This Statue Has Been Getting Felt Up by Texas Oilmen Since 1917
Aside from a swath of fabric draped across her own masterpiece, The Golden Goddess stands entirely in the buff. The statue pre-dates Deco, but looks like something that could guard Versace's old South Beach nest.
She's had a peculiar life, this golden girl. And it seems like divine intervention that she wound up here, at the exclusive Forth Worth Petroleum Club, a mainstay oasis for Texas oilmen and their legacies. If she'd gone elsewhere her potential might have gone unnoticed. But here, it's tapped.
And worshiped through verse. And that's because these fellas know something the rest of us don't: This old broad has one magical ass.
It's unclear exactly when the decision was made, collectively. Or what instance led those early adopters to decide drilling fortune could be divined by rubbing the stature's booty, but most of the men dining here will say that their great grandfathers, grandfathers, and daddies rubbed the thing, and you can bet that they do too.
The Golden Goddess had her Texas debutant unveil at the Westbrook Hotel during the building's grand opening. It was 1910, she'd been brought over a year earlier from Italy by the hotel's builder, Benjamin Johnston Tillar, and placed in the lobby. When oil was discovered near Ranger, Texas in 1917 the region got its first taste of drilling fever. The Westbrook became synonymous with big deals, land deeds and firm handshakes -- somewhere in there the boys discovered, quite literally, their golden idol. That's when the ass-rubbing started.
As wells hit, their affections deepened. They even wrote an ode in her honor:
The Oilman's Lament
Listen to me you Golden Goddess
Standing high on your pedestal
Hold high your torch
So high it can spread light
Into the black soil wilderness
Where the drill boys dig deep holes for fortunes
Let me rub your derriere for luck, for courage
Look down into my eyes, golden one
and bequeath me your favors ...
in black gold!
The Westbrook was demolished in 1978 and the gal whose rear end inspired generations of feel-ups, vanished. She turned up, rather unceremoniously, at a nearby Spaghetti Warehouse, positioned amidst the cluttered, large-portion-celebrating, brick-a-brac.
It was a dark era.
When the pasta house on Exchange Street finally ran out of sauce, Her Majesty went up for public auction. The oilmen knew about her, so they raised money to bring her back home, finally making an honest woman out of her. She became theirs on March 15, 2003 then had her restored to her original, magical, pre-pasta accessory condition.
She's a little overbearing, visually, so finding her the correct spot took a few tries.
First, she stood brazenly in front of the elevators as an immediate greeting to all who entered.
There were complaints: Too much naked, too soon.
Next she moved into the men's room, a transition accompanied by its own set of unique, logistical problems. The most vocalized came from the wives who felt slighted, and not by the intimate nature of the placement. On the contrary. The wives wanted face time, or rather, about face time, with the Goddess too. A tough task when she's hidden in the john.
A compromise was made. Now she stands here, somewhat unassumingly, holding her torch in a corner of the Petroleum Club's 40th floor lounge. She faces the room's interior; her booty directed outward, pointing toward a window's scenic overlook. They walk by, stop. Then it's just a quick hand slip around the back, followed by a circular rub (tapping is optional) and the wish has been placed. Just as it's been done for a hundred years.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Dallas and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.