Terpsichore, Beauty & My Top TenThursday, January 15, 2009
Beautiful derives from the Latin bellus. The Spanish equivalent is bello (masculine) or bella (feminine). But I much prefer the other Spanish word for beautiful which is hermoso (masculine) and hermosa (feminine). This word also derives from the Latin but it is much more inclusive in its definition. The Latin word is formosus which means beautiful in form. This Spanish word hermoso is appropriate for the tone of today's blog on beauty.
In the early 80s and much of the rest of that decade I haunted the Vancouver strip clubs with my friends. Three friends in particular were Les Wiseman, John Lekich and Ian Bateson. While watching beautiful women disrobing we often discussed the topic of beauty. We threw back and forth the members of our personal lists of the most beautiful women. These lists were two fold. One was about the most beautiful women on earth and the other the most beautiful women in Vancouver. In the former list, and in particular John Lekich's list we always commented with glee that his women were mostly all dead.
We put a lot of time into our Vancouver Top 10. These days I wonder where young men (or youngish as was the case for us in the 80s) discuss this topic which has to be a universal one. Do they do it in bars? Or do they do it on line? Is it as much fun? And most of all I wonder if in our more secluded environment if anybody bothers to make Vancouver Top 10 lists. Do these young men discuss the celebrities that grace the "People" magazines?
A trend for fitness in Vancouver started in the 80s and one of the first to do it was Terpsichore. They combined an early version of aerobics with jazz dance. Many of the jazz dancers that I photographed at the CBC variety shows worked out at Terpsichore. Terpsichore had two principals. The woman on the right in the picture above is Betty Kovacs and the other, Christine Chipperfield. Chipperfield was a permanent fixture of both Les Wiseman's and my list. We thought she was beautiful and had just about the best body we have ever seen. I do remember being quite tongue-tied when this pair faced my camera.
As the 80s progressed Terpsichore closed its doors and I lost sight of Chipperfield. But in March 1995 I was dispatched by the Georgia Straight to photograph Chipperfield who was in a long and troubling lawsuit with ICBC over the debilitating effects of a spinal injury that she had suffered in a rear end collision. Some said that Chipperfield had become obsessed and the lawsuit had become all her life. I don't know for sure how her situation was resolved since I have not seen her since our photo session.
I noticed in my photographs that she had become a much more handsome woman who eschewed makeup. Her skin was perfect and her body much the same as it had been when I had first photographed her. She was obviously older. There was presence about her that I could not nail down. I could only wonder how an erstwhile perfectly fit woman would cope with physical disability.
When I look at the picture with her business partner I suddenly realize that I did not give that older woman a second glance. If Les Wiseman, John Lekich and Ian Bateson and I would meet on whatever remaining strip bar we have in Vancouver I would probably now put Betty Kovacs on my list. She is truly wonderful in elegance and beauty of form. As we would say in Spanish, "¡Es hermosa!"