‘Madame Claude’: gritty Netflix take on Paris sex icon

She was a salacious icon of 20th century Paris — the brothel-keeper to the stars — and Netflix hopes the basis for another hit in the recent run of French successes.

In the 1960s and 1970s, “Madame Claude”, real name Fernande Grudet, had a client book that read like the guest list to a royal wedding: captains of industry, President John F Kennedy, Marlon Brando, the Shah of Iran…

There were enough secrets being divulged on her pillows to ensure protection from the authorities, as well as considerable interest from the secret services.

But in the latest telling, released on Netflix on April 2, the glamour in which her story was often shrouded is stripped away to show a darker reality.

“There is the image of Madame Claude: of Paris, beautiful dresses and big hotels, power… What interested me was what was happening behind the scenes,” director Sylvie Verheyde, 54, told AFP.

Behind the scenes were ties to organised crime, a life of emotional misery and a near-pathological lack of scruples: Madame Claude, it emphasises, always made sure to get her 30 percent, even when the girls returned bruised and bloodied from an encounter gone wrong.

“Madame Claude built her mythology. She was a great liar, a fraud who said she wanted to ‘beautify vice’, which meant brushing all the ugliness under the carpet,” said Verheyde.

– ‘This isn’t love’ –

The director knows this world well: a grandmother and cousin both worked as prostitutes, and she tackled the subject already in her 2016 film “Sex Doll”.

Continue reading “‘Madame Claude’: gritty Netflix take on Paris sex icon”


Drink wine, have sex, advises leading French doctor

A recently-published book by leading French oncologist, David Khayat, urges people to enjoy life’s pleasures, from sex to wine.

Following the release of his newly-published tome, Arrêtez de Vous Priver (Stop Depriving Yourselves), Khayat has featured in a range of leading French media over the last few days, promoting the message that people should have a “few small excesses, without feely guilty,” as reported by French commercial radio network, RTL.

Such indulgences are necessary for a person’s self-esteem, according to Khayat, who points out that the constant denial being promulgated by organisations, governments and some doctors are in fact harmful to the mind, while making little difference to the body.

Indeed, in an interview with Adam Sage at The Times, which was posted online yesterday, he says that the health risks from enjoying chips, meat and alcohol are being inflated by “rarely very great doctors”, who, he adds, are keen on imposing their “hygienist” vision of society.

While such influential figures suggest that people “will be able to avoid old age, illness and death” by avoiding “excesses” from wine to meat, Khayat says, “but that’s wrong, we are all going to fall ill, and we are all going to die”

In particular, he is critical of the “dogmatic” approach by the World Health Organisation (WHO), dismissing its guidance on risks from electronic cigarettes to processed meat.

Commenting that the former are “not a problem at all”, he then attacks the group’s claim that 50g of processed meat a day raises the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

He told The Times, “They tell you the rise in the risk is 18%, but they don’t tell you what your risk is in the first place. In fact, it is 2%. So if you stuff yourself with ham, your risk goes from 2% to slightly over 2%. Is it worth depriving yourself of a slice of ham for that?”

In place of WHO, he suggests people follow the precepts of Epicurus, who advocated enjoying modest pleasures for tranquility of the mind.

In essence, Khayat says that people “need balance”, and, having recommended drinking wine and having sex, he says, “life without pleasure makes no sense”.

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“The Incredible History of Sex”: a world tour of eroticism in comics

After “Sex Story” published in 2016, the psychiatrist Philippe Brenot and the designer Laetitia Coryn deliver “The Incredible history of sex”.

On January 3, 2021 at 15h13

They put the cover back. With “Sex Story”, in 2016 , Philippe Brenot – psychiatrist, anthropologist, couple therapist – and cartoonist Laetitia Corbyn signed the first history of sexuality in comics, from prehistory to the present day. A real success: the book has sold 80,000 copies and is the subject of 14 foreign translations, even entitled to the honors of the Wall Street Journal. They are back today with Volume II, “The Incredible History of Sex, from Africa to Asia”. A work that completes the previous one, devoted solely to the Western world.

“For me, it’s the same book actually. Initially, we wanted to do just one. But a 500-page comic, that’s a lot… The subject is so vast. What is certain is that the form of the graphic novel is perfect: an essay on the history of sexuality, that would be a bit annoying to read, ”said the sexologist. But make no mistake about it. If the images are explicit, although often enhanced with a touch of humor, the background is very serious, based on months and months of research and a dense bibliography.

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From Pope Joan to … Anne

Quel lien entre la figure légendaire de la papesse Jeanne et la théologienne Anne Soupa, qui a fait acte de candidature au siège épiscopal de Lyon ?

What is the link between the legendary figure of Pope Joan and the theologian Anne Soupa, who applied for the Episcopal See in Lyon? No. If only once again – certainly, in a less romantic way – the question of the place of women in the Roman Catholic Church is raised. 

A few weeks ago, Anne Soupa, a recognized theologian, applied for the Episcopal office in Lyon. Since then and in France alone, more than fifteen thousand people have supported its initiative. The courage of this act is only one of the possible responses to the permanent scandal of the place of women in the Catholic Church, they who constitute the vast majority of the lifeblood of the communities. The denunciation of such a scandal once again underlines the age-old resistance of male clericalism and its desire to save at all costs an omniscient power at the expense of the service and pastoral needs of the baptized while the model of the priesthood, versusTridentine, is out of breath in a very large part of Roman Christendom. The personal and media gesture of Anne (Soupa) easily refers the historian to the legendary papess Jeanne who would not have been satisfied with a cathedron but would have squarely occupied the pontifical throne (1) .

La papesse Jeanne (illumination, 1450), Ms. 033, f. 69v, Spencer Collection, New York

Without knowing how and why this legend was born, perhaps at the end of the 10th century, it was around 1255 that Jean de Mailly clearly mentioned it in his Universal Chronicle. Of German origin, Jeanne is said to have studied and traveled across Europe. Disguised as a man, she would have become a notary at the pontifical court, then a cardinal, elected pope in 855 before giving birth publicly in 858 and perhaps dying as a result of her childbirth; unless it has been stoned or simply laid down. This amazing story would not have lived until the 16th century if the faithful themselves had not believed in it, sometimes slyly diverting the meaning of symbols. For example, the presence of two curule seats during the election of the pope, mark of the collegiality of the curia, was transformed for one into a pierced chair which, since the usurpation of Joan, would have enabled a cleric to verify the presence of male attributes of each new pope. “Duets habet and bene pendentes”the auditor would have cheered in a very carnivalesque and joyfully anticlerical scene. Similarly, the detour undertaken by the procession during the pontifical coronation between the Lateran and the Colosseum was interpreted as avoiding the place where Jeanne had given birth to her child while she was on horseback.

For its part, the Church supported for a long time, especially through Dominican literature, but hollow the existence of Pope Joan. It allowed him to make this episode an exemplum, a sort of story with moral value by vilifying the cross-dressing. She also drew an argument from it during successive crises of the papacy, especially during the Great Schism of the end of the 14th century with the simultaneous presence of several popes. If unworthy candidates could therefore access the throne of Peter they could also be deposed. In turn, the Lutherans used this figure to denounce the excesses of the Roman institution and its discredit while Calvin for his part stressed that Joan had ended the apostolic succession. It was only then that Rome, aided by the scholarship of the Jesuits, proved at the end of the 16th century that Joan had never existed.

Far be it from me to use the figure of the Pope in my turn to support positive denunciation and above all the claim of Anne Soupa. His fight deserves much better than that even if History can be of some help to him in this field. It will be noted simply that since this announcement, it is radio silence on the side of the French episcopal conference which never reacts when a problem disturbs it. Only a few second knives have tried laboriously to explain that the ecclesial and hierarchical structure of the Church came from the will of God herself. Will that they know better than anyone, probably thanks to their ordination. It is therefore always and again the place of women in real positions of responsibility that is posed in the face of rules written by and for men. Even if still very timidly,

In fact from Anne to Jeanne, a personal pronoun was lost. This “I” which resonates in the nave and in the choir not only as a legitimate claim but as an imperative pastoral necessity and an urgent theological rereading.

Alain Cabantous

Source: DE JEANNE À… ANNE – Saint-Merry

Simone de Beauvoir: 100 Women of the Year

Find out why TIME chose Simone de Beauvoir as one of the 100 women who defined the last century

Simone de Beauvoir was born in 1908 into an upper-class Catholic family. While studying for the competitive agrégation exam in philosophy, which she passed in 1929, she met Jean-Paul Sartre, the great love of her life. In 1949, she published The Second Sex and revolutionized feminist thought. She won France’s highest literary prize in 1954 for her novel The Mandarins and, in 1971, wrote the text of the Manifesto of the 343, a French petition to legalize abortion.

At 16, I stumbled upon an image of de Beauvoir sitting in Café de Flore in Paris with a stack of books. “She’s a famous author,” my mother told me. I went to the library and borrowed The Second Sex, expecting an erotic book that would answer my burning questions. The first few pages were a disappointment. This wasn’t a book about love or sex, nor a treatise on pleasure. But I kept going.

It was a revelation. De Beauvoir exposed a long-hidden truth: that there is no female nature. She consulted biology, history, mythology, literature, ethnology, medicine and psychoanalysis to question the roles assigned to women. The book told me that I control my destiny. If there is no fixed female essence, then we too are only what we do.

The Second Sex provided me with weapons to understand, to defend, to respond and to persuade. It gave me the desire to write, an exercise in reclaiming the self. De Beauvoir knew: “Freedom is an inexhaustible source of discovery, and every time we give it a chance to develop, we enrich the world.” —Leïla Slimani, translated from French by Gretchen Schmid

Slimani is the author of The Perfect Nanny and Adèle

Simone de Beauvoir, Paris. 1948. Photographic color print, 25 x 36 cm. AM1992-154. Repro-photo: Georges Meguerditchian. © IMEC, Fonds MCC, Dist. R © CNAC/MNAM/Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NYImage Reference:ART400886MN-Grand Palais/ Gisèle Freund

This article is part of 100 Women of the Year, TIME’s list of the most influential women of the past century. Read more about the project, explore the 100 covers and sign up for our Inside TIME newsletter for more.

Source: Simone de Beauvoir: 100 Women of the Year | Time