» Lola Montez – Everyone’s A Critic
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Libertines, Lotharios or Bastards?

Lola Montez – Everyone’s A Critic

Lola Montez – Everyone’s A Critic
Lola Montez 1821 - 1861

Whip It!

Munich 1849

Lola Montez has done it again.

Munich is ablaze with revolution and a furious mob of students and townspeople are laying siege to her palatial home, loudly demanding that she leaves. Blazing torches are waved, stones are thrown, windows break and threats of violence fill the air.

Lola adjusts a hat in the mirror, opens the front door and stands proudly before the crowd, who fall immediately silent.

With head held high, she strides directly into the seething mass of people, who meekly part before her. There’s a whip in her valise that she wouldn’t hesitate to use should she be prevented from reaching the waiting coach.

It’s not needed and as the coach makes speed for the border, the exotic dancer and adventurer who has scandalized Europe and enslaved a king, ponders that this isn’t the first time she’s caused a revolution.

It’s not her fault….. she’s just passionate that’s all.

Her name’s not even Lola Montez it’s Eliza Gilbert and despite claiming to be Spanish and the cousin of a matador she was actually born in Ireland.

What is true however is that she’s breathtakingly beautiful, intelligent, erudite and with a contempt for authority and convention that makes her irresistible to everybody… until she loses her temper.

As a child, she infuriated adults by running through the streets with no clothes on and sticking flowers in an elderly gentleman’s wig during a church service. At sixteen she eloped with a lieutenant in the army and  traveled with him to India.

Five years later in 1843, divorced and with a certainty that she was destined for greater things, she arrived in London as a Spanish dancer calling herself Maria Dolores de Porris y Montez.

That she wasn’t actually very good at dancing concerned her not a bit. The jeers, boos and catcalls that followed her first few performances only strengthened her resolve. Her sensual movements, short skirts and tantalizing flesh-colored hosiery made her the talk of the town.

"You love me, you really love me" “You love me, you really love me”

If her dancing career was progressing slowly, she had no shortage of wealthy male admirers to keep her in the style she knew she deserved. Sex, like everything, else was on her terms and she maintained lucrative relationships with her many admirers until she tired of them or until they offended her. At this point, she would explode in fury and horsewhip them –  on one occasion she even drew a pistol.

Ultimately, her dancing career in London was severely damaged by the eventual revelation that she was, in fact, an Irish divorcee – a public humiliation that would have crushed a lesser artiste.

Lola went on a tour of Europe.

BERLIN

At the Stadtheater in Potsdam, Lola was invited to dance for Friedrich Wilhelm the fourth and his guest, Tsar Nicholas the first of Russia. She was later said to have discussed matters of state with the Tsar who was rumored to have offered her a thousand roubles for a “Private Audience”

" I think you should set up a Ministry of Spanish Dancing in Moscow" ” I think you should set up a Ministry of Spanish Dancing in Moscow”

Flushed with royal favor, a few days later during a military review in Berlin, a policeman made the schoolboy error of preventing her from riding uninvited into the Royal Enclosure. The horsewhip came out, the policeman clutched his face and Lola’s European reputation began.

DRESDEN

Lola met and passionately fell for the legendary composer Franz Liszt. His intellect and his talent fascinated her. He was also at the height of his considerable powers and the two embarked on a fiery, passionate affair with even renowned ladies’ man Liszt worn to a hollow-eyed frazzle by the energetic demands of his new companion.

She was on his arm when Liszt attended a banquet in Bonn, having forced her way past security and sat scandalously as the only woman at the head table. At the end of the meal the ladies in attendance retired while the men relaxed over cigars – Lola remained in her seat and lit a cigar of her own.

" Go and sit with the other ladies...fuck off I'm having a smoke." ” Go and sit with the other ladies…fuck off I’m having a smoke.”

Later during a long rambling toast, a tipsy Liszt forgot to raise a glass to the French. Gallic voices were raised in drunken protest and the apologetic genius found himself struggling to be heard. In a burst of passionate loyalty, Lola leaped upon the table and loudly demanded that the assembled company paid immediate attention.

Carelessly striding among the silverware, it said she accidentally kicked a bowl of hot soup into the lap of a member of the nobility.

In the end, even Liszt had to bring this particular concerto to a close.

One night, while Lola slept in their hotel room, he quietly got out of bed, tiptoed gingerly to the door, closed it behind him, turned the key in the lock and then ran for the exit, pausing only to hand the lad on the desk a wad of cash for the damage he knew Lola would cause when she woke up.

" Where's my bloody boyfriend?" ” Where’s my bloody boyfriend?”

WARSAW

In this Russian-controlled country Lola attracted the attentions of the Viceroy, Prince Ivan Feodorovich Paskievitch.

Not used to his wishes being denied, the 61-year old noble offered her a fortune in jewels and a country house in return for her “favors.” Lola however, felt absolutely no attraction towards the man and despite his financially tempting offer, turned him down flat.

A visit by the secret police insisting that she comply didn’t work either so she found herself loudly heckled throughout her next three performances by audience members acting on offended government orders. Justifiably incensed, Lola strode to the front of the stage and related the whole sordid story to the mostly Polish audience who needed little excuse to dislike their Russian rulers.

Roaring words of support, the enraged crowd spilled out into the street and began crying for revolution. Threatened with arrest as a political insurgent, Lola – who had only been hoping for some sympathy and favorable press – barricaded herself in her hotel room brandishing a pistol and threatening to shoot any man who tried to enter.

The intervention of the French ambassador saw her safely deported to the Prussian border, leaving chaos and a very embarrassed Prince Paskievitch in her wake.

"Oh bollocks I've started a revolution, better leg it. Hope this doesn't happen again" “Oh bollocks I’ve started a revolution, better leg it. Hope this doesn’t happen again”

PARIS

Lola made her Parisian debut dancing in the Opera Le lazzarone where she captivated and shocked the audience by wearing a very revealing costume and somehow managing to take off her garter mid-dance before throwing it lewdly into the crowd.

Subsequent performances, however, became less and less well received and Lola had to content herself with living the high life in the cultural capital of the world with a growing coterie of bohemian friends – including the smitten newspaper editor Alexandre Dujarier who became first her lover and then her fiancé.

"Musketeers sound terribly boring, do you think you could make then Spanish dancers instead" “Musketeers sound terribly boring, do you think you could make then Spanish dancers instead”

While her dancing was mocked, Lola’s abilities with a pistol were widely celebrated. It was admiringly reported that she left her target card full of holes of the shooting gallery at Lepage. That her current lover was as ignorant with firearms as she was skilled was tragically demonstrated when the honour-obsessed Frenchman insisted on fighting a duel in the Bois de Bologne for which he was totally unprepared and was fatally shot in the face.

A devastated Lola who desperately tried to prevent the duel – which for once wasn’t over her- found brief solace with the author Alexandre Dumas,  but Paris had lost its allure.

MUNICH

So Lola arrived in Munich and petitioned to dance at the Königliche Hof-und-National  Theatre. The theatre director mindful of her reputation as a horsewhiper of policemen and fermenter of civil unrest, refused outright.

Livid, Lola asked for a private audience with King Ludwig to plead her case. Intrigued by the lurid stories flying around Europe about this exquisite firebrand, he agreed. She arrived at the royal residence squeezed into a strikingly flattering costume at which Ludwig stared like a drowning man bobbing in front of the Great Eastern.

"I'm smitten..does my hair look alright?" I’m smitten..does my hair look alright?”

Unable to tear his eyes from her splendid cleavage, he rather indelicately asked if the view was artifice or nature at which point Lola passionately yanked open the front of her bodice and thrust the generous proof in his royal face.

A pop eyed Ludwig fell in love on the spot and the theatre director became immediately unemployed.

Within a few weeks Lola’s portrait had been added to Ludwig’s famous “Gallery of Beauties” and she found herself living in her own villa refurbished at a cost of one-and-a-half million marks.

"That theatre chap is so fired. Now how do you get this damn thing off?" “That theatre chap is so fired. Now how do you get this damn thing off?”

As her relationship with the King deepened, her political influence grew and she came into frequent conflict with both conservatives and Jesuits (of whom she had an irrational dislike) Despite his ministers many misgivings, Ludwig made her countess of lansfield in 1847 so they could ultimately marry and also granted her a substantial annuity.

People began to say that Lola was the real power in Bavaria – she certainly lived in acted like it.

Prince Metternich of Austria was so concerned for Ludwig’s throne that he sent an enquiry to offer her a vast bribe on the condition she left the country, but she literally threw the money back in his face.

Ultimately, Lola’s high-handedness and volatile temper saw her lose any remaining public support. When Catholic students clashed with her young supporters “The Alemannia’s” one of them was stabbed and he ordered the university closed down.

The subsequent student unrest then exploded into full-scale revolution when Ludwig refused to back down on his decision.

"Oops" “Oops”

Now Ludwig’s but a few weeks away from having to abdicate and Lola is on her way to Switzerland, all of her Bavarian titles and honors rescinded.  But Lola is not the kind of performer to waste time looking back.

Europe might be exploding a reputation and her fortune might be in tatters but she still has her lust for life, her beauty and her prodigious dancing skills there’s only one thing for it……….. it’s time to tour America.

Off to "Crack the States" Off to “Crack the States”

 

 

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