Sisters Cleopatra, the snake charmer, and Bonita, the crack rifle shot, joined the Wimmera in Sydney on 25 May 1907 bound for Wellington where they arrived on 29 May. Fellow passengers on the same voyage included the ‘Polish violin virtuoso’ Leopold Premyslav and singer Andrew Black together with supporting acts.

Cleopatra (aka Harriet Drescher) and Bonita (Sylvia G. Drescher) were natives of Surrey, England. They first appeared on the circuit in the UK in the [late 1890’s/early 1900’s] with shows in the … Cleopatra also appeared in the Crystal Palace in … .By the age of .. Sylvia began to also appear – as Bonita, the ‘crack shot’ and…

In 1903, the two Drescher sisters and their father Cornelius (aka Carlos, the human target) arrived in Australia and began performing across the States on the [Fuller] circuit. In [1905] the trio first voyaged to New Zealand accompanied by Cleopatra’s menagerie of snakes, crocodiles and assorted live props. It was the first known occasion that snakes had been permitted to be imported into the Dominion.

On the second occasion, this time aboard the SS Wimmera, the performers [had less obstacles] and managed to once again import their serpents.

In 1911 both Bonita and Cleopatra appeared in the Wild Australia show in London.

A flyer for the opening of “Wild Australia” in London on 20 May 1911 – featuring Bonita and Cleopatra

Bonita and Billy Lee
Bonita and Billy Lee

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