As we rapidly advance to the point where everything that’s ever happened in front of a camera is instantly available online, each passing day seems to throw up the most unlikely filmic apparitions. Just recently on Strange Flowers we’ve witnessed the reanimated spectres of figures otherwise known only from books and images, including Austrian artist Alfred Kubin, British speedboat racer Joe Carstairs and American publisher Caresse Crosby.
Reaching way, way back, we can now add to that list Franco-Spanish dancer and courtesan La Belle Otero. While she lived to 1965, her time in the sun was, appropriately, the Belle Époque, and by the First World War she had retired from the stage.
In the video below there’s a bit of a slideshow upfront before the actual footage, which is only a snippet. But what a snippet! It was shot during Otero’s visit to St Petersburg in 1898. Eighteen-freakin’-ninety-eight. And despite its brevity it vividly communicates the vitality and exuberance which made Caroline Otero one of the highest-paid bed partners of her day. Enjoy!