Tintype Witches (almost), 1875
When is a sexy witch, not a sexy witch? Or rather, when does an image seem to depict a sexy witch, but on closer examination not depict either a witch or a sexy witch? I dabbled with this question during the Halloween Countdown in 2009, with a series of posts on “stuff I leave out.” These posts covered images of witches who were too young for inclusion (no.1), women with misleadingly broad-brimmed hats (no.2 and no.4) and women who are described as witches, but who are only described thus figuratively (usually, because they are either very naughty, or because they are so sexy that their allure acts like magic; no.3).
Sadly, I could do many more posts showing items I bought on spec but had to reject when I got a chance to get a closer look at them. I could also do quite a few posts showing items I bought knowing that the image wouldn’t qualify for this blog. Indeed, I have been buying more of these marginal items recently, precisely because they help define the margins (especially between clown/witch). But this one I bought because the image is just so unbelievably awesome and because it is so wacky that it might actually have been intended to allude to witches.
As you can see, here we have four young women (Sexy? Tick), the fourth one is holding a broom (Witch paraphernalia? Another tick), the first one has a misleadingly-broad-brimmed hat, with a convenient shadow suggesting a pointed crown (Witch’s hat? Almost a tick), and two middle one are cradling a taxidermied raptor—an eagle perhaps—(Gothic paraphernalia? Another tick).
Since the first woman holds a dustpan and brush it seems likely that the fourth woman is holding a broom for cleaning purposes. But, if so, WTF is going on with the dead bird?! It is all very confusing. (To say nothing of the fact that if these girls could step out of this tintype would look perfectly at home at a goth bar. In fact they would knock the torn fishnets off some of the competition.)
After looking at the image for a while I realised I really didn’t care that it was not clear, or even unlikely, that this image depicted four witches: I wanted the photo so that these four gothic beauties could come to Melbourne and live with me. For ever. And even though it is not clear, or even unlikely, that this image depicts four witches, I thought some of you might like to see it too.