STARS OF THE MOULIN ROUGE
Sixteen-year-old Louise Weber got her nickname from her shameless drinking habits. Self-taught, she was a most boisterous and provocative dancer and wore a heart embroidered on her bloomers. La Goulue was Moulin Rouge’s star immortalized by Toulouse-Lautrec in a scandalous poster.
“Elle était à la fois l’indiscipline, la révolution, la beauté” (“She was unruliness, revolution, and beauty all at once,” E. Henze, former dancer).
In 1929 on her deathbed, the queen of Moulin Rouge, now a street peanut vendor, asked the priest: “Father, will God forgive me? I am la Goulue.”
Yvette Guilbert (1865-1944)
She started to perform at Moulin Rouge in 1890 as a “diseuse”, a “song-teller”. Her songs were usually humorous, almost satirical, and ranged from the salacious to the melancholy. Her delivery was meant to contrast with her elegant appearance. An astute artist she crafted her own image: the long black gloves and green gown. This is how Toulouse-Lautrec immortalized her, although she never fully approved of his caricatural style.
One of the most famous characters painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, she danced the cancan with the rest of the girls, but she also had her own “moments” when, wearing a long black sheath dress and immersed in a song, she would take the floor and improvise. Nicknamed “la folle” (the crazy one) by her fellow-dancers, she would waltz “like a delirious orchid”. Her elegance and passion set her apart from the other dancers. She died in 1943.