Père Lachaise Cemetery’s Victor Noir regularly receives posthumous hand jobs from the average public but the exquisite Dita VonTeese is not average and when it comes to sexy…she’s in a class by herself. A shame her smoldering grind didn’t take place in 1869! Victor Noir was only 21 when he died back in 1870. He was a hard-working political reporter who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was murdered just as he began to forge a reputation for exposing political corruption in the halls of power while simultaneously developing a reputation with the ladies of Paris for his talents in the bedroom. Word among his bedmates was that he was very well endowed and he knew how to use his endowments to mutual satisfaction.

Victor Noir is the perfect name for a hungry young journalist by day and energetic sex-machine by night. As a hungry young journalist, Victor spent his days wrapping his brain around the complex infighting of politicians, and wrapping his body around the beautiful women of Paris in at night.

Noir wrote for La Revanche, and that newspaper was particularly critical of Napoleon I, who had been traditionally off-limits to criticism—that is, if a paper wanted to stay in business. In retaliation for a Noir article, Prince Pierre Bonaparte, the great-nephew of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and cousin of the then-ruling Emperor Napoleon III sent a letter to La Revanche editor Paschal Grousset, calling him a traitor.

After silence from Grousset Prince Bonaparte wrote an escalating letter “After having outraged each of my relations, you insult me with the pen of one of your menials. My turn has to come. Only I have an advantage over others of my name, of being a private individual, while being a Bonaparte…I therefore ask you whether your inkpot is guaranteed by your breast…I live, not in a palace, but at 59 Rue d’Auteuil. I promise to you that if you present yourself, you will not be told that I left.”

Upon receipt of that letter, Grousset sent Victor Noir and Ulrich de Fonvieille, another paper employee as his ‘seconds’ to fix the terms of a duel with Bonaparte. What neither young man understood was that as ‘seconds’ they were supposed to go speak to Bonaparte’s ‘seconds’ and hash out a plan for Grousset and Bonapart to duel. Unfortunately Victor and Ulrich presented themselves to the furious Prince Bonaparte personally. They presented Prince Bonaparte with a letter signed by Grousset which whipped Bonaparte into a complete tantrum. According to Ulrich, Prince Bonaparte slapped him in the face and then shot Noir dead. In court Prince Bonaparte took an oath that he’d defended himself against the two and that version was accepted by the court.

Eclipsing that story is the fact that when undertakers laid Victor out to prepare him for the funeral, his lifeless body had achieved an enormous erection.

Visitors to Père Lachaise Cemetery will see that the sculpture on Victor’s grave is a beautiful replica of him as he would have laid dead in the street in his finest suit with his hat fallen beside him. The sculptor paid homage to his virility by unbuttoning his pants and lovingly rendering his erection beneath the fabric. Myth has it that if you want to achieve improved orgasms, you should rub his penis as sort of a talisman. If you want to find a beautiful lover, you should kiss his lips, if you want to get pregnant, just touch his right foot, if you want to have twins, touch his left foot.

Will you come to pay your respect to someone so full of the lust for life and truth who died so young? Will you touch Victor? Apparently Dita took the rubbing part of the myth to heart, the folklore doesn’t dictate what you’re supposed to rub his penis with exactly, so perhaps it’s only less imaginative people who use their hands.

See you there!

Ivy

Most certainly! Confused? Well, first let me explain my declaration that Isadora Duncan manipulated time in the realm of quantum physics.

Our human experience is a series of interactions between our minds and our environment. When someone is a visionary to the extent that Isadora was, they are able to liberate themselves from what is currently happening (the environment) and they create a new reality. They imprint their vision onto the human experience and change the world, as we know it forever. Case in point: Isadora Duncan was an American dancer who was born on May 26, 1877 and yet she negated the reality that dancing was performed in rigid costumes, with rigid hairstyles, inside rigid shoes comprised of precisely rigid movements. Isadora was so immersed in the ancient Greek spirit of natural movement that her body and soul expressed itself wholly in that ancient ideal.

Isadora’s feet were bare, her hair flowed, the filmy material draped over her naked body floated, and her dancing was unbridled expression. Throughout her life people who saw her perform were forever changed. And so therefore was the world and the future. She’s joined by visionary time travelers: Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., who dreamt of a future where all people enjoying equality and liberty even though the time in which they lived negated that dream in a literal sense. But those two men behaved and acted as if their dreams were reality – and the world is still shaping itself to conform to their dreams. Isadora is also joined by Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein who saw so clearly into the future that they boldly dared to prove forces that not only couldn’t be seen, they couldn’t be conceived of by most human minds. And yet once these giants of quantum time travel brought forth their visions, they changed our world. Those four men were before their time. Isadora Duncan was moving to the rhythms of 500BC so she was far before her time, bringing the souls of the modern world a long lost treasure.

So what reality are you currently facing that you would like to liberate yourself from? I challenge you: Right now, this moment dare to dream, jot down your dream, and speak it out loud. And as you begin shaping your new reality, may I make a suggestion? Let yourself be inspired by Isadora Duncan. Mess up your hair, unhook your belt (or shimmy out of your restrictive clothing), turn on some music and let your entire body move for the spontaneous joy of moving.

All hail Isadora, Mother of Modern Dance, and intrepid time traveler.

“Dance, of all the arts, is the one that most influences the soul. Dancing is divine in its nature and is the gift of the gods.”

- Plato

“Two young women at college with their male play-thing! FILTH! What is the world coming to in 2021 if books like these can be published?” She’d never heard of Colette apparently.

I was in the library standing near a woman who was freaking out about her daughter’s choice of reading material. The appalled mother was trying to adhere to the ‘whisper policy’ so her voice came out as an anguished hiss.

“I can’t believe you are interested in reading this! It is nothing but FILTH! Why is this book even in a library? The world is falling apart!”

I peeked around the corner at the little scene: the woman’s face was turning from an embarrassed red to an angry purple and she was waving a book around like a Pentecostal preacher in a revival church.

I didn’t want the distraught woman to hiss at me, so I didn’t come around the other side of the bookshelf and tell her that there was nothing new or even counter-culture about the content in the book that her daughter had selected. Colette (who is buried near the entrance of Paris’ Père Lachaise cemetery) wrote the same kind of book over 100 years ago...and simply anyone who could lay their hands on her books snatched them up...and...enjoyed them.

Ah Sidonie Gabrielle Colette—France's greatest woman writer not only smashed through the boundaries of sexual exploration in her books beginning with Claudine at School in the year 1900, but Colette enjoyed having sex with whomever she pleased be they male or female throughout her life. Colette, because of her writing was the most celebrated young "It Girl" of La Belle Epoch. La Belle Epoch or The Beautiful Era was a period in European history beginning around 1871 and ending when World War I began in 1914. It was a time of liberation and enjoyment of a new modern way of living and casting aside old prudish judgments of what people should do. And writing about the kind of sex seduction that people have been engaging in since the beginning of time—but pretending they weren’t—was just the kind of refreshing and liberating voice that thrust Colette’s books into the spotlight and under everyone’s late-night reading lamps!

The woman I overheard in the library must have been limiting her reading material to a Church-approved list of books somewhere because books with content like, oh, say the uber-popular 50 Shades of Grey have been around for a long time. While Colette's first book Claudine a L'Ecole (French for "Claudine at School") didn't have a red room, it was a very honest and frankly titillating account of small-town life back when girls were expected to interact with girls unless they were chaperoned.

In Colette's book, her young girls form crushes on (and fool around with) each other and their female teachers and their female teacher's aids. So while GLBT may be newly embraced in the 21st century, Colette was writing about rampant and completely natural exploration and relationships in the countryside of Burgundy, France. And those natural relationships were just as often homosexual as heterosexual. Her reading public couldn't get enough of it and Colette and she obliged by writing The Claudine Series:

Claudine à l'école (1900) - Claudine at school

Claudine à Paris (1901) - Claudine in Paris

Claudine en ménage (1902) - Claudine married

Claudine s'en va (1903) - Claudine and Annie

In real life, Colette also broke social norms by appearing in erotic performances at venues like La Moulin Rouge and being quite open about her own bisexuality. Although even during the period of liberation that Colette was busy conquering, she suffered occasional backlashes triggered by her lesbian tendencies as much as for her taking her husband’s son as her lover. So she was no stranger to criticism.

And speaking of criticism, I have no judgment of E.L. James' talent, but critics have been especially vicious in their opinions of her writing ability - however, there is no taking away from her that her 50 Shades Trilogy has outsold even J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter juggernaut.

Colette won the hearts of millions with works like Cheri and Gigi. In the end, Colette’s lifetime of creating timeless works of art like those that earned her the outpouring of national grief when she died. She died in Paris on 3 August 1954, she was the first woman given a state funeral in France, although she was refused Roman Catholic rites (little wonder after her lifestyle). Colette is interred in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris along with her daughter Bel-Gazou.

The film Cheri starring Kathy Bates and Michelle Pheiffer is a lovely and heartbreaking movie. You must see it…

Cheri:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_dCJ7NQLxs

… and do yourself a favor read something by Colette!

Ivy

Here’s a link to the classic Hollywood film

Gigi:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEofRODHZ1w

AH GERTIE, I NEVER KNEW YE! She loved new artistic expression and created a whole new way of writing. For a brief time in my twenties, I swirled around an intellectual crowd of writers, professors and bon vivants. That must be where I heard her name. So when I happened upon the final resting place of Gertrude Stein on the Avenue Circulaire in Père Lachaise Cemetery, I stopped and scratched my head a bit. Gertrude Stein. Hmmm, I was going to have to go to the library and look her up – this was years before the Internet and technology that now enables me to look up such information on my phone.

Standing in front of floor to ceiling shelves in the Chicago Public Library I opened a book and saw her. The first photo I found of Gertrude Stein was a revelation. She was not pretty, nor would I describe her as handsome… she was just a solid woman. There. That’s as close as I can come to describing how she struck me physically. And if her photos do her justice, she had a commanding presence.

Born in Allegheny Pennsylvania in 1874, to wealthy parents who wanted their children to appreciate the European sensibilities of art and culture. I believe you would agree that she did absorbed their tutelage because she certainly loved Europe as evidenced by moving there and living in France for the remainder of her life. Gertrude more than anyone else embodied the Parisian ‘salon life’ with her incredible ability to draw talented people to her and her generous patronage of those artists.

I then found a photo of Alice B. Toklas who was her lover and partner until Gertrude’s death left Alice alone in their salon. They met on Alice’s first day in Paris and that was it for life. These were two women who knew their minds and desires.

If ever there was a woman who was a woman of her own mind, it was Gertrude. Her parents would have been proud of the way she immersed herself in European culture – but what they would have thought of her destiny; which was to forge a new way of writing that was fresh, and has been described as literature’s answer to Cubism. The style we know as Hemmingway’s was actually Gertrude’s first and she’s credited with coining the term The Beat Generation. An article in The NewYorker inspects that aspect of Gertrude’s legacy with a loving monocle.

And instead of having a taste for the paintings that the European art establishment sanctioned, she put her money and patronage squarely behind people like Matisse and Picasso. How liberated she was to know her own taste and never look to others for nods of approval.

But what the well-read people that were talking about her when I was in my 20s must have been remarking on was her writing. Gertrude Stein created her own style of writing that bracing and bold liberation of expression that I simply adore and allow her to live on years after her death. Gertrude is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery and while at first you may think that Alice B. Toklas is buried somewhere else, upon closer inspection of Gertrude's headstone you will find Alice's inscription...you just have to go to the back...an explanation is provided in that the Stein family refused to have the inscription on the front of the grave.

Gertrude I’m sorry I never knew you, but I sure love to quote you! “The thing that differentiates man from animals is money.”

Ivy

Screenshot of photo above of Getrude (left) pet poodle and Alice (right)

Pere Lachaise is THE place to spend the afterlife with everyone dying to be interred with the likes of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde. But that wasn't always the case. Historically the city of Paris had a tradition of burying loved-ones near homes, in overcrowded church yards and in the case of a criminal or plague victim…in mass unmarked graves.

In the effort of hygienic breakthroughs, Paris embraced the modern practice of keeping space that was occupied by the living, well, free from the remains of the dead. This took some getting used to as you can imagine, and when Pere Lachaise was opened, people were not exactly lining up to purchase plots so far away from the center of the city. They were understandably used to the convenience of being able to pause and pay respects to a lost relative on the way out to the back garden or out by the apple tree.

So a special trip by horse-drawn buggy or very long walk was not particularly temping to Parisians. It wasn’t until the famous remains of Moliere and La Fontaine were placed upon a scenic hill inside Pere Lachaise that locals took notice. Then when the tombs of real-life French Romeo and Juliette Heloise and Abelard were transferred to Pere Lachaise, the trend to be one of the Who’s Who buried behind the scenic walls of the Cemetere du L’est (Eastern cemetery) started to pick up momentum…and it hasn’t stopped yet.

However, even if you have a recognized name in the rest of the world and one the lips of fellow who’s who in the exclusive gated communities of the globe, you can’t get into Pere Lachaise to spend the afterlife no matter how much money you have—unless you meet one or both of two requirements.

To get a grave in Pere Lachaise you must be a) a Citizen of Paris and or b) die in Paris. So if you have your heart set on being buried near Sarah Bernhardt, make sure you travel to Paris if you’re feeling your life slip away. Then when you pass off this mortal coil, on your death certificate is a little check box that enables you to be buried within the prized walls of Pere Lachaise.

Apparently Kim Kardashian couldn’t reserve a spot inside Pere Lachaise unless she was at her and Kanye West’s Paris peid a tere when she died.

Rest in peace,

Anna

Not only are the lanes of Père Lachaise Cemetery one of the most beautiful walks in Paris but visiting these five graves will take you to the final resting places of the world’s most incredible people.

#4 Edith Piaf
Hers was the voice of a nation embodied in a tiny woman. Edith Piaf’s recordings are still treasured over 50 years after her death, and they are unlike any style of singing before or since. The magic of Piaf’s voice has everything to do with who she was as a woman—so human and so flawed — she communicated everything in her performances and people couldn’t help connecting to the sound. Born to a wretched life in the ghettos of Paris and raised by her aunt in a brothel, Edith’s early emotional trauma caused her to suffer hysterical blindness for a period of time. Her career began with singing in the streets and then in nightclubs it became obvious to promoters that Edith was something very special. Her heart and strength was transmitted out through her throat making each powerhouse a of emotion, so if she sang of love lost, listeners felt the pangs in their hearts and if it was a song of national pride, the weary occupied French felt the stirrings of strength from her. She was only 47-years-old when she died but had the body of an 80-year-old due to hard living, poor luck in love and a devastating addiction to alcohol. Piaf is buried on a picturesque hill within Père Lachaise and an absolute must stop when in Paris.

Hear for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKPvx38D4GM

See you there.

Ivy

Not only are the lanes of Père Lachaise Cemetery one of the most beautiful walks in Paris but visiting these five graves will take you to the final resting places of the world’s most incredible people.

#5 Héloïse and Abelard

The original Romeo and Juliet, the story of forbidden love between a teacher and his student is so tragic that it has stirred hearts since the early 1100s.They were the perfect match of intellect and passion within the halls of education. Abelard was at the top of his teaching career and Heloise was a brilliant young student. The potency of their attraction was increased by the danger of being caught by her powerful religious uncle who was her guardian. When he discovered their liaison he tore the lovers apart and they were separated until their deaths…but now that they’ve been reunited inside the walls of Père Lachaise Cemetery, lovers from all over the world leave love letters at their tomb as only this tragic couple.

This is only #5 on the list of the most popular graves here inside the walls of this city of the dead.

See you there.

Ivy