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Lisa Lichtenfels
Realism in Fabric
April 2011

Tanya is her name, and smoking is her game.

She moves through the casino with easy poise, and seems to know just about everybody. The sound of her voice makes people turn, even strangers – and for everyone who doesn’t there’s a story. They say she’s made a bundle just meeting people, and some think she owns half the club, and half the “heads,” as well, but she still wears the tray, because there’s no better way to meet people, and it lets her speak her mind without scaring anybody – besides, the casino’s been good to her, and she loves the action. In fact, she’s never shy about saying how much she loves the place – even those who don’t speak to her.

* * *

From the 30’s right into the 60’s cigarette girls were popular figures in clubs and hotels, and especially the movies. Today, they must be about extinct, what with everybody knocking tobacco. The archetype of the salon peddler of “smokes” would have to have been Jean Harlow, with her platinum coiffure. This was a major problem for me, because they just don’t bleach hair anymore, and commercial wiggers now call anything from strawberry blond to senior blue as “platinum,” which is actually the one color they don’t seem to offer. I only solved the problem by using three wigs – a partial wig of just the right color but wrong length, a wig that was just a tad too yellow, and another with a telling hint of gray. Mixed together with a styling brush, they shirred up into Marilyn’s beloved “pillow blonde” – close enough.

Camel, Lucky Strike, Old Gold, and Chesterfield were the most popular brands of the time, and I think the illustrations on the packs were much more interesting than the newer designs. Recreating the tax stamps was another problem, but I finally figured them out to my satisfaction. Historical figures are full of problems – even the stockings. Today’s nylons are woven in tubes, so seams have to be added.

The matches, of course, have to have the strikers on the front, so the driver can bend the match, and light it with one hand without taking the other off the wheel. It was actually a safety feature, but the insurance companies said otherwise – which reminds me, I do remember now that my dad had a scar on his palm from lighting a match that caught the whole book on fire.

The typical outfit for a cigarette girl incorporates bellboy-usher-military elements that can be sexily arrayed on most any attractive young female with something to sell. Tanya likes to claim she’s going to have four stars sewn on her epaulettes, and she wants a shoulder holster. Still, it’s all worthwhile. I love my Tanya, and I know she’ll make me proud.

Tanya the Cigarette Girl
Life Sized Fabric Sculpture
5' 7"

CFM Gallery
Exquisite technique coupled with artistic vision defines our user-friendly presentation of figurative fine art paintings, sculptures and original graphics. Contemporary symbolism at its apex in the traditions of Bosch, the Italian Renaissance, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, the Viennese and German Secession and the symbolist movements with an edge of surrealism.