I loved that 1920s style and had the black eyes and dark, wavy hair, but the face just wasn’t quite right. A couple of years later, just as I was becoming weary of the “Lea” character, I came upon the cover of that Louise Brooks’ autobiography. The face on the cover attempted a kind of doll-like quality that was betrayed by an unapologetic gaze that could only belong to an independent woman; a woman, who like me, was likely described by others as “too intense.” I had to have that book. I hungrily read each and every page of those memoirs and, after finding it impossible to put down, the obsession was complete. I had so much in common with that eerily familiar image that it haunted me.
Soon, I had started my own string of rock bands, one of which even earned me full membership status with ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, due to a song that I had co-written and performed entitled “Gypsy Woman” being played overseas in more than one country. Like most of the songs I wrote and still write, it was autobiographical and served to mock its author. As for romance, I took only a few lovers, characteristically much younger than I, for I found no use for amorous company. This is where I was different from the woman in that book. I was far too busy moonlighting as a would-be rock star, celebrity impersonator, artist, vocal and guitar coach, and more. Thus, I found it much easier to avoid the inconvenience of commitment by dating beautiful men who were much younger than me. When you grow up without a father from a very early age, you have no idea what purpose a man in your life serves with exception to the momentary thrill of a random fling now and again.
Some things never change. My impersonations continued. I branded myself as “Xena, the Warrior Princess” as a premier personal trainer for nearly a decade. I even painstakingly hand-crafted a Hollywood worthy costume that was virtually identical to the one worn by Lucy Lawless in the TV show. After graduating from college and finding that Xena was objectified too much, and loathing those blue color contacts, I quickly metamorphosed into Joan Jett, complete with leather to match my wicked tat.
After my unstable and tragically self-centric mother died, I found myself moving yet again. The thing I hated the most was transporting all of my books from place to place. I had also inherited a few more thanks to my mother’s similar voracious appetite for reading. A curious thing happens when you unpack books. Only someone who loves to read knows about this phenomenon. As you glance at each cover, you are taken back to each of the worlds to which those texts transported you.
Whose image could I adopt this time? My personas mustn’t lie. That’s implicit. It has to be someone who is just as rebellious and independent as me, but delightfully obscure enough for the average employer to completely overlook. Of course! The girl in the black helmet! My self-destructive, fiercely independent and forever unmanageable doppelganger - Louise Brooks!