From The Vault Of Art Shay: Modern Feminism

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 20, 2013 8:00PM

(Legendary Chicago-based photographer Art Shay has taken photos of kings, queens, celebrities and the common man in a 60-year career. This week, Art has some fun with the feminist movement.)

My week started with a sexy lecture at the Alliance Francaise de Chicago (54 West Chicago Avenue). They were there to hear me slyly perorate on Simone de Beauvoir's affair with Nelson Algren. The sell-out crowd of 500 filled the auditorium and the exhibition hall where my exhibition of French-oriented pictures will be hanging for another month. (Admission's free.)

They sold 50 copies of my latest Algren book, which tells and shows the naughty affair. The gorgeous, intellectual Francophiles there had all seen the eight-page article Paris Match magazine published recently, featuring my nude pictures of philosopher-novelist Simone, the first of the modern feminists, and accordingly put me on the schedule. Even Billy Corgan attended, probably hoping I'd play my harmonica.

I had barely recovered from the evening when my New York Times this morning announced that Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique, was being republished after 50 triumphant years of documenting the war between women and men. The Times ran a street demonstration picture of Betty from 1970, and called her “the leader of the second wave of feminists.” Poor Simone wasn't even mentioned. Her ashes—with Nelson's Aztec silver ring intact among them since she died in 1986—rest in the same grave as her lifetime companion Jean-Paul Sartre's ashes, the couple breaking all records for feminist visitors at their Paris cemetery. She's now 105.

The most popular anecdote I told (not counting Nelson's version of Simone, Sartre and Camus playing threesies on the night train from Marseille) was centered on something Nelson gave me off his wall: A tear sheet a high school home eco teacher had given him from her curriculum for senior high school girls planning to get married. Simone had copied it out to mail in her nightly letter to Sartre—she wrote three a day—and Nelson and she had fun acting out some of the outrageous instructions.

I will incorporate some of these lessons in captions under the following pictures.

If you can't wait until this time every Wednesday to get your Art Shay fix, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Chicago's Nelson Algren, is also available at Amazon.