L’Ange Lapine is an anagram and alter-ego of Anne Pigalle: singer, poet and underground legend. Anne has been singing and gigging since the eighties and has worked with such luminaries as Michael Nyman and Trevor Horn. From Tokyo and L.A to London and of course, Paris she has enchanted audiences with her “naughty” poetry and chansons. Claire Storrow prepared to be seduced.
As I arrive for the show at the Whitechapel Gallery (the show is part of their LATES season) I’m slightly unsettled and not sure what I’m in for. The room is already full and Anne ushers in stragglers as though inviting them into her home.
She has recently won an Erotic Award at the annual Erotic Oscars and she seems bemused by it, “Why zey are called Erotic Awards I am not sure, I saw nossing erotic about it, I don’t know even if zey know what sexy isz, but nevermind,” she purrs.
And so to her first question, “What is it… Eroticisme?”
This is a question to the audience but nobody seems to want to elucidate.
Titters (ahem) into wine glasses are all that can be proffered in response.
Eventually a few brave punters offer up their ideas: “whatever gets your juices flowing,” is one of the simpler definitions, something convoluted about a moment in time where thoughts and emotions are suspended is another of the more analytical.
“Do I have to do all the work?” Anne sighs, school ma’amish cane in hand.
I think perhaps what she is angling for is a more personal perspective on what turns people on. As the room is packed and rather warm, I feel someone’s breath against my shoulder and the frisson it sends down my spine almost induces me to contribute my thoughts but alas shyness overcomes me.
Anne attempts to open up the discussion by talking about Georges Bataille and explains that for her, eroticism is about the voice, “always the voice” she reiterates.
This is fitting as her vocal sound is why so many of us have come to see her, “that is what I’m famous for,” she acknowledges.
Anne reads some of her poetry — one poem, which is written as a prayer to “Saint Orgasme” particularly tickles the crowd.
But it is her singing that really enchants.
In the great tradition of French salon singers she has that beautiful cracked quality to her voice which speaks of experience, and the single accordion complements her perfectly.
Anne sings mainly in French but her English songs are equally emotive, and she brings her own charms to songs by Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf.
Unfortunately the audience is only just warming up as L’Ange Lapine is winding down for the night.
However she will be back for Spirit of Ecstasy her new cabaret club at Café Royal’s Grill Room on 20th June. Perhaps then we will have a clearer idea of what eroticism is.
Café Royal, 68, Regent Street, W1B 5EL