Anita Berber: Etherised


Within Germany’s Weimar Republic, between 1924-1929, was considered to be the Golden Era of prosperity, intellectualism, artistic freedom. With a healthy dose of decadence thrown in for good measure. All before Nazism came and crushed everything in its way.

Anita Berber was the epitome of decadence, she was a Cabaret dancer and generally an artful creation. Her look consisted of black lips, black eyeshadow and either black hair or bright red hair. She was androgynous, skinny and used a corsage to hide her breasts.

Born on 10th June 1899 in Leipzig. She lived with her grandmother after her parents divorced. By the age of 16 Berber arrived in Berlin, and made her debut in cabaret. In 1919, Anita was dancing nude. Otto Dix painted a portrait of Berber, entitled ‘The Dancer Anita Berber’. In addition to her dancing, Berber began acting in film maker Richard Oswald’s film. Like everything else Berber was involved with, the topics pushed the boundaries. ‘Different From Others’ and ‘Prostitution’ were unique in that these films dealt with homosexuality in a more sympathetic light. Berber was decadent and over the top in her manners and habits, how decadent?  Well to see Berber naked except for a sable wrap, pet monkey hanging from her neck and a silver brooch filled with Cocaine was not unheard of!  Like Marchesa Luisa Casati, Berber was living art, her own creation on her own terms.

Sadly, Berber had a serious drug habit (Ether, Opiates and Chloroform) and was an alcoholic. Notoriously she used to mix Chloroform with Ether, stir the mixture with a white rose and then eat the dosed petals; even if it untrue, it is a great story. Berber’s excess weakened her and Tuberculosis claimed her life on 10th November 1928. She was just 29.

Marlene Dietrich was heavily influenced by Berber’s style (plus their were lovers) and Leni Riefenstahl even studied under her.

anita berber

anita berber andro


anita berber gothic



  1. An excellent read– thank you !

    1. Thank you kindly x

      1. I love Otto Dix’s work and those times in German were so crazy, interesting and sad. Ah, to be a fly on the wall.

      2. Sure a good time was had by all. Shame that so much of this period in time seems to be largely forgotten.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: