When your strange Valeska Gert is singing in the rain….<3 i love you strange lady.

Strange Flowers

Funny how it happens. Today I was planning to write about German performer Valeska Gert, one of the most visionary and influential avant-garde artists of the 20th century, generally regarded as the first practitioner of what was later termed performance art. But before putting finger to keyboard I took myself off to a fleamarket and what should I find there but a copy of her 1968 autobiography Ich bin eine Hexe (“I am a witch”).

Among other incidents the book describes is a recording session for prestigious label Deutsche Grammophon in the early 1960s. The aim was to record pieces Gert had sung in her 1920s heyday, but she was left cold by the producer’s insistence on technical perfection which, she felt, robbed the songs of their immediacy.

A happy outcome of this venture came after Gert sent a copy of the resulting recording to Federico Fellini, who…

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