Like San Francisco’s Finnochio’s, or the Jewel Box Lounge of Kansas City, Le Carrousel is one of those landmarks in transgender history which are in some ways at least as important as Compton’s Cafeteria or the Stonewall Inn. The club opened as a cabaret in 1926 and from about 1936 onward the club became known for its female impersonators, which actually included a growing percentage of transgender women and gender non-conforming men and women. The club became most famous for its transgender cabaret in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and was the stage and home to many notable transgender persons from history, such as April Ashley, Coccinelle, Sone Teal, Capuchine, Bambi, Kiki Moustic, and scores of others, including some transgender men.
Featured at the link below is a rare original program from Le Carrousel, which I purchased from a seller in Paris. The program is more of a retrospective covering multiple years, and it appears to contain photographs dating from 1959-1965. I have scanned every one of the 36 pages of this program in very high resolution (half a gigabyte in total!). As far as I can tell these images are not still in copyright, and I have placed no watermarks nor altered them in any way. Please download and save these as you see fit, to help preserve our transgender heritage.
See the giant collection of scans from Le Carrousel, Paris at this link.
A new addition to Transas City: the following image of famous transgender actress and political activist Coccinelle is from a photograph I bought from France. I have scanned it in high-resolution for the benefit of the transgender community. Please click on the small-sized photograph below to access the full-sized version. It shows Coccinelle posed in front of the Sacre Coeur in Paris, which stands very near Le Carrousel (where she performed for many years).
Coccinelle (French for “ladybug”) was born in Paris under the name of Jacques Charles Dufresnoy on August 23, 1931. Having known she was transgender since a very early age, she lived as a boy through her teen years, working a few odd jobs here and there and fighting gender dysphoria. She eventually decided to start transition, and made her debut as a transgender showgirl in 1953 at Chez Madame Arthur. She later performed Le Carrousel de Paris, where she worked with an array of crossdressers and transsexual women (including April Ashley).
In 1958 she underwent her sex reassignment surgery in Casablanca, under the care of the famous Dr. Georges Burou. She returned to the stage and to greater fame, and the first transsexual woman to become a “star” in France. She released several albums of songs, and later wrote several autobiographical works focusing on her life on the stage and her transition. Her first marriage was the first transsexual union to be officially acknowledged by the government of France, establishing transgender persons’ legal right to marry.
Coccinelle was a tireless advocate and activist for transgender persons, and even though she could have gone “stealth” due to her classic cisgender female appearance, she refused to hide who she was. She founded a transgender support and advocacy organization named “Devenir Femme” (To Become Woman), and helped establish the Center for Aid, Research, and Information for Transsexuality and Gender Identity. Sadly, this glowing light of transgender triumph was taken from us on October 8, 2006.
The piece of history which I am highlighting is a lengthy interview, with photographs, that Coccinelle gave to Confidential magazine for their September, 1962 issue. I have scanned the entire article and placed it here for the purpose of preserving out history. It’s a good read, so please download it and store it somewhere safe.
Coccinelle “How the Sex-Change Operation was Performed on Me” Confidential (1962): 18.