Blast From the Past

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Blast From the Past: “Miss Temptation”

“Miss Temptation” is a short story that Kurt Vonnegut originally wrote for the Saturday Evening Post in 1956. You can find it in Welcome to the Monkey House. I read the anthology in high school, but this piece really resonated with me the second time around, oh, twelve years later.

It’s about a soldier who has just returned from serving his country in the Forgotten War. Corporal Fuller has never done well with women, which he credits to his not being good looking or rich enough, and not simply because he’s a jerk. He tells off a beautiful young aspiring actress named Susanna, publicly humiliating her, because he doesn’t like the way she “makes” him feel. He had never met this woman before, yet she incited such a strong reaction that he yelled at her and spent the rest of his day moping and snapping at his mother.

Happy Birthday Valerie Solanas

Valerie Solanas

If she were still alive, radical feminist author and prostitute Valerie Solanas would celebrate her 75th birthday today. Instead, she died of pneumonia at a seedy Tenderloin hotel while she was a streetwalker in the late ’80s. If you’re not familiar, Solanas was most famous for the attempted murder of Andy Warhol in 1968 after he both rejected and lost the script for a play she had written and asked him to produce. The play, Up Your Ass, was discovered again after Solanas’ death and finally made it to the stage in 2000.

What I love her most for, though, is the SCUM manifesto, her 1968 anti-capitalism and anti-patriarchy treatise, which advocates for male gendercide and the establishment of an all-female society. Most of her readers today consider her advocacy of mass murder to be satire—Solanas has stated that it was not to be taken literally, but this was after she was imprisoned and institutionalized multiple times, so who really knows.

Oh, To Be a Housewife!

“I wonder what kind of girls do that kind of work, and how they get into it.”

Victoria Layton is bored. She’s middle-aged by 1968 standards, she used to have a wildly interesting life. Now she’s in Connecticut and she’s fuckin’ bored. She’s so bored that she spends most of the beginning of The Secret Life of An American Wife talking to herself. To be honest, I do this too (we all do), but we’re not under the microscope here so… you know. The film begins as she wakes up on a typical day, rambling about the husband who doesn’t pay attention to her and the life she resents. She gets her old man up and out of the house, drives him to the train, and heads back home afterward for yet another boring day.

Nothin’ Dirty Going On: “Best Little Whorehouse” Madam Edna Milton Chadwell Dead At 84

The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, based on Larry L. King’s The Whorehouse Papers, was a seminal work of sex work-themed pop culture. The successful 1982 film version of the musical, starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, included “I Will Always Love You,” a ballad that would later become Whitney Houston’s signature showstopper in The Bodyguard, and “A Lil’ Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place,” a showtune that would become the go-to performance choice of future musical theater strippers across America. Undoubtedly, many young children of the 80s were first introduced to the very idea of prostitution by the film.

But before all that, the Chicken Ranch in La Grange, Texas, was a real place, and a massive news story in 1970s Texas. The brothel was brought down thanks to the, ahem, consumer advocate reporting of Geraldo Rivera precursor Marvin Zindler. During its final days, the Chicken Ranch was run by Edna Milton (later Chadwell), who had started working (yup) at the brothel in the 50s and later bought it for $30,000. The real life Miss Mona said she’d never had an affair with the local sheriff and that their relationship was all business. Somehow, this doesn’t make her story any less interesting.

Edna died this week after sustaining injuries in a car crash last October. Unfortunately, she never published an autobiography, but went on the record whenever she was asked. Although she often said the fictional stories about the Chicken Ranch were sensationalized, it’s hard to imagine her actual story was in any way boring.

Y’all, Larry Flynt Is Kind Of Creepy.

Did everyone else know this? Have I been in the dark? Apparently so because this interview didn’t seem to make waves at all, but when I read it I got legitimately creeped out by this legitimately creepy portrayal of a man who is, apparently, legitimately creepy.

It’s not even the beginnings as a “hillbilly” or him losing his virginity to a chicken that he later killed. It’s not even his anger at his mom’s alleged promiscuity that creeps me out. OK, that does creep me out, because I never understand how kids know about these things or how they come to the conclusion that it’s something they should be upset about.

This is an interview with well, a shell of a man. From what I have read about Mr. Flynt and his rage and his tantrums and feelings of entitlement, he seems to be all burnt out by this point. A lot of the first part of this centers on a description of him that bears witness to that: “Now he is lolling almost lifelessly in a chair. His head is barely able to look up at mine, and his hand is barely able to reach up to shake mine” or “His face is round and entirely unlined, making him appear to be a gigantic, gnarled baby.” Take your pick. Either way you end up with a huge version of this: