Bravo to those of you who have, thanks to advances in psychopharmacology, overcome chronic shyness or social-anxiety disorder. I salute your synthetic savoir-faire with sincerity. But, at the risk of blowing cold air up the dirndl skirt of your chemically engineered self-acceptance, I must offer a word of caution: a Paxil prescription cannot make you witty and socially adept–it will just make you feel O.K. about not being so. And self-acceptance alone will not make you a sought-after social success. True popularity will only come when you have built a solid repertoire of parlor games, tricks and–most importantly–a collection of hilarious celebrity workout and makeover video tapes. Remember the shrieks the first time you played Twister? These videos provide a similar level of madcap hilarity. Who knows what craven, Zeitgeist -y impulse caused this lemming-like rush toward the video camera–but rush they did.
Heather Locklear, Joan Collins, Donna Mills … it really is hard to find a glamorous 80’s star who did not make a beauty or exercise video. And whether it’s Paula Abdul’s Cardio Dance or Tanya Tucker’s Country Workout , you’re guaranteed some thigh-slappin’, calorie-burnin’ fun. Is your beach weekend going all pear-shaped? Throw in Raquel Welch’s 1987 yoga tape, A Week With Raquel, and watch with pleasure as your newfound chums attempt, uproariously, to replicate Raquel’s magnificent assanas and breathy badinage. The “unscripted” chitchat that characterizes most of these tapes will provide countless catch-phrases for you and your claque. E.g., Donna Mills ( The Eyes Have It ): “I wanna show you how to look pretty, whether you’re outdoors or in a business situation”; Joan Collins ( The Making of Joan Collins ): “People should fuck more”; or Jackie Zeman from General Hospital ( Beauty on the Go ): “I think it’s possible to meet all your obligations and still look and feel terrific.”
My personal favorite is a 1994 tape called It’s Simple, Darling with Zsa Zsa Gabor. The busty, heavily accented, cop-slapping coquette really gives value for your money as she meanders half-heartedly through an exercise routine so turgid that it looks as if it would actually cause you to put on weight. The typical Gabor banter about husbands and rings (“Ven you break your engagement, you must give beck ze ring … but keep ze stone”) is the gasoline that powers this curious enterprise. Re her sixth husband: “I bought him a vaterbed to lighten zings up a bit … it vas a dead zea”; re Conrad Hilton: “Ven ve got divorced, he vas generous–he geff me five million Gideon Bibles … but I ztill like him. As a matter of fect, I still have hiz name on my tovels.” And Zsa Zsa is not alone. Cheesy flower arrangements and Louis chairs bedeck her set, not to mention two juiced-up West Hollywood bodybuilders, François and Mike. Every time Zsa Zsa shouts, “Come on, ladies!”, one can’t help thinking she is referring to these muscle-bound Marys. It’s Simple, Darling is currently discounted on Amazon.com to $17.99; three used copies are available for $13.98.
Don’t forget to add-to-shopping-cart a copy of Gaborabilia , the new camp-fest from Anthony Turtu and Donald Reuter. It’s a major Magyar montage, chockfull of tidbits on the famous-for-nothing Gabor sisters and their mother, Jolie. Did you know that George Sanders (Addison DeWitt in All About Eve ) was married to both Zsa Zsa and Magda? How Hungarian is that?
Don’t waste your time taking the piss out of Zsa Zsa–she already did it herself. And, at ze end of ze day, zat Hungarian émigré pallor is a hell of a lot chicer than your burgeoning sun tan. Dahlink, take a leaf from Zsa Zsa’s book: instead of devoting your leisure time to the cultivation of life-threatening skin blemishes, go for that porcelain veneer. Pale and interesting is a good look–if you aren’t interesting, at least you can be pale, and if you are no longer pale, you can fake it!
A fake pale maquillage for summer is no more insane than slathering yourself with a fake tan, but it cannot be achieved with an untutored hand–like yours. I called top-shelf maquillagiste Dick Page and asked for his prescription for a whiter shade of pale. “It’s an updated Zsa Zsa. I call it the Christina Beachy,” responded the witty Mr. Page, referring to the doll-like Ice Storm star. “Begin with Shiseido Benefiance Luminizing Day Essence” (S.P.F. 24; $50 at the Rockefeller Center Sephora, 636 Fifth Avenue). “It gives gunk-free protection and a bit of a glow.” Follow this with a sheer coat of Prescriptives Magic Illuminating Liquid Potion ($30 at Saks Fifth Avenue) for what Mr. Page calls “a doll-like loveliness.” Use a heavy hand with the mascara (Prescriptives mascara False Eyelashes, $16.50 at Saks). “And finally, line and fill in the lips with the reddest lip-liner–No. 5–from Poppy” ($13.50 at Sephora).
Tip: don’t forget to dollop sunblock on your arms–unless you want that beige-cocktail-gloves look.
Q: What do Zsa Zsa Gabor and Donatella Versace have in common–apart from chemically dependent hair? A: They’re both big fans of America’s first female perfumer, the legendary Florence Gunnarson. Since 1939, the mysterious Ms. Gunnarson perfumed the baths and bodies of major miscellaneous celebs, including the Gabors, Betty Ford, Ali MacGraw, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Mrs. John Steinbeck. In 1995, Lisa Manrique, an ex-trauma nurse, purchased the company. She spoke to me recently by phone from her fragrant Florida factory. “Florence was best friends with the lady who lived in the Beverly Hillbillies house. That’s where she met all these fabulous people,” said Ms. Manrique. “It was all very chichi, but underground. The cognoscenti had the magic phone number, and they bought Florence Gunnarson in plain bottles.”
Ms. Manrique has wisely redesigned the packaging–it looks very Jolie Gabor-Palm Beach 1940–and painstakingly recreated five of the key fragrances: Wild Fern, White Blossom, Deco No. 23, No. 67 (this product contains 92 perfumes made from over 300 ingredients; Zsa Zsa used it to perfume her pool) and my fave, Mary Black, named after Gunnarson’s lifelong friend and pen pal and redolent of lemon, bergamot and lavender. Florence Gunnarson perfumed essentials come in two sizes: 3.4 ounces for $45 and 8.5 ounces for $65. Available at Barneys, Bark in Brooklyn and FiFi La Roo in East Hampton.
Re Jolie Gabor: While trawling for those gut-busting videos, keep your eyes peeled for costume jewelry from the Jolie Gabor Collection. Yes, the mother of Magda, Eva and Zsa Zsa had, for several years, a line of tarty-but-amusing costume jewelry that she hawked at stores in Palm Beach and New York. You just missed two giant Jolie Gabor cocktail rings–one amethyst, one sapphire–originally priced at $25 each on eBay! Don’t despair, there’s plenty more where that came from.
Did you know that Hungarian is not a Latin language? The Gabor tongue is a unique European language tracing its origins to India via the Gypsies. Apropos of almost nothing, did you know that, in Finnish, mekko means “frock” and Mari means “Mary”; therefore, Marimekko means–you guessed it–”Maryfrock,” which hardly means anything and sounds really weird.
During the 60’s and 70’s, many of you woke up on Marimekko sheets staring at Marimekko wall hangings. F.Y.I., the happy Finnish design company with the high ideals is 50 years old this year and, in my opinion, looking good again. The “Tasaraita” long-sleeved shirt, designed in 1969, is fast becoming the groovy T-shirt of the summer. This hip, happy garment comes in a bewildering combo of colors–e.g., orange and pink … very Y.S.L! ($65 at Marimekko, 698 Madison Avenue.)
Careful with the black-and-white stripe–you don’t want to look like a mime. Or do you … ? Let’s not dismiss the idea: After all, the freakish frisson of those celeb videotapes will not keep your chums entertained forever.