Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Video: Strip Tease on a Trapeze, 1901

Friday, October 27, 2017

Susan reporting,

Today we think of Thomas Edison (1847-1931) as a masterful inventor of practical things, like the light bulb, that changed the world. But he was also a shrewd businessman who wasn't afraid to apply his inventions (like the motion picture camera) to pure entertainment. He gave the people what they wanted, and his short films included boxing cats, kissing couples, and this film featuring Charmion, one of the more famous vaudeville stars of the early 20thc.

Charmion was the stage name of Laverie Vallee (1875-1949), who not only dazzled audiences with her trapeze acts, but also with her well-developed muscles. In an era where the ideal woman was soft and round and confined by her corset, Charmion was a "strongwoman" who struck the same exaggerated poses as strongmen to show off the well-defined muscles in her arms, shoulders, and backs.

This short film shows her most famous act, performed on a trapeze. Beginning in full 19thc street dress, Charmion energetically sheds them all while on a trapeze, piece by piece falling away (I suspect an early version of Velcro in use) until she's left in nothing but a flesh-colored acrobat's leotard. This was hot stuff in 1900, and the humorous reactions of the two men who are nearly overcome in the balcony probably weren't that far off from from reality for some audiences.

And yes, this being 2017, not 1901, all two minutes are now entirely suitable for viewing at work.

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