During the course of writing my stories about my time in Berlin, you have probably asked yourself: was this girl who calls herself Eve a burlesque performer?
The answer is yes. And no.
I was a dancer, a hoofer if you will, but an entertainer nonetheless. I had a specialty number in the show and I cannot deny I danced nude in what was termed a “trance performance” with a Berlin dance troupe shattering traditional taboos, but I considered myself above all an artiste.
All I needed was a break.
I thought I had that opportunity when I came to Berlin in 1928, the city of staged literary works, musical revues, cabarets and experimental theatre. It was also the city where nude dancer Anita Berber, a fiery vixen both on and off the stage known as a model, actress and Expressionist poet, liberated an entire generation with her free-thinking dance performances.
German film critic Hans Feld wrote that Anita was “an incarnation of the perverse.” She was dubbed a “phallic woman” by others, who in the end was devoured by the art she embraced .
I remember hearing about her tour through Cairo then Alexandria and Beirut, performing her dance routines in nightclubs and bars. I cut out whatever clippings I could find about her exploits, though the Berlin press had largely forgotten about her by the late 1920s and her influence on the erotic dance movement.
Strange to think about it now, but the places in Egypt I read about through Anita Berber infused in me a taste for the exotic, the dance of Salome and sensuous perfumes.
I had no idea then how important the mysteries of Egypt and its Pharaohs would become in my life years later in 1939 when I discovered the secret of Cleopatra’s Perfume.
I never saw Anita Berber perform in person, though I did stand in line in the rain to see her in the 1920 silent film, “The Shame of the Pharaoh’s Daughter,” when it was re-released and screened as a tribute to her after her death from pulmonary tuberculosis later that year in 1928.
She was twenty-nine years old.
Tonight I would have my chance to make my mark in the theatre when–
I took Else’s place in the spotlight. I had no idea my every move was being watched…
To be continued….
Lady Eve Marlowe