On December 19, 2015, we received the bad news of the death on the 19th of that month of what had undoubtedly been the most famous French madame: Madame Claude .
In a future article about it by Madame Claude we will report how Fernande Grudet (for that was the real name of this woman) had become director of a prostitution ring made up of some 500 girls and a few boys, and how she had made famous for providing his services as a pimp to important personalities from the world of politics and business, both foreign and, supposedly, French.
And we say that it is supposed because, in her memoirs, this lady avoided naming any French client. He did name, however, characters such as Giovanni Agnelli (director of Fiat), the Shah of Persia or the so-called fiery and repeatedly adulterous President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy .
In the aforementioned article we commented how, in certain circles of the French establishment , it was said that this intriguing woman used the secrets that her pupils told her about such distinguished clientele to transfer them to the French secret services and, in this way, have their protection.
That protection was what, surely, allowed him to avoid for a long time the harsh penalties that fell on people accused of pimping. That did not prevent Fernande Grudet from having to "go into exile" in the United States after Valéry Giscard d'Estaing became President of the Republic. The conservative politician, having reached power, decided to toughen the persecution of pimping.
Returned to her country, in 1985, what had once been the symbol of luxury prostitution in France was sentenced to four months in prison. The time spent behind bars did not prevent him, once his sentence was served, from restructuring and relaunching his business. That landed her in prison again in 1992.
Finally, Madame Claude died away from the world of prostitution and in very humble conditions, far from all the glamor in which she had once lived.
'Madame Claude', a feminist film
This eventful life was taken to the cinema in a film that was released last year, in 2021. Sylvie Verheyde, born in Paris in 1967 and author of titles such as Stella , Amour de femme or Sex Doll , among others, is the director of Madame Claude , well that's the title of the film.
When talking about her film, the French filmmaker explained that the figure of the famous madame had helped her to evoke things about the feminine condition that the figure of a positive heroine like Marie Curie, for example, would not have allowed her to evoke.
This is how Verheyde explained it in his day in an interview with L'Express , a publication that did not hesitate to describe the film as “a gloomy and feminist analysis of a fight within a macho universe”.
Undoubtedly, not all the spectators made this film the same reading in a feminist key that L'Express did. For many feminists, the figure of the famous French pimp was at all times a morally reprehensible figure.
Among the acts that could serve as testimony to the filmmaker's lack of morality we found this: the famous lady forced many of her pupils to undergo cosmetic surgery so that they would conform to her beauty canon.
Later, once the objective was achieved, he offered them to men in exchange for 30% of what said men paid those girls in exchange for their erotic services.
Claude, who hated the word pimp, rejected all kinds of criticism that could be leveled at her professional activity, alleging that she, more than a seller of sex, was a seller of fantasies.
This film has served since its premiere to put on the table the debate on luxury prostitution , its limits and its alleged immorality.
The Guy Laroche brand has stood out for defending luxury prostitution as an activity that "brought France shine." For this reason (and because it was the house in charge of the costumes for the film directed by Sylvie Verheyde), the house has positioned itself in the debate saying that, when it comes to talking about prostitution, "we must not mix things up".
According to the French brand, Madame Claude's businesses and, therefore, all those that have to do with luxury prostitution, are businesses that start from an initiative: that of those women who "decide to sell their bodies" with absolute freedom.