Yes, now it can be told! My tireless research has turned up a fascinating artifact from the past. Okay, when I say “tireless research,” I actually mean “something I stumbled across because I have weird reading habits.” Over Xmas break, I wrote a story set in Jazz Age London. I thought I should do a little research on those wild times beyond movies and Waugh, so I got Bright Young People out of the library and read a bit in it. However, I discovered that once the story was finished, I was less engaged with the research and the book languished. Finding it was due back, I hurriedly flipped through to get a sense of what else might be there, should I revisit the period for another story (quite possible).
Imagine my surprise when the name “Lady Gaga” arrested my vision. Tyler refers to a spoof of the wild parties in Punch, called “The Dull Young People” (of course!) where an intrepid journo tries to get the inside story on the fabled bon vivantes. After looking in vain on the web, I managed to get a copy of the April 24, 1929 article via interlibrary loan (I ♥ ILL!):
“It was terribly difficult to get you a card,” said Lady Gaga as she steered me dexterously in her pink two-seater through the mazes of the after-theatre traffic; “but, my dear, I got away with it. I told them you write for the papers.”
The narrator has been promised the chance to meet up with Bright Young luminaries like “Bobo and Bats” otherwise known as the Honourable Batsine Belfry and her husband. It’s a wild night of cross-dressing (“a massive maiden in a cavalry officer’s mess-kit, whom everybody addressed as ‘Colonel,’ and next to her a fresh-faced lad dressed as a bride”), drinking rum and calling everything, “simply super!”
Predictably, the narrator is not impressed by Lady Gaga’s demi-monde, which includes the requisite “obese American” as well as a jazz band. He fails to join in with the escapades and the bright young things give him the cold shoulder, which he returns, having “not observed any indication of brilliance or originality” in their “mild dare-devilry and self-conscious dissipation.” He last glimpses Lady Gaga “sitting on the floor (strewn with cigarette-ends), her arm round the waist of a young heavy-weight in horn-rims, dressed as a baby…listening to a hollow-eyed girl in a ballet-skirt and a man’s opera hat who was singing a mournful song with the refrain, ‘It’s terribly thrill-ing to be wicked…'”
Sounds like a perfect plan for the next Lady Gaga video!
Meanwhile, I’m busy busy busy. Off to St. Louis next week for PCA with Miss Wendy (and a couple of my grad students) and then down to New Mexico to see my folks. Already in planning stages for promoting this summer when the new edition of Pelzmantel comes out from Immanion. Look at the nifty giant cover for Unikirja: it’s actually a lawn sign from Vistaprint, home of promo printing materials (thanks, Stella, my genius cheap-PR guru). I can’t wait to get one for Pelz — the first draft of the new cover is gorgeous!