Apparently big-box realtors are driving out small business owners in Paris, just like everywhere else in the world... but in this case it's "porn megastores" versus "les traditionelles" ("the traditional ones", i.e., the quaint streetwalkers that Parisians apparently adore as part of their historic culture).

I was then writing a book about Paris which, among other things, set out to cover the underground sexuality of the city and, inspired by her call for a return to older Parisian traditions of sexual experience, I went to speak to Ovidie for the first time on a chilly September morning in a café near rue Saint-Denis. ...

Ovidie went on: pornography, she said, was about nothing more than the promise of human happiness. The physical and economic exploitation that are undeniably involved in the sex industry, she said, are wrong only because they are a betrayal of this original, quite innocent trust. The exploitation of women in particular, she said, was a betrayal of the original liberating aims of 18th-century pornography. It was this egalitarian philosophy that Ovidie claimed to recapture in her work. This did not preclude payment: indeed quite the opposite. "I have sex for money," Ovidie said, " and, of course, that demands respect." ...

"The problem is with Paris itself, and probably France itself," she told me. "They are both changing for the worse. Parisians are unhappy and that is expressed in their sexuality. A place like rue Saint-Denis represents everything that has gone wrong - it is not a place to go and have sex happily, as a person or as a couple. It is now just gangsters and girls who are sex slaves from Eastern Europe and Africa. The myths of the orgies to be found there, that you read in Georges Bataille, may not have been entirely true but they did correspond to some form of reality. Now it is practically impossible to have good sex with strangers in Paris."

If Paris was at all representative of Europe a couple centuries ago, it's easy for me to see why so many good people fled to America and our "puritanical" values.

(HT: Marginal Revolution.)



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