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20 June 2018

La Bella Otero (187?–?) performer, sex worker

Luis D, from Madrid, sometimes said that he became homosexual after being seduced by a neighbour. On arrival in Buenos Aires at the end of the 19th century, she took the name La Bella Otero after the celebrated Spanish actor-dancer.

However in the life history that she wrote for Dr Francisco de Veyga she said that she always considered herself a woman, and had worn female clothing all her life. She had married a man and borne two children before being widowed. De Veyga commented:
“Only exceptionally does he wear male garb, preferring feminine accoutrements, which he wears with ease and even elegance. He leaves his house seldom and generally in a carriage, to avoid tiresome street incidents that would be impossible to evade, given the relative notoriety among the aficionados of the genre”.
Her account was published by de Veyga separately from that of Aurora and Rosita. He commented that Otero did not
“hide very well his desire to figure as a case history in the book on sexual inversion that we are preparing”.

  • Francisco de Veyga, "La inversion adquirida-Tipo profesional:' Archivos de Psiquiatria y Criminologia, II, 1903: 493-4.
  • Francisco de Veyga, "La inversion sexual congenita:' Archivos de Psiquiatria y Criminologia, I, 1902.
  • Jorge Salessi. “The Argentine Dissemination of Homosexuality, 1890-1914”. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 4, 3, Jan 1994: 356-8, 361.
  • Jorge Salessi & Patrick O’Conner. “For Carnival, Clinic and Camera: Argentina’s Turn of the Century Drag Culture Performs ‘Woman’”. In Diana Taylor & Juan Villegas Morales (eds). Negotiating Performance: Gender, Sexuality, and Theatricality in Latin/O America.Duke University Press, 1994: 266-8.
  • María Belén Ciancio & Alejandra Gabriele. “El archivo positivista como dispositivo visual-verbal. Fotografía, feminidad anómala y fabulación”. Mora (Buenos Aires), 18,1, ene/jul 2012. Online.

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