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Mata Hari: The Original Pussy Galore


The name, Mata Hari, evokes an image of an erotic and exotic temptress, awash in a raging sea of spies, sex and foreign intrigue. She is what you see at secret meetings in dark alleys, and find against a film noir backdrop of double-crossing double agents. She is the mysterious coded message in invisible ink. Betrayal is around every corner, and capture means a swift spy’s death. This is the fully-loaded conspiracy, laden with an emotion-packed canvas that is the background of the life, times, and subsequent death of Mata Hari.

Flashback! The time is 1914. World War I rages. Kaiser Wilhelm has launched the world into its first all-encompassing conflagrations that engulfed the World in bloodshed and war. It would end in 1917, but later Hitler would revive the war again in 1939. New armored vehicles and advanced weapons of war such as Mustard gas filled the battlefield. Spies were recruited and put to work on both sides to gain valuable intelligence against the “enemy”.

Enter Mata Hari: exotic dancer, performer, temptress, seductress, courtesan and the most sexual spy of all time. She used her wiles, fetching good looks, ample body parts, and not just a little bit of nudity to work her magic on victims. She would extract information from them like male ejaculation. In fact, it was the male erection that often enabled her to lead her prey around by short hairs on the long run. That is until she was finally unmasked, and this is where the confusion comes in.

 


Who was she?


Was she a spy for the French? The Germans? The English? The Dutch? Mata Hari’s real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. As a contemporary of Isadora Duncan, she was born in the Netherlands in 1876. Her mother died in 1891, and her fathers re-marriage didn’t last. Margaretha went to live with her godfather where she studied to be a kindergarten teacher. It was during her student years that her body began to blossom. This attracted a little more than just a passing infatuation with her school’s headmaster.

The family was enraged when they found out, and promptly pulled her from the clutches of the academy. She had however discovered her prowess and power to control men with the a little subtle seduction. When she turned 18, she became a mail-order bride to a wealthy Dutch Army Colonel, 20 years her senior. He was serving in the Dutch East Indies, Indonesia on today’s globe. The marriage produced two children, a son and daughter. Soon the dark side of the Dutch colonel manifested itself in drunken rage that culminated in his beating Margaretha unmercifully. The good colonel also kept a concubine on the back burner, which was socially and totally acceptable in the Dutch colonies at the time. It was however, not acceptable to young Margaretha.

So she left, and found solace in the home of another Dutch Officer. Those damned Dutch. It ain’t all about delf and wooden shoes, is it? While in the care and arms of her knight-in-shining-armor, she joined an Indonesian dance troupe to study Indonesian traditions. She became adept at Indonesian dance, and in 1897, she adopted her famous stage name. Margaretha was now – Mata Hari! This loosely translated means “sun” and “goddess” in ancient Sanskrit. In the meantime, her husband had left for the Netherlands with the children, but this was 1903, and it was time for Mata to take matters into her own hands. She had nothing left for a life in Indonesia, so she went to the City of Lights, Paris. It was a melting pot of fomenting ideas in performance arts and literature, and the scene was setting the world on fire.

Fully locked-and-loaded with talent and the temperament of a temptress, she was ready to throw artistic gasoline on the fire of creative arts. She began odd performances as a circus horse bare-back rider, and posed nude as a model for artists. Soon she was making rounds at local cabaret stages as an exotic dancer. Sex appeal was dripping from every pore on her body and few men, and some women, could not resist her gyrating, gravitational pull. She was the whole package of promiscuity and flirtatiousness with a body that was built as firm as the Arc d’ Triomph.

It wasn’t long before she became the mistress of a wealthy Frenchman. She passed herself off as a Javanese princess of royal Hindu birth, and they were taking it faster then water spilling from a broken dike. She was shown off, and privately performed for her benefactor’s as well as posed nude for photographs. Her fame spread faster then the legs of a ten-dollar whore offered a thousand dollar bill.



She was soon on the A-List. Hot property. Her most trademark was her strip-show for the audience, a slow and deliberate shedding of each layer of clothing to reveal victory over the male hard-on and hard-nipples of her female admirers. Beneath her clothes, she wore a skin-toned body stocking, and all she would end up wearing was a colored-jewel bra with a dazzling display of arm bracelets and ornaments.

Her Parisian fame spread, more and more as more of her clothing was shed. Nude photos,  and dancing led to sexual liaisons with both genders and multiple partners at the same time. Of course, the effete artsy crowd thought her act to be cheap and tawdry, and maybe it was, but 10,000 male erections can’t be wrong. She was also a courtesan to numerous wealthy patrons that propelled her into Parisian romps under the covers of her sensuality and eroticism, but she primarily had affairs with military men from different countries in Europe.

These same military men could be sworn enemies on the battlefield. Those high in the military hierarchy were aware of their officer’s peccadilloes with the flirtatious minx. She was a true Bohemian, but the intelligence agencies of all countries in Europe began to see her as a dangerous woman because of her promiscuity, but they also realized her value as tool to gather intelligence information. While her vagina did the talking, she would listen carefully.

The mystery gets murkier here. There are myths, misconceptions and misinformation that were released from the genie’s bottle surrounding the final events leading to Mata Hari dying by firing squad for acting as a double agent. She was a victim of circumstance. During the War, the Netherlands remained neutral and Mata was allowed to travel to other countries to entertain, but in 1916, she was arrested and interrogated for being a German Spy.

According to government records, and you know how credible those are, she admitted to being an agent for French Intelligence. The transcripts of her interrogation are in Britain’s National Archives if you want to read them. Just walk in the building, and tell them you work for the French Intelligence too. Unfortunately, the French government never back up her claims, but why? Was she lying, or were the French embarrassed that she was discovered? We’ll never know the truth for sure, but as they said on X-Files “The Truth is out There.”

Mata was released as they had no real evidence to hold her, and she began her travels again throughout Europe. Her idea of entertaining the troops was dancing nude, and predated the stale jokes of Bob Hope. The British had managed to break the German codes, and in 1917 they intercepted a message from Berlin describing the activities of a code-named spy, categorized as H-21.

 


A woman in the crosshairs of both sides


The Brits sent the decoded message to the French, who claimed H-21 was the designation for Mata Hari. Some in the conspiracy-camp think that the Germans deliberately faked the message to discredit Mata. She was promptly arrested by French authorities in her hotel room in Paris, and was put on trial as an accused spy for Germany. There still was no concrete proof or evidence to convict, but then again, there was none to absolve her of guilt either. Her attorney was denied permission to cross examine witnesses, nor could he put his own client on the stand to question her openly. She was found guilty, and was killed by a firing squad on Oct. 15, 1917 at the age of 41. She refused a blindfold, and the bullets ripped her body apart as she fell to the ground.

Secret documents were opened in Germany in the 1970’s which proved that she was spying for the Germans, and had been recruited by them in 1915. Her coded messages were found, as well files with her name on the master list as the tell-tale H-21. There was also evidence that she had turned in six Belgian agents to her German handlers for extermination. After her execution no one claimed her body, so it was used for Medical study. Her head was removed and kept in a museum in Paris. The head was reported to have “disappeared” in the 1950’s.

Today if you visit the Netherlands, stop into Amsterdam for sex and drugs, but also don’t forget to visit the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden. They have the one and only Mata Hari Room with scrapbooks and other memorabilia from her life. A statue of their most famous citizen also graces the grounds of the park. She was an original. The first Femme Fatale that even James Bond would have fallen in love with. It was a film noir scenario in a real life setting. She managed to be a Bond Babe before there was a Bond, and when it came to sex and spying, Mata Hari was the original Pussy Galore!


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