She’s officially part of the Showgirls, but she has a special place in my heart as the extravagantly dramatic Dame, with undeniable glamour. Although, there were plenty of ballsy women in Golden Hollywood, Joan had her own unique brand of quirky abrasiveness, mixed in with her iconic looks. Self-portraits were edited to remove acne scars.
I love this clip where Joan does a self-parody of herself in a now forgotten Hollywood fluff film for flavour-of-the-day Hollywood stars. One wonders, if like they did for Marilyn, did the audience become addicted to a personality trait, that she then had to keep marketing: that of the easily angered woman. Was she, or wasn’t she? It doesn’t matter, she took it to the next level; a sort of burlesque of anger. These kinds of emotional turn-arounds would later inspire drag queens and theatre actors alike. Is it camp? Perhaps, it’s really good acting! Good ole entertainment! That’s why she’s delicious… You can’t tell!
Her career as JOAN (insert drag queen sneer), a packaged version of her own self, would start in the 1940s at the then, ripe age, of 35. Crawford embodied the fashions of the 40s and 50s with her looks and her personality. The famous Hollywood designer, Adrian, did make all those outfits with shoulder pads just for Joan. To suit her square shoulders, and then, it just happened to become popular! Her looks even inspired Blade Runner’s Rachel. One of the few actresses who’s body of work spans all of her adult life, and who has many cult films under her belt. Joan always gave her fans what they wanted, she knew JOAN existed for them. But through her filmography you can see her work as a great actress in Baby Jane, or playing a desperate woman in Strange Cargo, opposite Clark Gable.
For the top picture, I decided to set this character in 1944. Joan doesn’t have any colour movies or promos at this time in her career. Technicolor did exist but it was reserved for Musical Movies, not Dramatic Films. I wanted to imagine a colour palette for a movie where she would dance and sing. For the makeup, I used two amazing pink lipsticks from Lisa Eldridge, Skyscraper Rose and Velvet Carnival. She did seem to have auburn hair at the time, so I kept the eye makeup in line with the hair colour. With the photography, I worked on the idea of Technicolor movies and colorized images, a sort of acid, but bubble gum aesthetic.
The picture below, was pure luck, as the sun came in briefly as a ray of light during this winter solstice period. I took the opportunity to snap this picture. I wasn’t sure if I could render the caracter of Rachel from Blade Runner, but the Hollywood spirit was on my side.