Irma Bule, a 29 year old Indonesian pop star, dramatically died on stage while performing with a King Cobra in Karawang, West Java. The singer is known to perform with snakes, and according to her mother normally the snakes are non-poisonous (such as pythons and boa constrictors) and have there mouths duct taped shut. She was not particularly famous and was mostly known in the area for her goyang ular, Indonesian for “snake dance moves.”
Ferlando Octavion Auzura, an audience member, told local media: “The accident happened in the middle of the second song when Irma stepped on the snake’s tail, The snake then bit Irma on her thigh.”
Despite being bitten, reportedly Irma would not accept an antidote from the snake handler. She continued to sing for 45 minutes before vomiting all over the stage, and then she had a horrible seizure. She was rushed to the hospital’s where she died.
Irma Bule, like many Indonesian singers, was very poor; according to a fellow singer she gets paid $20 per performance, but if they perform with a snake they get $25. To get bigger audiences they dress more provocatively, and perform more dangerous stunts
to get bigger crowds and more tips. Many of these singers use the money earned to help their families survive.
Irma’s mother thinks she might not have even known the snake was poisonous, “She was just told to perform with the snake and its mouth wasn’t shut with a duct tape.”
Indonesian journalist Made Supriatma says it best: “Irma is a portrait of an Indonesian woman who happens to be at the lower level of
society,” Supriatma writes. “She fights hard. She exploits what she can exploit to go on living.”