Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-JohnGoodmanforFrenchPresident

Humor on the hoardings spotted before the first round of the French elections: “John Goodman (Jean Gentilhomme) for President,” the candidate of the “Nice Peoples' Party. That would make a change. © Paris Update

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Silent films from Switzerland?

ParisUpdate-train300

> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, through May 2.

Retail heaven
> You can buy just about anything at the century-old Foire de Paris, a gigantic pop-up store. Porte de Versailles, Paris. April 27-May 8.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, through April 29.

Photo walk
> Eight Paris galleries hold special photography shows and events for Parcours Fotofever. Various locations, Paris, through May 1.

Photo shows galore
> Le Mois de la Photo has been moved from autumn to spring, with 96 exhibitions taking place all over the greater Paris area. See Web site for locations and dates.

Art videos
> The theme of this year’s Videobox Festival is “noise and movement.” Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 27-29.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Boukhrief’s La Confession, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 28.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.

 

Hot Topics - C'est ironique !

 

A Slice of Parisian Life

the rocky horror picture show

You can¹t judge a book by its cover, or a man by his makeup. Paris has its share of drag divas to rival Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

 

 

Some time ago, I lived in a part of Montmartre that was, and still is, known for its relatively high population of transvestites. I say “relatively” because there were probably only about eight in all, but they were, by their own design and desire, the kind of people that one did not fail to notice. Some were performers at the drag show nightclubs on Rue des Martyrs and the rest were prostitutes. Who, in a remarkable concurrence of circumstance, picked up their clients outside the drag show nightclubs on Rue des Martyrs.

One prominent neighborhood character was an overweight middle-aged cross-dresser named Henriette, who lived kitty-corner across from my building. I never found out, being a fan of neither art form, whether she performed on the cabaret stage or in sparsely-furnished hotel rooms, but Henriette was “on” all the time, cheerfully greeting and chatting with everyone who crossed her path all day long. She was a real sweetheart and everyone liked her. (Note: despite the fact that she usually needed a shave, I, and everyone else, always thought of Henriette as “she”.)

One day I was at the local minimart picking up some ham, ice cream and bleach (old family recipe) and noticed that the checkout line was much longer than usual. When I joined the queue I realized why: Henriette was at the cash register having a protracted conversation with the clerk, and in the process entertaining everyone no end.

Apparently she was a few francs short of the total (this was the pre-euro era) and the clerk, who of course knew her, was telling her not to worry, to pay next time, etc. But Henriette was, typically, milking the situation for what little it was worth, searching and researching her handbag and prattling on and on about “What a stupid little conne I am! Oooh I can’t believe I could be such a silly conne! An empty-headed conne!” etc., etc., etc. (For readers who haven’t yet taken Street French 101, the word “conne” has just slightly under seven hundred levels of meaning. Its more or less literal English equivalent would be “twat,” but its rating on the Richter Vulgarity Scale is more on par with “ass,” so I guess you could say it’s somewhere in between. So to speak.)

Meanwhile, lurking in the doorway was a forebodingly tough-looking young guy wearing the street warrior’s uniform – ratty jeans, stained denim jacket, high scuffed-up black boots – and staring at Henriette with a look of annoyed exasperation.

I immediately took him for one of the hooligans who hung out around the punk clubs on the boulevard a couple of blocks away. I figured he had stopped in to buy cheap 27 percent beer, saw this histrionic flaming queen and was waiting for a chance to commit a little trans-bashing, if not actual regicide. Honestly, I was already rehearsing how to phrase my testimony at the criminal trial.

But when Henriette finally finished her “bit,” she picked up her bag of groceries, turned to the desperado at the door and said, “Cheri, could you be a dear and carry this for little me? Off we go now!”

And off they went together. One sauntering, one sashaying. To this day the thought of it makes my day.

David Jaggard

Click here for more C'est Ironique! columns.

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