This past weekend, we all packed up and scrambled into the old minivan to make a 4-hour drive to visit my niece’s new home. Now, 4 hours is not 40 hours or 4,000 miles, but it did try our patience because of unexpected thunderstorms (traffic slowed down), bumper-to-bumper gridlock (we got caught in the start of rush hour, due to the rain delays), and the presence of Cam in the backseat.
For any new reader, Cam is a friend of mine who was born with a “lusty pair of lungs.” That’s his nice way of putting it. He has a “big mouth”—that’s my husband’s straightforward description of it.
Yes, Cam is loud and talkative and very opinionated. During the journey—the 4 hours slowly morphed into 5 ½ hours—we kept the kids (and Cam) busy with the portable DVD player. (If you’re like us, and you have an older-model minivan, you can buy really inexpensive DVD screens and player that hangs on the back of the car seats. Entertainment and sanity can prevail during any cross-state or country trek!)
The people in the rear of the car were watching DVDs of “I Love Lucy,” and the folks in the front seat could listen to the dialogue and follow along in our heads.
I mentioned how this must have been what it was like to listen to radio shows in the past, and Cam eagerly agreed.
“Everything in the past was a little more literate and a little more eloquent,” Cam shouted. “People were used to reading and using their imaginations, so the words had to count more. Scripts were funnier and punchier and just better.”
I agreed with him, and later that weekend we talked about the “past” versus the “present.”
When we think about 100 years ago, we tend to concentrate on the ostrich-plumed hats, the short-waisted jackets, and the parasols that the ladies carried about town. We envision the gentlemen dressed to the nines for a night at the club (remember, it would be a restrictive, exclusive club—not very nice) or for an evening of wagering and debauchery.
Whatever highlights we conjure up are usually fun, frolicsome, and fantastic. We don’t think about disasters (100th anniversary of the Titanic’s 1912 sinking this year) or any of the other hardships that marked a person’s existence a century or several decades ago.
So, Cam and I both like our visits to the past to be snappy and sultry and sexy and scintillating.
“What decade would you most like to visit?” I asked him.
Without a second of hesitation, he replied, “The Roaring Twenties, of course.”
I agreed—I love the depictions of flappers in cloche hats, young girls and guys doing the Charleston into the early-morning sunrise, the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.
“I’d like to own a speakeasy,” Cam bellowed. And then, realizing how contradictory that seemed, he amended: “In my case, maybe it would be a ‘shouteasy.’”
For Cam—and for me—we get the chance to live out our black-and-white fantasies with HAUTE DOLL’s exclusive costuming and doll. Released at IDEX 2012, “Jazz Baby” is a limited-edition doll that personifies the vivacious vixen of the silent era and the bygone days of bathtub gin.
Everyone—not just Cam and I—has gone a bit gaga for the fashions and finery of the 1920s. Check out this year’s best-picture winner at the Oscars and the Golden Globes: “The Artist.” The charismatic heroine of the piece is named Peppy Miller, and she could be the “Jazz Baby” doll, right down to the perfectly applied beauty mark.
Now, in July, a new costume for “Jazz Baby” has been released, and it continues the valentine to “All That Jazz.” http://shop.dollsmagazine.com It’s only limited to 40 pieces and can fit any SD-sized doll. Instantly, the “Jazz Baby” doll—which is still available for purchase—or any other similarly sized doll can become a “sloe-eyed vamp”! With bathing suit, hat, wig, stockings, and boots, your very own 24-inch doll can look like a chorus girl from the “Ziegfeld Follies” or a dead-ringer for Catherine Zeta Jones in “Chicago.” Either way, it’s an easy way to mimic a speakeasy darling.
I told Cam how much I adored “The Artist” and had bought it to show the kids, who were also smitten with the notion of “reading” a movie.
“Why didn’t you bring that for the car ride?” Cam inquired.
“Because I couldn’t hear the subtitles from the front seat,” I explained.
“Oh, I would’ve read them out loud for you, and acted out every scene, too,” he replied. “It would still be a silent movie in spirit. Just not in reality.”
Reality is not something Cam and I care to consider when we’re together. Rather, we prefer to chat about Broadway, cinema, good books, bad books (trashy literature is perfect for sunny, roasting days) and dolls.
Since Cam practically lives on the Internet (“I troll it so much that I’m practically like a bridge-dwelling fairy-tale ogre,” he admits), he is well aware of the new fully dressed doll that HAUTE DOLL has just unveiled.
“What do you think of ‘Flying Dragon Ling Lan’” he asks, sounding serious. (This is a sure sign that he is considering swooping up one of the limited 50 dolls.)
I answer that I think she is gorgeous, and she has cultural significance to me, since my son and daughter are both from China.
“The designer Guo Pei is really making a name for herself as a haute couture designer,” I say. “She’s pulling back the veil that’s separated China from the rest of the fashion world. And she’s doing it by digging into her country’s historic dynasties and looking to its future as a world power.”
“Hmmm,” Cam responds. “I like it just because it’s pretty, and has a ‘Crouching Cougar’ vibe.”
“You mean ‘Tiger,’” I offer. “Tiger, not Cougar.”
“Ooops, sorry. I was thinking about Courteney Cox,” he laughs. “Yeah, it looks like ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ fashions, and you know how much I loved that movie.”
I do know how deep Cam’s affection for that flick dwells: when he saw it for the first time 12 years ago, he promptly signed up for martial arts classes. However, when he saw how he looked clad in a white uniform, cinched in at the waist with a belt, he became too embarrassed to continue the classes.
“I looked like a big white lump, like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from ‘Ghostbusters,’” he lamented.
It wasn’t until the arrival of “Kung Fu Panda,” with Jack Black, that Cam ventured back into a dojo.
The Guo Pei exclusive doll is truly miraculous; she stands 16 inches tall and has 19 points of articulation. Created by the Chinese-couture designer and JAMIEshow for HAUTE DOLL, the doll is a great addition for any collector who adores high fashion and high drama. http://shop.dollsmagazine.com/
“I like that she’s 16 inches tall,” Cam states. “This way, she will fit right in with all the Gene dolls. She can go in the cabinet with them, and she can blend in with all of Gene’s Hollywood costumes and designs. She’ll be like the Anna May Wong of the old-time movie scene.” (Anna May Wong was the leading Asian actress of the 1920s into the 1940s. She alternated between “dragon lady” roles and “demure butterflies.” She was lionized for her exotic looks by Hollywood standards and was a fashion icon.)
I agree that the new “Flying Dragon Ling Lan” dressed doll would help Cam flesh out his sprawling Gene collection, and her dragon-shaped crystal shoes, alone, are a reason to snap her up.
“When it seems like it will complete or complement a set, that’s the great thing about finding a brand-new doll,” Cam wisely shares. “‘Flying Dragon’ will make all of my Gene dolls that much better. If I don’t buy it, it will be like I’m doing all of them a disservice.”
And as two undeterred doll collectors, we’d never want to do that!
The “Boardwalk Baby” costume and the “Flying Dragon” dressed dolls are just two more ways that Cam and I can continue to re-share the dream!