another fortnight, another tart: a Lola reprise

this little harlot unseated many a king

note: I am having quite a Lola day today. Thought this little piece should come out of hiding —new and improved with some more pictures!

Her name at birth was Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, but by the time she seduced my uncle, everyone knew her as Lola Montez, the Spanish Dancer and Enchantress.

By the time she’d arrived in Bavaria, she’d already danced her way into and out of India, London, Spain, Paris and Dresden, leaving a trail of scandal and fractured hearts in her path.

Having been born in Limerick, and raised in India, young Dolores learned sensual, exotic dancing from her Hindu servants–and as her future as a professional castle-wrecker, her practice of the danse du ventre served her well.

By the time she was fifteen, she was an uncontrollable flirt.  Her Indian stepfather, in an attempt to keep her chaste, arranged a marriage for her with a boring old judge.  Alas, her “see you next Tuesday” self had no interest in domesticity.   Her name was Lola, after all,  and she was a show girl!  So off she strutted, leapfrogging and belly-dancing her way to notoriety and fortune, and political power.

This is where my poor Uncle Ludwig, a sextogenarian, who’d already mucked up his marriage by philandering about with that tart, Jane Digby, could not resist Lola’s web of seduction.

As soon as he first laid eyes on her, he had her summoned to the Residenz, and within five days he presented her to the court as the love of his life.

Much to Mummi’s horror (not to mention Ludwig wife’s distress), he soon gave the notorious belly dancer the title, Countess of Landsfeld.  In short order, he built her a sturdy house, and issued her a pension of twenty thousand florins.

Ah, but she had quite the temper, this passionate Lola Montez.  She often flew into unprovoked rages, even sometimes boxing the ears of her nay-sayers.  She kept a large, drooling bulldog beside her at all times–even took the dog to opera!  Worst of all, she was discourteous to the queen, besides meddling with the politics of the kingdom.

Lola Montez in her San Francisco phase.

But it wasn’t until she started stirring things up at the University that the camel’s back broke.  The residents of Munich drew their daggers against the harlot, and poor, lovesick King Ludwig came to her aid, renouncing the people, his city and, indeed, his country, all for the sake of–dare I say it–lust!

However, there came a day, when she approached the gates of Residenz and was the object of much scorn by a riotous group who’d assembled out front, she turned to the crowd, and drew a pistol, firing it into the mob.  Well, that was it, more mobs assembled, demanding a ruling beyond that of the king.

Poor, lovesick Uncle Ludwig stood before the court and lamented that he’d rather lose his crown than give up his mistress.

His royal advisers hung their heads in embarrassment.  It was too much, and the next day, a royal decree revoked Lola’s rights as a subject of Bavaria, and still another decree ordered her to be expelled. The rioters jumped for joy and in their celebration burnt her house to ashes.  Poor Ludwig watched the commotion by the light of the leaping flames.

You see, my uncle was still madly in love with the half-crazy woman.

Soon thereafter, he fell into a deep depression, and gave his crown up to his son, Maximilian – my much older, wiser, albeit sickly cousin.  Naturally, as soon as her old lover was no longer king, Lola moved on, taking her belly dancing to far off lands on all the continents, leaving a splintered trail of hearts and kingdoms all over the world.

king ludwig’s facebook of tarts

gallery of beauties

Pick a tart, any tart.

We did not have People and Us and Entertainment Weekly. We did not have Twitter or Facebook. But we did have King Ludwig’s Wall. My uncle’s Schönheitengalerie was really the who’s who of 19th Century tabloid dish, with mistresses, royals and gorgeous tarts all peering out through coquettish smirks.

Not that I wished to be in their number. Heaven forbid! Still, one cannot help but be a little put out by the public parade of those, who, er, put out.

the enchantress, lola montez

King Ludwig was far from her only friend...

There was that Italian slut, Floozi…I mean Florenzi, who kept King Ludwig happy for forty years. Then there was the British chick, Digby, who had her way with most of the Bavarian Royal Family. But of all my uncle’s lovers, none was as dangerous and beguiling as Lola Montez, who was single-handedly responsible for dethroning the randy ruler, and causing complete mayhem (Occupy Munich!) throughout Bavaria.

There is but one consolation for yours truly with all this wall business, and that is my wretched mother-in-law, meddler in all affairs, is forever immortalized amongst those tarty tarts. Even though she was, um, my Uncle’s sister (and, yes, that would make her my aunt), the Archduchess Sophie was thought of as a hottie, back in the day. But that was before she tossed her feminine whiles to the wind in favor of the good old fashioned ass-whipping style she became known for.

of beauty and fascination. rule the first.

ladies: gather ye roses while ye may...

In answer to more and more frequent requests for my beauty secrets (as well as tips for gentlemen on the art of fascination), I here-to-for submit a collection of my top counsel, which will appear once a day over the course of the next ten days.

I must admit, however, that when it comes to this prescript, I have my mentor, Lola Montez to thank, as she taught me everything she knows, and much of my wisdom comes from this wondrous little book: The Arts of Beauty or Secrets of a Lady’s Toilet, penned approximately 150 years ago.

For the Ladies: Beauty of Deportment.

For a young girl to sit as grave and stiff as her grandmother cut in alabaster is bad enough. But not half as unseemly as that of a middle-aged woman who insists on romping about with the merriment of girlhood. Not only must a woman’s age be consulted, but her manners ought to harmonize with her shape and size.

Ladies, take a page from the book of vegetables. The poplar, the willow, the lily, they bend their gentle heads in the breeze as nature recommends. Whereas the steadfast oak and the boxwood hedge look best when displaying a majestic mien.

On to the gentlemen.

If you wish to make one of our sex tremendously in love with you, remember this: women prefer triflers to men of sense. In other words, practice making yourself as big an ass as possible, and you will find yourself rewarded for your efforts.

Your hope of complete success, then, lies in your ability to be a coxcomb, who has no earthly recommendation but his face, his coat, and his impudence.

la grande horizontele

the legend lives on

Lola Montez was an Irish-born tart who passed for Spanish. She was a mediocre dancer and a whore of much renown, and she hastened the ousting of my Uncle Ludwig, who had the misfortune to, um, date her.

But all that aside, you have to admire her moxie.

Her legacy lives on, I’m somewhat amazed to report, in the following:

But of all the Homage du Lola, I am most supremely fascinated by the book penned in her own hand, namely, Arts of Beauty: Or Secrets of a Lady’s Toilet, With Hints to Gentlemen on the Art of Fascinating.

In this hundred-and-fifty-year-old how-to book, you’ll find all sorts of 19th century seductive secrets, including this one for getting rid of the gray:

note the fey use of the fan. ha!

Gather 10 grams of gallic acid, 1 ounce of acetic acid y 1 ounce of tincture of sesqui-chloride of iron. Dissolve the gallic acid in the tincture of sesqui-chloride of iron, and then add the acetic acid. Before using this preparation, the hair should be thoroughly washed with soap and water. The way to apply the compound is to dip the points of a fine tooth comb into it until the interstices are fill with the fluid, then gently draw the comb through the hair, commencing at the roots, till the dye has perceptibly taken effect. When the hair is entirely dry, oil and brushes (sic) it as usual.

The book contains, besides recipes and methods for all the aspects of the feminine beauty, some recommendations for gentlemen as well, but the real gem of her well-researched counsel lies in this passage:

Many women who can lay no claim to a beautiful face, have carried captive the hearts of plenty of men by the beauty of their form.

And by form, Lola means, naturally,  T & A.

Ah. Well, it is the oldest profession, after all.