The Bare-Legged Look

Gaby Deslys“Victorian women considered even the merest glimpse of female leg indecent– much more so if the leg was unclad. Right up to the present times, no fashion-conscious woman would go stockingless– despite a virtual ban on them by the British government during the Second World War because of material shortages. Even when supplies of wartime cotton and rayon stockings ran out, many women used specially prepared leg make-up.

The first real attempt to abandon stockings was made during the First World War by actress , mistress of King Manuel of Portugal. She shocked women and amused men by declaring that she would not wear stockings again until Germany surrendered to the Allies. In the 1920s Hollywood femme fatale Pola Negri went bare-legged, and actress Joan Crawford discarded stockings for evening wear in 1926.

In 1934, after a long debate, the fashion weekly Sketch concluded that ‘going bare-legged is inartistic and tends to spoil the softness of skin’. The British government’s official disapproval of stockings came in 1942, when the Board of Trade warned that if women did not stop wearing them in summer, there would be none by winter.

As late as the 1960s, matrons in Melbourne, Australia, disapproved when model Jean Shrimpton appeared as guest of honour at Flemington racecourse, hatless, gloveless– and stockingless. Then in 1983 the Princess of Wales attended a Government House party in Canberra with her elegant legs covered only by a golden suntan: the bare-legged look had finally won the royal seal of approval. Nobody could argue with that.”

Reader’s Digest Book of Facts, published by the Readers’ Digest Association Limited, 1985.

Prince Rainier’s Holiday Inn Monte Carlo

Robert Lacey’s biography of Princess Grace of Monaco detailed her husband Prince Rainier’s dream: to break the Société des Bains de Mer’s monopoly on his principality.

“My own feeling,” he said in 1965, “Is that the economic wealth of the principality would be greatly improved if we could start off with two thousand modern, comfortable hotel rooms of the kind at which the Americans are so good. Not super-deluxe, but modernly equipped, functional, and agreeable hotel rooms with a maximum price of fifteen dollars a single day.”

The Holiday Inn Monte Carlo opened in 1972 on Avenue Princesse Grace. The next year it was visited by MotorBoating & Sailing magazine.

“Later, if you feel you have been… over-sauced and truffled, you can keep walking as far as the Holiday Inn, and relax over a supper of hamburgers, french fries, and a chocolate shake. While we were there, the Inn was, probably not so oddly, entirely populated by Europeans, enjoying for the first time those sanitized swipes across the john and the water tumblers done up in Handiwrap. Coke Machines, Color TV. Free ice on every floor. Our continental cousins were getting a huge charge out of what we have come to regard as our birthright, motel-wise.”

The Holiday Inn Monte Carlo had 320 air conditioned rooms, with radios, color TV sets, and direct telephones, a heated pool and a private beach, a night club, a shopping gallery, a parking attendant and a masseuse.

Alas, as Lacey wrote, “By the time the hotel opened in 1972, its high construction costs had priced it out of the reach of normal Holiday Inn travelers, while people who could afford the room rates did not want to stay in a Holiday Inn.The hotel went out of business in the early eighties and was converted into another apartment block.”

It exists now only in the auctions of matchbooks ($12.99) and hotel key and fob’s ($14.00) on Ebay.

George H. W. Bush Outlines Richards Nixon’s Hang-Ups about Ivy League Bastards

Yalie George H.W. Bush served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee under Richard Nixon. Despite this appointment, he felt he did not enjoy the President’s trust and he fretted that Nixon viewed him as a mere “Ivy League bastard.” Nixon’s conflicted feelings about an Ivy League education extended even to his consigliore, the Harvard-educated PhD and Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger. * Bush outlined his worries in a 1972 letter to his sons:

“The President’s hang-up on Ivy League is two-fold.** The first relates to issues. He sees the Ivy League type as the Kennedy liberal Kingman Brewster on the war–arrogant, self-assured, soft professors moving the country left. Soft on Communism in the past–soft on socialistic programs at home–fighting him at every turn– close to the editors that hate him. In this issue context he equates Ivy League with anti-conservatism and certainly anti-Nixon.

Secondly I believe there is rather insecure social kind of hang-up. Ivy League connotes privilege and softness in a tea sipping, martini drinking, tennis playing sense. There’s an enormous hang-up here that comes through an awful lot. I feel it personally. It stings but it doesn’t bleed.”

*“That fucker doesn’t perform surgery or make house calls does he?” Bush is reputed to have asked staffers when they referred to the Secretary of State as “Doctor” Kissinger.

**Bush was correct. “The Ivy League presidents?” Nixon told Kissinger after his meeting with Ivy League College Presidents about Vietnam, “Why I’ll never let those sons of bitches in the White House again. Never, never, never. They’re finished. The Ivy League schools are finished… Henry, I would never have had them in. Don’t do that again… They came out against us when it was tough… Don’t ever go to an Ivy League school again, ever. Never, never, never.”

George Bush letter, July 23, 1972, All the Best, George Bush, Touchstone, 1999.

The Strange New World of the Internet

Time magazine’s July 25, 1994 cover story about “the world’s largest computer network, once the playground of scientists, hackers and gearheads,” posed the question, “Is there room for everyone?” FAQs (Time helpfully added “Frequently Asked Questions” in brackets) covered included “What is the Internet?”,'”How do I get connected?'” and listed some of the best guidebooks ( The Internet: Complete Reference, The Internet Nagivator, and Cruising Online). “Don’t start a ‘flame war’,” the magazine cautioned, “Unless you’re willing to take the heat.” It also featured a section about “Sex and the Net”:

“For those interested in pornography, there’s plenty of it on the Internet. It comes in all forms: hot chat, erotic stories, explicit pictures, even XXX-rated film clips. Every night brings a fresh crop, and the newsgroups that carry it  (,, etc.) are among the top four or five most popular. The salacious stuff is clearly an embarasment to the Clinton Administration, which has been trying to make a virtue of getting the Internet into schools. The White House is concerned, admits Tom Kalil, an adviser to Vice President Al Gore. But to judge the Net by its smut, he says ‘is like forming an impression of New York City by looking only at the crime statistics.’

For purely technical reasons, it is impossible to censor the Internet at present… But some antipornography activists have found a clever way to cope with that. Form time to time, they will appear in newsgroups devoted to X-rated picture files and start posting messages with titles like ‘YOU WILL ALL BURN IN HELL!’ These typically provoke flurries of angry responses– until it dawns on the pornography lovers that by filling the message board with their rejoinders, they are pushing out the sexy items they came to enjoy.”

“Battle for the Soul of the Internet,” Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Time, July 25, 1994.


The Great She Elephant from Across the Big Water

queen-victoriaAccording to Kitty Kelley’s The Royals, Queen Victoria was known in Africa as The Great She Elephant from Across the Big Water. It is amusing to rechristen London landmarks with her African sobriquet: Let’s meet on the Mall at The Great She Elephant from Across the Big Water Memorial. We took The Great She Elephant from Across the Big Water line to Brixton. Have you seen the Botticelli exhibition at The Great She Elephant from Across the Big Water and Albert Museum?

The Soviet Ambassador Comments on Reagan’s Interview with ABC, 1985

reagan“25 September 1985

In his recent appearances, the head of the White House has frequently falsified quotes that he attributed to V.I. Lenin. For example, during Reagan’s interview with ABC on September 18, 1985 the president of the U.S.A. acknowledged that ‘he often quotes Lenin’s statements,’ which allegedly speak of seizing Eastern Europe, organizing East Asian hordes, taking over Latin America and the United States. Grossly distorting the history and politics of the Soviet State, the American president attempted and continues to cast a shadow on the external and internal politics of the Soviet state. As is known, there are no such statements by V.I. Lenin.

This is not the first time that such allegations have been made. Such a practice is unacceptable in relations between countries. It creates justifiable indignation in the Soviet Union, as an insult to the Soviet people, a premeditated distortion of the Soviet state.

The Soviet Union demands the American side end such practices which are incompatible with normal relations between countries.

[signature illegible]”

Revelations from the Russian Archives: Documents in English translation, edited by Diane P. Koenker and Ronald D. Bachman, Library of Congress, Washington, 1997.

Hear Jan Brewer Talk Dirty!

screenshot-2148In 1990, future Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was a state senator who introduced legislation to require labeling of albums with offensive lyrics. “Donny Osmond, who was trying to toughen his image at the time, flew in from Utah to testify against the bill,” Brewer recalled in her memoirs, Scorpions for Breakfast. “He arrived at the committee hearing wearing a black leather jacket and black pants.” When the legislation was pending, Brewer was the victim of a hoax.

“A writer from a small weekly publication in Phoenix began calling me, posing as Doug MacEachern, who was then a reporter from the Arizona Republic and today is one of their editorial writers. Under the pretext of talking about the bill, this ‘reporter’ encouraged me to recite some of the offensive lyrics we were complaining about. I should have known better, I guess. But I was not then, and am not now, a distrustful person, and I believed in the cause of safeguarding our kids from this garbage. So I recited the lyrics–including the four-letter words and all of the awful, misogynistic things that were polluting our children’s minds. The deceitful reporter had secretly recorded our phone conversations, and a couple of days later he showed up at the State Capitol with an 800-watt sound system on a flatbed truck with signs proclaiming, HEAR JAN BREWER TALK DIRTY! He then blared over the loudspeakers all the four-letter words and horrible lyrics I had read to him. Everyone at the Capitol heard me repeating these lyrics over and over again. It was embarrassing for me, but it was even more embarrassing to to the profession of journalism. Classes on journalism started using it as an example of bad, unethical journalism– a wonderful example of why journalists rank below members of Congress in American public opinion surveys.”

Governor Jan Brewer, Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border, Broadside Books, 2011.