OrleansTimes-Picayune; it was on the anniversary of her death that Brandon took me to see it. It was a typical hot, steamy Louisiana summer day with mosquitos that were big enough to carry me away. Three crosses for each adult mark where they died; they are rustic with peeling paint. There were rocks with burnt candles surrounding weather-faded glamour photos of Jayne. The broken glass from the harsh Louisiana weather could no longer protect the now faded glamour photographs of Jayne.

After our visit, I posted photos of our stay on Facebook. A fellow member of Jayne’s memorial group who lived in Alabama drove two hours to mow and refurbish the grave site.


The old and the new cleaned up the site of the crash.


Jayne left this earth at a mere 34 years old and will always be beautiful with her shapely body.

She left something for us that is in our lives everyday-the Mansfield bar that is on the back of all semi-trailers that keeps us from rolling under the trailers and causing a fatal accident.





Some recommended viewings and readings:










For Wes, Jody, and Jayne:


Bibliography:

Wikipedia on Jayne Mansfield's Pink Mansion, Gus Stevens, articles and books mentioned here, John Water's and Times-Picayune, Friday, June 30th, 1967.


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