By: Rolf Holbach
If you’ve lived in one area for any length of time, no doubt you’ve seen landmarks come and go, especially in an urban sprawl like Los Angeles, which seems to chew up local landmarks every day. The neighborhood where I grew up in south-central LA is now a freeway that takes you to and from LAX. The first clothing-optional resort that I became a member of in the mid-90s, Elysium, is now a hotel magnates’ personal compound. This is the story of a local landmark that lasted only five days, but has become legendary over the years, still has two Facebook pages dedicated to it, was memorialized on a wine label, featured in Life magazine, and garnered more local news coverage than the president at the time. This is the story of the “Pink Lady of Malibu”.
In 1966, Lynne Seemayer (later Lynne Westmore Bloom) was a 31-year-old mother employed as a legal secretary living in Northridge, CA. On her trips to Malibu beach and back with her two young sons, she grew increasingly dismayed with the graffiti on a cliff above one of the tunnels along Malibu Canyon Road (one of the arteries that connects the San Fernando Valley with the Pacific Coast). A budding artist in her own right, Lynne thought, “If someone was going to that trouble, why not do something creative?” Starting in January 1966, she climbed the cliff on moonlit evenings or hung from ropes and scaffolding erasing the graffiti, chipping away rocks and bushes until she had a nice flat canvas. By fall it was finally ready, and on the evening of October 28, 1966, she descended the cliff with her Sears Exterior paint and brushes suspended by nylon ropes and was done by dawn. Motorists traveling northbound on the road that morning were greeted by a 60-foot tall painting of a naked pink-skinned woman running with a handful of flowers. She was quickly dubbed the “Pink Lady” by locals and curious onlookers who started stopping their cars along the road to check it out.
Lynn Seemayer (later Lynn Westmore Bloom)
In a few days, the mysterious “Lady” was garnering so much attention that LA county officials decided that it was a traffic hazard and had to go. First, firefighters using high-powered hoses trying to blast it off the cliff and when that didn’t work,they tried paint remover which only deepened the blush of her pink skin. When Lynne and her son Stephen were watching a TV news report about the failed attempts to eradicate the painting a county supervisor said, “We would like the man who painted this to come forward and tell us what kind of paint he used.” Stephen recounts that, “My mom became furious that they assumed it was a man. She was practically pulling her hair out and she said, “Oh that tears it! That’s it! I should have signed it, but I didn’t because I wasn’t trying to claim any fame.”
After this, Lynne called a news conference to reveal herself as the artist and to file a court injunction to try and halt the paintings removal. Petitions and the injunction were unsuccessful, so on November 3rd as supporters booed their disapproval, county workers painted over the “Pink Lady”with 14 gallons of brown paint.
Lynne’s revelation that she was the artist had some positive reactions (galleries offering to show her work, marriage proposals, requests for autographs)’ but more were negative enough to lead to astress-related illness and loss of her job (death threats against her and her sons that were serious enough for the FBI to monitor her phone, accusations of being a pornographer).
While she had never sought to make any monetary profit or to make a political statement with the painting,Lynne had felt the urge to create apiece of art that was more attractive than the graffiti that marred the cliff and to “do something that was my own.”
Over the years the painting and the story have become legendary and upon Lynne’s death on January 6th of this year, a local computer animator,Michael Kory, memorialized her by projecting the image of the “Pink Lady” on the cliff for an evening later that month.
Her son, Stephen, an artist and filmmaker himself, remembers that, “It was an incredibly cool thing to do. It was one of the first times that I knew that my mom was not just a regular mom; that she was totally cool. Shealways said, ‘there’s nothing that you can’t do.’” N