Ivy Bottini, a National and Local Activist, Is Leaving West Hollywood

lesbian, activist, NOW
Ivy Bottini

Ivy Bottini, a well-known activist both nationally and in the City of West Hollywood, is leaving WeHo.

Bottini will be moving (likely by the end of the month) to Sebring, Fla., to live with her daughter, Lisa Santasiero, and Santasiero’s wife. However, she will be in West Hollywood on Jan. 16 for a public reading of portions of “The Liberation of Ivy Bottini – A Memoir of Love and Activism,” her recently published biography, and a discussion between Bottini and her biographer, Judith V. Branzburg.

In an interview with WEHOville, Bottini said that she will miss West Hollywood, where she has lived since 1997, currently in a condominium on Kings Road. However, Bottini, 92, said the increasing cost of living was a factor. “Quite frankly, if I stayed here, I would run out of money. So I’m going,” she said.

Bottini was born and grew up in Long Island, a single child whose father, Archie Gaffney, was a cab driver and amateur boxer who taught Bottini that sport. Gaffney died in an accident when Bottini was 18. That left Bottini and her mother deeply impoverished. Pratt Institute of Art and Design gave Bottini a full scholarship to study advertising, graphic design and illustration, setting her on the path to an early career at art and advertising agencies in New York City and eventually as art director and illustrator at Newsday, the Long Island newspaper.

Bottini in 1952 married Eddie Bottini, a neighbor, and the couple had two daughters, Laura and Lisa.

It was in 1966 when Bottini made a major life change after attending a meeting with Betty Friedan, the author of “The Feminist Mystique,” a best-selling book credited with inspiring a wave of feminism that challenged the stereotype that a woman’s role was as a wife and homemaker. Friedan become the founding president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Bottini was inspired to help found NOW’s first chapter in New York City, where she served as president for two terms. She also served for three years on the organization’s national board.

ivy bottini, lesbian activist
Ivy Bottini and daughters Laura and Lisa.

Bottini experienced another major life change in 1968, when she accepted the fact that she was a lesbian. She made that a feminist issue when, in 1969, she staged a panel discussion whose title was “Is Lesbianism A Feminist Issue?”
Bottini’s feminist activism was very public. In August 1970 she led the New York City NOW Chapter in the first Women’s Equality March down Fifth Avenue, which attracted tens of thousands of participants. Earlier that month she and other NOW members took over the Statue of Liberty in New York and hang a banner labeled “Women of the World Unite” across it.

Bottini’s position at NOW became tenuous as she continued to raise the issue of lesbian rights. During a protest march, Bottini helped other members distribute purple armbands to show support for lesbians. She saw Friedan in front of her and passed her an armband, saying, “Here you go, Betty.” Friedan threw it to the ground and used her foot to grind it.

Bottini lost her position as president of the NOW chapter by seven votes in 1970. In 2016, the Hollywood chapter of NOW and the state organization presented Bottini with a letter apologizing for the way she was treated. The late Jeanne Cordova, an author, activist and longtime friend of Bottini’s, proclaimed that “the Women’s Movement’s loss was the LGBT movement’s gain!”

In 1972, Bottini divorced her husband. She moved to Los Angeles briefly in 1974 to focus on acting, comedy and the nascent gay rights moment. However, she returned to New York briefly when she was diagnosed with a thyroid disease. In April 1975, Bottini was staging a panel on lesbianism and feminism in San Francisco when she met and fell in love with Dottie Wine, with whom she has remained for 42 years in a relationship that swings back and forth from lover to good friend.

Ivy Bottini at work on a painting.

She toured the country for several years performing “The Many Faces of Woman,” a lesbian feminist one-woman show. Bottini was hired in 1976 as director of the women’s program at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center. She took a leave of absence from that position and worked as the Southern California deputy director for the “No on Proposition 6” campaign, which successfully fought a proposal to ban lesbian and gay people from working as public school teachers.

Bottini’s activism continued. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her as the first out gay or lesbian person to the California Commission on Aging. And in the early 1980s she co-founded the Los Angeles Lesbian/Gay Police Advisory Board. In 1983 Bottini I founded AIDS Network LA, the first AIDS organization, which focused on collecting and sharing information about the epidemic. In 1984 she was one of the founders of AIDS Project LA (now APLA Health).

Her AIDS activism was as robust as her feminist activism. In 1986, she helped create “No on LaRouche /Proposition 64,” a campaign to defeat a proposal by Lyndon LaRouche that AIDS be added to California’s list of communicable diseases and that those with AIDS be quarantined in concentration camps. Bottini also organized gay rights marches and protests focused on AIDS. She also lobbied successfully to get the State of California to rescind its statute of limitation for sex crimes.

In 1999, Bottini was appointed to the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, a position from which she worked to bring attention to crystal meth addiction and LGBT partner abuse. Bottini also promoted the idea of creating affordable housing for LGBT seniors. Her work was instrumental in the creation of Triangle Square, a-104 unit assistive living, affordable income apartment complex in Hollywood for LGBT people 62 and older. Located in Hollywood, it opened in 2007. Bottini worked with the City of West Hollywood to create a space for lesbians in the newly renovated Werle Building, which houses the ONE Archives.

Lesbian activist Ivy Bottini calling our Mayor Duran and Councilmember D’Amico for their ‘giddy’ response to porn star Stormy Daniels

Bottini has been active in local politics. She is endorsing incumbents Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister and challenger Sepi Shyne in the March 5 City Council election. Shyne, who is a lesbian, would be the second to ever serve on the City Council. The first was Valerie Terrigno, elected when the city was formed in 1984.

She has regularly attended City Council meetings, speaking out on a variety of issues. One of her most controversial recent moments was this past June when she condemned Mayor John Duran’s declaration of May 31 last year as “Stormy Daniels Day” and Councilmember John D’Amico’s presentation of the key to the city to the porn performer, who had alleged a sexual relationship with Donald Trump. Duran summoned Sheriff’s deputies to remove Bottini for speaking longer than the two-minute limit.

Bottini also has continued to focus on another passion – art. Her apartment is full of modern paintings. She has had one- woman shows and been a part of group shows in Hollywood, Pasadena and West Hollywood. Her work includes political paintings and “large-bodied, nude women celebrating the joy of life.”

Because of her macular degeneration, Bottini has lost much of her eyesight and her art has shifted to less detailed images.

Bottini expects to continue her art work in Sebring, which has an active art league. She also will continue her activism. “Sebring is the county seat for Highland County,” she said. “I suspect I’ll get involved with the democratic party. The women are now trying for a real push to get the ERA passed. Maybe when I get there I can help.”

And she will go fishing. “We’re not far from where I can go fishing,” she said. “My dad raised me fishing.”

Art enthusiasts can see, and purchase, Bottini’s art from 1 to 5 p.m. on the following Saturdays:  Jan. 12, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26, at Bottini’s home.  The address is 1015 N. Kings Rd., south of Santa Monica Boulevard.  Samples of her art can be found on the pages below:


11 Comments
  1. I first met Ivy Bottoni in the late 70s at The Women’s Bldg. In DTLA. She did lesbian feminist stand up, educational, poignant, and painfully hilarious.
    She’s nationally well known as she is here.
    I loved it that she always called me by my last name with an exclamation point: “Shepodd!” Even in a real estate context.
    I smile every time I think of you, Ivy. And am grateful for your steadfast and kind heart and sense of irony.
    Oxo

  2. Ivy is a class act. Something that is totally foreign to John Duran. John Duran did call up the Sheriff because he claimed Ivy was speaking “off topic” during citizens’ comments. Too bad John D’Amico didn’t report Duran’s Grindr texting to the FBI. We might have had a raid on City Hall to clean up the corruption.

  3. A fascinating engaged woman who is leaving West Hollywood because she no longer can afford to live here, in WeHo or probably anywhere in the Los Angeles area.
    There is something very sad and blatantly wrong about that and many people of different ages are feeling that same financial crunch here.
    We’re losing good people due to cost of living here and I wish the city could have better control of skyrocketing rents- particularly with greedy landlords whose apartments are simply ridiculously, inappropriately overpriced for what they are!
    Our loss and I wish Ivy a continued wonderful life in Florida.

  4. What an incredible human being and force within our community. I can live this life many times over and still not come close to Ivy’s many accomplishments. She has become an inspiration for my activism over the years and I’m grateful to know her. I am sad, nonetheless, that our seniors cannot age in place. We must provide a haven to our seniors who we so desperately need in times like these.

    Hats off to you, Ivy, for your brilliant work over the decades.

  5. Actually John Duran called up the Sheriff because he claimed Ivy was speaking “off topic” during citizens’ comments; she over ran her time arguing about her right to speak and taunting the Mayor to have her arrested. Ivy was never one to back down when she believed she was in the right.

    I have been working with Ivy since the early 1990s; she has always been a role model and a hero. Her passion for justice was and remain contagious. A pioneering feminist, she lead the State wide effort to oppose State Senator John Brigg’s proposition to ban gays from teaching in California schools and was a four term president of Stonewall Democratic Club at a time when AIDS was devastating our community.

    While she is entitled to rest on her laurels, we’ll see how long that lasts. She may be opening up an new chapter of activism in Florida.

  6. Ivy might be leaving but she leaves a legacy behind. I’m not sure anybody can replace the legend of Ivy Bottini but wish her well with lots of love!

  7. Correction, Hank. “Valerie Terrigno”, not “Valerie Ferrigno” (and I may have misspelled it…it’s been over 30 years since she was on Council).

  8. West Hollywood’s very significant loss is Sebring’s incredible gain. The heft and authority of her voice, honed by decades of involvement will be sorely missed. As I’ve said before, Ivy Bottini has earned the right to say whatever she wants, whenever she wants and to whomever she pleases. I’m sure some on the council dais will be pleased to be rid of the accountability her stature brings to debate, but West Hollywood will be poorer by her absence.

  9. It is a shame to see a dedicated political activist having to leave in a time when they are needed the most! When social justice issues like a living wage and affordable housing are neglected, it creates a selective pressure that favors only the wealthy willing to promote the interests of those in power.

    1. Ivy can always be remembered by those who pick up the baton and carry on with the work she initiated. She will never really ever be gone because she was such a mentor to many who remain. Our city is not diminished by her pending absence, but far better because of her previous presence. Carry on….

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