Almost immediately after the end of the first war and the foundation of the Weimar Republic, Berlin leapt with eager abandon into the currents that would ultimately lead it to become the hedonistic capital of the world.
The Weisse Maus (White Mouse) opened its doors in 1919, at Jägerstraße 18 in the Friedrichstadt area of Berlin, renowned for it’s numerous cabaret clubs and revue theatres.
A “beautiful 98-seat cabaret venue with a curtained stage” it served a decadent and expensive brew to a varied clientele, from travelling salesmen to members of the criminal ‘Ringvereine‘, elderly provincials and a peppering of the Berlin intellectual set.
As well as standard cabaret fare, naked ‘beauty dances’ were staged after midnight, with the proprietor Peter Sachse insisting, before each lurid performance, that there would be absolutely no pornographic content – We come here for beauty alone”
Customers wishing to conceal their identities were given a choice of a black or white masks to wear.
In the Autumn of 1923, the goddess of Berlin’s ‘other’ night world, the outrageously provocative dancer Anita Berber performed regularly, supported by her own troupe of six teenage dancers.
” After midnight, the guests were ready for the apocalyptic moment when the blouse-less girls pranced up the stage ramp. Anita’s girls were powdered in deadly pallid shades and appeared like figures of death incarnate. But Anita performed with bitter sincerity. Each intrusion annoyed her. She responded to the audience’s heckling with show-stopping obscenities and indecent provocations”
“Berber had been known to spit brandy on them or stand naked on their tables, dousing herself in wine whilst simultaneously urinating”
” It was not long before the entire cabaret one night sank into a groundswell of shouting, screams and laughter. Anita jumped off the stage in fuming rage, grabbed the nearest champagne bottle and smashed it over a businessman’s head.”
“It was Anita’s last evening , she was sacked without notice”
( Mel Gordon – ‘Voluptuous Panic’ and ‘ The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber)
In 1926, the venue became the Monbijou Cabaret, home to Erich Lowinsky’s infamous Monday-night venture ‘Kabarett der Namenlosen ‘ – The Cabaret Of The Nameless.
Inspired by the legends spawned by Berlin’s ‘Weisse Maus’ Cabaret, and the harsh, fallen world of the Weimar Republic, Mal Earl presents a series of images for print and apparel to conjure visions of a decadent age.