Monday, October 27, 2008

Paris Tango

I first "met" Carla Coulson when I did a posting for Vicki Archer's wonderful book "My French Life" HERE.
Carla did the fabulous photography, and we exchanged a few e-mails, and I looked at her work on her web site HERE. She told me then, that her new book called "Paris Tango" was coming out in a few months.
Carla Coulson

Paris Tango! Wow! I wanted to know more, like was it really a book about tango. The hubs and I had been to Paris and had gone tango dancing there, so we know a big Argentine tango scene is there. Well, "Paris Tango" the book, is not really about the tango dance or culture, but about the tango of life in Paris, as seen though Carla's lens and experience.
Paris Tango takes us on a very personal journey into the heart of the city; from an insider's take on her local neighbourhood, the vibrant Marais and behind-the-scenes at the Moulin Rouge to the contemporary artists, couturiers and perfumers who continue upholding the legacy of Paris' reputation as being at the cutting edge of style. Carla interviews the gatekeepers of all things French, including: Moulin Rouge owner Jacki Clerico; master perfumer Frederic Malle; couture genius Francois Lesage; renowned florist Djordje Varda; lingerie high priestess Chantal Thomass; and, architect Renzo Piano, whose masterpiece, the Pompidou Centre has become part of Paris' iconography. Carla also introduces her readers to Parisian locals such as her salsa teacher, landlady and boulanger, as well as just a few of the Parisian dog owners who give Paris its reputation for being the city of dog poop.
Carla has several beautiful photos of showgirls from the Moulin Rouge on her web site, some of which will appear in "Paris Tango". I wanted to do a story about these photos then, but had to wait for the book to be a reality as per the publisher. It's now up on, so Carla gave me the go ahead to use some Moulin Rouge photos.
I have been fascinated with the Moulin Rouge since I was a little girl. I was a professional child performer. My mother was a ballet dancer, taken away from her career by my birth, and the subsequent role of mother and wife.
Not as talented as my mother, I suffered years of classes, and auditions, but somehow managed to get work due to the diligence of my mother managing my career. I did not aspire to a career as a ballet dancer.
My secret lust was for black fishnet showgirl tights I once saw an older dancer wear. I tried to wear them in my child level ballet class, and was sent from the room in disgrace, to change into the more appropriate baby pink tights.
My mother still danced at fund raisers, PTA shows etc., but not alone. She and I had a mother daughter act. Our act was a Can-Can. We wore identical costumes, she the larger sexy dancer, and myself cast as the adorable mini me high kicker.
Somewhere in there was the Hollywood bio pick "Moulin Rouge" with José Ferrer, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Suzanne Flon. This fictional account of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec captivated me on two levels: One being the life of an artist and of Lautrec's astonishing work, and the other of the Moulin Rouge and its showgirls.
For years I secretly dreamed of the day I could audition for the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, the closet thing to the MR girls that I could get. I had no clue as to Las Vegas then. And the Rockettes were just a subway ride away.
An injury curtailed my professional dance career at an early age of 20. I managed a few jobs until I was into my 30's, but I didn't have the required chops to audition for the Rockettes.
At age 22 I took my first trip to Europe, and made a pilgrimage to Paris, and the Marais, and the Moulin Rouge. It was fabulous and a little seedy then, and I had never seen girls bare their breasts in such an artful way. I was an artist's model all through art school, and artful nudity was something I knew a thing or two about.
I fancied myself as a real life character out of a Lautrec vignette! What an imagination I had! My inner movie played with me starring in scenes of an old timey Paris chock full of artists and their models and muses and lovers.
Many trips to Paris ensued after the first one, and as the years passed the showgirl dreams were modified. I did a stint as a singer in a Rock band in the heyday of 1980's bands. It satisfied that old show girl itch, though I still always managed to catch the show at the Moulin Rouge when I visited Paris (as recently as 2004).
I also loved The Crazy Horse Saloon girls, but to me the Moulin Rouge was the epitome. I also had made it to Las Vegas by then, and saw the Vegas show girls, who I admired, but not in the same way as the French girls. The French girls always held the big magic, the cachet, the mystere.
So when I asked Carla if she would please send me some Moulin Rouge photos, I was thrilled to say the least, to have this Paris tango with her.
Join Paris-based Australian photographer, Carla Coulson as she celebrates the launch of "Paris Tango" the latest in her acclaimed series of photographic books.
Published by Penguin, and a follow-up to her hugely popular previous books, "Italian Joy" and "My French Life", "Paris Tango" is a portrait of the City of Light as you have never seen it before.
From the African street markets of Chateau Rouge to the penthouse suite of the Paris Ritz, Coulson and her camera uncover a Paris that is rarely seen.

Join Carla at this champagne cocktail party as she presents and signs her book - and show your support for yet another Aussie making a splash in the City of Light.

Thursday 4 December
WH Smith
248 rue de Rivoli
Paris, 75001
Nearest metro: Concorde

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vicki archer said...

Great post Valorie, Carla's book is truly fab - you will love it xv
PS Sorry no tights yet!

pve design said...

Oh what a stunning post!

Paul Pincus said...

this looks too incredible!

Renee Finberg said...

you have a movie running in your head too ?

who knew ???? LOL

what can i say, very, very cool post.

i have spent a bit of time in paris working -

i will viewing the pics again.

thank you,

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Loved this post! What an amazing story, and what gorgeous photos.