The September issue of Connecticut Magazine includes a long story on Marilyn Chambers.
Most news coverage following her death in April has centered on her intriguing transition from Ivory Snow model to porn star. Tom Connor’s piece focuses on her teenage years in Westport.
It’s always interesting to read someone else’s take on a story you know well. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on 1960s and ’70s Westport — like the young Marilyn Briggs, I grew up here then — so I was glad that Tom got most of the facts right.
What stopped me cold — and made me think — were the perspectives behind the facts.
According to Connecticut Magazine, the Westport of Marilyn’s and my youth was a “seductive mix of art and money, bohemianism and raw ambition.”
More than many places in the country, Tom wrote, Westport was “particularly tumultuous and libidinous….While towns such as Greenwich and New Canaan tilted toward conservative bankers, lawyers and financiers, Westport attracted those of a more liberal bent.”
Our artists’ colony cred was cemented in 1931, Connecticut Magazine said. The Westport Country Playhouse opened then, “in effect posting a casting call to the entertainment crowd and furthering the town’s reputation for fabulous fun and fame.
“The ‘fast times’ mood still prevailed in the late 1960s,” the story continued, “when many Staples students were openly drinking — some were doing drugs in the bathrooms — and freely acting out their parts in the sexual revolution.”
And, according to Nile Rogers, a guitarist and music producer who grew up in Harlem and came to Westport in his late teens: “I’d known what I thought were some pretty crazy girls in New York City. But these were the wildest women I’d ever met.”
Whether Tom Connor’s portrayal of Westport is completely true, somewhat on target or completely off the mark is immaterial. Perception is reality. To thousands of readers across the state, Westport in the 1960s and ’70s is now forever fixed as a tumultuous, libidinous place filled with wild women, art, money, bohemianism and raw ambition.
Was it really that way? Don’t ask me. I was just a teenager.
Besides, how could I remember? It was the ’60s.