Since it’s Halloween time, and because vintage/antique violent Americana is where it’s at, I present this post all about a young Massachusetts lady accused (but later acquitted) of axe murdering her parents!
This particular Yankee gal, named Lizzie Borden, born in 1860, went to trial for the murder of her father and stepmother in 1892, and REMAINED in Fall River after her release from jail post-trial. (Talk about serious bangs!) Not that women had a ton of freedom at the end of the 19th century, but I would have found a horse and buggy and skedaddled to a place where people were less sensitive about the whole “accused murderess” thing. I guess she was intent upon proving her innocence, despite endless harassment and social aversion.
So, basically, on the day of the murders, Lizzie called the maid in to find Andrew Borden’s head all hacked up in the downstairs sitting room, and Abby Borden super dead (stabbed 19 times!) in the upstairs guestroom. Lizzie was arrested, but since she was smart enough to burn her blood-drenched dress in the stove and remove part of the axe handle, and lucky enough for some shoddy police testimonies, she was acquitted and released back into the world.
This grisly murder became a huge “to do” across the country, and has had a lasting impact on our cultural psyche. I think it’s partially because it was a lady (possibly) doing the murdering, and the fact her parents were the victims, which strikes fear in many-a-parental-heart, I’m sure. You’re just going about your business, giving literally everything you can to this childthing, and one day, they up and chop your face off! So rude. Don’t worry parents, I think there are lots of blatant indicators (spider walking, head spinning, trench coats, etc.) pre-murder, or alternatively, you have unknowingly/knowingly been a rancid jerk and deserve a hatchet face. (No judgment, just sayin’. Even terrible people procreate.)
Regardless of whether or not Lizzie was the one who sliced up her parents’ faces, the story became American lore, and has been re-incarnated as a tv movie (starring Samantha from Bewitched!), a short story, a play, a skipping-rope rhyme (which I totally intend to cross stitch someday), several songs (including the “Fall River Hoedown” from New Faces of 1954 (the movie version of a Broadway production from 1952), an opera, and lately a rock musical!
I am lucky enough to live in a city that is privy to this new rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece, Lizzie the Musical, presented at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts, and produced by Theatre Under the Stars’ new TUTS Underground series. Apparently, TUTS-U is all about “pushing boundaries” and being “edgy,” so hell yes, rock musical about an axe-wielding she-killer!
As usual, I embraced this theme with verve and vigor (at least as much as I could while maintaining a “professional” look during the day), and opted for a black and red ensemble. I wore my recently-acquired long sleeve wrap dress (thanks, Old Navy!) and my vintage red chenille scarf! Once evening descended, and the fun really began, I donned my TINY TOP HAT with Lizzie Borden picture and TINY BLOODY AXE!!!
It’s insanely macabre-dorable, and I so rarely have the opportunity to wear it, especially to other Lizzie-themed occasions, that I created a sense of anticipation, made manageable only by doing continuous Kegels and quietly trembling in my desk chair.
This tiny hat/Lizzie Borden-themed fascinator was acquired a couple of years ago when I attended the 2011 Texas Frightmare Weekend in Irving, TX. (It’s near Dallas, if you’re wondering.) As soon as I saw the booth I lost my mind, and knew that despite the fact that I could most likely make/create similar tiny hats, that these were special and I NEEDED one. “Lizzie” was the obvious winner, as it combined history, axe murder and a super special lady. The vampyre man, and co-owner of the booth (his goth-y wife was lovely), was kind enough to pose for a picture, too!
Not to brag, but this was the same event where I met, hugged and was complimented by Cary Elwes!!! He was obvs there to promote “Saw,” but I brought my copy of “The Princess Bride” and he was gracious enough to sign it “As you wish.” *swoons forever*
Although I no longer roll my bangs, I am still completely obsessed with Lizzie Borden, and had an absolutely wonderful time seeing this latest personification of her story. “Lizzie the Musical” is extremely provocative, emotionally charged, and a kick ass show in general. The performers were all amazing, the staging was incredible, and I managed to drink an entire adult sippy-cup of Dewar’s, so this night will be carved in my head for years to come!
Anyone else a fan of Lizzie’s story? Do you have any Lizzie Borden or axe-themed accessories?! Can anyone think of an idea for a party theme to go with this that doesn’t end badly?? Have you seen the show? Share your thoughts!