Friday, April 10, 2009

A Kiss is Still a Kiss

by Ellen Byerrum

First, I’d like to thank the Stiletto Gang for having me over today. It is a real pleasure to say hello and talk about what’s been going on in my neck of the woods. Happily, those woods are looking pretty good these days.

The prettiest and most romantic time for Washington, D.C., is spring when she puts on frills—first come the blossoming Bradford pears, the magnolias and cherry trees, the daffodils and tulips. They are followed by dogwoods and azaleas and roses. The extravaganza of color complements the white marble of memorials and shows off the softer side of the Nation’s Capital.

Two weeks ago, as the cherry blossoms were just beginning to bloom, a film crew was in Washington, shooting exteriors for Lifetime Television movies based on two of my books, Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover. The principal filming took place in Vancouver, Canada.

Of course I took time off my regular job and was able to observe a day of shooting on the city’s streets. It was a rare opportunity to see how the characters that I created will be translated to film. The memories that linger include the bitter cold but bright blue day and the actors playing out scenes that seemed to consist of a lot of kissing.

The comely couple playing Vic Donovan and Lacey Smithsonian—Victor Webster and Maggie Lawson—ended several scenes with a kiss. They kissed at the Tidal Basin in front of the Jefferson Memorial while tourists and a busload of middle school students looked on and applauded after the scene. They kissed in McPherson Square while businesspeople crossed the park and discreetly looked back at the scene. And they kissed in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, where Washington wonks wandered by while chatting on their cell phones.

That’s a whole lot of kissing going on for Washington, D.C.! I’m not quite sure the District can take that much public display of affection, but I found myself wishing my husband was around for some personal osculation resuscitation. Oh well, sometimes you have to save it up for later.

There are all kinds of kisses, the social kiss, the romantic kiss, the kiss of life, the kiss off, and we are reminded this time of year, the Judas kiss.

The language of kissing depends on a lot of things—where you kiss and where you don’t, whom you kiss and whom you don’t. Kissing is an activity defined by the participants. As the song says, “A kiss is still a kiss.” But is it?

When I am among theatre people and playwrights, it’s all hug, hug, kiss, kiss, and oh-so-very “Oh my dear, you look marvelous! How have you been? I just can’t wait to hear everything, every little detail, but I must run!” There are cheek kisses and air kisses. It’s all very friendly. It feels good, but you don’t take it seriously, because like the theatre, it may be just a performance.

When I’m among fellow mystery writers, a brief hug is acceptable, as is a brief kiss on the cheek, but we’re not terribly mushy. We laugh at danger, we don’t kiss it.

But for reporters in the Nation’s Capital, in their capacity as representatives of the Fourth Estate, there is no kissing. There may be no crying in baseball, but there is definitely no kissing in the newsroom. Sarcasm, cynicism, and smarty-pants one-upmanship is all okay. But sentiment? Now that’s dangerous.

You can count on kissing, however, in the upcoming Crime of Fashion movies. Killer Hair is slated to be aired Sunday, June 21. Hostile Makeover will air the following week, Sunday, June 28. If you want to read more about the filming from someone else’s perspective, check out this blog by photographer Kathy Freundel:

May all your kisses be memorable!

Ellen Byerrum is the author of the Crime of Fashion Mysteries featuring fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian who solves crimes with fashion clues. The latest book in the series is Armed and Glamorous.


  1. Ellen, I can't wait to see the Lifetime movies! Be sure to let us know exactly when they're airing, and I'll post it so everyone can watch. And thanks for stopping by today. How cool it must've been (and weird at the same time!) to see your characters come to life as they filmed. I think it's so exciting!


  2. You're right, Susan, it was strange and compelling at the same time. I'm excited, but I have no idea what to expect when it airs. I'll keep you in the loop.

  3. How exciting. I watch Lifetime a lot. I'd love to see this one!

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