People Weblogging

The Lady Cyr

I finished up the base functionality for the OsCommerce application, including replacing the category implementation. OsCommerce is one of the more used applications for store fronts, and is open source to boot. However, the code is obtuse and cumbersome, and not especially well documented; you change the code in one spot, you end up breaking it in half a dozen other places.

I’ve also been working on weblog coding, and helping Feministe move from Movable Type to WordPress. I installed the application and handled the permalinks and htaccess changes, and Lauren did the import and a lovely, and amazingly quick, design. Other than forgetting to remind Lauren to turn off MT auto-generation, and her losing her initial index page, the move has gone relatively well.

Note to current WordPress users: As of a day or so ago, the default template for a WordPress installation has been moved into a theme, and the contents of the index.php file reduced to a few lines of code, easily replaced. What does this mean? This means that what happened to Lauren won’t happen after the 1.5 update.

Yes: 1.5 — the developers skipped 1.3 and 1.4, and the next release of WordPress will be 1.5.

While I was working on her site, I noticed she’d posted her results of a new quiz, Which Classical Pin-Up are you. Much better than the what kind of vegetable is one quiz. I broke away from coding a few minutes to take it and found out that:

You are Lili St. Cyr!
You’re Lili St. Cyr!

What Classic Pin-Up Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

The other classic pin-ups were Betty Grable (of course), Marilyn Monroe (must we), Brigitte Bardot, and Bettie Page.

All in all, I was rather pleased to ‘be’ Lili St. Cyr, one of the more famous of the 20th century strip teasers. Beautiful, but with a stronger face than the norm for the time, and an imperious tilt to her head. Unique in her performances, too. A classically trained dancer, when other strippers would do the usual bump and grind, Lili’s acts consisted of her taking a bubble bath on stage, or having her maid dress her rather than remove her clothes.

Standing five-foot-six, and featuring nearly ideal 36-24-36 dimensions, she was built to please. But it was her seductive moves that made her a star. She was most famous for a bathtub routine, in which she emerged from a bubbly tub, froth clinging strategically to her naughty bits. But her repertoire also featured narratives like “Suicide” in which she tried to woo a straying lover by revealing her body, and “Jungle Goddess” an exotic number where she appeared to have relations with a parrot.

Lili was a fiercely independent woman who married six times, leaving all six when she got bored. She appeared in magazines and movies, was adored in Montreal, and at the time considered the queen of burlesque. After close to three decades on stage, she retired and started her own lingerie line, where her catalogs would feature drawings or photographs of her wearing her products.

Her life was not a happy one, though, and she had problems with both alcohol and drugs. When she sold her business and retired, she withdrew from the public eye, living in seclusion with her cats until her death at age 80, in 1999.

The glamour photographer Bernard of Hollywood, creator of the famous photograph of Marilyn Monroe wearing the white dress standing over a exhaust grate, took many pin-up photographs of Lili St. Cyr, calling her his ‘muse’. But I don’t know if he was the photographer who took one picture I found of Lili that stood apart from the typical cheesecake shots.

In it, Lili is posing under a bed canopy, seemingly swirling a sheer cape around herself, as she strikes a pose for the photographer. But the camera, rather than move in to tightly focus on her, is pulled back and much lower to the ground, exposing the obvious nature of the set. Because of the angle, rather than a spontaneous swirl of cloth, it looks like Lili’s cape is actually wired to be pulled up and out. Additionally, as you can see in more detail in this larger photo, the walls of the set slant in and down, drawing you into the photograph; and in the crack between them walls, a photographer’s light shining on the floor in front of the dancer actually competes equally for attention.

Off to the side is a dresser with a parrot in a cage, and you can’t tell from the photo whether the bird is fake or real; and if the latter, alive or dead. The bed, which should look inviting and seductive, seems cold, remote, and hard as bricks for all that it is draped with velvet. Rather than seduce, the image makes one’s back vaguely hurt.

What’s especially intriguing about the shot is that it looks as if someone had carefully contrived an image, and then impulsively rejected it. However, there’s more than a hint in the photo that the scene you see is exactly what was planned, and if the camera were to pull back more, yet another set would be exposed.

A compelling photo of a genuinely interesting woman.

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