When Tad Friend's New Yorker article about Phyllis Diller and her art salon parties came out in 2010, my boyfriend Trevor and I shared a daydream that one day we'd get to go to such a fête. I couldn't really imagine how that'd ever happen. But then I mentioned it to friend and L.A. Times cartoonist Mimi Pond, and she basically is just one of those people that makes dreams come true. Last December, she scored an invite and let us tag along while she did research for her comic (Maybe it's more visible here?):
Here's a dark, blurry picture of Mimi in front of my favorite painting in the house, a giant spotlit curtain in the entryway.
When we arrived, we were offered cocktails. I asked for champagne, but probably should have gotten a martini.
I really couldn't believe I was just walking around Phyllis Diller's house. And just getting to take pictures. How about this nice little pink living area? Why not?
Her kitchen was my favorite. Want a red fridge? Just paint it red.
I got a little gutsy (read: creepy) photographing the notes tacked up over the counter. But that is the best part! Salad dressing tips, a note about "Transcendental Abstract Existentialism." (Secret ingredient: Sweet'n Low.) Also, that chunky corkboard stuff is MY FAVORITE stuff. When I was a kid, my parents' office had a whole wall of it and so many happy childhood memories involve me pushing pushpins into the squeaky corkboard. (OK, maybe it's just one memory.) But one day, when I move out of my shed, I hope to have a chunky corkboard wall, too.
Then we got to meander through the hallways. We got to peek into her costume area and wig room:
I loved her paintings, which covered the walls. For such a flashy performer, her subtle visual sense is so striking. I know she was a humongous, worldwide, beloved celebrity! But I can't help but wish she'd drawn a big book of comics! It would be cool if there is a book of her paintings. Is there??
A guy showing us around mentioned that Elliott Gould regularly came by to play cards with Ms. Diller, and we got pretty excited. While people milled around the house looking at art, Trevor and I spied her across the courtyard, playing cards with a man whose arm was only visible. Was it Elliott Gould!?!?! We didn't find out.
(Sorry it's so hard to see. But it was really just an arm.)
At the end of the party, a group of guests got to visit with Phyllis herself. She introduced herself to each of us and told a joke. She told Trevor his name was "very movie star!" She took a picture with us. I wore my leopard dress, in tribute to her:
Altogether it was pretty nuts.