Thursday, September 19, 2013

maud allen

 Okay, back to A Queer History of the United States. In the first two decades of the twentieth century the public was well aware of the overt gender bending and homosexual themes on the Broadway stage. In 1908  Maud Allen, born Beulah Maude Durrant in Toronto, Canada on August 27, 1873, made international headlines with her nearly naked and erotic performance as the star of Oscar Wilde's play Salome. The American press was especially skeptical of her work. The New York Times had this to say in a 1908 editorial : ''at the present rate[of Allen's popularity in Europe] it is probable that Salome dances will invade the fashionable drawing rooms of New York...unless a halt is called.'' Just like Julian Eltinge's performances, men and Women saw Allen's dancing very differently. Men wanted her dancing censored while Women saw an image of freedom in her performances.
    In 1918 Allen was making international headlines again when she filed a libel suit against Conservative British politician Noel Pemberton-Billing. Pemberton-Billing[I love that name] wrote an article called The Cult of the Clitoris where he asserted that Lesbian spies were hurting England's war effort. He said ''in Lesbian ecstasy the most sacred secrets of the state were betrayed.'' He also charged that Allen's performance in Salome, which was by now banned in England, was connected to '' the systematic seduction of your British soldiers by the German Urnings.'' Allen was accused of practicing many of the sexually charged images depicted in the play including necrophilia. She lost the case when Pemberton-Billing called her a ''pervert'' in court and linked her romantically with the wife of the former prime minister, Margot Asquith, who was known to have had sexual relationships with other Women. The trial was scandalous and juicy as Allen's name was dragged through the mud and back again! The U.S. press, not only ate it up but agreed with the verdict. From the 1920's on Allen lived with her lover and secretary Verna Aldrich and taught dance. She died on October 7, 1956 at age 83 in Los Angeles, California.

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