WEIRDLAND: David Lynch, Wild at Heart, Elvis, Jeanne Carmen

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

David Lynch, Wild at Heart, Elvis, Jeanne Carmen

A new biography of David Lynch by Kristine McKenna has been recently released on June 19, 2018. Room to Dream is a landmark book that offers a onetime all-access pass into the life and mind of one of our most enigmatic and utterly original living artists. Unlike the jabs at Hollywood culture displayed in Mulholland Dr. and Inland Empire, Wild At Heart (1990) displayed Lynch at his most manic and downright cartoonish. It’s a delirious, bizarre, but incredibly enjoyable ride, that’s also as strangely absorbing as all the rest of Lynch’s best work. Wild At Heart opens with a passionately romantic orchestral ballad serving as background music while fire burns across a black screen. The opening credits begin to roll, with the film’s title zooming onto the screen and landing with an action movie-esque “punch” sound effect. We immediately transition to the opening scene, which shows Sailor (Nicolas Cage), his girlfriend Lula (Laura Dern), and her psychotic, domineering mother (Diane Ladd) at a party in Cape Fear. While True Romance is more greatly remembered, Wild At Heart was released three years before, so it’s easy to see Tarantino being influenced by this film just as much as Badlands and Bonnie & Clyde. Sailor, a walking, talking Elvis figure straight out of Jailhouse Rock (with hints of James Dean thrown in, to boot).

Lula, a hyper-sexualized Jessica Rabbit figure who loves her boyfriend just the way he is, violent faults and all. Odd musical insertions that evoke sleazy grindhouse films and pulp novels are scattered throughout. “It was an awful tough world and there was something about Sailor being a rebel,” explained Lynch. “But a rebel with a dream of the Wizard of Oz is kinda like a beautiful thing.” America’s then-popular idea of what modern romance was is perfectly exemplified in the film’s brutal opening scene: A man so in love with a woman that he’d “kill” for her, but there truly is some kind of innocent spark that’s lying beneath the erotic tension between the two of them. If you want to take a more cynical approach, you could say that Lynch gave it the ending that audiences wanted as opposed to a more shocking one. But in reality, after what the movie says about our society, don't the protagonists deserve each other's love? What brings them back together is the purity of Glinda the Good Witch, and if there’s one creation from popular culture that’s undeniably “pure”, it’s The Wizard of Oz. As the credits roll to Sailor’s rendition of Elvis Presley's “Love Me Tender”. Source:

Elvis and I had a lot in common right from the moment we first laid eyes on each other at a really wild Hollywood costume party. I remember that we clicked immediately because we had both grown up poor in the same part of the South. So we instinctively knew how to talk to one another. I had been raised in the backwoods of Arkansas and Elvis was brought up right around the corner in the po-dunk town of Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis was actually a shy, well mannered Mamma’s boy. Elvis glanced over at me and our eyes met. They locked instantly and we both looked deeply into each others souls. As we stood there gazing at each other, we searched for the elusive secret, the mystery, the hunger deep inside every individual that defines the real self. My skin began to tingle and my chest heaved. Every cell in my body was alive and standing on end. A rush of adrenaline surged through me. My eyes traveled over Elvis’ torso, his chest, arms and legs. My eyelids closed and opened again halfway in a seductive trance. The sounds of the party filled the air but I could no longer hear them clearly. 

The music, dancing, laughter and chatter faded away as if everyone had somehow retreated into another room. But Elvis didn’t respond the way I thought he would, the way I expected him to. He didn’t approach me. Instead, he continued to hypnotize me from across the room, bringing me further and further under his spell until I was swirling in his orbit. There was no escape. I resisted at first but he pulled me down on the couch directly on top of him. Our lips came together in an embrace that seemed like it was going to last for eternity. We rubbed against each other and explored each other in a bath of kisses that made us lose ourselves in ecstasy. I was overcome with emotion as his lips found their way to my neck and my breasts. I felt like I was drugged, half crazed and drunk from kissing. Then, while still locked in an intimate embrace, we fell off the couch and rolled onto the floor. I looked into Elvis’ mysterious eyes and saw another person. My excitement level was rising to the point where I would soon lose touch with myself. I was feeling the pull of wanton abandonment. When I could no longer take it, I collapsed to the floor. He massaged my back and ran his fingers through my hair. He reached around and kissed me tenderly. Then suddenly he lifted me up into his arms. Then our gyrations became slow and dreamlike. It was as if we were in a surreal world where no one else lived and nothing else mattered. He rolled me over and over until I cried out in a combination of pleasure and pain.

Elvis and I went out again the following weekend. But this time, instead of being alone, we went out with a large group of people to a Hollywood nightclub called the Mocambo. Then we made our way to the Hollywood Freeway and caravanned out to the San Fernando Valley which was kind of desolate in those days. Once we got to the drive in theater, we pulled off the street and onto a little gravel driveway that led to the ticket booth. He rolled down the window, hooked up the speaker and then reached out and put his hand over mine. A warm feeling ran through my body. He was so masculine and strong. I looked into his eyes and was about to kiss him when a horn blew and shattered the moment. It was Elvis’ bodyguards. I had completely forgotten about them. They pulled up, one on each side of us and eased over the hump next to the speaker. Elvis smiled at them and nodded. It really pissed me off. I wanted to be alone with Elvis. I opened the car door and started to get out when suddenly he pulled me back in and started to kiss me. I resisted at first but within moments I was emotionally and physically overpowered. Elvis was such a passionate kisser. 

He could get me hot and bothered in a flash. He reached his hand behind my head, grabbed a hold of my hair with his fist, pulled my head back and began to kiss my neck. Suddenly there was a knock on the window. Elvis turned around and rolled the window down a crack. It was one of his “bodyguards.” “Hey Elvis, I hate to disturb you but I’m going to get some popcorn. Do you want some?” Then he looked at me. “You want anything hon?” A wave of anger flashed through me. I was in no mood for popcorn so I gave the bodyguard an annoyed look and said loudly, “No, thanks!” Elvis looked perplexed. “I love eating popcorn at the movies.” I started to laugh and buttoned up my sweater. “Elvis, take me home right now or I’m going to call a cab.” He looked hurt. “Why?” “It’s not my idea of a great date. I’m sorry! I really like you. But if we go out again, we’re going to need some privacy. Otherwise I can’t see you anymore.” He looked real hurt and that made me feel guilty. It wasn’t really his fault. It was his fame. —"My Wild, Wild Life as a New York Pin Up Queen" (2006) by Jeanne Carmen

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