Tale of a Pigalle Prostitute

Earlier this week, I was reluctantly engaged in the hideous task of sorting and decluttering  my workspace.  Opening a box with prints, slides and other materials most likely never seen since the 70s, I came upon a curious Kodachrome slide:

No date is stamped or visible on the slide mount.  We can see that this was a European duplicate made from an original slide (probably also Kodachrome).  The only markings are the handwritten words “Pigalle Prostitute”.

I’m racking my brain to try to remember who might have sent me this image.  I can think of only two friends, both photographers — one pro, one amateur, who lived in Paris during the 70s, or 80s, and would have been familiar with its Pigalle district.  Both have responded to my email inquiries and disclaim any knowledge of this thing.  The handwriting, with its distinct mix of upper and lowercase lettering, seems vaguely familiar, but I’m still working on it.  (And I actually have some suspicions …)

In the meantime, I find the image, for all of its technical shortfalls (or maybe not — it’s probably about how I would have deliberately shot it), somewhat interesting.  In an attempt to clean up its considerable dust and scratches, I came up with this perhaps improved version:

Pigalle Prostitute, Variation 1

Then I rephotographed the slide (the three slide images at the opening of this post were simply run through my flatbed scanner at fairly low resolution) to see if I could work with something that would yield a little more detail to help satisfy my curiosity. Here is the latest attempt to pull out a little more detail and color (maybe I can identify the years of the cars, etc.; I don’t expect Google Street View to be of much help):

Pigalle Prostitute, Variation 2

The smaller dark image actually conforms more to my personal “style”, but I find this more colorful version quite interesting, too. And it gives me a tiny claim to some degree of joint authorship!

I’m not sure I’m willing to spend much more time with this, but I may go back to my scanner and try to get something at, say, 4000 dpi. We’ll see. And maybe the original maker of this image will be remembered or otherwise revealed.

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