Venus — a play by Suzan-Lori Park — explores the story of Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman –“Hottentot Venus”


Venus provides a fictional account of her life abroad in 19th century London. She is lured away from her home in South Africa with the promise of riches and is put on display for British and Parisian audiences.Traveling from her home in southern Africa for what she hoped would be a better life, Saartjie Baartman became an unfortunate star on the 19th Century London freak show circuit. This Obie Award-winning play gives vibrant life to the story of Baartman’s journey to London, her rise to fame as the “Hottentot Venus,” and her eventual relationship with a French scientist. Inspired by the true story of Baartman, Venus is a tragic-carnival, an intense and devastating journey honoring the life of Baartman and examining the way we live and love today.

Baartman is given the stage name “The Hottentot Venus.” and the show leads to a prospering business, with Europeans all over traveling to see the display of her genitalia and buttocks. The details her tortuous journey and eventual death in a Parisian jail cell are revealed in the show. After her death, her body cast image was displayed in a museum. Check out the detail of her story by seeing the show. See video also.

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