Eat Your Makeup

By Brittanie Shey

Josh Sadfie's Muse on Uncut Gems

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Josh Sadfie's Muse on Uncut Gems
By Brittanie Shey • Issue #3 • View online
Hi! I’m Brittanie Shey, and this is Eat Your Makeup, a newsletter about art, culture, and creativity on the Third Coast.

La Danse des Muses by Pierre Narcisse Guérin
La Danse des Muses by Pierre Narcisse Guérin
Trends on TikTok have a way of burning fast and hot. By now you’ve probably already heard or seen the clip of Julia Fox pronouncing the name of the Safdie Brothers’ 2019 film Uncut Gems in an odd way. The conversation happened while Fox, who at the time had been making media rounds due to her brief relationship with Kanye West, was a guest on the podcast Call Her Daddy. Podcast host Alex Cooper asks Fox if she considers herself Kanye’s muse.
If you watch the whole clip, the conversation doesn’t seem that odd. We hear about Fox’s first date with Kanye (He really likes Uno! They go to Carbone!) But taken out of context, Fox’s comment that she was Josh Safdie’s muse, and specifically her pronunciation of the film’s title, comes off as odd and perhaps a little self-aggrandizing, which makes the clip ripe for meme-ification.
Putting aside the fact that I thought we were done making fun of women for how they speak — both Cooper’s and Fox’s voices in the conversation include vocal fry and upward inflection — I am less interested in the meme aspect of this video, and more interested in the concept of being a muse, and how its meaning has changed over time. Cooper even asks Fox what it means to be a muse, a question that she never satisfactorily answers.
In Greek mythology, the muses were considered the font of inspiration for a variety of fields, and not just creative ones. The daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, the nine nymphs represented epic poetry, love poetry, history, music, tragedy, sacred poetry, dance, comedy, and astronomy. In the time of oral traditions, performances of music, poetry, and storytelling were often preceded by an invocation to the nymphs. Mythology says that their presence manifested as whispers into the ears of those that invoked them. In a 2013 paper called “Of Memory and Muses: The Wellsprings of Creativity,” Alissa Michelle Cook writes
The Muses are both story-keepers and story-creators— providing both guidance (rules for reproduction) and inspiration (pathways to production). Thus, their nature could be described as paradoxical. The nine goddesses stand in the place between memory and creativity. They take the old and make it new again, but they work according to their own purposes. They are rarely seen unless they choose to be seen. The Muses are sometimes fickle and often unpredictable. They are known for their elusive nature, and (Francine) Prose suggests that their elusiveness has contributed to their persistence in culture.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert recounts an evocative story about muses from poet Ruth Stone in her Ted Talk (the good stuff starts at around 6:30).
She told me that when she was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape… it would come barreling down at her over the landscape… and she knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and that was to, in her words, “run like hell.” And she would run like hell to the house and she would be getting chased by this poem, and the whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper and a pencil fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. And other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she’d be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it and she said it would continue on across the landscape, looking, as she put it “for another poet.”*
In other words, the Muses were the givers of the story. But in the modern era, the phrase has come to mean something more like the vessel onto which the story is projected.
I recently watched the film Star 80, based on the life of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. Stratten was just 20 when she became Playmate of the Year, and on a meteoric path to stardom when she was brutally murdered by her husband, Paul Snider. At the time of her murder, Snider and Stratten were separated, and Stratten was romantically involved with actor and director Peter Bogdanovich, who was two decades older than her.
The film is based on a 1980 Village Voice article called “Death of a Playmate”, which starts with the line “Dorothy Stratten was the focus and the dreams and ambitions of three men.” Even in death, Stratten has repeatedly been referred to as the muse for Snider, Bogdanovich, and Hugh Hefner, even th0ugh she disliked working for Playboy and wanted to be an actress instead. (Ironically, Fox also posed for Playboy in 2015.)
Bogdanovich expressed opposition to the film (even as he was writing his own book about Stratten’s murder), and refused to let director Bob Fosse use his name for the project. Fosse would later go on to say the film was actually about Snider, not Stratten — she couldn’t even be the subject of her own story.
The modern muse is stereotypically female, and often comes from a position of less power, not more, unlike the muses of Greek mythology. Stratten was a teenager, working at a Dairy Queen in rural Canada when she met Snider. We’ve all heard of painters’ muses of the 19th and 20th centuries, who were often mistresses or courtesans. Even the manic pixie dream girl, a modern subgenre of muse, “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Instead of imparting creativity in whispers, the modern muse now exists solely to serve the male gaze. They’ve become a blank slate onto which men can paint their own ideas.
Julia Fox in clothes picked out for her by Kayne. Julia Fox in makeup meant to evoke the Kardashians. Julia Fox on the Kanye Boot Camp program. That’s not a muse. That’s a paper doll.
Fox has been a figure in her own right among New Yorks’s art scene, working as a clothing designer, painter, and photographer before her acting debut in Uncut Gems. She herself pushed back against the idea of muse-as-a-vessel in the Call Her Daddy interview, saying “I’ve earned my place to be there… I’ve put in the work. Everyone’s like ‘Look at her now, she’s at dinner with Madonna’, and actually, I set up that dinner and I invited Kanye. It looks a certain way but people don’t know the conversations happening behind the scenes.”
But in 20 years, whose name do you think will be better recognized? I would like to say Fox’s, but given the way her contributions have already been minimized thanks to a viral Tiktok sound bite, I think I know better.
An appreciation for Nudie Cohn
Porter Wagoner in his wagon wheel Nudie suit
Porter Wagoner in his wagon wheel Nudie suit
Nudie Cohn was the man synonymous with the elaborately-embroidered suits worn by country singers in the 1950s and ‘60s, including Hank Williams, Dale Evans, and most-famously, Porter Wagoner.
Nudie was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1902 to Jewish parents and emigrated to the United States in 1913 under the threat of religious persecution. He and his wife, Bobbie Nudie, would first open a lingerie shop for showgirls in New York City before developing the style of embroidery for which he later became famous.
What’s interesting is that Nudie’s needlework is reminiscent of traditional embroidery common throughout Eastern Europe, including in Ukraine and Moldova, where people still wear folk-inspired garments for events like weddings, as in the picture below.
Traditional Ukrainian wedding garb
Traditional Ukrainian wedding garb
The name Nudie suit" is now synonymous with the style, even if the suit wasn’t made by Cohn himself or his company. The suits never exactly went out of style but they have seen an increase in popularity in recent years thanks to artists like Lil Nas X, Post Malone, and Orville Peck. Collectors Weekly has more.
Pusha T's McDonald's "beef"
Absolutely obsessed with this Filet O’ Fish diss track Pusha T wrote for Arby’s, which dropped Monday. The video looks like a sequel to The Lighthouse.
ARBY'S x PUSHA T | Spicy Fish Diss Track
ARBY'S x PUSHA T | Spicy Fish Diss Track
Pal Dan Solomon adds some context I did not know (but maybe you did) — Pusha wrote the infamous “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle, but unfortunately neglected to secure publishing rights for the song.
A good tweet
dia (emancipated era pt. 2)
my entire world was flipped, turned upside down when i realized cis people also get gender-affirming procedures but just don’t call it that
The thread is full of great examples, including surgeries like breast augmentation, hair transplants, and more, and I’d add non-permanent procedures like hair and nail extensions and even growing a beard to the list. By the way, if you want to support trans kids in Texas here’s a very long list of locally-run orgs fighting for these families.
The Fairy-Tale War
At times, when testing out stories on kids, Brown asked them to lie down on mats and free-associate with her. “What is the quietest and quickest thing you can think of?” she once asked. Among the responses: “a mouse sleeping”; “a pussy cat when it paddles its paws in the grass”; “I think of eggs. They don’t make any noise because they’re food.” One day, a boy objected to a line that she had written: “The stars come out.” Stars were always there, the boy explained. Brown conceded the point, and promised to “change it next time.”
I love this anecdote about Margaret Wise Brown, the queer, brash, avant-garde woman who wrote Goodnight Moon.
It's Oscars weekend
ella
never forget when jane fonda signed her best actress acceptance speech for the 1979 oscars because the academy wouldn’t offer closed captions #goldenglobes https://t.co/qzNSdhiYXe
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Brittanie Shey

"Eat Your Makeup" is a 1968 short film by John Waters. This newsletter is a weekly musing about creativity, art and culture on the Third Coast.

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