Standing just over five feet tall in Chanel pumps and Ferragamo shirtwaist dress, hair swept back in a discreet chignon, she looks the proper picture of an ambassador’s gracefully aging wife.

Madame Claude

On first seeing Germaine Grudet, one thinks there must be some mistake. Can this softly rounded blond with aristocratic cheekbones, demure manner, and classically pretty features really be the legendary Madame Claude — Paris-based Pygmalion and mother superior to the world’s costliest call girls?

The Cartier of call girls — that’s how Madame Claude’s establishment was known from the early sixties through the late seventies. In a town already legendary for luxurious courtesans, Claude created a new top of the market, regularly tripling the competition’s prices, and, at $1,000 to $5,000 a shot (1960s prices), nobody complained — certainly not the government. Clever Claude kept la patrie off her back by letting the Foreign Ministry bug her girls’ visits to foreign emissaries. She regularly supplied English lords, international film stars, financiers, Arab potentates, the idly rich — and, some say, high officials in the government of then-President Giscard d’Estaing.

How did a lone woman from the provinces manage an illegal multimillion-dollar international operation? (Prostitution has been illegal in France since 1947.) Part den mother, marketing expert, clothier, psychiatrist, finishing-school teacher, go-between, fixer, guard, sex counselor, logistics expert, and flak-catcher — Claude put in a busy day and night.

Claude’s heyday, a result of her close ties to the Gaul lists, lasted through Pompidou’s term into the middle seventies. But success brought problems when d’Estaing lifted press censorship, and “Claude stories” were no longer just whispered but were also printed — almost weekly. No sooner would Claude change her number and address than some enterprising hack would track her down and print it.

Renoir's Portrait of Madame Claude Monet in side the Calouste Gulbenkian museum in Lisbon in Portugal
This would be the painting by Renoir named Portrait of Madame Claude Monet. Odds seem very good she never actually worked in the 1960s establishment.

The “good people” of France were scandalized. Why was this lofty madam exempt from the law? Already under attack for his own numerous indiscretions, d’Estaing could hardly afford to stand by Claude — but his Foreign Ministry could hardly keep tabs on visiting Arab potentates without her! Many argued that canning Claude would hurt French arms sales to developing countries. Finally, with the press stories and public outcry mounting, Claude was quietly given notice and left the country — but not before selling her business to a woman from Marseilles. The woman was arrested a few years later — and then released, when a deputy foreign minister took on her case tor “special handling.”

“If anything could prove the ministry’s involvement,” joked a Foreign Ministry source, “I think it is that Claude still gets some kind of compensation.” Compensation, perhaps, but not what she really wants — protection from U.S. Immigration. Madams are evidently not thought to possess the “useful skills” required of resident aliens. While a star of the large French colony in Los Angeles, Claude remains a shadowy figure, disappearing whenever Immigration gets too close, turning up again in Haiti or Switzerland, then disappearing and reappearing — always just returned and soon departing.

Writer Blythe Holbrooke tracked her down for this exclusive Penthouse interview in a Santa Monica garden apartment hideaway, Claude’s five pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage stacked at the ready by the door. Holbrooke reports: “Claude’s initial demure appearance is deceiving. But then there is the way she moves, with the practiced sensuality of a geisha. The way she quickly takes your measure — a business-like watchfulness just below the easy humor in her large, deep-set brown eyes. She has an animated and intelligent face, her expressions always ending in the same knowing smile. ‘You can’t fool me; you can’t even hope to startle me,’ her looks seem to say. ‘I’ve seen it all.’

“Claude is tired. Complaining of a bad night’s sleep, she glides out of the room and returns, wearing nothing but a short white terry robe. She stretches, yawns, and curls unselfconsciously into her chair like a cat. ‘Now what,’ Madame purrs, ‘can I tell you?’ ”

The interview was translated by Penthouse editorial assistant Rorie Sherman.

What qualities must one have to be a first-class madam?

Above all, one must not have wanted to be a madam! I, for example, had no ambition to be in this field. I only wanted to make a little money. I was thirty-seven years old and had had many jobs, but I had to settle down and choose something. I hadn’t finished my schooling, because I was deported at eighteen — without a diploma — so my options were limited. So I looked around to see what I might do. I was apt. I realized that there were two things that always worked, that could always be a steady business: restaurants and sex. Since I didn’t cook very well, I thought I might be able to do something with the other.

What had you done before you became a madam?

I did everything a person without a profession does. I sold apartments. I sold Bibles.

You sold Bibles?

Yes. You know, religion is very difficult, very problematic. Each person sees his own god. And in religion, that is the only desirable thing to be — to be God. It was difficult for me to accept religion and God, because I always wanted to be the first, the biggest …

You know, I was raised by nuns in a convent school. It might sound a little bizarre, but I have always tried to apply what I learned at the convent to everything I’ve done. I’ve always employed the convent principles: to be on time, to be well-groomed, to do everything with as much intelligence, discernment, and attentiveness as possible.

How did you find the women for your establishment?

Ah, finding the young ladies — I never say “girls,” because that is a pejorative term — that was very easy. One tells another. Certain sons of my friends sent young ladies they knew to me. The problem was never how to find them. The problem was to turn so many down, to say, “You are just not pretty enough for me.” I had to say this to almost nine out of ten applicants. It was most unpleasant.

What were you looking for in these young ladies?

Three things were necessary — three categories of qualities — and only rarely did I find all three in one lady. First, they had to have the face and body. One without the other would not do. Second, their intelligence and upbringing was most important. And the third was their sexual performance.

How did you evaluate their sexual performance?

The first two categories were obviously easier for me to evaluate. Only a few minutes were necessary. As for the third category — well — I had a certain number of friends who volunteered their services. And voila!

What makes a woman sexy?

Sexiness is very relative. It all depends on the man involved.

“Men who are more intelligent and cultured are perhaps… a bit more perverted… I don’t think the man who wants to make love to two women at the same time is perverted… One day someone called me. He said: ‘I want to fuck a girl who is dead and already cold.’ Now that is perverted.”

But in general, do men like women who are thin, have big breasts, are tall?

Ah! I had men of all types and nationalities, so I also had to have young ladies of every variety. I had Asians, blacks, whites, big ones, small ones, all kinds.

Who were the favorites and why?

I don’t know that there were any favorites! It depended upon the individual man, whom he preferred. However, the easiest to sell were the tall blonds, the Swedes or Germans. I guess I must say that when a woman is small, in order to be thought pretty she must be very, very pretty. This is not so with big blonds. Defects pass more easily on a big girl. Still, I think the best can be a petite brunette. It is just very difficult to find one precisely right. It’s a question of proportion.

What makes a woman good in bed?

That’s what everyone wants to know! The answer? Patience. And intelligence. For a man to be satisfied, he must, above all, feel satisfied with himself. In order for him to be satisfied with himself, it is necessary for the young lady, his partner, to convince him that he is satisfying. She must know how to listen. Then she must say three things to the man: that he is beautiful, that he is intelligent, that he makes love well. She must know how to reassure him. Even if he’s ugly — she can always say something nice. If he’s young, she should compliment him on his virility. If he is old, she should say, “Ah, at last, a man with some experience.” All men think they’re intelligent and want to believe that they are good in bed — they will always believe you if you tell them these things.

But what if he is terrible in bed? What if he is already fifty years old and no one has ever explained to him how to make love properly?

It is not a call girl’s place to correct the technique of the man who visits her. She is not there for that. If she can guide gently, that’s fine, but it is not for her to tell him that he makes love poorly.

What sort of things did your clients want? Did they often want perverse things?

There is much less sexual perversity than people think. Men have a far greater need to be reassured about their sexual performance than they have for kinky sex. The great majority of men are far simpler creatures than we like to admit.

I hadn’t many perverts, because I worked on the principle that my ladies were young, pretty — very pretty — intelligent, elegant … It would be too much to also ask them to do very abnormal things.

Some people say that the more intelligent and successful men have the more complicated sexual desires. Is this true?

I don’t think careers dictate sexual preferences. There are certainly plenty of perverted construction workers! But I would say that men who are more intelligent and cultured are perhaps more sophisticated and decadent — and so, perhaps, a bit more perverted. But men and women all have sexual desires that have evolved to different degrees.

What do you consider “perversions”?

There is a difference between “sexual fantasies” — which covers many, many things — and “perversions.” Perversion is, I think, to find sexual pleasure where others find ugliness or suffering. But the rest? I don’t think that the man who wants to make love to two women at the same time is perverted. I don’t think that the man who needs to be slapped or struck or bound in order to come is perverted. It’s just an idea from his childhood; he wants to imagine that he’s still a little boy with his nurse. It does no harm to the girl or to him. Any violence is in his head. It’s just fantasy. And you know, if you take the fantasy out of sex, there isn’t much left!

One day a real pervert did call, however. I asked what he wanted, and he kept saying it was “very special.” “Yes, but what is it?” I kept asking. “Very special,” he kept saying. This went on for half an hour. Finally I said he must tell me or I would hang up. So he said: “I’m looking for something I haven’t yet had, but it’s the one thing I want most in the world. I want to fuck a girl who is dead and already cold.” Now, that is perverted and dangerous! That man will be a murderer one day! A madman.

But as I say, most men are not at all perverted.

Are there any generalizations you could make about the type of sex that your rich and powerful clients desired?

Well, it was always amusing to me that the people who were best-situated — the richest and the most important people of all — were often the ones who wanted to be sexually dominated. Perhaps this was their way of liberating themselves of all their power and force, of escaping from themselves for a moment. I was astonished, though, to see such strong, important, celebrated men behave like little boys with my young ladies. They would want to be spanked, be put to bed, be held, be laid upon a table like a baby. They wanted, I guess, to experience their infancy again. Perhaps it was a means of compensation for their adult lives.

And then, on the other hand, men who held lower-level positions in life — clerks, for example — liked to be dominant sexually. This was their means, perhaps, of avenging themselves for the mediocrity of their lives.

But most men were simply insecure?

Absolutely. In my opinion the most insecure men in the world are Americans. That’s why so many American men prefer the psychiatrist’s couch to the call girl’s bed.

Why do you think this is so?

It’s largely the fault of the American woman. Not the individual woman but her American heritage. You are a young people. Not so very long ago, on the American frontier, there were far too many men for the number of women. The women, therefore, dispensed their favors — in marriage or otherwise — parsimoniously. They were rare, and they took advantage of that. That was normal. But I think this contributed to the castration of many American men. Now there are far more women than men, but the American man’s mentality has not altered. They lack, above all, simplicity in sexual matters. They’re searchers. American men — and women — search for something in sex that isn’t there. You see, sex is like a little Spanish inn. You find there only what you have brought with you. That’s all. But Americans search and search outside of themselves. They think the Europeans have the secret. But there is no secret! We Europeans are just like you Americans except that we know that there’s nothing more to be found in sex other than what we bring to it. That’s all. When Americans finally accept this, they won’t need psychiatrists or therapists any longer!

“American Men — and women — search for something in sex, something that isn’t there… The most insecure men in the world are Americans. That’s why so many prefer the psychiatrist’s couch to the call girl’s bed…”

What does it mean to have “simplicity in sexual matters”?

To know that sex is natural, essential, a simple need like food, like the need to sleep, like the need for water. That’s all. In Europe, when we sit around and talk about sex, we laugh, generally. It’s a bit of a joke. But not in America! Americans talk about sex very, very seriously. About fears and problems. Are they good in bed? Gifted? A little or very much? Are they doing something wrong? Can they learn how to do it better? Is there a technique they don’t know? Americans are obsessed with technique. This is why they use drugs in connection with sex: they think that drugs might make it better, might bring them to that peak experience they’re always searching for.

Europeans do not think like this at all. They know that it is all very simple. Some people are more sensual or less sensual than others; sex is a greater joy for some than for others. But it is not to be taken so seriously! Perhaps Europeans have fewer sexual problems because they take them less seriously.

Do you find American men sexy, generally speaking?

No. And I think it’s too bad, because American men are often very handsome — often much more handsome than Europeans. But they don’t seem to know it. In Europe the minute a guy is even slightly better-looking than his fellows, he knows it. But here — nothing. Handsome, but not sexy. It’s a cold beauty Americans have.

Does this include American women?

Very definitely. Take, for example, California women. They are so beautiful. Wonderfully beautiful: tall, blond, great teeth, long legs, beautiful hair. Superb! I love to look at them because I love beautiful things. But! You see one, you’ve seen them all. A European woman with half the beauty would be ten times more sexy. I would say that European women are much less beautiful than American women, but they have something special and uniquely warm and sexy. In Europe a woman walks down the street, and all the men turn and look and whistle! In America they never look! I think American men are afraid … of many things.

Of women, do you think?

Yes. Look at the professional American woman: she has one eye on her man and the other on her watch. The professional woman will rush to meet you, park her car in the street for half an hour, visit for twenty-three minutes, and then dash back to her car. That doesn’t happen in Europe. I think that American women are harder than European women. American men are conditioned to be afraid of them. And, of course, this fear troubles them, and that leaves them awkward.

In what way is the American woman hard?

Not physically. American women are so soft, so well cared for on the surface. In all the world, they are the ones with the wonderfully cared-for hands, the beautiful hair. But it seems that once they “do” the outside — once they look pretty — they’re finished. That is not right, not the way it should be. They are emotionally cold, these American women.

In Europe, for example, very few women go after alimony after a divorce. But in America women become savage when they divorce. Now, that is not being a woman. You may say that’s an example of a woman being equal with a man, but I say it’s an example of a woman being a man’s enemy! To be a woman is to give. But American women often seem to marry with the purpose of taking as much as they can and giving the least amount they can get away with. If American women were more feminine, there would be fewer divorces.

When a European woman marries an American man, it lasts, because she asks for less; she sees her man as he wants to be seen: as her provider, her protector, her leader. Men always want to be admired — and why not? The other day I saw an Italian woman friend who is married to an American. He is handsome but not very smart, but she sees him the way he wants to be seen. She tells him that he is handsome, strong, and smart — and he believes her! But an American wife would have run him down, told him he was stupid. You never hear American women praising their men. They’re always saying, “The neighbor next door makes more money than you! Why can’t you do better?” American men give themselves heart attacks trying to satisfy their wives, who are just never satisfied. But European women — it’s not that they don’t love jewels and money, but they admire their men more. Americans lack a bit of human warmth. That’s it.

How old were your young ladies?

I never took them before they were eighteen and never after they were thirty. At thirty they were already grandmothers. Let me explain that it’s not just a question of age. At eighteen or nineteen a girl is malleable. One can teach her what she must do and how she must behave. Someone who is thirty can no longer be instructed. A woman of that age has her own habits, her own manner, her own way of seeing life, of reacting to events and people. So, while I had some who came to me at eighteen and stayed twenty years or even longer, I never took them any older.

Even if she was extraordinary?

No. She wouldn’t be able to integrate. Impossible. There is a certain style of being a young lady of Claude. For example, one day a friend called me from the Hotel Henry Vin Paris and asked if I didn’t have a girl there at that moment. I looked in my book and, sure enough, there was one. “Yes, a large brunette,” I told him and asked, “How did you know?” He said, “I just saw this extremely pretty brunette in the elevator and she had that certain style Claude. I just knew.”

What is this style?

It’s very difficult to describe. It is a certain manner. It is a way of walking, a way of speaking, of gesturing. These things cannot even be taught — they are in-born. One day a journalist said, “When you meet one of Claude’s girls in the elevator at the Ritz, she smells of toothpaste and lowers her eyes.” That explains it a bit. My girls were elegant, refined, well-groomed. They would never look a man in the eyes — it’s true — for they had no need to. Voita! “Style Claude.”

A Frenchman once told me that no woman is worth anything in bed until she is thirty. You disagree?

I think he says that because, normally, women are married at twenty and only begin to cheat on their husbands at twenty-seven, twenty-eight. By thirty they finally have enough experience to be worth something. Whereas my ladies had two, three men each day. They were experienced at the age of twenty.

“Bisexuality is very much in vogue now. There has been a big discovery of everyone’s bisexual nature… If you’re happy with someone of your own sex or of the opposite sex, that’s all. Happiness is all… The need and demand for sex remains constant, sex is one of the few things that can survive any recession.”

What do you think of prostitution as an institution?

Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. It will always exist. Of course, there are many different types of prostitution. There’s the prostitution in certain, specialized houses where women see forty or fifty men in one day. There’s the prostitution that takes place on the streets, and there’s the type that exists in the bars. There are “call girls deluxe,” like mine. And then there are the women who practice the most horrible prostitution of all, the kind that lasts a lifetime — marriage!

Isn’t prostitution illegal in France?

In essence, it is legal without being legal. It is tolerated. The government closes its eyes to it, as do the police. Prostitution itself is not forbidden in France. It is illegal to live on the earnings made by prostitutes.

Isn’t that what you did?

No, that wasn’t what I did. I wasn’t a pimp. I was an organization — a service. I set schedules, set rendezvous, gave people work. I was like an employment agency. I was exactly like a modeling agency. Someone is looking for, say, a tall blond or an ingenue, and I provide it and take a commission.

One of the conclusions of The Hite Report on Male Sexuality was that men preferred oral sex over any other kind of sexual encounter. Have you found that men prefer oral sex?

I think The Hite Report must have interviewed men in California, where there is the greatest number of gay men! There are more and more gays in the world, and California is the worst. If most men desire oral sex, it is because there are more and more gay men.

Were your girls often asked for oral sex?

No! It was a very easy thing for her to do; so she might suggest it. But I believe that the men who came to see my girls were of a certain milieu and wanted more than that. These men often tended to know one another. And what they very often wanted, above all, was to prove themselves — and prove themselves to the girl.

I remember one very funny experience I had. The ambassador of a Latin American country came to me after the first time with one of my ladies and asked me such a funny question. He asked me if the lady was satisfied! At first I thought he meant with the amount of money or the arrangements, which were very generous. But I finally realized that he was afraid she wasn’t happy with his sexual performance! The men always wanted to know that they were champions — “good lays.” There was a fraternity of beautiful bans coups. For instance, everybody knew that Guy de Rothschild, Jimmy Goldschmidt, Gianni Agnelli, etc., were bons coups. Very often men would tell me, “You know, I could easily become a member of your bons coups because I am truly extraordinary!” It was all very funny. And I must say, there were very few in the club! There are too few, too few in the world!

Why do men seek out prostitutes in the first place?

Relations between the call girl and the client are infinitely more simple than those between a man and wife. It’s freer with a call girl. First off, she’s pretty disposed to do what he wants — even to take the initiative — more so than another woman might be. When their liaison is over, she leaves with a smile — he doesn’t have to worry about the morning after or whether he need call her the next day. These are simple relations. They can be soft and tender, but they don’t concern the future and don’t bring complications. Just infinitely simpler than most relationships between men and women.

Why do married men seek out call girls?

I believe that a married man cheats on his wife … well … because one cannot eat chicken for every meal. After a certain amount of time with the same person, sex loses something. Besides, men are polygamous. Men are born polygamous; it’s only religion that makes them monogamous. It is uniquely an invention of religion. In the beginning men were polygamous, and everyone thought that was fine.

Are women polygamous?

Yes, I think so.

What do you think of male prostitution?

I do not believe in male prostitution. The obstacle is basically psychological. In France we have an expression, not very elegant but quite apt: “It’s a lot easier to open your mouth than extend your arm.” A man can’t perform if he has doubts. A woman can always fake it. Male prostitution just wouldn’t work.

But as you know, there is an upswing in male prostitution.

Well, yes. But then there are two types of male prostitutes: homosexual and heterosexual. In California, where there are many gay men, there are a lot of male prostitutes for men. In Europe there are more of what we call “gigolos” — men who are young and handsome who sleep with women who are a bit older, a little richer. But it is much less common than female prostitution.

Now that there are women executives, do you think that they, like high-powered male executives, will have the same needs for companionship when they travel? Will there be a growing need for gigolos?

No. It’s just not a common thing.


It is technically so much more difficult. And then there are the psychological reasons. Women are so much more sentimental. The reactions of men and women, you see, are just not the same. A man, even when he is paying for the services of a lady, will still be nice, be romantic; he will still seduce the young lady. But if a woman pays for a man for a night, she will not seduce him. In her mind she still wants him to be romantic and seductive. Women are not seductresses. Women are too smart, too realistic for that. A woman is well aware that if a young man is with her, it is because he has paid to spend the night with her. That’s all. Women’s heads are more squarely set on their shoulders than men’s.

Did lesbian women come to your call girls?

There were some, yes. Why not? But in general, I think that the most interesting thing for gays of either sex is the hunt. They like the search. The game is important. There are, of course, many straight men who also prefer “the chase” part of sex with women. But I think that those who seek sex with the same sex are always looking a little to find their double, to find themselves.

Many people think that prostitutes are often lesbians, perhaps because of their disillusioning experience with men. Is this true?

“Women have dominated men throughout the centuries. Now liberationist want to become men’s equals. How silly!… In Europe very few women go after alimony after a divorce. But in America women become savage when they divorce… it’s not that European women don’t love jewels and money, but they admire their men more.”

No, no, I don’t think so. There is no greater percentage of lesbians among prostitutes than among other women. Women do not become prostitutes because they detest men. No, that’s not true.

Is it true that men who are uncertain about their sexuality will visit a call girl to test their male identity?

Yes, certainly. I must say that these types were always extremely nice to the girls. They would come as if to a psychiatrist. They would explain their situation. Frequently, they would be gay but not know that they were gay. They didn’t know exactly what they wanted; they didn’t know exactly who they were. But they could speak more freely with prostitutes. They would come and they would say, “My God. I’ve got such a problem. I’m much more attracted to a handsome man than to a beautiful woman. Often, when I’m with a girl, I can’t get it up, but when I see a good-looking guy … ” Sometimes it would turn out that, after listening to a man for a long time, my girl would say, “Look, you’re gay.” And that could simplify the guy’s life immensely. These men couldn’t tell their feelings to their mother or priest. The girls would be the ones to help them get in touch with their true sexual feelings.

The girls didn’t try to convert these men to heterosexuality?

Why try to seduce someone away from his real desires? There’s nothing wrong with being gay. One is simply that way. This is much more accepted these days. Years ago gay men felt they had to marry, and then they made their wives miserable!

What do you think of bisexuality?

It’s very much in vogue now. For the past few years, there has been a big discovery of the bisexual nature of everyone, men and women. But I must say that women have been much more willing to accept this. Many women can have a few homosexual relationships without becoming lesbians. It’s no big deal to them. It doesn’t lead to a radical change in their sexual orientation.

I think many men and women are actively bisexual now. It’s almost a political decision; it’s far more of a conscious thing. And often I’ve heard a woman say, “If my husband cheated with another woman, I would be upset, but with a guy — that doesn’t bother me.” That’s quite bizarre, isn’t it? But I can see that it’s true. We tend to be less upset about it.


The sexes are so mixed up now. Often on the street you see someone up ahead with long hair, wearing pants — you don’t know what it is! The styles — and the whole lifestyle right now — are fairly bisexual. One doesn’t know quite what one is. One has to experience everything. The young try everything — in drugs, sex — and why not? Nothing is set. If you’re happy with someone of your own sex or of the opposite sex, that’s all. Happiness is all.

Did your ladies fake their orgasms?

My ladies were exactly like other women. When they were with a sexy, agreeable partner, they would react as any other woman would. But they weren’t orgasm machines. You know that when a woman married for five or fifteen years makes love with her husband, she doesn’t have delirious orgasms each time. She must therefore be content to give him “a little theater.” It’s the same with my girls.

What makes for “good theater”?

That which most closely resembles reality.

Wild moans and groans?

The simpler, the more real.

Do you think men know when women are faking orgasms?

They never know. Oh, they know that women sometimes fake it. But they think that “It’s with all the others except me.”

How do you explain the sexual difference between men and women?

Just being with a man, in his arms, brings a certain happiness to a woman. She feels good and is content. She is happy with the pleasure that she can give him. If she didn’t have an orgasm, it is not really very important. However, for a man, the same situation is completely different. Each time he makes love, it’s a big chance. If just once, by chance, nature doesn’t comply, all sorts of worries beset him. He fears he has become completely impotent! That he will be impotent for life! A tragedy! This is the most important sexual difference between men and women. This is why the two sexes will never really understand one another. They simply don’t have the same needs or possibilities.

For women, reaching orgasm is not a big thing?

“A man can’t preform if he has doubts. A woman can always fake it. Male prostitution just won’t work… Some women practice the most horrible prostitution of all, the kind that lasts a lifetime — marriage!… One can have love. One can have sex. One can have love and sex. But these are completely different experiences.”

A woman may have a one-night or one-weekend adventure with a man and have many great wonderful orgasms but leave the encounter with a feeling of … disgust. On the other hand, she may spend her time with a man who wants to send her into raptures but can’t, but for whom she has a special tenderness. He may be the one man she remembers.

And what of love and sex?

Ha! They are certainly not the same. Don’t confuse them! One can have love. One can have sex. One can have love and sex. But these three things are completely different experiences.

And when one has love with sex?

That is paradise! And it is also the beginning of hell. Because at that moment, one begins to fear losing paradise!

Tell us about the differences between men of different nationalities.

You want me to say that Italians are this way and Englishmen are another? No. Me, I say that men are men. Of course, there are types. We spoke earlier about American men, who are a little neurotic about sex. There are also some absolutely marvelous American lovers.

The English are supposed to be the worst.

The English have that reputation, along with their umbrellas and their monocles. It’s not true. Not all Englishmen have monocles or carry umbrellas, and they are not all undersexed! When they’re good, they’re good. Italians are warm lovers. They are expressive both with their hands and with words. Even if they can only fuck badly for five minutes, they’ll make up for the failure afterwards. American men, though, while technically good, often lack the warmth and savoir faire of the Italians. Americans just stop after coming. The Germans — they are very conscientious in love. When I would explain to a German girl how she must make love, I could be certain that she would do exactly what I had told her. They are very good that way, the Germans.

How would your service work, typically?

A foreign businessman — from New York, perhaps — arrives in Paris. He is alone for the entire evening before he must attend to his business the next day. He has called me in advance from New York and said, “I’m arriving at ten o’clock.” So I arrange for my young lady to meet him at the airport. I will have arranged for the best table at his favorite restaurant in Paris and then for their entrance into Regine’s or whatever club he desires. Then he has a young lady who will spend the night with him. It’s perfect. For him it is so simple. The next day she will accompany him to the airport. Perhaps she will accompany him on to Berlin or to London for a few days or a week. He takes care of business, and he has a good time.

Sometimes men would take my young ladies on trips around the world that lasted several months! Especially for special occasions: music festivals, carnivals, Mardi Gras. Also on many trips on yachts. Then I would take care of tickets, reservations, tables at restaurants, seats at the theater.

You must have had clout with maitre d’s and club managers.

Oh, yes, I was well known, so it was easy. I would call a restaurant and ask for a table. “No, I’m sorry, we’re all booked,” they’d say. “This is Mme. Claude,” I’d say. “Ah, yes, the best table for you!” would be the answer. Private clubs would welcome my client by name, where usually he couldn’t get in without a membership. So you see, I was a real agency, not just a madame. And this was all very important to my clients. I made the life of the traveling businessman very much more pleasant and simple.

Is there a service like this in Paris now?

No. This type of service exists, but there is no service of the same quality as mine.

How did men contact you for the services of your women?

They had to know a friend of mine

How many women were in your establishment?

About thirty.

How many clients did you have?

No one has ever asked me that before. It’s difficult to say. But I can say that they were from a certain level of society, a very high level of society.

Giscard d’Estaing, for example?

No names! No names! Let’s just say that he and I have met.

Did business take place in the grand hotels?

When a man telephoned me, I sent a young lady wherever he requested. Or he might visit her apartment. All the young ladies had their own apartments. Many men would travel with their companions — to America, to Australia, everywhere.

How were your girls paid?

The men would pay them, and then I would take my percentage.

What prices did these ladies bring?

I built a reputation for great quality. I had quality because I was expensive.

What is “expensive”?

I don’t know what the equivalent prices would be today, what with inflation and exchange rates. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the business. But if you insist — whatever the others were charging, I charged three times that fee.

When you received a call, how would you decide which girl to send?

I spoke with the client and found out exactly what he wanted. Then I would send only someone who matched his request exactly.

Did you ever send the wrong girl?

That happened, of course. But only rarely. And even in such a case, the situation was not as awkward as you might think. They can always find an excuse.

How many hours would they spend together?

Generally, in the afternoon it was two hours. The length of time in the evening was determined by the man and the young lady. Sometimes they would spend weekends and vacations together — a month or many months. It happened. There were also those who stayed together an entire lifetime.

They married?

Yes. There were many marriages. And I must say that they generally have very good marriages, as they’ve already learned to understand men; they’ve learned the patience, gentleness, and intelligence necessary for a good wife. In a royal wedding party I spotted one of the prettiest of my young ladies. Some of my young ladies have married very famous gentlemen. I often see certain of my girls in the magazines: they’re photographed someplace exciting with very famous people. That’s always pleasant to see.

I was in a restaurant once when I saw a very pretty blond who I thought was an American actress. Then, suddenly, I realized she was one of my girls, who had married a Swiss producer. I just sat quietly as she was leaving. But she spotted me and hugged me and kissed me. Later she called me and said that her husband had remarked, “When you saw Claude, your face lit up like you were seeing an angel.”

Many people say Jerri Hall was with you, Madame Claude.

But who is Jerri Hall?

She is a model, the girlfriend of Mick Jagger.

No, she wasn’t with me. But I take the rumor as a compliment. I hope she does, too.

What do you think of the women’s liberation movement?

I don’t think men and women can ever truly understand one another. We don’t have the same ideas, the same sexual needs, or the same way of interpreting things. A man has his career, his sports, his friends. Women … they have another life … with children and the home … it’s totally different. Certainly they can live together, but …

But female liberation is just foolishness, because women are much more intelligent than men; they have dominated men throughout the centuries. Now liberationists want to become men’s equals. How silly!

What impact has the women’s liberation movement had on the call girl business?

A great impact! There is much more competition, as a result, for the call girls today. Now all girls take the Pill, and that has greatly changed their approach to sex. For the girls of my generation, there was always the fear of pregnancy. They met a man whom they liked, but they waited before they went to bed. Now a couple meet, a couple makes love. Just like that. No risk. It’s made women a bit more like men, given them the same kind of freedom men have always enjoyed.

What happens to the call girl business during a recession?

The need and demand for sex remains constant. Sex is one of the few things that can survive any recession.

What about a change in the political climate?

My kind of business is very difficult in Eastern countries, where the politics are usually to the left. The leftist men want to be purer than others. They aren’t, of course; they are only more hypocritical.

How long has it been since you left France?

I left in 1977 because I was having tax problems.

And what do you do now?

Now I do nothing. I travel a little. And think about what I might do next. Here in the United States I have listened to the problems of many women. American women, I think, have the same problems as other women, in addition to their particularly American problems. Three-quarters of them don’t know how to be attractive. I believe I could do for them what I was able to do for my young ladies, that is, make prettier those who are not pretty, make extraordinarily pretty those who are already pretty enough. I believe one can do this for any woman. I like to create beauty. That was the reason for my success. I would like to help women: teach them how to dress, how to act, what to do. Tutor them in how to enter grand hotels, restaurants, airports. Teach them the details of how one acts when one is well-born. Help them improve their sexual performance. I would like to run a school which would do what I did with my young ladies. Not train them to be prostitutes, but make them beautiful creatures of dreams.

The much more American Policing efforst are evidenced in an earlier Penthouse Magazine feature called “Class Time For Johns” within these very pages. If, however, you find yourself fascinated by this story and would simply love to see a screen adaptation, well, Netflix has an entire “Madame Claude” movie available to watch. Granted, you need to have a Netflix subscription to watch it, but that would still a lot cheaper than it would have been to go there — even in 1960s dollars.

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