Femmes Fatales Aug 17 2021
BECOMING ZABOU
From chieftain's daughter to chief attraction.


We're back to burlesque today with a photo of the famed Crazy Horse dancer who went by the name of Miss Zabou. Born and raised in Mali, she was the daughter of a village chieftain, and at sixteen became a member of Mali's Le Troupe de Ballet. After a few years she went to Dakar, Senegal for more prosaic work as a hairdresser, and from there moved on to Paris to do the same. Upon visiting Crazy Horse she became interested once more in dance, which we imagine says a lot about either how thrilling Crazy Horse extravaganzas were, or how much more money Parisian burlesqueteers made than Malian ballerinas. In any case, she jettisoned hairdressing, and the beautiful Zabou and her radiant smile became the talk of Paris. We have one more photo of her we may post a little later.

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Femmes Fatales Mar 29 2021
FORMAL UNDRESS
It's a yellow banana occasion—no exceptions, no excuses.


This brilliant photo features the famed French burlesque dancer who billed herself as Maria Tuxedo. She appeared onstage at Le Crazy Horse cabaret, and this image was made there probably around 1968. We think it's amazing. There are other frames from this session, which was shot by Giancarlo Botti, and some of those are even in realistic color, but we like this desaturated look best.

Those of you in the know concerning burlesque have noticed that Tuxedo is channeling Josephine Baker. Baker may or may not have been the first to wear a skirt of bananas, but she undoubtedly was the one who made the look iconic. Ironically, the most famous photos of Baker in this mode don't feature her with real bananas, but rather costuming constructed to resemble them. The shots of her with actual bananas—such as the one you see here—are less famous.

But the gimmick was indeed made into something lasting by Baker, and Tuxedo was definitely paying tribute when she wore her ungainly accoutrement. Yet she managed to make it look effortless, which shows yet again that, while beautiful women graced all niches of show business, burlesque dancers were special, aesthetically and athletically. We don't think they get enough credit for being some of the most inspiring figures of the mid-century era. But we always do our best to promote them, particularly in the jawdropping examples we've shared  here, here, here, and here.

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Femmes Fatales Mar 3 2020
TRICK SHOT ARTIST
Damn, missed again. Can I try one more time or do you need a paramedic like immediately?


This photo of Danish actress, director, writer, and singer Anna Karina, née Hanne Karin Bayer, was made by Italian photographer Giancarlo Botti, and is one of the most famous images of the famed French New Wave icon. Botti shot this when Karina was filming the musical comedy Anna in 1966 (some sources say 1967). She died a few months ago and many nice tributes appeared online, but the best tribute of all is simply watching one of her highly regarded films. We recommend 1964's Bande à part. See another Karina image here.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 27
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
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