Amazing Account Of A Limbless Beauty Show
Stort London Life January 27, 1940
"The next stage was the central one of the five that formed the semicircle. I stood out from and was rather more ornate than the others, and obviously its occupant was the star attraction of the show.
The name of it above in brilliant Neon lights was "Violetta," and the lady was no stranger to me, as I had seen her and chatted with her two or three times before. Older readers of "London Life" may remember that I have referred to her more than once in my articles.
Violetta is probably the most outstanding of all the limbless ladies on exhibition, and is, I think, at the moment the only example of her particular type now before, at any rate, the American public. While the lecturers were busy with the other attractions, she remained perfectly calm and detached, neatly poised on her slender-stemmed, heavily brocade-topped pedestal, set in the centre of the stage. Now and then she would glance aloofly at the staring crowds, apparently undisturbed by their curiosity.
I remember her as a rather plain schoolgirl of 17 or 18, just over from Germany with her fair hair worn in a straight, flat fashion that did not add to her attraction. But that was ten or more years ago. Nowadays she has blossomed out into a real beauty, her blonde hair beautifully marcelled, her piquant face attractively made up, still grave and aloof, but undeniably charming.
Violetta possess a perfect figure, firm, beautifully curving bust, small neat waist and slim, rounded hips. But those are the beginning and end of her charms. She is merely a beautiful torso, completely without either arms or legs, even to the rudiments of limbs. Except that the usual limbs are absent, there is no suggestion of deformity about the neat trunk, which would not suffer comparison with that of any beauty queen or national Venus. In fact her usual billing, in her case no exaggeration, is as the "Beautiful Armless and Legless Venus."
According to her medical history, the torso is not only faultlessly modelled, but is without blemish of scar of any kind. Doctors and artists who have examined her have actually stated that, in her case, the absence of limbs constitutes no deformity. The doctors' verdict is that "the formation of the body is perfect within its own limits, and no provision has been made by Nature for the presence or functioning of limbs". And artists have described the wonderful torso as "a perfect, if unfinished, piece of natural sculpture."
When I first saw Violetta on her arrival in the States from Germany, years ago, she was very modestly clad in a costume of unrelieved black velvet, moulded to her figure, certainly, but quite opaque and clothing her from neck to hips. She still remains faithful to that type of costume, but it has subtly altered and has become much more alluring and revealing. The costumes of hers, by the way, can only be described as a specially designed figure-moulding pocket into which the torso is neatly fitted by her maid. The particular one she was wearing at this moment - with, by the way, a profusion of glittering necklaces - was of sheer black silk of a cobwebby fineness and transparency and clinging with the unwrinkled perfection of a skin-tight silk stocking. In fact it was obviously drawn on and smoothed into position exactly like a silk stocking.
I should say that the whole costume, when stripped from her, could easily be crushed into a loose, flimsy ball within one's closed fist. I could certainly be said to cover Violetta's charms from armless shoulders to shapely hips, but every curve and rounded contour of the beautiful torso was as fully revealed, and much more alluringly, as if she had been nude. AS she rested, gracefully poised on the cushioned top of her pedestal, one could easily note the faultless perfection of the limbless body.
At length the lecturer came round to Violetta's stage. She at once became the professional artist, aware of her public, bowing to right and left, with a charming, unaffected smile, as the man orated about her wonderful and unique charms in the usual highly eulogistic manner. He hoped that nobody would be so foolish to be sorry for her, as Violetta would be most hurt and would not regard it as a compliment.
She was perfectly happy and contented. In fact he could let the
audience into a little secret and tell them that Violetta did not
think a great deal of limbs in general. She did not think them
particularly attractive and, for her own part, thought she was
better without them. (In which, by the way, though the audience
thought it a good joke, there is more than a little truth, and
Violetta is not the only one of her kind to have the same strange,
but compensating outlook. And on this occasion Violetta, while the
audience was laughing, nodded and smiled vigorously, obviously in
full agreement with the lecturer).
He suggested that she would make an excellent and economic wife for any enterprising young man, as she could never run away from home, and would save him a fortune in shoes, stockings, gloves, etc. But he did not tell his laughing audience that Violetta, as I knew, had been happily married for some years, and that round her neck, along with the gleaming rows of necklaces, she always wore a thin, gold chain on which hung her engagement and wedding rings, which she could wear in no other way.
After the lecturer's introductory remarks, Violetta presented her act; and a very remarkable act it is, revealing to the astonished spectators who see her for the first time the surprising fact that a totally limbless girl may not necessarily be absolutely helpless.
She is attended to during the performance by a very pretty nurse (who is, in fact, her maid) clad in a stunning uniform of brief, little more than hip-length skirts and silk tights, that no ordinary nurse could possibly wear. The nurse comes forward and first of all places on the floor below Violetta's pedestal (which, by the way, is about two and a half feet high, bringing its occupant up to about normal height) a thick mat of brightcoloured, cushioned rubber, and round it the materials for the act.
She then releases a catch in the top of the pedestal on which Violetta rests, and allows it to tilt forward slightly. Violetta drops to the mat in a graceful, flexible swing, and manages miraculously to remain upright in a perfect balance. After that she looks after herself, though the nurse hovers round solicitously all the time to offer help if necessary.
The extraordinary thing is that she is able to move about the mat quite easily, jumping or hopping - however you would describe the action - rather like a man in a sack race, only much more gracefully and effortlessly, and keeping her balance most of the time. Sometimes, in fun, she rolls right over, head first, she is coming at the end of the roll to an easy upright position again.
Meanwhile, using only her lips and teeth, she places in position a small easel, and upon that a pad of drawing papers. Then, with a charcoal pencil in a long holder, held between her teeth, she sketches in rapid succession, cartoons of well-known people, the nurse tearing off each finished drawing in turn and tossing it into the audience, to be grabbed by eager hands. In the same way, using only her wonderfully flexible lips, teeth and tongue, she opens a cigarette box which stands on a low table, selects a cigarette, and shifts it expertly to the corner of her mouth. Then, with her tongue she pushes open a matchbox - which, of course, is a fixture in a small chromium stand - and picks out in some miraculous manner a match. The cigarette is now between her lips in one corner, and the match between her teeth in another. She strikes the match, brings the end of the cigarette and the lighted end of the match together, lights the cigarette, and blows out and spits out the match. The trick is one that you'd think impossible until you see it, and then it looks almost easy!
She also demonstrates, in pantomime, how she can, if necessary wash herself practically all over. Again she uses her teeth, holding a sponge between them; and by contorting her amazingly flexible limbless torso into every conceivable position, she keeps the sponge moving lightly over her body. At one time she had rolled herself into a compact ball, "showing," as the lecturer humorously remarks, "how easily Violetta manages to make both ends meet!"
You would imagine that the feat of threading a needle and sewing, using only the tongue, teeth and lips, would be an impossible one. But this Violetta demonstrates is also comparatively simple to an ingenious mind. She picks the needle up with her tongue and lips, and sticks it point downward into the wood of her table, using her closed teeth to drive it home. Then she uses her tongue to pick up the thread, and manipulates it easily and swiftly into position with her lips and, bending down, threads the needle expertly. The sewing seems a more difficult business, but the fact is that Violetta's lips have become almost as flexible as fingers, and she seems to find no trouble in the task.
At the end of the remarkable little show she hops easily to the end of her mat and bows and smiles to the tremendous applause Then, turning to the nurser who stoops towards her, she crouches lightly and hops upwards into the nurse's arms. The nurse, with the beautiful limbless body in her arms, now steps down from the stage and carries her mistress among the audience, with which she chats in a smiling, friendly manner. She answers all sorts of questions about herself, even the most impertinent, with a laugh, and allows anybody who wishes to touch and smooth her body, in order to prove to themselves that she is "real and not an illusion."
The only thing she bars is kissing - which, believe it or not, many young men, as well as some women, attempt at nearly everyone of her performances. She has a way of using a shoulder, as she rests in her nurse's arms, that a boxer might, and the unexpected jab to the chin of a too ardent admirer is sometimes calculated to bring tears to his eyes!
Finally, Violetta is borne back to her pedestal, where the nurse settles her comfortably, and she returns to her grave and aloof contemplation of whatever is she thinks about, until the time comes round again for her turn.