Oh, what a little skin can do.More
The actress Theda Bara—one of Hollywood's first ever sex symbols and femme fatales—starred in the title role of the 1917 silent film Cleopatra, wearing expensive and racy costumes that included a coiled snake bra that wrapped around her bare breasts. Censors required cuts of scenes that included Bara's "objectionable costume" and "costume exposing body." Sadly, most of the film is now lost because the last remaining prints were destroyed.
The dancer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker found fame in Paris in the 1920s. Her most iconic routine was the danse sauvage, in which she wore a skirt made out of artificial bananas and twerked before twerking was even a term. Audiences didn't know what to do with their feelings of attraction, fascination, and disgust. Baker's contemporary, the anthropologist Essie Robeson, called it "this ridiculously vulgar...wiggling." Ernest Hemingway remembered her as being "the most sensational woman anybody ever saw. Or ever will."