Cabarets of Death - Dance, Death, and Dining in Early Twentieth-Century Paris

Strange Attractor Press


Cabarets of Death - Dance, Death, and Dining in Early Twentieth-Century Paris by Mel Gordon, edited by Joanna Ebenstein / ISBN 9781907222269 / 180-page paperback with flaps, 8.4 x 6.5 inches, published in 2023 by Strange Attractor Press (UK)


From 1892 until 1954, three cabaret restaurants in the Montmartre district of Paris captivated tourists with their grotesque portrayals of death in the afterworlds of Hell, Heaven, and Nothingness. Each offered specialized cuisines and morbid visual displays featuring flashes of nudity and shocking optical illusions.

These cabarets were considered the most curious and controversial amusements in the city, and graphic postcards of their startling spectacles and otherworldly interiors became their own sensational currency.

Cabarets of Death documents the dinner shows, bizarre character interactions, and theatrical goings on in these unique establishments. Presenting original images and drawings from contemporary journals, postcards, tourist brochures, and menus, the late cultural historian Mel Gordon leads a tour of these idiosyncratically macabre institutions, and grants us unique access to a form of popular spectacle now long departed.

Mel Gordon (1947–2018), called a “drama scholar of the fringe” by the New York Times, published books on the grisly Grand Guignol theater, the deviant sexual worlds of Weimar Berlin and Paris, and Erik Jan Hanussen, Hitler’s Jewish clairvoyant.

Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer, curator, photographer, and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library, and event series and co-founded the Morbid Anatomy Museum.

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