The Dirty Dozen April Installment Part 2:
Dangerous women who slay more than the red carpet
Glamour can be interpreted many different ways, one of the most powerful being danger. The trope and fetishization of a dangerous women has been around since the beginning of time, after all it was William Congreve who first warned us that “hell has no fire like a woman scorned”. The play Chicago is all about women creating dangerous personas in order to gain fame through a society that idolizes headlines, not people. The more dangerous a woman can appear, the more glamor our society associates with them. We are fascinated by the beautiful and disturbed, women who are alluring enough to grab your attention, and unstable enough to keep it. Below is a list of some dangerous blondes who solidified their place in bombshell history, for better or for worse.
- Cheryl Crane
Cheryl Crane is the daughter of another famous blonde bombshell, Lana Turner. Lana was a Ziegfeld girl who was apparently discovered drinking a milkshake in a soda shop at age 16, and went on to win two academy awards. Turner was married eight times to seven different husbands, but her only child was Cheryl. Turner was famously quoted saying “I planned on having one husband and seven children, but it turned out the other way around”. Cheryl was the daughter of her mothers second husband, Joseph Crane. After watching her mother suffer through a variety of abusive partners Cheryl overheard Turners boyfriend at the time (Johnny Stompanato) threatening to kill her. Stompanato had been famously abusive and jealous, even pulling a gun on Turner’s co-star Sean Connery during filming (Connery ended up beating the shit out of him). 14 year-old Cheryl heard Stompanato’s threats, ran into the kitchen, and stabbed Stomanato, killing him instantly.
Although the murder was considered self defense, Cheryl spent the next few years as a ward of the state in two different schools for disturbed girls. She currently lives with her wife in California, and is a real estate agent and novelist. She wrote an autobiography about the incident called Detour: a Hollywood Tragedy — My Life With Lana Turner, My Mother, which also includes chilling stories of her unhealthy relationships with the rest of her mothers husbands.
2) Nancy Spungen
Spungen was one half of the punk rock couple Sid and Nancy, of The Sex Pistols Sid Vicious. After having an undiagnosed ear infection for the first two years of her life that is thought to have altered her brain, Nancy grew up having extreme emotional and mental instability, and was diagnosed as schizophrenic at age 15. After a variety of violent and drug related problems, Nancy moved to New York at age 17 and joined the Punk Rock movement. Alone in New York without any access to mental health, Nancy began an abusive relationship with Sid Vicious. The angry and messy punk rock movement provided catharsis for Nancy, but along with the healing music came drugs, domestic abuse, and unwanted fame. Nancy was called “Nauseating Nancy” in the newspapers for her frequent displays of violence, yet the abuse inflicted on her and the way her mental illness affected her behavior was never discussed publicly until her mother published a biography about her called And I Don’t Want to Live This Life. In 1978, in a room at The Hotel Chelsea filled with drugs, Nancy was found stabbed to death in the bathroom.
Sid Vicious was arrested for the murder, although he died of a drug overdose before the trial could take place, and people theorize that the murder was actually committed by a drug dealer who frequented the couple. While Nancy was only in the spotlight for about a year of her life, she made herself heard, seen, and talked about. Her story might have been different had mental health care been different, but she certainly insisted on living life hard, fast and on her own punk rock bombshell terms up until her early death.
3) Aileen Wuornos
Aileen Wuornos had a tragic but unfortunately common life that contributed to her becoming a serial killer and eventually murdering seven men. Following her fathers suicide in prison and her mothers abandonment at four years-old, Aileen began working in the sex industry at age 11. After a childhood filled with sexual assault at the hands of her brother, grandfather, and her grandfathers friends, she gave birth to a son at age 15. Aileen put her son up for adoption after being kicked out of her grandparents home and began working as a prostitute and living in the woods. After a hard life which included a marriage to a 69 year-old while she was only 20, alcohol abuse, and robbery, Aileen began -to put it bluntly- murdering men. All together, Aileen murdered seven men: all of them were men who had hired her as a prostitute, and a good number of them already having convictions for rape or sexual assault. While Aileen claimed that all 7 murders had been committed in self defense to avoid sexual assault, she was convicted anyway. I think Aileen is an important story. She was abandoned by her father, sexually assaulted by the other men in her family, forced into prostitution by men, presumably encountered sexual assault as a prostitute for years until she finally decided to say “no” the only way that seemed to work (with a gun), and then was judged by a group of men who deemed HER to be the menace to society.
I know she took the lives of seven people, but when I read her story I don’t see a serial killer. I see a victem of a misogynistic society built on violence towards women who was continually kicked while she was down by the very men who put her on the ground in the first place. When you think about her story…what else was she supposed to do? Another example of society forcing a woman to be do something, and then judging them for doing it. No wonder she decided to murder a few men. In the years after her conviction, the nation became enamored with the Aileen's story and she became famous overnight. Her name became household, and her story was told in numerous TV shows, made for TV movies, and books, the most famous being Monster starring Charlize Therone and Christina Ricci. There was even an opera and a Jewel song written about her. Aileen’s dangerous but alluring story lives on, although she was killed in 2002 by lethal injection.