This morning I dropped the kids off @ my parents’ house. The kids are on Easter break and they always spend Friday night with Bibi and Pop, anyway.
Since I’ve never known when to quit, I asked my parent’s for another favor. If it wasn’t too much to ask, would they let me borrow their April 2018 copy of Esquire? Mom & Dad readily consented.
I’d browsed the Esquire when visiting and 2 articles had caught my eye. One was by Sloane Crosley who writes that her uncle is forgotten 70s porn star Johnny Seeman. She’d tracked him down. The other article was by Eve Babitz, who was in a now-famous 1963 photo, playing chess nude with French artist Marcel Duchamp. My reaction to the stories surprised me.
Of course, you can’t beat sex for a story idea, so I read the porn piece first. Crosley grew up in an upwardly-mobile Jewish family. Johnny Seeman (his real name) is the family misfit, who drifted for a time before falling in to porn in San Francisco. Crosley journeyed to Los Angeles to find her 74-year-old uncle living alone. Johnny states that he got into porn as a way to meet women so that he could have a long-term relationship. Of course, this shocks the reader.
It’s a great setup for a story, but – surprisingly – it never goes from good to great. The story is short and readable. Crosley is in her 30s and worries about having not settled down yet. She considers Johnny’s lonely life to be a depressing possibility for her own future. Again, it’s worth reading, but my expectations were even higher.
A few years ago, I had read Vanity Fair’s account of the 1963 Duchamp-
Babitz photo. So, I didn’t really think that there was much left about it that I really wanted to know. Esquire does have print of the photo in the magazine. Even better, though, is Babitz’s account of what Los Angeles’ growing art scene was like in the early 1960s. In just a few paragraphs, she helps recapture a time when she was young and part of the fashionable crowd. This one was better than I thought it would be.