Louise Brooks from A to Z: W and X for Woofie, Wanger, "Why I will Never Write my Memoirs," Jan Wahl, "basket watcher" and Xavier Cugat

Lothar Wolff, referred to by Brooks as Woofie, met Louise while the two were working on the set of Pandora's Box (1929), and proved to be one of her dearest and most faithful friends throughout her life.  Wolff himself became very successful in the film industry, but recalls the years when he and Louise were both broke in New York. He said she was "good at adjusting to adversity," (Paris, 409) and that he would cook dinner for her in his apartment or they would go out together.  One of my favorite pieces of research was when I came upon a letter in the Eastman vaults from Louise to Lothar in the 1980s, recalling an incident in which she had called his house at one in the morning in a paranoid frenzy after reading that some x-rays had caused problems in the health of patients.  Louise wrote how relieved she had been to hear his daughter remind her of how insane she was, and how much she missed and loved him.

 From left to right, Louise Brooks, Eskie, and Lothar Wolff in 1929

From left to right, Louise Brooks, Eskie, and Lothar Wolff in 1929

 Walter Wanger

Walter Wanger

Walter Wanger could be considered the person who got Louise's career in films started as he arranged her first test for Street of Forgotten Men (1925). She and Wanger carried on an affair, and she recalled his presence in her life in Lulu in Hollywood: "Not knowing what to do about either contract, which would separate me from my dream of becoming a great dancer, I went to my best friend, Walter Wanger, for advice.  How sweet he was then: a brilliant, laughing young man of the world whose heart remained very tender. He had taken me under his protection after meeting me while I was a speciality dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies and after discovering that my blase insolence was a masquerade. It amused him to find that the decadent black-and-white Aubrey Beardsley makeup covered a sprinkling of Kansas freckles." (Brooks, 20) She would go to him for advice on whether to sign with Paramount or MGM and, finding herself shocked at his desire for her to work at MGM instead of with him at Paramount, began weeping where they sat at the dinner table.  He was telling her this to protect her, begging her to see that people would not take her seriously if she worked under him.  "My total misconstruction of Walter's advice and warning made it inevitable that I would sign the Paramount contract", she would later say because, as she poignantly phrased it in her book, she "did not see." 

Why I will Never Write my Memoirs was an article that Louise published and that can now be read in the latest distributed copy of Lulu in Hollywood. It was in this article that Louise said she could not write the sexual truth about herself that would make her life worth reading, due to her inability to "unbuckle the Bible belt" and overcome her Midwestern upbringing.

Jan Wahl was a friend of Louise in the 1960s.  He met her in Copenhagen and the two continued a long-lasting correspondence, most of which is published in Wahl's wonderful book, Dear Stinkpot: Letters from Louise Brooks.  I definitely recommend reading it and learning about his times with "Unpleasant Brookmouse." Mr. Wahl is a children's book author, still actively publishing, and gave me the very wise advice some years ago of "art against the world." He was also the first person I ever spoke to for this project, and he was so good to me that I proceeded to speak to everyone else that I could, so I thank him for that from the bottom of my heart. 

 

"Basket watching," otherwise known as the art of identifying a man's bulge through his trousers, was something that Louise told Don Bachardy, writer of Stars in my Eyes, she took part in frequently: "Referring to herself as 'a basket watcher,' she spoke admiringly of 'big pricks,' though she allowed that it was usually possible to get some sort of satisfaction from all but 'the really drastically undersized.' 'There are two or three things I like having done to me,' she said, 'and big pricks are best for those particular jobs.'...The look she gave me as she nodded her agreement acknowledged a fellow connoisseur." (Bachardy, 128)  I think this fact about her is great, personally.

In The Fundamentals of Good Ballroom Dancing, Louise recommends the Tango, Caminito, and Rhumba, Siboney, composed by Xavier Cugat as good practice material.