US mail accepts Josephine Baker's bare breasts

10th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

NEW YORK, May 9, 2007 (AFP) - A man who as a child was cared for by 1920s Paris pin-up queen Josephine Baker has claimed a moral victory after forcing the US postal service to accept postcards featuring the bare-breasted "Black Venus."


NEW YORK, May 9, 2007 (AFP) - A man who as a child was cared for by 1920s Paris pin-up queen Josephine Baker has claimed a moral victory after forcing the US postal service to accept postcards featuring the bare-breasted "Black Venus."

The trouble started last year when Jean-Claude Baker, a New York restaurateur who Josephine apparently described as the 13th of her 12 adopted children, decided to mail out 15,000 postcards promoting his business.

The picture he chose dated from 1926 and showed the legendary African-American dancer, singer and cultural icon posing topless in her feather costume from the Folies-Bergeres music hall in Paris.

"I found this very pretty picture, it was very sweet," Jean-Claude told AFP, explaining how before printing the postcards, a friend suggested he clear the watercolor with the US postal service.

"When I went there, the teller said 'This is not at all acceptable. This is pornographic advertising!' The other tellers and people started to gather around. It was humiliating," Jean-Claude said.

Not to be beaten, Baker asked his printers to superimpose a banner stamped with the word "censored" over the offending breasts, but again the post office refused to accept the cards.

"The banner still allowed a bit of the breast to be seen," he said.

He went ahead and posted the cards with a larger "censored" banner, but not before contacting a leading civil liberties organization.

Talks between New York Civil Liberties Union and the US postal service established that the tellers were wrong and the mail carrier eventually agreed to accept the cards.

He is now planning to resend the cards next week in their full, uncensored, original splendor.

"It's just one tear in a river of freedom," he said. "It's the spirit of Josephine, my dear mother. She was a fighter, but she liked freedom."

Jean-Claude was born in France and met Josephine Baker when he was working in a Paris hotel. The US-born dancer and singer, who took Paris by storm in the 1920s and 30s with her exotic displays, later took him under her wing.

Josephine Baker took French citizenship in 1937, fought in the resistance during World War II and formally adopted 12 children of various races, who she described as her "Rainbow Tribe." She died in 1975.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French new

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