Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty today in 1988 in Saint Michael, Barbados and grew up in Bridgetown. She recorded under producer, Evan Rogers, in 2003 and signed with Def Jam Records after impressing their then-president, Jay-Z, after auditioning. She started to come across the air waves in 2005 with her deubt album, Music in the Sun, and followed this with her 2006 album, Girl Like Me which brought us popular singles such as ‘Pon De Replay’ and ‘SOS’. She took over creative control after her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, which came with a change in her public image, or rather, the way she presented herself. She won her first Grammy with her famous single ‘Umbrella’ which she collaboarted on with Jay-Z. She released four more platinum albums, one of which was a Grammy winner, 2012’s Unapologetic. A lot of her singles are some of the best-selling singles of all time, including: ‘Take a bow’, ‘We Found Love’, and ‘Stay’ among others. She is the youngest artist to have fourteen #1 Hit Singles on Billboard 100 and has won eight Grammys, twelve American Music Awards, two Brit Awards, and won the inaugural Icon Award at the 2013 American Music Awards.
As a fashion icon, Rihanna released a line in 2011 with Armani. In 2014 she was the face of the French house of fashion, Balmain. June that same year, at the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Rihanna won the Fashion Icon Award, saying: “Fashion has always been my defense mechanism.” In December, she announced that she was now the creative director of sportswear fashion brand, Puma. In 2015, Rihanna became the face of Dior, the first black woman to do so. In 2016, she worked with Manolo Blahnik to create an all denim fashion shoe line and collaborated with Label Dior to create her own line of sunglasses, Rihanna which you can find on Instagram.
She played in Battleship as Petty Officer Cora Raikes, Home as lead character, Tip Tucci (which is on Netflix!), and you can catch her on the final season of Bates Motel, as Marion Crane, starting this Monday. And keep a lookout for her in Ocean Eight as Nine Ball to be released next year!
More Reasons To Love Ri:
When a man professed his love for her while presenting her an award, she dabbed in response.
(Picture source) Hello everyone, I am in love with Stephanie Beatriz and this is the perfect time to let you all in on this secret.
Stephanie Beatriz Bischoff Alvizuri was born today in 1981 in Neuquén, Neuquén Province, Argentina. She moved to the United States with her younger sister and parents when she was three years old. She grew up in Webster, Texas, graduated from Stephens College in 2002, and went to New York City to pursue her dreams as an actress. She moved to Los Angeles in 2010.
Though many know her as Rosa Diaz from Fox’s Brooklyn Nine Nine, Beatriz has had small parts in The Closer and Southland as well as playing Sofia Vergara’s character’s, Gloria’s, sister on Modern Family. She also plays a small part in the independent movie, Short Term 12, which is on Netflix and I highly recommend though watch out for major abuse and self harm depictions.
Beatriz also has appeared in many drama productions at The Old Globe Theatre, oregon Shakespeare Festival, Theatreworks USA, and Yale Repertory Theatre.
Beatriz has been cast as the lead (!!!!!!) in the upcoming drama, Light of the Moon.
Beatriz co-hosts the podcast, REALITY BYTES, with best friend, Courtney Kocack, writer on Amazon’s Dagger and Eggs. If you don’t have Itunes, they have a Youtube you can subscribe to here.
You know where you’re gonna find plenty of women who love other women? BROADWAY, APPARENTLY. Today, we bring you: the one and only Tallulah Bankhead, who introduced herself at parties by saying:
‘I’m a lesbian. What do you do?’
Though modern audiences don’t remember much of her actual work on stage (which is a shame), her reputation ensured her legacy.
Born into a prominent politician family from Alabama, Tallulah’s birth was followed shortly by her mother’s death, which sent her father into a spiral of alcoholism and resulted in Tallulah being mostly raised by her paternal grandmother. She was described as being homely and overweight as a child, and overcompensated (body positivity wasn’t a thing) with her theatrics, for which she had a knack. Her signature husky voice resulted from frequent bronchitis. She eventually became a “Southern belle” who aspired to a future outside of early marriage, as with her sister.
After winning a small part in a film in NY thanks to a photo contest, Tallulah moved to NY and quickly found her niche there. At the Algonquin Hotel, she quickly became a sensation, especially with fellow actresses Eva le Gallienne (because they obviously had an affair together),
Estelle Winwood, and Blyth Daly
– the four of them were nicknamed the Four Horsemen of the Algonquin. She then alternated between the stage and the screen, often garnering great success and receiving top billing. She appeared in movies such as Devil and the Deep in 1932, with Gary Cooper and Cary Grant (she reportedly said, “Dahling, the main reason I accepted [the part] was to
fuck that divine Gary Cooper!”) and Hitchcock’s Lifeboat in 1944, and was highly praised for her performances in plays like The Little Foxes and The Skin of Our Teeth.
Her reputation – as a woman of formidable wit, eloquence, and dynamism – caused her to be both fascinating and scandalous. When she died from pneumonia and various health complications due to her life style (cigarettes and malnutrition definitely weren’t helping), many claimed her legend had ruined her life. Yet, she’d acquired quite a following, especially among gay men in her lifetime, and her work and influence have been rediscovered in the contemporary period. She’s been recognized as a queen of camp, and her legacy is visible everywhere, with more or less oblique references and portrayals in countless films, including… Disney’s The 101 Dalmatians: Betty Lou Gerson, the voice actress for the character Cruella De Vil, found inspiration in Tallulah’s voice and personality.
She had numerous affairs with both men and women, and although the latter were definitely out in the open, she never openly identified herself as bisexual (but she allegedly called herself “ambisextrous”).
will explore the life and affections of a favourite writer of mine – Virginia Woolf.
This first post will be echoed by reviews of several of her books later this
year, which is why we won’t linger too much on praising her literary genius.
To put you in the right mood, you can listen here to the only recording of her voice, first broadcast by the BBC on 29 April 1937 as part of a series called Words Fail Me.
writer Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen on January 25, 1882 in a stepfamily,
to Julia Prinsep Jackson, who was Julia Margaret Cameron’s niece and a
Pre-Raphaelite model, and to Sir Leslie Stephen, who was previously William
Thackeray’s son-in-law, and a historian, critic and biographer. Such parents
came with friends from Victorian literary circles such as Henry James, Lewes and
Lowell who were regularly invited at their house in Kensington, London, and influenced the education of the Stephen children.
Stephen by George Charles Beresford, July 1902
family tragedies that occurred while Virginia was still young is heartbreaking.
Her half-sister Laura was sent to an asylum when Virginia was 9. Then her
mother died when she was 13, shortly followed by her other half-sister Stella. To
top it all, Virginia and her sister Vanessa were sexually abused as children
and teenagers by their adult half-brothers. (Thankfully their crime was
acknowledged and denounced by both women later on!)
This left the remaining four
children, Vanessa, Thoby, Virginia and Adrian to deal with a tyrannical,
capricious father too occupied with his life’s work – editing the Dictionary of
National Biographies. At that time, Virginia suffered (presumably as a result)
several nervous breakdowns, and subsequent recurring depressive periods, for which doctors prescribed “Rest Cures” (ever readThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman?). Actually
similar mood swings continued to torment her all her life, and partly led to
her suicide in the River Ouse on March 28, 1941.
Vanessa et Virginia playing cricket at their family’s summer home in Cornwall, 1893 – a
idyllic setting which inspired To the Lighthouse
(1927) a vibrant homage to their mother.
boys were given a proper education and sent to Cambridge, that would have been
inappropriate for the girls. At least, Virginia could educate herself thanks to
her father’s huge private library – and, boy, did she read! Along with learning
Ancient Greek, Latin, and German, she developed a yearning to write, starting
with diaries, and a family newspaper, illustrated by Vanessa who took art
classes. Furthermore, their brothers brought home their friends from Cambridge,
which was the beginning of what we know as the Bloomsbury Group.
However it only
officially became the Bloomsbury Group when the Stephen siblings actually left
Kensington at their father’s death in 1902, and set up house in Bloomsbury,
where they started to live a bohemian life and regularly welcomed Lytton Strachey,
Duncan Grant, Roger Fry, John Maynard Keynes and others in their midst. They
had so much fun (ever heard of the Dreadnought Hoax?) breaking the codes of
Victorian society, in art, literature, but also in their social life – they had
quite the progressive approach to sexuality. Though if homosexuality between
men was accepted and even celebrated, as much as heterosexuality, that didn’t seem
to include lesbianism – how progressive…
Socialising in the sun. From left to right, Angelica/Vanessa/Clive
Bell, Virginia Woolf, Maynard Keynes. Photo from Virginia Woolf’s Monk’s House photo album, before 1939.
But then, Thoby
died, and soon afterwards, her sister Vanessa, to whom Virginia was really close,
married art critic Clive Bell. After a fake marriage proposal by Lytton, the
latter urged his friend Leonard Woolf, who was abroad at the time, to marry
Virginia. They met and indeed married in 1912. Critics often disagree on their
relationship and Leonard’s role in Virginia’s life – the saviour, or the prison
ward. On the one hand, he refused her a child, giving her mental instability
as a pretext and influencing the doctors’ ultimate decision, and was often
painted as the poor husband of a frigid Virginia in the latter’s first
biographies – a portrait shaped by his perspective, which hides his own issues
regarding sex and women. But on the other hand, he nurtured Virginia’s talent,
tried to keep her stable by moving to the countryside, giving her a hobby (as
prescribed by doctors) by creating the Hogarth Press, which published her own
books, but also that of the members of the Bloomsbury Group, other contemporary
writers, and the first English translation of Sigmund Freud’s work. At least, most critics agree to say that, without Leonard, Virginia probably wouldn’t have lived as long – and written as much – as she did.
Woolf” (c.1912) portrait by Vanessa Bell. Vita
Sackville-West as “Lady in a Red Hat” (1918) by William Strang
Virginia’s affections were more often directed towards women – it started with
her first crush, her cousin Madge, then with Violet Dickinson, 17 years her
senior, who helped her through the death of her father. Later on, she intrigued and impressed the extravagant Ottoline Morrell, who developed a crush on
her and often invited her to her salons, though Virginia would often ridicule
her and mock her behind her back – aware of the power she yielded thanks to her words and wit, she always liked to hold court in society, where she gave
satirical portrayals of everybody (while drinking champagne). Composer
Ethel Smyth also fell for Virginia, and both women remained friends till the
Her most famous relationship though was with Vita Sackville
West, whom she met in 1922. Their affair led Virginia to write to – and about – her
lover. She described Vita as “pink glowing, grape clustered, pearl hung” and
wrote to her “you only be a careful dolphin in your gambolling, or you’ll find
Virginia’s soft crevices lined with hooks!” Their romance led to the writing of Orlando, qualified by Vita’s son as “the
longest and most charming love letter in literature,” but also inspired other
writers, such as Edna O’Brien, Eileen Atkins, Christine Orban…
fascinated by bisexuality (as the fusion of both male and female identities in
one person, not the modern understanding of the term) and experimented with the
ideas of genders, and heterosexual and homosexual relationships in her writing.
If you are interested in that reflection, I recommend the recent lesbian
reading of her works (both fiction and non-fiction).
Want to know more? Here are some anecdotes about her…
Joplin was born in 1943, on January 19 in Port Arthur, Texas.
She is one of the greatest singers of the 1960s, her music being as famous as her rocky
Photo taken in Los Angeles in 1970 by Barry Feinstein for the cover of Pearl. Janis Joplin reclining on Victorian era loveseat, wearing the colourful clothes, jewellry and one of the multi-coloured feather boas that she favoured around April 1970.
Joplin had a
difficult time at school being bullied by her schoolmates. She remembered,
“I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I thought. I didn’t hate niggers.” High
school was the worse, with her becoming overweight and her skin breaking out.
She was even voted the ‘ugliest boy’ by frat boys. She always remained bitter
about her experience, which left her deeply wounded – and that, till the end of
her life, when for example at a press conference, she reminisced sarcastically that the
only time she ‘entertained’ her peers in her teenage years was when she walked
down the aisles of the school…
Joplin had a group of friends, outcasts like her, with whom she discovered the
Beat poets, blues and rock music. Her imitation of her favourite female blues
singers, like Bessie Smith, was so point on that it was impressive. She moved
to San Francisco in 1963, quitting college, and did several recordings and public performances. Her voice was amazing
– raw, powerful and extremely moving.
She ran with a lesbian crowd, and was
known to ‘swing both ways.’ This is when she had a relationship with musician amateur Jae Whitaker (more here about her). However she
also started using drugs around that time, mostly heroine and meth, and gained
the reputation of being a ‘speed freak,’ and a heavy drinker. This is partly what
drove Whitaker away. Joplin’s abuses were so bad that her friends organised a ‘bus-fare
party’ so she could go back to Texas and her parents, and hopefully get clean.
Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company, 1968. Cover drawn by counterculture cartoonist Robert Crumb.
Joplin did get clean,
and that is when she was discovered by the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Drugs were out of the question at
first, but that didn’t last, as it was quite common in the milieu. Still, they
all tried to keep her clean for studio recording. Cheap Thrills was their most celebrated album.
Joplin had a voice that eclipsed other talents, a fact often pointed out by the
press, which created resentment within the group. After a last tour in the fall
of 1968, they split up. From then on, she only had back up musicians, first the
Kozmic Blues Band, then the Full Tilt Boogie Band, with whom she recorded I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
and Pearl (which was released posthumously).
Janis Joplin performing Tell Mama in 1970 in Canada during the Festival Express train tour.
appearance at the Woodstock festival in 1969 is a story I am quite fond of. Her
biographers say she wasn’t aware of the festival until a few days before she
was to appear, even though she was part of the program and one of the big
attractions. Joplin stayed in a motel, with Joan Baez and Baez’s mother, and
the three were brought to the site of the festival by helicopter on August 17. On a sadder
note however, her excitement was swamped by a 10-hour wait, driving her to
shoot heroin and drink – though her performance while “not at her best”, was
still “incredible” according to Peter Townshend, and the cheering crowd asking
for an encore. The day
after, Baez and Joplin saw Jimi Hendrix’s performance from Joe Cocker’s van.
The documentary My Little Girl Blue partly addresses Joplin’s sexuality, which director Amy Berg calls fluid.“I feel like Janis loved everybody and she
loved feeling loved,” she said. “And it wasn’t gender-based. It was
based on being in the moment.” Nonetheless, alcohol and
drugs ruined most of her relationships. Her on-again, off-again affair with
Peggy Caserta, who wrote her controversial memoirs entitled Going Down with Janis (1973), was based on a destructive ‘heroin connection.’ At one point she
also tried to get clean for a man, David Niehaus, with whom she went to Brazil. But
he left her after realising she had started to use again. She died at 27 on October 4 (16 days before Jimi Hendrix, also part of the ‘Club 27′) from an accidental overdose.
short career, Janis Joplin still remains a huge icon of the 1960s, and her
distinctive voice and style still influence artists nowadays. She transcended
her unhappiness and gave herself wholeheartedly to music, and the footage of her
live performances can attest to the genius and power of the Kozmic Mama.
As it turns out, two of the most impactful television
shows about LBPQ women both premiered on this date in history –
January 18th. This is the second part of a two-part article where we
celebrate and examine both The L-Word,
which premiered in 2004, and Her Story,
which premiered just last year in 2016. It’s in that twelve-year gap
where we can see where we’ve been and where we’re going in terms
of how women who love women are portrayed in media.
I’m going to say something you are probably used to hearing in every ad campaign for every television show ever, but this time I promise it’s true: Her Story is not your typical TV series. Rather than premiering on a traditional television
network, all six episodes of the series have been uploaded to YouTube (which
means you can re-watch it as much and as many times as you want!). The web
series tells the story of two best friends navigating their love lives amidst
the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles – Violet as she strikes up a flirtation
with lesbian journalist Allie, and Paige as she tries to fit her relationship
with James into her workaholic lifestyle. As two trans women, Violet and Paige have
to deal with preconceived notions about their sexuality and identity as well as bigotry
in both the straight and gay worlds, all on top of the average social woes that
go along with dating.
Obviously, the biggest difference between Her Story and The
L-Word is the fact that Her Story centers trans women whereas The L-Word is a
show about cis characters, but beyond that, what makes Her Story so memorable is
that it allows conversations about gender and sexuality to run parallel to each
other in a way that is rarely seen in popular media; Violet is able to question her
attraction to men, interact with lesbian culture, and go on cute ice cream
dates with Allie all without the narrative even once treating her sexuality as something
that could compromise or contradict her transness. This is proof of the genuine
storytelling that happens when it is actual trans women telling trans women’s
stories; activist Jen Richards is the powerhouse behind Her Story, acting as both the
lead actress and one of the head writers of the series. Aside from gender and
sexuality, Her Story also deserves praise for not completely whitewashing its main cast, and touching on the topic of
poverty/financial instability – a factor that often affects LGBTQ people but is rarely portrayed in LGBTQ
Much has been said about Her Story since its burst onto every queer girl’s radar last year, from critiques of its reliance on “femme-ness” to praises for
its revolutionary storytelling. In September of 2016, the show was nominated for an
Emmy for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series, making it the only
independent series to receive a nomination that year. Not only does the
intrinsic narrative of Her Story show how much richer and diverse representation of the wlw
community has become in the years since The L-Word, but the
critical acclaim the series has received shows how much the larger cis & straight culture is starting to realize the necessity & beauty
of queer women’s stories.
This is the first part of a two-part article we’ll be
publishing today on the evolution of the representation of lesbian, bi, pan,
and more broadly queer women in media & pop culture, on the occasion of the
premieres of two TV series: The L-word,
which premiered in 2004 and ran for 6 seasons, and Her Story, which premiered in 2016, one year ago. The two share
similarities, and present several significant differences. Taken together, they
may represent an evolution in the way queer women are portrayed in media.
Regardless of whether you liked The L-word (or even bothered watching it at all), no one can deny
it had a major impact on a whole generation of women growing up queer in the US
in the early 2000s. Let me quickly remind you of the premise, if you’ve never
watched it, or got into it: Jenny Schecter moves to LA to be with her
boyfriend, meets a group of friends – all lesbian or bi women – and
subsequently & promptly heads to the dark side discovers a few
truths about herself (namely, that she’s an awful person she’s absolutely of the lesbian persuasion).
For many, watching The
L-word was the first time they saw lesbians on TV, and moreover, lesbians
who were actually acknowledged as such, whose lesbian-ness was not subsumed under
euphemisms and queercoding, and still more revolutionary – lesbians who were
just kind of… doing stuff. You know, being portrayed as regular people. Hanging
out, talking, going to work, quarreling, expressing doubts and emotions. There
were plenty of sex scenes, but these
were usually filmed in a way that attempted to normalize lesbian sex (it’s not
that complicated! scissoring is a boring trope!) but also tried to avoid
catering to a male audience that would (and continues to) fetishize lesbians. More
or less subconsciously, it codes lesbian sexuality as more adventurous and fulfilling,
in opposition, notably, to mainstream (and representations that see lesbian
sexuality as something opaque, mysterious, and fundamentally incomplete. There
were also healthy and unhealthy relationships, showing the complexity of
lesbian and bisexual relationships for women.
However, as numerous critics and articles have pointed, this
representation is highly flawed and restrictive. The portrayal of two Latina
characters (who aren’t even played by Latina actresses!) as mostly props to
advance the narrative and emotional development of the white characters
reprises stereotypes generally associated to Latina women (hyper-sexual,
exotic). More generally, whiteness seems to be the norm on the show, even
though we’re in LA and the idea that all lesbians, in LA or elsewhere, are
white and relatively well-off seems just plain ridiculous. The depiction of
trans characters was also a glaring failure, in particular with Max’s
transition (from butch lesbian Moira to straight male Max) being ridiculed, and equated to a
desire to assimilate within heterosexual culture. Even the portrayal of
gender-non-conforming woman is ambiguous – their perceived butchness is apparently
a clear indicator of their sexuality; yet most of the main characters tend to
be associative with feminine normativity. Gender keeps being represented in an
essentialist manner, even when characters like drag king Ivan Aycock or
androgynous Shane shake up gender presentation categories. And when it comes to
the portrayal of femininity, it seems the show privileged the portrayal of femme women, or “lipstick lesbians”
whose femininity corresponds to contemporary beauty norms and whose bodies are
often sexualized, whether on the show or in promo material. This begs the
question: doesn’t this overwhelming representation of femininity correspond to
certain marketing imperatives that still submit to the patriarchal gaze? In short,
why so many ‘beautiful’ femmes, if not to, subconsciously, conform & appeal
to straight norms?
Obviously, there’s economic reasons to this. Had this been a
show with more accurate/realistic/authentic representation, it may not have
benefited from such a following, because of market diktats. All in all, this is
a complex, heterogeneous show. It’s far from perfect, but it did help create a
kind of ‘lesbian gaze’ by striving to put the audience in the lesbian
characters’ shoes – the result was meant to be, if not identification, at least
acknowledgment and revelation of the lesbian experience(s) within society. But this
was back in 2004-2010. What has changed, within a decade?
You may know her as the existentialist philosopher who wrote The Second Sex, a foundational text in modern feminist studies – “One isn’t born a woman, but becomes one.” as well as Sartre’s lifelong companion. But, parallel to the open relationship she had with Sartre, she had many affairs with women, which often gave rise to scandals. But we’d be hard-pressed to say that she’s the queer icon she’s been mythologized as.
[black-and-white photograph of de Beauvoir’s profile; she’s standing in a street]
De Beauvoir was born in Paris, to a bourgeois family that had fallen on hard times after losing most of their fortune during WWI. In her early years, she was devoutly Catholic like her mother, but experienced a crisis of faith at 14, and remained an atheist all her life. An intellectually precocious child, she went on to study math and philosophy (since she had no dowry, and thus limited marriage prospects, she just decided to do whatever the hell she wanted and become independent). She was among the first women to receive a university degree from the Sorbonne (French women had only
recently been allowed into higher education), and she prepared the philosophy agrégation (a super competitive postgraduate exam which produces a national ranking of results and is destined to create professors in secondary and higher education). That’s when she met Sartre and his clique (who nicknamed her castor, or beaver). At 21, she was the youngest person to take the exam, and placed 2nd (the 1st place was narrowly awarded to Sartre because #sexism).
She went on to teach at high schools in Marseille, Rouen, and Paris, and while she started her relationship with Sartre in 1929, she took on quite a few lovers, both male and female, on the side. Her relationships with women especially became scandalous, as she had affairs with a few underage students while teaching.
In fact, in 1943, de Beauvoir was accused of debauching a minor, and saw her teaching license permanently revoked. It also appeared she’d developed a pattern with Sartre: de Beauvoir would seduce a female student, and then pass her on to Sartre. This generated controversy at the time, and it’s not difficult to see how this, in our contemporary framework, can be characterized, at best, as predatory behavior.
Overall, her current legacy hinges mainly on her role as a key figure in
feminist and leftist circles. She wrote extensively about the ways
femininity and womanhood are social constructs.
She also fought to obtain the right to abortions in France (which was
legalized in 1975) and co-signed in 1971 the Manifesto of the 343, a
declaration whose signatories admitted to having had a – then illegal –
abortion, and advocated for reproductive rights.
But her more controversial aspects shouldn’t be swept under the rug, be it her predatory and possibly anti-feminist attitude towards her female lovers, or her political positions (or lack thereof), as with her relative apathy during WWII, or her complex relationship to Communist ideologies and to figures like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Marie B.’s article on Barbi(e)turix (in French) lays out the ambivalent reactions to de Beauvoir
very well, thinking through the way de Beauvoir considered her female lovers and the complexities of her political engagements, and Marie-Jo Bonnet’s recent biography of de Beauvoir, focusing on her relationship to women, sheds a welcome and more nuanced light on the life and work of the philosopher.
The famed actress and fashion icon, Marlene Dietrich, was born on this day in 1901.
Remembered as the woman who made the tuxedo gender neutral, she also had several
relationships with women throughout her life.
Marlene Dietrich dressed in her classic tuxedo and top hat, cigarette in hand (x).
“Marlene” Dietrich was born on December 27, 1901 in a district of
Berlin, Germany called Schöneberg. Her mother was from a prestigious German
family and was heir to a jewelry and clock-making firm while her father served
as a local police lieutenant. As a child she attended Auguste-Viktoria Girls’
School. It was during her school days when her friends began calling her
“Lena.” She soon combined that nickname with her first name, Marie, and began
going by Marlene. After graduating from the Victoria-Luise-Schule, she began
seeking a career in show business.
gig was as a chorus girl with the touring vaudeville troupe, Guido Thielscher’s
Girl-Kabarett. After working in the theater circuit for a while, she made her
film debut with a small role in 1923’s The Little Napoleon. Her big break came
in 1930 when she starred in The Blue Angel; her role as the seductive cabaret
singer Lola Lola struck something within American audiences. Her signature song
from the film, “Falling in Love Again,” also became a hit. Marlene would go on
to make over 45 films in her career and become known as one of the most famous
femme fatales in cinema history.
One of Marlene’s
most famous scenes occurred in the 1930 film Morocco. One again cast as a
cabaret singer, she performs an entire song dressed in a man’s white tuxedo and kisses a woman in the audience. The scene was scandalous at the time, but also indicative of Marlene’s personal breaking of traditional gender roles;
she was known to dress in men’s suits in her daily life and was also one of the first women to be
enrolled at Sabri Mahir’s boxing studio in Berlin.
Photographs of Marlene that were taken by the woman she had one of her longest love affairs with, Mercedes de Acosta (x).
The phrase “sewing circle,”
used to describe the underground gang of lesbian and bisexual women in old
Hollywood, is said to have been coined by Marlene herself. Although she was
married to Rudolf Sieber, she had multiple affairs with both men and women.
Some of her most notable lovers included Mercedes de Acosta, Claudette Colbert, Edith Piaf, and many more. She would pass away, aged 90, on May 6, 1992.
Happy December, everyone! Today we’re
covering the iconic superhero Diana Prince who made her first official appearance
as Wonder Woman in All-Star Comics on
this day in 1941.
The first comic book Wonder Woman ever graced the cover of, Sensation Comics #1, which was released in January of 1942. The tagline reads, “Featuring the sensation new adventure strip character – Wonder Woman!”
Wonder Woman was first introduced
in December of 1941 in All-Star Comics
#8. She entered during a time known as the “Golden Age of Comic Books” and became an
instant hit. She would appear again in Sensation Comics #1 in January 1942
before being granted her own independent comic book just six months later in
June 1942. The creator of the character, Dr. Dr. William Moulton Marston, wrote
all Wonder Woman stories with H.G. Peter illustrating until his death in
Ever since her debut, Wonder Woman
has been an icon for women who love women. Her homeland of Themyscira, an
island populated by only women warriors, has long been featured in the daydreams and
in-jokes of lesbians and bisexual women alike. This coding of Wonder Woman became
canonized in 2016 when DC Comics confirmed that Diana Prince has had
relationships with women as well as men. During an interview with Comicosity,
the Wonder Woman comic book writer Greg Rucka said, “[Y]es, [Wonder Woman is
queer]… But an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say, ‘You’re gay.’
They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist….are we saying Diana has been in love and
had relationships with other women? As Nicola and I approach it, the answer is
obviously yes” (x). Here’s hoping this side of the legendary heroine can make its
way to the big screens someday!