Louise Glaum — How to be Naughty (1918) 🇺🇸

Louise Glaum — How to be Naughty (1918) | www.vintoz.com

March 02, 2024

The brown eyes had a look as demure as those of a Puritan maiden, and the smiling lips that went with the eyes were quite as guileless. Altogether, Miss Louise Glaum — dressed in a dark walking suit, surmounted with a high collar and topped by a black velvet tam-o’-shanter — presented a picture as far removed from my notion of a siren as anything I could imagine.

by Arthur Garvin, Jr.

We were sitting over our coffee in the dining room of one of the most famous centers of “naughty” bohemian life in the neighborhood of Washington Square, New York City. It was Miss Glaum’s first visit in person to the naughty metropolis. She had come to study types.

“It’s quite amazing how you do it,” I said, giving voice to my thoughts. The brown eyes, which had been scanning the persons seated at the other tables, turned toward me questioningly.

“I mean,” I hastened to explain, “how you are able to transform yourself the way you do. You don’t in the least impress one —

“As a vampire?” she broke in, with a laugh. “Do you know, if I really wanted to be a siren off the stage — which I’m sure I don’t — I should try, I think, to give people the impression, so far as possible, that I was not one.”

“Then the secret of being naughty,” I began.

“Is summed up in one word,” she replied. “It’s a very expressive word, and one that you hear a good deal nowadays. It’s camouflage.”

I nodded, though I was not convinced.

“Well, judging by the scenery carried by some of the sirens that I can see right from this table,” I replied, “they ought to go to France and take lessons in this camouflage business — if your theory is correct.”

“I’m afraid they’d have to if they were going to appear on the screen,” Miss Glaum replied. “I’ve never seen a siren yet in real life that I could use as a model. I experimented on one once; I had her come to see me. But, oh, dear, she wouldn’t do at all — though she was clever enough to borrow ten dollars from me before she got away. She certainly didn’t follow the rules for a stage siren.”

“Then there are certain set rules?”

“Yes — the ten commandments.”

“The ten commandments?” I exclaimed.

“Oh; not the ones you are thinking of. These are the ten commandments of a siren, of which I am the author. I began working them out for myself not so long ago, when I first began playing siren parts. Before that I had no ideas, whatsoever on the subject. You see, I was brought up on a farm in Maryland, and my early career on the stage and screen was confined to ingénue and straight dramatic rôles.”

“And these commandments of yours?” I asked.

“They run something like this,” she replied, counting them off on her fingers as she recited them to me. The commandments — which she afterward wrote out for me — run as follows:

  1. Wear gowns that suggest rather than reveal.
  2. Appeal to the eye by gorgeous beauty; be a peacock — not a snake.
  3. Throw a veil of mystery about the character.
  4. Be ingratiating, smiling, seductive, never cold or disdainful except on rare occasion.
  5. Be subtle always; the obvious siren frightens her victim away.
  6. Be essentially feminine; a touch of the ingénue relieves suspicion and softens the portraiture.
  7. You, may fly into a picturesque rage, but never show irritability, and above all, don’t nag.
  8. Smoke cigarettes occasionally, but do so gracefully.
  9. Be a picture always, in gestures, postures, gowns, and manner.
  10. Be original; always appear to be different from all other women.

“Now you see, I think, what I mean by saying that a screen siren must use camouflage. She has to be a supersiren, skillful, subtle, attractive enough to hold the admiration of an audience.

“Gowns, of course, are one of the most important considerations. I don’t think there is any kind of rôle which demands so much care and thought and originality as vampire rôles. It’s no easy matter to these suggestive and yet not immodest creations. One of the most startling ones I ever wore was the devil gown, in The Wolf Woman. In none of my vampire plays, by the way, have I ever revealed an inch of my stocking above my ankle.

“I get a good deal of assistance in selecting my gowns. I design them myself. My mother helps me plan them, and my sister, who is a modiste, sees to the making of them. You’ve no idea how hard we work.

“Vampiring may be very easily overdone!” she went on. “That’s one thing I try to avoid — though it isn’t always possible. You have to play the part you’re given, and, as I have an unfailing sense of humor, I have sometimes had to smile at the character I was representing. I don’t mind playing an erring woman, but I like it much better if she has a few human touches about her — a few redeeming traits.

“And, after all — weren’t all of the really great temptresses of history — I don’t know so much about Potiphar’s wife and Delilah, but Cleopatra, Madame de Pompadour, Du Barry — weren’t they all very human, and very, very subtle and skillful?”

I nodded. “Their reputations were shocking, but their descriptions were alluring,” I replied.

“I think I’ve learned a good deal from reading about them,” she went on. “And here I want to tell you a queer incident. I was sitting, not long ago, in a restaurant — somewhat like this one — in another city. As I was leaving, a girl came up to me. She was unmistakably a siren, and a stranger to me, I thought.

“‘Don’t you remember me, Miss Glaum?’ she asked. I had to confess that I didn’t. ‘Why, I played in the same company with you once,’ she said.

She named the company, and then I remembered her. She had always played sweet, pretty parts. She told me how she had drifted into her present condition. She had learned that vamping didn’t pay. I thought of the irony of it, that the girl who had appeared in beautiful rôles had become an unhappy siren. I, known as a screen vampire from one end of the country to the other, was quite successful, respectable, and happy.

“For, remember all I’ve told you refers to the siren of the screen. As to how far my commandments would apply in real life, I’m sure I’ve very little idea. I believe you said that I did not impress you as a siren. So far as a real-life seductress is concerned —”

She paused, and looked at a table beside a palm tree where, under a red, shaded light, sat a man and a girl. The girl wore a lavender coat and a yellow picture hat surmounted with ostrich plumes. Even from where we sat her make-up was nearly as obvious as that of a chorus girl viewed from a front-row orchestra seat.

Miss Glaum’s lips puckered into a faint little smile as she watched the languid beauty across the room gazing into the eyes of her dinner companion, who was fat, bald, and fifty, or thereabouts.

“So far as a real-life seductress is concerned,” said Miss Glaum, “she could probably tell you more about that.”

Louise Glaum — How to be Naughty (1918) | www.vintoz.com

One of Miss Glaum’s rules is to appear to the eye as a gorgeous beauty to be a peacock, not a snake.

Louise Glaum — How to be Naughty (1918) | www.vintoz.com

Louise Glaum with her mother selecting material for some of her striking “working” clothes. Miss Glaum’s mother is one of her best advisers in her art of being naughty.

Louise Glaum — How to be Naughty (1918) | www.vintoz.com

One of the most important and difficult points in vampiring is gowns. Louise Glaum plans her own costumes, and is here seen scrutinizing some of her spidery designs.

Miss Glaum in her impressive “Devil” gown

Louise Glaum — How to be Naughty (1918) | www.vintoz.com

Below, an illustration that the dress which completely hides the figure is more effective than one which discloses.

Louise considers her mammy safe enough to be entrusted with many of the inviolable secrets of the seductress’ dressing room.

Louise Glaum — How to be Naughty (1918) | www.vintoz.com

Collection: Picture Play Magazine, March 1918