A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

In Praise Of The Polka Dot
Friday, November 15, 2013




 
Kelly


I have always had a fascination for the polka dot. I think I may have a very personal reason.

According to my mother before I was born she suffered a few electric shocks while ironing. She says this is the reason I was born with a lunar (Spanish not only for polka dot but also for a round birth mark). My birthmark was very small and it was behind my right ear on the neck.

By the time I was ten in was the size of a quarter and I was always embarrassed when people asked me what it was.

When we arrived in Mexico in 1954 my mother had my birthmark removed. The lab found that it was not cancerous but I have to say that my birthmark, shown to the both of us in a jar resembled a jelly fish with red tentacles. After that I spent years explaining to people who noticed my ugly and very large scar that I had been pushed through a plate glass window.

I was saved from further mortification (after those awful years of military crew cuts in the Argentine Navy) by the Haight-Ashbury crowd. By then I wore my hair shoulder-length.

If that connection between my appreciation with the polka dot and my birthmark is tenuous you are right. My real delight in those black circles in white background (the only polka dot pattern I recognize as legitimate) comes from having seen sometime in the early 60s John Huston’s The Misfits with Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Elli Wallach, Thelma Ritter and (especially!) that church lady played by Estelle Winwood. This film has the most erotic moments of any film I have ever seen. Monroe in a very tight fitting polka dot dress plays paddle ball in a bar. As she paddles those polka dots do not stay in their place.

What is astounding is that many years later in the 90s I photographed the stills photographer of that film, Elliott Erwitt. I asked him, “What did you think of Monroe’s polka dot dress? He floored me with, “What dress?”

My love of the polka dot dress does not extend to the polka of any kind, be it Swiss or that terrible polka that is performed and danced in Northern Mexico. And I hate that ancillary instrument to all polkas, the accordion.

The above is but mere justification to place here pictures of Kelly in her polka dot dress. In 1989 after a screening of the execrable Vancouver production of Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders I had drinks with singer/songwriter Art Bergmann at the Number 5 Orange Bar on Powell and Main.

We had a mutual friend Michael Metcalf who was a PA and had a bit part playing a real turd. His character's name was Chief Diareah. To get rid of him and his evil associates, Bill and Mary Turd and Little Poop they were fed Exlax.

We quickly ran out of money and when our sassy, but attractive waitress asked us if we wanted more beer I told her we had no more money. 


She was wearing a white dress with black polka dots that was tight in the right places. Kelly’s, that was the name of our waitress, had a life all of its own. The polka dots resembled the physics experiment where you draw dots on a balloon and then blow it large

With a sneer she asked us, "Go into your pockets and bring out what you've got." We pulled out quarters, dimes and nickels. Triumphantly she picked it all up and said, "Just enough for a pint. You boys can share it," and plunked it in the middle of our table.

I did get Kelly to come to my studio and pose for me in her polka dot dress. At the time, 1990 I was obsessed with the idea of taking pictures of women, upside down and hanging from my studio couch (a $100 bargain from a retiring psychiatrist who even included the delivery for the price.)

I believe that the truly sophisticated would never think of turning such a picture in the other direction! Pictures that are taken upside down should be seen that way.



     

Previous Posts
No Treasure Hunt At Chapters

Practically Perfect

Then & Now

Pollarding The Hawthorn

El Malecón De Cozumel

Two At A Time

And Please No Weed Whackers

Sanctuary

Junto Al Pueblo

Brother Hubert's Red Tricycle



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7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17

7/2/17 - 7/9/17

7/9/17 - 7/16/17

7/16/17 - 7/23/17

7/23/17 - 7/30/17

7/30/17 - 8/6/17

8/6/17 - 8/13/17

8/13/17 - 8/20/17

8/20/17 - 8/27/17