LAistory: Pink Lady of Malibu

Pink_Lady.jpgOn October 28, 1966, commuters between Malibu and the Valley were surprised by the image of a large, running depiction of a naked woman. Sixty feet tall, painted in pink house paint, she was quickly dubbed The Pink Lady.

At first, there was much speculation as to the artist and the purpose of such an image. Due to the subject matter, it was assumed to be a man. It turned out that this mysterious image was created by housewife and secretary Lynn Seemayer, who had sketched her, unnoticed for 3 months before painting her in an 11 hour marathon of work.

She decided to do it for a number of reasons, one being that the tunnel was an eyesore, and that it was always covered in graffiti. Originally, she planned to paint a bird, but this turned out not to be feasible, due to space constraints.
The Pink Lady had a short, controversial life. In fact, the only reason Seemayer came forward as the artist was to spare her creation from destruction.

Two days into her existence, the Pink Lady was deemed a traffic hazard. Immediately, the city began to try to destroy it. Spraying her with fire hoses and rubbing her with paint thinner only seemed to make her shine brighter. It seemed miraculous. But it wasn't enough.

Despite the efforts of Seemayer and other supporters of the Lady, she was brought down on November 4th, 1966 with fourteen gallons of brown paint. For years afterward, her blotted image continued to tantalize the public, making her story into legend as locals told tourists and parents told children of her.

Seemayer herself suffered a good deal from the debacle. She received marriage proposals and death threats; people wanted to touch her, to display her art, to get her autograph. One woman accused her of all rapes. Another thought she had painted her missing daughter. She lost her job and became very ill due to the stress. She eventually sued the city for invasion of privacy and destruction of her work (the suit was unsuccessful), she claims she never really wanted money anyway. She was compelled to make the image -- all she wanted "was to do something that was [her] own."

Photo from Wikipedia

LAistory is our series that takes us on a journey to what came before to help us understand where we are today. So far we've been to Val Verde, Thelma Todd's Roadside Cafe, a house in Beverly Hills, Echo Park's Bonnie Brae House, Marineland of the Pacific, and Grand Central Air Terminal, Wrigley Field, the moment LA got its name, the wreck of the Dominator, and the 1925 "Hollywood Subway."