The Gilded Serpent presents...


I was born in Baltimore, Maryland near the close of World War II. I grew up in working-class Fells Point in East Baltimore, amidst the tiny brick row houses, cobblestone streets and familiar smells of the waterfront. The Baltimore summers were hot, and like many Southern cities, (although it lies smack dab on the Mason-Dixon line), were filled with the cries of fruit and crab peddlers from their horse-drawn wagons.

My father joined the merchant marine and sent us postcards and gifts from Durbin, South Africa, and exotic Far Eastern ports, while my mother worked to send my sister and me to Catholic schools and attend The Peabody Institute, where we studied music and dance. Peabody is located in the elegant Washington Monument area of Baltimore, surrounded by beautiful brownstones and quiet parks. The Walters Art Gallery lies just across the street, and the works of the mannerist and renaissance painters became as familiar to me as comic-book heroes were to other children. I studied piano and dance at Peabody for five years -- Eurhythmics with Cecil Kitkat, Modern Dance with Dale Sehnert, and Ballet with Michael Nicholoff, who had danced with Pavlova.

Catalog work 1974We moved to New York City in 1959 and my sister and I became part of the "beat" scene of the early '60s in Greenwich Village, where I frequented coffeehouses such as the Cafe Wha?, the Night Owl, and the Bitter End. I listened to performers such as Fred Neil, Karen Dalton, and Dino Valenti (www.penncen.com/quicksilver/valente/ ). Dino would become a life-long friend, and eventually bring me to San Francisco in 1969 to escape the harshness of the city and experience the lifestyle that was taking place in the Bay Area. I lived in Hurricane Gulch overlooking the Bay and Alcatraz, and eventually bought a small houseboat at Gate 6' called the Om Tat Sat.

graduation 1987While trying to break into the modeling world, I worked as a cocktail waitress at some of the most interesting venues in the City, such as the No Name Bar in Sausalito, Sally Stanford's Valhalla, The Greek Taverna -- and The Meridien Hotel, where I met some of the best jazz musicians in the Bay Area. I became involved in fashion modeling for several years and was privileged to model clothes by some of the top designers -- including Yves St. Laurent, Bill Blass, Pauline Trigere and Oscar de la Renta. It was a great time to do print work, too, as most of the local department stores were doing lots of newspaper ads then.

I left for Italy in 1979 and lived in Milan while doing TV commercials and print work. I traveled throughout Italy, France and Switzerland, enchanted by the architecture and culture everywhere I went. I especially fell in love with Sicily, which has an aura of mystery and passion that thoroughly captivated me. It was the crossroads of my life and, at the urging of my Sicilian friends, I returned to the United States to study Journalism and Broadcast Communication Arts -- first attending City College, and then San Francisco State University, where I received my B.A. I studied French and Italian and developed a strong interest in History. I also took lots of dance classes!

Returning to New York City in 1992, I worked in publishing ('TEEN Magazine!), advertising and finance. Currently, I am employed as a "long term" temp in the area of financial marketing, doing a multitude of tasks from proofreading to creating ads. Since I am a Virgo, and thrive on change, I like the flexibility that "temping" affords me. I lived for a time in Hoboken and Jersey City in the shadow of the World Trade Center, but moved to Inwood in Upper Manhattan just before the catastrophe of 9/11. I love being in New York again. I like the honesty and the stamina of the people -- and all the culture that New York has to offer. I live in my co-op in Inwood, near Spuyten Duyvil, with my precious little Yorkie Samantha and make frequent trips to the Florida Keys, Greece, Italy -- and Baltimore, where my old neighborhood has become quite trendy.

I carry with me a phrase that is engraved above the entrance to City College in San Francisco:

"The truth shall set you free."

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Elaine

   The Most Challenging City in the World
new york city twin towers