Edited By Chris Mounsey and Stan Booth
Constructing La Goulue: The Queer, the Criminal and the Cancan
Using textual analysis and oft-overlooked materials documenting the rise, reinventions and eventual decline of the performer La Goulue (Louise Weber), I aim to shed new light on a celebrity simultaneously marketed as the embodiment of Paris and criticized for her sexual, spatial and social alterity; and how the moralizing of the fin-de-siècle has left an enduring legacy of scandal-mongering and interwoven presumptions around sexuality, crime and performance not only in relation to La Goulue but more broadly.
In 1963, Armand Lanoux suggested, provocatively, ‘Le quadrille, comme la Goulue, était né du pave’ [The quadrille, like La Goulue, was born on the street],1 putting into words a legend famously embodied by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings of the Moulin Rouge. Over the course of five decades, Louise Weber (better known as La Goulue, ‘The Glutton’) was a fixture of popular entertainment in Paris, as a dancer, animal-tamer, and celebrity who was active between the 1880s and the 1920s. The stage name that she took when she made her debut as a paid dancer at the age of sixteen was one she kept all her life. With it came a reputation as a cheeky, fiery, and distinctively working-class performer who was identified on one hand as embodying modern Paris through her gouaille (street patter) and ← 229 | 230 → her status as a star dancer of the cancan. On the other she was the embodiment of the city’s unsavoury side – its roughness and...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.