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Barbette

Started by Ecurb Noselrub, May 27, 2022, 03:32:59 AM

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Ecurb Noselrub

I grew up in Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin. The most famous thing about Round Rock was that the outlaw Sam Bass was killed there during an attempted bank robbery in 1878. I used to visit his grave in the RR Cemetery.

Little did I know, until recently, that a more famous international personage was from Round Rock, graduated from Round Rock High School in 1913, and is buried in the RR Cemetery. His name was "Barbette". He was a female impersonator who made it big in Paris, performing at places such as the Moulin Rouge, the Folies Berger, and elsewhere. He was also quite an acrobat, and was photographed by none other than Man Ray. Here is his story.

http://www.circopedia.org/Barbette

His real name was Vander Clyde, or Vander Clyde Broadway, or Vander Clyde Loving, who knows? His ashes are buried by his mother and his stone simply reads "Barbette".  I grew up here and knew nothing about him. Apparently, he was buried after I left town, so maybe that explains it. Round Rock acknowledged him as a significant RR figure in 2015. Pretty interesting life.

hermes2015

That is such a fascinating bit of history. One of the books I am reading currently is When Paris Sizzled by Mary McAuliffe, which deals with the period in Paris when Barbette was there. I can recommend if you are interested that milieu and people like Jean Cocteau and Hemingway.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Paris-Sizzled-1920s-Pcb/dp/1442253320
"Who is to say that pleasure is useless?"
― Charles Eames

Ecurb Noselrub

Thanks, I will check that out. I love Paris and am planning a trip there next year. We will be staying in Montmartre. The thing that struck me about Barbette's story is how different his life was from the place where he grew up. Round Rock back then was as far away from Paris culturally as it was geographically, yet he thrived in Paris in one of its most exciting times. Still, he came back when he was older and infirm, and is buried here. At the end of life, I suppose "going home" can be comforting. At least you are close to family. My conclusion is that while your roots may be in one place, your fruit and flower may flourish in an entirely different environment.

I will get the book - looking forward to reading it.