Heilige Nacht

Hello dears. Once again, we celebrate the day of my birth- December 24th, 1837. I am quite aware of that I share my birthday with someone a little more, um, spectacular than myself. Contrary to legend, I am NOT a hopeless narcissist, and to prove it, I offer this lovely youtube compilation. You’re welcome. I mean, willkommen. I mean, bitte.

 

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the empress reveals. soon.

Thanks to prudish Queen Victoria, many a complexion at court was saved from early aging – parasols, cover-ups, fans, all contributing to the preservation of the face.

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Kees van Dongen’s Fauve

Had it not been for the ushering in of modesty in the Victorian era, we’d all have gone around looking like French tarts, our lips painted green as though sipping on absinthe all afternoon – or as red as cherry jam, which is even worse. Perhaps the smearing of rouge powder ground deep into our pores bringing to mind the antics of a circus clown.

The Bohemian lifestyle and all of its freedom and lack of cover-up might seem fun – until one tallies the cost: wrinkles, leather cheeks, freckles the size of a liverpaste sandwich.

As a girl, I so admired the “fauves” of Montmartre, their gay apparel, their strut. But as the years accrued, with childbirth and the constant demands of Vienna, I began to favor the high necks, rigorous corsets, and ankle boots of a more modest turnout. The mysteries that lie beneath. The tease of the imagination.

Friends, now that I’m long-buried, I’ve discovered that there is a middle-ground. A time and a place to bare all. And so it is with great pleasure, I announce the upcoming cover reveal for THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES. One week from today, the publishers will present the book cover to the masses, and there will be posts, and interviews and giveaways – fanfare that rivals that of a parade through nineteenth-century Montmartre!

Get a front row seat, you don’t want to miss it.

ladies gone mild

Ah. Trieste!

Ah. Trieste!

All right all you spring breakers, let’s get civilized, shall we? Before all you ladies (and I use the term broadly) bared your midriffs, shaved your privates, and boarded a plane bound for depravity, there was a much more elegant way to spend a holiday. It was known as the rest cure.

I’ve been much maligned for my tendency to slip away from Court during frigid or rainy weather to partake in the tepid waters off the coast of Corfu, or feel the sweet warm breeze from a Triestian turret. But I ask you. Is it fair to criticize a monarch for her forays into radical self-care? Would you rather see me pale and anemic, coughing up a lung whilst stuffed into one insufferable gown after another?

If it were up to the men, they’d rather we stay chained to the throne, as it were. Or if we do dash off on holiday, freshly Lipo-lifted and salon-bronzed, we must be available for their continual ogling. On display in a drenched t-shirt, or, heavens, with a strip of cloth bisecting our buttocks. This is not vacation, ladies.

I propose that we rethink this girls gone wild thing, and take back our holidays. Instead of parading about like a cow at auction, consider this age-old alternative. Yes, yes, sometimes there’s a bit of electroshock involved. And stiff Nurse Ratchet types administering to your bodily functions, but my particular version has a few more goodies. The “Sisi Rest Cure” has several components:

  1.  warm to hot mineral water in which to bathe free from lecherous eyes
  2.  freshly squeezed juices served chilled thrice daily
  3.  beauty cure ointments available for a variety of ailments
  4.  musicians with soothing instruments
  5.  freshly caught seafood for the evening meals
  6.  rubdowns and oilings. preferably executed by handsome young male attendants

Really, ladies, would you rather shake your booty or awaken your inner goddess?

 

happy birthday to me

fairysnowcastle175 years ago today, not in a manger, but in something similar, Her Royal Highness Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie, the fourth child and second daughter of Duke Maximilian Joseph  and Princess Ludovika of Bavaria was born.

Christmas Eve, naturally, is my favorite day of the year. Nothing says “over the top” quite like a Bavarian Princess birthday party, and combined with alpine snow and a little Schnapps, well, does it get any better?

badischl2Maybe next year you will plan a trip to Bavaria? Shop the market, ski the slopes, visit the castle? Try a pint of our finest? (fyi, according to the Bavarian Beer Purity Law of 1516–still enforced today–the only ingredients that can be used in the production of beer are water, barley and hops. None of that fancy spice or  special yeast.)

I’ll be there, of course. Sitting on my virtual throne, dancing with the Emperor, and alighting my spirit upon all things Yule.

Prost, and good health.

Love, Sisi

empress for a day

Want to walk a kilometer in my slippers? Well, you’re in luck! The Schoenbrunn Orangery offers a splendid tour called “Sisi’s Treasures,” where you may experience imperial Vienna through the eyes of the legendary Empress Elisabeth, aka, me.

For a mere 150 Euros you get the essence of life as, well, if not me, at least one of my servants.

Your tour begins at one of my castles (Schoenbrunn or the Hofburg), where you can marvel at my exercise equipment, ridiculously uncomfortable chairs, spectacularly formal silverware, and the minutia of my everyday life: hairbrushes, chamber pots, pen nibs. After all of that touring, you’ll be treated to a 3-course dinner at the Café-Restaurant Residenz (bring a sweetheart–there’s candles and ambience. Alcohol in abundance for an extra charge), and then, to top off your evening, you’ll attend a concert at the Orangery, performed by the Schoenbrunn Orchestra. It’s an explosion of all things Viennese!

What is an Orangery you ask? Fair question. It’s a fancy greenhouse, originally used to grow citrus trees in winter, so we royals were spared nasty diseases like scurvy and rickets. Here’s a sketch of Nicola Picassi’s Orangery, built in the mid-1700’s, it remains one of two noted, enormous Baroque Orangeries in the world (the other is in Versailles, of course–those French, always competing!)

If the above has you thinking: enough already with the Empress for a Day stuff you can always opt for the Mammals and Melodies Tour–in lieu of my castles, silver and underwear, you get a trip to the Vienna zoo as well as a beef in aspic dinner (that includes a shot of Swiss Pine schnapps!) and the Orangery concert described above.

have yourself a wiener little christmas

The little ones are so cute, but the Viennese shopkeepers have been known to slap naughty hands!

Christmas in Vienna, anyone? Consider this:

Choirs from Austria, other European cities and the U.S. will offer their voices to at the International Advent Caroling at Vienna’s City Hall until Christmas Eve. Admission is free.

 

Christmas Market! Sample traditional gingerbread, roasted almonds and honey while you take in the backdrop of the Burgtheater and Vienna City Hall. Wear your woolies!

 

 

Merry Christmas. Love, Sisi

The Maria-Teresien-Platz is aglow with festive holiday spirit. You might even catch a glimpse of some cult followers impersonating your favorite dead Empress (December 24th is my birthday after all)!

Whether it’s home for the holidays or some exotic adventure, Sisi and company wishes you a very happy Christmas–and remember to eat well and drink often–Mahlzeit!

o come let us adore me

If you didn’t live in the mid-nineteenth century, the closest you’ll come to Victorian, Edwardian and Regency tchotchkes is etsy. (Not to be confused with regretsy). Today, I am pleased to present a variety of fine hand-crafted items that approach the pomp, fuss and discomfort of my own splendid era. Enjoy!

sisi souvenirs

I call this my wedding topper figurine. A bit bland, don't you think?

You really know you’ve arrived when you get your own action figure, yes? Especially if you, like me, are long dead. Tooting my own horn again, you think? Well, so be it.

Of the various “cult of Sisi” items available for purchase, I have to admit, I’m a bit underwhelmed at the variety of costume. After all, my legacy is that I despised Court. I was a free spirit given to episodes of melancholy and bursts of whimsy. Why must I most commonly be crafted holding a pink fan, dressed in white lace?

I much prefer the rare idols fashioned into tools. Like the Sisi pocket watch below. Or even a Pez dispenser, where little ones can squeeze out a sugary treat each time they yank my head backwards.

tic toc. it's time for the empress!

If you’d like to purchase any of this adorable Sisi swag, you may do so by clicking here.

What could be sweeter than a sisi Pez dispenser?

sisi (or franzl) yourself!

the latest craze!

Diversion alert! Have you ever dreamt of being an empress (or emperor?)? Well, get in line. I mean, step right up! Surround yourself in royal robes. Wear the crown!

The Sisi Museum, I’m pleased to announce, is embracing social media gimmickry as a way to send news of upcoming exhibits. Now, you can plaster your face inside a cartoonish likeness of yours truly or that of my hardworking emperor husband.

I imagine the Museum was talked into this by some recent grad coming from University chattering on about the necessity of Facebook to drive interest in such displays as my brown lacy shawl, and the ankle boots worn by my children. I have, of course, surrendered to the Tweet, and to the blog and to the Facebook myself. Obviously. And so, I suppose I should create my own app! Actually, I think I’d be more inclined to invent a sort of Angry Birds game, wherein I throw apples at umpteen versions of my mother-in-law, perched upon crates of TNT.

Meanwhile, tarry on. Become a Sisi (or a Franzl), and garner some “votes.” Whatever that may mean.

my heart: now on display at the sisi museum

sure, they show my bustle, but what of my heart?

Seven years ago the Sisi Museum opened at the Imperial Palace in Vienna, and the marketing geniuses at the Hof are just now sending out the press release. Here’s a snippet:

In 2004 the Sisi Museum opened in a section of the Imperial Apartments once occupied by the empress. With more than 300 personal objects on display, the exhibition avoids the usual clichés, presenting Elisabeth’s true personality in a sensitive exploration of the empress’s life and fate. Elisabeth’s verse is used to illustrate her emotional states of mind at each stage of her life, from her carefree girlhood to the restless, aloof and melancholic woman she later became.

I’m curious about the clichés claim. For instance, do these 300 personal objects not focus on my obsessive hair-brushing, teeth-whitening and tight lacing? Will my diary entries not lie open for scrutiny? As far as I can tell, the clichés about me are thus: I was an aloof bitch; I was vain; I was a terrible mother; I was kind to Hungarians; I had unsightly teeth; I was the central figure of a beauty cult. To name a few.

Hopefully, amongst these 300 personal objects are the locket pictures of my sisters that I held dear. My Hungarian-Austrian translation pocket dictionary. The dog brush for my wolfhounds. My pack of custom tarot cards.

Yes, tarot cards.

I was a fan of the mystical, and, indeed, I’m happy to report, there’s a fabulous new tarot app for your smart phone! Why, if I were around today, I would insist that all guests of the Sisi Museum have their cards read, either digitally, or by a Hungarian mystic, like Marie Festetics, my attendant and the go-between for my chaste love affair with Count Gyula Andrássy.

All I can do now, from my crypt, is offer my hopes that the assemblers of the Sisi Museum really do have sensitivity into my true and complicated heart, for it was full. It spilled over ten-fold. Perhaps there is some concrete evidence of that amongst the 300 personal objects.