Truth be told, the first time I saw Eartha Kitt, she kind of scared me. Well, not Eartha herself, but the character she played in Boomerang—that purring old lady, it really spooked me as a kid.
Yesterday I saw a quote that struck me:
MY RECIPE FOR LIFE IS NOT BEING AFRAID OF MYSELF
This morning when I was journaling, sorting through aspirations—all these things I really want to do but don’t know which to choose, the quote came back to me. And then came a realization—what if I can say yes to everything, what if I don’t have to choose? If I live to 80, that’s a long enough life to do it all. Multiple degrees, multiple careers, multiple businesses. All I had to do was stop being afraid of myself, afraid of my potential, my power.
After writing from 4am to 7am, I jumped on insta to see who that nourishing quote was by. Eartha, okay; pulled up an interview on YouTube, just a random one because I liked the thumbnail, and there she was flirting with her interviewer after performing, “I want to be evil.” She had this magical presence to her, regal and eloquent with a touch of cruelty. She purred at him, she draped her fur coat over him, she pointed her sultry stockinged leg to him. Their back and forth was hilarious.
Then they switched up to talking about her past and I noticed how she made herself much smaller. She curled like a closed fist on the couch as she spoke of her demons, and my gosh did she have demons. And yet there she was out there doing and being, being both larger than life and small and unwanted, and speaking honestly about the importance of both. Then I watched her speaking honestly about how speaking honestly to a First Lady got her blackballed. What a badass.
At first, I was sad that I never knew about this wonderful woman. I’d heard her name, but didn’t know her story. But what are the odds that on this random morning after describing the kind of life I want and how I just need a consistent source of energy to pull from, boom, Eartha is here to inspire me. (This is spooky, but I learned she died at 81. I was literally just writing that if I live to 80 I can do all the things I want.)
Another stand out thing she said was, “I’m very grateful that television can be used as a school.” I echo those sentiments, but in this case it’s the internet that’s my school—the caption was on an Instagram photo, then I went down a rabbit hole on YouTube, and I’ll be doing further research on her, consuming her music, reading her books, viewing her on screen performances, looking further into her activism, everything I can find really.
I’m grateful that I can go back in time with the internet. I’m grateful that I can be with her, learn from her, and shape my future better because of her.
So there you have it, it took until my 30s to find an idol truly worthy of my worship, but I finally found one.
P.S. she was totally worth the wait!
3 thoughts on “Idol Worship”
If you’re talking about the interview with Terry Wogan … wow! That’s powerful to watch. Even when I was a kid, I thought Ertha Kitt was one of the secxiest, most compelling women imaginable. Now I want to give her a hug as well.
(And how good an interviewer was Tel!)
Yes, that’s the one. I’ve never seen anything like it, anyone like her. Such a dynamic woman.
(He was fantastic; I want to see more of his show too).
I know your post is more about Ertha, who was absolutely astounding both in her allure, strength and vulnerability , but for Brit’s of my generation, Terry Wogan is a broadcasting legend. To move from joking with an interviewee so seemlessly to giving them space to talk both safely and publicly about their horrors, takes a special kind of empathy which is all too rare in the world of citizen-media. (And is why the BBC is worth its weight in public funding.)