Moulin Rouge  

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French striptease

Moulin Rouge (French for Red Mill or windmill) is a traditional cabaret, built in 1889 by Joseph Oller, who already owned the Paris Olympia. Situated in the red-light district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy in the 18th arrondissement, near Montmartre, Paris, France, it is recognized by the large red imitation windmill on its roof.

Over the past hundred years, the Moulin Rouge has remained a popular tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for adult visitors from around the world. Much of the romance from turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club's decor.

Notable performers at the Moulin Rouge have included La Goulue, Josephine Baker, Frank Sinatra, Yvette Guilbert, Jane Avril, Mistinguett, Le Pétomane, Edith Piaf and others. The Moulin Rouge was also the subject of paintings by post-impressionist painter Toulouse Lautrec.

Moulin Rouge was also the title of a book by Pierre La Mure, which was adapted as a 1952 film called Moulin Rouge, starring Jose Ferrer and Zsa-Zsa Gabor. Several other films have had the same title, including 2001's Moulin Rouge!, starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. Both the 1952 and 2001 films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Contemporary description

Andrey Bely wrote in his 1906 letter to Alexander Blok about the "Tavern of Hell" at Moulin Rouge, where lackeys were dressed as devils:

Sometimes I would venture from my sepulchre to the jazz of night Paris, where having gathered the colours, I would think them over in front of the fire. I could be seen walking through a funeral corridor of my house and descending down a black spiral of steep stairs; rushing underground to Montmartre, all impatience to see the fiery rubies of the Moulin Rouge cross. I wandered thereabouts, then bought a ticket to watch frenzied delirium of feathers, vulgar painted lips, and eyelashes of black and blue.
Naked feet, and thighs, and arms, and breasts were being flung on me from bloody-red foam of translucent clothes. The tuxedoed goatees and crooked noses in white vests and toppers would line the hall, with their hands posed on canes. Then I found myself in a pub, where the liqueurs were served on a coffin (not a table) by the nickering devil: "Drink it, you wretched!" Having drunk, I returned under the black sky split by the flaming vanes, which the radiant needles of my eyelashes cross-hatched. In front of my nose a stream of bowler hats and black veils was still pulsing, foamy with bluish green and warm orange of feathers worn by the night beauties: to me they were all one, as I had to narrow my eyes for insupportable radiance of electric lamps, whose hectic fires would be dancing beneath my nervous eyelids for many a night to come.

Striptease

The People's Almanac credited the origin of striptease as we know it to an act in 1890s Paris in which a woman slowly removed her clothes in a vain search for a flea crawling on her body. At this time Parisian shows such as the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere pioneered semi-nude dancing and tableaux vivants. One landmark was the appearance at the Moulin Rouge in 1907 of an actress called Germaine Aymos who entered dressed only in three very small shells.



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