As Saxkal acknowledges in the introduction to Le petit carnet noir de Solange (Solange’s Little Black Book), Solange is a character freely inspired by Grisélidis Réal, who as is written on her gravestone in Zürich’s Cemetery of the Kings was ‘Writer, Painter, Prostitute, 1929–2005’. Réal was born in Lausanne into a family of teachers, and spent her childhood in Alexandria and Athens, where her father was working. Back in Switzerland she studied art in Zürich. She started working as a sex worker at the beginning of the 1960s, and lived in Germany with her lover and their four children. She retired from sex work in 1995 at the age of 66, and died of cancer in Geneva.

Grisélidis Réal in 1998 (photograph by Erling Mandelmann)

During the 1970s Réal became an activist for sex workers, arguing that prostitution could be a free-will decision, and introducing the idea of the revolutionary whore. She helped in the creation of Aspasie, a support association for prostitutes, and in her home in Geneva created an international documentation centre about prostitution. In her 1974 book, Le noir est une couleur (Black is a Colour), she told her story based on her own experience. In 1992 she published La passé imaginaire (The Imagined Past), a compilation of letters sent to her friend Jean-Luc Hennig.

Le petit carnet noir de Solange cleverly combines extracts from Solange’s appointment diary with a visual narrative of her experiences with a wide variety of clients. We have included here the first few encounters, culminating in an imaginary – and of course highly successful – appointment between Solange and Saxkal himself.

In his introduction, the ever-witty Saxkal concludes ‘Any resemblance to an ass, cock, breast or nipples belonging to a person existing or having existed is totally independent of my will, and can only be the work of a naughty and mischievous coincidence. The clever references to cinematographic works and their corresponding artists are, for their part, completely conscious, or so I believe. If you discover all these references you are invited to contact me.
PS     For purely aesthetic reasons you will not see the characters in this fiction using any means of contraception and protection, but far be it from me to advise following this example. To clarify, all my narratives are completely safe, and all the mandatory tests for this type of profession were of course required before participating.’

 Le petit carnet noir de Solange can be purchased from Saxkal’s online shop here.