THE ILLUSTRIOUS WORLD OF ANNE PIGALLE. Roxanne Fontana Interviews Anne Pigalle

Roxanne Fontana Interviews Anne Pigalle
A peak into the world of Paris’ born Anne Pigalle.  I spoke to her recently, and asked her some questions ………………..



You seem to have many mediums for your art— music, painting, poetry..  anything else?  Was it all a metamorphosis from very on in your life?  Do you enjoy one medium more or less than the others?  Do you have an ‘absolute’ favourite artistic medium that brings you the most happiness?

Hi, well my first love is music and singing, songwriting; I started as a guitarist in an all girls punk band at the time called Klaxon Flirt in Paris, but as I was doing most of the work,  when I moved to London, it was inevitable I was going to become a singer. I love the painting and photographing and film making as well , each medium comes from a personal need in my life at the very time and it came to me  later in life, and not as an intellectual decision. The erotic self portraits polaroids came as desire to reconquer a lost lover and to prove to myself that many men react to eroticism rather to romanticism, that’s why I called the photos and the poems âmerotic art , âme means soul in French. It then was easy to translate my music creativity into another medium , so music helped the art and vice versa . After many years of visual art adventures, I now enjoy going back to music as the art world is saturated and music is losing its intent and something has to be done. I have also run a successful club in Soho and organised many events with other performers mainly in Soho because of its history and how the French Huguenots created its spirit of Bohemia as the first self proclaimed immigrants , but now such events  are  getting harder to organise, post pandemic , mainly through venues closing down and the bling lack of interest in talent; the last group show I did was an art show this year called Anne Pigalle and the Mavericks of Naive Fetichism in Soho at Cuts in Frith St opposite to where Burroughs started to cast his spells on a club he didn’t like.

Can we get a glimpse of early memories of Paris.. from Pigalle, you embraced it as your surname …? 

I grew up in Montmartre and Pigalle, I love its artistic output at  the turn of the century, that’s really when modern art started, from Le Chat Noir on; a time I would have loved to live in . People forget cabaret was radical and political , not just tinsels . My father was a jazz musician,  hot club type, and would jam with the likes of Sydney Bechet  and my mother would promenade me in the pram in the gardens of Montmartre, we were very poor, we all lived in a room inside of someone else’s council flat, things improved a bit later on but always lived in council flats in Paris. I don’t know, everything always brings me back to  that place, later on I had  a flat in Pigalle for a while , lots of fun. You can’t argue with the ghosts, they were there first.

Tell our readers why you left Paris originally & a little bit of your journey away from there.

It had to be love of course because I fell in love with a musician, but also because I felt I had no opportunity to do what I wanted to do in France, mostly bimbettes who’s family could introduce them in the business, and comply to macho criteriums, a different scene from London and as it was still the end of Punk and I had been coming to London since the early days of Punk, I knew people and it seemed to make sense to make the move, People like Viv Albertine who I had met in Paris, became one of my best friends in the 80’s in London. I saw the Sex Pistols at the Chalet du Lac in 76 , hence the connection and why Glen Matlock plays on my Ecstase album, the rest is history, or soon to be.

At this point, looking back at your time in LA, what events stand out most? 

Travelling and playing both north and south of the US was a priceless education, meeting Al Green and seeing him sing in his church in Memphis, meeting Donald Cammell in LA and starting a film project, he used to tell people I was a genius and never tried to have sex with me, it was mutual respect, also a short lived interlude with Tim Burton, a great gig at Chateau Marmont with Iggy Pop, Courtney Love and Johnny Depp in the audience ( I discovered Edith Piaf had played there, that made my day ), living the gypsy life in LA from Beverly Hills to downtown LA, having 3 live bands at the same time, one with Leonard Cohen’s musicians, one with John Lee Hooker’s musicians and one with a mormon hard core metal player of 20 years old. I learned to use a gun at the downtown gun club with a gangster. My first exhibited drawing about anti gentrification was in downtown LA at the Spanish Kitchen studios. And of course driving my automatic Silver Bullet Camaro, T top ,  plate 77, V8 engine “ to look at the stars in the sky ”! It was a great  enlightening  journey .

You are still publicly active in Marseille and London.  Along the way, during your life and in your career, what has changed, if anything, about your own outlook regarding the performances? 

The more I go on and the more I try to please myself and have fun, as if I don’t, no-one else will. I always try to have a personal point of view and find new ideas. Venues and music as we know it , are disappearing, we have to find new ways but for me, music is something that has to be experienced in the same room first, the cd or download is the souvenir postcard. Marseille is of lately yes  but it is starting to also get gentrified;  all kinds of proposition  always coming up, like I was going to play the Adelaide festival in Australia in 2020, but  that was cancelled because of Covid, they kindly still paid me in exchange for  film performances  but  it’s not quite the same. I have played most places, Europe, US, Japan, Africa, Mexico, not India, Russia or China yet, which I would love too. There were  some gigs planned for China, but I think the sexy words were an issue or perhaps more the fact that the tax laws changed .

Meaning do you feel the same way about yourself, about ‘the business’ – the venues, and the ‘public’?  Many artists of our generation, seem to fall into normalcy of dedicating their life to their youth.  Where I am from, in New York City for example, they constantly celebrate the past, annual birthday bashes for Thunders, persistent club dates dedicated to the old scene, and the long-gone.  I don’t have this particular view at all.  I’ve done dedications, covered a song by Johnny Thunders, for example, but the constant living in the past thing is abhorrent to me really.  We seem to be on the same wave-length in this regard yes? Is your ability to live in the now and look forward and do work that is un-related to your history, come easily and naturally? 

But these times were more exciting times! How many times have I seen Thunders, one of the greatest but with a bit of a wish death –  I see youngsters trying to emulate punk and they can play it kid of  but their attitude is completely wrong. After Punk , I was a bit disillusioned so I went on doing a bit more of a jazz chanson Tom Waits thing, but now I very much feel like getting back to my roots and doing something with that , a melange of everything I know , it’s the recipe you create that counts, that little something that captures the zeitgeist .

Do you think you will live in London for the rest of your life?  If not, where would you possibly replace yourself to?

It is very hard to say. I do not find London especially interesting musically at the moment but everywhere seems to be brainwashed, We really DO need a revolution! The only place I could relocate is back to France, time will tell, it’s always good to be between 2 places or travelling if one can.

Any plans to do any more recording for release in the near future?  I love the Ecstase cd, your voice especially.

Thank you. A EP called the Deal followed that album  last year, and prior  to that was the Madame Sex Art Cd. I have done some recording with a rock and roll producer in America lately and looking for a label, always working on something and trying to find new ideas and experimenting, a possible book but that has been in the pipeline for 40 years lol .

Your performances are sex-themed and you’ve tapped into erotica your whole life, but maybe moreso lately.  Is this despite your age, in spite of your age, or do you consciously feel it has nothing at all to do with that.

It is something that came to me in LA. I don’t know if it was the testosterones or what! ( just kidding ) And which I developed when I came back to London, it is mostly the poetry and the art. Always from personal experience . And the songs could not translate that. Mentioned earlier, it is âmerotic work, so something to do with the soul, as a kind of romantic erotic, which is more to do with women’s world of dreams than men’s. I wanted to explore that subject. I also used to run salons from the infamous Francis Bacon’s  Colony Room in Dean St  and later on at Glastonbury where I made the audience talk about their fantasies. It is also linked to my love for tarot reading, I like to cultivate the magic side of everything. So it’s not all to do with the physicality . My Mexican fiancé used to say eroticism and sex is not a question of age, well not for me anyway, hoorah to that! We must destroy the stereotypes . People can have sex very late in life.

Like me, you are an independent artist.  There is no fame and fortune, and you call the shots. I am almost certain that you agree with me that you are fine with this freedom.   For me, I am actually oddly grateful and actually thank God that I’m not famous!  Are you as extreme as I am in that view, or do you dream of having a higher public profile and more recognition for Anne Pigalle but absolutely on your own terms, with no compromise?  I read that you spurned an offer to submit music to the BBC and offered a live performance instead.  I love that, you were fine with that weren’t you?  And they found the music and played it anyway.  I love that story.  It isn’t possible for you to do anything in ‘show business’ that you don’t want to do isn’t it?

Well ideally of course it’s best to pick and choose . I am independent at the moment and won’t do any kind of compromise that don’t make me feel  happy. I had my 5 minutes of fame when I was signed to Tevor Horn’s label  ZTT records. It was a kind of compromise as it was not a happy marriage and ended up in divorce but I took a chance , I was very young. I like to have a bit of everything, I am ‘gourmande’ that way. My music has been used in commercials in Japan and I was pretty big there.  It was not a compromise. Then followed the “arty” years which was great and gave me power, but I think it’s very difficult to proceed on certain levels without proper support. This said, I have done major festivals, exhibited with top galleries , worked with some key players and never sold my soul, it’s just not me. I would say I like to oscillate, which is nice if you can get it. I try to be foxy sometimes. When I grew up in France, there was a saying: “ In France, we don’t have petrol but we have ideas”. I try to make it one of my mottos








Roxanne Fontana

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