Mata Hari (1876-1917) was a dancer, courtesan, and spy. (Who wouldn’t like a gig as a spy?) Born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle on August 7 she enjoyed a lavish childhood and attended exclusive schools. In 1897, she changed her name to Mata Hari–meaning “eye of the day”. In 1903 she moved to Paris and worked as a circus horse rider. As she struggled to earn a living, she gained fame as an exotic dancer. Her success grew and she raised exotic dance to a more respectable status. Mata Hari broke ground in a type of entertainment for which Paris became famous throughout the world. Her style and go-get ’em attitude made her very popular. (That’s why we really like her.) In 1917 she was arrested and sentenced to death as a German spy. It’s been said that at her execution she refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to the firing squad.
“I am a woman who enjoys herself very much; sometimes I lose, sometimes I win,” Mata Hari said. We pause a moment to allow this inspirational thought to sink in . . . .
Here’s why we give Mata Hari a special Joyceland Happy Birthday wish: she was a little glam, a lotta gutsy, and had BIG fun. So here’s to Mata–now go change your name just for today and do something a little outrageous!