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Sunday, 17 September 2017



                                                        PANSY CRAZE    (Article in Guardian)

                                                        THE LAVENDER SONG (1921)

Mischa Spoliansky and Kurt Schwabach Then we have fought for equal rights, we suffer no more, but have suffered! One of the first Homosexual Songs (?) Was will man nur? Ist das Kultur daß jeder Mensch verpönt ist, der klug und gut, jedoch mit Blut von eig'ner Art durchströmt ist, daß g'rade die Kategorie vor dem Gesetz verbannt ist, die im Gefühl bei Lust und Spiel und in der Art verwandt ist? Und dennoch sind die Meisten stolz, daß sie von ander'm Holz! Wir sind nun einmal anders als die Andern, die nur im Gleichschritt der Moral geliebt, neugierig erst durch tausend Wunder wandern, und für die's doch nur das Banale gibt. Wir aber wissen nicht, wie das Gefühl ist, denn wir sind alle and'rer Welten Kind, wir lieben nur die lila Nacht, die schwül ist, weil wir ja anders als die Andern sind. Wozu die Qual, uns die Moral der Andern aufzudrängen? Wir, hört geschwind, sind wie wir sind, selbst wollte man uns hängen. Wer aber denkt, daß man uns hängt, den mßte man beweinen, doch bald, gebt acht, wird über Nacht auch uns're Sonne scheinen. Dann haben wir das gleiche Recht erstritten, wir leiden nicht mehr, sondern sind gelitten!

                                               ENGLISH VERSION (VIDEO AND LYRICS)

The roots of the Pansy Craze stretch back decades, at least as far as the first of New York’s infamous masquerade balls, held in Harlem in 1869. The city already had a number of gay-friendly bars, including Pfaff’s Beer Cellar (favoured by Walt Whitman) and the Slide, which Joseph Pulitzer’s New York Evening World labelled “morally the lowest in New York, Paris, London or Berlin”. But the popularity of these drag (or fag) balls was such that by the 1920s, as many as 7,000 people of all colours and classes were attending. Prizes were awarded for the best costumes and Malin was often among the prizewinners.
The 1920s also saw an increase in the number of bohemian enclaves in rundown areas, such as New York’s Greenwich Village. Painters, poets and performers were lured by the cheap rents and by an increasingly wild and lawless lifestyle. Prohibition had given birth to a black market for booze and a bustling underground scene, where bright young things slumming it in mob-run nightspots developed a taste for camp, cutting repartee.

Like New York, Berlin’s regular drag balls made it a popular destination for LGBT tourists. Yet many regarded this tolerance as a sign of the country’s decadence, and Hitler’s rise to power saw countless bars, clubs and cafes closed. Nazi stormtroopers tore the heart out of Berlin’s cabaret scene, arresting anyone deemed entartete: degenerate. Max Hansen, who recorded War’n Sie Schon Mal In Mich Verliebt?(Weren’t You Ever In Love With Me?), in which a drunk Hitler made passes at a Jewish man, had to make a quick exit from Germany, and other cabaret stars either followed or went back into the closet. Willy Rosen, Max Ehrlich and Kurt Gerron (the star of Weill and Brecht’s Threepenny Opera) all died in Auschwitz. The bawdy, openly gay Paul O’Montis died in the Sachsenhausen camp, just 25 miles north of the stages he once commanded. “At the time of their creation, these songs were kind of shocking and anarchic,” adds Lemper. “Today, nothing can shock any more but these songs can still entertain and provoke.

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