Virginia Oldoini! Sweet!
Mathilde Kschessinska! Bangin'!
Mata Hari! Like, Why Bother Trying Anymore? Huh?
All of these ladies used their bodacious bods, and, actually, pretty formidable brains, to get really, really rich. Like, astoundingly rich. Our first courtesan, Virginia, first married an Italian duke. When her husband was sent to the court of France, she immediately abandoned him for Napoleon III, on whom she used her womanly wiles to plead the case of Italian unification.
"Doin' this for the boobs. Just sayin'."
Virginia, known as 'de Castiglione', eventually got sick of Napoleon III, probably because he was hideous, and she pin balled back and forth between Italy and France during the 1860s-1970s, helping to make modern Europe through her work with Bismarck, Napoleon, and the Italian political nomenclature. Though how much of that was mental versus physical effort is uncertain.
Pure scandalous. SHE COULD BE NUDE UNDER THERE YOU'D NEVER KNOW MAN
Poor Virginia's story doesn't end very well. As she aged, she became obsessed with her fading youth. She covered her apartment in black, and draped all her mirrors. She began to go out only at night, and in a veil. Alas, all that got the men of Europe through this dry spell were copies of her most famous portrait:
2 legs, 1 daguerreotype
Our next courtesan has a connection to an earlier post of ours: Nicholas II. Mathilde KsseI'mnotgoingtokeepspellingthislastname was his first girlfriend. And this went well for her. Well enough for two palaces and a house in Nice. And lots of jewelry. Lots of it.
I feel that I must take the time here to explain that those are whole diamonds on her necklace. And the bows, earrings, pin on the front are all diamonds and platinum. This is how the Romanovs rolled, and this was just the shit they bought their girlfriends.
Mathilde would end up escaping the revolution that would kill her former boyfriend (and a few others- she got passed around to some uncles and cousins afterward), and she became a ballet teacher in France. She was also the primary teacher of Anna Pavlova, the first and most famous 'ethereal' ballerina, who made super-skinny hot. How'd she get famous? Mathilde was pregnant and couldn't do Swan Lake, so she had her student take her spot, figuring people would be uninterested in the flat and thin Pavlova. Tough luck, Mathilde.
But did Pavlova ever have the balls to wear her sex-jewels on stage like this? I think not.
Last but certainly not least is the incomparable Mata Hari. Basically, I wish I was her. Except for the gruesome death. And being slutty for a living. But let's explain some stuff before we get to that.
I will readily admit that I probably spent a little too much time looking at this picture.
Mata Hari began life in the pretty unexotic location of Holland with the pretty unexotic name of Margarethe (unexotic to Hollandishers or something I guess). An early privileged life went to all kinds of hell when her parents divorced and her headmaster started hitting on her. No Dumbeldore, he. So she decided to answer some guy's ad for a wife.
Bad ideas all around
Well being married to that ugly and probably boring of a dude sucked, so after moving to Indonesia to be with him, two kids, and a lot of drunken beatings (the more you read this blog, the more they pop up- pretty popular back in the day-), Margarethe moved to France, and became in turn a circus performer, an artist's model, and, of course, an 'exotic dancer'.
Well those are probably some seriously expensive pasties.
'Mata Hari' was, as you might have guessed, successful. She slept with a lot of insanely wealthy people, including millionaire industrialists, dukes, military leaders, and the crown prince of Germany. This went great until WWI. The Netherlands were neutral, but her boyfriends weren't, and she was eventual booked for espionage (of which she was probably innocent), and executed by firing squad in England. A sad day indeed.
Like most 'exotic dancers', not so pretty in close up and facing imminent death.