In a bizarre turn of events, Indonesian singer Irma Bule was bitten by a king cobra while performing on stage last Sunday. She chose to go on with the show, ignoring the enormous risk she was exposing herself to, and ultimately died within the hour.
Bule, 29, was a performer of Dangdut – a traditional folk music genre in Indonesia, very popular for its melodious vocals and instrumentation. It is precisely because of this popularity that the Dangdut scene is oversaturated and highly competitive in the island nation, forcing artists to employ all sorts of gimmicks to stand out and attract crowds. Bule was well known for performing with snakes on stage, and on this occasion, she was performing in the company of a king cobra – still venomous and not even defanged.
Video footage of her past performances indicate that Bule was very comfortable in the company of snakes, but something went terribly wrong on Sunday. According to eyewitnesses, she accidentally stepped on the snake’s tail early on during the concert, and it turned and bit her in the thigh. But instead of cancelling the performance, as most people bitten by a king cobra surely would have, the dedicated artist chose to continue with the show, and even refused an antidote that the snake handler offered her.
Bule appeared unaffected at first, but 45 minutes later she started vomiting and went into a seizure. She was rushed to the hospital soon after, but it was too late and she eventually succumbed to the venom. A blurry video clip – apparently shot by a member of the audience – shows the exact moment when the snake sunk its fangs into Bule’s thigh, and the snake handler’s attempts to pull it away.
Bule’s body will now undergo an autopsy, after which her family plans to sue both the snake handler as well as the manager of the event for not putting a stop to it immediately after the unfortunate incident occurred.
As news of Irma Bule’s death spread in the Indonesian media, fans began commending her on her dedication. “This Irma Bule chick is intriguing. She’s the representation of hard works, dedication and bad risk management. May her soul rest in peace,” one person wrote on Twitter. “Badass. May God save her brave,hard-working soul,” another added.
But let’s be honest, good work ethics should not be your primary concern after a cobra bite. The risk was just not worth it for 500,000 Indonesian rupees, which is what the average Dangdut singer earns per performance.