Monday, March 31, 2008

More on Blacaman

A further (and not final) glimpse on the man who died twice.

In the mid-20, the vaudeville and music-hall was fighting the movies, eager for new sensations: physical, mysterious, primal emotions. These mainly came from the poorest and oldest of street performances. Hypnotists were dignified as theatre stars among velvets and limelights; magicians turned to the macabre side of torture with half-sawn women, nurses on stage and stage blood; or into the heroism of impossible escapes with ambulances on the marquee; and the fakirism reached the glory of the stage. More and more european performers plunged into the repertory of the miserable oriental street worker to became the most mysterious kings of the stage.

One of those was Blacaman.
He suddenly appeared on the European stages in the mid-20s, nobody knowing from where. Said at once indian, brazilian, or from some savage unknown race, he was the most talked fakir of the time. As shown in our past gallery, he displayed the now standard repertory of the fakirs, being one of the firsts to popularize with great emphasis the walk on the ladder of swords, on top of which he hanged few seconds with his throat: to clean at the end the traces of blood, demonstrating nightly the victory on his modern guillotine.

He amazed from the Berlin Wintergarten to Paris Empire, with long tours in South America and a lot of success in Spain, in variety temples such Barcelona’s Olympia or Madrid’s Price. But his pi├ęce de resistance was the “buried alive” stunt, in the full epic of houdinesque dramaturgy.

Is because that stunt, that we like to call him “the man who died twice”. In fact, being sure that Blacaman left this world in 1949 (his career is fully demonstrated into the 40s), with surprise we recently discovered a cutting from the respectable Billboard Magazine (Sept.14, 1929), announcing the death of the celebrated self-thaumaturge in Argentina, where the “hindu” happened to struggle under the earth without dominate the death. It was a journalist’s mistake, a clever publicity stunt or a true resurrection miracle?

Unable to solve the mistery, we can at least guarantee you about the identity of the fakir: he was the italian Pietro Blacaman, from the region of Calabria, born here in 1902. And in the times we are describing he still had a lot to do in his career, as we will demonstrate soon to you. But, for now, thank you to be patient once more...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Burlesque Bycicling

Joe Jackson and his cycling clone
Mastering a talent can often be the secret of a comedy genius. Juggling, dancing, magic, music, singing, tumbling, drinking galons of water or balancing billiard tables have been the excuses at the roots of the greatest clowns. Mastering a technique to destroy it for comic purpose.
In this way, austrian performer Joe Jackson become one of the most requested vaudeville headliners at the turn of the century. His son followed up to the 70s with the same act. Joe Jackson's technique was to destroy our basic skills of going on a bike to turn them in a string of unconveniences.

So genial was the idea, he was forced to bill himself as "the original", as on this poster we recently came across:

While recorded memories of Jackson act don't seem to exixts (but his son's verson have been televised), one of his antagonists was luckier in the preservation to eternity: is the case of Sam Barton, a Jackson clone (even if with some difference) that glowed for awhile in the British music hall.
So, for your enjoyment today, a poster of the original Joe Jackson and a film of Jackson's emule Sam Barton:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wonders to Come...

The blog is not dead...
We are travelling a lot those days, but we promise you to be back with new surprises before Easter...
Thanks for not forgetting us...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Man who died twice

Our first glimpse into the myth of Blacaman.

Who was Blacaman?
From where he came from?
And why we call him "the man who died twice"?
He even inspired a novel of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but his life is surrounded by mystery.
Or almost.
You will discover more soon, in a future investigation. For the moment, please appreciate this rare gallery of Blacaman's early career, from a series of his french publicity of the 20s, designed by the parisian Lorette Studio.

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