Thinking of Anais Nin: Jenny Lens

Jenny Lens

“I knew Anaïs in the 70’s”

Via e-mail:

I met Anaïs in the early to mid-70’s (in LA). I was going to college in the valley, at CSUN. I took many classes at UCLA extension. I hung out at Pickwick Booksellers in Hollywood. I saw her diaries there. I kept seeing women at UCLA carrying her diaries. So when UCLA held a day long Anaïs Nin symposium, I was there. She spoke at Wolmanspace, the precursor to LA’s Womans Building. Of course she was friends with Judy Chicago (I also participated in her Dinner Party in the early days).

I knew nothing about photography and put outdoor slide film into my camera without a flash (at her talk at Womanspace). Of course my photos are out-of-focus and yellow due to the need for flash. In 1976, I became a published entertainment photographer and often wished I knew the basics when I took pix of her. A great regret!

I sent Anaïs photos (taken by someone who knew how to shoot) of my master’s project in 1974. She kindly wrote me that perhaps we could collaborate. I was too shy to respond. I did not know she was dying of cancer.

The last time I saw her was at the now-closed Vagabond movie theatre next to Otis Art Institute. I was leaving an Ingmar Bergman film with a friend of mine. David Trinidad, now a poet and publisher, had read all her diaries and novels (I turned him onto her. I never made it through the novels). She was entering with Rupert. He told me she needed to do research on the film for a talk she was doing.

That’s it. I often wonder where the postcards from her are. I don’t know if they’ve vanished…

I read the recently published bio of her… I don’t care what she did and censored/edited what she published. She managed to live a life few of us dream about. A remarkable woman who influenced me as a young woman artist. Should be mandatory reading for all women, especially creative ones…

Good luck with the site!

Jenny Lens