Geneviève Lantelme (ca. 1900s)

Geneviève “Ginette” Lantelme (born 1883) was a French stage actress, socialite, fashion icon, and courtesan.

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Geneviève Lantelme, ca. 1900s via

Vintage Portraits of the Infamous Dancer Lola Montez (1821 – 1861)

Lola Montez or Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, Countess of Landsfeld,  was an Irish courtesan, actress and dancer. Her year of her birth is disputed, as are many aspects of her life. She famously wrote her own biography creating a completely fictional and self-indulgent fantasy of her life.

She launched herself on the London stage as ‘Lola Montez, the famous Spanish Dancer’ despite not being Spanish or even a dancer! Within years she had toured Europe with her scandalous dancing.

Her friends, lovers, and clients included Franz List, Alexandre Dumas and King Ludwig I.

In 1851, she came to the United States and in San Francisco, first performed her notorious “Spider Dance”—in which she pretended to be bitten by a spider, flailing and wiggling in a way calculated to induce maximum lust in the mostly male audience

King Ludwig I of Bavaria made her Countess of Landsfeld. She used her influence to institute liberal reforms. At the start of the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, she was forced to flee. She proceeded to the United States via Switzerland, France and London, returning to her work as an entertainer and lecturer.

In 1858, she published The Arts of Beauty: or, Secrets of a Lady’s Toilet, full of her own thoughts and advice. One excerpt read as follows:

Without a fine head of hair no woman can be really beautiful. A combination of perfect features, united in one person, would all go for naught without that crowning excellence of beautiful hair. Take the handsomest woman that ever lived—one with the finest eyes, a perfect nose, an expanded forehead, a charming face, and a pair of lips that beat the ripest and reddest cherries of summer—and shave her head, and what a fright would she be! The dogs would bark at, and run from her in the street.

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Lola Montez

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Lola Montez, Daguerreotype by Southworth & Hawes, 1851 via

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Lola Montez, 1851 via

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Lola Montez, painted by Joseph Karl Stieler for Ludwig I of Bavaria and his Schönheitengalerie, 1847 via

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Nicolas Toussaint Charlet´s portrait of Lola Montez via

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Lola Montez via

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Lola Montez  via

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Spider Dance via

Wonderful Belle Epoque Photos of Liane de Pougy (1869 – 1950)

Liane de Pougy (1869 – 1950), was a Folies Bergère dancer renowned as one of Paris’s most beautiful and notorious courtesans.

She was born in La Flèche and raised in a nunnery. At the age of 16, she ran off with a naval officer, marrying because she was pregnant. He turned out to be a brute and the marriage ended. Hence,  she began dabbling in acting and prostitution and it is now known that she was a heavy user of both cocaine and opium.

She began her career as a courtesan with the Countess Valtesse de la Bigne.

After moving to Paris, from her position at the Folies she became a noted demimondaine, and a rival of “La Belle Otero”. She took her last name from one of her paramours, a Comte or Vicomte de Pougy.

Upon her marriage to Prince Georges Ghika on June 8, 1910 she became Princess Ghika; this marriage ended in separation, though not divorce. Her son’s death as an aviator in World War I turned her towards religion and she became a tertiary of the Order of Saint Dominic as Sister Anne-Mary. She became involved in the Asylum of Saint Agnes, devoted to the care of children with birth defects. She died at Lausanne, Switzerland

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Liane de Pougy, 1900s via

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Paul Nadar, Liane de Pougy, 19th century via

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Liane de Pougy, 19th century via

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Nadar, Liane de Pougy, 1900s via

Amazing Vintage Photos of La Belle Otéro

Carolina “La Belle” Otéro (4 November 1868 – 12 April 1965) was a Galician born dancer, actress, courtesan and possibly the worlds first film star.

Her given name was Agustina Otero Iglesias. After a troubled childhood she left home at age twelve and found small jobs in cafés, bordellos, and music halls. She married twice before finding a sponsor in Barcelona who moved with her to Marseilles in order to promote her dancing career in France. She soon left him and created the character of La Belle Otero, fancying herself an Andalusian gypsy.

At the age of twenty-one she joined the Follies Bergere in Paris. Otéro was pretty, confident, intelligent and with an attractive figure. After becoming the star of Follies Bergere she was a sought after courtesan to the wealthy and powerful men of the day. She associated herself with the likes of Prince Albert I of Monaco, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Kings of Serbia, and Kings of Spain as well as Russian Grand Dukes Peter and Nicholas, the Duke of Westminster and the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio. Her love affairs made her infamous, and the envy of many other notable female personalities of the day.

It was once said of her that her extraordinarily dark black eyes were so captivating that they were “of such intensity that it was impossible not to be detained before them”.

Six men reportedly committed suicide after their love affairs with Otero ended, although this has never been substantiated. It is a fact, however, that two men did fight a duel over her.

In August 1898, in St-Petersburg, the French film operator Félix Mesguich (an employee of the Lumière company) shot a one-minute reel of Otero performing the famous “Valse Brillante”, making her possibly the first film star in history.

Otéro retired after World War I. She had accumulated a massive fortune over the years, about US$25 million. Otéro died at the age of 97, by that time she had squandered all of her fortune away through her lavish lifestyle. In her final years she lived in a more and more pronounced state of poverty until she died of a heart attack in 1965 in her one-room apartment at the Hotel Novelty in Nice.

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La Belle Otero by NPG of Berlin, circa 1906 via

La Belle Otero via

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La Belle Otero as Byzantine Empress by Reutlinger of Paris. Antique French Postcard, 1901 via

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La Bel­le Otéro by Léopold Reu­tlin­ger via

La Belle Otero in an orientalizing costume for the Folies Bergere ... 
La Belle Otero in an orientalizing costume for the Folies Bergere, 1901

La Belle Otero via

La Belle Otero with Maria who portrayed her in the film “La Belle Otero”.