Date of Interview: March 30, 1929 (2013)
Interviewer: Zoe Foodiboo
Interviewee(s): Patrice Cournoyer
Location: Home of Fraulein Patrice Cournoyer, Steinpforte 1f, 1920s Berlin Project (owned and managed by Frau Jo Yardley), Second Life.
Abstract: Fraulein Patrice Cournoyer, a tenant of Berlin since August 12 1926, is a lawyer and a prostitute. During her leisure time, she enjoys football, nacktcultur, and other outdoor activities. In this interview, Fraulein Cournoyer talks about her childhood and her eventual move to Berlin, the Webb and Gelawarden trials, and life at the gentleman’s club by the Spree. She also reminisces a little about Old Berlin. Other tenants mentioned in this interview include: Crispin Sturges, Pierre Webb, Bubbles Roxan, Mab Ashdene, Zeno McAuley, Morganic Clarrington, Cordelia Bellinghausen, Mo Galewarden, Ceinwin Roberts, Pola Solo, and Frau Jo Yardley.
Zoe Foodiboo: Shall we start at the beginning then….
Patrice Cournoyer: Well my childhood…what I remember from age 3 or 4 seemed quite normal, except that it was a "mixed marriage". My father Pierre was a lapsed Catholic, but working in the scrap metal trade, he knew a lot of Jews, and that is how he met my mother. She was rebellious – a Zionist and a socialist – not very religious though.
Zoe opens to a fresh page in her steno and begins scribbling quickly.
PC: But we had good relations with her family, and I went to Seder. I did not get much other religious instruction, except at school. It was a Anglophone private school, and therefore Anglican religious basically. It sounds a bit mixed up, but it was not uncommon for Montreal.
ZF: What sort of things did you learn?
PC: Well, English and French of course, some history, home economics.. and biology which I liked a lot. I became interested in plants and nature. In the summers my mother and I would go to a small cabin in the Laurentians, north of Montreal and spend it there. My father would work and come up to visit us on the weekends.
ZF: Sounds lovely!
PC: It was a fun time and I could spend as much time as I wanted roaming in the woods.
ZF: How old were you at this point?
PC: This was from when I was 7 or so.. sadly I never had any siblings. My mother had two miscarriages and then I think she stopped trying. And I suspect that my father had affairs.. although I have no proof. They were always friendly to each other.
Zoe nods thoughtfully, “The Great War began not long after…”
PC: Yes, so I became involved in all kinds of things and learned first aid. I was thinking of a medical career.. but the cost of University was high… so I joined the Victorian Order of Nurses, thinking I would be sent to Europe.. but the war ended.
PC: However a lucky chance happened, I met someone who needed translating done. I must have done a good job, because he offered me a job with the Canadian mission to the Versailles Treaty. Technically it was part of the British Empire, but the Canadians were starting to be independent.
ZF: Oh my, how exciting! This led you to Europe?
PC: Yes, so in 1919 I ended up in Paris. I took a steamship from Montreal and then a train from Le Havre to Paris – a very exciting time! Lots of young officers, and diplomats…and some not so young!
ZF: I’m sure! You must have met so many new people, new experiences…
PC: Yes.. I was lucky enough to meet some other Canadians who were there, not just for Versailles. A writer named Morley Callaghan who knew Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald
PC: Gradually my work for the Treaty mission wound up – about 1921 – but I did not want to return to Montreal…and Paris was still fairly cheap. So I lived a bohemian life, earning a little bit translating…working at bookshops and modelling for artists.
Zoe smiles and nods, “How did you eventually end up in Berlin?”
PC: Well…by 1926, Paris started to become more expensive and I heard that Berlin was cheaper. I was curious about German science too, and the Weimar Constitution, and women’s rights.
PC: and also.. I had a lover, who was a German. and she told me of the Berlin nightlife. It sounded exciting! But what intervened was when I went to get a visa from the German embassy. I picked up a pamphlet on education which showed that it was very cheap. So first I went to Leipzig and spent a year as an undergraduate, learning German, and some law. Then worked for a lawyer for another year…
Zoe flips a page and continues to scribble
PC: …but he was not a very nice man. So I packed my suitcase and headed to Berlin. I was very lucky because I found this apartment the first day I arrived. It’s big, and quite cheap, and a wonderful location except for the chatter and radio from Der Keller.
ZF: You have a lovely home!
Zoe looks at her notes, "So….you practice law here in Berlin?"
PC: Yes, I do. I have defended a few cases. Pierre Webb for one.
ZF: A yes, the Webb Trial…tell me about that….
PC: Well Pierre was quite a rascal.. very well known to the Polizei.. and not loved by Frau Jo. He had a very shady brother, who had a fancy apartment on Unter den Linden – the one that Herr Sturges [Crispin Sturges] now rents in fact.
Zoe makes a note for her records.
PC: But the police charged him for attempted murder.. for a simple car accident. I was able to get that reduced to a jail term and a fine.
ZF: A car accident? That young man was driving a car?
PC: Yes. He had built it himself from a wreck – he was quite skilled.
ZF: Who else was involved in the accident?
PC: Hmm.. well I know there were a few witnesses. Bubbles [Roxan] was one…Mab [Ashdene], I should say, and Zeno [McAuley] as well. They had a photo which I did not know about.
Zoe nods and lists the names in her notebook. “Do you remember who the prosecuting attorney was?”
PC: Herr Clarrington [Morganic Clarrington]. His first time in court.
ZF: Herr Clarrington – the baker?
PC: I must correct myself, Webb was bound over to me.. he did not go to jail. And yes, the same.
ZF: Ah yes, actually, he mentioned it in his interview…
PC: I think his baking has been more successful.
Zoe stifles a giggle. “What was Pierre like as a witness?”
PC: Actually he behaved himself and we even got him washed for the trial.
ZF: and the verdict?
PC: He was told never to drive again, except for bicycle. And was bound over to me to supervise him. I got him admitted to a Radio course…and he seems to enjoy that.
ZF: Now, not long after the automobile incident, he also performed a good deed, didn’t he?
PC: Yes, he did.
Zoe searches for a newspaper clipping in her notes.
PC: He dived into the Spree to rescue the organ grinder.
ZF: Fraulein Bellinghausen [Cordelia Bellinghausen]?
PC: Thats right. And we were able to resuscitate her. There was a hue and cry near the Church that Fraulein Bellinghausen was in the river. Pierre dived in immediately. Father Cuthbert [Cuthbert Helendale] was there, but he cannot swim.
ZF: How did he get her out?
PC: Of course this was not really relevant to the court case…oh, he was able to stand on her cart and push her to the surface. Then we threw him a rope, he tied that to the cart and we hauled him out, with the cart.
ZF: How terribly brave of all involved!
PC: It happened so fast, it did not seem like bravery. I must say Fraulein Bellinghausen is a tough Berliner – she was back at work the next day!
Zoe nods, "Now, you were involved in another big case, weren’t you? the Galewarden [Mo Galewarden] trial?"
PC: Yes…much more serious. He was accused of gun crimes.
ZF: Walk me through the crime scene as you constructed it in trial.
PC: Galewarden was at home.. the Polizei burst in on him, handled him roughly, searched without a warrant and found some weapons. Galewarden claimed the weapons had been stored for a film project.
Zoe nods and scribbles
PC: I have to say that Galewarden did not conduct himself well then, or afterward so the Judge formed a bad opinion of him. But he ended up with a short sentence and a fine.
ZF: Was anyone hurt during the scuffle at Herr Galewarden’s home?
PC: A woman was wounded. Hard to say how it happened. She did not testify and there were different accounts. Lets put it this way…Galewarden had some people who did not like him. I think that’s enough for me to say.
Zoe smiles, "Alright then. Have you been involved in any other cases?”
PC: Yes.. one of nudity.
ZF: oh? tell me about that….
PC: Thrown out because the officer failed to testify. Again the facts are hard to establish but my client testified that she was nude, but only inside her house.
Zoe Foodiboo: Who was involved?
PC: Ceinwin Roberts
Zoe nods and flips to a fresh page, "So being a lawyer takes up all of your time?"
PC: No, I work sometimes as a prostitute.
Zoe blinks several times.
PC: It’s perfectly legal in Berlin as long as I keep myself known to the government.
ZF: At the gentlemen’s club by the Spree?
ZF: How long have you been working there?
PC: “Well pretty much since I arrived in Berlin. Pola [Solo] and Mab got me started. Berlin was a bit wilder then.” sighs, remembering.
Zoe peers at Patrice, waiting for her to continue.
PC: We had some mad parties!
PC: It all seems more sedate now. And I must say business at the broth… Gentleman’s Club is quiet these days.
Zoe fiddles with the collar of her blouse, "What sort of things went on at your parties?"
PC: Oh my…
ZF: No names, of course.
PC: Well I remember once..Pola and I xxxxxxxx while Herr XXXX watched us.
Zoe blushes, “Oh my…”
PC: Let me rephrase that…
Zoe stares at Patrice with frank curiosity.
PC: I and another Fraulein made love, while a gentleman watched us.
Zoe drops her pen, flustered
PC: I am sorry if I am being too frank but you asked, my dear.
Zoe’s cheeks flush: How….lively!
PC: Yes, indeed.
Zoe leans in, boldly curious now, "What else?"
Patrice grins at the memory, “Well another time, a gentleman paid me to suck on his toes!”
ZF: …just his toes?
PC: Yes! And then he wanted to suck mine.
ZF: A foot fetishist!
PC: I suppose so…but if it made him happy…
Zoe remembers her pen and scribbles, "Anything else?"
PC: I did have a client who wanted me to pretend to be dead but I turned him down.
ZF: Really? My word…
PC: You get some odd types.
Zoe props her chin on her fist and listens, “People do have all sorts of fantasies….anything else you remember?”
PC: Mostly they want pretty much the same thing…with some variations…and to talk about their wives and girlfriends.
ZF: To relax then, like a spa of sorts I guess.
PC: Yes and to have conversation, I think – after sex that is.
ZF: Well, this has all been very enlightening, Patrice. Tell me, how did you discover the 1920s Berlin Project?
PC: Well, I was researching brothels in Second Life and I was told Berlin had one. I met Pola.. and then got interested in Berlin.
ZF: Researching for fun or for an article…?
PC: Actually I was planning to open a brothel in New Toulouse. Which I did, but it turns out brothels are hard to manage.
ZF: Are they? How so?
PC: People need attention….drama, disputes, jealousy…girls fall in love with each other – oy veh!
PC: The law business is much simpler.
ZF: Tell me what appealed to you about the 1920s Berlin Project? Besides Pola and the brothel.
PC: Well its was 90% Pola 🙂 But seriously, I love history…
ZF: She is quite charming…
PC: …and I love doing the research for things. And arguing with Frau Jo [Jo Yardley] sometimes about what is acceptable. And I like the personalities here.
ZF: Do you do a lot of RL research for your court cases?
PC: I did! Especially about rights of property and search and seize evidence. The Weimar constitution is on the internet – I learned some articles almost by heart. I also like the fashion. And being a lesbian in Berlin.
ZF: My goodness. and the brothel work – do you do RL research for that?
PC: For the brothel work I used my vivid imagination, my dear.
PC: Though recently I read a fascinating book "Blue Angel Nights"
ZF: Maybe we should read that for bookclub.
PC: I suggested it. It’s quite filthy though – in a good way mind you.
ZF: Tell me a little bit about Old Berlin…what was it like and how has Berlin changed since you first arrived?
PC: Well when I first started it was only a 1/4 sim with big walls around it. And fewer people of course…only a few shops. The Keller was pretty much the same though….oh! One more thing to mention – I helped run an advertising agency with Fraulein Tatyana Jakov.
ZF: Did you? Tell me about that?
PC: Yes, we set up a directory of Berlin shops.
ZF: Oh that’s right, I have a copy of it here in my bag somewhere….
PC: Yes, it was useful. But I think people prefer to poke around on foot. Also, Sasa and I run football in Berlin in the summer. We hope to have a few games this year.
ZF: I caught your game last summer! That was fun..
ZF: Well Patrice, this was most illuminating – thank you so much for your time. I’m going to head back to my office.
Patrice Cournoyer: Auf weidersehen!
Tagged: , OralHistories , 1920sBerlinProject , PatriceCournoyer , ZoeFoodiboo , VirtualArchives , OffentlicheBibliothek , SecondLife