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I THOUGHT about a Pink Lady recently. The drink kind: gin, grenadine dashes, egg white; shaken with ice. This in turn got me thinking about the Pink Lady of Malibu Canyon.
She was a woman of the Sixties, proud, defiant, and controversial. She posed nude above a tunnel on Malibu Canyon Road, about four miles inland of Malibu, 33 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. And she was 60 ft. tall.
The Pink Lady’s creator was artist Lynne Seemayer, a paralegal at the time who removed what she considered eyesore graffiti on the tunnel’s sheer rock face and replaced it with the 60-ft.-tall image. Working solo through the night of October 28, 1966, Lynne suspended herself on ropes tied to bushes on the rock cliff, with paint cans attached to her waist.
Lynne’s father was legendary Hollywood makeup artist Ern Westmore; her mother was silent film star Ethlyne Clair. Lynne’s paintings and sculptural works were exhibited in Los Angeles galleries over her three-decade career. The Pink Lady, painted when Lynne was 31, made her something of a guerrilla street artist. Needless to say, a voluptuous 60-ft. nude flower child would arouse all sorts of people.
Following the Pink Lady’s October 28, 1966, creation, Los Angeles County officials reacted to traffic jams on Malibu Canyon Road during the next few days. According to Jack Smith, writing in R&T, February 1967, “Traffic cops parked by the tunnel spent the day picking off drivers who broke one law or another as they rubbernecked through the scene.”
The Pink Lady of Malibu Canyon Road was declared a traffic hazard. She had to go, and pronto.
Smith reported, “Firemen tried first. They turned high-power hoses on the carefree spirit. She refused to dissolve. She emerged even brighter from the onslaught, like a goddess from her bath.”
Lynne had used heavy-duty house paint for her art project.
Next, workmen tried to obliterate the Pink Lady’s leg with paint remover.
The hue of her leg became only warmer. Officials called it a day. Onlookers circulated petitions, both for (her banishment was called “brutal, sadistic, prudish, inartistic, and Victorian”) and against (“obscene”).
Art, after all, is in the eye (or prurient mind) of the beholder.
Lynne initially sought a court injunction, which was denied. On November 3, workers covered the Pink Lady in brown spray paint; she remained teasingly wrapped in a dull cloud.
The county sued Lynne for $28,000 in removal costs. She sued the county $1,000,000 for destruction of her art. Because the painting was on private property, the court dismissed both cases.
Lynne received hate mail and threats against her and her children. She also received offers from art galleries to exhibit her work. (The original pattern for the Pink Lady was done on butcher paper.)
Back in the Sixties, there were those who questioned that Lynne could have accomplished such a feat solo. She responded, “How can I convince you that I did it myself—without doing it all over again?”
You go, grrl! And rest your soul. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017