Ivy Does 80 At The Ivy Theater

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September 2, 2014


Ms. Bottini had painted a long career in the graphic arts as well as in the women’s and gay rights movements. By Ryan Gierach.

The theater lovingly named for Lesbian icon Ivy Bottini – The Ivy theater – Celebrates Ivy’s 80th Birthday in conjunction with a Celebration of the 86th Anniversary of Women’s Sufferage on August 26, 2006.

“I have no idea how I got to be 80,” the long-time feminist/gay & Lesbian (& Bisexual & Transgender) activist/pioneer told WeHoNews.com from her favorite chair in her West Hollywood condo. Ivy Bottini lives within yards of Kings Road Park in the perfect aerie for her other real passion – painting – with a south and west exposure and windows for days. Her paintings, many in the styles depicted in this article and with newer work, can be viewed and purchased at her website – http://www.ivybottini.com

“But as far as I’m concerned I’m 40 and I have a healthy six year-old living inside me.” As she spoke she leaned forward, obviating the need for a reclining chair; her ageless energy made itself apparent throughout our interview with her and her pair of tabbies.

After marveling at her physical age she wondered at her good fortune in a theater carrying her name, “and while I’m still alive,” she laughs. “Marian [Jones, founder and artistic director of The Ivy Theatre] decided in 1997 to create a theater and name it after me,” Ivy said.



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“I was flabbergasted at the idea, because nothing had ever been named for me before, not while I’m living.” When introduced on opening night from her namesake stage Ivy recalled she began by saying, “I bet you all thought I was dead.”



The painting activist in her studio. By Ryan Gierach.

With the Ivy Theater approaching its tenth anniversary and Ivy still making a difference in gay & lesbian life through her co-chairing the City of West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board (LGAB) all appearances suggest that neither “institution” is going anywhere anytime soon.

The Ivy Theater is celebrating Ivy’s Birthday with a bash benefiting the Theater’s programs and timed to coincide with the 86th Anniversary of a Woman’s Right To Vote on August 26th 2006 at the Bel Age Hotel in West Hollywood. (For event information see below or click the ad at the right.)

This from Marian Jones:

On August 26th 2006 on the beautiful terrace of the Bel Age Hotel overlooking the uniquely diverse City of West Hollywood. Hundreds will gather to join The Ivy Theatre in celebrating the uniquely diverse life of Ivy Bottini.


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In addition to raising two daughters, Ivy was the Co-founder of the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Women; she designed the NOW logo, which is used to this day. Ivy illustrated the first weight watchers cookbook, developed the very first one woman comedy show that was based on feminism and lesbianism, was the founder of the 1st AIDS organization in LA; the AIDS Network, and in her lifetime she will see the opening of the first Lesbian & Gay affordable housing project for seniors, a project she has been devoted to for years. This is not even skimming the surface of her accomplishments. How fitting that we should come together on the 86th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote to celebrate the 80th birthday of Ivy Bottini.


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We invite you to join The Ivy Theatre on August 26th at this celebration. The Ivy Theatre is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to continuing the legacy of Ivy Bottini by promoting projects written by Lesbian playwrights, with emphasis on expanding visibility, diversity, social and political awareness.



Ivy amidst her creations. By Ryan Gierach.

Ivy says she wants you all to come and help her support “Marian’s Theater,” she says. “It’s important for us to support the arts, especially the theater and performing arts because they are so fragile.” We joked together about lasting another 80 years; one could see from her expression that she pinned high hopes on the Ivy Theater doing just that.

The genesis of the theater came in the early days of the gay movement; when it was still the gay movement, not with a capital letter or alongside the word lesbian or bisexual or transgender; this was a movement of, by and for gay men. At least until Ivy joined in.

“After I left my life as a graphic artist,” she began again, (WeHoNews.com has interviewed Ivy before – for a WeHo- and painting based profile of her, see Painting an Activist Future in our very first issue, nearly one year ago) “I went on stage touring around the entire nation – from Alaska to Florida and New York – doing stand-up and performance routines.”

Of the thousands of performances she gave throughout those years, she said, one stood out head and shoulders above any other – even her 1998 Dramalogue Award for Best Performance in a play – her week-log engagement at West Hollywood’s Doug Weston’s Troubadour. “I did a long stand up set and closed with a 30-minute serio-comic piece entitled “The Many Faces Of Woman” that followed one life from womb to death,” Ivy recalled.


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In order to perform the many roles required in that 30-minute set, she says, she had to enter a sort of hypnotic trance, but she had spotted none other than Lily Tomlin slide into the last seat at the table near the entrance during the stand-up. “I’ll never forget this night,” Ivy said, “After the lights had come up and I was still coming out of my hypnotic state, I looked up at Lily Tomlin’s face asking me if I wanted to have some coffee with her.”



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The pair removed themselves to then-Theodore’s (now Silver Spoon) to sit in a booth and drink coffee. There, Ivy said, “Lilly looked at me and gave me the greatest compliment. She said this to me about the performance she’d just seen. ‘You’ve got the greatest concentration,’ [to do all those characters].”



Ivy working at one of her babies (which she has no particular difficulty parting with in exchange for money, she assures. By Ryan Gierach.

It was not long after that experience, in fact, that Ivy read two small paragraphs in the newspaper about Anita Bryant’s efforts to demonize gays in Florida. “I knew when I read that, I had that feeling you get when you know something big is happening, that we had to face this thing,” she said. She determined to get in touch with the gay men’s movement and found Gay Rights pioneer Morris Kight’s home on McCadden in Hollywood.

Ivy and Morris became one-name icons of the sort that seldom appear on any scene, a one-two punch that was incredibly effective (some would claim of Morris’s part that he was effective only in taking credit for others accomplishments – the truth lies somewhere between) in stopping the encroachment of human rights and beginning the Gay Rights Movement’s roll forward.

“I don’t believe in gay marriage,” Ivy insists, knowing that people will wonder at the statement. “It gives up the idea of being gay, or different. Why do we want to be just like the straight community?” That is now; back then, however, the issue was beating back a state initiative called the Briggs Amendment. “A fellow activist named Justin Smith with acting training experience set up speakers training for movement leaders,” Ivy said. “Years later a group of us wrote and performed a production based on and named for that class – named it “Class” – and one of the actors in it was one Marian Jones.

“She did a Marilyn Monroe monologue,” Ivy said, “and we became friends.” Years later, when the idea for the theater came up, Marian Jones flabbergasted Ivy with her request. Performers have been doing the same now for nearly ten seasons at the Ivy; WeHoNews.com invites you to share the evening with one of the founders of the Gay Movement on August 26, 2006 at the Bel Age Hotel in West Hollywood for a Benefit Celebrating Ivy’s 80th and Woman’s Sufferage’s 86th.

The City of West Hollywood and Helping Heroes Productions will host Ivy Bottini’s 80th Birthday Celebration at the Bel-Age Hotel, 1020 N. San Vicente Boulevard in West Hollywood on Saturday, August 26, 2006 starting at 7 p.m.

The event will include a silent auction and a variety of live entertainment. The proceeds from the event will benefit the Ivy Theatre.The event will also include special guest speakers such as California State Senator Sheila Kuehl; Assembly member Paul Koretz; Assembly member Jackie Goldberg; L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; and West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman; West Hollywood Councilmember Abbe Land; and West Hollywood Councilmember John Duran.

A silent auction will take place, and comediennes Robin Tyler and Poppy Champlin, belly-dancing troupe Almase Arabesque and musical entertainers Tina Latora and The Time Piece Jazz Ensemble, and women’s vocal ensemble Vox Femina Los Angeles will perform.


The IVY THEATER’s 80th Birthday Season Event Schedule:

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Ivy Theater Celebrate’s Ivy Bottini’s 80th B-day by opening with the west coast premiere of TERRI SISSMAN’s new play:

“THROWING RUBIES”

SEPTEMBER 15 – OCTOBER 29, 2006

THE DAVIDSON VALENTINI THEATRE

at the Lily Tomlin Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center

for tickets & information tel: 323.654.6603 www.theivytheatre.org – a season of art and activism with programs, productions & classes


Throwing Rubies

The West Coast Premier of a play by

Terri Sissman

Directed by Tripp Mills

Produced by Marian Jones

The lines between volunteer & patient are blurred when the forbidden love of a buried past is unearthed.

Sept. 15 – October 29

Friday & Saturday at 8pm

Sunday at 3:00pm

Playing at the Davidson Valentini Theatre at the Lily Tomlin Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.

The Slope

a Lesbian Radio Soap Opera

Lead Writer, Sharon Lennon

Producer/ Director, Sue Hamilton

Concept Creator/Producer, Marian Jones

The steeper the slope, the faster the fall.

Airing on IMRU starting in August 2006

The Art of Activism

a series of classes for new activists of all ages

Lead by Ivy Bottini & Rita Gonzales

Lillian Faderman – guest speaker for the first class

Classes located at the Davidson Valentini Theatre at the Lily Tomlin Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. First class will be October 28th at 1:00pm.

Indigenous Women

A documentary series on women throughout the world who have carried on their mother’s trade.

Directed, Edited and Shot by, Tina Latora

Produced by, Marian Jones

Disaster, Relief

A short film on the Katrina relief efforts shot by Tina Latora who traveled with the Metropolitan Community Church’s “Caravan of Hope”.

To be distributed free of charge to cities and towns all over the country who are working on evacutation relief plans for their communities.

The Ivy Theatre Mission Statement:

The Ivy is a non-profit organization founded to foster the understanding and acceptance of diverse persons through education, activism, visual and performing arts. Diversity includes, but is not limited to gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation.



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