Eve Babitz  

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"Dear Joseph Heller, I am a stacked eighteen-year-old blonde on Sunset Boulevard. I am also a writer."--Eve Babitz

"In 1939 or 37, Edward designed the World's Fair Pavilion with Dali. Edward James was another example ... Edward told me that I was as beautiful as the Marquis de Sade's great granddaughter —even more beautiful!"--Eve's Hollywood (1974) by Eve Babitz

"Coming back down to earth, as we stepped out onto one of the richest streets in the world, I looked up at the sky, a nice proud loud blue, and I wished that Elio Fiorucci could have seen us: the sky and me and Ann. We were happy, and I know he, if only for a moment in his busy, conservative businessman’s life, would have been happy. Luckily, there was someone else there to appreciate us. A guy driving by in a truck called out as he passed, “Hey, beautiful, where’d you get the hat?”"--Fiorucci: The Book (1980) by Eve Babitz

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Eve Babitz (May 13, 1943 – December 17, 2021) was an American artist and writer. She is best known for playing chess in the nude with Marcel Duchamp.

She is a figure central to L. A. history of the late 20th century and has been dubbed an it girl, a groupie and a socialite.

She is the author of autobiographical writings such as Eve's Hollywood (1974) and journalistic writings such as Fiorucci: The Book (1980).


Life and career

Babitz was born in Hollywood, California, the daughter of Mae, an artist, and Sol Babitz, a classical violinist on contract with 20th Century Fox. Her father was of Russian Jewish descent and her mother had Cajun (French) ancestry. Babitz's parents were friends with the composer Igor Stravinsky, who was her godfather. She attended Hollywood High School.

In 1963, her first brush with notoriety came through Julian Wasser's iconic photograph of a nude, 20-year-old Babitz playing chess with the artist Marcel Duchamp on the occasion of his landmark retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum. The show was curated by Walter Hopps, with whom Babitz was having an affair at the time. The photograph is described by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art as being "among the key documentary images of American modern art".

Babitz began her independent career as an artist, working in the music industry for Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, making album covers. In the late 1960s, she designed album covers for Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield. Her most famous cover was a collage for the 1967 album Buffalo Springfield Again.

Her articles and short stories have appeared in Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire. She is the author of several books including Eve's Hollywood, Slow Days, Fast Company, Sex and Rage, Two By Two, L.A. Woman, and Black Swans. Transitioning to her particular blend of fiction and memoir beginning with Eve's Hollywood, Babitz's writing of this period is marked by the cultural scene of Los Angeles during that time, with numerous references and interactions to the artists, musicians, writers, actors, and sundry other iconic figures that made up the scene in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. Novelists Joseph Heller and Bret Easton Ellis were fans of her work, with the latter writing, "In every book she writes, Babitz’s enthusiasm for L.A. and its subcultures is fully displayed."

Despite her literary output, which has drawn frequent comparisons to Joan Didion and garnered widespread critical acclaim, much of the press about Babitz has emphasized her various romantic associations with famous men. These include singer/poet Jim Morrison, artists (and brothers) Ed Ruscha and Paul Ruscha, and Hopps, as well as the comedian and writer Steve Martin, the actor Harrison Ford, and the writer Dan Wakefield, among others. Ed Ruscha included her in Five 1965 Girlfriends (Walker Arts Center's Design Journal, 1970). Because of this, she has been likened to Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol's 1965 protégée at The Factory in New York City.

In Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A., biographer Lili Anolik writes, “passing herself off as a groupie allowed Eve to infiltrate, edge into territory from which she’d otherwise have been barred." Reviewing this biography for The Nation, journalist Marie Solis wrote, "Babitz didn’t live a life free from patriarchy, but modern-day readers might surmise that she found a way to outsmart it. Despite her proximity as a Hollywood insider to the powerhouses of male celebrity, she rarely succumbed to their charms; instead, she made everyone play by her own rules."

In 1997, Babitz was severely injured when she accidentally dropped a lit match onto a gauze skirt, which ignited the garment and melted her pantyhose beneath it; the accident caused life-threatening third-degree burns over half her body."I Used To Be Charming" Because she had no health insurance, friends and family organized a fund-raising auction to pay her medical bills. Friends and former lovers donated cash and artworks to help pay for her long recovery. Babitz became somewhat more reclusive after this incident, but was still willing to be interviewed on occasion. In a 2000 interview with Ron Hogan of Beatrice magazine, Babitz said, "I've got other books to do that I'm working on." When Hogan asked what those books would be about, Babitz replied: "One's fiction and the other's nonfiction. The nonfiction book is about my experiences in the hospital. The other's a fictionalized version of my parents' lives in Los Angeles, my father's Russian Jewish side and my mother's Cajun French side."

Babitz died on December 17, 2021 at the age of 78.


Babitz enjoyed a renaissance over the past decade due in part to the reissuing of much of her work by publishers including New York Review Books, Simon & Schuster and Counterpoint Press. In 2019, New York Review of Books published I Used to Be Charming, a previously uncollected selection of her essays. In The Paris Review, Molly Lambert wrote, "Babitz is at home anywhere, and everywhere she goes she finds the most interesting person, the weirdest place, the funniest throwaway detail. She makes writing seem effortless and fun, which any writer can tell you is the hardest trick of all." In a 2009 review of Eve's Hollywood, Deborah Shapiro called Babitz's voice "self-assured yet sympathetic, cheeky and voluptuous, but registering just the right amount of irony", adding, "reading West (and Fante and Chandler and Cain and the like) made me want to go to Los Angeles. Babitz makes me feel like I'm there."

The New York Public Library convened a 2016 panel on "The Eve Effect" that included actress Zosia Mamet and New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino.

Pages linking in at Dec 2021

Amy Pascal, Buffalo Springfield Again, Chateau Marmont, Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Roos, Gamble House (Pasadena, California), Gram Parsons, Heart Like a Wheel, Hollywood High School, List of Simon & Schuster authors, Marcel Duchamp, Mr. Tambourine Man (album), Sol Babitz, The Outsiders (film), Timeline of art, Untitled (The Byrds album)

Published works


Publisher information relates to first publication only. Some of the books have been reissued.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Eve Babitz" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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