Thursday, 27 September 2012

Cunning Courtesan to First Class Diplomat

Everybody has a Shebug they secretly admire no matter how conniving she might have been. When a journalist presented me with this question, one name formed on my lips in seconds flat: Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman. Her biography came highly recommended to me years ago, when  the idea to craft ‘Shebug: Dissecting the Gold Digger’ was taking root in my imagination.

Daughter of a baronet, the chubby teenage Brit ended up as Ambassador to THE best post - and the trickiest one to maneuver – on the face of planet: Paris. Even more racy, the plucky Shebug transferred over as an ambassador from her adoptive land, America. Oh là là

The country girl from the shires possessed not so much as a single college degree. Her educational dusting went up several notches after spending a year in France, followed by another eye-opener visit to New York. 

But her finest education -and contacts- came from spending countless hours in the company of her father-in-law, Sir Winston Churchill, whilst bombs dropped over London. Plus, she had the knack of giving men her undivided, laser-sharp attention.

Pamela’s appetite for instrumental and powerful husbands classifies as 'voracious': Randolph Churchill; Broadway producer, Leland Hayward; railroad heir, Averell Harriman. Her lover tally of choice movers and shakers does not disappoint either: Prince Aly Khan; Marquis Alfonso de Portago; Fiat heir, Gianni Agnelli; Baron Elie de Rothschild; writer Maurice Druon; and, of course, a Greek shipping magnate, Starvos Niarchos. 

But these affairs took place post her divorces. The ‘other men’ she dallied with were also high ranking in terms of influence, like Broadcaster Edward R Murrow and US Ambassador to the UK, John Hay ‘Jock’ Whitney.

Pamela might have garnered her fair share of monikers, like European Geisha and Courtesan of the Century. But not many Shebugs, let alone women, are laid to rest with the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur on a flag-draped coffin, and get flown back to the US on Air Force One.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Cinéma Verité

Number One on the ‘Shebug Watch List’ is none other than a QUEEN. And not just any queen, but the Queen of Versailles…Does the noble lady speak French? Non, but at her name, Jacqueline, is très Français

The ex-beauty queen nabbed her first title, Mrs. Florida, in 1993. Jackie then married husband number two, the thirty-one year older, thrice-divorced billionaire, David Siegel.

Jackie once commented on what made her husband tick.  “His No. 1 hobby is work, and his No. 2 hobby, he would say, is sex. He doesn’t need Viagra. He says I’m his Viagra.’’ Of this, one requires little convincing; a mere glance at the shadowy depths between Mrs. Seigel’s super-sized breasts echoes volumes.
However, the mogul’s multi-millions took a nosedive straight for the jagged rocks. Now their confused brood is forced to travel on commercial flight and must wonder just who all the other passengers are.
The American couple resides nowhere near Europe, but in sunny Florida. Their Versailles’esque 90,000 square foot lakefront palace boasts 15 bedrooms, 30 bathrooms, 11 kitchens, a fully kitted spa, six pools, plus a stadium tennis court seating 200, and an indoor skating rink for their eight children. Did I mention the 20 car garage?
The number of staff, post bubble burst, has dropped from fifteen strong to one. Don’t even ask about the peacock headcount, or the revised private jet tally lest your eyes well up with pity. How ghastly for poor Jacqueline: no more £11,000 to spend on a pair of boots. Imagine that!
But the couple wasted little time on a lavish farewell pity party at the palace. In fact, the entire Seigel riches-to-rags saga has been made into a reality style film aptly named the Queen of Versailles.
Jackie may have swapped caviar for French fries, but her hopes remain deep-rooted: she has recently signed a television deal in the US that will help her keep up with the new Jones’.
The question on everyone’s lips is: who will buy their unfinished faux Palais listed at $65 million?
The other one is: will the Queen of Versailles trade-up her 74 & broke husband for a better model now that celebrity-dom has settled upon her too-tan shoulders?
Watch the film and post your verdict!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Who? W.E.

The world juddered to a stop when the unprecedented news of the brand new heir to the British throne, King Edward VIII, broadcasted his abdication in order to run off with ‘the woman that he loved’.

The stupefied British public-and Royal Family, looked on as the dashing playboy monarch exchanged wedding vows within the safety of France with a twice-divorced American. The year was 1936.

I had the chance seeing her cross the lobby of our hotel as a child. My family and I were staying at the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue where the couple occupied the penthouse. By then, the once most hated woman in England appeared as soignée as she did uninviting.

Leave it to the film’s producer, Madonna, to exalt one of the most notorious Shebugs of the last century by wrapping the true story in glossy cellophane and a heavy dash of Hollywood stardust. The film is aptly named W.E.: W for Wallis Simpson and E for Edward.

Baltimore-born--out of wedlock--Wallis Warfield skyrocketed from zero to zenith by age forty.  Trained in the brothels of Bangkok during her first marriage, the rumours of her actually being a man only added another coat of mystery to her persona; meanwhile, whispers of Edward’s peculiar carnal predilections also circulated in high society. The adulterous couple soon became the talk of the town.

Her second poached husband, Mr. Simpson, offered Wallis the golden opportunity to hobnob with friends in very high places. Their flat in Mayfair, overlooking Grosvenor Square, eventually offered up the biggest catch of the kingdom a Shebug could hope for: a prince.

Wallis cunningly erased all traces of her high-pitched voice and replaced it with a soft Southern drawl. Exotic sexual techniques aside, it was Wallis’ ability to make a man shine that bewitched the simpler minded royal. The whippet-thin woman excelled at conversation and kept impossibly high standards insofar as entertaining her guests. Her housekeeping habits make Martha Stewart’s pale in comparison!

The opening lines of this titled Shebug’s autobiography read, “Mine is a simple story. It is the story of an ordinary life that became extraordinary.”

The Duchess of Windsor did not make history; this Shebug made herstory!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Belle but Lethal

I share something in common with the notorious Norwegian-born Belle Gunnes: La Porte, Indiana, my town of birth.

Unlike Belle, however, I am neither lofty of height, nor a Shebug-let alone a lethal one!

This killer Shebug immigrated to the Midwest in search of wealthier prey. Belle collected a handsome insurance sum after her first husband’s demise. Re-married on April Fool’s Day, she received another  chunk of money from disgruntled insurers. Unlike husband number one, who supposedly died of convulsions, victim number two got hit in the head when a coffee grinder fell off the shelf. Or was it a meat grinder?

This hardcore businesswoman wasted no tears. Or time. She cast her net further afar to Norway placing newspaper ads that read,  ‘Widow, with mortgaged farm, seeks marriage. Triflers need not apply’.

Many a cash-rich suitor knocked on the bloodthirsty Shebug's door only to mysteriously disappear before daybreak. 

Killer Belle lured in one last meal ticket up the aisle, Andrew Helgelein. However, her newest brother-in-law, Asa, smelled a rat and took it upon himself to look into his brother’s welfare.

Sadly, all standing before him upon arrival, were the smoldering remains of the charred farmhouse and its inhabitants.

Asa’s request for an immediate examination would uncover not only his brother’s remains, and family members, but also those of forty other men seduced and financially bled by the Black Widow of Indiana.

But what about Belle?

According to her hired hand, who was eventually charged with arson, Shebug Belle emptied her bank account, set fire to her home, then skipped town very well-padded, indeed.