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They Call Me Naughty Lola
Annie Lore as Lola Montez
Lonely Hearts--They Call Me Naughty Lola
The January 21 issue of the NYT book review contained a review of a book which is a compilation of personal ads from The London Review of Books. I would link it but couldn't bring it up on the Times' website. Here are some experpts from Henry Alford's review:
"For some of us, self-deprecation is the olive in the martini of romance. It's that little something extra--a blast of salt and texture in a pool of cool velvet. The practice of demoting oneself has a counterintuitive power: it takes a truly secure person to self-flagellate. But in 'They Call Me Naughty Lola,' a highly jaunty collection of personal ads from The London Review of Books, the intense self-deprecation among lovelorn Brits is less like an olive resting comfortably at the bottom of a martini glass and more like a peacock that has set itself on fire to flag down passing motorists. [Now there're a couple of similies!] One ad runs
'Official greeter and face of Dalkeith Cheese Festival, 1974, seeks woman to 50 who is no stranger to failure, debt-consolidating mortgages and wool.'
'Your buying me dinner doesn't mean I'll have sex with you. I probably will have sex with you, though.'
"A third comes from the pen of a woman able to 'start fires with the power of her premenstrual tension.'
"When the benchmark for self-flagellation is set this high, several interesting things happen. Even the rare instances of self-puffery take on a dark or twisted aspect. ('Romance is dead. So is my mother. Man 42, inherited wealth.') The deprecation sometimes starts to cover an area larger than the self. ('I like my women the way I like my kebab. found by surprise after a drunken night out and covered with too much tahini.') Finally, some of the ads become self-referential and meta ('How can I follow that? Man, 47. Gives up easily. Box No. 9547.'), if not outright jokes ('117-year-old male Norfolk Viagra bootlegger finally in the mood for a bit of young totty.')...
"Indeed the tricksy nature of this collection, despite its laugh-out-loud gems, is perhaps what keeps these ads from engaging us emotionally or getting under our skin. (For a more affecting if less amusing look at a similar topic, see Sara Bader's 2005 book on classified ads throughout America's history, 'Strange Red Cow' which includes items like this one from an 1865 issue of the New York Herald: 'J.A.R.--Sarcasm and indifference have driven me from you. I sail in next steamer for Europe. Shall I purchase tickets for two, or do you prefer to remain to wound some other loving heart? Answer quick, or all is lost Emelie.'
'Blah, blah, whatever. Indiffent woman. Go ahead and write. Box No. 3253. Like I care.'"