The Gilded Aesthetic

The Gilded Aesthetic : July 2008

The Gilded Aesthetic

Friday, July 18, 2008

"I Am a Love Witch:" Lilly Christine

Article from a men's magazine called "HE, Magazine for Men," Vol. 1, No. 8, March 1954. Written by a dancer named Lilly Christine, "the cat girl." I've borrowed this from Java's Bachelor Pad, where you can find other retro essays and articles. Weird article, huh?


"Yes, I am a voodoo priestess. I perform my love ritual three times nightly in my new home Club 'Basin Street,' New York City.

Imported from New Orleans, I am paid to transform the atmosphere of the club into a land of drums, exotic hoodoo and erotic love--giving the audience a frenzied emotional experience.

I present love making as a beautiful art. In its simplicity and naked innocence love is the appeasement of the soul through the willingness of the body for the great god Damballa--the green serpent god of Voodooism, the ancient African religion.

Most popular gris gris is the Ouanga (voodoo charm), a love fetish. If the love of a man or woman is not returned by the object of his affection he will go to a witch for help. The mamaloi (voodoo witch) takes two sewing needles, lays them side by side point to eye, and binds them tightly together with wool and a layer of medicine leaves. The finished charm is sewn in a leather pouch worn around the neck.

The gris gris I concoct is a strange and powerful love potion for two love-sick dock hands, seeking solace in my wizardry. After listening to their pleas of spurned love, I perform my own interpretation of Ouanga. The culinary process of the brew is savored with the dance customs of rhythm-conscious people. While mixing the drink I execute a love ovation of erotic frenzy that would send even the great Damballa into an eternity of delicious oblivion.

Witchcraft interests many people. Since I began voodoo dancing I have received mail and phone calls from people wanting me to prepare love gris gris for them. It is hard to convince them that I am an interpretive dancer and not really a witch."

Elizabeth Taylor

Did you know Elizabeth Taylor was born covered in hair? That’s right; Hollywood’s most enduring beauty was born suffering from the condition hypertrichosis, a rare disease that leaves the victim with a thick, dark coat of hair. Luckily for Elizabeth and the world, the hair fell off within a matter of days to reveal her unique beauty.

Elizabeth Taylor was definitely blessed by genetics (temporary hirsuteness aside). Her eyes were so brilliantly violent and her eyelashes so thick that she didn’t even need to wear makeup. As a little girl, she was once scolded for wearing mascara when she hadn’t put any makeup on. Yet her attractiveness hindered her career as a child star. Producers and directors found her too pretty for movie roles, so she had to struggle for opportunities to prove her talent.

Elizabeth owes her status as a beauty icon to the fact that she was different. She was striking and unique and she knew well enough to protect these qualities. Despite the attempts of studios to "tame" her thick eyebrows and blonde her hair, Elizabeth maintained what was natural and different about her face. She didn’t remove her mole or hide it under makeup. And instead of straightening her hair or forcing it into ornate hairstyles, she let it curl naturally. This made her stand out from many of her contemporaries. How many black-haired girls with violet eyes have you seen?

In terms of physical activity, Elizabeth wasn’t the most athletic of celebrities. She didn’t work out, but she was active. As most people know, Elizabeth loved horseback riding. She also maintained her curves by swimming and hiking. Although she did have a habit of overeating, especially during times of stress, she was never what you would call fat.

Elizabeth Taylor was beautiful, but she was also talented, opinionated, and passionate about her work and the people in her life. She was more than a mere decoration for Hollywood, but a key player in making it so dynamic. Once established as an actress, she chose roles which were diverse and interesting. Some of her greatest movies include "Giant," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and "Antony and Cleopatra."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Trashy Diva

Trashy Diva is another store with beautiful garments, as well as shoes, accessories, jewelry, and lingerie. I bought a blouse from them several years ago.

They are definitely a vintage inspired company and have fairly reasonable prices.

Pay special attention to their lingerie section (word to SlipofaGirl!)

I especially love this robe made in the style of the 1920's:

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Beautiful Bettie Page!

Bettie Page owed a lot to good genes. Beautiful skin, thick hair, and a winning smile contributed to her success as a pinup model, but she also relied on beauty tricks.

Firstly, Bettie had good energy and enjoyed herself. She looked great in photos because she was happy when they were taken. Bettie said herself that her happiest moments were when she was being photographed outside, perhaps playing on the beach. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but anybody will glow when they're feeling happy and carefree.

Secondly, Bettie took care of herself and took steps to protect her beauty. She worked out in a gym every day and walked all over New York. Bettie loved being outside, so she slathered herself in baby oil and lay in the sun to achieve a smooth, healthy tan (nowadays you're better off slathering yourself in sunscreen! Bettie spent gobs of time in the sun, yet never wrinkled. Even today in old age, her skin looks fantastic. I have no idea how she pulled it off). Bettie also always ate in moderation. She didn't smoke and rarely drank.

Thirdly, Bettie knew how to look good. She found a hairstyle that not only flattered her, but which distinguished her from other models. She never caked her face with makeup, but artfully applied mascara, liner, and true red lipstick. These were enough to accentuate her features, not disguise them. When she was barefoot, she made a point of always walking on her tippy toes to give the illusion of heels. Bettie, who wasn't very tall, knew this elongated her body. It also made her more graceful. Another way in which Bettie disciplined herself was by being perpetually aware of her body and her face. Bunny Yeager, the famous pinup photographer, remembered that she only caught one photo of Bettie where she wasn't posing, despite having taken hundreds upon hundreds. Bettie always knew where the camera was (much like Marilyn Monroe).

These are only a few of the things that made Bettie Page so inspiring and beautiful!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Audrey Hepburn's Beauty Secrets

She would know.

"For beautiful lips, speak words of kindness
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry
For beautiful hair, let a child run their hands through it
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pola Negri

Pola Negri was the epitome of the "exotic actress." A Polish import, she took the silent screen by storm with her dramatic makeup, ornate jewelry, and penchant for flirtation. Pola was the most popular actress in America for a time, but her career fizzled with the advent of the "talkies." Audiences simply didn't like her deep, thick accent and she further ostracized herself by behaving hysterically after the death of Rudolph Valentino.
It was Pola's love of luxury that captivates me. This woman lived in a mansion styled after the White House, rode in a white Rolls-Royce upholstered in white leather, covered herself in ermine and mink, and enjoyed walking her pet tiger up and down Sunset Boulevard. She decorated her home and dressing rooms with Chinese furnishings and threw a fit if the floors weren't strewn with orchid petals. She also started the trend of bright red finger and toenails.

I'm certainly no makeup expert, but if you'd like to emulate Pola the answer is simple: gobs and gobs of eyeliner, mascara, and shadow. Her eyes were the main focal point of her face, so it's safe to say you should use false eyelashes. Eyebrows should not be overplucked into thin lines, but should retain some of their natural thickness. They were definitely groomed and Pola obviously used an eyebrow pencil. Lips should be dark red, purple, or dark berry. She was one of the first actresses to use pancake makeup; in fact, Max Factor created it for Pola and other actresses like Theda Bara.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pretty Things

I first saw Liz Goldwyn's documentary, "Pretty Things," a few years ago when it debuted on HBO. While that was entertaining, it was the huge, pink book she released to go with the film that really caught my attention. I hope to have it some day.

It's about the last American burlesque performers.

Amazon link:

Marilyn Monroe: Quick Beauty Secrets

Marilyn Monroe was reluctant to share her beauty secrets, but luckily for us she was always surrounded by people more than willing to share.

Marilyn smoothed vaseline on her face to keep her skin soft. One source says that Marilyn would apply vaseline, then follow with loose powder, another layer of vaseline, then more powder. She did this until her skin looked flawless.

Marilyn, contrary to her glamorous image, did not like wearing makeup (or jewelry). When she wasn't wearing makeup, she smoothed olive oil on her face.

Used Nivea Skin Moisturizing Lotion.

A fan of Pond's Cold Cream.

To smooth cellulite, Marilyn purportedly took ice baths. She also enjoyed pouring Chanel No. 5 into her bath water.

Marilyn was 5'5" and weighed 115 pounds at her lightest. She had a 22 inch waist. Her weight fluctuated between 115-140 lbs.

The Benefits of Dairy

Milk and dairy related beauty tricks:

*Alpha Hydroxy Acids, which include lactic acids, are an essential ingredient in many complexion treatments. Cleopatra used to bathe in spoiled milk, which contains lactic acids, to smooth wrinkles and soften her skin.

*Boil a pan of milk until a thin "skin" forms on the surface. Take this off carefully and apply it to your face.

*Milk makes an excellent cleanser. Use a cotton ball or tissue to apply milk to your face.

*Honey, yogurt, and lemon makes an excellent facial mask. Smooth over skin for about 15 minutes, then wipe off with a wash cloth.

*Mix 2 tablespoons of cottage cheese, 1 ground cucumber, 1 tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of milk. Add a pinch of salt and parsley, then apply the mask and relax for 30 or so minutes. Rinse with warm water, finishing up with a blast of cold water.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bewitching Bangs

Barbara Payton

Beneath the glamour of old Hollywood, scandals and misery reigned. Blonde actress Barbara Payton stands as one of the most miserable and unfortunate starlets of the time.

Born 1927 in Minnesota, Barbara had big blue eyes, milky-white skin, and hair so blonde as to be nearly white. She made a mere 14 films before dying at the age of 39 from heart and liver complications. Before dying, Barbara had slipped into not only substance abuse, but prostitution. She oversaw the writing of a biography, I Am Not Ashamed, in 1963, four years before her death at her parents' home in San Diego.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Beauty Must-Haves

I'm dying for this book. Dita Von Teese's "Burlesque and the Art of the Teese"

Too Faced makes a leopard print bronzer. It's supposed to give you the perfect faux tan. It's pretty pricey at $30 or so bucks.

I am obsessed with this dress from Stop Staring Clothing, modeled by Bernie Dexter. But it's originally $122 bucks.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Recommended Reading

1. Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger

This book is chock full of gossip and scandals involving silent film stars. It also features a lot of photographs and other graphics.

2. Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger

Interesting read. It seems to focus more on the screen presence of the actors and less to do with their private lives. Their most famous roles and films are examined.

3. Marilyn Monroe by Barbara Leaming

This won't satisfy those seeking insight into Monroe's life, but it extensively covers her career and business dealings.

4. Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe by Anthony Summers

This is a very interesting, absorbing book that delves deeply into Monroe's life, relationships, career, and death.

5. Betty Page Confidential by Stan Corwin Productions and Bunny Yeager

This has several little articles and vignettes about Bettie Page, including one by Bunny Yeager herself! The majority of the book is photographs.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Lipstick Lore

*During WWII, production of cosmetics was slowed because the War Production Board thought the ingredients would better serve the war. Most American women were willing to sacrifice their cosmetics, but they were pretty upset about giving up their lipstick!

*Despite this, it was considered patriotic to wear lipstick during the war.

*In the days when lipstick was but a faraway dream, women crushed berries and sometimes used blood to color their lips. Early lipstick recipes included crushed beetles!

*Some shiney lipsticks include ingredients made from fish scales.

Lipstick in the 1920's was usually dark red, plum, or brownish. The fashion was to make your mouth look as small and as round as a berry. Lipstick was used to create a "cupid's bow," where lipstick was applied to the top lip to create two distinct points. If you had a wide or full mouth, you simply created the small shape you wanted.

In the 1930's, women wore orangish or plum shades. As they neared the 40's, they graduated to bright reds. Now it was enviable to have a full mouth, ala Joan Crawford.

Bombshell Products

Vavavoom Eyelashes:

Curl eyelashes, then follow with a few coats of Covergirl's Lash Blast. Wait a few moments, reapply. This is the finest mascara I've found. It truly gives you Bette Davis eyes at a low cost.

For extra volume, you can always attach falsies and then apply the mascara.

Lips like Cherries:

For hot red lips, turn to Vincent Longo. I use his Gel-X lipstick, which is the most stunning shade of true red I've found. It slides on perfectly and smells really good too. I got my stick from Sephora.

Full Hair:

There's a reason they string instruments with horse hair! I use Mane N' Tail Horse Shampoo, which makes my hair ultra thick. Try it out if you're looking for something gentle and thickening for your locks. At 7 bucks, it can be a tad expensive if you're looking to get the conditioner as well. But it's totally worth it.

Secrets of Screen Sirens

Old Hollywood beauties owe much to genetics, but not as much as you might think. Each had her own set of tricks, little rituals she employed to keep her hair thick, skin soft, nails strong, and derriere smooth. Here are a few, including some which are still used by celebrities and supermodels today!


Hairstyles in old Hollywood were often ornate and time-consuming. Don't be discouraged when pursuing a vintage hairstyle, as we modern girls have even more to help us out! Back in Rita Hayworth's day, all they had were plain old rollers and pins. Nowadays you can turn to the help of a curling iron or hot rollers.

A treatment of olive oil and honey, heated on the stove or in microwave, does wonders for your hair. This is a beneficial treatment that will keep hair soft and ease damage. Do this as much as twice a month and leave on head for thirty or so minutes. Shampoo and rinse afterwards.

Mayonnaise is another trick for thick, shiny hair. Smother hair in the stuff NO MORE than once a month. Mayonnaise is packed full of protein.

Always rinse hair with as cold water as you can get. This closes the cuticle and adds shine to your hair.

Beer makes an excellent rinse for hair. So does lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.


Got weak nails? Soaking them in olive oil daily with strengthen them.

Take biotin to strengthen nails.

Skin and Body:

Old Hollywood beauties ALWAYS used warm water when washing their faces, but they also knew to give their complexions a final rinse with cold water. Warm water opens your pores, allowing for maximum cleansing, while cold water closes your pores.

Cold Cream first came into existence in Ancient Greece! A physician named Galen created it out of ingredients like olive oil and flower petals. Today, as in old Hollywood, we have a much more refined cold cream. Pond's Cold Cream is simply the best, as it adequately cleanses your skin of every last trace of makeup and dirt, while leaving your skin smooth. This really is an amazing treatment for the face. It was also very popular with women in the 40's and 50's. All you need do is massage the cream into your face for a few moments, then wipe off with a tissue. For extra cleansing and moisturizing, apply again and repeat removal. Your skin will feel amazing.

(I am a devotee of Pond's. I am prone to acne and dry skin, yet this doesn't aggravate these problems. It's truly amazing)

A mask of crushed aspirin and water is amazing for acne.

Honey is an excellent homemade mask, as it moisturizes and adds a luminous glow to your complexion.

Be careful not to exfoliate your face too often and when you do exfoliate, be sure to use products with small grains. Too much exfoliation with large, rough grains can tear your skin.

Exfoliate your body at least once a week, concentrating on elbows and other rough spots. This will keep dead skin and other blemishes at bay, revealing luminous skin.

Marilyn Monroe took ice cold baths to "plumpen" and smooth her skin, particularly her thighs and derriere.

These are not old beauty secrets, but they are certainly valid enough to post! I have had minor cellulite on the backs of my thighs, but I have almost completely eradicated it by doing these three things regularly:

1. I rub baby oil into cellulite or other unsavory areas and then sit in a sauna for at least 20 minutes. I don't remember where I found this trick, but I swear by it. The heat activates the baby oil for maximum softening and plumping of the skin. I have seen a marked difference in my legs.

2. I rub coffee grounds into my thighs at least twice a week. The caffeine is the key ingredient here, but you must be sure to spend an adequate amount of time rubbing the grounds into your skin for this to do you any good. I'm not sure how permanent this treatment is, but if done with others I'm sure it helps.

3. I follow a bath by massaging a lotion rich in collagen and Vitamins A, C, and E. This is just to cover all my bases.

Many old Hollywood stars exercised to keep their figures. Marilyn Monroe used to jog around the sets before breakfast, many years before it was fashionable as an exercise. Lana Turner owed her limber limbs and glowing tan to many hours on the golf course. Many Hollywood actresses started their careers as dancers, so they were able to keep themselves trim. Audrey Hepburn had a history in ballet.

And there you have it! Secrets both old and new.