CABARETS OF DEATH – Playing with Death and the Afterlife in Popular Amusements

A Live, Illustrated Zoom Talk with historian Joanna Ebenstein

Cabarets of Death: Playing with Death and the Afterlife in Popular Amusements: By Joanna Ebenstein, editor of Mel Gordon’s “Cabarets of Death: Death, Dance and Dining in Early Twentieth-Century Paris”

From 1892 until 1954, three cabaret-restaurants in Paris’ Montmartre district enraptured tourists with their grotesque portrayals of death in the afterworlds of Hell, Heaven, and Nothingness. Each had specialized cuisines and morbid visual displays with flashes of nudity and shocking optical illusions. These cabarets were considered the most curious and widely featured amusements in the city. Entrepreneurs even hawked graphic postcards of their ironic spectacles and otherworldly interiors.

This illustrated talk will tell the story of the death themed cabarets of Paris, and situation them within the context of the history of death themed amusements—from phantasmagoria shows to Grand Guiginol to Coney Island’s disaster spectacles—in the age of rationality and beyond.