Riffs Obits
Paula's Send Off
Published October 21, 2007
Valse Triste
Paula Banks 1920 - 2007

Royal swingers, mystic flippers and finger poppin' cats and kitties, can you hear that distant, muffled dirge in three quarter time? Sadly we report the passing, on March 5, 2007, of Paula Banks. Foster child, young adventurer, call girl, poet and unrepentent dissector of life and love. She swung through her 87 years with the verve and grace of a very hip angel from on High. In her memoir, published online, she writes that, as a teenager in the mid '30s, she once saw a man onstage in Chicago:


"I heard about a night club, "The Planet Mars", which had a good floor show so, dressed in my new orange knit suit and my chestnut brown hair which was naturally curly, I sat at a table alone near the dance floor and sipped my Tom Collins slowly, waiting for the show.

And there he was, Dick Buckley, M.C. So far as I was concerned, he was the whole show. I had never seen anyone like him.

He rolled up his pant legs and held his jacket in front of him with the shoulder pads for imitation tits and did an incredible hula dance. He told risque jokes and made remarks about politics and greed-heads. I could not take my eyes away from him and he had definitely noticed me. After the show, he came over to my table and sat down, bought another Tom Collins and said, "Wait for me." I sat through two more shows and we left together.

His room at the Chelsea Hotel was flooded by music, "Valse Triste" and selections from "The Planets" while he made love to me like I never imagined it could be, my first orgasm.

I saw him once more at another club but I didn't let him see me. I had found out that he was married and I supposed I was just "a one night stand" or lay, whichever. What else could a popular man like him see in me?"


This brief but intense encounter produced a sweet child filled with love named Fred. The birth of Fred Buckley when Paula was 17 was just the opening riff in a life filled with adventure, exploration, love, contemplation and action. Lady Paula remained friends with His Lordship all his life. According to Fred, Lord Buckley would come for a week long visit once a year bearing gifts for the young lad. Fred didn't know Buckley was his father until he was fifteen or sixteen years old. Paula also was considered a family member and was good friends with Lady Elizabeth Buckley and the Princess Laurie and Prince Richard.

On a personal note, I once met Lady Paula in Punta Banda, in Baja California, on my way to an interview with Charles B. Griffith. She was a small woman with a gentle but intense presence. She was gracious in receiving us and talked freely of her time with Lord Buckley. The gleam in her eye was unmistakable. Those eyes spoke of mischief and wisdow, a very dynamic combination.

For a great read of Lady Paula's life please click on the link to the left. Her online memoirs reveal a keen eye and ear and a marvelous sense of humor as she comments on the fifteen ring circus that is life.