Chez Josephine

THEN: On December 10, 1926, just a year after arriving in Paris, Josephine Baker opened a nightclub as a monument to her already dazzling success: “Chez Josephine” on 40 Rue Fontaine. Baker had become an overnight sensation by capitalizing on Parisians fetish for black American jazz, exoticism, and nudity. Before Baker became a Parisian hit she performed on the American black vaudeville circuit TOBA- known officially as the Theatre Owners Booking Association, and colloquially as “Tough On Black Asses.” Baker first arrived in Paris to perform in “La Revue Nègre” with the talented African American saxophonist Sidney Bechet, who also became a Parisian hit. Baker’s comedic sense, beauty, and ability to evoke an aura of the exotic all fueled her popularity. Baker became close friends with Ada “Bricktop” Smith, a female black American Club owner who claims to have taught Baker everything she needed to know about becoming a hit in Paris. It may be that Bricktop encouraged Baker to take advantage of her success and open a cabaret. Baker opened this club, but chose to continue performing at larger and more established venues. “Chez Josephine” later moved to the more fashionable Rue Francois I. <br />NOW: Chez Josephine has been converted to a bright blue discothèque “Carrousel de Paris.” It continues to offer nightly entertainment but is highly sexualized.<br />

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