In an age of stupefying untruths and incredulous myths designed to fool, bedevil and deceive, it is beyond refreshing to discover an unrepentant figure in history who was not remotely cowered by her skirmishes with sin, shame, vice or deplorable conduct, but in fact, emboldened by her forcefulness to hold sway over the faint of heart.
Let’s take a moment to parse, shall we?
We all know that hard times can increase, and even accelerate, our own dismaying dreams of wealth, excess and the ridiculously obscene, particularly when it comes to those insufferable souls who flaunt it. Our fascination with, not only the identities, but the behind-the scenes lifestyles of the impossibly well heeled, can soothe our own troubled brows like no other induced stimulant — prescribed, casked, home-grown, Pyrex-baked or fermented — can.
Perhaps that explains why Norman Mailer’s long cherished Marilyn has been replaced atop the biography list with Aimée Crocker’s renowned tome And I’d Do It Again.
The skeptical might, legitimately, ask who is Aimée Crocker? And if we are to fawn over the lives of the inscrutably rich, why covet hers? Here is why, dear readers. She was a woman of means, not always a lady and never what you might call ‘proper,’ but she managed to acquire and surpass extravagance with flair, invincibility and unapologetic gusto. No shying, hypocritical, piously-pitied patsy she.
Aimée (formerly Amy) Crocker (1863-1941), was the daughter of Judge Edwin B. Crocker, legal counsel for the Central Pacific Railroad, Justice of the California Supreme Court and founder of the Crocker Art Museum. Her father was also brother to Charles Crocker, one of the “big four” California railroad barons. How blessedly lucky at birth can one be?
By the age of sixteen, the voluptuary vixen had already tumbled for a German prince “who had the most romantic saber scars,” and a Spanish toreador (“his touch left scars on my soul”).
To the great relief of San Francisco society columnists, Crocker’s wounds healed quickly and she went on to hula á deux with King Kalakaua of Hawaii, jitterbug through the jungles of Borneo with a bona fide head hunter, and hootchy-kootchy her way into the harem of the Rajah of Shikapur.
Following is the account of her memoir And I’d Do It Again as reviewed by Time magazine, September 28, 1936.
“The silliest of the new crop [is] a muddled concoction written with a lurid, Sunday-supplement archness, by a daughter of the wealthy and picturesque Crocker family of San Francisco, detailing her travels in the Far East, her love affairs with a Japanese baron, a Chinese tyrant, a Borneo chieftain and a four-yard boa constrictor named Kaa. Aimée Crocker first became aware of the lure of the Orient when, at the age of 10, she demanded that her mother buy her an elaborate Chinese bed that she saw in San Francisco. “Very young indeed was I.” she writes, “when the finger of the East reached out across the Pacific and touched me.” No sooner had the East put the finger on her than her mother sent her to Germany to be educated. There she fell in love with a German prince (un-named), and was taken to Madrid, where she fell in love with a bullfighter.
The impressionable young lady then returned to San Francisco, married, was almost killed in a train wreck on her honeymoon, got a divorce, hired a 70-ft. schooner and set out for the South Seas, scandalizing the missionaries in Hawaii on the way by taking part in an “orgy,” the precise details of which she does not disclose.”
Clearly, the adventurous Aimée, five times a bride, did not feel compelled to curtail her bed hopping during bouts of matrimony. Consequentially, her marriages tended toward the rather abbreviated variety. It is one thing, after all, for a sophisticated spouse to shut his eyes to a love triangle; another altogether to overlook a veritable polytetrahedron of passions. Even the most peripheral paramour, however, seldom proved completely problem-free–particularly the type who naively featured himself as leading man rather than best supporting actor. Ah well, that was simply the gaucheness of youth. “They all get over husbands, given half a chance,” giggled Crocker.
As to whether the quintet of unfortunate grooms (Including a Russian prince almost forty years her junior) who wed the wealthy wanderlust-victim ever got over her, Crocker wasn’t much concerned. “Husbands, at best, have little to do with ‘people,’” she sniffed. “I know, because I have had a certain number of them.”
Indeed, by the time she sat down to write her memoirs at the age of seventy-four, the cultured coquette had “had a certain number” of almost everything, including some truly bizarre bedfellows. Not that she deigned to bat an eye when a boa constrictor, the pet of a Hindu princess, slithered into her boudoir one night and proceeded to do as boas do, enveloping her body in a sun cross-species hug. In fact, it seems, Crocker found the reptilian rendezvous quite a turn-on: “He gave me a strange, tickling sensation that was, I confess, very enjoyable.”
Still, for the professional flirt, the conquest is vastly more compelling than its consequences. Another seduction successfully completed, Crocker was soon snoozing away as the smitten snake, still coiled about her, lay staring into the dark. “It was like being in the strong embrace of a man,” shrugged the world-weary party girl. “I was more than comfortable.”
While the beloved boa did not enter her life until she had returned to New York, its obsessiveness for her charms compelled it to remain “constrictively” close to her at all times. So entranced were the twosome, Miss Crocker was rumored to have thrown an elaborate dinner party in its honor. The dinner, according to all in attendance, was a great success, although an unidentified sleuthing snoop passed it to the newspapers, who quickly picked it up turning the story into, what else? That of an orgy. Characteristically, Miss Crocker tossed it off with a laugh, declaring “Things always happen to me.”