Monday, November 27, 2006

Forgotten Acts: KORINGA (1)

There was a time when
the experience of live entertainment assured the same thrills and fascination of the movies. Look at those posters: in the early 20s they gave you the same expectation of a Tarzan flick, but with the promise that Koringa was supposed to be alive, and all her beasts too.
Who was Koringa? Where she came from? She could have been the daughter of a maharajah abandoned in the jungle and raised by reptiles; why not the last empress of a lost amazon tribe; or a true goddess fallen from the olympus of magnetists offering to the earth the gift of her supernatural powers.
How she left the lost doomed temple where she used to live, arriving to the small vaudeville house just around the drugstore?
Little is known about the origins of the “only fakir woman in the world”. All what we were able to unveil, is that in the real world she was probably French. She started as an assistant of Blacaman (another kind of a legend), interpretating one of the nurses during his fakir acts. We believe that the Koringa reptiles act was put toghether as a sort of second unit of the Blacaman company.
More on Koringa in the next few days.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Sappiamo di continuare sempre più spesso a deludere coloro i quali non conoscono l'inglese: un pò di pazienza, e la vocazione multilinguistica di questo blog ospiterà di sicuro fatti e documenti curiosi anche in lingua italiana.
Ma, oltre a questo, abbiamo deciso che forse l'Italia merita qualcosa di specifico.
Perciò, tra breve esordirà un nuovo blog esclusivamente in lingua italiana:

Non sarà la traduzione di questo: avrà una natura un pò diversa, e sicuramente molto vivace.

Quando uscirà? Da quale parte del web? Come sarà?
Lo saprete se continuate ogni tanto a visitarci qui.

Heinrich Lang and the Auguste

As promised, another print from my collection of Heinrich Lang works.
Lang was a minor German painter from the late XIX century, specialized in equestrian pleasures. Among his works realized two magnificent albums of heliogravures on the theme of circus in central Europe around 1880. It is an exceptional and detailed document of circus life in a period of dramatic evolution of the art, at the turning point before the fall of the priority of the equestrian culture and the full rise of acrobatics and gymnastic in the ring.
The two albums are among the rarest works on circus, and Toole-Stott rates them among "the 100 best circus works".
The present image is titled "The hoops", and is one of the 28 prints contained in the second album ("Kunstreiter und Gaukler", 1881). In the image, valets, ring masters and clowns are in the center of the ring waiting for the horse ballerina, that will turn around them and hopefully jumping in each of the hoops.
The scene is almost certainly depicted in one of the Renz circus buildings in mitteleuropa.
The man on the left wearing mustaches can likely be Direktor Ernest Renz.
The most interesting thing: the man in the center, standing in profile, wearing a frock coat can be one of the earliest images that I know of the auguste (if not the first). And almost certainly, I believe him being Tom Belling, the originator of august himself.
But I will be back soon on the subject...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

James the genius

In a previous post we talked about James Thierrée (starring in the movie Bye Bye Blackbird).James is writer, director, acrobat, magician, mime, dancer, poet, aerialist...
I consider him the only living human being able to blend all those crafts (at their best) in the purest essence of Art.
His theatrical creations are a bridge between the past universe of silent movies, vaudeville and circus, and the actuality of the most accomplished contemporary stage expressions. Watching his shows, it makes me thinking of Charlie Chaplin going with Pina Bausch to spend a holiday into a Lewis Carroll book revised by Franz Kafka...
But, does those similarities really makes any sense?What is most beautiful, is that James' works, even is praised by critics worldwide, is completely immediate and anti-intellectual. They have the spontaneity and the genius of the children way of playing with universes, objects and living bodies.
James' first show was The Junebug Symphony created around 2000 (and recently available on DVD in France), followed by La Veillée des Abysses, still touring around the world with his talented company.James will create a new show in May 2007 at Theatre de la Ville in Paris, then on tour.
His parents (Jean Baptiste Thierrée and Victoria Chaplin) are occasionally still touring around the globe with their Invisible Circus; his sister Aurelia has her own stage creation Oratorio.
Waiting for James around you, enjoy here for the moment two pictures from La Veilleé des Abysses.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Fine Art of Strip Tease

Burlesque was the finest art in the world.
The skillful seductive revelation of own private nudities in order to attract the attention of a most distracted audience in small, noisy and smoky venues, is a now forgotten practice that should be learned in any academy of dramatic art, and put in practice by any kind of performer. The psycological subtilties behind stripping and teasing principles, are lessons in true dramaturgy, suspence, expectation. If carefully learned, the secrets of taking all off can be today a healthy way to save many arts of the theatre. Shakespeare or Moliere would have without doubt written for it.
Burlesque reached his peak between the 50s and 60s: an age full of hopes, hedonism and a fascinating flavour of forthcoming decadence. In a certain way, was another side of the circus and his philosophy. From the classy night clubs of the world, to the travelling suburban girl shows; from the streets of Paris to the rural county fairs; from the emerging of a flashing Vegas Strips to the fading of a shadowy Times Square, around the globe gentlemen’s spare time was titillated by those innocent promises of sin.
This was a time of tempting capades and cavalcades, with a rich imagery in sex-o-rama, and a sure seduction enhanced by predictability: from the most unconvincing jungle sets eternally divided by the choice between zebras and leopards; to a space-age univers of aluminium foil; to the desperately infinite constellation of lingerie intime and bathing suits. All of that and more, set in the unlikeliest pre-Ikea furniture world made by uncessantly fliyng multicolor pillows, fake gilded thrones, colossal martini glasses and, of course, rides on giant cigars; or, in the most daring cases, innocent whips and boots inaugurating the age of bondage.
Crazy Horse de Paris was a late hip product of this age, before his touristic mutation into the likes of a boring visual handbook for Japanese housewives sipping cuba libres, or a reassuring tool for American businessmen having lives surrounded by feminine obesity. Even if Crazy Horse never interrupted his unique selection of the most beautiful women in the world, and the most unusual visual virtuosos of comedy and magic.
This European sanctuary is today brilliantly attempting to remove his patina of deja-vu with a new spirit.
The other evening, evening, a gala at the Crazy celebrated the arrival of the true great modern burlesque diva: the here depicted Dita Von Teese live and in person (privately the spouse of icon Marilyn Manson). Her act revives in the freshest way all the ingenuity, surrealism, and excitement you could expect from an erotic pastime: and a true carefully glittered bathtub filled by true floating soap bubbles was the excuse for the revelation of her very true curves.
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