Frances Faye, The tremendous cabaret singer who could swing and boogie. I call her my first babysitter, because at age 6? My cosmic goal was to become a night club singer and be able to sing just like Frances Faye! My Dad indulged my simpering and whining to listen to Frances, over and over and over again.
I really was left alone to my own devices amidst the jungle of our home. We had an avocado tree, a delightful and tangy aurora borealis plum tree, apricot and morning glory bushes with lots of animals. Hard to believe it was right in the heart of the now fabulous Silverlake, Los Angeles. If I could buy back that house? I would give anything! We had our own soda machine filled with real glass bottles. My Dad has always had a thing for vending machines. Beneath the avocado tree so tall it seems? I would practice my ferocious jump roping. I loved to jump to Frances Faye music in my head. Somehow? I just loved her music and persona. I doubt children still sing the name game below. Harry goes with Sherry, Carrie goes with Gary and they spell all the names. I think that’s how the conventional song goes. Well, I never noticed that all the girls went with girls and all the boys went with boys in her version, for what did I know? I was only 6! I just loved her outrageous persona even at 6 years old.
My father and mother never told me what gay was nor that it was right nor if it was wrong. My Father a musician had many colorful, talented and scholarly friends. Jack Schneider the bass player for his jazz ensemble was a social worker. The lead guitarist when he had his band called E.S.P. for extra sensory perception was from London, his name was Graham and during his quintessential writhing with pain in his face with contortions and lurid contractions of his torso akin to My Mother was also a very outspoken women for a Japanese lady and w Iggy Pop? I thought he was being electrocuted! I was only 7 years old then, so in my surreal heroics to save the day, I gallantly pulled the plug on his amp and my Father went crazy, but then the whole band just started to laugh. Those wonderful days of strangers sitting all over our lawn listening to ESP play. They never made any formal demos nor aquired any serious fame, alas it was a beautiful experience for a little girl. Listening to my Dad practice drum solos forever on his practice pads or alto and bari sax in later years. As far back as to my Grandfather and his pals from New Orleans and Texas we had wonderful artists whose sexual identity was never demonized. My Mother so beautiful and poetic played the tambourine. Her motto was…. “I’m not expecting you to marry a Doctor or a Lawyer nor climb any social scales but you must always just be yourself and learn how to recite Charlie Parker’s story backwards and forward” Two lovers so very much in love, my parents until conventionalism poisoned all the eggs in our nest.
(Tsuzurikata Kyoshitsu, 1938)
When I had my cafe back then lots of men would come to just to see my omother. She would quiz them on the poetry and the classics. I had one great friend Takeshi and he was a danseur. He did wonderful performances of ballet where he would use glass chopsticks and eat beautiful flowers. My mother said, oh you are not the first Gay Japanese gay man I have met! My Mother was wonderful and my boyfriends usually just fell in love with her. Thinking back now? My babysitter Frances as I am wont to call her was all the things I appreciated in a women. She was talented, musically ingenious, self-directed, witty, entreprenurial and now I realize she was a New Yorker! IT’s as if it were my destiny at age 6 to come to NY and I was singing the finer graces of sipping chocolate egg creams and before NY , I learnt Hebrew at Ulpan in Israel. My first partner amazingly enough was an Irish Jew. Imagine that? He studied law here but decided to become a flaneuse instead. He had an outrageous personality too, very colorful and just witty and brilliant. Later I met one of the most notorious entrepreneurs in tea. I wont say her name due to google because she will use it for marketing! Ha ha.. But he was very much like Frances Faye. We worked together for 13 years off and on. Course as a shy Japanese girl, I simply was in awe. I celebrated every Jewish holiday with her daughter and friends. So? It kinda makes you wonder what a 6 year old girl already knows? Now, living in NY for 22 years….. I guess I am a New Yorker too. Looking back at my love of outrageousness and jazz, I must commend my mentor and Babysitter Frances Faye! She was gay during a painfully difficult time. I am not gay, but if I were I would be just as outspoken as her for I have seen many lose their dreams and happiness for being shut down and shut out by the idiocy and cultures of others. I am Catholic and Buddhist however, when a Priest says man and women. What happens if the women is inside of the man and visa versa? Then there really is no difference than what our genetics were designed to do. X and Y chromasomes have decided to open up our minds with their creativity and we keep thinking inside of the box. I commend my best friend when I was a little girl, Frances Faye for being so brave about her identity. More so, for her amazing talent and my oh my could she swing! Caught in the act is and will always be one of my very favorite recordings.