Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Le Monocle

Lesbian couple at Le Monocle, Paris (1932)
Le Monocle

Location: Edgar-Quinet Boulevard, Montmartre, Paris, France

Opened: 1920s

Closed: Ear1y 1940s

During the 1920s, Paris "gained a reputation for the variety of its nighttime pleasures and for its free and easy attitude toward life in general." As a result, "many specialized same-sex establishments" opened. Among these was Le Monocle, which is credited with being "one of the first, and certainly the most famous of lesbian nightclubs." It was opened by Lulu de Montparnasse in the Montmartre area, which at that time was "the main gathering place for Parisian lesbians."
Young invert at Le Monocle, Paris (1932)

As Florence Tamagne further explains, lesbians during that time were often found sitting together at Montmartre's "outdoor cafes or dancing at the Moulin Rouge." As for Le Monocle, "All the women there dressed as men, in Tuxedos, and wore their hair in a bob."

Why the name Le Monocle? It seems that sporting a monocle had become something of a lesbian "uniform" in those days. Even the writer Colette observed that "mannish women" often affected a monocle and "a white carnation in the buttonhole."

Regarding the photograph pictured above by Georges Brassai, Henry Allen reported the following back in 1999:

Knowing events to come, you have a hard time not seeing degeneracy and horror when you look at "Lesbian Couple at Le Monocle, Paris," from 1932. A wistful woman in an evening dress cuddles against a woman in necktie and man-combed hair, identified later as Violette Moriss, a weightlifting champion who had a double mastectomy. During World War II, she collaborated with the Gestapo and tortured women prisoners. The Resistance killed her in 1944.

Bar at Le Monocle (Mid 1930s)

In later years, a bar called the New Monocle opened in the Montmartre area, but it was not the same establishment as the former Le Monocle. The New Monocle is apparently a swinger's club.

Classic 1932 photo by the great Parisian photographer, Georges Brassai, of a lesbian couple at the infamous “Le Monocle,” owned by Lulu de Montparnasse. Also "Young invert at Le Monocle, Paris" (1932)--also by Brassai.

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