An exciting account of the international adventures of fashion model Pat Cleveland—one of the first black supermodels during the wild sixties and seventies.
New York in the sixties and seventies was glamorous and gritty at the same time, a place where people like Warhol, Avedon, and Halston as well their muses came to pursue their wildest ambitions, and when the well began to run dry they darted off to Paris. Though born on the very fringes of this world, Patricia Cleveland, through a combination of luck, incandescent beauty, and enviable style, soon found herself in the center of all that was creative, bohemian, and elegant. A “walking girl,” a runway fashion model whose inimitable style still turns heads on the runways of New York, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo, Cleveland was in high demand.
Ranging from the streets of New York to the jet-set beaches of Mexico, from the designer retailers of Paris to the offices of Diana Vreeland, here is Cleveland’s larger-than-life story. One minute she's in a Harlem tenement making her own clothes and dreaming of something bigger, the next she’s about to walk Halston’s show alongside fellow model Anjelica Huston. One minute she's partying with Mick Jagger and Jack Nicholson, the next she's sharing the dance floor next to a man with stark white hair, an artist the world would later know as Warhol. One moment she’s idolizing the silver screen sensation Warren Beatty, years later, she’s deciding whether to resist his considerable amorous charms. In New York, she struggles to secure her first cover of a major magazine. In Paris, she's the toast of the town. And through the whirlwind of it all, she is forever in pursuit of love, truth, and beauty.
A page-turning memoir of a life well lived, Walking with the Muses is a book you won't soon forget.
Walking with the Muses prologue DREAM LOVER Born smack in the middle of the middle of the twentieth century (June 1950), I’m like millions of other baby boomers in that some of my most formative experiences have occurred inside a darkened movie theater. Like falling in love for the first time.
At some point around my sixth birthday, my mom began taking me to matinees at the RKO 86th Street Theatre, a slightly musty old movie palace roughly eleven blocks due south of our tenement apartment on the edge of Spanish Harlem. There, warm and toasty in winter and blessedly cool in New York’s steamy summers, the two of us would sit, arms entwined, sharing popcorn and Raisinets, and stare transfixed at the big screen through hours of previews and double features (two movies for a buck—seventy-five cents for Mom and a quarter for my child’s ticket). Whatever new fare Hollywood served up, Mom and I would be there most Saturday afternoons to devour it.
For me, the only child of a single mother, male role models were in short supply, so my template for the ideal man was forged right there on that screen. Charlton Heston. Rock Hudson. Tony Curtis. And then one day a movie star came along who wiped all the others off the map: Warren Beatty. Mom and I went to see Splendor in the Grass the week it was released in October 1961. I didn’t know it then, but our days of blissful moviegoing—just Mom and me, together in the dark—were nearing their end because she’d recently married a soldier from Georgia who would radically curtail her outings. I was eleven and Warren, who was making his screen debut in the male lead, was twenty-four. From the moment he appeared on-screen, as the rich Kansas high school football star Bud Stamper who’s in love with the town’s good girl, Deanie Loomis (played by an incandescent Natalie Wood), I was a goner. I couldn’t have explained the effect he had on me—I was only eleven, after all, and until then I’d never experienced that thrill of pure longing for the opposite sex—but I knew instantly: We were destined to be together. Later that day, at home in my bedroom, I daydreamed freely. Patricia Beatty. Mrs. Warren Beatty. I tried out the name in my mouth a few times. I practiced writing it in my fanciest script. It was meant to be.
Imagine, then, the inner frenzy that descended when, fourteen years later, I spotted Warren in the flesh at the opening of an exhibition of photographs by Richard Avedon at a tony Fifty-Seventh Street gallery, an event attended by a who’s who of prominent New Yorkers ranging from Andy Warhol to Norman Mailer. By then I had traveled all over the world as a model, met more boldface names than I could count (and bedded a few of them), and become friends with some of the most creative people of the time (including Warhol, who ended up being one of my wingmen that night). But when Warren Beatty walks in, even the most blasé girl in the world gets weak in the knees—not that I was that girl, anyway. I instantly reverted to the eleven-year-old from Spanish Harlem crushing on the movie star.
As it turned out, my feeble preadolescent fantasies never even came close to conjuring the awesomeness that was Warren. The actual man was so much more beautiful, more sensitive, more talented, more intelligent, more . . . well, good in bed than the dream lover who’d lived in my imagination. Our on-and-off affair, which lasted six years in all, was an unforgettable chapter in my life—a life that’s been filled with despair and triumph, sickness and health, heartbreak and joy, lust and true love, and loads and loads of fun.
Pat Cleveland is an American supermodel who The New York Times society chronicler Bill Cunningham calls “The supermodel” and Vogue veteran Andre Leon Talley calls “the all-time superstar model,” and “the most extraordinary black model of the century.”
“All the creativity, madness and magic that Pat Cleveland brought to the runway, she has now poured into this riveting, celeb-drenched account of her astonishing life in fashion.”
– Simon Doonan, author of The Asylum: Tales of Madness From a Life in Fashion
"How wonderful Pat Cleveland titled her memoirs, Walking with the Muses. She is the timeless muse; that unique and rare spirit, that continues to inspire throughout the ages. A life worthy of admiration-not only for its almost fairy-tale like adventures through New York when it was at one of its creative peaks, Paris at its wildest, the beaches of the Mediterranean and the tombs of Egypt, Pat's story is one that will make you believe that if you put it in the universe, even your most outrageous dreams can come true: you can meet anyone you want, be anyone you want, love anyone you want."
– Andre Leon Talley, former Editor-at-Large for Vogue magazine