Das Lila Lied, the proud Lavender Song

Yesterday’s New York Times had a front page story describing in gory detail the entrapment and drawn out sadistic torture of a gay man. This horrific situation combined with the mind boggling rash of suicides resulting  from anti-gay taunts and bullying; brought to mind another repressive era, pre-WWII Berlin. The similarities being a sense of optimism and joy, and  a brash demand for acceptance; butting up against a wall of ignorance, fear, and power. Certain ‘rogue’ groups with a penchant for pre-Revolutionary garb come to mind as our current Wall of Intolerance.

Berlin Street

ca. 1913

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner


In that state of mind, cocooned in my own  tangle of Gilded Lilies, my first instinct was the need to listen to Das Lila Lied, The Lavender Song.

Having been first introduced to what is considered  the first gay anthem, by the beautiful , talented, & homo-loving Ute Lemper, I found it comforting.

The Lavender Song is the work of the talented and ridiculously prolific Mischa Spoliansky, under the pseudonym Arno Billing . Evidently his cry for visibilty wasn’t something he himself was willing to endeavor.

Mischa with Marlene, El morocco, ca. 1949


Das Lila Lied was dedicated to the famed sexologist Magnus Hirschfield, shown here with a gaggle of odd ball admirers.

good old Magnus, second from right

This  1921 recording of Das Lila Lied is decidedly less strident then dear Ute.

It would be difficult to not include the divine chanteuse.

In addition to The Lavender Song, Mischa is responsible for many familiar cabaret ditties, including the witty Special Girlfriend .

In celebration of Special Girlfriends, the following brave examples come to mind.

Radclyffe (aka John) Hall & Una Trowbridge

Daschund lovin’ dykes

Smashing at home

Una Trowbridge and beloved “John”

Further back in history we have the Ladies of Llangollen, Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby. Bravely flaunting convention, perhaps taking advantage of societal ignorance, and general apathy towards female sexuality. For whatever reason, brava!

The Right Honorable Lady eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby

Love the cat, setting a precedent for Lesbian cliche.

ca. 1831

If interested in more information concerning Mischa Spoliansky, I suggest you visit this site .

Enjoy the upcoming week

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

2 Responses to “Das Lila Lied, the proud Lavender Song”

  1. For a brief and heady moment Berlin was the place to be. Thanks for this great post.

  2. babylonbaroque Says:

    It means a lot that you liked it, it was a special time. I’m beginning to realize more and more how much it means to me and how i feel it will inspire my own work.
    Take care friend.

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