Vintage Clothing and Sex: I Have Written A Novel


You probably do not believe that your faithful correspondent is capable of Deep Thoughts.  (Indeed, some have expressed that in this blog-thing quite loudly).  However, 2011 and 2012 have found me with much on my mind.  Which gives me terrible headaches.
My darling readers have probably been wondering, “What is that fabulous woman doing, that she is not here tending to our fashion and plus-size needs?  Where is she when we need famous people dressing up criticized?”

You may gasp in disbelief, but I have written a novel, “The Abortionist’s Daughter.” Your faithful scrivener was tempted to say that it was written by someone else, but one has to stand by one’s principles (and admit that one is a truly amazing writer, as you all know). 

As was said by another, “She who doth not toot her own horn, her horn shall not be tooted.” And of course I want my horn tooted.

As you can probably tell from my interests, the descriptions of the clothes are luscious, written by an author with an understanding of Fashion In The True Sense.   Silks, satins, drool-worthy beribboned hats, robes with crystal pleating, cotton voile dresses.  From my own experience as an actress,(something my dear darling Mama did her best to forget), the backstage scenes, populated with delightful characters, have been called “wonderfully entertaining.”
Ziegfeld Follies star Dolores, by Geisler
The novel’s backstory is: in 1910, Dr. Horace Daniels is sent to prison for accidentally killing a woman while aborting her fourteenth child.  Women had no access to birth control or knowledge about their own bodies.  The only contraception for women was refusing to have relations.  It almost reads like a harbinger of today’s sexual politics and the steady stripping of the rights of women. 

Medical technology has advanced light years, but the morality and small-mindedness of many have not.

Six years later, his rebellious daughter, Melanie was once the most eligible girl in the tiny Adirondack village.  At 23 she faces the prospect of being an “old maid” and spending the rest of her life living with her disgraced parents. The alternative is marrying a younger boy who is infatuated with her. 

In 1916, the notion that a woman could be independent was nearly unthinkable.  When she meets James, a traveling salesman, she allows him to seduce her.  (The scenes were a little graphic to write, but well, modern times and all that. Besides, I discovered the joys of writing smut.) Melanie agrees to run away with him to New York.

Once in New York, Melanie finds that James has other lovers, including a Broadway star, Gladys Dumbrille.  James is not at all what he seems, in fact he is a great deal worse.  Melanie is drawn into a web of intrigue and lies.  She herself lies to get into a show,”Almonds for Clarissa,” that Gladys is in.  The world of the theater is glorious to Melanie, although most of the glamour is onstage.  She becomes a “dress extra,” the term for actresses who wear their own clothes. Melanie befriends Mercedes La Fay (real name: Betty Ogden), a lively chorus girl who “shows her the ropes.”

Ann Pennington, dancer
However, no matter what Melanie does or where she goes, she cannot escape her past as the doctor’s daughter.  The tale is filled with tough choices, the personal politics of abortion, and yours truly paints a vivid portrait of the era.  

Always wanting to present my very best for you, I researched this tome at the New-York Historical Society, the Adirondack Museum, and of course my own fashion archives.

It has received wonderful reviews on Amazon, where it is available for sale on Kindle.

You can buy the novel here: The Abortionist’s Daughter by Elisa DeCarlo

Elisa & Fletcher

R.I.P. Doris Eaton, the Last Ziegfeld Girl


I write today with a heavy heart. Doris Eaton, the longest-living of the famed Ziegfeld Girls, died yesterday at the age of 106. She was a lithe, blonde beauty, who could still dance into her tenth decade.

Many people today have no idea who Florence Ziegfeld was, or why the Ziegfeld Follies were so important to popular culture during the years of World War One. In those days, showgirls, as they were called, set the styles of the day. Ziegfeld was known as “The Glorifier Of The American Girl.” He only picked the most beautiful women for his extravagant revues. The ideal measurements were bust 36, waist 26, hips 38. Excellent coloring did not matter; stage makeup took care of that. However, perfect teeth were a must.

Ziegfield’s shows were legendary for their expensiveness. Many of the women’s gowns cost $20,00 each. For a scene set in “The Orient,” he bought silk pillows at $300 each (and this was 1916 dollars). He produced his shows at the New Amsterdam Theater, which still stands today in New York. There was even a roof garden, where less elaborate (but no less costly) revues were staged every night.

Many Ziegfeld Girls went on to become stars in their own right, as did the comedians whose job was to perform between the lavish production numbers. Ziegfeld didn’t understand comedy and found none of the comics funny, but he knew they had a job to do and kept the audience reasonably entertained.

Doris Eaton went on to star in many Broadway shows, in the 1920s turning to the movies.

Marilyn Miller became a Broadway star, her name above the title on a number of musicals.

Fanny Brice became a world-famous comedy star, and was later played in two movies by Barbra Streistand.

Ann Pennington was a world-champion swimmer who invented the world’s first one-piece swimsuit. It was considered so scandalous she was repeatedly arrested.

W.C. Fields, Ed Wynn, Leon Errol, and the legendary Bert Williams (the first Black comic to attain true Broadway stardom) all received their tickets to stardom by playing in the “Follies.”

Eventually, Ziegfeld lost all of his money on his extravagant revues, not to mention changing tastes. His second wife was the actress Billie Burke, known to most viewers today as Glinda The Good Witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”

So let us not forget Doris Eaton, healthy, lovely and happy. Here is a video made several years before her death.

Rest in peace.

Elisa and Bucky the Wonderdog