Sunday, June 07, 2009

Stuff: "This lion is getting sleepy," or "The Victorian ancestor of the modern 'reverse cowgirl'."

Though it is now mostly confined the college circuit and rubs shoulders with prop comics and traveling improv groups, there was a time when hypnotism was a big ticket and masters of the mesmeric arts where A-listers.

The ephemera assemblyman blog gathers together an awesome collection of Victorian hypnosis show posters. This including several that were clearly template posters that any hypnotainer could slap his name on.

Some of these template posters (example below) are surreally wonderful. Representing an artist's notion of what a hypnotist might make people do, the suggested kinkiness – from the playful hints of transvestitism and homoerotic behavior to pony-boy D&S play – implies what the really allure of these shows was: the hope that, under the pseudo-scientific guise of a display of "animal magnetism," sexual norms would be flaunted.


Chris 'Frog Queen' Davis said...

How interesting. Had no idea that there were templates for this type of performance.

Being a graphic designer, I find it facinating that people thought of the idea of "template" that far back. Wow!


Sasquatchan said...

Hey, I think Shaft might have something to say about this one..

Blacksploitation and its not the 70's..

CRwM said...

Frog Queen,

I've seen you in the "follow" queue, thanks for leaving a comment.

I don't know if "template" is the word they would have used, but that's clearly what the bottom poster is, right?

CRwM said...

Screamin' Sassy,

I debated postin' that particular poster, but thought it would better be served as a WTF treat for those who followed the link.

It wasn't unusual for magicians and similar acts to adopt X-face personas. The American magician William Robinson, who popularized (and ultimately died of) the bullet catch trick, performed entirely under the "yellow-face" persona of this "Chinese" magician of his invention.

That poster represents the first blackface magician I've ever seen.