Poquatuck Hall Surprise

Posted by Censor Librorum on Aug 27, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

Our never-ending quest to find the perfect antique weather vane has taken us all over the North Fork this summer. Yesterday morning we saw an advertisement for a yard sale at Poquatuck Hall, so we hustled over to Orient to try our luck. We didn’t find a weathervane, but we did leave with two copies of “The Lesbian Tide” from 1973.

It brought back a lot of names and memories associated with my own coming out–Karla Jay, Jeanne Cordova, but especially, Rita Mae Brown. One of the articles, “An Army of Lovers,” covered a poetry reading given by Rita Mae as a benefit for a West Coast Lesbian Conference. Here’s a snippet from the article: “Another poem, “Deja Vue-Watching Old Movies on the Late Night Show” was written about Rita Mae’s personal love–a maturing but still well known entertainer. Refusing to give the woman’s name, Ms. Brown confided that the star dropped out of films in the early 1950s and made a comeback on Broadway in 1971. Though in love with the woman, Rita Mae warned us that she isn’t monogamous. She half-jokingly added–“So nobody in this room is safe.” Everyone laughed and one of the bolder women retorted–“Neither are you.” “One other poem, obviously dedicated to Ms. Brown’s actress-love is “Broadway Delicatessen Lyrics for My Musical Lady to Sing in Her Shower.” The poem acknowledges a difference in their ages, but centers on their love for one another.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out Rita Mae was referring to the actress Alexis Smith, to whom she dedicated “Rubyfruit Jungle.” At the time of Rita Mae’s L.A. poetry reading Alexis Smith was 52. Rita Mae was 29.

Ironically, in 1975 Alexis Smith portrayed Dee Milford Granger, a wealthy, closeted lesbian in “Once is Not Enough,” the movie adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s novel of the same name. Though married, Dee was carrying on a secret affair with a mysterious movie actress, Karla. Back when I “wasn’t a lesbian,” I used to read one passage over and over; it was the scene where Dee and Karla decide to give up the pretense and move in together. Their kiss exploded into wild lovemaking.

A few pages later Dee was killed in a plane crash. She was flying home with her husband to divorce and settle her affairs. Dee was looking forward to leaving her old life and living with Karla, her one, true love.

Ah, memories.

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