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A Pre-War Paris Lesbian Nightclub

Exterior entrance to the former Le Monocle nightclub. Photo by anonymous (date unknown).
Exterior entrance to the former Le Monocle nightclub. Photo by anonymous (date unknown).

For those of you familiar with Paris, you know that the Left Bank is considered more cutting edge today than the Right Bank. If you lived in Paris during the 1920s and the 1930s, the avant-garde scene would have been on the Right Bank. In particular, the Montmartre and the Pigalle districts (18e) were heavily populated with artists, bohemians, and a strong gay community. However, the Left Bank was home to the first and most popular lesbian nightclub in Paris. Located at 60, Boulevard Edgar Quinet in the Montparnasse (14e) district, Le Monocle opened its doors in the 1920s. Our story today isn’t so much about the nightclub as it is one of its most infamous patrons.


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Lulu and Tuxedos

Young invert at Le Monocle, 1932 (it is believed to be a photo of Lulu). Photo by George Brassaï (c. 1932).
Young invert at Le Monocle, 1932 (it is believed to be a photo of Lulu). Photo by George Brassaï (c. 1932).

The first owner of Le Monocle was Lulu. She set the style of dress for the club over the next twenty years. Lulu’s club attracted women who liked to dress up in tuxedos (and men’s suits), cut their hair short, and for added effect, wear monocles (ergo, the name of the club). In fact, women would wear a monocle in public to announce their sexual orientation.

The nightclub was shut down in 1940 after the Germans invaded France. Gay men and women were targeted by the Nazis for detention, deportation, and ultimately, elimination. The building where the club was located is still in existence. You enter through the original entrance which is shaped in a circle–it was meant to imitate a monocle. I’m not too sure what is behind the doors, as the exterior needs a lot of paint. But the awning still advertises a bar and café. I think it’s still called Le Monocle but Sandy and I will stop by on our next trip to Paris and see what happens. Read More A Pre-War Paris Lesbian Nightclub

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Les Bleus, Le Collabo et Le Execution

We’ve become immune to the stories we hear every day about professional athletes who get into trouble with the law. Their crimes range from acts of violence to murder and everything in-between.

Our story today is about one of these athletes. He was a French footballer. In other words, he played soccer. His saga starts with the first World Cup in 1930 and ends fourteen years later with his execution at the hands of the French Resistance. He was a well-known and vicious Nazi collabo (collaborationist).

Meet Our Villian

Alex Villaplane. Photo by anonymous (c. 1930).
Alex Villaplane. Photo by anonymous (c. 1930).

Alexandre Villaplane (1905–1944) was born in Algiers and between 1921 and 1935 played football (i.e., soccer) for various French club teams. Known for his vicious tackling and headers, Villaplane’s greatest achievement was on the pitch (i.e., field) playing for the French national team (known as Les Bleus or The Blues). The national team kit (i.e., uniform) is red, white, and blue. Unfortunately, by 1944, Villaplane was wearing a different uniform and was better known for his cruelty, blackmail, and murders.

Learn more about The 1930 World Cup

Official poster of the 1930 Football World Cup in Uruguay. Illustration by Guillermo Laborde (c. 1930). PD-70+ Wikimedia Commons.
Official poster of the 1930 Football World Cup in Uruguay. Illustration by Guillermo Laborde (c. 1930). PD-70+ Wikimedia Commons.

The first FIFA World Cup was played in Uruguay between 13 to 30 July 1930 and consisted of thirteen teams including France and the United States (yep, you read this correctly and here’s the other shocker—the United States national team came in third).

Alex-Villaplane-001
Alex Villaplane, top right, lines up as France captain for the game against Mexico at the 1930 World Cup. Photo: EMPICS (July 1930).

Villaplane was named captain of the French National World Cup team, Les Bleus. France was one of four teams in Group 1: Argentina, Chile, and Mexico rounded out the group. On 13 July 1930, he led the team to its only victory of the 1930 World Cup—a 4 to 1 score over Mexico. The next two games (against Argentina and Chile) were both 1 to 0 losses. Only Argentina broke out of the group stage and advanced to the knockout stage. Ultimately, Uruguay would beat Argentina in the finals with a score of 4 to 2. The World Cup was ultimately seen as the highlight of Villaplane’s football career. After this, his club career went into a downward spiral. Read More Les Bleus, Le Collabo et Le Execution