Friday, November 16, 2007

Safely pinned

I happened to be near St Marks Books last weekend so I dropped by to pick up my favorite magazine, Butt. They also had a new issue of GLU, obviously trying to be the girls' answer to Butt but which had never really compelled me to drop some cash. Except this one I had to have: Edwige Belmore was on the cover and there was a long interview with her inside. And boy is it great!

With peroxyded butch hair and safety pins, Edwige, as she was simply known back in the late ’70s, was an icon of the French punk scene—even though she didn't actually make music in punk's heyday, and her own stuff is more new wave. She ruled the Palace (Paris' sort of answer to Studio 54) and hobnobbed with everybody who was somebody. How cool was she? Andy Warhol used to be seen with a button of Edwige's face on his lapel. (I just love this whole scene, by the way. Recommended if you read French: Alain Pacadis' Nightclubbing: Articles 1973–1986 and François Jonquet's Jenny Bel'Air: Une créature.)

In 1980-81 Edwige found time to record a fantastic techno-pop album with Claude Arto under the name Mathématiques Modernes. It sounds as odd now as it did then, its cool, slightly dinky synths sometimes backed up by almost dissonent horns.

Edwige moved to New York in the early 80s. She quickly found the local hipsters, and hung out with designer Maripol (who produced the just-reissued movie Downtown 81), among others. Many night owls remember her 90s parties such as Beige. Edwige now lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, with her girlfriend. Check out her blog and MySpace page.

Despite the interviewer's haplessness (which Edwige actually remarks on at some point!), the GLU article is a fab read because the subject is an excellent raconteur with tons of great stories. Her mother, for instance, ran the famous lesbian cabaret Chez Moune, in Pigalle since 1936. And the revelation of an affair with a high-profile singer is particularly intriguing.

Mathématique Modernes "Paris Tokyo" (from Les Visiteurs du soir, 1981)
Mathématiques Modernes "a + b = c" (12" version, 1981)

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