Cross-dressing trapeze and tightrope artist Barbette seems to have sprung out of a Jean Cocteau fantasy, but surely was a real person. Exact birthdate and parentage subject to dispute, but somewhere around the dawn of the 20th Century in Texas. Subsequent to highschool, he replaced a deceased woman in the Alfaretta Sisters aerialist circus act. Barbette toured the vaudeville circuit and debuted in Europe in 1923. Barbette's curtain-call wig-ripping-off move was ripped off for Victor/Victoria. [more inside]
New Sappho poem found. Combining a Cologne University fragment found in the cartonnage of an Egpytian mummy with a fragment from Oxyrhynchus has allowed the reconstruction of Sappho's fourth poem. The Oxyrhynchus papyri have been much in the news lately, what with the discovery of the earliest fragment of Revelations to give the number of the beast as 616 and the publication of several lines from Sophocles' lost tragedy The Progeny (scroll down). Infra-red imaging techniques may not be sexy, but Sappho sure is. After all, Plato said she was worthy of being considered not only as a poet but as a muse. Sappho herself is a palimpsest or a sort of cypher. We know next to nothing about her -- including whether she was lesbian or not. One thing's for sure: she almost certainly wasn't a schoolmistress.