Callas de cire, Callas de son

The Musée Grévin in Paris opened in 1882. According to Wikipedia, its mirrored mirage room is “based on the principle of a catoptric cistula.” I was heretofore unfamiliar with the structure, which appears in both The Phantom of the Opera and Borges. (Note to self: Must read and watch more closely.)

Maria Callas is one of the wax figures in the Musée Grévin. Bejewelled, she is shown (anachronistically) with the designer Jean-Paul Gaultier as she delightedly applauds a couture sketch. He seems pleased, perhaps a bit embarrassed, by her approbation.

Does Callas stand in for Madonna c. 1989 (Blond Ambition)? (Gaultier as Biki really makes no sense.)

In the early 1970s, Gaultier worked in Paris. In 1976, a year or so before Callas died, he showed his first collection for women. Perhaps their paths crossed.

The time seems ripe to meditate on Serge Gainsbourg’s song “Poupée de cire, poupée de son,” made famous by France Gall. The lyrics teem with puns and doubles entendres. My quick-and-dirty translation offers a small, tendentious selection of them.
I’m a wax doll, a sound doll.
My heart is recorded in my songs.
Wax doll, sound doll,
Am I better, am I worse, than a fashion doll?
I see life through candy-pink glasses.

My records are a mirror
In which everyone can see me.
I’m everywhere at once,
Smashed into a thousand pieces of voice.

Around me, I hear the rag dolls laughing,
Those who dance to my songs…
They surrender to a yes, to a name.
Love isn’t only in songs.

Alone, sometimes I sigh.
I say, “What good is it,
To sing of love without reason,
Knowing nothing of boys?”
I’m nothing but a wax doll, a sound doll,
Beneath the sun of my blonde hair…

But one day, I will live my songs…
Without fear of boys’ heat…

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