An Indonesian pop singer lost her life after being bitten by a king cobra while performing on stage.
29-year-old Irmawati or known by her stage name Irma Bule is popular in Dangdut, a genre of Indonesian folk and traditional pop music, which she often incorporated with goyang ular, Indonesian for “snake dance moves.”
Irma, who is a mother of three, started singing Dangdut since she graduated from junior high school and soon became popular in Indonesia’s Karawang and Purwakarta Districts because of her daring onstage performance which includes snakes, usually non-venomous or defanged ones.
To attract bigger crowd, Irma uses snakes during her shows as part of her onstage routine.
Local singers like Irma, tour rural and urban villages to earn a living, usually to help support their families. Sadly, singers like her only earn a little despite their extreme performances.
Irma’s fellow singer, Yeyen, said they get paid around $20 per performance or $25 if they perform on stage with a snake (tips from the audience are extra).
“If there are snake dancers, there will be more audience. Therefore…we have snake dancers.” Yeyen told local media.
Using snakes on her shows is something Irma has been doing for years, but while she was performing at a village in Karawang, West Java, she was bitten by a king cobra.
According to eye-witnesses, Irma accidentally stepped on the cobra’s tail in the middle of her second song, which caused the serpent to strike her on the thigh.
However, despite being bitten, the singer refused to take any kind of antidote, believing the snake was defanged and continued to perform for 45 minutes.
Here’s the actual footage:
It is reported that after less than an hour, Bule began having seizures and started vomiting. She was rushed to the hospital but later succumbed to the snake venom and died.
In an interview with Detik.com, via news website Time, Irma’s mother Encum said her daughter, whom they called Eneng, started performing with snakes three years ago — but usually sang with non-venomous pythons that belonged to a snake handler and with the snakes’ mouths duct-taped shut.
“Eneng perhaps didn’t know it was a poisonous snake. She was just told to perform with the snake and its mouth wasn’t shut with a duct tape.” Encum added.
Many netizens have praised Irma for her showmanship and dedication to her art. But beyond her sensational story, there’s a saddening truth that will open our eyes to the sad reality of life – that some people are willing to take the risks to go on living and achieve their dreams.