Books

Lot: a new book about Madame Claude, a luxury pimp

Lot: a new book about Madame Claude, a luxury pimp

the important thing
Journalist Erwan L’Élouet has just published a new book entitled “Madame Claude, the perfume of the secret”. He followed the pimp’s footsteps to Cajarco and collected new testimonies.

Madame Claude indulged the wishes of the greats of this world, with complete impunity, protected thanks to her political and financial network. Several years after disappearing in total anonymity, Erwan L’Éléouet, journalist and documentary film director, returns with new testimonies about Madame Claude, who reigned at the head of his prostitution network. Meeting with the author of “Madame Claude, the secret perfume” (published by Fayard), who will not be present at the Arcambal book and image festival due to family obligations.

Was it a desire to enter Madame Claude’s universe?

After the singer Renaud and Bernadette Chirac, I wanted to know another universe, one of money, sex and power, but also of dangerous connections between powerful, luxurious prostitution and the police elite.

I was drawn to unraveling the mysteries of life that Madame Claude kept reinventing. I had in mind the usual image evoked by his name, which has become a brand, luxury, charm and “beautiful vice” to put it. But telling the background and fate of a woman from a common background who socialized with the greats of politics, diplomacy, business and show business.

It took two years of investigation. Is it difficult to push lead screeds?

When I started this research, I was not aware of the difficulties that awaited me. Very quickly I felt, especially on the side of the police, that access to the archive would be impossible. Madame Claude provided information about her prestigious clients to the moral police, known as La Mondaine, and the intelligence services. It was his life insurance. I don’t think the authorities wanted to start those little deals, that protected pimping. Through former police officers, I was able to obtain documents showing that she was part of the “small antennas”, those women who provided information about their clients and their practices.

Is the memory of Madame Claude still very present, in the places she often visited, like Cajarco, where many residents still remember her?

I absolutely wanted to come to Lot, especially Cajarc where she had friends and owned two houses. I had to soak up places and meet witnesses who knew her directly. She left no one indifferent. Thanks to the article in your newspaper, the daughter of the former head of the gendarmerie contacted me. She remembered what her father had told her about the arrest of the pimp on December 31, 1985.

How to untie reluctant tongues to gather key testimonies?

Compared to television, for which I make documentaries with Laurent Delahousse, it is less invasive to come alone with a notebook and a pen. I was looking for witnesses who never spoke. For example, I found a former inspector from La Mondaine. He was the first police officer to raid Madame Claude’s network in 1970. The climate of trust you establish and the serious nature of your research gets people talking. This happened with another police officer who I kept informed of my progress and who received me six months after our first exchange.

Have you felt fear, embarrassment or even admiration from some interlocutors?

Yes, I felt everything. Fear and embarrassment for those who no longer wanted to be associated with Madame Claude. This is the case with three girls from his network whom I met and I respected their anonymity because they do not want their past to surface again.

They have no remorse or regret, but they fear the disapproving gaze of society. Two of them admired Madame Claude, she even liked her and it was mutual. For them the empress of sex had words of love which she did not have for Anne, her only daughter whom I have found, and who is expressed for the first time in this biography.

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