Saturday, 27 July 2013

Whatever Happened To...Isadora Duncan?


'If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point dancing it.' (Isadora Duncan)
 
 She was born ahead of her time - a free spirit who cared nothing for the strict rules of early twentieth century society. Yet she took dance to new levels and her influence remains to this day.

Her name was Angela Isadora Duncan and she was born in San Franciso in 1877, the youngest of four children. Her father owned a bank but lost it and was publicly disgraced. Sadly, this loss plunged the family into abject poverty. 

Following her parents' divorce in 1889, she moved with her family to Oakland and attended school there, although with little enthusiasm. She found the rules and regulations imposed on her constricting. So began an attitude she would keep for the rest of her life.Wherever there was a rule, it seemed, Isadora would flout it.

Having developed a love of dance in childhood, she was keen to pursue it and joined Augustin Daly's theatre company in New York in 1896, but here again, her dislike of conforming to set styles and techniques meant she clashed with her contemporaries and felt unhappy and frustrated. In 1898, she left for England, where her free style was more appreciated. She took her inspiration from the illustrations she saw on Greek vases and dressed in flowing, diaphonous garments, leaving little - if anything - to the imagination. The well heeled of London engaged her to perform in their drawing rooms and from there, she travelled to Paris, creating new dance techniques and opening up a dance school. This gave her the opportunity to further her philosophy of dancing as an art form and said, 'let them come forth with great strides, leaps and bounds, with lifted forehead and far-spread arms, to dance.'
Her emphasis was on freedom of expression and natural body movement, including skipping, rather than adherence to ballet technique and, while enjoying mixed critical success, she inspired a number of famous artists such as Auguste Rodin.

She transferred her school to New York when she returned there in 1914. Her radical ideas and way of life attracted many admirers of both sexes, although her Communist political leanings made her enemies.

Isadora also had to endure the tragic loss of both her children in an accident in Paris in 1913. Her grief led her to spend months recuperating in Corfu and eventually to Viareggio in northern Tuscany, where she stayed with actress Eleonora Duse. Eleonora had just ended a tempestuous relationship with the outspoken feminist, Lina Polletti and there was much speculation as to the actual nature of her relationship with Isadora, who was known to be bisexual.

Scandal was never far from Isadora's door. In an age when nudity was shunned, she bared her breast on stage and her private life was the stuff of tabloids. She bore two children out of wedlock and had a number of affairs, although she did marry in 1922. Her husband was eighteen years her junior - one of Russia's most celebrated lyrical poets of the day, Sergei Yesenin, who left her a year later and committed suicide in 1925 at the age of thirty.

Lonely and desperate to have another child, Isadora persuaded sculptor Romano Romanelli - someone she barely knew - to sleep with her and get her pregnant. He agreed and she bore him a son. Sadly, the baby lived just a few hours and died before she had even thought of a name for him.

More affairs followed and included both men and women, but Isadora's star was on the wane. Never one to concern herself about money, she built up debts in hotels in Paris and the Mediterranean. Her performing career had dwindled to virtually nothing and she sought solace in drink - resulting in all too frequent bouts of public drunkenness. But she clung fast to her unconventional beliefs and eccentric dress, loving long flowing scarves in particular - little knowing that one of them would eventually kill her.
When the debts started to catch up with her and she could no longer afford to stay in hotels, she curbed her extravagances somewhat by living in a succession of apartments rented for her by friends. Sadly though, her outrageous behaviour had ensured that many friends and supporters had drifted away, preferrring not to be associated with her in her downward spiral.
On September 14th, 1927, in Nice, fifty year old Isadora got into an open car with a handsome young Italian racing driver, Benoit Falchetto. Refusing to wear a coat, even though the drive would be chilly, she opted instead for a flowing, hand painted silk scarf. Bidding goodbye to friends as she set off, she said, 'Je vais à l'amour' ('I am off to love'), but she would never arrive at her destination. The scarf blew about in the slipstream and wound itself around the open spoked wheels and rear axle of the Amilcar. Unable to free herself, she was strangled and her neck broken.

Isadora was cremated and her ashes buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, but her legacy continues. While her schools of dance didn't last very long, her inspirations, based on classical Greek art, folk dances and natural athleticism, gave rise to the contemporary dance movement and, in 1987, her importance was recognised by her induction into the National Museum of Dance's Mr and Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Fanny and Stella - Daring to be Different in Victorian England



Stella Boulton (left) and Fanny Park
 When we think of Victorian England, we tend to think of the prim and straitlaced society, dominated by the Queen ("God Bless Her") who was alleged not to find much amusing. We also think of the rich tapestry of creative talent; the likes of Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, the Brontes and the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood, to name just a handful.

Two names have largely dropped from popular history, although they certainly caused quite a stir in their day, not least for their penchant for cross dressing in an age where practising homosexuality among men was a crime, punishable by hard labour or even life imprisonment.

Their names were Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton - also known as Fanny and Stella - and, in 1870, they were arrested outside the Strand Theatre and charged with sodomy. What made them even more famous was that they were acquitted, even though it was said that, "their bottoms had been rogered by half of London".

Stella Boulton was possessed of a fine singing voice while Fanny Park acted in sterner character roles in their act, which they toured to country houses and other private venues. Dubbed, the 'He-She Ladies', they revelled in their membership of a wonderful, seedy demi-monde of gaudy performers and ladies of dubious virtue. 

They attracted plenty of admiring attention from well connected, wealthy young men. Stella even found herself an aristocrat (Lord Arthur Pelham-Clinton) with whom she lived as husband and wife. Fanny joined this triangle as a sort of 'sister'.
Fanny (standing) and Stella with Lord Arthur Pelham-Clinton

It came as a great shock to them to be arrested, even though some of their behaviour might be considered fairly outrageous even today. In those days, anyone accused of sodomy had to submit to humiliating medical examinations, including the insertion of a 'professional finger'. 

Reports of this, plus their trial, were gobbled up eagerly by the salacious press of the day. (Not much changes, does it?) At the trial itself, the prosecution failed to establish that there was anything illegal about men wearing women's dress and the examinations themselves had been carried out without recourse to higher authority, so were, essentially, invalid. In light of this, the police failed to provide conclusive evidence that any act of homosexuality had been committed. Things may have turned out differently, were it not for the sudden death of Lord Arthur, on the day after he was subpoenaed to appear . Many believe it was suicide, although the official account was that he had contracted scarlet fever.

The high profile trial served to expose the hypocrisy and crassness of society's attitude to anyone who dared to be different, and the more enlightened, liberal minded were greatly relieved when the jury took just 52 minutes to acquit the pair. Had they been found guilty, a witch hunt by the more bigoted members of society could well have ensued - and even escalated  to hound out anyone who dared to be different.

A blue commemorative plaque has recently been unveiled on the wall of a United Reformed Church in Wakefield Street in London, the site of their former cross-dressing rooms. Some might say there is a delicious irony about this! Consigned largely to the footnote of history, I, for one, am delighted that they have once again been thrust into the spotlight.



Neil McKenna has recently published a biography of the pair: Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England and his excellent website provides more information on this strangely endearing pair. Now wouldn't they have made fascinating dinner guests?




Friday, 5 July 2013

I've Won A Summer Sun Award!

While we’re basking in the sun in Vienna, I am told that the poor old UK is once again shrouded in cloud – well parts of it anyway. Meanwhile, the sun has become rather too extreme in some parts of the USA and, in Australia, it’s winter!

With all this confusion, I was delighted to receive the brand new Summer Sun Award, presented to me by the vivacious and prolific Shehanne Moore (and if you haven’t visited her fantastic blog yet, of read of Lady Fury’s wild exploits, shame on you! Here’s the link. You can redeem yourself by hopping over there when you’ve finished here).

So the Summer Sun Award is for bloggers who brighten the day in some way, either by their blog content or by what they do for others. Here’s how it works: 

Firstly you display the logo and link back to the blog of the person who nominated you. Then you answer the following summery questions before nominating a lucky eight ….one for each sunray on the picture there. Then you must tell the lucky eight and name and display their blog link. Of course the questions are all summer based. 

Here they are, along with my answers:




Favourite song with summer in the title or the words (give the line)  

Has to be San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie. "Summertime will be a love-in there." Harks back to more innocent times when being aged under 25 meant you could change the world for the better.

 
Favourite book about summer (could be a children's book)

This was a tough one for me, but I did love The Bridges of Madison County
 by Robert James Waller

Favourite hot summer film 

The Go Between

All that pent up lust in a hot Edwardian summer...

Favourite summer memory

Feeding tiny Alpine birds and cheeky red squirrels in a cool pine forest in Seefeld (in the Tyrol). The birds would land on my upraised palm and take the corn I was holding for them, and the squirrels ran up the legs of my jeans and ate peanuts in my lap. Enchanting!

Favourite summer holiday destination

Venice


What books will be in your suitcase this summer?

I haven't read the latest from Jackie Collins yet, so The Power Trip
and Danielle Steel's Until The End Of Time


What’s your likely destination this summer?

 Sorry but I'm being boring and staying home this summer. Enjoying the long summer days, lazing around with good friends and good wine. Sheer Gemütlichkeit!

What hottie would you most like to be sharing the hot days and long nights with this summer? 

Well, I have often been tempted when gazing upon Josh Holloway's stunning physique and I certainly wouldn't say no, but he does seem to be rather busy these days (and has been known to spend time with Shehanne too). Yesterday, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to watch the tennis from Wimbledon. Now, I'm quite taken with the smooth, dark good looks of World Number One, Novak Djokovic, but the hunk stakes definitely go to German player, Tommy Haas. His eyes smoulder...

Sadly, Novak beat him, but it was fun watching the two of them go at it hammer and tongs for a couple of hours - on the tennis court I mean. With racquets. Oh get your minds out of the gutter you naughty people!
Tommy
Novak





Okay that’s it.

My eight nominees are:




Monday, 1 July 2013

Wolf Fever is Here - with Milly Taiden (and Prizes To Win!)

Milly Taiden is back,  and her latest Erotic Paranormal Romance - Wolf Fever - is out now.

But first, here's five things you didn't know about Milly:



I am usually an open book with family and friends. But a lot of times people are shocked when they hear certain things about me. So here’s some you may not know.

1. I am insecure. Yes, I know. It’s hard to believe considering I am so awesome! But it’s true. As a writer it’s still hard for me to believe people like my books. That they fully enjoy reading them and that they would want to read the next one. It’s probably because I kept writing a secret and something I did just for me for so long.

2. I like to give back. In the community I love to participate in walks and services to help different charities. I donate yearly and participate in the Autism walk, the Light The Night, March of Dimes and Avon Breast Cancer walk. Those are some of the ones I am a constant part of. I do contribute monetarily to others I don’t have the time for. I also like to give back online by putting myself out there for my author friends who need me. If I can help, I will.

3. I have a huge family. 3 sisters, 8 aunts and uncles, over 40 cousins, and a host of other second and third cousins and other family. Though I normally mention one sister, since she is closest to me. I have 2 others who are older and live in other states. I have a very big family and while not all of us talk, we do have gatherings once in a while where we see each other and are surprised how many more people joined into the fold. Huge Latin family.

4. I wrote my first romance in high school. Yeah. A crush led to this. And the fact I used to love reading Harlequins and said to myself ‘I bet I can do this’ LOL. I did one heck of a mess, but I did try and one friend who read some of it said it was good.

5. I can’t go to the bathroom alone after watching a scary movie. Yeah big time PUNK. It’s true. I make the hubs or the kid (like he can be much help) walk with me all the way to the bathroom so I don’t go alone. It is even worse when the kid is clinging to me like saran wrap because he’s scared too. LOL.

 

Thanks, Milly.

Now, let's find out more about Wolf Fever:


 Blurb

When Raine Bowe volunteers for a sleep study for the extra cash, she didn't expect to wake in a lab or to be victimized by a mad scientist. She escapes with one objective--to find someone strong enough to wage war with the evil growing inside her. 

Ryder Storm is a man with a reputation--the bad boy of his own universe. He doesn't take prisoners, won't give into a sweet smile, and doesn't cut his pack an inch of slack. He knows the desperate woman in his bar is his the moment he lays eyes on her. He'll give her anything she wants, except the one thing she's begging for. Death.

Raine enlists Ryder’s help to unravel the mystery surrounding the hours she lost in the lab and to help tame the beast inside her. In their search for answers, the road will lead them to a twisted experiment involving shifters, humans, and the creation of the ultimate Alpha. He's ready for the adventure and she's ready for her answers. Neither are ready for the lust that calls down from the mating moon. But a wolf knows its mate, and an alpha will not stop until he or she gets what they want.

Excerpt

Run!
The loud hammering of Raine’s heart drowned out the single word bouncing around her mind—and the dogs barking at her back. Their angry growls faded the faster she ran. A little further. Just a little more, and she’d be home free.
Trees swooshed past her with every step she took away from the small isolated facility. She ignored the hospital gown swinging against her legs and the blood dripping down her arms from the torn IVs. Barefoot, the rocks bit into the soles of her feet. None of that mattered. She had to survive. Her life depended on getting as far away from that place as possible.
Inhaling the comforting scent of mud, trees, and the wild, she barely heard the barking over the breeze rustling through the willows with each step she put between them. At any other time, she’d have dissected her reaction to the forest. Not now. And she didn’t stop. No way was she getting captured again without a fight.
Air beat in and out of her lungs in tandem with the pounding of her feet on the rocky ground. Moonlight filtered through the branches overhead, highlighting her path. Her hair caught on the tree limbs, snatching at the loose strands. Some of the hanging vines prodded her arms and stabbed her sides. Her breath hitched, and she missed a step, lurching forward. Something inside her tightened. Her arms swayed and her core muscles flexed. Before she face planted, everything balanced out. She blinked. More scared now than she’d ever been in her life. Something controlled her body and it had reflexes far superior to a normal human.
Moisture gathered in her eyes, blurring her vision. She blinked it away. Panic would only get her caught.
Raine glanced at the moon. It had shifted twice—now in front of her, rather than behind. She stilled. The trees rustled with the wind. An owl hooted. But she still didn’t hear the annoying bay of the dogs.
Ragged breaths beat hard in her ears. A horn’s blare sounded in the distance. Fear and excitement gave her a burst of energy. Cars meant help. She urged her body faster.
Street lights peeked through the trees. Air panted out of her chest. A second car honked, speeding past another. She was almost there. So close. Thank god. She was going to make it.
Slowing down at the edge of a hill, she darted glances around the now quiet street. No people milled about or walked around. Nothing. A big store, one she recognized from the one time she’d gotten lost in the shadier side of town, sat a block to her right. The sudden quiet made sense now. Nothing good happened this far south of Tempting Eats. It was known as the dead side. The thought alone gave her chills. Women went missing…all the time. That had been enough to keep her uptown in suburbia-peace-nation.
She glanced around, searching for anyone who might be waiting for her or even any of the dangerous men her neighbors said roamed the streets, but there was nothing, not a single being. Her feet hit the pavement in a rush. Once across the street, she hid inside a dark alley. The stench of rotting food and piss coated the air with a thick blanket of disease and chaos. Her throat convulsed, and the acidic taste of bile hit the back of her tongue.
Retreating, she took several steps toward the end of the street to a small motel. Its yellow, neon Vacancy sign blinked on and off with a buzz. A man’s yell pushed her to slink into the dark. The sound came from the shadows in front of the motel.


Buy Links

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Contact Milly:
Website:  http://www.millytaiden.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fansofmillytaidenaprilangel


Books:

As Milly Taiden
Wolf Protector – Federal Paranormal Unit – Book 1
Wynter’s Captive
Halloween Heat III – Mate Event
Fate’s Wish
Sharp Change – Black Meadow – Book 1
Caged Heat – Black Meadow – Book 2

Coming Soon
Wolf Fever
Scent of a Mate

As April Angel
A Hero’s Pride
Party Crasher
Wicked Valentine – Sizzling Encounters – Book 2
Stranded Temptation
Mr. Buff – Sizzling Encounters – Book 1

Coming Soon
Lucky Break – Sizzling Encounters – Book 3