Friday, December 26, 2008

Remembering Eartha Kitt



I saw Eartha Kitt perform only once, at the Cafe Carlyle in the early 1990's. My publishing friend David Bennett was in town from London, and he had always wanted to go the Carlyle. Neither one of us had seen Ms. Kitt sing live before.

She was fabulous, of course. I don't remember what she sang, although I can recall the timbre of her voice, the sophistication of the Carlyle, the energy of her performance. But what I remember best was her dress and how she wore it. It was a blue sparkly affair, with a deep, revealing back covered with a sheer netting. And underneath the netting was not the expanse of Eartha's back you might expect, but a straight-up black bra, the strap of which you could plainly see.

I date the emergence of the bra strap as a part of everyday clothing not to Madonna but to Andie McDowell in Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989). Hers was the first bra strap I remember seeing frankly emerging from the shoulder of her sundress: the birth of post-modern lingerie. And before it was truly a trend, or an accepted part of any woman's clothing -- the way sneakers frankly have laces -- there was Eartha, proving to the world that a 72-ish-year-old lady would be damned before she'd wear a long line strapless brassiere, if it was easier to wear a regular one. Which made it sexier, too.

So, since it's not only poetry Friday but the day after Christmas, here are the lyrics to a song that nobody could put over like Eartha. We believe in you, Eartha. Thanks for the memory.

Santa Baby

written by J. Javits and P. Springer


Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me
I've been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, an out-of-space convertible too, light blue
I'll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed
Next year I could be oh so good
If you'd check off my Christmas list
Boo doo bee doo

Santa honey, I wanna yacht and really that's
Not a lot
I've been an angel all year
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deed
To a platinum mine
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, I'm filling my stocking with a duplex, and checks
Sign your 'X' on the line
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's
I really do believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring
I don't mean a phone
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight

2 comments:

Jill Corcoran said...

May it rain men eternally for Eartha in heaven. I love her voice, her attitude and her music.

Libby said...

Nobody could sing that song better than the incredible Eartha Kitt.