Monday, September 25, 2017

Benny and the Jets

Disco kitties FREAK OUT




Harold and Ginger and boudoir dolls

During my long Harold trek, which I don't think is over yet, I found some pretty sweet photos. The candid shots generally came with no explanation. But this one doesn't need one: it's Harold Lloyd hugging his dear friend Ginger Rogers, in the kind of gorgeous mink coat you never see any more (because someone will throw paint on you if you do). At first it isn't obvious, but you can plainly see his injured right hand with its missing thumb and forefinger. I've found a number of photos like this, where the hand is obvious in public, and it flies in the face of the "information" I found that said he always hid the hand in his pocket.

But he didn't. He was cool about it, so probably few people even noticed. He was relaxed about it with his friends. I think his attitude was: hide in plain sight. I like that, I like it a lot, and it took some courage in an age when "deformities" were kept carefully out of sight.

But this one is even more interesting. It's surprising what you miss when you don't look too closely. I never even noticed, until I posted this on my Harold Lloyd Facebook page (yes! I have a Harold Lloyd Facebook page, though hardly anyone knows about it: 

I knew about the craze for boudoir dolls, a Russian-inspired fad that raged through the '20s and '30s. I even collected some photos of them several years ago, yet still I missed this one! I wonder now if this was a gift from Harold to Ginger. With Harold's great generosity, it might have been.

This link will take you to an extremely detailed and informative post about boudoir dolls and their cultural significance.

And here is a slideshow I made just for you, dear readers, so you'll know what they looked like. Obviously, there was no one style, but at the same time, they have a certain sophistication in common. Their bodies and limbs were very long and skinny, as if they were mere frames for the clothes. Doll mannequins. I wonder how costly they were? If movie stars were carrying them around, they must have been, though no doubt there were knockoffs then, as there is now.

As I was working on this slide show, I realized I was seeing something with a startling resemblence to the eerily beautiful Enchanted Dolls of Marina Bychkova. I've been obsessed with those dolls for years, and have posted about them many times (and my hope of even seeing one of them in person is very slim - they command tens of thousands of dollars, and only appear at the most prestigious doll exhibits in the world). 

At one point I had the two sets of doll pictures mixed together, and - oh shit! - was it hard to separate them, because of all the similarities. Bychkova's dolls tend towards the waiflike, though some of them are downright fierce. They echo ancient story and reflect the true darkness of the fairy tale. Boudoir dolls have a flapperish quality (some are depicted smoking, or reclining in a seductive way with their legs apart). But the sexuality, the gorgeous costumes, the weirdness and slight creepiness that all dolls exhibit - I see them in both types.

Another slideshow I made of Enchanted Dolls. I think you can see the similarities, as well as the differences. And now I wonder if Bychkova, born in Russia, was influenced at all by these exotic European-made dolls. How could she not be?

BLOGSERVATION. I just noticed another thing. Ginger's doll has a certain resemblance to Marie Antoinette: the elaborate gown, the very high hairdo. 

And behold, this - 

I don't want to start researching the life of Ginger Rogers and trying to find out if she collected boudoir dolls, if this was in fact from Harold, or if they were carrying on together (as he did with so many women). Let it rest for now. But it's a fascinating subject. Though I return to dolls again and again as a topic, I'm not much of a collector.

But I do have a few.