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August 22, 2014 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Behind Claude’s Doors
In 1960s Paris she became known as the world’s most exclusive madam, whose client list was said to include John Kennedy, de Gaulle, Onassis, and multiple Rothschilds, and whose beautiful and cultivated girls often went on to marry wealth, power, and prestige. But among the many secrets Madame Claude kept, perhaps the greatest were her own. William Stadiem, who knew the elusive Claude in the 1980s, follows her trail to the South of France.

from before: Madame Sex
Her face was rarely seen—but her voice opened doors instantly in the corridors of international power. Madame Claude’s girls were so ravishing that the Shah of Iran had a weekly standing order flown in, and so accomplished that many of them married well enough to now be smiling serenely from the pages of Town & Country. After years of discretion, the legendary Madame Claude has broken her silence. Exclusively for Vanity Fair, James Fox reports from Paris on the woman behind “the finest sex operation in the history of mankind.”
posted by the man of twists and turns (14 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
But did she keep her moet et chandon in a pretty cabinet?
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 PM on August 22 [6 favorites]


[Please refrain from turning this thread into a string of jokes about prostitutes, if you can manage it. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 10:47 PM on August 22 [8 favorites]


I'll wait my turn; both links are being bombarded!
posted by Anitanola at 11:57 PM on August 22


Salacious! In the age where it feels like there are no secrets from the Internet, and everyone's so eager to spill their AMA, reading something with so much shoulder-shrugging guess-we'll-never-know-the-real-story mystery was weirdly refreshing. It's a story of a non-story, but still enjoyable for that.

I wish the author of this article had not used so much objectifying language. Even if the people you're interviewing are referring to women as "it", you can take a step back and not mirror that tone in your own writing style. ("Stables"??)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:42 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


"I booked passage to Europe."

Jesus, the puffery from this rag hasn't gotten any better.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:38 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


“Une femme terrible” was how she described Claude. “She despised men and women alike. Men were wallets. Women were holes.”

It's interesting to contrast the more positive remembrances with the less so. Even at the upper end that can be a hard business.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:38 AM on August 23


One of the keys to successful human trafficking is to despise humanity in general.
posted by Renoroc at 6:02 AM on August 23 [12 favorites]


and yourself most of all I'd assume.
posted by fullerine at 6:26 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


In the age where it feels like there are no secrets from the Internet, and everyone's so eager to spill their AMA, reading something with so much shoulder-shrugging guess-we'll-never-know-the-real-story mystery was weirdly refreshing.
Interesting, because I sort of felt like a read a really long article and encountered some kind of unpleasant people, and then there was no there there. I'm not exactly sure what I was supposed to take from it. I still don't feel like I know a whole lot about Madame Claude, and unfortunately I know things that I could already have guessed about sleazy aging international playboy types.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:57 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


Yeah, there are many despicable people in the world, most of them aren't particularly interesting, and I'd guess that none of them deserve a 'saucy' multi-page article in Vanity Fair. In short:

fuck Madame Claude for exploiting the vulnerable and for profiting from human weakness,
fuck the author for finding this to be charming fodder for a tell-all article,
and fuck Vanity Fair for publishing it.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:05 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


But you've gotta admit, the title's brilliant.
posted by Flashman at 7:19 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


I found the 1987 article to be much more informative

and

if a movie is ever made about her, they need to cast Helen Mirren.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:10 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


No, Charlotte Rampling.
posted by The Whelk at 9:26 AM on August 23 [5 favorites]


Really quite a cruel piece, considering that the author and subject started off in a collegial relationship, and that she is 91 years old; reading this must be for her an assault that even a younger person would find hard to manage. I'd think that having waited this long, he could wait a little longer to publish it.
posted by mmiddle at 1:09 PM on August 26


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