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Lesbian Lit: Excerpt from ‘Kiss Me Again Paris’

Lesbian Lit: Excerpt from ‘Kiss Me Again Paris’

Party at the Palais Royal

It was finally late enough to get on my Vespa and drive over to the Palais Royal. Emma’s parents lived on the fifth floor in Rue de Beaujolais. Emma herself had her own “atelier” in the 14th arrondissement, although she had nothing to do with art. Opening the massive, polished entry door I instantly noticed the “traffic” – the streaming to and fro of women in the hallway and the discreetly lit rooms. In the salon a few women had already shed half of their clothes, dancing to Joan Armatrading’s “True Love.” One of them was shouting and swinging her shirt on the balcony where a crowd had gathered to admire the illuminated palace behind its French gardens. It was a pretty sight from the entrance—the silhouette of half-naked jerking, swinging bodies in front of the windows and the illuminated night sky.

Apart from two Louis XV sofas and arm chairs, there were pillows everywhere on the floor. A few couples had stretched out to chat; others were smooching in darker corners. A side room, the “music salon” (as one could tell from the Steinway), was filled with a thick hashish cloud. The obligatory group on the floor was lit by candles. It was early; they were still dressed, the chosen one lying in the center. In a guest room I saw several women seated around Skylark who was performing Joni Mitchell for them on her guitar, looking like a benevolent lioness. Luckily she had her eyes closed; I could sneak out again unnoticed. I quickly scanned every room and bedroom for Claude, then followed the stream of women into the kitchen where Emma had lined up a battery of wine and a few whisky bottles. Everyone was in high spirits. There usually wasn’t much alcohol at the parties because nobody felt responsible for procuring it. The less there was to drink the more everyone smoked. I was greeted loudly and Emma planted a kiss on my neck. She handed me her glass of red wine and opened a new bottle.

“Who’s already here?” I asked.

Théo (Monique Wittig) was expected later, she said. The huge eyes in her doll’s face told me she had downed a good deal of alcohol and hash. In the next moment, before I could ask about Claude, Emma had fallen into the arms of a sturdy young dyke and was dragged into a hallway behind the kitchen. I followed them. The hallway led to several small chambers – provision and service rooms, I supposed. The area was packed. Women were standing around talking with a pitch of excitement. Whenever one of the chamber doors opened, everyone nearby craned their neck as if the promised land could be glimpsed in there.

Women slipped into the little rooms, alone or in couples, and some instantly backed out again in shock. As in a comedy routine, doors were torn open and quickly banged shut – and in the flash of light falling in from the hallway, a sock, a naked leg, some sort of divan, a tangle of hair and arms came into view for a second. Every now and then an angry “Ferme la porte!”, but most couples were perfectly oblivious to the doors.

I leant against a wall, chatting with one of my pals about party indiscretions. In the early days, it had been all about greed and timing: getting into the act before any thoughts of consequences or bad conscience could arise. There used to be frequent dramas between couples who had opened a door in the wrong moment. I had once seen Aicha in a grande scène: collapsed in front of a locked door. There were noisy negotiations between Aicha’s pals and the women in the locked room, while Aicha was hysterically sobbing on the floor. When no agreement was found, we all piled into a taxi and brought her home to the Hotel Violet, holding her hand through the rest of the night.

It had taken me some effort at first to outwit my Good Girl when I was flirting with a woman who was already taken. But the message was clear: everyone knew the hour of monogamous couples was over. Suddenly you notice it all around you, a barrier has fallen, an erotic energy goes rampant and everyone is on the same wave of desire and permission. The peak of rule-breaking was to turn on the second member of a couple when she already knew what was going on and was supposed to be mad – until she decided there was something more pleasurable than being mad. A few times, the result had been a delightful triangle—delightful because triangles are notoriously unstable; the transient quality of the moment is written in their skin.

Find out more about Renate and where to pre-order the book click HERE

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