To my readers: during the month of April, Beverly in Movieland will temporarily take on a new look. Brave soul that I am, I’ve committed to participating in an A to Z Challenge. That means I’ll be blogging daily (except Sundays), with each post representing a different letter of the alphabet. In the interest of preserving what’s left of my sanity, I’ll make my daily posts somewhat shorter than what you’re used to seeing. Roger Corman fans might enjoy knowing that I plan to focus on the inside stories of people from the Roger Corman world. As always, requests are welcome. I do hope you enjoy the change – and tell your friends!
Seems as though the latest Hollywood beauty fad is the so-called “Vampire Face Lift.” Doctors all over Beverly Hills are drawing syringes full of their patients’ own blood to inject into unsightly wrinkles. It may sound ghoulish, but what’s good enough for Kim Kardashian can’t be wrong, can it?
Perhaps women all across America are engaged in self-improvement projects involving their chins, their chests, and their flabby thighs. I wouldn’t know. I can only report on what’s happening here in Los Angeles, where almost everyone wants to look like a movie star. Leaving my dentist’s office last week, I was struck by the name emblazoned on the door of a nearby office suite; “Make You Perfect.” Perfection seems to be what’s expected in my hometown. After all, this is the place that spawned the Barbie Doll. And where actresses emerging from their teens are routinely expected to sign up for breast augmentation surgery. That aspect of Mary McDonough’s 2011 memoir, Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton, haunts me still . . . and I know she’s not alone.
We’ve all heard something about the disasters caused by plastic surgeons run amok. Just think of the eerily chiseled features of Joan Rivers and the late Phyllis Diller. Her own bad experience following a so-called boob job led actress Sally Kirkland to turn activist. In 1998 she founded the Kirkland Institute for Implant Survival Syndrome, and fought the good fight against the FDA’s approval of gel implants after a fourteen-year ban. Others go the legal route. The wife of one noted Hollywood producer was so horrified by the results of her Botox injections that she sued her dermatologist. News of the trial was splashed all over the front page of the Los Angeles Times, thus calling wide attention to her dissatisfaction with her own looks.
Composer-lyricist Billy Barnes, himself an L.A. native, passed from the scene last year. But he was razor-sharp circa 1990 when he penned “A Little Lift” for actress Jane A. Johnston. I heard this comic paean to the wonders of cosmetic surgery a few weeks ago, as part of Bruce Kimmel’s delightful Kritzerland salute to Barnes. (Such pillars of 1950s show biz as Jackie Joseph, Tom Hatten, Susan Watson, and Karen Sharpe Kramer were in attendance.) “A Little Lift” was belted out by the droll Susanne Blakeslee, who graphically explained how “a laser beam, an acid peel, a wedge of silicone” can improve a gal’s – or a guy’s – outlook on life. Her advice to those of us contemplating the way Time has ravaged our faces: “Raise the brow, and hoist the chin/ If it’s too tight, of course, you have that constant grin./ You hide the scars beneath the hair/ They mustn’t lift too much or one could look like Cher!”
Fortunately for my readers, Kimmel has made an earlier Blakeslee rendition of this ditty available on YouTube. Enjoy!