Archive for the ‘Theda Bara’ Category

Her large black eyes, accentuated by heavy kohl makeup, set off her rounded, dead-white face. Elaborate props such as a tiger-skin rug and a long gold cigarette holder embellished her exoticism, as did her penchant for veils, crowns, large hoop earrings, and bronze bangles. With her long, dark hair and voluptuous figure draped in low-cut gauzy gowns, the vamp perpetuated a familiar stereotype of European passion and exoticism. At the same time, the character created a popular image of women as sensual yet powerful. The vamp dominated and triumphed over men, and contrasted sharply with the clean-cut WASPish characters portrayed by Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish.

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After recovering my equilibrium I told Silas all about the Dungeon and the Chariot that had stormed out of it, momentarily winding me. He was intrigued and we set out together determined to investigate further. Edwin (the butler), who clearly misses nothing in this establishment, overheard us talking and offered, not only to open the old apartment down there, but to show us slides from the carefully curated collection of early Vamp movies that he had stored down there – along with his vintage slide projector.

As we watched Edwin’s slide show Silas and I were drinking lots of Edwin’s vintage pure red gold and selecting chocolates from a vast box of the best quality assortments. Using his most affected Vincent Price voice, Edwin adopted the role of a narrator, revealing how, long before Mae West, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlowe, and Madonna vamped their way across the silver screen, there was Theda Bara—the original celluloid “vamp.”

Born Theodosia Goodman on July 29, 1885, Theda Bara had a brief but notable career as the star of dozens of silent films. Raised in Cincinnati, Bara moved to New York City at age eighteen to pursue acting. Only marginally successful on the stage, she became an overnight sensation when director Frank Powell cast her as the star of A Fool There Was in 1915. In the film, which was based on a stage melodrama that was in turn based on a Rudyard Kipling poem, Bara played a temptress who squeezed money, dignity, and finally life out of men. As the sensuous, cruel seductress, Bara created the original “vamp.”

Apparently Bara was so convincing in her role as a vampire on and off screen that in 1918 she was subpoenaed by a California court to give expert testimony on the psychology of female vampires in a murder trial! And, although the vamp character was just a role she played in many films, Bara was touted to be a real “vampire” by her movie studio’s press team. Magazines of the time referred to her as “The Queen of Vampires”, “Purgatory’s Ivory Angel” and “The Devil’s Handmaiden”.

We were enthralled and so you can imagine our delight when up on to the screen flashed a scene in which significant members of our ‘Vampire family’ played. As for me, I confess I went into a quiet reverie and dreamed of having been a celluloid vamp in another lifetime.

“This card is a sign that the time has come for us to engage with our own glorification. Now is the time to gather the rewards and acclaim for our achievements and fulfil our wishes. By relaxing and giving ourselves up to the blazing lifeblood of the Sun, we can accomplish anything. The brilliance is both external and internal, and its energy can be passed on to others without loss.
p. 140 Phantasmagoria

In this scene the two figures represent the divine expression of the passive and active dynamics within the fifth element of spirit. Wearing the crown of Kether the female vampire is related to the element of air while the male has transformed into the inactive energy of earth, representing Malkuth and the material world. They feed from each other in pure harmony, becoming one by sharing the lifeblood. The image also symbolises the reconciliation of our light and dark aspects and reunification with our shadow. p. 141 Phantasmagoria.