Mar 242010

Gloria Steinem & Amy Simon

Oh Gloria!  Gorgeous, glorious warrior Gloria.

She is….SO lovely, SO gracious, SO cool and SO warm, petite and strong.  Oh Gloria.

Yes.  I met Gloria Steinem.

I went to a fundraiser in Beverly Hills for WRRAP – Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Program, a really wonderful, really important organization – www.WRRAP.ORG – an organization Gloria has worked with for years.

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So there we were in a beautiful, spacious and oh so tastefully decorated Beverly Hills home, donated for the evening for this fabulous and worthy cause.  There was wine, there was shrimp, there was the news truck – and there was Gloria. I only had eyes for Gloria.  I had a physical reaction to being that close to such an icon.  My heart started racing, I lost my appetite entirely, and I did what I always do when I get really nervous or excited.  I made bad jokes.  Luckily, my memory was affected because I don’t remember what I said.  I only remember what I heard, which was Judith, who works with WRRAP and is a friend of mine say “go and meet Gloria”.  My face flushed and I literally started to tremble.  I was there with my friend Wendy, Wendy Hammers (formerly Wendy Kamenoff), fabulous female and stand up comic who also works with WRRAP and has hosted many of their fundraisers.  So off we go, we get in line to meet Gloria who was being courted if you will be everyone.  We patiently waited for our turn  and when we were introduced Gloria looked me right in the eye and put her hand on my arm, seemingly really pleased to meet ME!  Then Wendy told her about a fundraiser years and years ago in New York City at Caroline’s Comedy Club that she had hosted with Gloria and Gloria totally remembered the evening saying “oh yes, that was for The Revolution Party” or something to do with revolution.  I only heard Revolution and immediately thought of the newspaper Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony ran for years back in the eighteen hundreds so I interject with “oh was that named after the newspaper Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony started”?  She just looked at me confused, and said, “what do you mean”.  And as the words left my mouth I realized I was subconsciously or unconsciously showing off my knowledge of women’s history and I stumbled around a bit explaining myself until finally she saved me saying “yes well we just needed a revolution” and I of course mumbled something stupid about how we still do.  Then I shut up and stepped back to let others bask in her Gloriasness and had a big glass of wine.  But I remained – and remain – absolutely high from the meeting.

It was so wonderful being in a space with so many dedicated and socially conscious people.  After a while, Joyce Schorr, WRRAP’s President and the other Board Member made a few speeches, reminding us all why we were there, extolling Gloria’s many virtues and relating some stories and recent statistics of the seriousness of the situation of women’s reproductive rights.  A story was told (and forgive me the details might be a bit off) about how long ago Gloria ended up on a panel or commission of some sort when Roe V. Wade was passed and it was a bunch of men, a bunch of nuns, and Gloria.

Finally, Gloria spoke (see and hear her glorious speech here) starting out with the fact that she was celebrating her seventy-fifth birthday and had just returned from San Francisco where she was asked if she was ready to pass the torch.  So Gloria says, “that is a very patriarchal view.  There is not one torch.  WE ALL have a torch and we all can light our own way.”

Oh My God.

She went on telling stories about African and Indian Women, reproductive rights, choice, choice, choice, Feminist architecture, and saying more and more brilliant things such as “feminism is memory” and charming and inspiring the hell out of everyone.  There was a Q&A after and I put my two cents in about how I am raising two daughters who would never consider being female as a drawback of any kind, mentioned Victoria Woodhull and then asked her about the ERA.  Not looking so good according to Gloria.  And after she spoke, we all lined up to pay homage to her and she is so accessible and gracious and present.  Women had books they brought for her to sign (Darn!  I didn’t think to bring mine) but WRRAP had loads of the January Issue of MS. Magazine on hand so she signed mine.  When it was my turn, I told her about She’s History! And the play I am writing about Frances Wright (“you and I are probably the only two in the room who know who she is” I say and she nods), Ernestine Rose, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Victoria Woodhull.  She says “All of them in one play”?  I nod.  Then she told me there were two Broadway musicals about Victoria Woodhull that never got off the ground.  I am stunned.   I had no idea.   I have since researched and of course she was right.  There were actually loads of scripts about her that never happened.  One of them had Madonna attached and apparently Tom Cruise bought the rights of another for his then wife Nicole Kidman.  That was a nice gesture on Tom’s part. So back to Gloria with whom I “chat” a bit more about Victoria Woodhull and like everyone else, I end up gushing about what an influence she has been on me and blah blah blah.  She continues smiling graciously, and once again, I step back and allow the rest of her fans to enjoy her Gloriasness.

So.  That’s my fabulous Gloria story.  I have a picture, a signed magazine cover and the memory of an evening I will never ever forget.  And I hold in my heart the knowledge that I touched greatness and greatness touched me.  And I hold a torch.  Gloria’s torch that I intend to use to light my way.