From 1956-1964, Swedish photographer Christer Strömholm lived in Paris’s notorious red-light district, Place Pigalle. Famous for its prostitutes and peep shows and strip clubs, the neighborhood’s Place Blanche was also home to a tight-knit community of transexuals who had come from all over Europe to form a chosen family to replace the families who had rejected them. Strömholm became their friend and, with his camera, their biographer as well.
In 1983, he published a book of his photos from that era called “Les Amies de Place Blanche.” The introduction to the book was as moving as the images therein:
“This is a book about insecurity. A portrayal of those living a different life in the big city of Paris, of people who endured the roughness of the streets. . . This is a book about the quest for self-identity, about the right to live, about the right to own and control one’s own body.”
The book was republished in 2012, 10 years after Strömholm’s death. Two of his subjects with whom he was closest, Nana and Jacky, both wrote something for the book.