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Mata Hari

100 Years - 1905
the beginning of Seduction and Secrets


"I am a woman who enjoys herself very much; sometimes I lose, sometimes I win.                   - Mata Hari

Mata Hari

100 years - seduction and secrets

Is it the fact she danced nearly nude at a time when such behaviour was considered beyond abominable for a woman...or is it the fact she stayed seductive even while she sold secrets as a double agent? Either way, her seductive airs and her beguiling lack of modesty causes talk about her to this day. To call someone a Mata Hari is complicated. On the one hand, her dances caused men to swoon and perhaps more than a few women. On the other hand, she traded secrets. She traitored loyalties. What causes the most discomfort? Thinking our grandfathers were sporting wood over a half clad female at a time when decorum and manners meant everything, or perhaps its because the whole James Bond route seems so much more exciting, let alone without your clothes.

She embodied the fantasy men wanted to fuck and the fantasy women wanted to be.


Perhaps of the many seductive and powerful women in history, hers is the one we are drawn to because she used her raw sexiness to get what she desired. She put it right out there, although veiled by shawls in dances like The Sun, the first of her career, danced when she moved to Paris from Holland, having been born the daughter of a successful hat maker there.

It was under this name that a bold, exotic dancer debuted in the Musée Guimet on March 13, 1905.  The scene is detailed in Russell Warren Howe’s book, Mata Hari: The True Story: “…a half life-size carving of Siva, with four arms, was placed on the improvised stage with a bowl of burning oil at his feet.  Mata Hari was dressed from the museum collection, as were four supporting dancers who, in the course of the rite, would vie for Siva’s attentions but retire in humility as the god directed his invitation to Margaretha Zelle alone.  Bracelets from the collection embellished her wrists, biceps, and calves.  A belt from India, encrusted with previous stones, held a translucent Indian sarong in place.  She attempted to maximize what nature had given her a minimum of by stuffing with cotton wool the bejeweled metal breast cups she sported for the occasion.  

“The diaphanous shawls she wore as the dance began were cast away to tempt the god until finally, as the candelabras were capped and only the flickering oil light gleamed on Siva’s features, the sarong was abandoned and her silhouette, with her back to the audience, writhed with desire toward her supernatural lover.  The four dancing girls chanted their jealousy as Mata Hari groaned and worked her loins deliriously.  All passion spent, she touched her brow to Siva’s feet; one of the attendant dancers tiptoed delicately forward and threw a gold lamé cloth across the kneeling figure, enabling her to rise and take the applause.”  

One of the finest most complete sources of her life can be found here

"Her fame made it easy to travel to various European countries, so the French Secret Service asked Mata Hari to mix and mingle with the Germans and find out as much information as she could. However, the French became suspicious of her and arrested her when she tried to cross the French border to visit a lover. She was interrogated and confessed to being a German spy code-named H21 (new reports say she was framed) . When she went to trial and the verdict of guilty came in, she would be executed by a French firing squad on 10/15/1917, (as she was a double spy for Germany and France). She was immortalized in the movie which starred Greta Garbo and Ramon Navarro in the title role in 1932."


Further reading - 

Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK  
Mata Hari 'was framed'


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