Came across a reference to the fascinating (and kind of unbelievable) Cabaret du Néant in the book Wonder Shows: Performing Science, Magic, And Religion In America.The quote reads:
In the 1890s, the Cabaret du Néant (of Tavern of the Dead) first opened its production in Paris and later in New York City. After entering the Cabaret, spectators followed a "monk" down a blackened hall to a café with candles on coffin-shaped tables where they could order refreshments from waiters in funeral garb. A lectured called their attention to paintings of figures that dissolved into paintings of skeletons. While bells tolled and a funeral march played, the monk led the audience to a second chamber; here, a volunteer was asked to step up on a stage and enter a standing casket. After the volunteer was wrapped in a white shroud the spectators gasped at an apparent "X-ray" effect--actually a simpler optical effect--as the man dissolved into a skeleton and then once again returned to plain sight as the skeleton disappeared. In the last chamber, using a similar optical effect, a live spirit appeared to walk around an audience volunteer who mounted the stage to sit at a table.