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Louise Brooks

Maybe it is because the release of the movie trailer for The Great Gatsby (2013) starring the Titanic “I am the king of the World” guy, the roaring twenties is certainly a popular theme for holiday parties this year. Based on the limited sample size of three, I confess: Two of the company parties (in different offices) I was fortunately enough to be invited to were of “The Roaring Twenties” and “Speakeasy” themes. And the hotel we will happen to be staying in on New Year’s Eve also will be a roaring twenties party.

So here is a tutorial on how to rock the 20s…

#1. Be white.

Ok, I am being facetious.

#1. Don’t tell your co-workers at a retro theme party that as a matter of fact if we were in THE era, you would not have been allowed to be in the same room as they, unless you were working as a waitress.

Hey, just want to get it out of the way.

 

#2. If you are a gentleman, wear your 3-piece suit and a gangster hat (i.e. expensive-looking fedora). You are done! See the gentleman in the picture who’s pointing his gun at me. Pretty sure he did not even have to dress up for his gangster acting gig.

#3. If you have short hair, wear a pretty elastic beaded headband the “wrong” way. Find any earrings that are dramatic and preferably in the Art Deco style (or, in fact, any geometrical shape will do. i.e. no hoop earrings…) at your local Marshalls and T.J.Maxx. If you have medium to long hair, you could be all professional actress-y and do the Finger Waves or Pin Curls. Or you could be lazy practical and tie your hair in a pony tail, tuck the tail inside the hair above the elastic band, stick 100 pins to keep the tucked hair in place and call it a day. See the crazy wombat on the right in the picture.

#4. You don’t need a dress strictly in the 20s style. Something with a simple silhouette will do. The key, I found out accidentally after the effect, is to have a nice, classy shawl.

#5. Take advantage of the fact that women did not know about “F* Me Heels” back then and spare your feet on the dance floor. Wear low heels with t-straps or some Mary Janes also look right for the occasion. I ended up with these.

#6. Scour your local second-hand stores for a beaded purse. I got mine for $12.

#7. Costume long black gloves, $8. Costume cigarette holder, $2. Going all out in lalaland, priceless.

 

#8. Take advantage of this opportunity to try out the “smokey eyes” makeup techniques from YouTube. Don’t fall asleep while watching this lady taking frigging 20 minutes to do her eyes and then think that you could just wing it. Don’t even attempt to draw in your eyebrows. Unless you have had practice before, let’s just stay away from the eyebrows. I don’t care if women in the 20s had strong eyebrows. If only we all looked like Louise Brooks and her amazing eyebrows!

#9. Make peace with your eyebrows.

#10. Perhaps you should consider getting enough sleep so the black circles under your eyes will not become augmented the night of the party and conveniently blend in nicely with the smokey eye look and turn it into a rabid raccoon look. Or, if you are Chinese like I am, it would be a nice panda look.

  Ta da!

 

 

 

 

#11. When you walk into the second party and immediately realize that you and your date are the only two people who actually dress up for the theme, don’t panic.

#12. Charm the actors hired to be a gangster and a British Constable (yes, do ignore the fact that there is a British Bobby at a Speakeay party) so greatly that they grabbed you as soon as you walked in the door to have pictures taken with you, not with your camera. While you are at it,  become simpatico with the actresses/flappers because of your awesome Louise Brooks choker.

#13. Yes, it’s ok to let the gangster kiss you on the cheek as he points his gun at you. (What you gonna do about it anyway?)

#14. When someone you know upon recognizing you actually bursts out laughing, and instead of approaching to say hi and telling you how awesome you are for having the guts, turns in another direction, stay cool.

#15. Make belief that you and your date are at some random bar surrounded by strangers (which may as well be the case, the part about “being surrounded by strangers”). The only difference is — Everything is FREE! Have more fun than everybody else around you.

That’s the best revenge of all: happiness. Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone having a good fucking laugh. — Chuck Palahniuk

 

 

And finally, as always, channel Louise Brooks wherever you are.

 

For two extraordinary years I have been working on it – learning to write – but mostly learning how to tell the truth. At first it is quite impossible. You make yourself better than anybody, then worse than anybody, and when you finally come to see you are “like” everybody – that is the bitterest blow of all to the ego. But in the end it is only the truth, no matter how ugly or shameful, that is right, that fits together, that makes real people, and strangely enough – beauty…

Louise Brooks on writing a memoir

 

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Some random associations from a picture I took this Sunday.

Budding.

Can’t hardly wait.

Spring Awakening.

Frank Wedekind

Frank Wedekind who in 1906 gave us a play criticizing the sexually repressed society with depictions of group masturbation and other subjects that scandalized theatre goers.

This quote attributed to Wedekind which made me chuckle because now whenever some trivial disaster happens in my otherwise mundane life, I think, “Yeah, a blog post has written itself!”

Any fool can have bad luck; the art consists in knowing how to exploit it.

 

The Lulu Plays by Wedekind.

Lulu, the complicated, contradictory femme fatal and victim, in a play that scandalized the audiences in the late 19th / early 20th century with its nudity, implied and not so implicit sex act, rampant confessions of lust and obsession, and an openly lesbian character.

Louise Brooks. Playing the role of Lulu in the movie adaptation of Pandora’s Box.

Louise Brooks. Writing a memoir many decades afterwards, so uncannily described how we feel now when we sit in front of our computers and pour our hearts out…

For two extraordinary years I have been working on it – learning to write – but mostly learning how to tell the truth. At first it is quite impossible. You make yourself better than anybody, then worse than anybody, and when you finally come to see you are “like” everybody – that is the bitterest blow of all to the ego. But in the end it is only the truth, no matter how ugly or shameful, that is right, that fits together, that makes real people, and strangely enough – beauty…

 

 

 

 

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Annex - Brooks, Louise_12

Louise Brooks, aka Frank Wedekind’s “Lulu”, 1929.

Nobody, I mean, nobody, does it better…

I have had the same postcard on my bookshelf since college.  I included it as one of the images for a self-portrait collage that I put together…  Now come to think of it, I started having identity crisis since that age and I haven’t been quite able to find myself ever since.  Kind of pathetic if I dare to be honest: A 40-year-old woman suffering from teenage angst.

Demian!

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