This is not meant to be a biography of any sort, so I’m sorry to dash your hopes of a tell-all website about Taffy Epstein. I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies in the year between when I started this and when I finished, and frankly I know that I can’t do Taffy justice. There’s too much about her to fit into a book of decent length, and even then I just know I’d leave out something. I wrote a short book about her, but then I thought that maybe only the Internet is big enough to hold Taffy without collapsing.
After all, how can you correctly put the life of this woman into a book? There are volumes upon volumes of tales, true and apocryphal, that all combine into the life of the woman we call “the real Auntie Mame.” I asked her once, what she thought she was most proud of. Without missing a beat, Taffy told me “I had an affair going on with four men at the same time, and they never knew about each other. I consider that my greatest accomplishment.” She’s the woman who invited my father’s best friend from elementary school to come over and meet his new wife. She’s the very definition of an individual.
Everyone in the family knows I adore Jack Benny, and I own a handful of his biographies. In one of them, the one written by his daughter Joan, she says that she was told to start a biography with your most vivid memory about the person. If you ask the people who know Taffy to talk about her, every single one of them has a story.
And really, that’s how this all started. At a party at Taffy’s, back in the summer of 2004, Doug suggested I make a website for people to submit stories about Taffy, so that they wouldn’t be lost in the ether forever. Since I have a website, I sat down the very next day to do just that.
I emailed my friends and family, they in turn emailed their friends and from there, people who knew Taffy. Before I knew it, I had the United Dance Merchants of America posting a story about me (as her ‘grandson Mike’). Friends, family, and complete strangers (to me) sent in stories, and I’ve compiled them here for Taffy.
The wonderful thing about all these stories is that they’re true and they’re told out of love. The biggest complaint I had was that narrowing the multitude of tales down to a handful was hard, and picking out just one was near impossible. I know how they feel, I suffer the same problem.
In the end, I thought the best way to go about this was to share with everyone about how I see Taffy, and then to share the memories of other people along the way. I’m quite sure that everyone who procrastinated will end up with their stories in Taffy’s: The Sequel. Or maybe here on Taffy’s: The Website.
Finally, this site isn’t really by me, it’s by everyone who’s ever known and loved Taffy. I just can’t fit everyone’s name on the pages.