Sunday, October 12, 2008

Muse & Mentor Website By Brenda Venus

In 1976, a 28-year old [1] model and actress named Brenda Venus bid on a book at an estate auction, which happened to have a personal letter from Henry Miller tucked into it, complete with return address. As someone who already had an interest in Miller (she had a photo of him up in her home), she took the opportunity to write him to see if she could meet him. A personal relationship of nearly four years (until his death) and 1,500 letters followed her intial query. These letters were later compiled in the book, Dear, Dear Brenda (1986): "Such humor and such ardor speak volumes for the tender friendship and devotion of his last love," wrote Lawrence Durrell of the letters in the Introduction to the book. "Henry Miller was my mentor, best friend, support system, and much, much more," writes Venus in a new website devoted to Miller. "[He] was a patient man, a gentleman who single-handedly guided my rite of passage from a young innocent girl into womanhood. And I will always be grateful for that careful, sensitive, knowing, and intuitive venture."

In July this year, Venus activated a new website devoted to Henry and her relationship with him: The Muse & The Mentor at MillerVenus.com. This website is a companion to her personal website, BrendaVenus.com, on which she sells a variety of her own products: her Secrets of Seduction books, 'B Venus' lingerie, photos of herself (including nudes), and a documentary which she produced called Love & Sex in L.A. (trailer).

The Muse & Mentor website seems to have three primary functions: to honour Henry, to provide background information on their relationship, and to sell stuff. A number of Miller photographs and quotes can be found under "Henry." A drop-down menu on this page allows you to view notes written to Brenda in Henry's hand, as well as a number of book reviews for Dear, Dear Brenda and related press material--including the scan of Rrabia magazine seen below (from the MillerVenus website).

MEMORIES OF PARIS: THE GUIDE BLEU
"The Guide Bleu was one of Henry Miller’s last works of love. It is a guide to Paris, an unpublished manuscript which held the fondest of his memories," says the text of the drop-down menu under "Memories of Paris." This was a curiosity to me, as I'd never heard of it. Another item on the menu is Henry Miller's Memories of Paris which is apparently an "unpublished manuscript" of Miller's early years in Paris.

Accordging to Google Books, Guide Bleu was published by HarperCollins in 1999. An article in Spain's El Cultural in 2001 states that Miller created the short Guide Bleu in 1979 as a gift for Brenda in anticipation of her going to Paris. "Never published completely," says the article [2] "it was simultaneously a personal guide of Paris, a French-English dictionary and a address book of coffees, restaurants and friends, interrupted by long letters of love to Brenda." It had been hand-written into a blue notebook. Early in 1980, Brenda made the trip to Paris and wrote notes to Henry while seated at the places he'd recommended she visit.

I can find nothing else about Henry Miller's Memories of Paris, and am not sure how similiar or disimilar it is to the Guide Bleu. However, Memories is available for sale, at $100 a copy.

MILLER FOR SALE
Other items available for sale on the Muse & The Mentor website include:

* An original letter from Henry to Brenda (from Miller's Joey): $30,000.
* Watercolours by Miller, ranging from $25,000 to one called "Henry," inscribed with a birthday greeting to Brenda, for $125,000.
* A cotton blue robe that Miller "wore often" during the final years of his life: $50,000.

For free on BrendaVenus.com are two video clips of a present-day Venus talking about Henry.
________________________________
[1] Wikipedia and IMDB claim she was born in November 1947, but this essay states she was 20 (which would be 1955). In the world of celebrity--especailly for women--age is usually a pretty vague and shifting fact, so who knows which is true.
[2] I translated the article through Yahoo's BabelFish webiste, so please consider that some wording may be improperly interpreted.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Eric said...

People like Brenda connect us in a great chain to the life of the past.

6:31 pm  
Anonymous amberruth said...

In short, I believe Brenda Venus did not absorb much from her relationship with Henry Miller. Though I think it's great that Henry Miller and her met and literary wonders came out of the meeting, she seems way too out for money and using Henry Miller's impact on "The World of Sex" to get it. She lacks the humble awe which he inspires.

1:10 pm  
Blogger little shiva said...

MillerVenus.com seems to be down - none of your links work.

9:04 pm  
Anonymous Gary Dobry said...

One might want to defer to Lawrence Durrell on the subject of Brenda Venus. Durrell said that Miller lived three years longer than he would have without Brenda. He lived solely to write her. You might also want to examine closer how Brenda was very aware of that fact and with grace and dignity allowed Henry to be Henry until his final breath. She played her role magnificently and with love and the utmost respect to/for Henry. Lastly, all this nonsense of "material things". It should be obvious that Brenda could've done an Anna Nicole-Smith on Henry if her intent was to take him for eveything he had. She could have married Henry. She loved him as a mentor and never took advantage of Henry. And besides, any material things Brenda was forced to sell to keep a roof over her head would've been doubled or tripled by Miller if the roles were reversed! In fact, Henry would've gave Brenda MORE stuff to sell had he known she might hit hard times. That's love. Did you actually read the letters? That's the Henry I know & have read. BTW, you will never meet a woman more beautiful than Brenda Venus, both INSIDE and out. That I DO know. ;0)

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