dimanche 3 octobre 2010

How American lesbians perverted hitherto honest and decent French women


As seen from America, France and specifically Paris have long been considered a cauldron of vice, lust, lewdness, debauchery and perversion.

Wasn't! This is an urban legend. French women in particular (who were shy and innocent persons) have a dreadful reputation in the eyes of America whereas it's an American woman who was at the root of all evil.

Have you ever heard of Nathalie Clifford Barney who may well be considered the serial killer of sapphism? Among her many friends were Renée Vivien, Liane de Pougy, Romaine Brooks, Elisabeth de Grammond, Dolly Wilde (the niece of Oscar), Emma Calvé, Colette, Lucie Delarue-Mardrus, Djuna Barnes and on and on and on...

Although the most prominent of them all, Nathalie Clifford Barney wasn't the only American lesbian  in Paris since you could also mention Janet Flanner, Margareth Anderson who had a liaison with Georgette Leblanc, Solita Solano...

Actually, Nathalie Clifford Barney may be viewed as the harbinger of what was to become the trademark of Paris as the place of devilish sexual depravity in the eyes of Americans back home. And yet, Clifford Barney's souvenir has been shadowed by another American lesbian who arrived in Paris ten years later.

An educated and talented woman, Gertrude Stein already possessed all the prerequisites that would allow her to be introduced among the intellectual Parisian elite of arts and literature. Her relationship with Alice B. Toklas lasted until Stein died in 1947. Theirs was the most famous lesbian couple of that time and as everyone knows they were at the center of the American artistic community in Paris from the 20s to 1940.

Now the point of the post of course in not to make a comprehensive list of all these women but rather to underline how important they were at that time for the artistic world in Paris and how their lives definitively identified the presence of America in France during the first half of the XXth century.

To my knowledge, these Americans were much more influential than French lesbians may have been during all these years and also, it looks like these women seduced many more French women than the other way round.

As written at the beginning of the post, hitherto French women were innocent lambs.  But again, what do I know?

Note 1:  Many names are given links and each of them is really worth a read.
Note 2: The lenght of this post has been officially approved by Ned.

42 commentaires:

Anijo a dit…

lol on the title..

Sill her clothing is less risky
Than her body in its prime,
They are chain-stitched and so is she
Chain-stitched to her soul for time.
Ravelling grandly into vice
Dropping crooked into rhyme.
Slipping through the stitch of virtue,
Into crime.

Flocon a dit…

he he...you've recognised Djuna Barnes then.

I thought the title was a good teaser.

Hope I won't disappoint you when I write it tomorrow. I have the broad idea mais je n'ai pas encore écrit un mot...

Ned Ludd a dit…

Colette was corrupted by American lesbians?


Anijo a dit…

Ned, is this what you were wanting to link to?

Anijo a dit…

Et puis il y a aussi George Sand "qui prit un nom d’homme, adopta le vêtement masculin et revendiqua les mêmes droits et libertés que ses confrères et amis écrivains. Élaine Audet traite ici de son ambivalence envers les femmes, entre la passion et le rejet hautain."

Flocon a dit…


I wonder if it really is a bright idea to announce a title with an illustration when I haven't even written the first word of it...

I guess the teaser was too powerful... :D

Anijo a dit…

I guess the teaser was too powerful... :D

LOL! Mauvais garçon Flocon! Tu sais bien que nous les filles de ton blog vont reagir comme ça.

Anijo a dit…


I was looking at your live traffic feed and discovered that someone from Casablanca found your blog via this post of yours.

What a gem this information that you provide. Abu-l-Ala al-Maan was a man way ahead of his time (December 26, 973–May 10 or May 21, 1057)!


P.s. After posting I ended up with some blogger error and had to reconstruct my comment... I know... I should have done a copy/paste before attempting to "publier commentaire"

Anijo a dit…

Another interesting tidbit from live feed. Two people, one from Istanbul and the other from Kladno Stredocesky kraj, Czech Republic, both visited your blog via the "déja vu" post.. Possibly a link from some other blog? The complexities of the internet.. fascinating.

Ned Ludd a dit…

In the 90's there was a sit-com called "Dream On", which led to all the other ones that are called "daring". Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be on DVD.

In one episode, the hero talks to his best friend above his new love, whose previous lover was a woman.

His friend said, "So, you're in love with a lesbian."

He responded that she brought out his feminine side.

His friend said, "So, you're a lesbian."

He said, "Well, I can live with that".

I have several VHS's of this series and they are always funny.

BTW, the producers of the series later made the watered-down series "Friends".

Anijo a dit…

Ned, that reminds me of Ziggy, a French Canadian song about a girl in love with a gay guy.

Ned Ludd a dit…

I should also mention 19th century American feminist, Victoria Woodhull.

I don't know if she was a lesbian, but she fought for free love and women's rights.

She was the first woman to run for President and before that the first woman stockbroker.

Many suffergets didn't like her for what they considered her "radical" ideals or program.

There are two or three biographies of her, my preferred is "The Woman who ran for president" by Underhill.

Flocon a dit…


Oui, le billet sur Abu-l-Ala al-Maari amène toutes les semaines 2 ou 3 visites, presque toujours en provenance de Tunisie ou du Maroc.

Depuis 4 mois qu'il a été mis en ligne une quarantaine de visiteurs est venue le lire.

En fait c'est un lecteur du New York Times qui m'a appris l'existence de ce poète syrien (through the readers' comments section about a piece by Peter Singer) et c'est ZapPow qui a apporté 2 liens vers des textes de ce poète.

"Déjà vu" est un ancien billet (5 janvier 2008) dont je ne suis pas fier mais qui depuis attire toutes les semaines 2 ou 3 visites au moins.

Tu y avais commenté ainsi que KD (if you remenber her) et un Américain qui est passé 4 mois plus tard.

C'est le striped jersey qui est recherché sur Google images ou encore le tableau de Renoir ou le mime Marceau.

Les arrivées sont toujours directes, sans venir d'un autre blog. Just Google images and Google search.

C'est très intéressant d'avoir ce feedjit thing qui indique d'où viennent les visiteurs et comment ils sont arrivés sur le blog.

Flocon a dit…

The things I learn on this blog!

Ziggy (a fine song), Victoria Woodhull (I read the English entry at Wiki), whom I'd never heard of before.

Ned since you've read "The Woman who ran for president" by Underhill, if she were a lesbian the book would have told. de toute façon cela n'a aucune importance in my view.

Flocon a dit…

I've corrected some mistakes I hope there are less left.

Et je ne suis même pas sûr qu'il n'y en ait pas dans cette petite phrase... :-(

The topic may have disturbed me a bit... O^O

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, the biography by Underhill doesn't mention it specifically, but knowing a bit about her life, she may have dabbled.

Perhaps better than Wiki:



Anijo a dit…

Ziggy (a fine song),

Another fine song

Complainte de la serveuse automate

Anijo a dit…

Cultiver nos tomates dan la soleil.. ahhh...

Anijo a dit…

Or perhaps one day you'll see us cultivating our corn ... in the sun... au soleil..

Flocon a dit…


merci pour les chansons, j'aime bien l'accent québécois.

Les photos n'ont pas été prises dans le Nouveau Mexique n'est-ce pas?

La règles des 2/3 est respectée (for landscapes) dans les deux cas. Usually pictures are divided in three parts. A third for the top of the picture or a third for the bottom of it.

Anything that you don't know as a painter anyway.

Flocon a dit…

The picture Ned and Anijo linked to
shows a Colette in her late 40s. I would say that was around 1920, well after Nathalie Clifford Barney turned her on...

Colette wasn't a great beginner (around 1910 it seems) but Nathalie C. Barney started practising much earlier than Colette...

I didn't mention Isadora Duncan or Mercedes de Acosta, the later being a notorious lesbian with a life long endearment to Greta Garbo.

No French women were hurt during these liaisons...

Ned Ludd a dit…

En 1906, Colette s'est mise en ménage à trois avec son mari, Willie, et la chanteuse Polaire, qui est un peu oubliée aujourd'hui. C'est dommage parce qu'elle était bien.

Mais j'ai un CD d'elle, d'où je tiens ces informations.

Polaire a écrit une autobiographie qui est introuvable aujoud'hui. Croît moi, j'ai essayé la trouver chez les bouquinists. Une fois j'ai trouvé une copie, mais le bouquinist m'a dit que c'était déjà vendue. Quelle déception.

Flocon a dit…

Je ne connaissais pas Polaire. Another great find.

Pour Polaire je n'ai que ça que tu connais déjà.

J'ai regardé dans le catalogue central des bibliothèques de Paris mais nada.

"Mais j'ai un CD d'elle, d'où je tiens ces informations."

Bravo pour le d'où!

Crois moi instead of croît moi (croître is to grow as you know).

Une femme aussi intéressante que celles dont il est quetion dans ce billet est Flora Tristan. I know that you know her...

Ned Ludd a dit…

Je ne savais pas qu'elle était aussi actrice et elle avait tourné avec Maurice Tourneur et était aussi sur scene. Un peu plus d'info:


Il y a deux chansons.

Wiki en français a une long liste de ses discs et films.

Je sais que quand j'écris trop en français, je fais des erreurs inexcusables. Heureusement, j'ai le dictionnaire "Le Robert Méthodique" qui m'aide beaucoup.

Flocon a dit…

I guess you've visited this site.

Don't give up too early on this.

Scroll down the page till you reach the HTML Tags Chart.

Then second line at anchor.

Follow exactly how it's written and you'll be the queen of the blue links!

Flocon a dit…

Red alert for Ned!!!

On the link you provided there's a place where you can clic and get the PdF version of Polaire's memoires.

Tout en bas de la page.

Google images donne cette photo que tu connais sans doute.

Anijo a dit…

La règles des 2/3 est respectée (for landscapes)

Flocon, your knowledge of art is impressive.

You're right. Neither was of New Mexico.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Thanks for the alert red(and not orange) Flocon. I had the site but didn't notice the memoires

Ned Ludd a dit…

Colette Renard est morte. Je ne dis pas qu'elle était lésbian, problemment non. Mais elle a chanté des chanson très explicit sur le sexe, les chansons paillardes.

Hier Canal + a passé une de ces chansons, "Les nuits d'une demoiselle".


Il est difficile à imaginer qu'une télevision américain fasse le même.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Voilà une chanson qui n'est pas du tout lesbian.

"La Grosse Bite de Dudule".


Anijo a dit…

Il est difficile à imaginer qu'une télevision américain fasse le même.

That may have been true at one time, but the times they are a changin.. Most television that people watch these days is cable t.v. which is very different from the networks. There are jokes about fellatio, cunninglingus, intercourse etc etc. There is explicit sexual activity to be viewed. Some wacko conservative types who seem to dominate political discussions these days may give a different impression, but I'm telling you that most Americans aren't all that shocked by much anymore. It's been awhile since you've lived here and I can tell you that things have changed. Yes, we still have PBS censoring things such as a nude statue, but again these days there is more available to watch than just PBS and the networks

When I'm in France I watch the television and I don't note that much difference between French and American television. They both have the pop culture stuff, the sex-oriented stuff and the intellectual stuff.

The American network news can be somewhat lame, but then there is CSPAN and news shows such as Fareed Zakaria's GPS.

Anijo a dit…

I do notice that whenever Jon Stewart uses "fuck" it's bleeped. .

But the censorship rules re obsenity are enforced only from 6am to 10pm.

Flocon a dit…


You seem to have more than a passing interest in French chansons.

J'aimais bien Colette Renard que je situais essentiellement dans les années 50 (Irma la douce, never seen).

I checked et c'est bien elle qui a écrit les paroles de la chanson dont tu donnes le lien. Il y a de l'imagination en effet et c'est quite explicit.

Ça pourrait passer sur une chaîne de télé américaine provided there were no translation available...

Elle était de la même génération que Patachou.

I've noticed most of the songs you link to are sung by women (Damia Frehél, Polaire etc.)

Well this is appropriate on this particular thread...

As you know, Colette Renard became famous for her part in Irma la Douce (here sung by Patachou) which eventually was made into a film by Wilder.

The music of Irma la Douce was written by Marguerite Monnot (I know that you know that) who also wrote La goualante du pauvre Jean which became Pauvres gens de Paris in the U.S.

To make a long story short, I used the Chet Baker's version of Pauvres gens de Paris in a post I wrote in January.

Anijo a dit…

Ça pourrait passer sur une chaîne de télé américaine provided there were no translation available...

This could be aired on some cable channels with translation provided. Are you and Ned not familiar with shows in the U.S. such as Sex in the City?

This is a plot summary of one episode.

Sam likes giving blow-jobs, but her present lover, Adam Ball's sperm tastes really bad. Written

Anijo a dit…

And then there's Will and Grace, a show about a gay man living with a straight woman and their promiscuous gold-digger friend Karen who say things like

KAREN: Knock it off, Miss Fire Island. I'm reminiscing. Look at all of these. Stan has been so good to me, honey. Oh, and all of the sweet memories they bring back. Hmm. [PULLING OUT JEWELS] On my knees in Belize. Oh! On my back in Iraq. Oh! Oh! And then there was that time in Nantucket! Ha-ha-ha! Oh... Good times. Well, good jewels, anyway. Ha ha ha!

Flocon a dit…


En fait je pensais bien aux chaînes cablées ou le Pay Per View système mais vraiment from where I stand what do I know?

D'autant plus que je n'ai plus de télé et quand j'en possédais une je la regardais moins d'une heure par jour.

J'ai entendu parler de Sex and the City, Desperate Women and al mais je n'en ai pas vu une seconde! There's an article Who's the boss? (shame)

Les exemples que tu donnes sont... chauds! I wonder if they could have been broadcasted along with I love Lucy!

Anyway, we French are not morally as corrupt as what it takes to watch these sort of things.

I've always known perversion was another American evil import. ;-)

What's more, with all the home work you and Ned give me there's no way I can spend any time in front of a TV set.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Anijo, a couple of years ago I posted at SF on a documentary program on ARTE, "le clitoris, ce cher inconnu" and wondered if PBS or Discovery, or History would show it.



Unfortunately I forgot to record it myself. One of those interviewed was Natalie Angier, science writer for the NYT and author of several books, like "Woman: An intimate geography", which I haven't read. I hope it did get shown, it seems to be on DVD.

Flocon a dit…

"a couple of years ago I posted at SF on a documentary program on ARTE, "le clitoris, ce cher inconnu"

I remember that one. I was positively shocked!!!

Hmmm... Boy, it really is high time for me to go on vacation indeed...

Ladies I leave it to you to exchange about these girlie things... (shy and embarrassed me)

Anijo a dit…

Anijo, a couple of years ago I posted at SF on a documentary program on ARTE, "le clitoris, ce cher inconnu" and wondered if PBS or Discovery, or History would show it.

See this article from 1998 which covers the same information.

No, I don't think that Discovery or History would show it. Most likely it might be aired on HBO.

Anijo a dit…

this is why

"knees in Belize" leads here on some internet searches..

Flocon a dit…

Wow, I had to read again your above comment to understand why my knees to Belize etc. leads here.

On my knees in Belize. Oh! On my back in Iraq. Oh! Oh! And then there was that time in Nantucket

Does that line refer to something specific in American culture or history or is it just a well known line from a TV show?

Anijo a dit…

I'm not aware of the line being well known. I just happened to remember it and thought it was funny.