Eve Babitz

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Eve Babitz
Born (1943-05-13) May 13, 1943 (age 71)
Los Angeles, California, US
Occupation Novelist, Essayist
Nationality American
Period 1970–present
Subject Memoir
Notable works Eve's Hollywood (1974)
Slow Days, Fast Company (1977)
Fiorucci, The Book (1980)

Eve Babitz (born May 13, 1943) is an American artist and author best known for her fictive memoirs and her relationship to the cultural milieu of Los Angeles, California.

Biography[edit]

Born in Hollywood, California, Eve Babitz was raised by bohemian Jews. Her mother, Mae, was an artist, and her father, Sol, a classical violinist on contract with 20th Century Fox.[1] Babitz's parents were friends with the composer Igor Stravinsky, who was her godfather.[2]

In 1963, her first brush with notoriety came through Julian Wasser's iconic photograph of a nude, twenty-year-old Babitz playing chess with the artist Marcel Duchamp, on the occasion of his landmark retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum. The show was curated by Walter Hopps, with whom Babitz was having an affair at the time.[3] The photograph is described by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art as being “among the key documentary images of American modern art”.[2]

Because of her liberated ideas about sexuality, both in writing and life, much of the press over the years has emphasized her various romantic associations with famous men, including singer/poet Jim Morrison, artists (and brothers) Ed Ruscha and Paul Ruscha, and Hopps, amongst others. In the special mixture of both freedom and misogyny endemic of the time, Babitz appears in Ed Ruscha’s artist book Five 1965 Girlfriends.[1] Eve Babitz had affairs with comedian/writer Steve Martin, actor Harrison Ford, and writer Dan Wakefield, among others.[3] She has been compared favorably with Edie Sedgwick, the protegee of Andy Warhol at The Factory in New York City.[3]

Eve Babitz began her independent career as an artist, working in the music industry for Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, making album covers. In the late 1960s, she designed album covers for Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield. Her most famous cover was a collage for the 1967 album Buffalo Springfield Again.

Her articles and short stories have appeared in Rolling Stone, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire magazines. She is the author of several books including Eve's Hollywood; Slow Days, Fast Company; Sex and Rage; Two By Two; and L.A. Woman. Transitioning to her particular blend of fiction and memoir beginning with Eve's Hollywood, Babitz’s writing of this period is indelibly marked by the cultural scene of Los Angeles during that time, with numerous references and interactions to the artists, musicians, writers, actors, and sundry other iconic figures that made up the scene in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

In 1997, Babitz was severely injured when ash from a cigar she was smoking ignited her skirt, causing life-threatening third-degree burns over half her body. Because she had no health insurance, friends and family organized a fund-raising auction to pay her medical bills. Friends and former lovers donated cash and artworks to help pay for her long recovery. Babitz became somewhat more reclusive after this incident, but was still willing to be interviewed on occasion.[3]

Published works[edit]

Eve Babitz’s picaresque stories and essays explore a lifelong love affair with the city of Los Angeles, with her work embodying the permeability between fiction and reality characteristic of the LA imaginary. A playful but brutal honesty permeates much of her work. Writer Deborah Schapiro in a recent essay on Babitz’s first book writes, “That worldliness is also in her voice, which is self-assured yet sympathetic, cheeky and voluptuous, but registering just the right amount of irony.” Novelists Joseph Heller and Brett Easton Ellis were both fans of her work, the latter writing, “In every book she writes, Eve Babitz’s enthusiasm for L.A. and its subcultures is fully displayed.”[4]

Fiction[edit]

  • Eve's Hollywood (1974) New York, NY: Delacorte Press/S. Lawrence.
  • Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A.: Tales (1977) New York, NY: Knopf/Random House. ISBN 0394409841 LCCN 76-47922 OCLC 2645787
  • Sex and Rage: Advice to Young Ladies Eager for a Good Time; a Novel New York, NY: Knopf.
  • L.A. Woman (1982) New York, NY: Linden Press/Simon & Schuster.
  • Black Swans: Stories (1993) New York, NY: Knopf/Random House.

Non-Fiction[edit]

  • Fiorucci, The Book (1980) New York, NY: Harlin Quist/Dial/Delacorte.
  • Two by Two: Tango, Two-step, and the L.A. Night (1999). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Selected Essays[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Nelson, Steffie, L.A. Woman The Los Angeles Review of Books, December 18, 2011 http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?id=15&fulltext=1
  2. ^ a b Karlstrom, Paul. "Oral history interview with Eve Babitz, 2000 Jun 14". Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  3. ^ a b c d Anolik, Lili (March 2014). "All About Eve—and Then Some". Vanity Fair. Conde Nast. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  4. ^ Brett Easton Ellis on Eve Babitz’s Two by Two, http://www.amazon.com/Two-Tango-Two-Step-L-Night/dp/product-description/0684833921

External links[edit]