Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Debra Tate and the Oui article

This is the text of Debra Tate's Oui magazine debut.  Yep, aside from the one dozen photos, one being the centerfold, there are words amongst the photos!  This was published March 1977.

I know some wonder why so much scorn is heaped Debra's way.  This is just one example of her actions that have contributed to that scorn.  There is nothing demure or tasteful about the photos, nothing is left to the imagination. The timing of the publication couldn't have been worse either.  Leslie Van Houten's second trial began January 1977 just weeks before Debra's photo spread.  While Leslie was not being tried for the Cielo Drive murders those murders were back in the spotlight and undoubtedly Doris and Paul Tate were having an emotional time of it.

The piece was one long continuous paragraph, I split it up where I thought it was appropriate to make it easier to read.

Men tell her she will grow out of these fur fancies and move on to the hard stuff: hairy chests.  Debra just smiles.  What does she really want, they ask.  Debra says mink. And high heels.  And cherry-red lipstick. But primarily mink.  Because it tickles when your naked.  Like a man.  Yes, her name is famed, and YES, SHE IS THE BABY SISTER OF SHARON TATE, THE LATE GREAT, [this part was capitalized in large print in the article] who helped raised Debra in the whirl of the Sunset Strip Sixties.  As you can see, Debra has come of age.

She has dealt with that which had to be dealt with.  She is not running after a movie career and has no interest in the sort of public life that Sharon lived.  Debra wants none of that.  She has her own concerns.  Secret concerns.  By day, she passes for just another spectacularly built California girl who races horses down the rolling verdure that leads to her beach house, body surfs in her front yard ocean and thinks happy thoughts: ermine-lined license plates; finding her inner peace in a sable.  But that's just the daytime.

In the early evening, she lolls around with the black sheep of Hollywood, a circuit of brothers, sisters and children of famous people.  They have quiet luaus by the pool.  They complain about est seminars.  Debra is soon bored.  She presses a button and the time lights up on her gold watch.  Deliverance is near, for after midnight, the leopard changes her spots and the fur fantasies begin in earnest.

Debra sneaks off to a gay disco with a pack of boys.  She wears her Black Diamonds mink over nothing. This is her comment on the Hollywood status scene: everything on the line:  price tags up front.  The dancers bop-ba-bop.  Debra takes her time.  Suddenly, as if by accident, she lets her mink fall open.  A tinsel star falls from the ceiling.  Somewhere a galaxy explodes.  One man drops his drink.  Debra blows him a kiss.  She takes a cigarette from her garter strap.  A man who identifies himself as a Milanese count turned movie producer lights it for her.  She is not fooled.  She exhales smoke into his eyes.

Spaghetti disaster-flicks indeed!  Her sister warned her about these lounge lizards.  Debra turns up her collar and leaves.  Fast, faster, fastest.  Her Lamborghini zips along the Pacific Palisades.  The steep, winding descent to the shore.  Off with the mink, on with the boa.  Debra wraps herself in it and wanders naked through her many windowed beach house.  ONLY THE SEA SEES WHAT SHE DOES WITH HER SERPENTINE LOVER.  [again this is capitalized in large print in the article]

The unconstricting boa slithers over her blushing landscape.  The sea waves.  Tonight Debra is angry.  Tonight she plays rough.  She drags her mink across the redwood floor, grinds her silver heels into it.  For this, she must later suffer the boa's flagellations.  (It's only a game.  No one is hurt.  Even the fur glistens afterwards.) 

But then the phone rings.  Oh, no, it's the spaghetti man!  He wants to make Debra a star.  But she will have nothing to do with this projected epic, "Earthquake, Italian Style".  And no, she is not interested in a musical biography of Benito Mussolini.  What does she want, he persists.  Debra gives her standard answer.  He offers her the roll of a mink rancher who gets stuck in a Swiss ski lift with a man from Save the Seals.  The drama centers around the couple's ideological split on the fur question and how it relates to world communism, the state of the arts and Debra's pouty lower lip. 

Debra says she will think about it.  Men are too ridiculous!  ISN'T IT ENOUGH THAT SHE IS BREATHTAKING?  MUST SHE WORK, TOO?  She puts the receiver in the cradle.  That's that.  Debra cuddles up in the boa.  But already she has a vision of herself, not so much as a box office heavy but as a box office heavy in one of those What-becomes-a-legend-most? ads. (They say they let you keep the mink.)

Before long, with the boa caught up in a most provocative convolution, she falls asleep before a window.  Bright sun wakes her.  Debra must think things out.  She puts on her naughty lingerie with the gold gizmos and slides into her Lamborghini.  No one will be startled by her traveling briefs.  Everyone in Los Angeles goes about in bikinis; that's how Debra once explained her scanties to a police officer whom she had asked to tell her the way to San Jose.

He saw the sheer bikini, and they never did get around to San Jose.  They dated.  He was an ex-surfer and showed Debra how to hang ten- without a surf board.  Debra already knew that trick but played dumb, give or take a few moans.  A star performance.  Yes, Debra tells herself, acting may be her forte.
The Lamborghini turns onto the freeway, that great conveyor belt where LA does much of it's thinking.  It's smooth, hypnotic transitions empty the mind (which explains the type of thinking done in LA).

Motoring aimlessly, her destination nowhere in particular, Debra arrives at a decision almost by psychic osmosis.  Without really willing it, Debra is back at the beach house.  ON THE COUCH, WAITS THE MINK TO BE TOYED WITH.  The phone rings. Debra knows who it is and will accept his offer.  What becomes a legend most?  A beauty whose time has come.