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Louise de Ville, Beauty-With-Brains One-Woman-Show and a Brainless Kararocké

May 6, 2012

Betty Speaks - Louise de Ville

Betty Speaks – Louise de Ville

It was a huge contrast last night as I visited two great venues in Pigalle to see two completely different kinds of shows. I ended up feeling that my expectations of each had been reversed: The burlesque woman’s monologue was the brainy thing, and the Kararocké was the brainless thing. Both had their place and made for a great evening, since brainlessness is a great counter reaction to braininess.

What had given me my advance notions about what I might find was that I had seen Louise de Ville’s burlesque act not long ago – and written about it here – and it was part of her stock show, of a kind of burlesque, fun, brainlessness, well, not really. But anyway, the last thing I expected to see at Les Trois Baudets last night after I was invited by a friend of Louise’s to see her one-woman show called “Betty Speaks” was a fabulous and inventive monologue written by Louise in French – she is American – and acted out and spoken in great French – with a strong American accent – with all sorts of playing on words, and fun, psychological insights into womanhood.

josephine baker

josephine baker

Having said that, the thing that also surprised me was that here I was watching a one-woman-show that has a burlesque element to it – she is sexy as hell and has some moments of strip tease – but most of the laughter I heard around me came from the women in the audience. This was a one-woman comedy, burlesque that has sex as one of the main themes, but which is speaking very directly to women. Oh, it is also very camp, and can clearly please men who like camp, too. Having said that, Louise can transfix men who don’t like camp as well, just by being there.

As an American in Paris entertaining the French in their language with witty playfulness and issues that women think about, but at the same time appearing like a sexy burlesque, I had to think where Louise could fit into any kind of tradition. Could we call her a white Josephine Baker? Probably best just to call her Louise de Ville.

Oh, as it turns out, that entire mixture of things I just spoke about with Louise are very clearly fixed in her knowledge of herself and her approach. Here are words I just found on Louise de Ville’s web site today about herself:

“I may look like it, but I’m not your average burlesque girl,” she writes. “I love glitter and feathers as much as the next girl, but I love feminism even more! I’ m a beauty with brains and I’m not afraid of showing off either.”

So after that show I saw I still had time to go to the monthly Kararocké at the Bus Palladium. It was more densely populated than at any time I have seen it in the last six months. A massive success, and a wild, wild time. I rinsed out my brain with the music and then took a nice brisk 5.5 kilometer walk back home through the rain and rinsed off my body.

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