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Object of the Month: Sequined Dress from Renata Ravell

Beautiful things are something amazing! This sparkling dress reached us not too long ago – just this September. With his dress, the Berlin celebrity Renata Ravell proves her passion for extravagant fashion. Under his civil name Olaf Plotzky, he finished his apprenticeship as a bank clerk. In the GDR, he started a training as a decorator, finished it however in West-Berlin and from there on created stunning display windows. But Olaf had dreams of a completely different kind: he wanted to be an actor and singer! After taking singing lessons with chamber singer Maxim Rossi-Rissmann and the Berliner cabaret artist Ada Hecht, he performed on small stages, successfully imitating the voices of famous artists. At one of these shows, an artist-agent saw him and convinced Olaf to become an emcee. She saw a great career on stage for Olaf, however under one condition: the masuline clothes had to go and be replaced by a more femme appearance.

That was the moment that Renata Ravell was born, who entertained, sang and danced for her audience – always accompanied by the confusing game of man or woman. Looking back Renata reports:

It was a very difficult time, but I met extraordinary people, had opportunities of amazing engagements and travelled all over Germany – now I am thankful that nothing was handed to me for free and I had to work so hard for my success.

Starting 1975, Ravell tours through Germany with her shows and later on gets on stage in England, France and the US. She publishes two CDs, plays in a movie and becomes contemporary witness in Rolf Eden’s Biography “Immer nur Glück gehabt”.

What made Renata Ravell so successful? What sets her apart from other travesty artists? It was her refined, ladylike humor, the feminine charm, the deliberate wording which was never a punch below the belt, the ability to be sensitive with a healthy amount of situational comedy. Adding on: her warm voice, decades of experience and her sparkling and elegant stage-costumes.

We are excited to exhibit this piece as our object of the month for the entire month of October in the museum’s café – and by doing so tell a little bit of travesty-history.