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Seductress Extraordinaire

Terry Castle: The vampiric Mercedes deAcosta, 24 June 2004

‘That Furious Lesbian’: The Story of Mercedes deAcosta 
by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 210 pp., £16.95, June 2004, 0 8093 2579 9
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Women in Turmoil: Six Plays 
by Mercedes deAcosta, edited by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 252 pp., £26.95, June 2003, 0 8093 2509 8
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... bedroom just to suck the blood out of you. It was weird but peculiarly gratifying. Reading about Mercedes deAcosta, poet, playwright, memoirist, Hollywood screenwriter and lesbian seductress extraordinaire, brings it all back. By all accounts, de Acosta (1893-1968) was a ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... forgotten lesbian women: the American heiress and intellectual polymath Esther Murphy (1897-1962); Mercedes deAcosta (1893-1968), the Cuban-American Hollywood screenwriter, memoirist and seductress extraordinaire (Garbo and Dietrich and Isadora Duncan were among her conquests); and the brittle yet pioneering British ...


Gabriele Annan, 27 September 1990

Garbo: Her Story 
by Antoni Gronowicz.
Viking, 476 pp., £15.99, August 1990, 0 670 83651 6
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... available: spiritualism, exorcism, massage, exercise, diet, meditation. A rich eccentric called Mercedes deAcosta persuaded her that ‘sex between people of the same gender will be a form of prayer. Happiness shall rule the world.’ It never ruled Garbo. She was not very bright, and she knew it: ‘My ...

You could scream

Jenny Diski, 20 October 1994

Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me 
by Marlon Brando and Robert Lindsey.
Century, 468 pp., £17.99, September 1994, 0 7126 6012 7
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Greta & Cecil 
by Diana Souhami.
Cape, 272 pp., £18.99, September 1994, 0 224 03719 6
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... he turned his attentions to Garbo, she avoided him for 14 years, during which time she permitted Mercedes deAcosta (of whom Alice B. Toklas wrote: ‘You can’t dismiss Mercedes lightly. She has had the two most important women in the United States – Garbo and Dietrich’) and ...

Call it Hollywood

Wayne Koestenbaum: The sex life of Rudolph Valentino, 16 December 2004

Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino 
by Emily Leider.
Faber, 514 pp., £8.99, November 2004, 0 571 21819 9
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... woman-loving Nazimova. Natacha Rambova, too, played part-time sapphist. She may well have bedded Mercedes deAcosta, paramour to Garbo and Dietrich. Irene Sharaff, costume doyenne, muses on Mercedes and Natacha’s bond: ‘Exactly what happened between them I don’t know for ...

Investigate the Sock

David Trotter: Garbo’s Equivocation, 24 February 2022

by Robert Gottlieb.
Farrar, Straus, 438 pp., £32, December 2021, 978 0 374 29835 7
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... the best of terms with the vicar, the butcher and the gardener’. Equally tenacious was Mercedes deAcosta, screenwriter, activist, socialite, and, as Gottlieb puts it, ‘ubiquitous lesbian rake’, whose friendship with Garbo lasted almost thirty years. Some hints in ...

If everybody had a Wadley

Terry Castle: ‘Joe’ Carstairs, the ‘fastest woman on water’, 5 March 1998

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of ‘Joe’ Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water 
by Kate Summerscale.
Fourth Estate, 248 pp., £12.99, August 1997, 1 85702 360 9
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... sapphic society – Radclyffe Hall, Natalie Barney, Vita Sackville-West, Gertrude Stein, Mercedes deAcosta, Gluck, Djuna Barnes, Ida Rubenstein, Romaine Brooks, Elsie de Wolfe, Eileen Gray, Wanda Landowksa, Winaretta Singer, Rose O’Neill, Violet Trefusis, Janet Flanner ...

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