Louise Brooks from A to Z: U and V for Unpredictable, Valeska, Mr. Vincent, Valium, and Marge Van Tassell
"She was a joy to be with but always unpredictable. Once, Louise and I and two other people were walking along in front of the Plaza, and suddenly Louise just literally ran away - she dashed across the street without saying anything, and didn't come back. She never said why. She just felt like it. One minute you thought she had a handle on her, and the next you realized she was too complex to fit that. She wasn't ambitious. She never went after anything. Some romantic encounter would always have first place in her life and overshadow everything else. Nothing she ever did surprised me..." (Paris, 410)
Valeska Gert was a famed cabaret artist, dancer and actor, and can be seen in several of Pabst's films including Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), Threepenny Opera (1931), and The Joyless Street (1925). Louise said she was a "marvelous actress," and described in great detail the brilliance of her orgasm scene in the reformatory in Diary of a Lost Girl. I, personally, think she was one of the coolest human beings who ever lived. If you want to hear about Louise's admiration of Valeska, watch Lulu in Berlin and also Memories of Berlin.
Mr. Vincent was a Sunday School teacher in Wichita with whom Louise had an affair. At the time she was fourteen years of age. He would express a desire to photograph her in her dancing costumes, and she would make several entries in her diary in regards to how she adored him: "Jan. 9, 1921: 'Mr. Vincent is crazy about my hair. Last night he mussed it all up, making me look like a - . Lord, how I like him.' Jan. 21: 'My dance was the hit of the evening. I received the most applause and everything. Sad, but true, I forgot one part. Mr. Vincent whispered a lovely compliment in my ear (how I love him!)" (Paris, 25)
For a time in her later years, Louise took Valium, which she claimed to cause her to be unable to reach orgasm through masturbation. She wanted to write to the government about this in hopes of getting them to change it so women wouldn't be gipped. She also said that their effect was easily adjusted to, making them less and less effective if one didn't take more and more.
Marge van Tassell was Louise's dearest friend at the end of her life. Marge took incredible care of Louise, bringing her all of her meals and putting up with Louise's temperamental, anxious nature. The two women lived in the same building, and spoke to each other on the phone every night. Louise would ask Marge to recite nursery rhymes to her, and sometimes would fall asleep on the phone, at which point Marge would go to her apartment and hang it up for her. The two women had a tumultuous relationship, and Louise learned her limits more than once, as did Marge. However, their last exchange is so touching that it could inspire all of the hope in the world in anyone who heard it. Their last phone conversation was the night before Louise passed away, and she asked Marge, with simple sentiment, "Will you miss me?" Marge answered this short statement, one that bore all the emotional weight of the world, with an equally touching lullaby: "I'll forget you when I can live without the sunshine, I'll forget you when I can live without the rain, When summer roses forget their fragrance...I'll try to forget you in vain." (Paris, 538) Marge died eight months after Louise passed. To read more about Marge, I recommend reading Louise's 1979 planner (if you want to get the tumultuous side) and reading, Louise Brooks by Barry Paris.