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Wed Jan 29, 2020, 01:16 PM

Michou, flamboyant 'minister of the night' who led Paris drag cabaret, dies at 88


Michou, flamboyant ‘minister of the night’ who led Paris drag cabaret, dies at 88

By Harrison Smith
Jan. 28, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. EST

For more than half a century, the most flamboyant figure in Paris’s liveliest district was a bouffant-haired man with a single name, Michou.

Habitually dressed in blue — often with a blue satin jacket, blue leather loafers and blue tinted lenses inside a pair of large blue glasses — he presided over one of the city’s oldest and most beloved drag cabarets, Chez Michou, a small club in Montmartre that was said to have inspired the play and musical “La Cage aux Folles.”

Seated at a table near the bar, he greeted politicians and celebrities including “Cabaret” actress Liza Minnelli, musician Serge Gainsbourg and French President Jacques Chirac, who named Michou a knight in the country’s Legion of Honor. Later in the evening, he might apply lipstick, mascara, false eyelashes and a wig to perform as a “transformiste,” a ringer for stars such as Édith Piaf and Sylvie Vartan.

“Brigitte Bardot once told me that we have the same derriere,” said Michou, who sometimes donned a tutu and straw hat to perform as the actress and sex symbol. He was 88, still running his beloved cabaret, when he died Jan. 26, spurring a lengthy remembrance from the office of President Emmanuel Macron.

At a 1986 dinner in Paris, Michou was joined by Jean-Claude Brialy, Liza Minnelli and Charles Aznavour, as well as the performer Silvestre and composer Georges Garvarentz. (Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images)

“The sky of Montmartre, from now on, will be a little less blue,” the Élysée Palace said in a statement, lauding Michou as a singer and cabaret director as well as a gay rights activist and civic leader. Appointed “minister of the night” by the Republic of Montmartre, a local cultural and charity group, he was known for hosting dozens of elderly residents at free monthly lunches, complete with songs and champagne.


Harrison Smith
Harrison Smith is a reporter on The Washington Post's obituaries desk. Since joining the obituaries section in 2015, he has profiled big-game hunters, fallen dictators and Olympic champions. He sometimes covers the living as well, and previously co-founded the South Side Weekly, a community newspaper in Chicago. Follow https://twitter.com/harrisondsmith

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Reply Michou, flamboyant 'minister of the night' who led Paris drag cabaret, dies at 88 (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Jan 2020 OP
irisblue Jan 2020 #1

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Wed Jan 29, 2020, 01:18 PM

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