April 21, 2015

Art Object Nr. 2 of The Week: The First Onscreen Female Orgasm

Hedy Lamarr in Ecstasy, 1933

Can art pave the way for mainstream culture to open up? The first interracial kiss on American television (Star Trek, 1968) followed a few years after Andy Warhol's underground movie Kiss (1963). And the first female orgasm onscreen in the 1933 Czech movie Ecstasy was preceded by Valeska Gert performing the "cramp" in 1920s Berlin. This brings together two of my favourite performers: Hedy Lamarr and Valeska Gert. Because it was Lamarr who acted an orgasm in 1933, being also the first woman to appear fully nude in front of the camera. Afterwards Lamarr moved on to the United States and besides being a famous Hollywood star she also invented our current Wifi. But, fact is that it was not Hedy Lamarr who acted the first female orgasm in film. Valeska Gert did so, but in such a non-conformative way that it is still shocking for today's standards. In G.W. Pabst 1929 Diary of a Lost Girl she plays the headmistress of a reformatory, ordering the girls to do their morning gymnastics next to their bed, moving up and down while Gert's hitting the rhythm on the gong. And it's there and then, with the cross bouncing around her neck, that Gert plays her orgastic joy. No wonder this one doesn't get mentioned as the first female orgasm onscreen: Lamarr's one is much "nicer", isn't it? 

Valeska Gert in Diary of a Lost Girl, 1929

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