By Chet Yarbrough
By: Eve Babitz
Narrated by: Mia Barron
Eve Babitz (1943-2021, Author, novelist, essayist raised and died in Los Angeles at the age of 78.)
“Eve’s Hollywood” is Eve Babitz’s memoir of life in southern California. Some names are undoubtedly changed to protect the not-so innocent. Babitz’s picture of Hollywood and her recalled life seems like a fantasy. Her story is filled with the glamour of life when young–with the 60s’ experiences of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll.
There seems a hint of self-delusion as one hears of hook-ups, enlightenment from LSD, and her struggling year in New York.
Babitz story is of her life in Hollywood among women coveted for looks more than brains by predominantly male rainmakers. The irony is their brains, not their beauty, were the source of their success. Good looks opened doors but being a good Hollywood actor or writer required brains.
Babitz’s Hollywood is an entertaining memoir, but it is a tale that exposes the well-known character of a patriarchal world.
Babitz seems to use sex to open doors to experience and opportunity. With opened doors and intelligence, Babitz achieves a level of economic success as a writer and trend setter. Likely, even today, Hollywood women’s good looks help get jobs.
It might be that looks are less important today as powerful moguls like Epstein and Weinstein are exposed but looks still matter but more for women than men.
There seems an underlying sense of despair in Babitz memoir for women who lose their looks as they age. The doors of opportunity that once opened for women among the beautiful are discarded as their youth fades. This seems less true for Hollywood men with long careers like Robert Redford, Cary Grant, Harrison Ford, and so on.
Her first vignette addresses a beach in Los Angeles that is visited by gang members and how Babitz becomes friends with a young woman who introduces her to one locally famous and violent hood who returns from prison and is soon murdered.
In the last chapter, Babitz describes Watts where rich and poor meet. A married man in his forties has a two nightstand with a twenty-year-old.
He returns to his wife. That might be the end of the story, but the young woman finds he has divorced his wife. The man tries to rekindle the relationship with the young woman from Watts. She is initially overwhelmed by his renewed interest in her but senses something is not right. She plans to break the relationship with a final dinner at a Japanese restaurant, but a comedy of errors interrupts her decision to break the relationship. It is an unfinished story, but one presumes the age difference between the young beauty and the wealthy businessman dooms its consummation.
The underlying truth in Babitz memoir is that there is no difference between the sexes, whether living and working in Hollywood, New York, Seattle, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, or elsewhere.
Each sex wishes for equal opportunity in their pursuit for money, power, or prestige (hopefully within the boundaries of rule-of-law). Coming to grips with the consequence of men and women being equal is a hard subject for men to accept. Babitz memoir may or may not help men understand that women’s ambitions and capabilities are no different than men.