A Birthday Wish for Marilyn

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Today marks what would be Marilyn Monroe’s 94th birthday. It’s also ten years since I started my sister blog, ES Updates (affiliated to Everlasting Star, the longest-running online forum about Monroe.) Whereas on this website I cover a range of subjects in mostly long-form pieces, ES Updates is dedicated solely to Marilyn with shorter, more frequent posts relating to all aspects of her life and legacy. So if you’re looking for ways to celebrate her birthday, please head over to ES Updates and subscribe to the daily email bulletin; and for a deeper dive, read my novel, The Mmm Girl. (The photo shown above was taken by László Willinger in 1950 to promote one of Marilyn’s first important roles in All About Eve, which turns 70 this year.)

Soledad 4: Madonna’s ‘Madame X,’ and More

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The fourth issue of SOLEDAD Arts Journal is out now on Amazon, for $7.71 (US) or £6.28 (UK.) And at 186 pages, it’s a content-heavy issue, with a cover story on filmmaker Cosmotropia de Xam. Inside she revisits locations and compares them with other movies made there. These include several areas of Spain, and the Polish city of Lodz, where David Lynch filmed Inland Empire (2006.) There’s also an interview with actress Rachel Audrey, who has appeared in five Cosmotropia projects.

Arizona duo Grumpy Bear, interviewed by editor Jeremy Richey, have released a five-track Soledad EP with a cinematic theme, free to readers on Bandcamp (contact Jeremy at mooninthegutter@gmail.com for the code.) Jeremy has also written a fascinating review of Henry Jaglom’s A Safe Place (1971), starring Tuesday Weld. Elsewhere, LaShane Arnett writes about her love affair with Psychedelic Furs, and Rachael Dunnett and Peter Jilmstead talk about Fragments of Fear, their podcast for fans of Italian horror and ‘giallo’ films.

Marcelline Block’s interview with artist Miles Ladin during his Masquerade exhibit is also featured, and Chris O’Neill talks with singer Gabbie Bam Bam about her influences. Filmmaker John Levy shares still photos from This Wild Wild Wound. Poetry and short fiction make a strong showing, with contributions from regulars Les Bohem, Robert Monell and Emily Clare Bryant, plus newcomers Neddal Ayad and Ruth La Sure, who combines writing and photography to striking effect.

And finally, you can read my review of Madonna’s Madame X – it’s fully illustrated over eighteen pages, and leaves no stone unturned!

 

Dear Christine: A Tribute in Art, Poetry and Prose

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Dear Christine: A Tribute to Christine Keeler first took root in 2014, when Fionn Wilson painted a set of four portraits in black and white, based on 1960s photographs by Lewis Morley and others. Like myself, Fionn first discovered Keeler in retrospect. She asked other women artists, some of whom had lived through the Profumo Affair to contribute works about Christine. For many of us, her story represents a rite of passage. As Fionn notes in her foreword to the exhibition catalogue, the scandal “let the genie of sex out of the bottle” and “dealt a death blow” to class deference. At the same time, it unleashed a brave new world of tabloid exposure. “Never had the press been so bold and it has never looked back.” Continue reading

Mark Blum 1950-2020

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Mark Blum was born in Newark and raised in Maplewood, New Jersey. As a teenager, trips to Broadway shows taught him to love the theatre, though he never considered acting as a career. “I was raised in one of those basic middle-class Jewish families in the suburbs,” he told the New York Times, “and that just wasn’t something somebody thought about.” Continue reading

The Little Book of Marilyn

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“I first truly discovered Marilyn Monroe on a postcard stand in Devon, England, during a seaside holiday in 1985 … the postcard of Marilyn in a gold lamé dress, blowing a kiss to the camera, triggered something inside of me. At a time when I felt like the most unglamorous person in the world, Marilyn’s beauty, style and sophistication spoke to my teenage heart.”

Michelle Morgan, author of The Little Book of Marilyn, has written several other books about Monroe, including Marilyn’s Addresses, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modelling Years, and The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist. A compact softback, The Little Book of Marilyn is part of a series from U.S. publisher Running Press. Previous subjects include Bettie Page and Audrey Hepburn, whose fame has endured like Marilyn’s, and whose appeal surpasses that of other pin-models and actresses, including some still living. Continue reading

‘Dear Christine’ Symposium Rescheduled

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The Dear Christine symposium has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 28, at Deptford Town Hall, London from 12-6 pm – more details here. (Shown above is ‘Casting the First Stone’ by Marguerite Horner, oil on linen, 2017.)

UPDATE: Due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19, this symposium has been postponed until further notice.

‘Keeler, Profumo, Ward and Me’

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“The story that defined a decade of great change in Great Britain was my big break in Fleet Street, and I covered and loved every moment of it, from the ridiculous to the tragic …”

Tom Mangold, described in The Times as ‘the doyen of broadcast reporters’, began his career as an investigative journalist on Fleet Street before moving into television as a foreign correspondent, and has since made over 100 documentaries, including many for the BBC’s Panorama. But like many others drawn into the Profumo Affair, Mangold has never quite moved on from the 1963 scandal which still leaves more questions than answers.

Keeler, Profumo, Ward & Me is the third documentary on the subject in which Mangold has played a prominent role within the last decade: BBC Radio Four’s Profumo Confidential, which he presented, and ITV’s Sex, Lies and a Very British Scapegoat both aired in 2013, fifty years after the event. And as BBC1’s six-part drama, The Trial of Christine Keeler, sets the rumour mill in motion again, its final episode was followed immediately by Mangold’s latest account on BBC2. Continue reading

Goodbye (For Now) to ‘Dear Christine’

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Due to unforeseen circumstances, I regret to tell you that ARTHOUSE1 is currently closed and the Dear Christine exhibition – plus a symposium scheduled for this Saturday – has been postponed until further notice. My sincere regards go out to everyone affected, and I hope to write more about this wonderful show in the near future. I currently have several related articles in the pipeline – including a review of the recent BBC documentary about the Profumo Affair, which I hope to post here later this week. (The above photo shows a print from a series by Lewis Morley, 1963, on loan from Camilla Shivarg; commissioned embroidery by Fine Cell Work, ‘Christine in Gold’; and ‘Portrait of a Lady’ by Sarah Shaw. And in the photo below is Fionn Wilson’s ‘Christine Mesmerises’, opposite the iconic Morley print.)

‘Dear Christine’ Symposium in London

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Dear Christine: A Tribute to Christine Keeler, on display until February 29 at London’s ARTHOUSE1 (open from 3-7 pm on Thursdays to Sundays) is accompanied by a symposium featuring artists and commentators including historian Carol Dyhouse and Amanda Coe, writer/producer of The Trial of Christine Keeler, on Saturday, February 22. Admission is free but reserved to 40 places so book now via Eventbrite. (The painting shown above is ‘God Save Christine’ by Sal Jones.)

UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event has now been cancelled – more info here.

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Reframing the Keeler Affair

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My interview with Fionn Wilson – artist and curator of Dear Christine: A Tribute to Christine Keeler, an exhibition featuring works by twenty women artists now on display at London’s Arthouse1 until February 29th – is published today on the excellent Culture Matters website. (The painting shown above, by Fionn herself, is Christine and the Poisoned Apple – conjuring both the biblical Eve, and Snow White.)

UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this exhibition is postponed until further notice – more info here. (18/02/2020)

Continue reading