Lola Montez returns to lift her skirts in Ballarat

Caroline Lee will star as Lola Montez, alongside dance siren Holly Durant in The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric.

Caroline Lee will star as Lola Montez, alongside dance siren Holly Durant in The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric.

Lola Montez led many lives and is remembered on multiple headstones. The courtesan turned countess drove a Bavarian king into exile and multitudes to drink. 

Montez toured Australia in 1855 where her erotic Spider Dance was described as “the most indelicate performance” to have been performed on the public stage. 

The Irish-born Spanish dancer whipped the editor of the-then Ballarat Times for a bad review and raised her skirts at Castlemaine. 

The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez will premiere at Her Majesty’s next Friday starring Caroline Lee, three-time winner of Green Room’s best female actor award, and dance siren Holly Durant. The production is a collaboration between Patrick White Playwright Award Winner Jackie Smith and international theatre provocateurs Finucane & Smith.

“Jackie (Smith) discovered that there was just all of these different stories around about Lola Montez,” Lee, whose family hails from the same county as Montez, said.

“Very contradictory stories. A number of tombstones in different places in the world, different paper trails, different names, all sorts of different stories. It was like, ‘who is this woman and how come so much is known about her and how come so little is known about her’.”

How exciting is that, that someone can really get stuck into somebody who's been rude, who’s been coarse and foul and vile about what Lola has to offer to her public. - Actor Caroline Lee

Lee – who can wield a whip herself – said her favourite scandal of Montez’s is her horse whipping of the Ballarat Times editor. 

“How exciting is that, that someone can really get stuck into somebody who's been rude, who’s been coarse and foul and vile about what Lola has to offer to her public,” she said.

Lola Montez is both infamous and a mystery, Caroline Lee says. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric.

Lola Montez is both infamous and a mystery, Caroline Lee says. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric.

Durant describes herself as “an afterglow” of the cabaret star, who died aged 39 and was buried in Brooklyn, New York, under as Mrs Eliza James, the name of her first husband.

“There’s not really a clear delineation of exactly who I am within the drama of what’s going on but you could certainly look at me as being a ghost or an after glow. There’s quite a lot of complexity between this character and Lola herself.”

The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez premiers on July 28 at Her Majesty’s Theatre.