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Postcards from Paris

Contact Loulou de la Paumardiere


In France, finding the right man is particularly difficult as all Frenchmen share a deep historical mind-set that links our beloved transvestite Joan of Arc and her BBF, the pedophile serial killer Gilles de Rais (go ahead, Google him, but as far away from meal-time or bedtime as possible http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilles_de_Rais), the weirdly admired Marquis de Sade; the misleadingly named Paris Children's Tour that takes visitors to the Necker Children's Hospital, the rue Verneuil nursery school, the rue Éblé elementary school, the Duquesne and Fabert police stations, a rue du Bac law office, the Paris Family Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, District Attorney's office, the state adoption agency and the Olga Spitzer Association, and when the disappointed tourists ask what the hell they've just been shown are told that these are the places where children may be purchased ($1500 for an African girl, $20,000 for a European boy) and all fronts for our government's amazing pedocriminal ring; and my former neighbor from 54, rue de Varenne, Julien Green, who summed up not only his own but French thinking when he made the mysterious claim that the natural outcome of all eroticism is murder.

Well, call me old-fashioned, but nothing, to me, says let's call it an evening like having a well-dressed, well-educated, well-to-do and apparently well-balanced man slowly lift his lips from your nipple after a few minutes, look you in the eye and say "Wait a minute. You're not Mother." So, when my judge friend came back from the kitchen with the hammer, I grabbed the champagne bottle by the neck and struck him in the face with my very best forehand-it is, perhaps, a cliché, but, as all women know, most men simply don't tolerate pain as well as we do; the slightest little severed limb or trigeminal neuralgia and they turn into such crybabies. (And yet, men are just so bad about going to the doctor. I had a boyfriend once whose upper torso had been separated from his abdomen in a freak fairground accident (Tilt-a-Whirl, zipper) and I said "Sweetheart, you really should have that looked at," and he, or I guess one should say the part of him with the head on it, said "Aw Loulou, go see some old sawbones so he can poke at me and then charge me $100 when if I just wait a couple of days it'll clear up by itself?")-but even so my date was positively hogwhimpering with pain on the Versailles parquet in his living room and I believe I did some permanent damage to his ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is thought to generate compassion, but no one noticed any change when he took the bench the next day, and I am rather proud to say that although my fright level at the time hovered between catatonia and incontinence, I did not just remain cool, but cool like Lava Girl when the kid says "You're hair's on fire" and she goes "Yeah, it does that" as I leapt from the balcony into the tulips below and disappeared into the night.

The funeral at the St. Roch church for Yves Saint Laurent, who had been embalmed since 1985, was very moving. Yves was, it was loudly murmured in the pews, killed by Tom Ford, about whose positively dreadful designs the divine Yves said "The poor guy does what he can," but say what you will, and even if Tom can't decide on his own image (manly gay cowboy or Las Vegas sleazebag?), the Americans are better than anyone at making money. After the commercial failure of Tom's Toupee, "the first fragrance with real hair in it," Tom's new unisex fragrance for men, Attrape Tes Chevilles! (Grab Your Ankles!) put the YSL house back in the black almost overnight. After the funeral I accompanied my good friend Catherine Deneuve back over to her book-lined flat on the place St Sulpice, and as we walked we spoke about how all of our friends seemed to be dying, or at least faking it very well, and how she used to be with Serge Gainsbourg, who looked the way Paul Leautaud smelled and who did that Lemon Incest video promoting child abuse that Catherine still calls "absolutely brilliant," and he was gone, too, now, and so it was nice to talk about living people and Catherine astonished me when she revealed that she had almost married Nicolas Sarkozy!

And I said "But you're old enough to be his mother--fucker would you look at the size of that pigeon!--twin sister."

And she told me about their first night together, and how Nicolas had had his chauffeur drive them to her flat after a party in Neuilly, and how they had left a movie-like trail of clothes behind them as they kissed and groped their way to the bedroom and had talked through the night and almost even made love before Nicolas had fallen asleep, and how Nicolas had had to leave before daybreak to avoid the paparrazi and put on his pants and realized, but only once he'd buckled his belt, that two rats-sound-sleepers both, had gone to sleep inside them, and he tried to shake them out the bottom, first one leg, then the other, but that just made them sink their little quarter-inch needles even deeper into his thighs, so he was doing this sort of bow-leggedy vaudevillian cowboy dance with the little rats squealing and lacerating and one of them managing to poke its head out of his fly now and then, and this was about a foot away from Catherine's sleeping face and she woke up and saw the rat's face going in and out of Nicolas' fly and thought "that poor man, but I guess that if I were a man and my own circumcision had been that badly botched, I would be shy, too," but then she saw Nicolas' glans bare its sharp yellow teeth and squeal and Catherine bared her perfect white teeth and squealed and stood straight up on the bed and squealed some more and bounced up and down and right out the window onto a passing bakery truck below and the mathematicians at the Sorbonne (ranked first in the world in both alchemy and gargoyle carving, but where there are still no outlets for laptops, the President of the University having said of computers last week: "I mean, how many people do you know who actually use one?") were asked about the statistical probability of any of the driver's colleagues believing him when he said I heard this loud noise and slammed on the brakes and Catherine Deneuve slid down onto the windshield wearing a baby doll nightie with "Friday" on it and the mathematicians calculated it at "less than zero." Anyway back upstairs, Nicolas was desperately trying to keep the rats away from his plumbing fixtures so was grabbing the rat lumps on the inside of both thighs which gave him the appearance of someone who, suddenly afflicted with tarantism, was now performing, as if he had often read about but never actually seen, the Charleston.

And Catherine told me that Yves Saint Laurent had left her something that she wanted me to see and I just couldn't wait and as we walked back over to the Left Bank I must have seemed in a hurry because Catherine giggled "Loulou darling, do slow down!"

We arrived at her flat and she said come into the kitchen and stood in front of the refrigerator, smiling mischievously. What, I wondered, could Yves, a lover of the best in everything, a man who imported exotic foods, of all things, to Paris, of all places, from around the world (Yves didn't wear a size 60 belt for the past twenty years by not importing his favourite edible rarity of all: Velveeta)-I thought of an exquisite unheard-of Mongolian ice, or a fabled champagne left over from some sheik's fiftieth birthday party in Marrakesh, or perhaps an entire box of something one might use to sew little calico hearts out of gamma aminobutyric acid. Catherine opened her refrigerator and I believe I let out a little scream and there it was: Yves Saint Laurent's head, and Catherine said "Finally, thin again," and she lifted it off the shelf and bit off part of Yves' cheek and smiled at me as she chewed and said "Di you know dat Belbeeta iszh de only cheeszh dat ratsh won't eat?" and I shook my head and leapt from the balcony into the tulips below and disappeared into the night.

It still never fails to amaze me how many Parisians keep human heads in their refrigerators, presumably so they can sing "You've Got a Friend" together and share what it's like to be "special;" I can think of three within twenty minutes of my house. There's Nicolas Claux, the self-proclaimed vampire and cannibal, and condemned murderer, author of what has to be my least favorite non-fiction sentence in the French language, (Claux recalls desecrating his first tomb and stabbing the corpse: "All I can remember is that when I woke up my forearms were covered with corpse slime."), now free. There are lots of others-Jesus, what a town-but the most vile is Professeur Jean-Claude Job, who, although not stricto sensu a cannibal, but merely a serial killer, actually created almost a thousand French cannibals out of unwitting victims in the 1980s, feeding them contaminated growth hormone made from the pituitary glands of rotting Romanian corpses even though a safe American synthetic hormone was available, killing 111 children, with 800 more, now adults, waiting to die of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) like the others.

Last night, Carla and Nicolas came over and Francois Fillon, the Prime Minister, crossed the street after work and joined us for dinner in the garden, and it was so much fun to be with the three of them. We talked about the crazies in Paris and Francois pointed out that while America has had 185 serial killers, France has only had 12.

And Carla said: "Is that true, Nicolas? Why can't we have serial killers too, like America? It would make us seem more like Hollywood."

And Nicolas said, "But we do, sweetheart. Bernard Kouchner, our current minister of foreign affairs, once had legislation passed making sure no damages could ever be awarded to victims contaminated with Hepatitis C by the French government, so just sit back and watch them die, he said; former minister Martine Aubry, who routinely twisted facts about the dangers of asbestos, is directly responsible for the fact that ten Frenchmen die every day from exposure to asbestos, and 100,000 will die in the next twenty years. Former health minister Jean-Francois Mattéi claimed that nothing could have been done to prevent the heat-related deaths of 15,000 elderly French people in August 2003 (and refused to return from vacation to find out for sure), but Spain counted only 141 deaths during the same period; and former minister of justice Robert "The Vampire" Badinter single-handedly murdered over one thousand Frenchmen with blood transfusions that he and other cabinet members knew to be contaminated with HIV. Serial killers? Hell, Carla: black magic (Tchernobyl) cannibalism (the growth hormone scandal), asphyxiation (asbestos), torture (we're number one!), vampirism (the blood scandal) and pedophilia (inter alia, the Operation Achille scandal)-we've got it all. We just don't feel that the term serial killer is good for tourism. Don't think rats: think Ratatouille!"

"You always know how to make me feel better, Nicolas," said Carla. "But how do you make French people believe that everything's always okay all the time, even when it's so obvious that it isn't?"

"Sweetheart, in a country where state-trained scientists and senior executives at Elf Aquitaine, France's largest oil company, once gave $150 million to an Italian TV repairman and con artist who claimed he had developed a way to detect oil from the air using a TV with a photocopier inside it, it's easy to make people accept anything. That, for example, France shouldn't have any facilities for autistic children because our leading authority (a child psychiatrist who has never been published in a peer-reviewed English-language journal) still speaks of refrigerator mothers as the cause of autism."

And Carla said "Nicolas, you are so sweet."

And Nicolas sat on the edge of his chair and leaned towards Carla so that their knees were touching and he said "I love you, you know," and Carla took Nicolas' face in her hands and looked him in the eye and said "Me neither."

And the four of us kept talking and laughing in the twilight, and as the summer breeze carried the scent of the peonies and the roses into our nostrils, the hurricane lamps finally went out and it was so dark that our faces were invisible, and words seemed to show up like fireflies in the air, and I felt happy, but sad at the same time, and Francois walked behind my chair and placed his hand on my shoulder and said "More champagne?" And I said "No, thank you: just a light."


© 2008 Louise de la Paumardiere



About LOUISE DE LA PAUMARDIERE It would be difficult to imagine anyone more purely French or a better embodiment of France and French values than polyglamorous Louise de la Paumardiere. Loulou's paternal great grandfather Andre Le Troquer, unfairly removed from office as President of the French Senate in 1958 for having run a pedophile network, and her maternal grandfather General Paul Ausseresses, unfairly stripped of his rank and thrown out of the Legion d'Honneur because of his role as a torturer in the Franco-Algerian war, are but two of her many famous ancestors. Author of From Foreign to French: 100 Makeovers in Stories and Pictures (New York and London: PLB Books, 2006), multi-talented and multilingual Loulou de la Paumardiere first came to public attention when several of the high-profile Paris-based foreign women on whom she performed makeovers committed suicide. Her family operates the majority of the uniquely French institutions known as Centres d'aide par le travail, or CATS, factories in which handicapped French citizens are employed at less than minimum wage because, as Loulou puts it with her typical Cartesian clarity, "they are handicapped." Her ancestral home, Château de la Paumardiere in Boilly-sur-Gui, an hour from Paris in Normandy, has hosted every head of state since Louis XIV and was a favorite haunt of Lully the Sodomite. She continues that great tradition of French hospitality on weekends in Boilly and during the week at her luxurious mansion at 60, rue de Varenne in Paris.