Before there was reality TV as we know it, before the Kardashian’s, the Osbourne’s and the heinous Housewives from Hell Syndicate there was the Loud Family. It was 1971 and they had no idea what they were getting into because they were about to become the first family of Reality TV and create the genre that would begin the love/hate feeding frenzy of everyday American’s becoming celebrities. They made it up as they went along. It was not scripted. It was not bread and circus. It was the beginning of American’s living their lives as voyeuristic spectators in lieu of a real life. We became fascinated by The American Family.
On or off camera The Loud Family was known to be open, friendly and entertaining they simply allowed the cameras into their home and became famous for being themselves. Over the course of the documentary/television show we watched as Pat lived her life out loud in front of America. As Human nature would have it the family only became really interesting not for their spirited camaraderie and closeness but for the painful camera break-up of their marriage and its effect on the their children and the coming out of their eldest son, the notoriously cool Lance Loud. This took the family down many roads less taken. They became the darling’s of the media and the bullseye for criticism and judgement. In was the early 1970’s and Andy Warhol’s invitation took Pat and Lance on a walk on the wild side through a journey through the Factory. Naturally, they stayed at the legendary Chelsea hotel where they filmed with Warhol Superstar’s. Lance became a reluctant hero for the Gay movement. He was always honest but hated titles of any kind. Pat always Proud Mary disliked the histrionics surrounding Lance’s “bravery” she simply said, it was just Lance being Lance. Period.
Lance was my closest friend from the moment we met in 1977 until the day he died. When you were friends with any of the Louds you are friends with them entire family, especially Pat. Pat and Lance were joined at the heart and hip.
Victoria– I have noticed through the years how much you and Lance had in common. For example, I was always heartened by the range of characters that you would both effortlessly saunter through from English aristocrats, Hollywood royalty to outrageous misfits like Warhol superstars and obnoxious world class Punks all at the same dinner table. You not only held court but cooked the entire delicious homemade meal (at Lance’s hound dog howling request!)fueled with the specially prepared Loud trademark cocktails, killer Tom and Jerry’s (guaranteed to bring out the best and more frequently the worst in their dinner guests, who cared? It was all in good fun.)
Pat– (laughing) Always a good thing!
Victoria– Pat, You always knew the proper protocol yet also had street credibility, what do you owe this talent for socializing and accommodating the wide range of character’s always vying for your attention and wanting to be a part of your life?
Pat– I didn’t know I could do all that! My parents were very, very social people and maybe I picked up some of that from them. Lance just had a natural grace about him. As for me, I am not afraid of people. I have never been intimidated by them. I think I was always very curious about people and when you are curious about people I think they appreciate your interest. You ask questions about them and you listen and it’s easy after that. My kids were definitely products of their time and this allowed me to become interested in a variety of topics that I would have not otherwise been exposed to. I was interested in my kids and what they were interested in so it was natural for me to be able to speak on several subjects.
Victoria– Spending so much time around Lance I was always witness to his infamous charm. I saw many people try to compete with him, to outwit him, to outsmart him, to catch him not being Lance. I realized time and time again that his charm was not about impressing people with said wit or dazzle them with bravado, although he certainly did that! Lance’s particular brand of charm was his ability to make you feel good about who you are and people gravitated to that. He already knew who he was! Lance always went straight for the cool in people and focused on that. In that way he got the most out of life and the best out of people. Ok, Lance was no saint and maybe he did use smoke and mirrors at times but in my eyes that only made him a magician with a twist of snake oil thrown in. You both shared such a hearty lack of snobbery. I do think if you and Lance were ever intolerant of anything it was pretentious, pompous bores!
Pat– Oh no, that would never do! Lance and I had that in common.
Victoria– Another thing you and Lance had in common as I saw it was a love for family and truly romantic ideals. I know you both detested cheap sentiments and gushy sentimentalities. I am talking about the kind of ideals that made you a great mother and friend. It was Lance’s dying wish for you and Bill after all these years to get back together and share the rest of your life. He had the responsible where with all to be a good son and family member and he never missed a beat to muscle in and make that request. I believe he Know in his heart that it would be a good thing for you both and for the entire family for that matter. He had the ability to see what really mattered in life.
Pat– When Bill and I split up we went our own ways. I, as you know went to New York and had a fabulous life and Bill got married to a lovely woman. They divorced eventually. When Lance was in hospice he became concerned with my well-being after he was gone and also his father was in Houston and I think he wasn’t sure that Bill was happy there and he wanted the family to be united. He loved Bill and he loved me and he wanted to make sure that we would be ok. With him gone (This is hard to talk about) he wanted us to go on helping one another and with Bill and I together this would be possible. There was a friend of mine from New York, Edith La Shawn and she told me one that during her lifetime she had many marriages within the one marriage to the same man. I kind of feel like that about Bill and I. So Bill and I did get back together again. I was quite leery at first. However, it has worked out very well we are happy and we respect and love one another. We have been through a lot and remain a very strong family. The only reason we got divorced was due to his lack of monogamy and you know we are old now. That doesn’t matter anymore. The only thing you have to remember is not to talk about it. Do not bring it up and you do not live in the past, you live in the present.
Victoria– To live in the present by virtue of your mutual love and respect. It doesn’t get more romantic or relevant than that. That is my idea of true love because it is real. Now enough of high ideals and meaningful conversation, let’s talk about what really matters in life-style and fashion. Pat, you were always known for your identifiable Pat Loud look. You made your own personal statement without resorting to a lot of the silly confections many women still felt compelled to make. You were always in fashion, feminine and attractivewithout looking trendy. Do you think the Pat Loud look was well represented In the recent HBO movie CINEMA VERITE?
Pat– No, I don’t but I love Diane Lane and I think she did a great job in the film and I think she is a marvelous person. For instance I did not wear a lot of patterned clothes. I like the monochromatic look. I was never a Fashonista. I was a person who kind of knew what looked good on me and what didn’t. I liked to feel comfortable in my clothes, Also, I had a limited budget for myself so it had to last, be comfortable and I had to be able to put it on and forget about it. I didn’t want to be bothered with all that.
Victoria– Your fab look never looked like you were on a budget. Pat, you are being humble, I can honestly say that many people on a budget will opt for a gold lame bow to ja things up. I think you cut a very clean silhouette, like early Prada meets Halston. Also, accessorized with big sunglasses, pulled back hair, cool medallions and impeccable grooming completed the Pat Loud look.
Pat– Another thing was that I never tried to dress younger than I am. In England they have a saying, “That is mutton dressed up as lamb.” You always want to avoid that look.
Victoria– Painful scathing indictment! You escaped the horror and every fabulous queen can attest to that! I am sure today if the American Family had just recently made its appearance, there would be Pat loud sunglasses, Home shopping networks would have the Pat Loud medallions and you would see in Target and Wal-Mart versions of the Pat Loud monochromatic pantsuit. Today you can “brand” yourself. I hate the loathsome concept. Worse than that, it is glorified. Today’s successful women turns herself into a commodity and market’s herself as if it were a virtue. I hate hearing, “I know she is not really talented but she is a great business person.” What do you think of that?
Pat– I am in such a different place. I am off on a by way off the mainstream. But what I can see at my age is all those so called reality shows, The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Housewives of New York on and on, The Kardashians, Duck Dynasty! I look at those people (none of them I have watched but all of them I have seen bits and pieces of) and I think to myself, ”What are these women and what has happened to the heroes, where are the Gloria Steinem’s of today? Women are just as capable as men or more. I mean we are first, individuals; you just don’t mass people together and judge them. Women have been set up since the get go with Eve when she took the fruit from the tree of good and evil. We were set up to be perceived as evil or to be a seductress. These are the myths that the world has grown up with. Since the beginning of time women have been blamed for destroying men’s virtue.
Victoria– Yeah what about their own accountability for their own choices? The poor helpless men victimized by the women sirens luring men off course to crash into the rocks. What about their own free will and strength? If we are so powerful to cause all that and to be blamed for their downfall why don’t we get the credit for being powerful! Why are we held accountable for their lack of virtue and ability to resist the objects of their own fantasies and desires?
Victoria-. What do you think of the rise in plastic surgery in men as well as women? Are men finally having to deal with the issues that women have had to deal with all along like no longer feeling relevant, competent and or even attractive after a certain age? Do you see this as a sexist issue or do you think the whole world has just been consumed with the fear of aging?
Pat– Yes, to begin with I think it is particularly true in the United States. I don’t know how it got that way but aging is a very bad thing here, it is a real no-no. There is no respect for age, I can understand how an actor might need to do that for his work but not for mere vanity’s sake. You earn the wrinkles for a life doing whatever it is you did. You just have to own it. You know, it is sad that people can’t feel like they can enjoy every stage of their life. It is too bad that they have to feel diminished by it. They should feel more comfortable in their skin and take some comfort in being wiser. That is what you should feel. We are very hard on ourselves. I also feel that electronics have really changed the world and the way people inter-act with one another. Facebook and tweeting, you can’t even go to the supermarket without hearing a cacophony of people talking loudly about themselves on the phones while they are shopping. There’s very little self-reflection in that.
Victoria– Maybe that’s the point. Well, it has certainly changed the petri-dish effect of New York. The interactive creative quality that comes with being exposed to millions of people’s lives through their actions and not their profiles. Everyone says how much New York has changed and let’s face it, New York is always changing. I mean it does not look like it did in the 70’s, for example. However, this time it is different, it is a fundamental change uncharacteristic to what it means to be a New Yorker. Everyone is down on New York, how do you feel?
Pat– People with millions and millions of dollars are flooding into that poor little island and they have taken away the diversity. There was such a great diversity when we were there in the art world, there was the punk rock, great book stores- all of that is gone now. There are no real differences in class, artists can’t afford to live there anymore, basically most of the people, except for the older ones are nouvelle riche and they have got tons of money to throw around. It is such a shame what has happened to New York.
Victoria– What is the most annoying misconception about you and what do you think fanned that flame?
Pat– I think it was that the family was destroyed by American Family. In the end our family photo would come up and they would have this lilting little tune and then they would have it crackle like a mirror shattered. They set the stage for people to think of us as a broken family. What I must say, to this very day, if America had families as close and tightly knit as my family is, it would be a better place. This family is very close and fond of one another and spends a great deal of time together.
Victoria– Yes, I always felt so lucky to share so much time with your family. You were always so welcoming and accommodating to so many of us orphans of the storm. You adopted many wayward children and always made so many of us feel great taking us into the coveted inner circle.
Pat– I was always flattered to be surrounded by you all and felt very fortunate that all of you wanted to be around me.
Victoria– Actually the whole country wanted to spend time with the Loud’s.
Pat Loud has officially became part of American Pop Culture. Yale University has recently acquired her archives and the rest is History and Her Story.