The Devil and Jayne Mansfield.

Photograph of Jayne Mansfield supposedly participating in a Satanic ritual with the creator of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. Publicity stunt? Most definitely.

“If you’re going to do something wrong, do it big, because the punishment is the same either way.” — Jayne Mansfield (1933 – 1967).

Long before Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, there was the original publicity-seeking, trash-talking sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield. Notorious for her openly naughty behaviour and 40D-21-36 physique, the shrewd career woman Mansfield seldom missed an opportunity to dismiss her Hollywood rivals, namely Marilyn Monroe and Mamie Van Doren. Of the media’s constant comparison of Mansfield to her blonde bombshell competitors, she famously remarked: “I don’t know why you people [the press] like to compare me to Marilyn or that girl, what’s her name, Kim Novak. Cleavage, of course, helped me a lot to get where I am. I don’t know how they got there.” Meee-ow, Ms. Mansfield.

Since her gruesome death by car accident in 1967, many legends have emerged around Jayne Mansfield. One of these concern her supposed relationship with Anton LaVey, the American founder of the Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible. As with many legends, this one was most assuredly manufactured:

LEGEND: Jayne Mansfield, Hollywood sex symbol and actress, was a card-carrying Satanist and had an affair with Anton LaVey.

REALITY: Publicity agent Tony Kent, an associate of Ed Webber, arranged the meeting between Mansfield and Anton LaVey as a publicity stunt. LaVey was smitten with the actress. Mansfield, who made no secret of her many affairs, denied knowing LaVey intimately, and no associate of hers has ever confirmed any supposed romance. In a 1967 interview she said, “He had fallen in love with me and wanted to join my life with his. It was a laugh.” According to LaVey’s publicist Edward Webber, Mansfield would ridicule her Satanic suitor by calling from her Los Angeles home and seductively teasing him while her friends listened in on the conversation. LaVey’s public claims that he had an affair with Mansfield began only after Mansfield’s death in an automobile accident, which he also claimed was the result of a curse he had placed on her lover Sam Brody.

SOURCES: Edward Webber (interview by Aquino 6/2/91); interview with Mansfield quoted in Jayne Mansfield by May Mann, Pocket Books, 1974.

Satanist or not, I find it difficult not to adore Mansfield’s calculated naughtiness and shameless self-promotion. She knew fully well what the public wanted, and she served them up with a wink and a plunging neckline. I also love the fact that she totally dissed the head of the Church of Satan — talk about having real chutzpah. Here’s Mansfield performing a kooky little “hula dance”, for your viewing pleasure:

The Disobedient Dollhouse; or, indulging in a bit of self-promotion.

Some thumbnails of my artwork. Actually, I’m just testing out this ‘insert gallery’ feature on WordPress. Works pretty good.

The dollhouse is a toy fondly remembered from my childhood. Countless hours were spent fastidiously arranging the miniature furniture in its rooms. These rooms provided the setting for the domestic scenes myself and my playmates would enact with our dolls — scenes that mimicked the day-to-day household routines of our mothers. This form of play amongst young girls was not only an imitation of the maternal role as we observed it, but, presumably, constituted a type of practice for our future lives as women. Now, as an adult, feminist, artist and mother, I revisit the dollhouse. The idealized view of domesticity that informed my childhood dollhouse is reconfigured by my adult self as a place much more complex, even contradictory, in nature. In stark contrast to the innocuous role-playing of childhood — when one could ‘play Mommy’ — as an actual parent, the actions I take have real life consequences. This simple fact can, at times, be the cause of anxiety. Additionally, while the household provides a peaceful refuge from the hectic pace of the outside world, the daily negotiations between career aspirations and familial responsibilities simultaneously render the house a site of friction and conflict. An exploration of the conflicts that arise from these competing interests was, in part, the impetus behind my installation project entitled The Disobedient Dollhouse.

Contemporary dollhouses are decidedly not contemporary in their motifs, with the historic splendor of wealthy Victorian homes being the most frequently represented style amongst current dollhouse enthusiasts. In The Disobedient Dollhouse, I recreated the highly-detailed interiors of a Victorian-style dollhouse, self-consciously aware of the storybook view of domesticity they often conjure. While a trace of nostalgia is detectible in my project, a tension also exists in the work that simultaneously disrupts the easy consumption of these same nostalgic images. A tactic of subversion has been employed as a means of rebellion against the construction a sentimentalized view of domesticity. For instance, although the conventional Victorian domestic scene of a woman playing piano has been dutifully rendered, the woman depicted is a hybrid creature with the head of a bird. A chair located in the same room as the bird-headed woman mysteriously sprouts twisted floral vines that snake up the back wall. Gigantic insects infiltrate the room and swarm across the ornate damask wallpaper like a strange, inexplicable virus. These hybrid monsters, giant insects and fantastic vegetal growths disturb the inherent sentimentality of nostalgia and propose a dark, secret world that churns just beneath the veneer of domestic perfection.

Most of the elements within my dollhouse are hand-drawn and printed lithographs which have been cut out, folded and glued. The wallpaper was created digitally and printed on matte inkjet paper. For more images from this project, visit my web site.