Dancing With Death
October 12, 2018 7:38 AM   Subscribe

These vintage photographs and postcards of women dancing and flirting with skeletons (NSFW) are more than mere memento mori or snapshots of ladies at carnivals having a jolly wheeze in the face of death—they are in some respects quite transgressive. Some of these pictures were intended as, well, shall we say, “educational erotica” giving the viewer a frisson of arousal while at the same time battering them on the head with the salutary warning that the wrong kind of boner could lead to disease and death. Something those Decadent artists used to bang (ahem) on about in their paintings.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (23 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite


 
These are hilarious. I particularly like this image and this one where the women are mugging for the camera. It looks like they're having fun with how absurd the images are. At least I hope so; I'm so angry about all the horrible treatment of women in our current era that it's hard for me to look at even these 100 year old images dispassionately.
posted by Nelson at 7:50 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


The cat looks justifiably nervous about the french horn; the woman just looks resigned.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:52 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


I'm not on Twitter anymore but someone please tell @dasharez0ne about this
posted by valrus at 7:54 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


NSFW indeed, you can't get much more naked than down to your skeleton
posted by Redhush at 8:08 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]




I can't help but see all of them as the Back on My Bullshit communist skeleton.
posted by ikea_femme at 8:20 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


Look at that Theda Bara pose. I'm sorry I missed out on a time when "hiding the fat under your chin with both hands while staring intensely at the camera" was considered spooky and sexy, because I'm good at it. Possibly Aleister Crowley started it, I don't know. I also wish that large square white butts or holding both breasts up to negate sagging were considered acceptable under current beauty standards, but alas.

Skeletons should really be the most terrifying thing you can lay eyes on, but they're just so inherently silly. It might have been different back then when people didn't put paper skeleton cutouts on their door to welcome children every year.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:30 AM on October 12 [8 favorites]


Boner pics
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:37 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


The cat looks justifiably nervous about the french horn; the woman just looks resigned.

And that was the last time Bill "French Horn" Fitzgerald pulled that old "52 pickup" shit.
posted by pracowity at 8:41 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


[ very suave ] Hey baby, you ever fucked a skeleton? I mean, without all the meat on it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:42 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


The pictures are vaguely sexy (I guess?) at the top but get scary towards the bottom.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:06 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


when the dating scene is so bleak you prefer the deceased
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:22 AM on October 12 [7 favorites]


I clicked at work. I'm not even mad about it. This is great.
posted by Fizz at 9:37 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


when the dating scene is so bleak you prefer the deceased

Basically, 2018.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:09 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


When I said my love life was D.O.A., I meant it metaphorically.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:28 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


Previously, the Death and the Maiden motif and memento mori dual statues depicting both a living person and a corpse were somewhat popular from the Renaissance onwards.
posted by sukeban at 10:43 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


Daaaamn, sukeban, that comment by itself is a great MementoMoriOctober FPP.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:47 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: I'm not even mad about it.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:50 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: vaguely sexy (I guess?) at the top but get scary towards the bottom.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:15 AM on October 12 [11 favorites]


The Theda Bara stills are publicity shots for A Fool There Was, 1915 silent film.
The last photos, taken by Joseph Hall of the skeleton and the Victorian-era actress are from Death and The Lady, a vaudeville performance.
Morbid Anatomy has written about all of this before and with more research.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:18 PM on October 12 [10 favorites]


This sort of thing must have been the inspiration for my favorite Avedon pictorial from the New Yorker EVER, called "In Memory of the Late Mr. and Mrs. Comfort," from the 6 November 1995 issue.

It's all a skeleton, high fashion, and Nadja Auermann.
posted by uberchet at 2:13 PM on October 12


I don't know what it says that I already had some of these in my computer.
posted by bongo_x at 2:13 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


That vaudeville skeleton costume is excellent.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:01 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


« Older A Person Who Has Not Seen A Star Is Born Ranks Its...   |   Vale Greg Stafford Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.