A CHRONOLOGY: A Speculative Semi-Fictional Biography

Bijou Cabaret: A speculative chronology

YEAR Bijou’s Age What’s in her life? And beyond World View: Paris and beyond Music Notes
1965 La Belle Otero dies
1963 98 Brassai is hanging photographs at the Manton Palais du Louvre, and the photo of Bijou had been in the paper that day. A sprightly old man (M. Dumont-Charteret) came to the Palais to see Brassai, said he had been Bijou’s lover in his younger days: ‘I could tell you so many things..” but Brassai missed the opportunity, as the man died before Brassai followed him up..
1961 96 “Je ne Regrette Rien” debuted by Piaf
1954 89 Colette dies: State Funeral, no Catholic Rites.
1946 81 Fourth Republic proclaimed
1945 80 ‘Madwoman of Chaillot’ first performed (Dec 21), Bijou thought to have been the inspiration for the play. With productions in London and New York, she became world famous. World War 2 ends. After the war, Paris regained its position as a creative hotbed and nurtured a revitalized liberalism that reached a crescendo in the student-led ‘Spring Uprising’ of 1968 “La Vie en Rose’ written
1944 79 Germany’s occupation ends: Allied forces landing on D-Day. Resistance and Paris Police led uprising’ street fighting, Hitler ordered destruction but it didn’t happen: commandant Von Choltitz stalled and then surrendered to Allies.
1943 78 The Madwoman of Chaillot” written by Jean Giraudoux World War 2: Drancy camp stopped Edith Piaf records Mon Homme in the 1940sYves Montand/PiafTrenet a ‘headliner’
1940 75 She is shot dead in the street while approaching a German officer during the curfew. She thinks he’s Fufi, except his uniform and hat are different. Germany occupied France, May, into Paris only a month after Hitler invaded France. (14th June) Hitler in Paris 23rd June. food shortages, because of German plunder. Malnutrition amongst children and elderly, and urban working class. Shortage of fuel. Labour shortages bec of prisoners of war. Food charts and tickets for bread, meat, butter and cooking oil. Swedish Turnip, Jerusalem artichokes a substitute. Black market.Better in the country. Curfew, close shutters. Resistance, Jews killed: concentration camps in France…in Parisian suburb of Drancy…waystation to Auschwitz. 70,000 people. Vichy Govt: Marechal Phillippe Petain Josephine Baker was so well known and popular with the French that even the Nazis, who occupied France during World War II, were hesitant to cause her harm. In turn, this allowed Baker to show her loyalty to her adopted country by participating in the Underground, smuggling intelligence to the resistance in Portugal coded within her sheet music. After the war, for her underground activity, Baker received the Croix de Guerre, the Rosette de la Résistance, and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle.[9]
She volunteered to work as a spy for the underground.
1939  74 World War 2 begins. France not prepared because of political divisions. Catholic Right welcomed idea of fascist regime
1937  72 Josephine Baker became French Citizen. ‘La Baker’
1935  70 Piaf ‘discovered’ in Pigalle. Louis Leplee’s club le gerny off the Champs-Elysees. Maurice Chevalier.JBaker’s film ‘Princesse Tam Tam’
1934  69 Socialists and Communists formed Popular front, took power 1936, one year only Josephine Baker’s film ‘Zouzou’JBaker, lead in revival of Offenbach’s opera (1875) ‘La Creole’ at Theatre Marigny, Champs Elysees.(read notes about Baker’s personal life: bisexuality..involved with Colette.
1933  68 When Brassai’s ‘Paris de Nuit’ came out, Bijou appeared at publisher’s office: ‘swathed in her tawdry finery, outrageously made up’…panic ensued. “You published my picture in your book..you printed nasty things about me. Do I seem to be ‘escaped out of a nightmare of Baudelaire’? Do I? Me, a nightmare? You’ll pay for it!” Refused to leave till publisher had paid her for the ‘insult’ Charles Trenet; ‘Le Fou Chantant’.
1932 67 Brassai photographs her sitting in Bar de la Lune, Montmartre. 3 photos taken. 2am. ‘La Mome Bijou’.She reads palms. One of the ‘night people’. ‘You would see her at dawn in Montmartre…she would suddenly turn up in some brasserie on the Boulevarde de Clichy, or in a delicatessen on the Place Pigalle…one of the troubled. Men in bars would buy her sausages and red wine to get her to tell her stories. Every morning she was drunk, and she never laughed. A horrible, fascinating woman, on the brink of madness, on the brink of decay, she had an indefinable air of grace, of love..” (Joseph Kessel) By the 1930’s, Paris had become a worldwide center for the artistic avant-garde and in a way became the world capital for freethinking intellectuals…slow slide from the lingering euphoria of the ’20s to the doubts of the ’30s. In hindsight, Paris in the 1930s has the aura of a “ship of fools.” On the surface, the city sustained its well-deserved reputation as the great cultural center of Europe. It remained a mecca for artists and intellectuals from around the world, including American expatriates (e.g., Hemingway, Henry Miller, Gertrude Stein) who constituted the “lost generation.” Tragically, while Dali and Picasso painted, while existentialists debated in Left Bank cafes, while proponents of haute couture thrived, the M. M.social and political rot gnawing at the innards of the Third Republic accelerated.
1931  66 Josephine Baker song: “J’ai Deux Amours’
1929  64 Piaf (aged 14) and her father performing all over France
1927  62 She appears in the bars again, trying to relive her former glory, thinking she is holding court..
1925  60 Banks crash in the country, she loses all her money and Jules leaves her. She drinks more, is an alcoholic by now and is ruined, has lost her verve and ability to reinvent.. She is passed by, by any former friends. Goes into decline, disappears for a while, Les Annees perdues. Josephine Baker opened in Paris, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees..instant success: erotic dancing. Returned to Paris after touring, starred at Folies Bergeres. Dance Sauvages: dress of bananas.Exposition des Arts Decoratifs (Art Deco)“L’Enfant et les Sortileges’ performed.

Eric Satie dies at 59.

1923  58 Jules is now abusing her, still taking advantage but preparing to set himself up with a new Patroness. She starts drinking in earnest.
1920  55 She can come back to Paris as the ‘Bishop dies. She can access her money so becomes a ‘Patroness of the Arts’. She meets and is taken in by Jules, becomes his Patroness, his mentor and his mistress Le Boeuf Sur le Toit premieresMistinguett recorded signature song “Mon Homme” (My Man: Fanny Brice)Colette publishes ‘Cheri’
1919  54  Energetic but restless interwar period. Mistinguett’s legs insured for 5000,000 francs.
1918  53 WW1 ends. She goes to country to live in disguise as a country widow
1917  52 Bishop torches her Business Premises. She has to hide as refugee
1914-1917  49-53 Her business is booming.Her son is killed in the war. She has to hide her feelings World War 1: in September Germans were 15 miles from Paris, Govt moved to Bordeaux,but city saved by French reinforcement and German failure to press home the attack.  City full of refugees. ‘Miracle on the Marne’: thousands of Parisian taxis commandeered to carry soldiers to front lines, pushed Germans back to Oise, 75 miles from Paris. Rationing, flu epidemic in 1916. Armistice 1918 signed at Compeigne NE of Paris. Mistinguett song Mon Homme, a hit.Piaf born in 19151916 Piaf looked after in a brothel.

Colette writes libretto ‘L’Enfant et les Sortileges”, opera by Ravel 1918. Performed 1925

1913  48 Arms dealers, all the toffs are patrons of La Chere Maison Satie: Descriptions Automatiques: parodies on popular songs.Vieux Sequinsa at Vieux Cuirasses: (Old Sequins and breast-plates)
1912  46
1909  44 Returns with her goods and her retinue to set up La Chere Maison. Ropes in the ‘Bishop
1908  43 Leaves for the East, to travel, enjoy self and to gather treasures for the future business
1907  42 Her salons are famous. Reve D’Egypte features at one of the last ones before she leaves for the East. Gives her the idea Colette and ‘Missy’  (Yssim) perform pantomime “Reve d’Egypte” at Moulin Rouge. Onstage kiss caused a riot, show stopped.
1902 37 La Belle Epoque Metro?
1900 35 Café songs and music hall pieces by Satie: Je Te Veux (French waltz)Le Picadilly (ragtime)
1897 32 She is established as a wealthy and beautiful independent courtesan.. (some bar patrons told this story.‘Rich and Famous, rode in the Bois de Boulogne in her barouche’.) She passes her former friends by, who have come down in the world. Slings them a coin in the street Le Chat Noir closes
1896  31 Fufi divorces her because she can’t have children. He marries again, she leaves for Paris with a very good settlement and all the jewels he’d given her.She begins to set herself up as courtesan. Name:  La Belle Topaze
1894  29 Dreyfus affair: Fufi is involved, with his friend the Count E.Was she a ‘demi-mondaine’, a younger sister to Cleo de Merode, Liane de Pougy, La Belle Otero, Odette de Crecy…(Proust) or was she street-walker?: Moulin Rouge to Place Pigalle, bar to bar, dance halls.. Linked with Esterhazy, through Fufi.? Dreyfus affair. Corruption. She knows too much. La Belle Epoque The belle epoque was famed for its Art Nouveau architecture and a barrage of advances in the arts and sciences.Charles Marie Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy (16 December 1847–21 May 1923) was a commissioned officer in the French armed forces during the second half of the 19th century who has gained notoriety as a spy for the German Empire and the alleged actual perpetrator of the act of treason, for which Captain Alfred Dreyfus was wrongfully accused and convicted in 1894 (see Dreyfus affair). Esterhazy was never formally charged or convicted during his lifetime, despite the existence of persuasive evidence against him as early as 1896. Esterhazy retired from the military in 1898 with the rank of Major, presumably under public pressure and fled, via Brussels, to the United Kingdom where he lived in the village of Harpenden until his death. Mistinguett : Debut at Casino de Paris 1895. Folies Bergeres, Moulin Rouge, Eldorado. Most popular entertainer of time, highest paid in the world.Loie Fuller stars at Folies Bergeres in early ‘90s.
1890  25
1889  24 All her pregnancies to Fufi never get to term. She learns how to run an estate, all the behaviour of the nobility. The marriage is dark, elements of S & M, and his bisexuality is tolerated by her, the price for her position, and seeming security.  EIFFEL TOWER: 1889 World’s fair Moulin Rouge opens. Paris mobs the ‘palace of women’. Giant Elephant with Arabian club inside. Cocottes, noctambules, celebrity courtesans, royalty, all classes ‘slummed it’ together. Lautrec.,le Petomaine.Satie: Gnossiennes
1888  23 Cocks her eye at Fufi, and they marry in Paris, …discovers the darker side to her sexuality, which fascinates him, enough to make her his trophy wife and take her back to Germany. His friend Willi the prince, soon to be emperor, smooths over the shock with his parents. William comes throne in 1888. German Emperor.La Belle Otero  comes to france: Folies Bergeres starSatie: Trois Gymnopedies.
1887  22 First Patron. ‘Papi’ , forces her to change act, she becomes Diva, starts to use makeup as permanent mask. Went to see tower being built. Her flat near tower  Eiffel Tower construction begins Satie: Trois Sarabandes.
1886  20-21 Jacques is taken away, forced to marry a Marquise’s daughter. Lorelle becomes Perle, does ‘naked’ act at Les Varietees. Puts her age back. Satie: Ogives
1884  19
1883 Satie was a resident of Montmartre (until 1898) and a ‘regular’ at the Auberge du Clou where he met Debussy for the first time.
He was rather poor especially in these early years, and worked as a Cafe pianist in Montmartre. Works: Ogives (1886) Sarabandes (1887) Gymnopedies (1888) Gnossiennes (1889-93)
1882  17 Elopes with Jacques to Paris, and Le Chat Noir, where Lorelle is ‘Ruby’, performs in street.
1880  15 First starts with Jacques
1879  14 Lorelle gives birth to the priest’s son, Emanuel. Her mother raises him as her own. It is a secret. It’s a bad birth and renders her infertile.
1877  12 Priest rapes her at First Communion party. She has a child at 14, mother takes it in as her own.
1876 11 Priest makes first moves at physical abuse. Gives her a beautiful Rosary made of nacre. La Belle Otero dies
1875 10 Priest is beginning to groom her for sexual use. Mistinguett born: Jeanne Bourgeois, Enghien-les-Bains.
1873 8 Priest is father figure Colette born (Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette).
1871 6 Sees father executed by firing squad at Pere Lachaise Cemetery. In May.
Is taken by her mother to live in country town with aunt
1870 5 Survived siege, ate rats. The zoo elephants were eaten (Jardin des Plantes). Franco-Prussian War (1870 – ) Following Napoleon’s exile after his final defeat at Waterloo, France faltered under a string of mostly inept rulers until a coup d’etat in 1851 brought a new emperor to power, Napoleon’s nephew, Napoleon III. During the 17 years of his rule, he oversaw the construction of a flashy new Paris, with wide boulevards, sculptured parks and – not insignificantly – a modern sewer system. Like his namesake uncle, however, this Napoleon and his penchant for pugnacity led to a costly and eventually unsuccessful war, this time with the Prussians in 1870. War declared by France 19th July 1870. War was goaded by the Germans (Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of Prussia) who wanted to unify Germany with Prussia, engineered French anger by refusing to get Wilhelm of Prussia to promise that none of his ‘Hohnzollern’ family would seek the throne of Spain (German Prinz Leopold had been offered the Spanish throne, then vacant, but France objected and he withdrew. (see Ems Dispatch..the fatal telegram)
When news of their emperor’s capture by the enemy (Prussians) reached Paris the masses took to the streets, demanding that a republic be created. Paris Deputies set up Government of National Defence. 4th Sept 1870.
September 19, 1870 – January 28, 1871…city captured by Prussian forces (led by William 1) Bismarck wanted to shell Paris, but German high command headed by king of Prussia and on insistence of General Leonhardt Graf von Blumenthal, turned this down: civilians hurt and would turn people against the Germans. City was surrounded but didn’t surrender. Parisians ate whatever they could find: horses, dogs, cats rats on restaurant menus!
Castor and Pollux, the only pair of elephants in Paris were eaten.
Pigeon post set up during the siege, taken out of Paris by balloon. Regular service, with Tours and Poitiers as base. Ist dispatch 27th Sept, reached paris 1st Oct. Seige lasted 4 months. 150,000 official messages, 1 million private. Balloon mail overcame the communications blockade. Letters photographically reduced to save weight. 66 balloon flights, one accidentally landed in Norway, setting world distance record.
French were defeated in the F-Pr war and German Empire established. Jan 18, 1871, Wilhelm 1 proclaimed Geman Emperor. Peace treaty signed at Versailles and final in Frankfurt may 10 1871. Bismark took Alsace-Lorraine from France. Adolphe thiers elected head of provisional governement by new National assembly. Based in Versailles.
German garrison left in France angered Parisians and workers and National Guard rebelled and formed the Paris Commune. Lasted 2 months then bloody suppression by Thiers’ govt in may 1871. 20,000 Communards executed “Semaine Sanglante’ 7,500 jailed or deported. Communards’ Wall in Pere Lachaise; 147 were shot and thrown into open trench at foot of wall 28th may 1871.(Alex D-Neel taken to see this at 2yo by her father). 23 may 1880, first march before the Wall. 25,000 with red rose in buttonholes stood up to Police. Annually ever since.
Amnesty 1880s but proto-communist movt nipped in bud in French 3rd Republic (1871 – 1940). Imperialist expansion to Indochina, Africa, Oceania. Courbet , Rimbaud and Pissaro were communards; kept stirring.
Despite its bloody beginnings, the Third Republic ushered in the glittering halcyon years of the belle epoque.
Folies Bergeres renamed from Folies trevise; 9th Arondissement.
The Folies Bergères catered to popular taste. Shows featured elaborate costumes; the women’s were frequently revealing, and shows often contained a good deal of nudity. Shows also played up the “exoticness” of persons and things from other cultures, obliging the Parisian fascination with “négritude” of the 1920s.
1868 La belle Otero born: Agustina Otero Iglesias (Spain)
1866 Eric Satie born
1865 Lorelle born in Paris Her father is an army officer. Her mother had come to Paris from a little village ‘Villeneuve’ 30 miles away.

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