elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
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elisa_rolle

Feral Benga & Geoffrey Gorer

Feral Benga (1906-1957) was a Senegalese dancer who lived and worked in Paris in the the 1930s. Benga was the illegitimate son of a wealthy man in Dakar and he migrated to France in order to improve his life. He went to dance rehearsals and wound up playing the drums for Josephine Baker when she performed The Banana Dance. Benga's own reputation as a dancer began to grow and was considered by some the male equivalent of Josephine Baker. Benga was the exotic fetish of the moment among Paris' artsy circles, particularly among his male audience and his body became a symbol of homoeroticism.

There is very little known about Benga and the art historian, James Smalls is currently doing research on Benga. Benga became a model for artistic expression like James Richmond Barthé's famous sculpture, pictures by Carl van Vechten, postcards by George Platt Lynes, paintings by James Porter and Pavel Tchelitchew.

He had a relationship with anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer. Benga and Gorer travelled together to Africa, and Gorer wrote Africa Dances. Originally published in 1935, Africa Dances takes the reader on an odyssey across West Africa, in the company of one of the great black ballet stars of 1930s Paris (Feral Benga). It's a devastating critique of colonial rule, which is shown to be destroying African society while Christian missionaries undermine indigenous morality. The book captures the rich physical and psychological detail of village life-from food and architecture to witch doctors, dance, and magic.


Geoffrey Gorer is an English anthropologist and author, noted for his application of psychoanalytic techniques to anthropology. He had a relationship with Senegalese dancer Feral Benga. Benga and Gorer travelled together to Africa, and Gorer wrote Africa Dances. Benga became a model James Richmond Barthé's famous sculpture, pictures by Carl van Vechten, postcards by George Platt Lynes, paintings by James Porter and Pavel Tchelitchew. Benga died in 1957 and Gorer went back to the UK.


by George Platt Lynes


Feral Benga by Carl Van Vechten, 1937


by George Platt Lynes


by George Platt Lynes


by Carl Van Vechten


by Carl Van Vechten


by Pavel Tchelitchew, 1938

Geoffrey Gorer (1905 – May 29, 1985), is an English anthropologist and author, noted for his application of psychoanalytic techniques to anthropology. He had a relationship with Senegalese dancer Feral Benga. Benga and Gorer travelled together to Africa, and Gorer wrote Africa Dances. Originally published in 1935, Africa Dances takes the reader on an odyssey across West Africa, in the company of one of the great black ballet stars of 1930s Paris (Feral Benga). It's a devastating critique of colonial rule, which is shown to be destroying African society while Christian missionaries undermine indigenous morality. The book captures the rich physical and psychological detail of village life-from food and architecture to witch doctors, dance, and magic.

He was educated at Charterhouse and at Jesus College, Cambridge. During the 1930s he wrote unpublished fiction and drama. His first book was The Revolutionary Ideas of the Marquis de Sade (1934, revised 1953, 1964). He then published an account of a journey in Africa, Africa Dances (1935, new edns. 1945 : Penguin, 1949, 1962), and another cultural study Bali and Angkor, or, Looking at Life and Death (1936). Hot Strip Tease appeared in 1937 and Himalayan Village in 1938.


Feral Benga by George Platt Lynes, 1934

His admiration for George Orwell's novel Burmese Days led him to contact Orwell in 1935. They remained good friends until Orwell's death in 1950.

From 1939 he lived and worked in the United States. He wrote The Americans (1948), The People of Great Russia: A Psychological Study (1949, new edn. 1962), and worked with various official and semi-official organizations on studies in Soviet and other cultures. Modern types (1955) was his last book written in America.

From 1957 he again worked in England. Exploring English Character, based on a large survey he designed, appeared in 1955. Death, Grief, and Mourning in Contemporary Britain appeared in 1965. The Danger of Equality and other essays (1966) collected some recent papers. Sex and Marriage in England Today appeared in 1971.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Gorer

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher


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Tags: dancer: feral benga, days of love, essayist: geoffrey gorer, model: feral benga
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