December 09, 2008



Deitch Projects and the Burlesque Hall of Fame present "How To Attract Men" a retrospective exhibit of the art of Liz Renay. Pre-pop , Pre-punk, and an outsider on the inside- Liz Renay created her own reality and an enormous body of work along the way including four books, three dozen films and miles of printedpublicity. In the first New York showing of her paintings in fifty years, Deitch Projects 76 Grand Street gallery will feature original paintings as well as a salon of important collages, costumes, and artifacts from Ms. Renay's archives in the Burlesque Hall of Fame.


Liz’s lifestory weaves itself through almost every American subculture during her life time-burlesque, the Hollywood studio system, television, rock and roll, sexploitaion and punk films, the mafia and women's prison. She precipitated and participated in the sexual revolution. Through it all she created a large body of paintings and art. This work would seem unbelievable if created by any other artist- but in the case of Liz Renay, it is a direct reflection of a life as art.

Liz Renay was born to religious parents in small-town Arizona. Twice divorced and a mother of two by age 18, Liz had starsin her eyes from the moment she saw her first movie--and her first blonde
bombshell, Betty Grable--at age 14. Within a year, Liz would run away from home to seek fame and fortune, first in Las Vegas, then New York City and later, Hollywood.

In New York, Liz's exceptional beauty helped her land first prize in a nationwide Marilyn Monroe lookalike contest, as well as a successful career in high fashion modeling. However, after walking out on her abusive third husband with nothing but $20 and her two young children, Renay found herself in need of extra income—which she earned by exotic dancing at night, while her children slept.

The toast of 52nd Street, Liz Renay had many admirers, including Anthony "Cappy" Coppola, right-hand man to mob boss Albert Anastasia, who asked her to be his wife. Having declined Cappys's proposal, Liz headed for Hollywood, where she became involved with another notorious mobster: Mickey Cohen.

On Oct. 25, 1957, Albert Anastasia was shot to death, prompting a federal inquiry into the murder and all related mob activity. Liz was called before grand juries on both coasts, where she was grilled about her connection to Mickey, including fundshe asked her to run through her checking account. She was later convicted of perjury, having refused to co-operate with the authorities, and was sentenced to three years at the Terminal Island women's prison in San Pedro, California.

Despite losing her footing as an up-and-coming Hollywood “It Girl,” Liz refused to let her incarceration defeat her. Instead, she made the most of her three year “federal vacation,” using the time to complete over 150 original paintings and the first of her four books, the autobiography “My Face for the World to See” which went on to achieve bestseller status. Allegedly, when her sentence ended Liz asked to stay
“just a few more days” in order to finish a mural she had started in the prison chapel. After her release, Liz continued to act (and strip), and at the height of the streaking craze in 1974, was re-arrested; only this time, for running naked down Hollywood Boulevard. She was acquitted.

The original Queen of Re-Invention, Liz Renay was much more than just another pretty face. An award-winning painter, best-selling author and celebrated actress,
Liz appeared in over 18 movies, including “Desperate Living” (1977), “The Thrill Killers'” (1964) and “Blackenstein” (1973). Ms. Renay was also a beloved icon in her adopted hometown of Las Vegas, where she passed away on Monday, January 22, 2007 at age 80.


New York artist Scott Ewalt was an intimate of Ms Renay's in the later years of her life. In addition to curating this program for Deitch Projects he has completed a photo retrospective book of Ms Renay's life and work that will be out in the fall of 2009.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

one of my heroes.. in all her books, the dust jackets say "at an early age she noticed her beautiful face and large breasts would attract the attention of servicemen"

4:27 PM  
Blogger Lady Bunny said...

She also recommended nose jobs. I can't tell if she has one, but her nose is exquisite! -LB

1:53 AM  
Blogger Steve Lafreniere said...

This, of course, is terrific and Deitch Projects is a great idea, but run by a monster, Jeffrey Deitch. If the brilliant Scott Ewalt can get Deitch to work its trendy magic on his art career, I can only shout bravo.

Only wish I was in town to see the show. I'll most definitely be buying the catalog.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks bunny! yes its true she was a fan of plastic surgery- her third book 'staying young' is filled with tips. as for her nose it was exquisite, but is her original. since her bone structure was perfect- she was a fan of face lifts and peels, and she had a breast enhancement when she was 65. she was emphatic from early on that avoiding the sun was best for the skin.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liz Renay had many admirers and she is doing really nice work i want to collect her all work after my 70-290 managing and maintaining a Microsoft windows server 2003 environment exam about which i am confident to pas in first attempt as i have already pass my 70-640 windows server 2008 active directory exam with high score along with the 70-649 Upgrading MCSE on wndws serv 2003 to wndws serv 2008 exam in first attempt due to highly prepared and with 100% guarantee to pass material as i will be free from all this i must try to collect her all work.

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