The Infamy of a Contradictory Narrative!

“Do you think I like having my life an open book? It was never my intention to become famous by using my sister’s death.”

Reporters who cover trials often say of witnesses that you have to take them as you find them; the same rule applies to the families of murder victims.

A murder trial is a narrative, a collection of family stories.

As a story, Denise Brown has the ambiguities of Becky Sharp. Was she prepared to be held up for scrutiny as the older sister of the most famous murder victim in postwar American history?

While Denise is in New York, I notice in her tote bag a single book: Insane Jealousy, a study of domestic violence – a phrase she routinely says she never heard until June 13, 1994.

Every interviewer now asks her the same question: How could she not have known that Nicole was being battered?

Why did she come out at first and say that Nicole was not a victim of domestic abuse?

It is a measure of the desperation of the family and the madness of this trial that Denise chooses to grieve in public, airing her confidences to Geraldo Rivera, who has become not only her close friend but a booker for reporters who seek interview time.

Her conversation has a definite agita; she speaks in the idiom of twelve-step programs. She says, “I don’t want to spend my time thinking about what-ifs, what-ifs. Nicole never told us she was battered! She would say, ‘He threw me against the wine cabinet, and then we went out to lunch.'”

Denise does not dwell on what the family chose not to see. “What good would that do?… I want to help other women now. This foundation is my crusade for life. Now I am a happy person. I have a mission and a cause.”

Is it mean-spirited to speculate that, as in the case of many battered women, Nicole’s family seemed intent on not seeing the truth of what was going on?

Denise has taken on the public role for the family; it is her odd task to advance the narrative of what the Brown family knew about the Simpson marriage. There are many episodes that she willingly retails: When Nicole attended a Buffalo Bills game on an early date, O.J. blew up when he saw her kiss a friend on the cheek. Denise said to her younger sister, “This is ridiculous. What are you doing with this guy?”

She is reduced to admitting, “He was awful again and again. And when it was good, they were in a honeymoon phase, and they would go around and around in a vicious circle.”

Now Denise Brown will remain as a snapshot and a headline: A SISTER’S GRIEF.

Her picture is the story – a sister sobbing on the witness stand.

And then the words: “He grabbed Nicole, told her to get out of his house, picked her up, threw her out of the house. She ended up falling. She ended up on her elbows and on her butt.”

“Are you OK, Miss Brown?”

“Yes, it’s just so hard. I’ll be fine.” Moments later: “At one point, O.J. grabbed at Nicole’s crotch and said, ‘This is where babies come from and this belongs to me,'”

Can America accept a heroine with moral contradictions?

The foundation has raised more than $200,000 but in February had yet to acquire a federal tax number or have a brochure printed up on the foundation goals. Where is the money?

“In an escrow account managed by our lawyer.”

Is Denise an innocent or obtuse?

She is well aware, she tells me, that she is criticized for appearing to exploit Nicole’s murder for publicity. Of this she says, “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me. I’ve gotten very good at telling people to leave me alone.”

I asked her how her parents reacted on the day that O.J. Simpson, a man whom her father had never met, dropped off a Porsche in their driveway for Nicole as a memento of their ten-month anniversary.

“What did they say?” I asked. “‘Oh, my God,’ and then not much else. Why?'”

I said that there were many parents – my own included – who would have have a great deal to say if their eighteen-year-old received a $50,000 present from a former football star.

“My parents taught us to be gracious and to say thank-you for gifts,” she said. I asked her if there might be a suggestion in such a gift that Nicole was being kept. “Oh, no! Not at all! My mother was very easygoing about that. Her attitude was that presents did not make you a kept woman. Someone pays for your apartment… If you’re happy, what difference does it make?”

It has become common for reporters to ask Denise Brown questions that might illuminate O.J. and Nicole’s Brentwood life, as if understanding a victim could explain a murder…

I, too, was curious about the dynamic inside a family that could give us such sisters, trained perhaps by example to be man-pleasers, at the very least.

Nicole was a five-foot-eight-inch baby doll, intelligent and hidden. She was a bride who wore pearls in her hair and a low-cut dress at her wedding; she drove her daughter, Sydney, to ice-skating and on an evening after her divorce, according to Faye Resnick, once crept  into a neighbor’s bedroom and awakened him with an oral-sex trick she called “the Brentwood hello.”

Often she spent her mornings running nine miles until the endorphins kicked in. She attempted to run her house as if she were a menu-maker with the skill of Pamela Harriman; O.J. complained about the flower bill.

Denise Brown has been much interviewed; she’s adept at repeating certain key phrases: Her parents had “a storybook marriage” Lou and Juditha Brown used to say, “If you’re happy, we’re happy.”

The subject of Faye Resnick arises during my conversation with Denise. Nicole, according to her sister, was incapable of seeing the liars and the users who were around her, especially at the end of her life. Denise insists she has not read Resnick’s memoir, but is there anyone in America who is unfamiliar with the sound bites?

According to Denise, Faye Resnick was a minor and unpredictable figure in her sister’s life. “I met her for the first time at Nicole’s funeral. She evidently knows me very well. I don’t know her!

 “Did you see the movie The O.J. Simpson Story? Thank God, I got a call about it. It portrayed Nicole as the stupidest, ditziest person that I have ever seen. It was not Nicole. I thought, If you had any class at all, you would have made her like the person she is.”

Marie Brenner ~ Beyond the Courtroom for Vogue Magazine (May 1995)

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Remembering Nicole Brown Simpson…

On Sunday June 12 1994 Nicole Brown Simpson became a public figure overnight for on that balmy Sunday evening she was senselessly and brutally murdered in the grounds of her home at 875 South Bundy Drive in the leafy suburb of Brentwood in California.

Her murder trial and that of her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman who had been murdered alongside her became known as the ‘Trial of the Century’ with her former husband Orenthal James Simpson as the accused.

It is hard to believe that Nicole was murdered over twenty three years ago for I can remember the BBC news reports and the iconic photographs of the bloody pathway lined with the neat rows of purple and lilac Agapanthus.

I also remember the farcical ‘Bronco Chase’, the sensational headlines week after week in The National Enquirer, the court testimony of Mark Fuhrman and the shock of the “Not Guilty” verdict on October 3 in the following year.

And yet what I most recall is the realisation of a grotesque dichotomy that despite the voluminous photographs of a beautiful and happy Nicole that she had in fact been abused by Simpson throughout most of their seventeen year relationship.

I just don’t see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn’t keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it – or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes…

Published in October 1994 and written by her friend Faye Resnick, Nicole Brown Simpson: A Private Diary of a Life Interrupted was the first book that I ever bought about Nicole and I am still reading about her.

She was the subject of my Thesis in 1999 and remains the purpose for my work ever since.

There are literally hundreds of books that have been written about the life of Nicole and of her life with Simpson and the tales of glamour, celebrity, wealth and beauty have frequently made her appear remote, abstract and insignificant.

Yet it is the very tragedy of her early death that makes her life a compelling human story of hope, love, obsession and betrayal and that is why I choose to remember her.

‘Till Death Do Us Part…

Maybe I’m a Fool

To Feel the Way I Do

But I Would Play the Fool Forever

Just to Be With You Forever

I Believe in You and Me ~ The Four Tops

STAR – through friends of Nicole and industry insiders – has obtained a sneak peek at this extraordinary footage.

It tells the story of the first day of their marriage – a tragic union that ended in divorce seven years later, and that ultimately led to the most sensational murder case in American history.

The video opens with Nicole getting ready on Feb 2, 1985, for the big event at their Brentwood mansion, the same spot where O.J. surrendered to police after the Bronco freeway chase watched by millions.

Nicole, then 25, looks incredibly young and virginal. She’s dressed in a white bathrobe and slippers with a bunny rabbit motif as she prepares for what she describes with a broad grin as: “The happiest day of my life.”

Two of Nicole’s sisters are seen helping her with her makeup and fussing around as she gets ready to slip into her wedding dress, which is carefully laid out on a bed. The traditional white wedding gown, with a formfitting lace bodice and high neck, shows off her wonderful figure.

As she awaits the arrival of O.J., a nervous Nicole announces: “It’s funny because I’m so excited. I feel really weird.”

A source who has seen the video tells STAR: “The quality of the film is astonishing. Those first shots of a radiant Nicole preparing for her big day are so childlike and innocent… Nicole looks like a girl who’s looking forward to her first night of love with the man of her dreams.”

Later, when they are standing side by side at the altar; O.J. looks at his wife and declares: “This is the best day of my life and I know it’s going to get better.” A proud Nicole replies: “It’s so good… how could it get any better than this?”

The most poignant moment in the 45-minute ceremony comes immediately before Rev. Moomaw pronounces O.J. and Nicole husband and wife. A female gospel singer gives a slow rendition of the Four Tops song, I Believe in You and Me, and Nicole is almost moved to tears.

She gazes lovingly at O.J. as the singer delivers such deeply romantic lyrics as “I will never leave your side… I will never hurt your pride,” and “I believe in miracles… And love’s a miracle…”

When the minister announces to guests: “May I be the first to introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. O.J. Simpson,” there is a huge cheer. And then the fun begins.

O.J. and Nicole step onto a make-shift dance floor as the live band plays a slow, romantic number…

As they move around in a tight embrace, O.J. lip-synchs the words to the song: “Your love just happens to be mine…”

An elated O.J. with his beautiful bride leads a conga line of revelers around the tent. By that time, says the source: “A great number of guests were unsteady on their feet. A generous O.J. made sure that the champagne flowed continually.”

One of the wedding’s most riveting moments was the cutting of the cake, a touching scene at the time that now is taking on chilling dimensions – because of the knife murders of  Nicole and her waiter friend Ronald Goldman.

Said the source: “It was a pretty big cake, so obviously it took a fairly large knife to cut into it. When you see O.J. pick up the knife and then, with Nicole’s hand on his, slice into this large cake, it sends a shiver down your spine.”

And later, as guests toasted the happy couple with Dom Perignon champagne, Nicole’s mother, Juditha, declared: “They will tell you it’s the happiest day of their lives. It is also the happiest day in my life. They are two beautiful people. They are meant for each other.”

Star Magazine (November 15 1994)

I Said That YOU Would Kill ME!

“Look what the bastard’s done to me!” wept Nicole Simpson as her sister Denise snapped dramatic photos of the battered blonde – which offer horrifying proof of her vicious beating at the hands of O.J.

Those photos were seized by police from Nicole’s safe deposit box and are now in the hands of prosecutors. It’s up to Judge Lance Ito to decide if they can be introduced at O.J.’s trial.

“The most shocking photo shows the left side of her face badly bruised and swollen,” Denise told a family friend.

“Her face looked like raw meat!

“It looks like she was beaten with a baseball bat, but Nicole told me O.J. used only his fists.

There were small scratches on her face – under her eyes, on her nose and near her mouth. She had a bruise near the center of her forehead.

Nicole said she got the scratches when O.J. was trying to pull her hair and instead clawed her face. He was able to grab Nicole’s long hair and when he did he pulled out gobs of it. You could see small patches of missing hair on the back of her scalp.”

The beating captured in Denise’s photos took place at O.J.’s house on New Year’s Day, 1989. Police responded to the scene after receiving a 911 call.

“A few days after the beating Nicole asked me to come to her house, ” Denise told the family friend. “When she answered the door, I gasped with amazement. She looked like someone had beaten the hell out of her.

“O.J. beat me,’ Nicole said. “He’s crazy. Look at what the bastard’s done to me. One of these days he’s going to kill me!’ Then she started crying.

“She took me into the bathroom and begged me to take pictures of her battered face and body. She told me, ‘I need proof that O.J. beat me. Without proof no one will ever believe me. The public thinks he’s a hero who can’t do wrong.’

“I got her Polaroid camera and took several pictures.

“In addition to the shot of her face, I also took a photo of Nicole’s right underarm. She was black and blue from the armpit down the inside of her arm for about six inches.

“You could see individual finger marks underneath her arm where O.J. had grabbed her. Also there were small scratches from his fingernails digging into her skin where he grabbed her underneath the arm.

“Her right bicep was so bruised that she had a hard time lifting her right arm over her head or carrying her children!”

Denise also revealed that when Nicole went to the hospital after the beating, O.J.’s best friend Al Cowlings – not O.J. took her there.

Simpson eventually pleaded no contest to wife-beating charges stemming from the incident, and was ordered to serve community service.

Still fearful, Nicole stashed the photos taken by Denise in a safe deposit box. Denise didn’t know what had become of them – until she heard that police, armed with a search warrant, had recently opened Nicole’s box at a Brentwood, Calif., bank and found the photos inside.

“I figured they were the ones I took,” Denise told a family friend.

The National Enquirer (January 3 1995)

At Home With Nicole…

Is Nicole’s House a ‘Real’ Model?
Yes, it is a ‘real’ model! And created in 12th scale.

Can I Visit Nicole’s House?
As Nicole’s House has been on private and public display in the past; there are occasions when it can ‘seen’ in person and a subscription to the Brentwood Ghost Newsletter will keep you informed about our studio open-days and forthcoming exhibitions.

What is the Story Behind the Creation and Design of Nicole’s House?
Nicole’s House began life in kit form purchased from an independent dolls’ house supplier with the original design having been ‘tweaked’.

However the house has been created primarily with the use of MDF, plaster, strip wood, paints, mountboard, papier-mâché, air-drying clay, natural foliage and of course with plenty of glue and lots of imagination!

The model remains the exclusive work of Tee Bylo.

Can I Follow the Stories from Nicole’s House?
As well as sharing the stories on the website, you can also follow the news from Nicole’s House on InstagramFlickrTwitterPinterestFacebookTumblr and Google+

And you can now join Tee as she continues the story from Nicole’s House on her blog…

Why the Creation of Nicole’s House?
Beginning with the news of the murders in June 1994 and from the first book she bought in the Autumn of 1994 to the sensational murder trial with the lurid tabloid tales and the campaign to raise much needed awareness against domestic abuse as well as being the subject of a controversial thesis; Tee’s interest in the life of Nicole Brown Simpson has been an enduring constant.

Tee’s contention is that for all of the many thousands of words written about Nicole with the tales of glamour, celebrity, wealth and beauty have only served to make Nicole a remote and insignificant figure – a wrong Tee is determined to remedy.

“The woman loved life. She loved to entertain, and she went all out when you visited, whether it was for coffee, lunch, to play tennis, to have drinks to eat dinner. You always felt special walking into her world…”
Tanya Brown ‘Finding Peace Amid the Chaos’ (US: LangMarc Publishing 2013)

And even though Tee has been making ‘Small Worlds’ for many years now and the passion for design remains just as intoxicating; the creation and story of Nicole’s House celebrates the life of a talented and much-loved young woman who relished nothing more than being with her family in the home that she had made for them.​

How Can I Learn More About the Work of Tee Bylo?
You can discover more about the artist’s work with a visit to her official website Creating Life in 12th Scale… or by signing up to follow her blog Tee Bylo and you can also support Tee’s work on the crowdfunding site Patreon and enjoy exclusive access to the creation of Nicole’s House.

Tee can also be found on the usual social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Twitter.

And Your Plans for Nicole’s House?
With ‘pumpkin carving’ planned for Halloween, a turkey to ‘roast’ for Thanksgiving and gingerbread cookies to decorate for Christmas; there is plenty to keep the artist busy in the kitchen of Nicole’s House for some time to come!

However, beginning later this year and with completion scheduled for Christmas 2018, Tee is now busy with the ambitious design of another and much larger Nicole’s House and plans to recreate Nicole’s last home at 875 South Bundy Drive as faithfully as possible; the story of which will be published on the blog with further exclusive updates available on Tee’s Patreon Page.

There will also be an opportunity to buy Tee’s tribute to Nicole Brown Simpson as a gift for yourself or a loved one with the release of a beautiful coffee table book which tells the story of Nicole’s House and is due for publication in June 2019.

Can I Share the Information and the Images from Nicole’s House on My Website or Blog?
Of course! However, all we ask is that you will remember to fully and accurately credit the artist and her work. Thank you!

Home IS Where the Heart IS! The Story and Creation of Nicole’s House…

For as well as enduring interest in the life and legacy of Nicole Brown Simpson, a passion for the Regency world of the Poet Lord Byron and the occasional bar of chocolate, I am also an artist and storyteller creating ‘Life’ in 12th scale.

AND as one of the most popular ‘Small Worlds’ is still Nicole’s House, I thought I’d share a ‘little’ more about this unique 12th scale house.

“I just don’t see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn’t keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it – or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes.

 I just don’t see how that compares to infidelity, wife beating, verbal abuse.

 I just don’t think everybody goes through this…. I called the cops to save my life whether you believe it or not..”

 These are the harrowing words written by Nicole shortly before her brutal murder on Sunday June 12 1994 in the garden of her Brentwood home in Los Angeles as her two children were sleeping.

Nicole’s former husband O.J. Simpson was subsequently arrested, tried and acquitted of her murder and that of her friend Ronald Goldman in a relentless blaze of publicity the following year.

 I began to read about Nicole shortly after her murder in 1994, she was the focus for the research and publication of my BA thesis in 1999 and I have been reading about her ever since.

 She was also the inspiration for the creation of the ‘Ghost of Brentwood’ and now known as ‘Nicole’s House’.

For in June 1994 and shortly before her brutal murder, Nicole was making plans to leave her home in Brentwood in order to escape the abuse and obsession that had characterised her long relationship with Simpson.

 Only days before her death, Nicole had seen a beach house in Malibu available for rent and she was excited and positive at the prospect of a move there with their children.

 ‘Nicole’s House’ is a 12th scale miniature of several narratives:

A recreation of some of the principle rooms at 875 South Bundy Drive as they were discovered in the early hours of Monday June 13 1994 as the investigation into the murders of Nicole and Ronald Lyle Goldman was underway.

 

 

Additional rooms are created as a tribute to the style and essence of Nicole who loved the style of interior design that has come to typify the “California Look”.

 

 

 

 

Finally, as we know that Nicole was planning a move to a beach house in Malibu, ‘Nicole’s House’ is a poignant reminder of ‘what might have been’.

 

 

To learn more about the life of Nicole through the creation of this unique house, follow the link: Nicole’s House. The Story. The Creation…

Words Matter! I Told You I Was Scared!

Words matter. O.J. Simpson’s defense team asked Judge Lance A. Ito to order the prosecution to say domestic discord rather than domestic violence or even spousal abuse–already euphemisms for wife-beating–and to disallow the words battered wife and stalker.

Ito refused to alter reality by altering language but some media complied–for example, “Rivera Live,” where domestic discord became a new term of art. The lawyer who successfully defended William Kennedy Smith on a rape charge also used that term systematically.

 Where is the victim’s voice? Where are her words?

“I’m scared,” Nicole Brown told her mother a few months before she was killed. “I go to the gas station, he’s there. I go to the Payless Shoe Store, and he’s there. I’m driving, and he’s behind me.”

Nicole’s ordinary words of fear, despair and terror told to friends, and concrete descriptions of physical attacks recorded in her diary, are being kept from the jury.

Insignificant when she was alive–because they didn’t save her–the victim’s words remain insignificant in death: excluded from the trial of her accused murderer, called “hearsay” and not admissible in a legal system that has consistently protected or ignored the beating and sexual abuse of women by men, especially by husbands.

 Nicole called a battered women’s shelter five days before her death. The jury will not have to listen–but we must. Evidence of the attacks on her by Simpson that were witnessed in public will be allowed at trial. But most of what a batterer does is in private. The worst beatings, the sustained acts of sadism, have no witnesses.

Only she knows. To refuse to listen to Nicole Brown Simpson is to refuse to know.

Andrea Dworkin Los Angeles Times (January 1995)