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Pink Hubris

Sophia Loren Giving a Busty Jayne Mansfield Serious Side-Eye

Jayne Mansfield was one of the sex queens of Hollywood, along with Marilyn Monroe. She looked even more overtly sexy than Marilyn, and she ended sadly, even as Marilyn did. Although it is not true that she was decapitated in a 1967 New Orleans auto accident, all manner of stories abounded regarding her life. Apparently both John and Robert Kennedy enjoyed her favors. She bared her all in a 1955 issue of Playboy. Several times when she was appearing in public, her top flew off, exposing her ample breasts to the waiting paparazzi.

I just finished reading a zine by David Hankins entitled “Pink Palace” about the house she lived in with her second husband, Hungarian-born body-builder Mickey Hargitay between 1957 and 1964. Martine found it on one of her walks and became absorbed in reading it. The author had fallen in love with Hargitay and Mansfield’s pink house on Sunset Boulevard and lovingly described its heart-shaped pool, shag-carpeted bathroom, its 700-pound chandelier, its many fireplaces, and the bits of quartz mixed with the pink paint to make it sparkle in the sunlight. There was even a fountain that spritzed pink Champagne.

Jayne in Her Heart-Shaped Tub (Note the Pink Shag Carpeting)

In addition to the grandiloquent fixtures of the house, Jayne and Mickey had a private zoo on the premises, which included rabbits, goats, monkeys, ocelots, a burro, an elephant, a water buffalo, as well as numerous dogs and cats. I was reminded of the Charles Foster Kane character in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane who also had a zoo on the premises of Xanadu. He didn’t end well either.

All this is leading up in my mind to a Chinese expression. When the Chinese do not want to tempt fate by flaunting their prosperity, they say, “Bad rice! Bad rice!” There is something about a too-lavish lifestyle that makes you fear thunderbolts from the angry gods.

I am by no means a famous person, nor want to be. While it would seem nice to win loads of money in the lottery, I would be afraid of appearing to live too large. And no one who sees me as I am would think me a fashion plate—nor would they if I had the money to be one in fact. I’ve read too many ancient Greek tragedies not to be aware of the Erinyes, also known as the Furies and the Eumenides. Thank you, but I prefer to live small.

Bad rice, indeed!