This piece is available as an archival print or a giclee on canvas at my website and it will soon be available on a number of other products like tees, cups, aprons, cards and more at the PopArtDiva Boutique which will open fully in March.
PORTRAIT OF A SOILED DOVE
Confessions of a Past Life Madam
A friend and I were enjoying some of my Perfect Cherry Martinis the other day and we got off on the subject of "women of ill repute". Don't ask me how the conversation got around to that subject, we were, after all, well into our third martini at the time.
We were attempting to come up with all the vintage words for "shady ladies" and ended up with this list:
Tramp, Trollop, Stumpet, Floozy, Tart, Jezebel, Hussy, Harlot, Wench, Chippie, Vamp, and Concubine as well as the terms of "soiled dove", "woman of ill repute", "fallen woman" and "shady ladies".
We were laughing and pointing at each other as we called them out. It was totally goofy and totally fun and we were laughing like a couple of mad women at the archaic terms. I suppose we would not place ourselves in any of those categories and, therefore, it was hilarious to fling them at each other.
Afterwards I got to thinking (yes, I know, thinking always gets me into trouble), but I thought, I like those words. They carry a kind of romance that is absent in our current vernacular, they have a touch of understanding and humor - maybe because of the eras they come from.
In times past there were only so many jobs a woman could take if she had no husband, family or community to support her. Her choices were pretty much limited to being a teacher, a cook, a seamstress, running a boarding house, taking in laundry or become a "fallen woman". If you had no education or money most of those jobs were out of your reach. If you didn't want to starve there was often only one choice. (Read "Soiled Dove Plea"). In today's world we are not so limited, but it is only recent history where that change has occurred.
Had I been born 100 or so years earlier my life would have been a whole different story! If I had the kind of temperament I have in this century I doubt, very sincerely, if I would have become a farmer's wife, a seamstress or a teacher. I cannot see myself plowing a field, I hate to sew and a school room full of kids is not my idea of a great job. Plus, my personality does not lend itself to being good wife material!
I am convinced I would have eventually become a Madam in some Honky Tonk in one of the "big cities". I like business, I'm pretty sociable, I like to have a drink now and then, I like flashy clothes, I like to paint my face and I like gambling towns. That pretty much points to career in a past life as the proprietor of a house of ill repute. Of course, being the control freak that I am I would have to be the Madam. I am not one to "work in the field", I'm better at giving orders and letting others do the menial tasks!
Picture me in a lavender satin dress, petticoats so large I knock the whiskey glasses off the tables, lots of ostrich feathers, a good amount of rouge (that's blush to you young 'uns out thar!), my hair dyed an electric shade of pinkish red, big bosoms proudly heaving in my d'ecolletage, enjoying a "snort" while my "girls" earn their keep upstairs adding more silver dollars to my coffers!
Madam Diva welcomes you to her establishment, The Fabulous Fallen Females of Fable Falls are here to entertain you! Put yer pistols behind the bar, grab yer girl and commence to pokin!
You'll have to put your dollar on the dresser, Dearie, before they drop their drawers!