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Demons and Dames - Demons and Dames the Podcast EPISODE 7, 3rd March 2020
Mata Hari: Performance Artist
00:00:00 00:59:55

Mata Hari: Performance Artist

“There is something I wish you to take into consideration. It is that MH and Madame Zelle Macleod are two completely different women... That which is permitted to Mata Hari - dancer - is certainly not permitted to Madame Zelle Macleod.” 

So wrote Mata Hari from prison, shortly before her execution by firing squad in October 1917. The formerly-feted ‘exotic dancer’ was, her prosecutor claimed, ‘the type of woman born to be a spy.’ She certainly met all the femme fatale touchpoints for a nation seeking a scapegoat. But was she a spy at all?

In this episode, Ash explores what happens when the license of peacetime clashes with the moralising dogma of war, the power and vulnerability of adhering to an alter ego, the Western fascination with ‘oriental’ dance, and almost inspires Sarah to launch a lesbian fete.


Craig, W.M. (2017). Mata Hari: Dancer, Courtesan, Spy. The History Press

Shipman, P. (2008). Femme Fatale: Love, Lies & The Unknown Life of Mata Hari. Harper Perennial

Wheelwright, J. (1992). The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari & The Myth of Women In Espionage. Collins & Brown.

Coulson, T. Maj. (1930). Mata Hari, Courtesan & Spy. Harper & Brothers