Boris Vian is still alive… as his apartment behind the Moulin Rouge. The vinyl collection is still there, such as its bric-à-brac of do-it-yourselfer. The small apartment of the writer jazzman, remained intact behind the Moulin Rouge in Paris, has been open to the press on Thursday to announce the festivities of the centenary of his birth in 2020.
“The neighbor is Jacques Prévert, the owner is the Moulin Rouge”, described Nicole Bertolt, director of the heritage and representative for the work of Boris Vian. Moved to tears, it has thirty square meters, to the floor of the 6 bis, cité Véron, where the author of I will go spit on your graves and The Hard-heart lived from 1953 to 1959, the year of his death. For two days only, a special tour of the premises will be permitted, she announced, unveiling the events of 2020, gathered under the slogan “Vian, still alive”. For the general public, and only on request by mail or on the Internet at Nicole Bertolt – many applications, few are chosen, it will have to wait for Saturday 16 and 23 November for a discovery commented.
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An output on the back of the Theater Open, 4 bis, Cité Véron, allows access to a narrow staircase. Past the front door, the emotion and hugged the visitor. The large office where he worked is surrounded by shelves made by his hands. Because it does not roll on gold and the place is empty when he moved in with his second wife Ursula in these old lodges of the Moulin Rouge. The walls are now always hidden by hundreds of books, dictionaries, surrealist paintings and instruments, like this piano bastringue, or the guitar-lyre.
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The “Hardware” Boris
Towards the “hardware”. It is a small room that contains hammers, nails and other artifacts recovered right-to-left: pieces of bike chains, caps, boxes, scrap metal hanging here and there. We did not remain there long, it is necessary to quickly go out and close the door “to the smell of the original remains” as is Nicole Bertolt. To take the air, in the direction of the terrace. The view is exceptional. To the right, the apartment of Jacques Prévert, whose shutters are closed, prohibiting any glance curious inside – and on the left, the dome of the dome of the Theatre is Open (the interior of which is made of bowls reversed, and gold-gilded). And in front of the Moulin Rouge, “viewed from the back, as you never see him”.
Back inside, in the living room. We stop in front of the 78 laps. The jazz dominates with series of Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, and other Louis Armstrong. But eyeing a bit to the side, it is a disk of Fernand Raynaud that appears.
the chessboard of the passion
The ceiling, a chessboard upside down, placed there by Nicole Bertolt, because the writer-musician-director loved to play there. Objects attract the eye. As these two small metal figurines magnet, a little boy and a little girl. They represent Colin and Chloe, characters in the Foam of The days and are on the cover of the paperback edition. “Boris has never set foot in the United States, it is Ursula, who was a dancer, who had him brought back from there.”
The library is topped with a chessboard in the apartment of Boris Vian behind the Moulin Rouge CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP
A table with small boxes of metal glued on top, openings on to the visitor, engages. “He was sick of heart since his teens, he was taking pills constantly for it, he stuck to the wall”, we tell you.
“He had said to my father, in 1954, that he would not live beyond 40 years”, recently told Françoise Canetti, whose father producer, Jacques Canetti, pushed Vian to sing on stage. He died in 1959, of a heart attack at 39 years old. Where a boundless creativity, whose apartment bears witness to that. It stops in front of a ship model born of the imagination, but the visit is limited in time, other people are waiting in excitement at the foot of the stairs. But, we have to leave.
● Boris Vian, his lair behind the Moulin Rouge, part 1
● Boris Vian, his lair behind the Moulin Rouge, 2nd part