Tampa Bay Times
The origins of Mata Hari
In National Geographic, Pat Shipman writes the origin story of Mata Hari: “Executed 100 years ago, the exotic dancer broke the rules in the early 20th Century. But did that cost her her life?” Read “Why Mata Hari Wasn’t a Cunning Spy After All” in full at http://on.natgeo.com/2xqkLdF. Here’s an excerpt.
Colored by her travels and sorrows in the Indies, Margaretha Zelle reinvented herself as something startling and new: an exotic dancer called Mata Hari. In 1905 Mata Hari — a Malay term for “sunrise” or the “eye of the day” — broke onto the social scene with a performance in the Musée Guimet, an Asian art museum in Paris. Invitations were issued to 600 of the capital’s wealthy elite. Mata Hari presented utterly novel dances in transparent, revealing costumes, a jeweled bra, and an extraordinary headpiece.
Under any other circumstances, she could have been arrested for indecency, but Margaretha Zelle had very carefully thought through her position. At each performance, she took the time to explain carefully that these were sacred temple dances from the Indies. Mata Hari was sensuous, beautiful, erotic and emotional; she told tales of lust, jealousy, passion and vengeance