Saturday, January 22, 2011

Big Big Bawdiness In Weimar Republic Germany

Sometimes the impact of a personality is just so arresting that, even with great distances of time and place, it demands your attention.

And so it is for me with Claire Waldoff, rough and bawdy Berlin carbaret singer of the 1910's and 1920's.

Born Clara Wortmann, the singer arrived for work in Berlin in 1903, saying:

I fell passionately in love with Berlin. Not because the city was beautiful or the Imperial capital, but because it was Berlin, with its special atmosphere, its vivacious and curt character

For the stage, she adopted a gruff persona and the rough slang of the working class native Berliners, full doubles entendres and sexual innuendos:

I began to become the Berliner, a prototype of the Berliner, a representative of modern Berlin

This is typified in ''Ach Gott Was Sind Die Männer Dumm'' ('My God How Stupid Men Are'):

A regular at the Chat Noir in Friedrichstraße, and the Eldorado ...

Eldorado 1932

... Claire Waldoff limited her performances to three songs only, with no encores, which allowed her to play a number of different venues each night, establishing herself as a major star.

The rise of Hitler and fascism in the 1930s put an end to Waldoff's career, and she and the lover with whom she had always lived openly, Olga Von Roeder ...

Claire Waldoff and her lover, Olga Von Roeder

... went to love in Bayerisch Gmain - and took up gardening in a very serious manner.

Sadly, or otherwise, after listening to 'Ach Gott Was Sind Die Männer Dumm' I feel just a tad more 'delicate' and less hairy-chested than usual!

How bout you?

I guess the Isherwood posts put me in the mood for things of this sort, and the angle it gives on gay social history.

If you'd like more, then I came across an interesting blog 'Berlin Cabaret' - LINK.

The post on Anita Berber, who you may know through Otto Dix's painting ...

... is particularly good.

And my bet is this work was used as one of the models for the look of the dykes at the Kit Kat Klub in the 1972 film of 'Cabaret. What do you reckon?

Another more obvious model being Dix's portrait of the same year ...

... of Sylvia von हर्दें.

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