Tag Archives: women

An Open Letter to Broadway

Dear Broadway,

Thank you for consistently showing me, that no matter what age I am, my image will always be reflected back at me. 

-Downtown

Thirteen: The Musical

Thirteen: The Musical

reasons to be pretty

Reasons to be Pretty

Nine to Five: The Musical

Nine to Five: The Musical

God of Carnage

God of Carnage

Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens

33 Variations

33 Variations

Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit

A Note From the Trenches

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some extraordinary women in Hollywood who have paved quite a path for themselves. But as much as they’ve helped change the landscape for the women that come after them, they also do their best to bring them down. For a young woman in the film industry, trying to make a name for herself, whether it be on a studio lot, casting couch, in a production office or on a set, there is still that feeling of “there’s only one seat at the table for a woman and that seat’s going to be mine.” The camaraderie is almost non-existent.

I’ve worked in several aspects of the industry since I was a teenager. Now, in my late 20’s, I find myself even more jaded of other woman, especially those just above me. I used to love working for female bosses, I thought of many of them as my mentors, but the harder I worked, the more I was recognized, and that resulted in backlash from those women or put them on the defensive. I’m currently working on a big-budget film helmed by a female 201925all-about-eve-posters auteur, with a crew heavily tipping in favor of the double x chromosome. You would think, “yay for women!” And, at first, I had that glimmer of hope, maybe this would be different. But in fact, it’s not.

It’s disappointing and a let down. I notice woman of a certain generation are not necessarily ready and willing to help mentor or groom the next generation in the same way that our male counterparts are. As a result, we’re blowing some of our biggest chances on ego. Instead of applauding for our gender, we’re thinking of ways to undermine each other. It’s a sad state, but one that I’m confident can be righted, if there were more women reaching out or reaching down. I want to think the best of my generation. I want us to be the first to elect a female president, see higher numbers of women in CEO positions, running studios, helming everything from dramas to comedies and action flicks. I know it’s possible, it’s just a matter of finding the ones that are the real feminists, the real supporters of our gender.

I know despite how others act, I will continue to look behind me, not our of fear of who maybe on my heels, but to see what talented young woman I can bring with me, to stand along side me as a colleague, a feminist, and a force of nature. I wish everyone thought the same way. Imagine what we could accomplish if they did.
–Downtown

We Are Famalee

Mom never left the house without lipstick

Mom never left the house without lipstick

Hello long-lost DT, I’m still uptown though my sister and I visited the StoryCorps booth in Foley Square this week to about our mom. I interviewed my sis who described Sally as a fantastically wonderful lady but so out of her element. Not only was she born at the wrong time, and one of a long legacy of strong women, but as my sister so eloquently stated, our mom should have been a career woman just couldn’t get herself together to do so. She graduated from college in the 1950’s at a time when her college advisor (Univ Wisconsin) told her to skip law school and become a social worker (since that’s what women did at the time). Law school took three years whereas social work took her two. The measure of success in those days was to be the perfect housewife, to dress right, to be demure, and care for the husband and home. She got the dressing right part down but the rest of it, ixnay.

Alas, not only was our mom not brave enough or prepared to NOT get married and settle down, join the Jr. League (which she did, and that was controversial since I suspect she was the first Jew in Chappaqua to do so, she was the only Jew), at another time, she might have had a brilliant career and left the child-rearing to a staff. The nannies and housekeepers might have done a better job and she might have led a more fulfilling life. Her words of wisdom to us were to always have your own money, always be able to rely on yourself. Are you sensing any bitterness, here?

The crazy thing is that my sister and I have had our brilliant/fun careers (she in food a la Montrachet, Grammercy Tavern and beyond, I in the world of art and philanthropy) and opted out to be with our kid, although we are both back in the mix in different iterations. It’ll be interesting to see how our children manage and what decisions they will make. Same is true for you, my dear.

But back to StoryCorps. It’s a lovely oral history project founded by a tremendously talented storyteller, David Isay. The public is invited to reserve a spot at one of the stationary spots (NY and SF) or one of the mobile units and record your story. A copy goes to the Library of Congress and select interviews are parsed down to two-three minute segments and broadcast on Friday mornings on NPR. The stories are great; sad, happy, funny, poignant all. Grab one of your parents and get them to pass on their stories. I wish I’d done so with my mom and dad. Fortunately, I have my sister to help fill in some blanks.

A Good Man is Hard to Find

I was on the phone with my sister the other night/early morning, a weekend ritual we have to check in and make sure the other got home safely. We both had fun with our respective friends, and just enough to drink that we were feeling a little confessional. “I’m on J-Date!” My sister blurted out as I was kicking my heels off by my front door, complaining about the lack of tall men in New York. “I’m 22 and I’m on J-Date,” she said again, for emphasis. “Well, I’m on Match.com again,” I told her, laughing. “This online dating is so weird,” said my slightly more uptown sister, “like you can take people on virtual dates in chat rooms called ‘Sunset Beach’ or ‘Wine Tasting,’ or ‘Lounge Lizard.’ Ewwww!”

“I tried J-Date, for about five minutes,” I confessed, “but no one was taller than 5’6″ on that site.”

Side note: yes, dear Uptown, J-Date is a Jewish dating site. However, the sister and I, having grown up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, find it odd that the average Roman Catholic doesn’t celebrate
Passover or Yom Kipper.

“I don’t get it,” said my confused sister, “we live in a city populated with men. I pass hundreds on the street every day. Why do I feel the need to turn to a website for dating?”

“It’s simple, you live in Chelsea, I live in the Union Square/West Village area. 95 percent of the men around us are searching for love … within their own sex.”

Long pauses filled the void in conversation as we both pondered this notion, until it hit me. Carrie Bradshaw killed it for us. Before Darren Starr and Sex & the City, New York was considered the place to meet men, good-looking men, wealthy men, smart men, talented me, straight men, gay men, cosmopolitan men. Now, everyone from here to Kazakhstan knows that 20-something and 30-something straight, non-asshole men in New York are a rarity. And if you do find one, you marry him, no questions asked. Which leaves even more slim pickings for the rest of us. So where did all of the men go? My theory? They never made it to New York. One episode of Sex & the City had their feet planted firmly in the Midwestern crop soil. I think the stereotype of “we” women (via SATC ) scared them off.

And I don’t believe it’s just SATC. I think it was Friends and Will & Grace that didn’t help either. You can be the redheaded neurotic girl with the gay husband, the clean freak, the loopy, hippy-dippy girlfriend, the high maintenance one, or the drunk, gold-digger, but apparently you can’t be all of them, all at once. Pick a character and stick with it. Can you imagine these poor boys from all over the world coming here expecting what they see on TV? Giant apartments, movie stars, an endless supply of cash, clothes, etc. And the reality is usually very far from it. Yes, people have money, big apartments and yes, there are movie stars, but they don’t live near your 400 sq. foot studio walk-up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

I ran this theory by my sister, who agreed, but added a caveat: “A good man is hard to find,” she said, ” but in this city you hear more men saying that than women.”

-Downtown

From the Hook & Eye to High Heels

Dear UT,

While we were on the phone today discussing prophylactic mastectomies and the dreaded pigeon-holing of our book-of-the-moment as a “cancer book,” I ducked into an Upper West Side store to buy a bra. I didn’t quite realize the irony of this until I was waiting online to pay for my purchase. As we were talking, I casually flipped through the racks trying to find something to flatter my small “national geographic” chest.

After I hung up with you, the older woman hovering around me asked if I would like a bra fitting. I was a little hesitant, since I wasn’t quite sure what that entailed, but remembered hearing stories of woman who had “miraculous” bra-fitting experiences that lead to better cleavage and uplifted decolletage. bra.jpgI unfortunately, did not have such an experience, as I seem to know my breasts better than most women know theirs. The sales associate brought me a selection of bras, which I vetoed one-by-one: “this one has a elastic along the upper part of the cup, it’s going to cut into my chest and squash the little I have to begin with.” Another one wasn’t padded, that’s not going to fly with me. “Too much of a dark nude, I need a lighter nude because I’m pale.” No lace this time around, I needed something for shirts in softer fabrics — what is it with older women and lace? Some stuff was pretty, but an inch away from my wondering if it came with a matching garter belt. I finally dismissed the saleswoman, who left in a huff when I shooed her out as she tried to follow me into the dressing room, insisting on being in there to help me. Umm, no thank you, I’ve been wearing a bra for 14 years, I think I’ve got the hook and eye thing down for myself now.

I walked out of the store with two perfectly decent bras, they weren’t La Perla, but fit perfectly and would be appropriate to wear under tee shirts. After that experience, I felt the need to reward myself with something I liked rather than a necessity. So, like the good woman I am, I headed straight to the shoe store, where toe cleavage, high heels and peep-toes flatter every foot and no one needs to feel self-conscious.

-Downtown