Passing mention of Aleister Crowley in an article about Eva Tanguay

Passing mention of Aleister Crowley in an article about Eva Tanguay at “Eva Tanguay – A Rock Star Before Rock Existed“.

“Tanguay was the biggest star of the time. She died 65 years ago this week, but her highpoint was one hundred years ago, during the first two decades of the 20th Century. There had never been anyone like her before. Nor was there afterwards. Not until Madonna and Lady Gaga dug up her soul and re-inhabited it.

Onstage, Tanguay simulated sex. She slurred and screeched and punctuated her songs with cackles. She poured bottles of champagne over her head, flailed her arms, and shimmied her breasts. Her bra was just an encumbrance. The law said she had to wear one onstage, but she didn’t much care if her breasts stayed inside it or flopped out.

Aleister Crowley, the English occultist, was besotted by her. ‘She cannot sing, as others sing; or dance, as others dance. She simply keeps on vibrating, both limbs and vocal chords… I could kill myself at this moment for the wild love of her.’

Eva Tanguay was a provocateur. Her songs were outrageous and, like Lady Gaga, she was a plotter of new looks. Her costumes were manic – bells, leaves, feathers, seashells, and coins. After the Lincoln penny was issued, Tanguay appeared in a coat made from 4,000 of them. Her most outrageous dress was just a whisp. ‘I can fit the entire costume in my closed fist,’ she boasted.” [via]


However, not just an appreciated performer, Eva Tanguay, as Soror Darola, was also a member of the group involved in the Amalantrah working that took place over the period from Jan 14 to Jun 16, 1918.

Part of a lengthy “Appreciation of EVA TANGUAY” in the International, April 1918, published while in the midst of the Amalantrah working, Aleister Crowley writes, “at my left hand is my eighth Absinthe, and at my right a nearby empty ounce bottle of cocaine; I am using this combination of drugs as sedative, not as stimulant. She is the one woman whom I would marry — oh sacrament and asymptote of blasphemy! There is a woman of the Ukraine, expert in Mystic Vice, coming to destroy me body and soul, in an hour’s time; to make of me a new Mazeppa. But I know that she will not absolve me nor assuage me. I shall still writhe in the flames of my passion for America — for Eva Tanguay.” [via]

In a book review for the Equinox, Vol III No I, Crowley writes, “In vaudeville, we have Eva Tanguay, of whom I have already written in terms of no little enthusiasm. While other variety artists are like different vintages of Burgundy, Claret, Port, Champagne, and other wines, she breaks the entire series by producing cocaine.” [via]

In Confessions, about the Amalantrah working, Crowley recalls, “More especially there were three women, symbolized as three scorpions of the symbolic desert which I was crossing in my mystic journey. It is not yet clear whether I dealt with these women as I should have done. One was Eva Tanguay, the supreme artist, whom I hymned in the April International; one, a married woman, a Russian aristocrat in exile, and one, a maiden, to whom the Wizard gave the mystic name of Wesrun. This name can be spelt in two ways: one adding to 333, the number of Choronzon, Dispersion, Impotence and Death; the other to 888, the number of Redemption. It seemed that it was my task to save her as Parzifal saved Kundry.” [via]


Vaudeville star Eva Tanguay sings “I Don’t Care” – recorded 1922


There’s another extensive article about Eva Tanguay over at Slate, from 2009, at “Vanishing Act: In search of Eva Tanguay, the first rock star.” which you might find interesting.