The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber is the first contemporary biography of a notorious actor/dancer/poet/playwright who scandalized sex-obsessed Weimar Berlin during the 1920s.
In an era where everything was permitted, Anita Berber‘s celebrations of “Depravity, Horror and Ecstasy” were condemned and censored. She often haunted Weimar Berlin’s hotel lobbies, nightclubs and casinos, radiantly naked except for an elegant sable wrap, a pet monkey hanging from her neck, and a silver brooch packed with cocaine. Multi-talented Anita saw no boundaries between her personal life and her taboo-shattering performances. As such, she was Europe’s first postmodern woman.
Among those Anita Berber claimed as members of her vast sexual harem were Marlene Dietrich, Magnus Hirschfeld (the founder of modern sexology and gay liberation), Klaus Mann, Conrad Veidt, Lawrence Durrell, and the King of Yugoslavia. Berber acted in Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler and starred in the silent epic, Lucifer. Even Leni Riefenstahl credits Berber for inspiring her controversial career. After sated Berliners finally tired of Anita Berber’s libidinous antics, she became a “carrion soul that even the hyenas ignored,” dying in 1928 at the age of 29.
The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber chronicles a remarkable career, including over 150 photographs and drawings that recreate Anita’s enduring “Repertoire of the Damned.”
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Mel Gordon is Professor of Theater Arts at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of twelve books, including "The Grand Guignol," "Dada Performance," "The Stanislavsky Technique," and the Feral House titles, "Erik Jan Hanussen: Hitler's Jewish Clairvoyant" and "The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber."From Publishers Weekly:
The life and death of Anita Berber (1899-1928), who was what we would now call a performance artist, are inseparable from the frantically erotic climate of Weimar Germany, as this tabloid-style tell-all biography by Gordon (Voluptuous Panic) makes abundantly clear. A child of divorce, the Dresden-raised Berber began dancing at 16, earning major Berlin reviews and working in film by 1918; she began dancing nude in 1919, and did films titled Prostitution and Different from the Others that same year. Gordon provides numerous photos and titillating anecdotes taking readers from that point to Berber's death in a Beirut nightclub (including her alleged sexual enslavement to a woman and the woman's 15-year-old daughter). This intriguing, haphazard document offers a plethora of clues into a the life of a woman whose repertoire included a dance entitled "The Corpse on the Dissecting Table." Berber's life cries out for thorough study, such as that recently accorded inspired Dadaist Baroness Else von Freytag-Loringhoven.
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