A motorcycle hearse listed on EBay at $10,000.
Queen of the Dead – dateline June 25, 2012
• Remember a couple months ago when Thomas Kinkade died and there were all these debates about “was he a worse painter than LeRoy Neiman?” Well, now they can fight it out in Bad Artist Heaven, as Neiman died on June 20, aged 91. Neiman started his career with Playboy in the 1950s, creating garish Eisenhower/Kennedy-era kitsch (he also created the “Femlin,” the semi-naked sprite who cavorted on Playboy’s Party Jokes page). Neiman’s later paintings sold for three figures, says the New York Times, and that does not include a decimal point. The Times added that Neiman “cast himself in the mold of French Impressionists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir and Degas, chroniclers of public life who found rich social material at racetracks, dance halls and cafes,” which explains the spinning noises I heard from all those Paris cemeteries I toured last month. I actually think Kinkade was a worse artist. Neiman at least had some kitsch value; Kinkade’s work looked like it was painted by an evil teddy bear, using another evil teddy bear as a brush.
• Vulnerable/tough, gravelly-voiced actress Susan Tyrrell (who died at 67, after a long horrible illness, on June 18) was a little bit Barbara Harris, a little bit Karen Black, a little bit Gloria Grahame. She got a much-deserved Oscar nomination for Fat City (1972), but fans also remember her for Andy Warhol’s Bad, John Waters’ Cry-Baby, the sleazy Angel and the follow-up Avenging Angel, and Big Top Pee-Wee (as Kris Kristofferson’s teeny tiny wife). She was also seen in the films Zandy’s Bride, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and Shoot Out, among others. The daughter of a William Morris agent, Tyrrell got her start in theater, both regional and in New York. She also toured in her own 1989 one-woman play, My Rotten Life: A Bitter Operetta. “The last thing my mother said to me,” Tyrrell told the L.A Weekly in 2000, “was, ‘SuSu, your life is a celebration of everything that is cheap and tawdry.’ I’ve always liked that, and I’ve always tried to live up to it.”
• Here’s another horrible depressing story for you! South Korean actress Jung Ayul, 25, hanged herself on June 13. She costarred in the TV shows Sarangah, Sarangah and Dear Love, but was having severe financial problems, as can be appreciated by all young performers. The girlish actress (seriously, she looked about twelve) was one of several recent South Korean celeb suicides, and a government official told the press, “The industry is keeping its eyes on whether the nightmare of celebrity suicides, which had been calm for a while, will be starting up again with the death of Jung Ayul. We hope the Werther effect won’t follow.” (I am impressed that they reference Goethe!). Another internet source (which means it must be true, right?) says that “About 70 percent of [South Korean] celebrities received less than the minimum wage of 10.2 million won per year . . . Eighty percent of celebrities fell into the “low-wage group.”
• Word comes of the death of Alexander Charles Robert Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Ninth Marquess of Londonderry, on June 20, aged 74. What makes him so cool is not only that he was the Ninth Marquess of Londonderry (and no doubt had quite a Londonderry air), but in the 1950s he fronted a jazz band called the Eton Five. He got off to a bad start Marquessing by writing The New Statesman chastising the royal family for “flashing their toothpaste smiles, displaying their latest hairdos and exhibiting their deplorable taste in clothes. I have met the Queen a number of times, and I find her voice a pain in the neck.” Ouch. He had several children, one of whom turned out—whoops!—to actually be the son of singer Georgie Fame, after which Lady Londonderry got shown the door. His ancestral manse, Wynyard Hall, in County Durham, is a gorgeous 1820s mansion with “ornamental lake, a walled garden, two entrance lodges, three cottages, a former racing yard, and productive farmland,” but Alexander unloaded it in 1987 to one of those nouveau riche business people, Sir John Hall, who is the son of a miner, my dear!, and who has turned it into a hotel! One hopes that Frederick Aubrey Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Tenth Marquess of Londonderry, at least will get to stay there for free.