Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Case For And Against Wild Women

 April 23, 2022

   Back in 1994 I was on a roll with my Illustrated Life & Times books, having published tomes on Billy, Wyatt and Doc. I was casting about for a new book subject to sink my teeth into. One of the juiciest concepts I hit on was "Wild Women of the Wild West." I spent several months developing a timeline from roughly 1820 to 1920 culminating with women getting the vote. As often happens, life got in the way, I got fired from my radio gig for saying, "Besa me culo," on the air and then we bought a failing history magazine and before I knew it twenty-some years had gone by and the women's book title was suddenly old hat. About a year-and-a-half ago I came back to the women project and thought to myself, "You know, maybe I should get a woman to co-author this with me."

   The problem with the "Wild Women" title was two-fold. One is, that video guy who flooded the market with "Girls Gone Wild" videos more or less wore out the potency of the word Wild, and two, more than one book had already poached the title:

Literally Too Close for Comfort

   So, we played with other titles, including this one as recently as last month!

   In desperation, I called my consigliere in Albuquerque and asked him what I should do and here is what he advised me:

1. Bob, you are in a ground war in Asia.  Try and get out of there with as few casualties as possible.

2. Bob, you aren't the easiest person to work with. Ask Kathy.

3. Hey, Tracy, Bob is doing a book on women (high pitched squeals of laughter in background). She hasn't laughed like this in years.
—The Top Secret Writer

   Thanks. I needed to hear all of that.

   But I think my friend and artist who has a studio in Lamy, outside Santa Fe, nailed it early on.

   "One of the real problems is that the 'wild' West wasn't all that wild.  As Evan Connell wrote in 'Son of the Morning Star' it could be downright boring.   For his audiences Cody's Wild West show probably WAS wild but that was because for those few hours it was drama and excitement and therefore non-stop wildness for the audience. But the real 'wild' West wasn't. And were the women of the 'wild' West all that wild? So yeah, the term 'wild' is way overused (and over believed, too). Look how proper Annie Oakley was!  She could shoot with the best of them but that doesn't make her wild, it makes her fascinating. And how did life end for Mattie Earp or Calamity Jane?  Drunk, drugged, and pathetic. So maybe the focus should be off 'wild' and geared more towards 'real'...the REAL women of the West."

—Thom "Kid" Ross

   Yes, the Kid said that a year ago. And thanks to Dan The Man, who advised me to accept the title, that is the title and we're stickin' to it.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Lariat Lil' Throws The Hoolihan
And Gets Her Men"

This Hoolihan roper will also be featured in The Real Women of The Wild West. And, guess who gets the last word, or tear in the book?

Daily Whip Out: "Olive Sheds A Tear"

So, after numerous false starts and setbacks, I think we are on track to finish this project.

   Gee, I wonder what Charlotte Whitton has to say about all this?

"Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult."
—Charlotte Whitton

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