Comment: Darling Dita
Who can resist a siren in a red dress? Not many of you, apparently: Last week's Dita Von Teese cover flew off the newsstands ("The Most Famous Stripper in America," by Gendy Alimurung).
Writes Claudio von Fresin, "I must compliment you again for a great cover shot! It is also so nice to see a beautiful woman in such stylish vintage dresses and hairstyles, without those gray blue ink tattoos on her beautiful skin so predominant today."
Brett adds, "I remember almost 20 years ago, when Dita would sit at a table at the Glamourcon conventions like a beautiful porcelain doll, waiting for fans to approach her and buy an autographed photo or other piece of memorabilia. That she is now a published author, and is considered by many to be the most famous modern burlesque dancer in the United States, is a testament to her determination and her ability to network with the right people at the right time. 'Famous for being famous'? Perhaps. But that shouldn't be considered an insult when you realize how much work she's put in to get where she is today."
Tracey Tayor London agrees. "This is a great article on Dita," she writes. "She has always been my favorite performer."
Evedivyn places Von Teese in a long line of burlesque stars: "She truly is amazing, but if anyone knows even a little history, they'd know there have been many famous burlesque performers. Gypsy Rose Lee entertained, then became a writer, and most know about Elvis' rumored relationship with Tempest Storm. But thank God for Dita, or the art could have been forgotten forever."
A Little Help From Its Friends
Hillel Aron's piece about Academia Semillas still has some readers fuming ("Academia Semillas Escapes Closure," April 27). The El Sereno charter schools teach Aztec culture and language — and though test scores suggest that pupils don't meet minimum standards, the school's high-profile supporters helped it beat back the LAUSD's closure attempt.
Mario Rocha was so infuriated by Aron's report and the accompanying illustration that he argued for our First Amendment rights to be revoked. "It is my firm belief that the L.A. Weekly should be forbidden to report on issues such as these until they show a genuine interest in the future of our children," he writes. "Fred Noland's illustration of my friend and colleague, Marcos Aguilar, is reminiscent of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto-esque depictions of a culture, civilization and history that has never appealed to the white middle and upper middle class readership of the L.A. Weekly.
"Until they are willing to expose the root causes of a failing LAUSD, the L.A. Weekly should refrain from describing any alternative educational program as 'failing' and continue to cater to the yuppies and hipsters in Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Hollywood and the West Side."
Lex Steppling isn't happy, either.
"Test scores? That's your barometer for success? The No Child Left Behind model is being affirmed here," he writes. "L.A. Weekly again FAILS here — no irony intended. Academia Semillas del Pueblo is a wonderful example of what honest education based on real understanding of pedagogy looks like. The Weekly has been a silly little joke when it comes to current affairs for sometime now, but I never expected this. I hope the shame you ought to be feeling arrives soon."
"Listen, I am not against indigenous people learning and proudly promoting their historic culture, but you cannot argue that that is the only basis for your educational beliefs. Stop pandering to the culture and using it as an excuse to keep your school open. Let's not forget: The most important part of education remains learning how to read, learning how to write and learning how to count. Your students are not even meeting basic 'floor standards.' If your agenda was so rigorous, your school would not be in the lowest 10 percent in the district and state."
And Nguerreira is concerned about the school's administration.
"Did anybody mention that Semillas' executive director is a non-voting, ex-officio member of the governing board or Council of Trustees, and that serving on the board of a charter school while earning a salary from it may be deemed to be in violation of California law? So let me get this straight. Marcos Aguilar is not only the executive director — for which he earns a six-figure salary — but also a member of the board — who gets paid — and also votes as a committee member because his kids all go there. Wow, pretty good set-up. We should all open a charter!"
We'll Drink to That
If our news coverage led to a hung jury, at least the verdict on our new drinks columnist, Patrick Comiskey, is unanimous: You like him. You really, really like him!
Allan Reyes, responding to last week's inaugural Serious Drinking column, "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On," may have put it best. "Great article. It's a tall order taking over Jonathan Gold's mantle, but your voice already smacks of originality and inside information. Keep up the good work in our fair city; there's no better time to write about food or drink! Cheers!"
Last week's GoLA pick on Evangeline, the Queen of Make-Believe erroneously stated that Louie Perez and David Hidalgo perform in the production. We regret the error.
You Write, We Read
Please send letters to Comments, L.A. Weekly, 3861 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Or you can write us at ReadersWrite@laweekly.com. Full name and contact information preferred.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.