Polaire

Found a really cool french muse of yore :

A French Actress and singer Polaire, real name Emilie-Marie Bouchaud as a girl was naturally slender, endowed with the ”sinewy, muscular body of a little Arab” and a ”rib-cage like a Spanish bolero.” Her supposed ugliness – her large hands, large feet, thick mouth and long nose – were flaunted by her promoters. Publicity photographs compared her profile with that of her pet pig, which wore a jewelled collar. Like a pig, she wore a nose-ring, announced as a ”protest against what the world calls refinement.” She posed as an enemy of ”civilisation,” and cultivated, on stage, a sensually barbaric style. She was considered in her time a fine performer. Her waspish waist is thus to be regarded not so much as a once-fashionable exaggeration but rather as a deliberately contrived barbarism. For her first visit to the U.S. she was publicised as a kind of circus freak: ”The ugliest woman in Paris with the smallest waist in the world.” An immense fuss was made over her waist measure. ”When she removed her black satin cloak last night, with a deliberate and tantalising delay appropriate to the revelation of such a famous physical peculiarity, the women present gasped sympathetically.” Given away with the programme was a 14-inch rule marked with these words: ”This is Polaire’s waist measure. What’s yours?” For her appearance at the London Coliseum in 1915, her publicity agent William Hammerstein put one of her 14 inch corsets on display in a show-case at the corner of the theatre, and announced the waist to the press ”as this gift of the gods.”

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4 Responses to “Polaire”

  1. Well I think she is beautiful although the waist thing is a little extreme, but far from a pig. I guess theirs more to life than what I’m attracted to?

  2. Jean Lorrain said of her,
    “ Polaire! The agitating and agitated Polaire! The tiny slip of a woman that you know, with the waist slender to the point of pain, of screaming out loud, of breaking in two, in a spasmically tight bodice, the prettiest slimness … And, under the aureole of an extravagant masher’s hat, orange and plumed with iris leaves, the great voracious mouth, the immense black eyes, ringed, bruised, discoloured, the incandescence of her pupils, the bewildered nocturnal hair, the phosphorus, the sulphur, the red pepper of that ghoulish, Salome-like face, the agitating and agitated Polaire!
    What a devilish mimic, what a coffee-mill and what a belly-dancer! Yellow skirt tucked high, gloved in open-work stockings, Polaire skips, flutters, wriggles, arches from the hips, the back, the belly, mimes every kind of shock, twists, coils, rears, twirls…trembling like a stuck wasp, miaows, faints to what music and what words! The house, frozen with stupor, forgets to applaud.

  3. That prose seem familiar.

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