Backstage Babes

10/24/2008

I am obsessed with the Folies Bergère in Paris, circa 1890-1920. Located on Rue Richer in the 9th Arrondissement it was built as an opera house by the architect Plumeret and was patterned after the Alhambra music hall in London. What was the height of popular entertainemtn at the time and was the original “vegas” revue. The shows featured outrageously elaborate (and revealing) costumes, a good dose of almost-nudity, and played up the “exoticness” of persons and objects from other cultures, obliging the Parisian fascination with the négritude of the 1920s. This obsession led to the overnight sensationalism of Joséphine Baker in 1926 – an African-American expatriate singer, dancer, and entertainer, who made internaitonal headlines with her suggestive “banana dance”, in which she wore a skirt made of bananas and little else.

I’ve been collecting backstage photos of the performers at the Folies. Here are some of my favorites.

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