Imagine a woman so beautiful that men fought and killed each other in order to win her hand. A woman whose sexuality and beauty was so much that more than one man committed suicide at the end of his affair with her. No this isn’t the famed Helen of Troy of which I speak, but a queen among courtesans, the lovely La Belle Carolina Otero.
During the early 1900’s the courtesans of France were heavily sought by men around the world. They came at an extremely high price, decorated themselves in expensive jewelry and had a grace in their gait that drove men mad. La Belle Otero was one of these women, her hair raven black, figure like a wine glass and complexion intoxicating. Born in Spain to a poverty-stricken home, the poor girl was raped into sterility at the tender age of 10 (Author’s note: what the hell!). At 13 years old she ran away from the orphanage and married, then was abandoned by an Italian man who gambled her away in a dice game. Taking to the road to dance for money with her partner “Paco”, this began a career for Otero as a mistress and exotic dancer. Taking on the name of La Belle Otero, to support her fictional history as an Andalusian Gypsy, Otero became a must-have for the richest men in the world. It was said that her dark eyes were so penetrating one could not take one’s eyes off of them. Men literally showered her with money, invited her to dinners where each plate was worth the sum of a regular man’s life of salary and royal heirs were willing to give everything up for her.
She was a tall, handsome and breathtaking spectacle to her observers, whether it be in the bedroom or seeing her perform. La Belle Otero is also credited for being one of the first film stars after a one minute video was filmed of her performing her famous “Valse Brillante”. Just writing this scares me that a woman could wield this type of power over men, Otero must have been one special lady.
From Time.com: “Admirers gave her gilded carriages and chateaux, buckets of jewels, and a mansion on the Champs-Elysées. A U.S. millionaire invited Otero to a simple supper of caviar and oysters—in each oyster lay a pearl. By 1894 she was so rich that she spurned an offer of 10,000 francs for one night, and the luckless man killed himself in humiliation.”
In 1922 La Bella Otero retired after a lusty 25 year reign as queen of the courtesans. Her assets now numbered in the millions, this a time when $2.00 was considered a good amount of money… can you imagine? Squandering her wealth in casinos and on luxurious toys, the lady gradually had to down-size her expensive tastes as the years waned on but it was all gone before long and she died at the age of 97. One of her last quotes was this, which would explain her feelings and attitude towards the life she led: “Women have one mission in life: to be beautiful. When one gets old, one must learn how to break mirrors. I am very gently expecting to die.”
To be honest, even in today’s standards of beauty – which is nowhere near what it was in the early 1900’s, I think (this is just my opinion) that Carolina was a knockout. Judging from these pictures alone, without seeing her move – which is what would have surely did it for even me, she is a very beautiful woman. To have lived the life she did and to have wielded her kind of power over men for 50+ years is quite a feat in itself. Carolina Otero was truly a hottie of history.
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