Book Review: Joi Lansing: A Body to Die For

 

Alexis Hunter, former companion and lover of Joi, has released a book detailing her relationship with Joi during the final years of her life. At the heart of this book is a love story shrouded in secrecy because of the homophobic societal ideals of the 60’s and 70’s. I find the love story to be sweet, charming, and heartbreaking. Alexis’ book contains a forward by Victor Parker who testifies to seeing a relationship unfold between Joi and Alexis (Rachel) as well as three letters in her introduction. The one letter that is most likely going to fascinate most people is a letter from John Shupe, Joi’s first cousin, who talks about a close familial relationship but apparently lost contact with Joi during her final years. Shupe acknowledges Alexis (Rachel) being close to Joi and thanks her for telling him about Joi’s last few years.

Alexis adopted the name of Rachel Lansing and was publicized as being Joi’s sister. I must note that a newspaper search brought nothing up for me BUT it must also be noted that Joi had a remarkably low amount of publicity during those years and I only have access to a very small fraction of newspapers from around the country. As evidence, Alexis includes a picture of Joi and herself from the March 1972 edition of Rona Barrett’s Hollywood with a caption that calls Alexis Joi’s sister. Alexis also includes a telegram sent to Joi from her mother that wishes both Joi and “Rachal” the best of luck as well as a business license addressed to “Joi and Rachel Lansing.” Overall, I think it is safe to assume that Joi and Alexis were extremely close.

I realize that not everyone is going to be interested in a love story but this book is much more than that. It tells of a woman who never quite got her “in” in Hollywood and how she turned to drastic treatments to keep her body in A-list condition in order to keep her career. One cannot help but think about the two reigning blondes of the 1950’s, Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe, and how they very likely could have turned to some of the same treatment options to keep themselves in working order. One of the main takeaways from this book is how Joi literally did die to keep her body in tip-top shape. For me personally, it also got me thinking about the dangers of plastic surgery today yet many procedures are looked at as in-and-out. We live in a world of botox parties, one Joi likely would have partook in, but do we really know the long term affects of what we are doing?

Overall this book is riveting. It has a small amount of pictures (I am sure Alexis has more somewhere and would love to see a Joi photobook by her at some point) but they support her claims of a close relationship and let the reader feast their eyes on the beauty that is Joi. I can only hope that one day Alexis will write something similar to Lana: The Memories, The Myth, The Movies by Cheryl Crane and Cindy De La Hoz. Alexis is working diligently to get Joi’s name widely known and her efforts are not futile. Alexis also sells copies of her book directly. That is how I purchased mine and it was signed; HIGHLY recommend doing it that way.

Rating: 9/10 (With a few more pictures it would have gotten a solid 10)

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