Joe Bonomo’s Wonderful World

I am a fortunate girl. I have friends in high places, who, when they see certain items, divert them from their original path and point them towards me.

This is what happened the other night when I was presented with the works of Joe Bonomo. I caught my breath when I first saw the little gold box. My eyes grew round as I opened it up and extracted the twelve little booklets. My jaw dropped as I began to read. I knew that hours of amusement lay ahead.

Who is Joe? I don’t know, except that he is an international authority on all sorts of subjects and has provided in these booklets all the information I need to lead a healthful, energetic, and glamorous life. With diagrams, charts, and illustrations!

It was hard to choose, but I was strangely drawn to “How to Become Lovelier After Forty.” Perhaps it was that encouraging assumption that I am already lovely?

“If your present life seems untenable, change it!” says Joe. On a more practical level, Joe thinks I should invest in a good neck cream, and maybe “youthify” my hair, by which he means dye it. He also advised me to cut down on my bridge and canasta, and he even covered the “cessation of the menstrual function.” That is only the tip of the iceberg.

“Riding a hobby horse is one of the easiest ways to perk up and live. Develop your interest in ceramics or electric trains…a doll collection or a dancing course…tennis, painting, weaving, jewelry design…”

All ellipses are Joe’s by the way, not my edits. The man…likes his …ellipses…more than Barbara Cartland did.

“If the mood is gay…and you’re inclined to “rough it”…promote a Skid Row Party. The men will love it…” This is where Amy Sedaris got the material for her hospitality guide. I’m sure she would agree with Joe: “A party is not a party without cheese.”

“Now is the time for long discussions about religion, money, in-law relationships and children.” Joe covers protestants, catholics, jews, and even references the quakers.

“In every one of my health books…and to every man, woman or child who has enlisted my aid in health improvement…I have singled out one subject for particular emphasis: constipation.”

For mature woman Joe says, “Regardless of the popular hair style trend of the moment, never let your hair trail down your neck and onto your shoulders.” I basked in the satisfying knowledge that my hair did nothing of the sort, but then I read on: “This does not mean a mannish shingle.” Darn!

“Let me begin by saying that no one is more anxious to help you than I. My greatest happiness is derived from work with friends who anxiously seek self-improvement. Very few men realize the misery and self-consciousness suffered by a woman who possesses an unattractive bosom…”

“Have a bulletin board for instructions to the mate and small fry near your desk. It is strangely less irritating for them to read what you want them to do…then have you tell them!” Oh, and “If you don’t have a desk…and don’t want to spend the money for even a second-hand one…persuade your husband to improvise by nailing a large board to two orange crates.”

The sample schedule for “two alone” has you up at 6:30am and cleaning until 7pm, so I’m not sure when you sit down at your orange crates and board.

“As you become more adept, grace and poise become yours; all feeling of inferiority and social embarrassment will disappear like magic.”

“Before applying mascara, comb your lashes carefully. Then use an eyelash curler so that your lashes will curve upward. This will give you a young, wide-eyed and wondering look.

“As an underweight, you have one thing in your favor…that insurance statistics show that your lifeline will be longer and that you are less inclined to suffer from many of the diseases associated with fat persons. But, you represent a nutritional problem often more difficult to cope with than with overweights. As you read through my pocket manual, you will see what I mean.”

I felt like Joe was getting a little lazy with this one, and he recycled not only the face shape chart (which he uses in practically every pamphlet) but also the cross-section of the hair diagram. I guess he felt the need to update his earlier pamphlet, and he did pull in Ern Westmore (of the Hollywood makeup and hair dynasty) as co-author. Note the similarity to the hairstyle on the cover of McCall’s Guide to Teenage Beauty and Glamour

What will I do to thank my benefactors? Will it be the Skid Row party? The Sunday brunch? (“it doesn’t call for liquor and therefore lessens the strain on your pocketbook.”) Or perhaps just one of the tasty “weight gain” menus: “Tomato Soup, 1 cup; Cheeseburger on Sweet Roll; Butter, 1 pat, mixed with Hash Browned Potatoes; Apple Pie, 1 wedge; Milk, 1 glass.”

Something which says, this was the best present. Ever.

2 thoughts on “Joe Bonomo’s Wonderful World

  1. My unattractive bosom is rocking with laughter! For your benefactors, my vote is for the Skid Row Party. Nothing says thank you like a gay mood and cheese. What kind of cheese might be found on skid row? Does Joe know?

    Turns out Joe was a strongman, acting in silent movies and stunt doubling. And heir to the Turkish Taffy empire (well, not really an empire, but it sounds good).

    Here’s a good piece on Joe:

    Although it gets a little odd towards the end — makes you want to know more specifics:
    “Maybe he spread himself too thin, maybe not, but somewhere between the rise and fall of JB & his many enterprises—and most definitely upon Weider’s obvious usurpment of the brawn belt—the noise and brawl and mayhem that colored Bonomo’s personal improvement schemes was muted by pot smoking vagrant schemers who hatched a gazillion dollar self help industry built upon an ice nine hen house of beige quackery tuned into a numbing celestial hum of vibrasonic high colonics. “

    • Actually, the appeal of the Skid Row party was that you could dress like a bum (i.e, in comfortable clothing). Joe is not the only mid-century author who mentions this, see also the Y-Teen, The Right One. As to cheese…muenster? Or maybe limberger? You also serve beer and hardboiled eggs, I think.

Comments are closed.