Let’s play a game I use to in lieu of flirting because I don’t know how to talk to men as a result of my crippling social ineptitude, shall we? It will be SOFUCKINGFUN. It’s called “Think of All the Austrian Luminaries of the Early Twentieth Century You Can,” and you win if you: a) don’t immediately run away; and b) can name more than three. Okay, ready? GO!
Sorry, what was that? “You’re fucking weird?”
Well, fair enough.
But just for funsies, let’s pretend you instead said:
“CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, MRG. There was Gustav Mahler, of course, that prolific composer. Oh, and obviously Walter Gropius, head of the Bauhaus School and therefore one of the most important architects of all times. Let’s see…ah, yes, Oscar Kokoschka, the expressionist painter and namesake of the best character on “Hey Arnold.” How many do I need to win your love again? Four? OH DUH, how could I forget Gustav Klimt, painter of sexy shiny blocky nipple paintings, especially that kiss one that’s been culturally ravaged? I WIN! COOL GAME, MRG! Let’s do ‘Top Five Favorite Medieval Flemish Painters’ next!”
Now, obviously this isn’t a game that I actually play. But it’s worth noting that in this hypothetical situation, I would probably definitely already be handing you my bra and mumbling, “HANS MEMLING.”
This is all a very convoluted way of revealing the exceptionally badass subject of today’s post. I should tell you up front that I’m nursing a massive ladycrush on her for a lot of reasons, mainly because she coincidentally (not coincidentally) BANGED ALL FOUR OF THOSE REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT AUSTRIAN GUYS. AND MORE.
Alma Mahler (which I’m sure you, like me, keep reading as alma mater and it’s totally bothering you) lived through a great fucking period in intellectual history. She was born Alma Schindler in late 19th-century Vienna to a famous landscape painter and his operetta-singing wife. And when her artist dad died, her operamom married Carl Moll, who was a co-founder of the Vienna Secession, which was not this kind of secession, but the kind where painters and sculptors and architects hang out and form a new artistic movement together. Once, when LHB and I were abroad and in Vienna for a couple days, we walked right past their headquarters a couple times and said, “Cool Art Nouveau churchy thing, or whatever” and had no idea what we were looking at. Good historically uninformed times.
So what with the artistic genes and the historical/cultural context, Alma couldn’t help but blossom into a certifiable dime-plus-ninety-nine. Also, she was totally serving that 1890s girlishdoll/ladymirth realness that people loved so much back then:
Because stepdad Carl was so involved in the Secession, and because of her aforementioned hotness, Alma flirted, HARD, with lots of important artists, and they sure-as-shit flirted back, laying the foundation for a life of bounteous boning. She was such a great slampiece to so many great men, in fact, that I’m going to have break it down list-style.
WARNING: There were A LOT of sexytimes and therefore A LOT of words follow. I recommend you take a snacks-on-snacks break after every three list items. Don’t ever say I don’t care about your comfort.
1. Gustav Klimt was elected president of the Secession (to Carl Moll’s VP, AWKWAAAARD) in 1897 when Alma was seventeen and he was thirty-five. He was a noted seducer of inappropriately younger ladies, and she was just old enough to start understanding Cosmo’s more directive articles. So of course they fucked. And really, if you’re going to lose your virginity (unconfirmed, but come on) to anyone, shouldn’t it be the caftan-wearing artist friend of the family?
Alma kept diaries during this time but had obviously never watched and learned from Harriet the Spy, because her opera-singing mother found the journal. I imagine that, upon reading the parts where Alma described (in vivid detail, apparently – attagirl) their series of copulation sensations, her mom went apeshit to the tune of “The Magic Flute.” In any case, Klimt was into Alma (LITERALLY) (but figuratively here) and followed the Molls on a family vacation to Italy to try and get a holiday handy or two. But mom and Carl got pissed, forced Gus to leave and never see Alma again, and things ended real quick.
2. In the meantime, Alma’s sexytimes had contributed immensely to her fledgiling studies as a composer/MC. She later said,
“Gustav Klimt entered my life as my first great love, but I was an innocent child, totally absorbed in my music and far removed from life in the real world. The more I suffered from this love, the more I sank into my own music, and so my unhappiness became a source of my greatest bliss.”
This symbiotic ass-helps-art relationship continued through Alma’s next tryst, this time with her music tutor, Alexander von Zemlinsky. The internet says that ol’ Al, though unsightly and kind of a noob, knew “how to arose [sic] Alma’s wakening sexuality with a passion which allowed her never to forget his »virtuoso hands«.” I don’t know what »virtuoso hands« are, but I want them. Maybe in the meantime there are special gloves or something I can use? I’ll look into it and get back to you.
Anyway, Al continues to use his Magical Bionic Sex Hands on young Alma for a couple of years — and he also teaches her how to look into her soul and compose music, or whatever — until all of Alma’s best girlfranz stage an intervention because Al was essentially penniless eye broccoli (Mom sang the breakup aria in the background).
3. This turned out to be a lucky break for Alma, as she met Gustav Mahler in 1901, shortly after dumping Alex the Footfaced. Mahler was the director of the Vienna Court Opera and therefore a big motherfucking deal in the local music scene, especially to an aspiring ladycomposer like our sweet little recognizer-of-sexually-advantageous-situations, Alma. Gus, for his part, wasn’t a slouch either. He was 41 to her 22, and he’d been down Sexy Straβe a few times himself. Enough times to know that when an ambitious and totally DTF ingenue comes your way, you gotta lock it up with a prenup.
Well, not an “I’m a celebrity marrying a golddigging Muggle” kind of prenup, but literally a prenuptial agreement that required that Alma give up her fledgling compositional career and commit to housewifery, because WOMEN, AM I RIGHT. And she signed that shit like she’d get legs, a prince, and a sunset seacruise wedding out of it. DAMMIT, ALMA! You were doing so well.
As Gustav became more and more successful, Alma held up her end of the gender-inequality-perpetuating bargain, popping out two girlchildren, having the schnitzel und spaetzel on the table by five every night, and completely abandoning her independent hopes and dreams. BUT SHE WAS STILL REALLY PRETTY, SO WHATEV.
4. “Whatev” sufficed until the elder Mahler daughter, Maria, died of scarlet fever in 1907 at five years old. Alma was understandably feeling a tish bit blue, so Gus, the prince, allowed her to take herself and that other girlbaby on a spa holiday at Tobelbad. Turned out to be a Tobel-BAD call on his part (nailed it), because while there, Alma met Walter Gropius and banged the shit out of him. And can you blame her? He was totally Deutschehot, in the process of inventing modern architecture, and was about to found the Bauhaus. Shit, I want to go back in time and fuck him myself.
Anyway, for all his talents and charms, Walt was kind of a dumbass and mailed a lube-soaked love letter to Alma. Why does that make him a dumbass? Oh, that’s right: HE FUCKING ADDRESSED IT TO HER FUCKING HUSBAND.
In a way, though, it sort of worked out in that when Gus found out about the affair he had an emotional crisis, realized that he had driven Alma into the arms (not »virtuoso arms«, but still) of a more appreciative man, and turned his anti-happywife campaign right the fuck around. He started allowing Alma to compose again and took an active interest in her music, even getting her published in 1910. But Alma was a shrewd and fickle sexual demigoddess who wanted her terrible husband to PAY. He died of an infection the following year, and I’m not saying she murdered him, but I’m not not saying that she was a magic voodoo priestess for ladyrights.
5. You may be thinking that this opened up the Marriage Canal for sweet Wally Gropius, and you’d be right. But Alma, as we have established, was the best. She knew what was up. She was totally hot and talented, and Wally would be Right There Waiting in a couple years, during which time she’d work on her music and play Susie Slampiece for a few more important Austrian men. Including Dr. Paul Kammerer, a biologist who developed some now-abandoned theory of trait inheritance. You know, “science” shit. He hired Alma as an assistant following Mahler’s voodoo death. So naturally she hit that. It was totes casual until Paul threatened to shoot himself on Mahler’s grave if Alma didn’t marry him. She was an artist consorting with a “scientist.” It was a dalliance. She said “That’s fucking weird.” He said, “Haha yeah you’re right I was just kidding (but I’M NOT KIDDING).” She said, “I’m going to fuck someone else now.”
6. That someone else was a one Mr. Oskar Kokoschka, future VIP of modern art history classes everywhere and a Secessionist painter. If the early-1900s Viennese expressionist art scene was a boy band, Oskar was the one with tattoos, nipple piercings, and a pirate-y goatee. He was the bad boy, reckless, violent, and always banging a new lady. Alma, therefore, had. to. hit. it. And demonstrating once again her highly evolved ladypowers, Alma was able to do what women across this green Earth only dream of doing — she tamed the badass. He basically worshipped her and painted her a lot, which was nice, but the side effect of The Taming of the Dude was he became extremely possessive of her. BOOM, she was outta there. Soon after their breakup, Oskar ordered a life size Alma doll from Munich (link is creepy as shit, FYI) made to her exact measurements, so you can imagine how things went for him until he experienced a kind of life-renaissance as the kooky, illiterate Eastern European lodger in a Brooklyn boarding house in the mid-to-late 1990s.
Also, I know you’re tired, I’m tired, this sexjourney is exhausting, but the Alma Train to Sexualcontentmenttown is just about to pull into the station.
4 (revisited). Alma had had enough of that whole mentally-unstable-lovers bag and gave sweet, patient Wally Gropius a well-deserved booty call. He was serving in WWI, but he still managed to consensually grope her and then really Grope her by becoming lucky Mr. Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius in 1915. Happy happy joy smiles, they had a daughter named Manon, love sunshine butterflies puppies. But then Manon died of polio 😦 and shit got real. Being Groped just wasn’t enough for Alma anymore, so she thought to herself, “What did I do last time my daughter died prematurely? Oh, that’s right…I TOOK A LOVER.”
7. Enter (again, LITERALLY) Franz Werfel, the novelist and poet whom Alma affectionately (not affectionately) called a “fat, bow-legged Jew with bulging lips.” Can’t fight a love like that. She became his muse and also ~*TWIST*~ his baby mama. This was a major WOOPSIE, as she was still married to dear Wally, who assumed that, upon the birth of little Martin Gropius, the kid was indeed his son. Soon, though, either Alma came clean or Wally got wise, but it ended up not mattering so much because little Marty caught some hard-to-spell disease and died at ten months. Which is extremely sad, but damn, Alma would have lost her head like three kids ago had she been living in Renaissance England, amiright?!
Wally was a good guy and knew that Alma was happier with Werfel, so he unGroped her in 1920, at which point she and Franz shacked up for nine years — Alma wouldn’t let him put a ring on it right away. Eventually she did, though, and they enjoyed relatively drama-free wedded bliss until those Nazi guys made it real hard for “fat, bow-legged Jews” like Franz (and also all of the Jews) to live in Vienna. They fled to Los Angeles by way of France and New York in 1938, where Werfel became extremely famous by turning his novel A Song for Bernadette into a big splashy Hollywood picture, and Alma by running a European-style social salon.
There we have it — the exhausting yet exhilarating love life of Mrs. Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel. She’d cooled her jets considerably by the time Franz died in 1946, and my fingers are tired from all of the typing, so I feel safe bringing the sexy portion of this post to a close.
I want to be her (except not dead). She fucked SO MANY artistic dudes while maintaining her own professional interests and never let shit like “vows of matrimony” or “morals” stop her from keeping her eyes on the dickprize. God love her.
No, it’s stupid.
Well…maybe…Alma Mahler, are you there? Are you…God? Sorry, Goddess?
Let us pray: Ladies, we must read, learn, and worship at the altar of Alma Mahler, for she hath willed it so through her coital miracles. Though ye be but mortal, Goddess Alma hath hereunto brought forth a path of girlcrushery, light, and truth, leaving you an aspirational example of hella diva swagger, that ye should follow in Her most enviable footsteps. For She hath trodden in unknowable dales of Austrian artist dick, and She hath conquered. She boned prolifically so that ye may be granted prolific boning. Amen. #nolesbo.
Royal families are sort of known for producing unattractive (hideous) people, mostly due to inbreeding. But every once in a while, a king and his queen, a prince and his princess, a marquis and his marchioness get busy and nine months later a true hottie is born.
And Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria was a fine piece of historical ass.
Look at that fucking baby face. That sexy modern crew cut. That ruffly-ass high collar. Actually, he was sixteen when this photo was taken, sooo…that’s a little “problematic” to use a very pedological and meaningless word. But whatever, this hot sixteen-year-old grew into this fine specimen of Eastern European inbreeding:
YUM. But a historical figure, however ostensibly attractive, is only as sexy as his salacious life. Lucky for us, young Rudy was involved in a very fatal, very sexy scandal in 1889.
Rudolf was the son of Habsburg emperor Franz Josef I and the Elisabeth of Bavaria (who has her own fantastic and scandalous story, but unfortunately it was more sad than sexy). He grew up outside of Vienna, where he and his sister were raised by their granny, and where, like a true nerd, he cultivated an extensive collection of rocks and minerals. Next time you’re in Vienna, hit up the University for Agriculture and check those geologic wonders out. I know I will.
His sister, Gisela, was his best friend, and when she was married off to some Bavarian VIP shit got real emotional. To top things off, Rudy and Papa Franz had a strained relationship, because Rudy was a liberal go-getter and his dad was an old conservative stick-in-the-mud.
So you know, by the time Rudolf married Princess Stephanie (which is a name I didn’t think existed before the 1980s) of Belgium, whom he apparently really liked, trouble was a-brewing in the Hofburg palace. His mother didn’t make things any better when she called young Steph a “clumsy oaf.” Ouch.
Needless to say, Rudy had a lot on his plate. Apart from the family tension, he was being groomed to be an emperor. That’s a serious fucking job. So it might not be surprising that after a few years of marriage he did his duty and knocked Stephanie up with an heir (female…too bad), and then just sort of said, “Fuck it. I’m a royal hottie, I’m here, get used to it.” And by that I mean he drank a lot of booze and smoked a lot of opium and boned a lot of ladies.
One of those ladies was seventeen-year-old Mary Vetsera, who was a Baroness and a hottie in her own right. Her real name was Marie, but she Anglicized that shit right up to seem more fashionable. Her father’s status as a baron afforded her a great opportunity to work it at the Hofburg palace, and her mother pushed her to get her flirt on with Rudolf, who by this time was thirty years old, had contracted syphilis and was having seizures on the regular. What a catch!
Although the plan was for Mary to seduce Rudolf, she soon became infatuated by him, as most teenage girls would be. He was a tortured, sexy older man who was also going to rule the country. But whereas she loved and venerated him, he was just sort of looking for another girl to bone. And bone they did, sometime in January of 1889, and that’s when shit got real.
Rudy had recently bought a huge hunting lodge in Mayerling, Austria. He was getting a little cabin fever in the Hofburg, so he called my girl up and said, “Hey bitch, what’s good this weekend? Wanna hit up my tricked out lodge in Mayerling?” And she was like, “Omigod YAHH!” And they headed out into the countryside on a nice little getaway.
And then, on the morning of January 30, they were both found dead. Because there’s no better way to christen your brand new vacation house than with a double homicide!
There’s been a LOT of speculation as to what happened. The official report stated that Franz Josef had argued with his son earlier that week about his affair, and Rudolf killed Mary and himself at Mayerling in reaction. There wasn’t a gunshot wound on Mary’s body (but a gun was Rudolf’s weapon of choice) and a lot of people think that their deaths were the result of a suicide pact.
Rudolf was truly a tormented soul, and some historians think he had been looking for someone with whom he could form a suicide pact for a while, including a Viennese prostitute who politely declined. Reports have surfaced that suggest that Mary wrote several suicide notes in the weeks leading up to the Mayerling incident, and that the pact was long-standing. What really puzzles people is that the coroners easily determined that Mary died first, and Rudolf waited six to eight hours to kill himself after her death. Really. Just sat next to a dead person for six to eight hours. That’s a long-ass time.
However it happened, the Habsburgs had a serious PR situation on their hands. Mary’s body was smuggled out of the lodge and buried quietly at a nearby convent. Officials tried to spread the story that Rudolf died of a heart attack, but the Austrian people saw right through that shit and news of the suicide spread faster than you can say “Wiener schnitzel.” Ultimately, the family had to request a special dispensation citing Rudolf’s “mental imbalance” from the Pope so that they could bury him in the Imperial Crypt. Ahh, euphemisms.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Mayerling incident was scandalous in itself, but it also fucked up all kinds of shit in the Habsburg line of succession as well as in the royal family’s relationship. Rudolf’s mother, Elisabeth, grew incredibly distant from Franz Josef, and was randomly murdered nine years after Mayerling. And a few days after the incident, Rudolf’s brother Karl Ludwig, the heir presumptive, renounced the throne like a bitch, putting his son next in line. His son Franz Ferdinand. WHOOPSIES. I’m sure that LHB, First World War enthusiast that she is, would be glad to explain the enormous pile of shit that Europe found itself in as a result of Rudolf’s depression.
The story has been immortalized on the stage and in film, most famously by Omar Sharif, Catherine Denevue, and Ava Gardner in the 1968 film “Mayerling.” All-star cast, no-star title.
As with so many scandalous historical happenings, we’ll never know what exactly happened that fateful January evening. I mean, six to eight hours? Really? I like to think that Rudolf used that time to have a couple snacks, read some books, watch some Real Housewives. But we’ll just never know.
What we’ll always know is that despite the adultery, substance abuse, possible murderous and definite suicidal tendencies, Crown Prince Rudolf was one criminally hot Rhinelander.