Eve Babitz

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Eve Babitz
Born (1943-05-13) May 13, 1943 (age 77)
Los Angeles, California, United States
OccupationNovelist, essayist
Notable worksEve'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 semi-fictionalized memoirs and her relationship to the cultural milieu of Los Angeles.

Life and career[edit]

Babitz was born in Hollywood, California, the daughter of Mae, an artist, and Sol Babitz, a classical violinist on contract with 20th Century Fox.[1] Her father was of Russian Jewish descent and her mother had Cajun (French) ancestry.[2] Babitz's parents were friends with the composer Igor Stravinsky, who was her godfather.[3] She attended Hollywood High School.[4]

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.[5] The photograph is described by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art as being “among the key documentary images of American modern art”.[3]

Because of her 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, as well as the comedian and writer Steve Martin, the actor Harrison Ford, and the writer Dan Wakefield, among others.[5] Ed Ruscha included her in Five 1965 Girlfriends (Walker Arts Center's Design Journal, 1970).[1] Cultural, life-style and identity comparison, noting the critical differences, has been made of her beside the lesser elitist survivor, Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol's 1965 protegée at The Factory in New York City.[5]

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, The Village Voice, 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 she accidentally dropped a lit match onto a gauze skirt, which ignited the garment and melted her pantyhose beneath it; ultimately the accident caused life-threatening third-degree burns over half her body.[6] 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.[5] For instance, in a 2000 interview with Ron Hogan of Beatrice magazine, Babitz stated, "I've got other books to do that I'm working on."[7] When asked by Hogan what those books would be about, Babitz replied: "One's fiction and the other's nonfiction. The nonfiction book is about my experiences in the hospital. The other's a fictionalized version of my parents' lives in Los Angeles, my father's Russian Jewish side and my mother's Cajun French side."[7]

As of 2019, these books remain unpublished, despite the reissuing of Babitz's memoirs, novels and short story collections, by publishers New York Review Books, Simon & Schuster and Counterpoint Press in recent years. 2019 saw the release of I Used to Be Charming, a collection of Babitz's non-fiction essays published by New York Review Books.

Published works[edit]

Babitz’s picaresque stories and essays explore a lifelong love-affair with the city of Los Angeles. Her work embodies 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 Bret Easton Ellis were both fans of her work, with the latter writing, "In every book she writes, Babitz’s enthusiasm for L.A. and its subcultures is fully displayed."[8]


Publisher information relates to first publication only. Some of the books have been reissued.

  • Eve's Hollywood (1974) New York, NY: Delacorte Press/S. Lawrence. ISBN 0440023394 OCLC 647012057
  • 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. ISBN 0394425812 OCLC 1001915515
  • L.A. Woman (1982) New York, NY: Linden Press/Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0671420860 OCLC 8110896
  • Black Swans: Stories (1993) New York, NY: Knopf/Random House. ISBN 0679405186 OCLC 27067318


Selected essays[edit]


  1. ^ a b Nelson, Steffie, L.A. Woman The Los Angeles Review of Books, December 18, 2011 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-22. Retrieved 2012-05-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Babitz, Eve. "Eve Babitz". www.beatrice.com (Interview). Interviewed by Ron Hogan.
  3. ^ a b Karlstrom, Paul. "Oral history interview with Eve Babitz, 2000 Jun 14". Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2014-03-01.
  4. ^ Babitz, Eve (2019). "All This and The Godfather Too". I Used To Be Charming. New York: New York Review of Books. pp. 39–40. ISBN 9781681373799.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  5. ^ a b c d Anolik, Lili (March 2014). "All About Eve—and Then Some". Vanity Fair. Conde Nast. Retrieved 2014-03-01.
  6. ^ Babitz 2019, pp. 357-358, ch. "I Used To Be Charming".
  7. ^ a b "The BEATRICE Interview: 2000". www.beatrice.com. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  8. ^ Babitz, Eve (1999-11-03). Two by Two: Tango, Two-Step, and the L.A. Night (First Printing ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780684833927.

External links[edit]