Category: bisexual history

JULY 15: Bi Any Other Name is published (1991)

365daysoflesbians:

On this day in 1991, the book Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out was published. Edited
by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka’ahumanu, the anthology was one of the
cornerstone publications in the bisexual rights movement of the modern age.

You can purchase the anthology and read more about its “sequel” productions here!” 

Spearheaded by its editors Loraine Hutchins and Lani
Ka’ahumanu, who was a seminal bisexual rights activist and the only bisexual
speaker to attend the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal
Rights and Liberation
, Bi Any Other Name
is an anthology book that ponders bisexuality in the internal and external
through a collection of poetry, art, and personal essays. The book was an
instant success and sold so many copies that it quite literally invented the
formal category of bisexual literature – after Bi Any Other Name was forced to compete in the category of “Lesbian
Anthology” at the 1992 Lambda Literary Awards, the American bisexual community
raged a protest that successfully concluded in the creation of multiple
bisexual specific Lambda Literary Award categories in 2006.

The book’s success also led to the publication of 10 other
books by the same contributors, making Bi
Any Other Name
a series! Today, the original book has been
republished 3 different times, has over 4,000 copies in circulation, and was even
translated and sold in Taiwan beginning in 2007. Despite the original
controversy with the Lambda Literary Awards, Lambda has included the book in
its “Top 100 Queer Books of the 20th century” list. Bisexual rights legend and
former president of BiNet USA, Wendy Curry, once wrote of Bi Any Other Name: “This groundbreaking book gave voice to a
generation of previously unseen bisexuals. Rather than arguing statistics or
debating the sexuality of long dead celebrities, Hutchins and Ka’ahumanu gave a
space to normal bisexuals who told their lives. This created a new genre for
books on bisexuality.”

-LC

JULY 12: Else von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-19…

365daysoflesbians:

On this day in 1874, the “Mama of Dada” was born. The Baroness
Else von Freytag-Loringhoven, as she was known, was an eccentric bisexual woman,
a living work of art, and the originator of the iconic art piece Fountain.

image

Else photographed going about her daily life in Harlem, New York on January 10, 1921 (x).

Born Else Hildegard Plötz in Pomerania, Germany, Else’s
father was a mason who afforded the family middle-class status. She began
training as an actress and vaudeville performer at a young age and eventually
moved off to Dachau to study art. After finishing her studies, Else relocated
to Berlin – the heart of German Dada. It was in Berlin where she found a
community of like-minded artists who challenged the era’s gender and sexual
mores and refused to separate their selfhood from their art, but still, she was
one of the few women actively involved in the community. Other women included
the writer Mina Loy and the expressionist painter Gabriele Münter, both with
whom Else had affairs. 

In 1901, she married an architect named August Endell
and the two had an open relationship until they divorced in 1906. She was soon
married to a translator named Felix Paul Greve, and although this relationship
would soon fall apart as well, Else’s marriage to Felix would change her life.
In 1909, finding himself penniless and in mountains of debt, Felix convinced
Else to help him fake his own death. The couple’s plan was to disappear from
Germany forever and start a new life in America, but after Else joined her
husband in the U.S., he abandoned her and Else was left alone in a foreign
country with no friends.

In America, she was forced to start her life from the ground up; she found work in a
cigarette factory and she also started modeling for photographers in New York City. It
was through her modeling career in New York City that she met and became
friends with legendary photographers such as Man Ray and Berenice Abbott, powerful connections that, once again, allowed Else to become involved in an artistic society. In
1913, she was finally able to give up the hustle and focus more on her art when she
married the wealthy Baron Leopold von Freytag-Loringhoven; during this time,
her poetry was picked up by the prestigious journal The Little Review and her sculptures/“living collages” began
being shown in galleries. In recent years, it has
been discovered that legendary Dada artworks like Fountain
and God that were once attributed to
male artists and close friends of Else, Marcel Duchamp and Morton Livingston
Schamberg, were actually created by Else herself.

In 1921, Else left New York and moved back to Europe. First,
she returned to Berlin, but found it to be a devastated shell of her former home in the aftermath of World War I. She eventually settled in Paris, where she
struggled to make ends meet and had to be financially assisted by her wealthy
friends such as Djuna Barnes and Peggy Guggenheim. Else died a mysterious death
on December 14, 1927; she was found dead in her home, curled up with her beloved
pet dog. The cause of death was pronounced to be gas suffocation, but the exact
circumstances that led to the gas being left on in her apartment are unknown.

-LC

JULY 9: June Jordan (1936-2002)

365daysoflesbians:

Born on this day in 1936, Caribbean-American poet and
activist, June Jordan would have celebrated her 81st birthday today!
Having written over two dozen books in her lifetime, June vocally identified as
bisexual in both her literary and activism work.

image

A young June Jordan smiles away from the camera, circa 1970 (x).

Born on July 9, 1936 in Harlem, New York, June was the only
child of Jamaican immigrants. Her father was a postal worker and her mother worked
as a part-time nurse. In her work, June often deals with the dissonance of her
childhood; her father frequently beat her and was emotionally abusive, but he
was also the main person in her life who encouraged her to read and write. For
this reason, she began writing poetry at the early age of 7. After graduating
from Northfield Mount Hermon School in 1953, June began studying at Barnard College.
Later in life she would regret the fact that she had been “completely immersed
in a white universe” during her academic career.

The 1969 book Who Look
at Me
, a collection of poetry for children, was June’s very first published
work. She published 27 more books throughout her life, including more poetry collections,
fiction novels, feminist philosophy essays, and her 2000 memoir Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood. Her first
full-fledged novel, His Own Where,
was nominated for the National Book Award in 1971. June also began a teaching
career in 1967 when she began working at City College of New York. She would go
on to teach literature at several other prestigious institutions such as Yale,
Sarah Lawrence, and UC Berkeley.

image

Today, June Jordan is remembered as one of the most beloved black feminist and black bisexual writers (x). 

While she was in college, June met a Columbia University
student named Michael Meyer. The two were married in 1955 and had a son,
Christopher, three years later, but would eventually divorce in 1965. She would
later come out as bisexual and write much about the importance of
intersectionality between sexuality, gender, and race in one’s social activism.
One of June’s iconic quotes reads,

“Bisexuality means I am free and I am as
likely to want to love a woman as I am likely to want to love a man, and what
about that? Isn’t that what freedom implies? If you are free, you are not
predictable and you are not controllable. To my mind, that is the keenly
positive, politicizing significance of bisexual affirmation… to insist upon
the equal validity of all the components of social/sexual complexity.”

June’s last published work was a collection of political
essays titled Some Of Us Did Not Die,
which wasn’t published until after her death. On June 14, 2002, June passed
away from breast cancer complications at the age of 65. The June Jordan School
for Equity (JJSE) was founded in San Francisco after her death and continues her lifelong fight for social equality. 

-LC

JULY 6: Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

365daysoflesbians:

Today is the 110th birthday of Mexican painter and
bisexual feminist icon, Frida Kahlo. Born on this day in 1907, Frida embodied the
concept of living unapologetically; she was disabled, she was a communist, and
yes she had a unibrow, and she took the world by storm.

image

Frida photographed by her lover Nickolas Murray in 1931 (x). 

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón was born on July 6,
1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico City to a German father and a “mestiza” mother. Her
childhood was often trying and, in Frida’s own words, “very, very sad.” Her
parents fought constantly and her father’s photography business suffered
economically during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, which only worsened
the family’s relationships. Frida was forced to enter school at a late age due
to having contracted polio when she was only 6-years-old; the disease caused
her right leg to be shorter than her left and the isolation that came along
with her diagnosis led to Frida becoming an introvert. Despite
the late start, she eventually became one of the first girls ever accepted to
the prestigious National Preparatory School.

image

Always a rebellious personality, Frida poses for a family photo in a full three-piece suit in 1927 (x). 

When Frida was 18-years old, she was in a tragic bus
accident that would change her life forever. While on her way home from school, the
wooden bus Frida was riding on collided with a metal streetcar. Many people
were killed and Frida was one of the passengers to suffer severe injuries; she
fractured her ribs, collarbone, both her legs, and a metal rail impaled her
through the pelvis. Her recovery process took three months – one in the hospital
and two at home – but the chronic pain and complications from her injuries
would follow her for the rest of her life. It was during these months of
bedrest when Frida found that painting was a constructive way to pass the time
and she soon developed a true passion.

image

During one of her periods of bedrest, Frida paints a family tree. The painting seen in this photo was ultimately unfinished at the time of her death (x). 

In 1929, Frida married Diego Rivera, one of the most famous
painters in Mexico at the time. Frida was only 22 and Diego was a 42-year-old
womanizer. Despite the age difference and the infamous infidelities
their relationship would suffer throughout the years – many of which were
between Frida and women, and most notably, with the dancer Josephine Baker – Frida
& Diego are still remembered as one of the art world’s greatest romances. It
was as the famous Diego Rivera’s wife that Frida got her first tastes of celebrity
status. The Mexican newspapers covered their relationship insistently and the two often traveled to the United States when Diego was commissioned for
murals by American cultural icons such as John D. Rockefeller. Although her
career stood in the shadow of Diego’s at this time, it was during their
extended stays in America when Frida created some of her most
socially-scathing work.

image

Photographed by Martin Munkácsi in 1933, Frida and Diego were an odd couple to everyone who knew them and their marriage was described as “between an elephant and a dove" by Frida’s own father (x). 

Frida’s star began to rise out of Diego’s shadow when they
separated in the late 1930s and she became incredibly prolific in her work. Out
of this period came classics such as My
Nurse & I
and What the Water Gave
Me
and when she began attending high-profile art exhibits in America, her
Indigenous Mexican fashion caused a “sensation.” This period lasted until 1940,
when she and Diego reconciled and were officially remarried. During the late 1940s,
Frida’s health began to drastically decline and she found herself painting more
and more from her wheelchair or from her bed. In 1953, her leg was amputated
due to gangrene and the resulting depression caused Frida to attempt suicide.
The downward spiral continued and she passed away on July 13, 1954 at home in
her bed. Although the official cause of death was pulmonary embolism, there are
many who speculate that Frida had finally succeeded in committing suicide. Her
body was laid in state under a communist flag and her ashes are displayed at La
Casa Azul – her iconic blue home and favorite place.

-LC

JULY 4: Gertrude Lawrence (1898-1952)

365daysoflesbians:

Bisexual actress Gertrude Lawrence was born on this day in
1898 and is remembered for having ascended her impoverished,
Cockey-accented roots to become a legend in both Broadway and London’s West End.

Although famously claimed by the Brits, Gertrude’s true surname of Klasen was given to her by her Danish birth father. She later adopted the name Lawrence from her father’s stage name of Arthur Lawrence (x). 

Gertrude Alice Dagmar Klasen was born on July 4, 1898 in
Newington, London. Her parents’ show business careers kept the family in
poverty, which was exacerbated when her father’s alcoholism caused them to
separate. Gertrude’s mother eventually remarried and it was on an outing with
her stepfather when Gertrude got her first taste of the spotlight; while
attending a concert in Bognor, young Gertrude was invited on stage to sing a
song and was given a prize for her participation. The experience planted in Gertrude
a love of performing that would stick with her for the rest of her life. In
1908, Gertrude joined the chorus of a Christmas pantomime at the Brixton
Theater and began taking dance lessons with Italia Conti. At the age of 16, she
left home and joined the Bohemian world of the theater in earnest when she
moved into the Theatrical Girls’ Club in Soho.

She worked and toured steadily with various theater troupes,
but it was her multiple relationships with powerful men such as Captain Philip
Astley, who was a member of the Household Cavalry, and the wall street banker
Bert Taylor that really cemented Gertrude’s position in British high society.
In 1923, she performed the lead role in the musical London Calling! and became an overnight sensation in her own right.
Throughout the years, Gertrude would also perform in other iconic musicals such
as Oh, Kay!, Treasure Girl, Private Lives,
and of course, The King & I for which she won a Tony Award in 1951.

Gertrude performs a scene from The King & I with her co-star and lover

Yul Brynner, 1951 (x). 

In her day, Gertrude was known as one of theater’s most
voracious “man eaters.” She was married twice – first to a director named Francis
Gordon-Howley in 1917, with whom she had her only child, and then later to a
theater owner named Richard Aldrich. However, one of Gertrude’s lesser-known
affairs was with the famous playwright and novelist Daphne du Maurier. The two
first met in 1948 when Gertrude played the lead in one of Daphne’s plays titled
September Tide, and both Gertrude’s
second husband and official biographer agree that the two had an instant and
unmatched connection. Daphne’s nicknames for Gertrude included “dear Gert” –
which she used in their letters to each other – and “Cinder” in reference to
the rags-to-riches story of Cinderella. The relationship was maintained through
frequent letters and infrequent visits from 1948 to Gertrude’s death;
reportedly, it was Daphne’s location in London that caused Gertrude to always
return home from her excursion trips to New York, and in her later years, Daphne
joked with friends about Gertrude’s sexual prowess.

Daphne (left) and Gertrude (right) are photographed on a public outing together. Although to the public the two were simply good friends, their romantic relationship was later shown in the 2007 film Daphne (x). 

As she grew older, Gertrude began a career in film and television.
Her most famous roles included Amanda in the movie adaptation of The Glass Menagerie and a televised
production of the play The Great
Catherine
. She eventually took a teaching position at Columbia University
where she taught courses such as “The Study of Roles and Scenes.” On 16 August
1952, she fainted backstage during a production of The King & I and it was discovered that she had liver cancer.
Gertrude passed away on September 6, 1952 at the age of 54. Over 6,000 people
crowed the streets of New York City for her funeral and today she is remembered as one of the greatest theater legends to ever live.  

-LC

JULY 2: Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002)

365daysoflesbians:

On this day in 1951, one of the pioneers of the modern day
LGBT rights movement, veteran of the Stonewall Riots, and bisexual transgender
icon, Sylvia Rivera, was born in the Bronx. On what would have been her 66th
birthday, we take a look back at Sylvia’s life and legacy.

In 2015, Sylvia Rivera became the first transgender American to have her portrait in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (x). 

Sylvia was born on July 2, 1951 to a Venezuelan mother and
Puerto Rican father. She only met her father once in her life and her mother
tragically committed suicide when Sylvia was only 3 years old, leaving her to be
raised by her grandmother. Her grandmother highly disapproved of her feminine
behavior and eventually kicked Sylvia out of her home after she began wearing
makeup to school in the fourth grade. In a 1998 interview with Leslie Feinberg,
Sylvia recalls, “I left home at age 10 in 1961. I hustled on 42nd Street. The
early 60s was not a good time for drag queens, effeminate boys or boys that
wore makeup like we did.” While working as a prostitute on the streets of New
York, she was taken in by a supportive group of drag queens; with her new
found family of street queens she began going by her iconic name, “Sylvia.”

It was Mafia-controlled bars like the Stonewall Inn where
many LGBT sex workers found refuge and community, and so it was where Sylvia
and her best friend Marsha P. Johnson found themselves hanging out on the night
of June 28, 1969 – the night that would burn both women’s names into the
history books. When police raided the bar expecting the usual crack down and
round up that was so common of gay bars in the 1960s, Sylvia, Marsha, and the
other patrons of Stonewall fought back, culminating in a series of violent
riots that became the beginning of a fierce, new civil rights movement for LGBT
Americans. Many sources even claim that it was Sylvia who threw the first brick
that spurred on the riots.

Marsha P. Johnson (far left) and Sylvia Rivera (far right) march together in a post-Stonewall demonstration (x). 

After Stonewall, Sylvia began attending meetings of the Gay
Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA), but was shunned by
the other white middle class member of the both the GLF and GAA. After
repeatedly experiencing discrimination from within the white, cis-oriented LGBT
community, Sylvia and Marsha took the bull by the horns themselves and opened Street
Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an organization that focused on
activism and care for homeless trans people in New York City. STAR remained
active throughout the early 1970s, but eventually “died out” according to
Sylvia. With STAR no longer providing her with a community and facing hatred
from both the general public and the majority of those in the LGBT rights
movement, Sylvia attempted suicide in 1974. She would try again in 1994 after the
death of her best friend Marsha in 1992 left her grief-stricken.

In 2001,
Sylvia re-opened STAR in response to the heartbreaking murder of a trans woman
named Amanda Milan and also began working for trans inclusion in the Empire
State Pride Agenda. Tragically, Sylvia suffered from liver cancer and she
passed away on February 19, 2002 at the age of 51. In one of her last fiery
declarations, Sylvia is remembered as saying, “Before I die, I will see our
community given the respect we deserve. I’ll be damned if I’m going to my grave
without having the respect this community deserves. I want to go to wherever I
go with that in my soul and peacefully say I’ve finally overcome"

-LC

JUNE 27: Emma Goldman (1869-1940)

365daysoflesbians:

One of the most famous anarchists in history and the activist once dubbed “the
most dangerous woman in America,” Emma Goldman, was born on this day in 1869.

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Throughout her lifetime, Emma wrote over 30 books of anarchist political philosophy (x).

Emma was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Kaunas,
Lithuania on June 27, 1869. Her parents had been poorly matched by their own
parents and her childhood was surrounded by violence; a rebellious spirit from
the start, Emma was frequently beat by her father and branded a “loose
girl” by her teachers. The family eventually fled to Rochester, New York in
1885 in response to rising antisemitism at home. In America, Emma worked in a clothing
factory and soon married a fellow factory worker named Jacob
Kershner. When the marriage fell apart only months after the wedding, the
Goldmans were mortified and kicked Emma out of the house. With only her sewing
machine and five dollars to her name, Emma left her family in Rochester and
headed to start a new life in New York City.  

The foundation of Emma’s politically identity was formed
during her time as a factory worker in Rochester where she was witness to the 1886
Haymarket Affair in Chicago and the growing anti-authoritarian scene. Now on
her own in New York City, she became involved – politically and romantically –
with noted anarchist Alexander Berkman. Together, they created the 1892
Homestead Strike and attempted to assassinate the manager of the Carnegie Steel
Company, Henry Clay Frick. Although the plot was unsuccessful, it made national
news and put Emma’s name on the map as one of the radicals to watch out for.
For the next thirty years, Emma would dedicate her life to the anarchist
cause of creating a freer social order and would be in and out of prison. She
was a fiery public speaker, author, and a major public enemy of the United
States government. For a time she was even believed to have conspired with Leon
Czolgosz in the attempted assassination of President William McKinley, but was
eventually cleared of all charges.

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Nicknamed “Red Emma” in the press, her speeches and talks were known to draw hundreds of attendees (x). 

In addition to her countless acts of direct action, Emma
also made history by being one of the first political activists to publicly
criticize homophobia. The gay German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld considered
her an ally and once wrote that Emma was “the first and only woman, indeed the
first and only American, to take up the defense of homosexual love before the
general public.“ Many historians question whether or not Emma’s allyship
was purely that – allyship –  or if she
herself also had some skin in the game of gay liberation; she was known to have
made connections with lesbian activists during her time in prison and it is
also believed that she had a brief affair with a woman named Almeda Sperry. Although
Emma and Almeda could only have spent a couple weeks together psychically,
there are collections of love letters shared between the two, which can be read here!

Emma Goldman passed away on May 14, 1940 in Toronto, having
been deported from America during the original Red Scare of 1919-1920. Her body
was eventually allowed to be brought back into the United States, the country
where she had spent so many years fighting for her political
cause, and was buried in Forest Park, Illinois.

-LC

JUNE 19: Zoe Saldana (1979-)

365daysoflesbians:

Happy birthday to actress Zoe Saldana, who you might know
from blockbusters such as Avatar, Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, or (if
you’re reading this blog) from her 2013 interview with Allure Magazine in
which she came out as a member of the wlw community.

image

Zoe married her husband Marco Perego in 2013 and they now have three children together (x). 

Zoe was born in Passaic, New Jersey where her Dominic father
and Puerto Rican mother raised Zoe and her two sisters in a bilingual household.
When her father tragically died in a car accident, the family moved to the
Dominican Republic for a time but later returned to the States when Zoe was a
sophomore in high school. She had fallen in love with dancing as a child and
followed that passion for performing when the family relocated to New York City, appearing
in a youth production of Joseph and the
Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat
which led to her big break in the 2000 film Center
Stage
.  

To date, Zoe has starred in over 40 films and 5 television
series. She caused a controversy for her role as Nina Simone in the unauthorized
biopic, Nina, and her own tone-deaf
response to the miscasting. In 2013, Allure
published an interview where Zoe talked about her “androgynous” childhood, which contains the excerpt:

“’Has she had a relationship with another woman?

The actress stares impassively across the table, silent for
the first time since the interview began. Her large brown eyes are focused,
unblinking. She is not fazed. She is simply deliberating. How much should she
say?

Finally: ‘Promise me one thing: You’re going to ask this
question [in your article] — if you choose to, just put three dots as my
response. That’s it.

‘…’”

In the confusion following the release of the interview, Zoe stood by her statements and asserted that she could possibly love a woman someday. You can read a more in-depth inquiry into the gayness of Zoe’s
Allure interview over on
Autostraddle
.

-LC

JUNE 14: Princess Nokia (1992-)

365daysoflesbians:

image

Picture Source: x

Destiny Frasqueri aka Wavy Spice bka Princess Nokia was born today in New York City, New York in 1992.  Living in Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side for most of her life, Frasqueri lost her mother to AIDS as a young child and was moved around in foster care with her cousin until she left the system, after dealing with abuse, as a teenager. Attending parties and go-go clubs since she was sixteen, Frasqueri recorded and released her first song under Wavy Spice on her Soundcloud and Youtube in 2010. Her second release, “Bitch, I’m Posh” gained her international acclaim and her third release, YAYA, along with her support of the LGBT community and femme sexuality got her support with QTPOC artists such as Mykki Blanco and Le1f. You can listen to her track with Mykki Blanco, “Wish You Would”, here.

She released a mixtape, “Wavy Spice Presents – The Butterfly Knife Prequel”, and two more songs underneath Wavy Spice. In 2015, she released a project named honeysuckle under Destiny in 2015. Princess Nokia, Destiny Frasqueri’s musical alter ego, came out in 2014 through the track “Nokia”, and the collective released a debut album on May 12, 2014 called Metallic Butterfly.  

In 2016, she released a documentary with The Fader, called “Destiny”, which followed her as she got back into rapping and you can watch that here (with deleted scenes). She released her album, “1992”, in September 2016. A lot of her work centers around her “Brown Afro-Indigienous” heritage, sprituality, sexuality, feminism, and her life growing up in New York. In 2017, she had an altercation with an white audience member at Cambridge University, when she slapped and threw drinks at the audience member for yelling obscenities to her.

You can follow Princess Nokia on Instagram, Twitter, check out her most recent music video here, her podcast, Smart Girl Club, here, listen to her conversation at Brown University here, and download her most recent album, 1992, here.

Check out her summer tour dates here! 1992 Deluxe with six new songs will be released this summer!

 

Source: x

~lex lee. 

JUNE 10: Anita Berber (1899-1928)

365daysoflesbians:

Yesterday we covered the lesbian magazine Frauenlibe/Garçonne
and hinted at the LGBT scene of Weimar-era Germany and today we’re diving
right back into Berlin’s gay nightlife of yesteryear to cover a figure who was
at the heart of the scene – the cabaret dancer Anita Berber.

A topless Anita poses for the camera while sporting a short bob haircut, heavy dark makeup, and a collection of pearls which was the popular fashion of the day (x).

Anita Berber was born on June 10, 1899 in Leipzig to an
artistic German family; her father was First Violinist for the Municipal
Orchestra and her mother was a travelling actress and singer. Her parents
divorced when Anita was young and left her to be mostly raised by her
grandmother in Dresden, but despite their lack of physical presence in their
daughter’s life they still passed on a love of performing. At the age
of 16, Anita enrolled in acting classes and made her stage debut a year later
with Rita Sacchetto’s Avant-garde dance
troupe. This was the first step on a career path that would lead her into a
world of scandal, drugs, and historical infamy.

When Anita became involved with Susi Wanowski who was a popular lesbian photographer (pictured right with Anita), she also became involved with Berlin’s Weimar-era lesbian scene. Her performance in the film

Bitte Zahlen (pictured left) reflects her penchant for androgyny and cross-dressing (x), staples of the lesbian subculture. 

By 1918, Anita had a robust career. She had toured all over
Germany and Austria with Sacchetto’s dance troupe, had acted in her first
feature film, and had been featured in the popular women’s magazine Die Dame. She was famous for her androgynous appearance
and eye-catching heavy makeup; her trademark was the black lipstick which she
would not be seen in public without. She danced naked for the first time at an
after-show party in Vienna and this too would quickly become one of Anita’s trademarks. She
revolutionized the cabaret scene in Berlin by dancing naked publicly night
after night in various clubs, not wearing much more than a loincloth and two small corsages over
her breasts.

Anita’s career was at its peak when she became a double act with her then-husband Sebastian Droste. The photographer Atelier D’ora took many promotional photos that served as advertisements for the various shows Anita and Sebastian performed (x). 

Anita was openly bisexual and had multiple affairs
with men and women. It was even rumored in the streets of Berlin that she had
had an affair with the actress Marlene Dietrich, but there is little evidence
to back that up. Her two most notable partners were Susi Wanowski, who she made her manager and secretary. After meeting the
dancer and poet Sebastian Droste in a Berlin casino, Anita left Susi and
partnered up with him both personally and professionally. Together, Anita and
Sebastian’s careers reached heights they had never seen before, but so did their
drug use. In 1923, after hitting a particularly low point, Sebastian stole all
of Anita’s belongings from their shared apartment and fled to New York City.
The tumultuous break did not halt Anita’s debaucherous love life or dancing
career, but for the next five years she would become increasingly dependent on
cocaine and alcohol. On July 13, 1928, Anita collapsed on stage during a
performance in Beirut and was later diagnose with pulmonary tuberculosis. Her
dying wish was to return home to Berlin, which was fulfilled by the time of her
death on November 10, 1928. You can read more about Anita’s life in The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of
Anita Berber
by Mel Gordon.

-LC