Wanton tales from a Hollywood wild child
The image above is a famous one, an icon of art history and also of a certain place and time in ‘60s American culture. The girl in the photo is Eve Babitz. She’s probably the wildest—and wittiest—child of the ‘60s that Hollywood’s ever seen.
How and why Eve ended up in the photo says it all: she posed with Marcel Duchamp as an act of revenge against her married lover, who hadn’t invited her to Duchamps’s retrospective at the museum since his wife was attending. And of course, the pic became infamous—score the point to 20 year old Eve.
This is just a single moment in a legendary career of wild exploits. Eve Babitz famously seduced famous movie stars, rock legends, and literary icons. To name just a few: Ed Ruscha (and his brother Paul), Jim Morrison (L.A. Woman was written about her), Steve Martin (she gave him the idea of the white suit after seeing a 1906 Henri Lartigue photo), Harrison Ford and Warren Beatty (on this she’s said “Harrison could fuck. Nine people a day. It’s a talent, loving nine different people in one day. Warren [Beatty] could only do six.” Babitz also designed album art for Buffalo Springfield, Linda Ronstadt and the Byrds. And she introduced Frank Zappa to Salvador Dalí. She knew everyone who was anyone in Hollywood—and seduced most of them.
However, Eve Babitz is a lot more than a party girl, as her writing proves. Her books, long out of print but recently reissued, offer up a razor-sharp view of ‘60s and ‘70s Hollywood haute bohemia. Babitz has a wildly original voice, unapologetic and honest. Eve’s Hollywood (originally published in 1972) and Slow Days, Fast Company (originally published in 1977) are witty, revelatory and totally unique.
An excerpt from Eve’s Hollywood:
Graham wore black and had black hair, long and shiny, that fell over his face and got pushed back from his listening brown eyes as you talked to him. His eyes were the true eyes of a liar. The hands that pushed back his hair were the hands of someone who loves women and who knows what to do. His eyes listen to you, carefully watching to see what you want to hear so that it shortens the time until his hands can undo your clothes and touch your back into heaven, into blue heaven and lies. Lies that weren’t lies because there was a blue heaven, the white horse gallops back to the wilderness where Zapata, who is not this lacy corpse, is waiting and if you doubt, there is Green Death at the liquor store.
Once you pick up Eve’s Hollywood or Slow Days, Fast Company, you won’t ever forget them. You might even to fight the urge to take up residence at the Chateau Marmont. But guaranteed, it’s a party you don’t want to miss.