The Passion Of Cathy Seipp

I just watched the movie The Passion of Ayn Rand.

It reminded me too of times in my life when I had passion for older women. It reminded me of my man-whore days. It reminded me of the times I used my boyish good looks to get ahead.

Most specifically and most painfully, it reminded me of my passionate but non-physical relationship with Cathy Seipp. We were close at times but never crossed the line into romance.

Cathy was eight years older than me. As Nathaniel Branden admired Ayn Rand, I admired Cathy. We’d talk for hours. We felt like soulmates.

She said that she wished I had written her when I first started reading her columns in Buzz magazine in 1994. I was then 27. She was 35.

Ayn was 25 years older than Nathaniel but he gave in to her physical demands on him for close to 15 years until he couldn’t take it any more.

Cathy never made any physical demands on me, though she got tired of my no-touch approach and started hugging me goodbye.

I had a stormy relationship with Cathy just as Nathaniel did with Ayn Rand. Cathy was always getting mad at me (I think she was punishing me for inadequately returning her love). I never got mad at her (because I didn’t want more from her than what we had, therefore I was never disappointed).

Here’s a classic Cathy post from January 2006:

I also think that porn expert/former Seventh Day Adventist/current Orthodox Jew Luke Ford, whom readers here sometimes think I’ve made up, points to the possibility of a designer with a sense of humor — along with giraffes, pelicans and most varieties of dogs. Here we are last night (pic courtesy Emmanuelle) at the L.A. Press Club event for the latest Black Dahlia book. (Author Donald Wolfe thinks that gangster Bugsy Siegel did it, angry that girlfriend Elizabeth Short was pregnant by L.A. Times publisher Norman Chandler).

Speaking of romance gone wrong, poor Luke has been torturing himself lately with a (behind-the-scenes) porn girl who just seems so very unremarkable, apart from the above-average skank factor. Take a look at Luke’s report about how he invited himself to her New Year’s Eve party, even though she’d dumped him a few weeks earlier, where he had a terrible time watching her flirt with a bunch of other ex-boyfriends. (Scroll down to the “Holly Spends New Year’s Eve With a Man She Values” post.) But then, of course, outside observers never can figure these things out. And if people only got obsessed with other people who were worth it, we wouldn’t have novels like “Of Human Bondage.”

It’s unusual, by the way, for Luke to allow a fully dressed woman on his lap. I think the last person photographed sitting there was Jenna Jameson.

Anyway, he’s a bit cheerier now. (That Holly report really was like one of those Frank Sinatra suicide albums). And we had a nice time at last night’s party chatting with fellow bloggers Matt Welch, Emmanuelle Richard, Luke Y.Thompson, Christian Johnson and his wife Jody, and good old Joseph Mailander, who said he liked the way my hair looks these days even though the truth is I’m due for a root job.

The last time I saw Cathy was at Cedars Sinai (circa Feb. 12, 2007), five weeks before her death, and she got angry that I didn’t move quickly enough to bring a chair for Amy Alkon to sit on. She stayed mad at me for the duration of my two hour visit and she never thawed in the weeks following.

Here’s the last communication I had from Cathy. It was sent Feb. 14, 2007 in reaction to this:

For Gods Sake, that visiting the sick thing is kind of silly
You don’t need to do anything special. Just don’t raid the fridge, bring food at least for yourself if you’re going to be hungry, clean up your dishes, and don’t expect to be entertained like a normal visitor. Help out, like lifting Amy’s chair etc.
Otherwise, forget it.

I’m not mad at you, but i do lose patience with excuses that such things don’t come naturally to young men, especially from one who is no longer that young.

I guess the… will drive over…at some point later this month, and maybe you can stop by then too. If… doesn’t like it then she can stay home, or you guys can all work out a convenitne time.

They need to realize to print out a map for directions and not depend on me to help them get here by picking up the phone, which isn’t going to happen.

On March 6, Cathy emailed a friend: “thanks, I do appreciate it, and sorry I’ve been so incommunicado…I’ve just been tired and not much fun lately….but I would like to see you at some point and meet your new husband when I’m less boring….”

On March 15, I got this email with the header “Cathy at Cedars now – just admitted”: “…reassures that it’s not a dire situation: Cathy had joint pain — probably from a cold or fever — and shortness of breath, plus there might have been a glitch with her pain pump. …took her to the doctor and then they admitted her to Cedars via the doctor’s office (instead of making her wait in Emergency). She’s in a room there now and they’re doing the admitting paperwork. She’s having some oxygen now for the shortness of breath.”

On March 17, came an email from another friend of Cathy’s: “Cathy’s in the ICU at Cedars (where she joked that she’s their only conscious patient — and a very demanding one at that) so that they can more accurately monitor her vital signs. She’s also getting a blood transfusion to battle anemia, as well as oxygen, which she’ll need to continue when she goes home.

“The infection that brought her to the hospital was caused by a buildup of fluid. She’ll have surgery to drain the fluid Monday. The doctors are optimistic that this surgery will put her back on track, and they promised to get her set up with the assistance she’ll need when she gets home. (Home health-care aides, etc.)”

On March 18, came this: “Things aren’t going as well as we’d all hoped. Cathy’s doctors said this morning there was no point in doing surgery since her lungs are not functioning well enough to support her. She refused intubation and now is breathing with the aid of oxygen tank and mask. She’s being kept sedated so is sleeping peacefully and not in any pain.”

A friend responds that when she told Cathy she hoped to visit her in June or July, Cathy said, “I hope I’ll still be here.” Even though people were telling her that she was looking better, Cathy was not feeling better and her hopes were fading.

On the evening of the 18th, Cathy was able to recognize that her daughter Maia was in the room.

At 11:40 p.m., Maia posted to Cathy’s blog: “My mother, Cathy Seipp, is in the ICU as of Saturday and the doctor bluntly told it to me straight. She is taking a turn for the worse and has…1 to 2 days left. Thank you all for participating in the above discussions. Will keep everyone updated.”

On March 19 at 11:02 a.m. came the message: “If you haven’t seen her in a while, sadly, she can’t communicate and she probably wouldn’t like her friends to see her like this.”

At 6:38 p.m. came this: “Update Cathy: they took the mask off”

At 7:24 p.m., March 20, came this: “Cathy is so Cathy…still with us, defying all predictions of the doctors.”

At 11:44 p.m. came this:

Dear Friends of Cathy,
I come to you with the whitened Einstein (or Moses in the 10
Commandments) hair from Cedars’ “The Valley of Death” (so called
because Harvey, Jerry, and Maia have now heard Last Rites recited in
not one but two religions).

I now realize that Cathy has hung on so long (her doctors admitted
they were, and I quote, “shocked” that Cathy is still alive) as she
wanted to FUCKIN’ FUCKIN’ FUCK! with the completely-wrong bloggers
announcing her early demise! Good work, Cathy! As always, you are
ASTOUNDINGLY wily. And I also wish to mention, with wounded 45
year-old vanity, that when I left tonight at 6 p.m. Cathy actually
looked BETTER than me (peaceful, relaxed, beautiful, with lovely
color). (Albeit that Cathy was resting in the strange what I call
Cedars-Sinai “Stanley Kubrick natatorium”–just when we were having
that casino-like-what-time-is-it-are-we-all-going-crazy? moment, Cathy was moved to a room that is white, blank, and has the two metaphorical doors, accompanied with the lone electric outlet and ominous metaphorical humming. Cozy George Burns and Gracie Allens Drive, where are ye? But no matter. . . Truly. . .Cathy looks at peace.)

The following came in at 4:08 p.m. on March 21:

Dear Team Cathy,

After setting at least three world records for stubborn refusal to adhere to any medical predictions whatsoever, Cathy’s no longer with us. She died at around 2:05 pm…after a day in which she was basically sleeping peacefully.

…You all should know — especially the ones who might not be in L.A. at the moment, or who haven’t seen her in a while — that Cathy took enormous comfort (and I’m sure not a small amount of wicked pleasure), in the incredible outpouring of support from all of you, and the thousands of complete strangers who sent best wishes her way. If she deserves all the credit in the world for creating this community of unlike-minded weirdos around her, I think the community should know that they really helped in a pinch.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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