I Will Never Look At A Mime The Same Way.


I learned something life changing a few days ago. Something I never knew before. Something no one had ever told me. Prepare yourselves….

Pantomiming used to be pornography.

BOOM! That bomb just got dropped.

I’m reading a very interesting book about the emperor Justinian the Great (I haven’t gotten to the part about why he is great but I think it was his hair) and the author just slipped that little ancient Roman tidbit in there. During the time of the Roman Empire, pantomime was basically pornography. Uh-huh. I know. I freaked out too. All I could think was “Aww man. I bet there was white face paint everywhere!” Which, should probably not have been my first thought, but it was, and there you have it. My next, possibly more appropriate thought was “No wonder they all got the plague.” because actually that’s what the book is really about, but now I’m having a difficult time focusing on the gravity of the plague because pantomime was porn and that’s not something you can un-read and it seems like something that should definitely get a fair amount of attention. I keep waiting for the author to circle back to it, but alas, it seems one sentence is all I’m going to get from him.

So, I did what any normal person would so which is Google “pantomime” and read up on what wikipedia has to say about it. Wikipedia alludes to it, but doesn’t say outright that pantomime was ancient porno. But it was. The very well educated and researched author of the book I’m reading says it was, and so it was. Silly wikipedia. I did learn something from wikipedia though, apparently pantomime and mime are not the same thing. BOOM! Another knowledge bomb just got dropped on your cranium. But you know what? I don’t care. It’s too late for me – I will forever look at street performing mimes as pornography actors. So, I figure there are a couple different ways I can play this. The first it to shout my disgust at every mime I come across, and let them know how appalled I am that they would perform pornography on the street. I imagine the conversation would go something like this…

Me: How dare you?! How very dare you?! There are children about you scalawag! You should be ashamed. I know what that “box” you’re trapped in is, it’s sin!

Mime: ?????????????  😦  

The second way I can play this is to lecture old ladies on art when they complain that the young people’s dancing these days is nothing short of pornography. I imagine that conversation would go something like this…

Old ladies: Oh my! How very scandalous! These young people’s dancing is practically pornographic. Get me my smelling salts! I’m feeling faint with scandal!

Me: (Snorts in derision) Ladies. Don’t you know pantomime when you see it? It’s a form of art. And you call yourselves civilized…..

But then I thought, why choose just one? Why limit myself? I realized that true happiness could only come from treating mimes with self-righteousness and treating old ladies with condescension. That’s the secret of life y’all. And I owe it all, nay, we owe it all, to pantomime.

15 thoughts on “I Will Never Look At A Mime The Same Way.

  1. Hm, black and white porn, long before black and white television was invented…
    I know, the previous line makes no sense at all, but it was the first thought the keyboard wanted me to type… Thanks for teaching me about mimes btw, I feel enlightened! 😉

  2. Thank you for teaching me something today. Now I can goof off the rest of the time!

    I agree with you about not limiting yourself. Self-righteousness and condescension are *always* good choices.

    It sounds like you’re reading the same book I read a couple of years ago. Is it Justinian’s Flea? (I *think* that’s the one I read.) That same book mentioned something about his wife, Theodora, entertaining people with a performance involving nudity, barley and geese. Was that pantomime, I wonder?

  3. At first, yes, I was surprised. But after a moment of thinking about it? Not even a little. There’s nothing right about mimes, but this does kind of give them a little more street cred.

    By the way, am I the only one who’d rather watch porn?

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