Archive for the 00s Category

Gabrielle Ray, Christmas Witch, 1907

Posted in 00s, Photograph, Postcard, SFW on 24 December 2011 by redwitch1

Apparently, I needed a break. So I took one. “Am taking one” I should say, ’cause I haven’t finished being broken, or breaking, or taking a break, or whatever. But I wanted to start the new year (NB to any non-pagans out there, the real new year has already started) with a pretty witch xmas card of the delightful Gabrielle Ray (1883–1973), “one of the most photographed women in the world” (according to Wikipedia).

Ray performed at leading West End venues, becoming famous across Europe for her youthful beauty and her skill as a dancer. As the bio. on this site explains, “She had a graceful fluidity coupled with an acrobatic prowess that made her dancing nothing less than sensational.” In 1907, Ray played “Frou Frou” in George Edwardes’ adaptation of The Merry Widow, which ran for 778 performances at Daly’s Theatre. Ray’s dance number, complete with handstands and high kicks, performed on a table at Maxim’s held head high by four men, was a show stopper. Probably a heart-stopper too.

This photo is slightly earlier: it is one of a series of photos of Ray as “So-Hie” in the “Chinese” comic opera, See-See at the 
Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, 20 June 1906.
 The photograph has been altered by the Rotary Photographic Co. Ltd of London, probably in 1907, for issue in its Rotary Photographic Series. You can see others in this series, and find lots of information about Ray, here.

Sadly, as Ray’s career waned “a damaging combination of depression and alchoholism brought about a total breakdown in health”; in 1936 she suffered a total nervous breakdown which led to her remaining institutionalized in a mental hospital for nearly forty years! What an end for a woman with so much going for her.

And with this terrible warning before all of us I hope you’ll forgive me for continuing my break a little longer. I will start posting regularly towards the end of (my) summer. Adieu.

The Witch of Tremont Row, 1900

Posted in 00s, Photograph, Real Witch, SFW on 2 July 2011 by redwitch1

As you can see, this is a cabinet card photograph of “Zoe Stouadenewich, Witch of Tremont Row. L. B. Walker, Manager.” The photograph is by Elmer Chickering (fl. 1885–1915; see his Wikipedia page here).

As you can see below, on the back of the card we are told that “Duplicates of the picture [are available] at any time” from “The Original Chickering Photographic Studio”: “Elmer Chickering, 21 West Street, Boston, Mass.” So, when you are in Boston, just pop down to West Street if you want one.

I have not been able to discover much at all about Zoe Stouadenewich. Another photograph of her appears in the McGown collection of 2540 theatrical photographs of circus and vaudeville acts, where it is catalogued here) as “Stouadenewich, Miss Zoe, The Kindergarden Co., 12.23.1889″ [i.e., 23 December 1889]. (Her photo is in Box 45, folder 11 of this collection.)

I have found a couple of newspaper references to “The Kindergarden Co.” in action giving “theatrical entertainments” in 1886 thanks to http://www.fultonhistory.com. The first reference, recorded in The Fulton Times, was “at the opera house … before small audiences … The actresses were each good in their respective parts, while the songs and duets were mostly new and well rendered.” The second, in The New York Dramatic Mirror, simply records that the company was in Buffalo NY.

A bit of digging online reveals that L. B. Walker was manager of the Nickelodeon, aka the Nickelodeon Musee and Parlor Theatre, 51–53 Hanover Street, Boston (which was established 1894). In 1900 the City Council granted a licence to “LB Walker (referred July 17), for a license for the Nickelodeon, for vaudeville entertainments and exhibition of freaks, at 51–53 Hanover St.” Also, The New York Clipper (8 May 1901): 239, informs us that Walker was presenting “The Fat Woman’s Bicycle Race … including six of the most ponderous riders in the world.” So, Walker was a vaudeville manager of freaks, fat ladies, and witches!

Tremont Row had been the home of photographers (in the 1840s Josiah Johnson Hawes opened Boston’s first photography studio there) and artists (the New England Art Union had its home at No. 38 in the 1850s, and Charles Hubbard kept a studio there from 1848 to 1856). By the late nineteenth century, through to the early twentieth century, numerous vaudeville and burlesque theaters made their home in the area—which (according to this site) eventually attracted the attention of Boston’s vice squad and after WW2 the whole area was flattened and redeveloped into a series of municipal government buildings!

Bringing this meagre amount of information together: it seems likely that Zoe was—from a young age—an actress, singer and vaudeville entertainer; that she was a member of a small theatre company that toured upstate NY in the late 1880s and a decade later had settled in an area of Boston thick with vaudeville theatres and entertainers.

We can assume that she adopted the moniker “The Witch of Tremont Row” for much the same reason as “la Sorcière Isoline”—”Le Voyante Musicienne” [The Witch Isoline—The Musical Visionary], who sang and told fortunes, or, as one of her promotional cards put it, she would reveal one’s “Destinée; Consils sur Héritages, Procès, Successions, Mariages, etc.” [Destiny; Inheritance, Lawsuits, Successions, Marriages, etc.]. For my two posts on Isoline see here and here.

The photograph does not contain the sort of witchy paraphernalia that we might expect today, but neither do the photographs of la sorcière Isoline. My attention was, however, captured by the above wishbone brooch.

* * * * *

The wishbone is symbolic of good luck and has been popular since the Victorian period. I have seen many silver and gold wishbone brooches, but they also came in gilded brass, either plain, or covered in seed-pearls, garnet, obsidian and other semi-precious stones, set with a large central stone, or combined other symbols or motifs. Below are a handful of examples from the Victorian/Edwardian period onwards (NB, below right, wishbone with citrine, seed-pearls, etc). Unfortunately, it is not clear what symbol or stone has been added to Zöe’s wishbone. (Shape-wise, the closest match is the brass and citrine brooch—available for only USD34.00 here.)

Wishbone brooches were popular as memento or Mizpah jewellery. As this site says, “Since [the Victorian/Edwardian period] was an era of great exploration and travel over vast distances, many pieces of Mizpah jewellery was made”: so we find examples with national symbols attached, as above left (clover-leaf for Ireland, map of Australia and Koala for Australia, thistle for Scotland).

The message is, then, good luck from/in Ireland/Scotland/Australia etc. Like convict love tokens (see here), these pieces of jewelry carry a message of affection for or from loved ones who have been left behind. In more recent times, below, we get cheap tourist memento pins which carry a similar but uch more superficial message, and usually in a more literal way “[good luck from] Plymouth” or “Edinburgh”. Others (as above, bottom left) have unrelated symbols, such as a banjo, which may mean something like “good luck playing the banjo”!

* * * * *

Returning to Zöe, it is quite possible that she is wearing a good luck charm from her homeland. With a name like Stouadenewich she could be from many places in Europe: Germany, Norway or Sweden: Stauden being “perennial” in German and Staden being “town” or “city” in Norwegian and Swedish. Then again, it could be a more general good luck charm—appropriate for a witch—or it could just be decorative. Certainly, Zöe herself is quite attractive and the wishbone looks lovely on her.

[And if anyone claims—as they have previously about Isoline—that Zöe is a man in drag, I will scream. Although this site is called sexy witch, not every woman on it who is not eye-poppingly gorgeous is a man in drag!]

Welcome to the Walpurgishalle, 1901

Posted in 00s, 10s, Brocken, chromolithograph, Postcard, SFW on 30 April 2011 by redwitch1

Here is something special for Walpurgisnacht. As I wrote here (five years ago!):

Walpurgisnacht is celebrated in Germany on 30 April (Beltane or May Eve). On this night witches are thought to fly to a plateau on Brocken Mountain deep in the Harz Mountains … The plateau is known as the Hexentanzplatz, the witches’ dancing place … it is here that Goethe set the witches’ sabbat in his Faust (1808, 1832). By the turn of the century a thriving tourist industry had prompted the publication of numerous witch-themed postcards.

You will find these postcards here, here, here and here. Later in 2006 I explained that, “By the 1920s, another tourist gimick was added: Brocken ‘money’ (Brocken or Thale Notgeld).” You will find images of Brocken money here and here.

[Walpurgishalle, 1901 (postcard no. 7)]

And now I can add the Walpurgis Hall (Walpurgishalle), which was built at the Hexentanzplatz by the Berlin architect Bernhard Sehring in old-Germanic style in 1901. Carved across the front of the building above the doorway to the Walpurgishalle is a frieze. The head of Wodan crowns the pediment, flanked by the Ravens Hudin and Munin (which symbolize his thoughts and memories) and the wolves and Gari Freki, who are his guards and agents.

[Walpurgishalle, 1910]

Today the Walpurgishalle is a museum. Hermann Hendrich (1854–1931) created five large paintings for the interior of the hall showing scenes from the Goethe’s Faust. These are

[1] Irrlichtertanz (Erring light dance) [postcard no. 3]
[2] Mammonshöhle (Mammon’s Cavern) [postcard no. 5]
[3] Hexentanz (witch dance) [postcard no. 6]
[4] Windsbraut (wind bride) [postcard no. 4]
[5] Gretchenerscheinung or Gretchentragödie (Tragedy of Gretchen) [postcard no. 3]

[Irrlichtertanz (postcard no. 2)]
[Gretchenerscheinung (postcard no. 3)]
[Windsbraut (postcard no. 4)]
[Mammonshöhle (postcard no. 5)]
[Hexentanz (postcard no. 6)]

Reproductions of these paintings were published in a book (which I don’t have) and a series of postcards (which were hugely popular, and which I do have). Three more images appear in the postcard series:

[6] “Hexenfahrt” (witch journey) [postcard no. 1]
[7] Walpurgishalle—Hexentanzplatz [postcard no. 7]
[8] “Sternenreigen” (star dance [lit. roundelay]) [postcard no. 8]

[Hexenfahrt (postcard no. 1)]
[Sternenreigen (postcard no. 8)]

For an insight into the paintings, which can be seen much more clearly in the photos by Raymond Faure. You will find a page of his excellent photos of the Walpurgishalle here. This panorama below might help orient you.

[Panorama of the interior of the Walpurgishalle]

Christmas Witch (not Befana), 1907

Posted in 00s, Photograph, Postcard, SFW on 14 December 2010 by redwitch1

Every January I slap my forehead and vow I will remember to do a post of La Befana next year (La Befana is the Christmas witch who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on the night of 5 January). Once again I have forgotten to do this, though I remembered that I had forgotten a little earlier than usual. Even still, since I will be away for three weeks (until the second week of January), Befana will have to wait another year.

As you can see, this year I thought I’d wish you “A Merry Xmas & A Happy New Year” with a postcard from Philco (“Philco Series 6021 A”). Philco (aka “Philcom Publishing Co.”) were based at Holborn Place, London but printed their postcards “At Our Works In Prussia.”

They did a long series of photographic postcards of actresses, some tinted (see here), and seem to have used these photographs to create seasonal cards like this one. (See here for another Christmas post card, here for a New Year’s postcard and here for one titled “All Joy to You This Easter.”)

No doubt, if you had all of the Philco postcards all you’d be able to work out who the women are in this card. That is what this collector has been able to do by concentrating on a single actress: the gorgeous Maude Fealy. Since I am not a Philco collector of any description, I can’t identify our witch.

I can tell you, however, that the artist who has painted her neck-to-toe outfit has created a neo-medieval ensemble, complete with a late 15th century Burgundian hennin and veil (the pointed form of this cone-shaped headdress). The magical and astronomical symbols on her dress and on her long cape recall a wizard’s outfit, and “the hennin forms part of the costume of the stereotypical fairy tale princess”—so the outfit is a little confused in it’s design.

Despite the fact that our shapely witch is not on her broom—either astride it, or riding side-saddle—but simply pressing the broom to her side, she is flying over the rooftops with her entourage resting on her cape. And despite the incongruity of a witch doing all this while wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year—rather than a Happy Halloween—it is a witch who is doing this!

I Said I Wouldn’t, But it is for a Good Cause

Posted in 00s, Video on 30 June 2010 by redwitch1

Listen up wiccaphiles! Feedback from Jo on my Feedback and FAQ page here has alerted me to this wonderful short film by the name of Goutte d’Or

The witch in this film looks fantastic, especially when she swings those hips! The story is about a pirate that arrives in the Kingdom of the Dead, and his efforts to get the Queen. Some of the puppet builders and animators have previously worked for Tim Burton, they have done great stuff, for almost no money and have asked for pledges to finish the film. They need $3000 in 10 days!

You’ll find the official site here and can donate money to help finish the film here. I could only afford $100, but if you pledge $1000 or more you will appear as a co-producer credit in the end-credits!

And now back to boxing up stuff …

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