Today, on her birthday, I fondly remember my friend Elaine Shipman.
I was introduced to Elaine by Barbara Christopher. Elaine and I bonded over us both being Virgos and having birthdays within a few days of each other. Barbara would often combine Elaine’s and my birthday celebrations. Below is a picture of one such celebration in 2011 at Friend of a Farmer restaurant in New York City. Going clockwise, there’s Elaine Shipman, Charles Childs, Josiane Roseti, Virginia McKinzie, Kelly Towry, and Barbara Christopher.
Barbara, Elaine, and I would get together a couple of times each year. We would share a meal, see a movie, window shop, go to library and museum exhibits, walk around Central Park, have little entertainment-awards-show parties with games and bets on which of us could guess the most winners. Elaine and I would often take the subway home together after these outings and have nice conversations.
Elaine was a lovely, kind, graceful woman. She was quiet and reserved and humble, but those still waters ran deep. Though she was not necessarily outspoken, she was bright and intelligent and passionate. In getting to know her, I recognized how passionate she was about dance, about artistic expression, about honesty and integrity and working hard in making that expression.
I appreciate the support she gave me in my efforts. She came to hear me sing and offered positive criticism. She had me design the promotional material, shown below, for a special performance of HA that she presented in 2005.
Elaine once had Barbara and me over for supper in her comfy, funky apartment on the Lower East Side. Getting there was not half the fun, being as she lived on the fourth or fifth floor of a walk-up. But that height was fitting, being as I see Elaine as someone who was on an exalted plane. I like to think of her on another, even higher plane now, reunited with “my Carl,” as she would often refer to him, looking down on us, laughing her shy laugh, and smiling on us with that big, bright smile of hers.