"To know her was to truly love everything about her." says a former assistant of Helen Gurley-Brown. I didn't know her. I didn't even really know of her, truth be told. But I do know about the legacy that she leaves behind, and sadly, that doesn't even begin to skim the surface of the life of a woman who could have been my heroine. Well, at least one of them anyway.
As I began the research for my book, "Why Should Men Have All The Fun?," one of the first reads I ventured across happened to be "Sex and the Single Girl." Flipping through its description and table of contents, I would swiftly dismissed it thinking... surely, a book written in 1962, (and years before I was born) would hold very little significance for today's modern single woman. Instead, I chose to read books like "The Art of Seduction" by Robert Greene and Neil Strauss' "The Game." It wasn't hard to quantify that further getting inside the heads of men was to have been the chosen road. As it would turn out, neither of which served any purpose, since the my writing quickly took on a life of it's own, in the form of a memoir. Who knew?
But as I think back to those chapters told, I can recall how a few of the sexy, salacious articles in the very same Cosmopolitan Magazine, electrically charged some of the very actions I confessed on those pages. From the barely there ads of racy under garments, to the erotic samples of fragrances that perfumed my mailbox each month, to say that it somehow influenced the formidable woman I've become, would be a definite understatement. Yes, the goal-oriented articles about "How to Land that Perfect Job," would prove to be an interesting read, but it was really the scandalous essays on "How to Please Your Man in Bed" that caught the eye of every college girl around. And who could blame us?That's the stuff that Mama never told us about. The sharing of that subscription with my five college roommates became a monthly ritual that would shape us all to some degree...and some of us more than others. I can laugh now about how vividly I recall becoming inflamed about how my magazine would magically disappearing, never to be found again, which coincidentally led to putting a lock on my bedroom door, just to be able to get through an entire issue. Who knew?
And as I now glance through tidbits about the tantalizing life of Ms. Gurley Brown, I am now overcome by a slight sadness, ashamed to now realize the potential of her reach. Why did I not know of her before? A champion of women's sexual freedoms during the days when Jeannie would magically appear out of her bottle via her pretty puff of pink smoke, (barely showing her cleavage, much less her belly button) at the beck and call of her Master, Astronaut Tony Nelson. These were the days of Harriet Nelson and June Cleaver, whose lives centered around the shenanigans of their children, never kissing their husbands in the lips. Re-runs of I Love Lucy were still very much in the mix, depicting how Lucy and Ricky got pregnant with Little Ricky, while sleeping in separate twin-sized beds. Yet, there is this trendsetter crying out to all of the single women across all lands to live large, be fearless, stay sexy and remain single. She was not just an infamous promoter of women's sexual liberation, she was a working-class woman's role model who declared herself, her magazine and her message feminist, all the while taking tons of flack from her critics. She was in fact a teacher who didn't just preach it... she lived every word she wrote. And while her actions may not warrant a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she does as the very least deserve a place in the pantheon of 20th-century feminist leaders. Who knew?
Now that I know a bit more about this intrepid heroine who I never existed to me until her death, I raise my glass of wine to her as I celebrate her words...
"Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go Everywhere!"