The Rivals of Irene Adler: La Belle Otero
This is the third in a series on “adventuresses” of the Victorian/Edwardian eras. If you’d like to see the others, follow the “The Rivals of Irene Adler” tag.
If any woman deserves to have a film made of her life, it is Carolina “La Belle” Otero (Nov. 4, 1868 – April 12, 1965). She was born impoverished in Spain; was raped at age 10 (and left sterile); married an Italian count at age 14; and after he died ended up a star at Le Folies Bergere at age 20.
In a few short years, Otero had become the most sought-after courtesan in Europe – so sought after that she could choose her lovers carefully.
They included Prince Albert I of Monaco and King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. You may note King Edward got around – he also had affairs with the first two women in this series.
He also became the center of an elaborate conspiracy theory involving Jack the Ripper, which wasn’t true.
It nevertheless became the subject of a really creepy Sherlock Holmes film, starring Christopher Plummer and James Mason, called “Murder by Decree.”
But back to Carolina. She also had affairs with the Kings of Serbia and Spain; the Russian Grand Dukes Peter and Nicholas; the Duke of Westminster and writer Gabriele D’Annunzio. Her love affairs made her infamous and the envy of many other notable female personalities of the day.
It is rumored that six men killed themselves after their love affairs with her ended and two men fought a duel over her. She was confident, brilliant and gorgeous. The twin cupolas of the Hotel Carlton built in 1912 in Cannes are popularly said to have been modeled upon her breasts.
In 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 movie star in history.
The screening of the film provoked such a scandal that Mesguich was expelled from Russia!
Otero retired after World War I, buying a mansion and property worth the equivalent of $15 million U.S. She had accumulated a massive fortune over the years, about $25 million U.S., but gambled much of it away over the remainder of her lifetime, enjoying a lavish lifestyle, and visiting the casinos of Monte Carlo often.
She lived out her life 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. A neighbor said of Otero’s last days: “She was constantly talking about her past, and I was not listening any more. It was always the same: Feasts, princes, champagne.”
Of her heyday and career, Otero once said: “Women have one mission in life: to be beautiful. When one gets old, one must learn how to break mirrors. I am very gently expecting to die.”
I’ll b a guest on SiriusXM this sat. nite @ 11 pm along with Coati Mundi & Adriana Kaegi from Kid Creole and the Coconuts for DJ Anita Sarko’s Taylor Bar Show . If you havn’t got Coati’s new disco LP classic yet - get it…it’s a summer thing. “Dancing for the Cabana Code in the Land of the Boohoo”. - Lady Miss Kier
I was recently asked by the NYC NEW Museum to participate in their current exhibit ,”RECALLING 1993”, that runs until May 26,You can hear stories from any pay phone in Manhattan by dialing 1-855-FOR-1993, but there are a few available on the project website, http://recalling1993.comThis is another photo from the jeff koons Studio photo shoot in 1993 . -Lady miss Kier
Me and @viviennepinay in #sanfrancisco #castro #bayarea #rpdr #rupaulsdragrace #season5 #seasonofthefish #rupaul #drag #dragrace #dragqueen
I am a student of political science and my Master thesis focuses on rural organizing in my home country, Venezuela. I was born and raised there and travel there regularly for research.
One of my classmates, who has never set a foot on the country, asked me what I thought of the government there….