the Lolaland that never was

Lola Montez was an Irish-born dancer who became world famous as the mistress of King Ludwig of Bavaria.

“She wanted to become an actress, but upon learning that she couldn’t act, decided to fabricate another show business career of her own design. For several years, Lola drifted about Europe taking irregular dancing engagements wherever she found them; life was interesting, and her string of lovers grew.

In St. Petersburg, Russia, Lola got a “private audience” with the Czar, and then received from him 1,000 rubles for services provided.

In Dresden, she got the composer Franz Liszt, and the two of them enjoyed a burning passion, until Lola became jealous of the attention Liszt received from his legion of admirers. To upstage him, she burst in upon a banquet he was holding for royalty, and leaped up upon the table to dance among the dishes, spilling consommé into the lap of a duke.

image found here

Liszt was so completely worn out by Lola, that as she slept, he locked her in their hotel room and fled. At the front desk he left a generous sum of money for the furniture he knew she would smash when she awoke.

Some months later, Lola resumed her dancing in Munich, but the theater manager took one look at her performance and fired her on the spot, claiming that her work was appallingly bad. Infuriated, Lola went directly to the palace to appeal her case to the King. Still in costume, she charged right into the astounded King Ludwig’s private study, demanding “justice.” Taken aback, the King clumsily inquired if her lovely figure was a work of nature or of art. Lola snatched a pair of scissors from his desk and slit the front of her dress to the waist, thrusting her dazzling bosom into the King’s face. Before she left the palace she received a substantial engagement at the Munich Theater. The manager was fired.

image found here

Ludwig fell desperately in love with Lola. He gave her an ample allowance directly from the public treasury. He built her a splendid little palace, and he himself designed a marble fountain for it which sprayed perfumed water in an arched plume. Ludwig was an aged and fading man, and Lola easily began to rule his kingdom for him, as well as his imagination.

“I will never abandon Lola,” the King said, “My crown for Lola,” he said. Indeed it cost him his crown as he was forced to abdicate. Lola made the very next (midnight) train out of town, a victim of her own political incompetence.

The severest charge against her involved the mysterious disappearance of one of her lovers from aboard a ship which was anchored in harbor at Fiji. Some witnesses mentioned a man being tossed overboard from one of the better cabins, but nothing could be clearly proven. It seems that most other passengers had been driven off by the raucous noise coming from Lola’s cabin, so there was a shortage of reliable witnesses of suitable station… Charges against her of ritual murder, performed in connection with a Black Mass held in the jungle of a nearby island, were considered to be specious, although no conclusive evidence of any sort was discovered.

At the age of 35, after having suffered through severe episodes of sickness and marriage, she needed a fresh start and set off for California and the gold rush. She opened a frontier saloon in a boisterous mining town called Grass Valley; Lola’s enterprise was a show stopper of the first order:

image found here

Louis XVI cabinets, ormolu mirrors, Ludwig’s jewels, Kanaka houseboys, a pet bear, a swan bed, gold leaf everywhere, one extra large deep-red-top billiard table with dragons carved on its legs, and every Governor, Senator or millionaire she could find and haul into the place. The nightly show had one act – Lola at her loosest. It was a hit, at last.

Letters discovered after Lola’s death demonstrated that all this was produced in support of a plot on Lola’s part to gain influence and assistance to “capture” California from the USA, cause it to declare independence and be named “Lolaland,” with herself as Queen.

detail of ‘Lola’ by Ren Wicks found here

Weirder delusions and fantasies soon appeared. Lola faded into mysticism and a bizarre version of astrology, taking refuge. She did revive for a short time, and wrote a book of her most important beauty secrets (to prevent wrinkles, she suggested tightly binding many thin strips of raw beef all about the face, covering it completely – except the eyes. The beef was to remain there until all the “vibrant energy” had soaked in. There was no mention of how long that might take however.)

At 43 she died of a stroke in a wretched boardinghouse, alone. Her two children, one of whom ran a lamp shade store in California, declined to claim the body. Both were “constrained by the pressures of business” the first one said, which was an interesting perspective, since the second was in jail.

Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 9:35 am  Comments (36)  
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36 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Another great woman.
    To clarify the beef issue, I leave the strips of beef on my face until the birds have pecked them all off.

  2. Fortunately there have not yet been any complaints about raucous noises coming from my cabin. As for the rack, I’d wreck a dress to show that off, or simply, not have a dress on to begin with.

  3. What a woman. Why has nobody made a film about her since the Ophuls effort of 1955? Thank you Nurse Myra for this reminder of the type of woman you just don’t see any more. Kate Adie comes close, but there’s something lacking.

  4. What a man. “At the front desk he left a generous sum of money for the furniture he knew she would smash when she awoke.” How thoughtful.

    • That was my thought too Bearman, he is the classiest person in the whole story.

  5. “Lola snatched a pair of scissors from his desk and slit the front of her dress to the waist, thrusting her dazzling bosom into the King’s face…”

    Damn i like this Lola chick! What an inspiration

  6. For a couple of years in the late eighties I worked as manager of the Grass Valley Downtown Association. We used to drop Lola’s name in some of our marketing materials but we completely missed the boat on Lolaland. Clearly, we should have had you on the committee.

    Shorty Niner

    • Ha! It would be a brave committee that would invite me on board

  7. “upon learning that she couldn’t act, decided to fabricate another show business career of her own design.

    proving once again that in the entertainment business, if you’re beautiful, talent is optional. video killed the radio star…. (sigh)

  8. Moral of the story? If you’re beautiful, somewhat crazy and possess a talent for bugging the hell out of rich men, they’ll give you money to go away??
    Some of your stories help me confirm my own sanity. Thank you for that. 😉

  9. Lovers have a tendency to grow …… with the aid of string if necessary …….

  10. She sounds a right pain in the arse to me, high kicks and petticoats regardless!

    • Yes, fun in small doses, but probably very trying in the long run.

  11. It’s funny how drunken public sex with multiple people wearing masks and singing gets mistaken for “Black Mass” all of the time. Love the picture though. I’ve drawn a few breasts in my time, and they’re hard to get right. You know – getting both of them to look the same, and getting them to look attractive. These look about perfect.

    • Mine don’t look the same, I definitely have a favourite

  12. The moral is, one spare child isn’t enough if it’s going to be in jail when you die. Especially if you are a difficult parent.

  13. ‘severe episodes of sickness and marriage’

  14. She must have been strong as hell to be able to break up furniture and throw a grown man to his death…

  15. So it was true, “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.” I had no idea they were referring to her whenever I visited Grass Valley (a couple of nice Victorian-looking pubs there). A shame her kids didn’t like her.

  16. A dazzling bosom will make a man do things. Crazy things. Like pay for dinner.

  17. I now love Lola . .

  18. Lola’s decorated life and dazzling bossom makes for a fascinating story. Oh that king was fond of her indeed…

  19. Stroke at 43?!?! Too young to go that way nurse.

    • It may have been lifestyle related – she certainly played hard

  20. how are you?
    I enjoyed reading this, as all of your other posts.

  21. Every where I look there are role models aplenty for the life I could lead if I threw off the shackles of middle class mediocrity.

  22. Yes, she’s definitely Scottish and I’m sure we all agree California would be a better place if it was Lolaland.

  23. This must not be the Lola that The Kinks sang about…

  24. I thought California was Lolaland already. I’ve heard it called the Land of Fruits and Nuts, and Lola certainly seems to fit that bill.

    I’m not sure who I find more inspirational at this point, Alma Mahler or Lola Montez.

    Definitely a woman of character.

  25. After some time I finally had the chance to read(I think)all your previous work,rainy days are good, fascinating subjects and well presented, in truth, most called upon me to diverse into research on some items and a couple of days of enjoy were had.
    Also, keeping the kids quiet while the ‘night shift’ Sister tried to sleep, never again.. Thank God that’s over.
    Good thing you raised the intellect of both Countries :)..
    I stumbled here as I stumbled on to BSchooled prior, and was captured. ( I,off course, was also ‘captured by Miss. B.just to clear that up). I know that it’s of little reward, just to thank you for your efforts.We Aussies,the LED’s of enlightenment and bloody modest..

    • welcome to the Gimcrack Laird, do you have a blog?

  26. Donkey wants to became a “LoLaLand” inhabitant!

  27. She certainly had a remarkble life.. but I thought Lola Montez was actually Irish – Eliza Gilbert

    • You’re right, she was born in Ireland. There are so many conflicting stories about her birth and heritage. I’ll amend that detail now

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