Fact Checking a Major Newspaper Article in the U.K.’s THE TELEGRAPH: “Party monster: the deranged, decadent life of Black Dahlia suspect George Hodel”
August 11, 2019
Los Angeles, California
The above article was first published in London’s, THE TELEGRAPH back on February 28, 2019. The three-thousand-word article was written by staff journalist, Alice Vincent.
I first became aware of the article in late June 2019 and published my fact-checking response in the “Comments” section of The Telegraph’s online website on July 6, 2019.
However, that response was only published on my personal Facebook page.
Consequently, I am here reproducing both the article in full and my full response below. Click on below PDF below for both Ms. Vincent’s reportage and my corrections.
THE TELEGRAPH Party Monster pub 28 Feb 2019 and Steve Hodel response
Some Jeffers notes:
1. “Tamar” was published in 1924, not 1935, thus not the same year Tamar Hodel was born.
2. The synopsis of “Fauna” is wildly inaccurate. The “other woman” — named “Nais,” not “Naeus” or whatever, is not the poet’s wife but a stranger who accosts him on the Carmel Beach, seduces him, and taunts him into seducing Fauna — a married woman living in Los Angeles. Oddly enough, Nais IS based on Jeffers’ wife Una, and Fauna is based on her good friend Edith Kuster. It was a family joke, however, not a confession.
3. I can find no evidence in Jeffers’ biography, letters, or poetry that he was a “friend” of George Hodel. He loathed the Surrealists and rejected most Modernist writers, beginning with Rimbaud. He met Dali (there is a newspaper photo of him making a rare appearance at a public event in Carmel, some sort of party thrown by Dali), but only as a visiting celebrity. He and his wife furiously rejected the publisher’s suggestion that the Liveright printing of “Tamar” be illustrated by Decadent artist Wallace Smith. For all Miller’s intentions, he and Jeffers never met, which Miller himself conceded in *Big Sur.* In other words, the connection with Hodel was completely one-sided. Neither “Tamar” nor “Fauna” — nor for that matter any of Jeffers’ admittedly transgressive poetry — is tainted with sadism. While incest is an important theme in his work, it is seldom treated positively (sibling incest, in “Tamar” and an early poem “The Three Avilas”), and parent/child incest is repeatedly condemned and vilified.
Hodel, Man Ray, and DuChamps were monsters, and I’ll toss Huston into that mix for good measure. The suggestion that Jeffers was a party to their viciousness is unsupported by evidence. and contrary to biographical facts about his life and associates.
The article also mis-identified the photo of Maganda as Elizabeth. It sounds like they never actually read your books.
Mick M: In all my research I’ve never found any evidence that indicated that GHH and Jeffers ever knew each other or met in life. Until proven otherwise, I have to assume that my father’s “naming” of his daughter “Tamar Nais” was solely based on his reading and appreciation of Jeffers poems and his own twisted preference for the incestuous theme in both poems. As we have discovered names were a very real part of his psychopathy as evidenced by the part they played in his later crime signatures. “Dorero” “Hollywood”, “Degnan” “Mountain View” “Zodiac” “Tarbaby” etc.)
Karen: Very few journalists ever take the time to actually fact-check anything these days let alone actually read a book on the subject. Just “meet a quick deadline” and move on to the next story.