When Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Went To War

Few people have the remotest idea how tortured was the path that “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” took to arrive at the silver screen.  It was to be Walt Disney’s first feature length film.  At the time, Disney, still an upstart in the movie business and angling for the respect of his fellow studio bosses, planned his debut feature as a live action film.  Yes, live action.  So began a nationwide casting search for little people who could create an emotional bond with American movie audiences. No circus, carnival sideshow, zoo, or junior high school escaped the scrutiny of Disney’s casting directors.  Finding his ensemble  was only the beginning of this film project’s troubles.

A friend who teaches a History of Intellectual Property course at a prominent Canadian law school revealed the details of this correspondence only if I promised not to identify him.

Walt Disney in a 1937 color movie trailer for ...

From the Desk of Alan Haimisch, Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

To:  Walt Disney

Re:  7 Dwarves.

Cc:  Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Sneezy, Grumpy, Happy

September 30, 1935

Dear Mr Disney,

I was just as disappointed as you to hear that the Seven Dwarves felt compelled to walk off the set of  “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs.”  I warned you that the archaic spelling of “Dwarfs” in the title would chap Grumpy’s tiny ass.  For godsakes, his M.A. diploma in English Composition hangs on the wall of his trailer.  The little grammarian is willing to go to arbitration to see “Dwarves” find its proper place in the title.

No less happy is Happy.  He insists the alternate title proposed by your VP of Casting, “Snow White and the 7 Sawed-Off Magical Creatures” would upset his girlfriend.

And do I need to mention the boys’ discomfort at having to work on Tuesday, the Dwarf Sabbath?

Sincerely

Alan Haimisch                                                                                                                                                  Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

The famous "Heigh-Ho" sequence from ...

October 2, 1935

Cc:  Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Sneezy, Grumpy, Happy

Dear Alan:

It’s a shame things have come to this.  A movie certain to carve out a special place in Disney lore, our first live action feature film–has been jeopardized by the poor behavior of your clients.  We let ourselves dream that its eventual success would spawn a sequel, “Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs 2.”  We even commissioned a script.

Now, it’s all hanging by a thread, my friend.  Unless you ensure your seven clients’ appearance on the set, in costume, by 9 am Monday, they’ll be lucky to find work as ride attendants at Asbestos World.

Respectfully

Walt Disney

Calendar girl 1

October 30, 1935

Dear Mr Disney:

I assure you their brief walkout was a reasonable reaction to dismal working conditions.  In a cost-cutting move, you asked Doc to work as the physician on the set, a flagrant violation of his contract.

Indeed, there have been genuine health issues.  Sneezy, it turns out, is not just allergic but goes into anaphylactic shock in the presence of apples, poisoned or otherwise.

While we’re on the subject of food, you should know that Sleepy has been forced to perform grueling stunts without a snack break.   This practice has become a health risk in light of his recent hypoglycemia diagnosis.

By the way, dangling the prospect of a sequel in front of the Dwarves was a low tactic calculated to sow jealousy among them.  Poor Dopey worries that the numeral ‘2’ in the sequel title would require fourteen little fellows and diminish the profit participation of the original seven.

Sincerely

Alan Haimisch
Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

Calendar girl 7

November 6, 1935

Dear Alan:

We’re happy to make the little fellows more comfortable.  In exchange, perhaps, you could restrain Grumpy’s attempts to undermine the film’s reputation.  At every opportunity he bleats to the press that the film has been re-titled, “Snow White, On Her Back Again.”

I Remain,

Walt Disney

PS  Why do you keep harping on the size of the Dwarves?  You’re barely five feet tall yourself.

 

Hayworth in the strip scene from Gilda.

November 12, 1935

Dear Mr Disney:

When Grumpy referred to your movie as “Snow White, on Her Back Again,” his rigid sense of morality had gotten the best of him.  He was objecting to the on-set, sexual double-team foisted on Dopey by the Queen (Bette Davis) and Snow White (Rita Hayworth).

Dopey had already complained that his love scene in the forest with the gorgeous but clearly incapacitated cleaning lady was neither believable nor  legal.  But Miss Hayworth lured the little guy into her glass enclosure with a slice of bratwurst and, after that, he was no match for her superior bulk.

Regards

Alan Haimisch
Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

Calendar girl 8

November 20, 1935

Dear Alan,

The Studio might be willing to meet you half way.  We will consider substituting the more grammatical “Dwarves” to the title. We’ll substitute a hypoallergenic peach for the poisoned apple.  We’ll bring in a stuntman so Sleepy’s blood sugar won’t be an issue. And if it makes Dopey more comfortable, his love scene will be with an animatronic Snow White.

If I agree to those conditions, will you drop any legal action and assure the studio that the 7 Dwarves will appear on time, as per contract, at 9 am Monday?

All The Best

Walt Disney

Calendar girl 9

November 23, 1935

Dear Mr Disney,

Thank you for your gracious show of flexibility.

Most of the boys have agreed to show up as promised.

Unfortunately, Monday is the day that Happy will be honored by the American Psychiatric Association for his pioneering work in archetypal research, specifically the “Who’s Your Favorite Dwarf Personality Profile.”

Can you adjust the shooting schedule to accommodate these arrangements?  And send the studio aircraft?

Best

Alan Haimisch                                                                                                                                           Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

Calendar girl 10November 26,  1935

Dear Alan,

We won’t be needing your wee clients after all.  In a labor saving move, we’ve decided to hand-draw the characters and, if necessary, distribute flip-books of the fairy tale.

Regards

Walt Disney

Calendar girl 4

November  28, 1935

Dear Walt,

The Dwarves don’t think America is prepared to believe cartoon heroes.

Until you come to your senses, the boys are off to the USSR to entertain the hero of the little guy, Uncle Joe Stalin.

All The Best

Alan Haimisch                                                                                                                                                 Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

Editor’s Note:  The Dwarves were never heard from again.  It’s assumed they lost their lives in Stalin’s purges, however KGB files released during Glasnost suggest two of the Dwarves actually served as willing assassins for Stalin.  The files say their lack of height was an ongoing challenge. Though ineffective as hit men, according to insiders they acquired a reputation as skilled knee-cappers.

 

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Heading south of the border with a Brazilian bikini waxer

Bush Trimming / Horticultural Bikini Wax by Banksy

Bush Trimming / Horticultural Bikini Wax by Banksy (Photo credit: dullhunk)

I haven’t been to many book launches but, if they’re all like the one I checked out the other night, I may have to turn it into a habit.  I was there to support a friend, a man whose work reflects a soul of genuine depth.  While listening to him discuss writing as an act of healing, I heard the word, “Pussy,” spoken by a woman standing less than a body length behind me.  There, she said it again.

She wasn’t questioning anybody’s courage or manhood.   Nor was she using the word to define women as exclusively sexual beings.  She said it, casual as hell, the word rolling free of her lips with an accent that softened it into “Poosie,” real friendly-like.  And that’s how she meant it.

This woman wouldn’t be caught dead discussing “Vaginas” the way most people do, with all the humanity of a police report.  “The individual, my husband, commenced to circle the vaginal area for a marital obligation when the perpetrator’s crucifix became ensnared in the pubic hair of the victim, myself, which has yet to grow back, your honor.”

This fascinating, olive-skinned temptress with a Portuguese accent was just talking Business, the life of a Brazilian bikini waxer, but making it sound like much more than a commercial transaction.  In her skilled hands, the practice became a mix of hygiene, esthetics, erotica, emotional therapy, and friendship.  She warned the women at her table, “You go to a Russian waxer, your poosie, she takes a beating.”

I continued listening, chewing my guacamole-topped turkey dog when I felt a hair latch onto  the middle of my tongue.  My immune system’s powerful front line defenders, thumb and forefinger, encircled it and, no more than two gagging noises later, managed to fish out the clever invader. Brazil took it as a wry comment and flashed me a smile.  A samba began to roll around inside my head.

She was sexy as hell and pretty damned fascinating but her smile was in the wattage range you use to invite new clients more than romantic connections.  And being slow-witted in the romance department anyway, I rarely figure out when a woman’s coming on to me until the moment I tumble out of the bed, the hammock, or the leather mask.  She could drop a roofie into her own drink and I wouldn’t know it.  Still, at the risk of alienating my new friend, I let her know that empowering strangers to rip the hair from my brows, pecs, or scrotum ain’t never gonna be my idea of a party.

Any woman willing to sprinkle pussy into a conversation sure as hell wasn’t going to be put off by a little frankness.  So we had a friendly chat.

English: Different pubic hair styles. The term...

She wrote a book called “Confessions of a Brazilian Bikini Waxer.”  Attesting to her commercial savvy, she’s made it available in several languages including one version–resembling American sign language–where letters and words are not written but shaped into the freshly waxed pudenda of her clientele.  The rainforest should have it so good.

She didn’t invent the bush wax but, by force of personality and patent law, has come to dominate the field.  The Bikini Wax is now her exclusive intellectual property.  She gets a royalty on every hair torn from your genitalia, double on fashioning the letter “O” into your crotch.  And that’s how she’s on track to become the richest woman in South America.  Resettling in the US, she extended her control of the market.  Her legal representatives wrote a mass warning to rogue waxers threatening them with violations of US Copyright law if they removed one pubic hair without her express written consent.  Anyone who does a self wax or inadvertently touches herself below the waist can’t announce it publicly without paying a license fee.

Happy grooming, y’all.

The Art and Science of Naming Things

Not long ago, a colleague announced that he was changing his name.  He was replacing his fairly respectable moniker with something that sounded zippier and more memorable.  It’s not that he’d been tortured over his given name. He was simply, he informed me, changing his brand.

Even though his new tag would also fit a small chimp, the question is whether the new attention will be worth it.

After all, a name is just an introduction.  A brand depends more on what you do, for example, how consistently you produce a working slice of pizza or a chewy screenplay.

Nevertheless, there is a name so well known that it has also become a brand:  Kardashian. The Kardashian brand positioning, as most MBA’s will tell you, is that they’re the first generation of robots with working genitalia.  When they import a working vocabulary, everyone will want one.

I came by my “name brand” expertise honestly.  As someone who has simultaneously lived with a silly name and spent years naming products inside the advertising industry, I developed a rep as a product-naming guru.

My clients have included Mattel, the Jeffrey Dahmer of toy companies and several of its less notorious rivals.  (Names aside, I’m convinced the children who audition for toy commercials are Stepford children.)

For all that I’ve had my share of professional failures:                                                          

The “Bleeding Gums Cafe” restaurant chain.

Vidal Sassoon’s “Don’t Worry, It’ll Grow Back” salons.

Victoria Secret’s “Underpants Galore.”

Occasionally a product name actually contributes to or undermines its success.  I’ve written on projects for cool names like Nike and Porsche. I’ve also inhaled the heady aroma of the Urine Resistant Mattress–the account, not the actual product.

I swear by all the gods, it’s true.

The Urine Resistant Mattress Corporation would not consider an alternate for that god-awful name.  This was one advertising client who could not be moved off the proposition that a product name must also communicate a product benefit. The name wasn’t flashy but, in it’s way, it was memorable and, maybe even, unforgettable.

So we attended to actual advertising issues.   The client did not crack a smile at the idea that the Urine Resistant Mattress deserved a lively theme song.  I didn’t so much suggest it as hum a bouncy pirate jig.   But the idea of a television commercial truly appealed to him. We spent weeks, without success, looking for a worthy spokesman, some kind of celebrity bedwetter.  But no real names were willing to step forward and take this client’s money.

I took the cash without hesitation.  There’s a name for people like me.