I was ten and watching a Saturday morning children’s TV show. The smarmy host introduced a succession of kiddies who sang, danced, pulled top hats out of rabbits, juggled with rats or performed slick card tricks fit to baffle a Star Casino operative.
It was mostly lame-o, until The Jatz-sons took the stage. Get it? Meet George Jatz-son? Brother and sister. She stood with a cigarette between her lips. The live band struck up.
Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart.
The brother brandished a whip and began to lash at the cigarette, singing all the while.
Dear (Lash!) when you smiled at me, I (Crack!) heard a melody It (Thwang!) haunted me from the start Something (Zzzzzzt!) inside of me, started (Double crack from between his legs with his back turned, and, oh yes, he was blindfolded too) a symphony Zing! (Cracka Cracka Crack! Now only 3mm of the cigarette remained in Sis’s confident pout) went the strings of my heart.
Phew! I bubbled, like a camp oven stew, with mixed emotions. ‘Man, that’s an upbeat song!’ ‘How could you do that to your sister? She’s got some spunk, but.’ ‘The whole cigarette thing was a bit tawdry.’ ‘Cool whip.’
Which brings me to Lola Montez, siren, Spanish dancer, free spirit, and a dab hand with the horsewhip. She toured Australia during the gold rush as a guest of Casino Beef Week. She even came out to Bonalbo, as I recall. Inspecting the bronze Working Dog Statue, she noticed a plaque proclaiming: The town of Bon Albo was named for Australia’s 31st Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.
‘Ay caramba,’ exclaimed Lola (who was actually Irish).
‘And also to theenk the band who did ‘Rosanna’ and ‘Africa’ was named after his leetle dog!’
Maybe I imagined the whole Lola Montez visit thing. It’s hard to know. But she was real. Her life story makes L. Ron Hubbard, the Homeopathic Handbook and the Old Testament sound believable. But it really happened.
I mean, look at her boyfriends. Franz Lizst the pianist; Alexandre Dumas the writer; Alight On A Cloud (the Cheyenne chief); King Ludwig I of Bavaria; Donald Bradman (to be confirmed); John F. Kennedy (no relation) among others, and not counting numerous husbands. A staggering number of men associated with her were murdered, killed in a duel or fell overboard at sea. Lola didn’t do it: she just had an eventful life.
She took to the editor of the Ballarat Times with a horse whip for giving her racy Spider Dance a bad review. She described the knicker-free performance as a national dance, whereas he described it as an egregious offence against taste, decency and undergarments.
The local aldermen had abandoned their council meeting early so they could catch the show, and they had no complaints.
Lola and Charlton Heston had a thing for a while. She loved taking his Ben Hur chariot for a spin around his ranch and cracking her horse whip. But it all turned sour when she discovered he was head honcho of the National Rifle Association.
‘You pathetic and contemptible pig, Charlie! What is it with Seppos and guns? Feel threatened if you’re not totin’ a bazooka? All a real man needs are his bare hands, or a horse whip, or (aha!) a wet towel. Cop this (ffftwack! Retreating squeals from the head gun loon).
She recorded an (unreleased) version of Let it Go from Frozen with Tony Bennett, Justin Bieber and Joseph Le Petomane Pujol (and he certainly let it go: it was a gas). Donald Fagen of Steely Dan denies that Lola was the inspiration for the line in Two Against Nature that goes: Whip the bastards while they still green, but I’m not convinced.
Lola eventually settled down, more or less, and spent her declining years rescuing ‘fallen women’, so that was nice. Sadly, she died of syphilis. Supposedly, her last words were,
I like to shake it You like to shake it You ain’t gonna break it So shake it with me
Words to live by. Lola Montez. What a cracker. A lesson to us all.