Hourglass Figures: Temper Tantrum Temptresses Lola Montez And Ali Wise

by SUSANNAH LONG · April 5, 2010

Prepare yourself for the next installment in our Hourglass Figures Series: Lola Montez, Spanish Dancer, and Ali Wise, Silent Avenger: Bad, Bold, and Dangerous To Know.

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Previously:

[Outspoken Queen Bees Nan Kempner and Tinsley Mortimer]

[Fashion Queens Eleanor Lambert and Carine Roitfeld]

[Urban Executives Amanda Burden and Ivanka Trump]

[Consuelo Vanderbilt and Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann]

Lola Montez                                        Ali Wise [Picture from the Gutenberg Project] [Photo Courtesy of the NYDN]

Lola Montez 17 February 1821 – 17 January 1861

[Picture from the Gutenberg Project]

Lola Montez was a living, breathing soap opera. Imagine Jennifer Lopez’s diva nature and Jennifer Aniston’s luck with men combined with the inane dance-pride of some Canadian kid who’s managed to sneak into an America’s Best Dance Crew competition.

Lola was born Elizabeth Gilbert in Ireland, raised in India, and educated in Paris and London. She traveled the world before settling in New York for the last years of her short life. Immediately after escaping her mother's marriage plans for her, Lola eloped with a British captain who almost immediately abandoned her. Lola didn’t pay much attention to a divorce because she was Lola, and she did stuff like that. Newly single, she immediately embarked on a career in dance. Lola devised the Tarantula Dance, wherein she would pretend that an enormous spider was crawling on her body. The ensuing efforts to remove it were increasingly frenzied and involved Lola throwing off many of her clothes. Audiences across Europe booed the masterpiece, perhaps because they had realized that, when enraged by heckling, Lola would remove even more of her garments and throw them at the audience.

An insulting caricature from the German press. [Picture from the Gutenberg Project]

As for the menfolk: Lola intrigued the Tsar of Russia, ensnared the Viceroy of Poland, conducted a torrid affair with composer Frank Liszt, took up with the French literature mover-and-shaker Henry Dujarier, and seduced King Ludwig of Bavaria into putting her onstage and building her a palace. Usually, these affairs ended badly: Lola was forced to flee Poland after rejecting the Viceroy, was humiliated and ignored by the resentful Liszt, and was chased out of Bavaria by Ludwig’s enemies. Her plans to take a second husband were ruined by the discovery that her first marriage had never been properly ended, and the eventual resolution of the bigamy problem only resulted in brief, failed marriages to several other men. It didn’t turn out much better for Lola’s swains, though: her second hubby drank himself to death after she left him; Ludwig’s relationship with the “Spanish Dancer” led to his massive unpopularity and contributed to a series of student revolts; Dujarier died in a duel defending Lola’s honor.

Franz Liszt                                       King Ludwig of Bavaria [Picture from the Gutenberg Project]

Lola is credited as inspiration for the phrase “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets,” and it’s easy to see why. However, “Don’t Cross Lola, Or Lola Will Slash You In The Face With Her Whip” might have been a better catchphrase “Whip” is not a euphemism. Lola carried an actual whip everywhere. Angry at unappreciative audience members, paranoid about her boyfriends’ various enemies, and furious at the insults of dance critics, she used her weapon to threaten or slash all three. And when audiences became more abusive and her love life murkier, Lola just graduated to a bigger whip.

A 1961 comic of Lola, by John Millar Watt.

After many world tours and even more heartbreaks, Lola Montez died in New York shortly before her 40th birthday; the cause was pneumonia and complications from a stroke. In her last days, she reportedly found religion, gave lectures on gallantry, and visited shut-ins. Her grave is in Green-Wood Cemetary, in Brooklyn.

And today?

There’s no one to take Lola’s mantilla and follow in her weird, frenzied, kind of stripper-y footsteps. They don’t make socialites like they used to. The closest we can come is Ali Wise.

Both women display big hair. Soulmates! [Picture from the Gutenberg Project]        [Photo from NYDN]

Why Ali? Our reasoning is twofold: - Ali is a lot of fun (like Lola). - Ali uses her skills for voicemail-hacking as a brutal weapon against her enemies (EVEN MORE LIKE LOLA).

By now, most have heard how Ali, crazed with love (or maybe just crazed) for her on-again-off-again guy Jason Pomeranc, hacked into the voicemail of Nina Freudenberger, whom she suspected of being JP's new girl.  Allegedly. We feel that we should say allegedly. She doesn't even come before the court on charges of computer trespassing and eavesdropping, computer tampering, aggravated harassment and stalking until tomorrow. Gosh, that's a lot of charges though.

Baby, look at his American Psycho camera-stare. He's no good for you! [Photo from New York Social Diary]   [Photo from Page Six Magazine]

The NYDN claimed when the story broke that at least six sources verified Ali's addiction to spoof cards, high tech sabotage, and spying on everyone everywhere. Her other (alleged! alleged!) victims may include former Dolce and Gabbana coworker Katie May, and other fellow ladies at the fashion company. Like Lola, Ali seems to get in trouble when career ambition and romantic snafus are involved. Blackberries are the new whip.

Despite the possibility that Ali may terrorize her enemies, romantic rivals, and business competition, she's the life of the party! Peter Davis of Papermag calls her "sexy as all hell," she's a regular on the party scene, and she looks real nice in designer clothes. She needs to invent a signature dance, but otherwise she's got the adventuress lifestyle down pat.

Though Ali's friends maintain that the whole tech-violence was likely just a prank that went too far, Ali could till learn from Lola’s many mistakes. She might also revive her own image by taking some of the better ideas from Senora Montez’s playbook:

Tour the US with a pet grizzly bear.

Get Joanna Newsom to write a song about her.

Learn to dance, period. People love dancing. Maybe Ali could go on Dancing With the Stars. Kate Gosselin is on it, and Ali has posed next to hot messes before, perhaps to look better in comparison:

We're not judging! These days, we would pose next to Lindz in a heartbeat.