Louise Brooks from A to Z: F is for Peggy Fears, Faust, Jinx Falkenburg and Feather of the Dawn

 Peggy Fears, 1920s.

Peggy Fears, 1920s.

Peggy Fears was one of Louise's dearest friends throughout life.  They met while working in the Ziegfeld Follies and shared a penchant for partying and deviance. Fears was loved by all while Brooks was despised by most and, as Brooks said herself, "what could be more fun for Peggy, the most popular girl in the show, to become friends with its most abominated member- me?"  Fears was a brilliant business woman, and she and her partner, Tedi Thurman, owned a hotel in Fire Island that was immensely successful.  Brooks claims that she and Peggy used to walk down the street holding hands in order to raise suspicions and eyebrows amongst their then partners. She later wrote in a letter to Kevin Brownlow, "While in the follies I lived with Peggy Fears who had already become a lesbian legend, running through the Follies beauties like a well-known dose of salts.  Every man in New York was jealous of her conquests. How this tickled her!"

Faust is the classic written by Goethe, whom Louise adored.  She had planned to name her autobiography Naked on my Goat after a passage from Faust spoken by the Young Witch, who says "so I sit naked on my goat, and show my strapping body."

 Jinx Falkenburg

Jinx Falkenburg

There is a really spectacular story that Louise told about Jinx Falkenburg, who was an actress, cover girl and tennis star.  She was out to lunch with a few people, two of them being Falkenburg and Edmund "Eddie" Goulding.  The story is recorded in Barry Paris' biography: "That morning, Eddie had seen a test of Jinx which he had directed at Warner Brothers.  At the luncheon table she asked how it was. "Terrible," he said, suddenly coldly professional.  Then in response to her expression of outrage he added, "But your behind in that nightgown was delectable- like two grapefruits tied up in a napkin." (Paris, 385)  Apparently, everyone laughed except Jinx.

 Still from  Feather of the Dawn (1923)  found in the  NYPL Denishawn Collection

Still from Feather of the Dawn (1923) found in the NYPL Denishawn Collection

 Louise in  Feather of the Dawn  (1923)

Louise in Feather of the Dawn (1923)

Feather of the Dawn was a dance production put on by Denishawn in which Louise played Ted Shawn's Hopi Native American bride.  Despite only having been with the company for a short time, she was given the lead and was reviewed well.  Martha Graham later discussed Louise's presence on stage, saying that she could "remember that power when she stood remote and distant on the top of a Navajo dwelling in Feather of the Dawn; again, that curious individuality, beauty and sense of inner vision." (Paris, 51)  Wouldn't it be nice if Louise knew that Martha Graham has said that about her? I hope she did.

 

 

In one last note, I do believe that, were Louise alive, she may tell me that I forgot one. Never one to shy away from the truth about herself, one of her most prominent quotations that has been said to various different friends has been, "I like to drink and I like to fuck."  Fucking was something that was very important to Louise, one could even go so far as to say that it was an art form; and that word does, indeed, start with an F.

Charlotte Siller