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July 18, 2016

Carmencita - The First Woman to Appear in Front of an Edison Motion Picture Camera, 1894

The first short films were clear targets for anti-obscenity activists, and this 21-second clip of what the Library of Congress calls the first woman to be in front of an Thomas Edison movie camera is “one of the first ones that we think was banned.”

Its star, Carmencita, was a Spanish Vaudeville dancer and a fixture at Koster & Bial’s Music Hall in NYC in the 1890s.

John Singer Sargent even painted her once. Essentially, viewers were shocked by the way she occasionally tugs at the bottom of her skirt and how the crinolines underneath are visible. Her dress was also a little shorter than a dress was supposed to be, and it showed her ankles.

According to some accounts, the Newark Evening News reported that a New Jersey kinetoscope parlor had to remove the footage and replace it with The Boxing Cats after state senator James A. Bradley complained such ankle showing was inappropriate.



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