1763: Coachman bares buttocks at disgusted theatre-goers

In January 1763 a French aristocrat, Christophe-Louis Pajot de Villers, hosted a private showing of a Rousseau opera in the ballroom of his Paris home. It was attended by more than 30 minor royals, aristocrats and wealthy members of the bourgeoisie. The performance concluded at around 10pm and guests prepared to leave. Behind the curtain, de Villers’ coachman, Nicolas Dandeli, mounted the stage, shouted “Tiens, la voila la comedie!” (Hey, here’s a funny show!) and offered a parting gesture:

“The coachman… decided to undo his trousers and turn his back to the curtain, with the intention of displaying his bare rump to those who were still in the room. At this point, Capolin, a negro aged thirteen years, raised the curtain so that those remaining in the hall saw the nude posterior of the coachman, who was bent over in such a way that his rear end stuck out towards the audience. He even slapped his backside loudly with his hands to call attention to himself. As a result, all of those still in the room saw, much to their astonishment, an act of tremendous impudence, which so greatly revolted them that they left the room immediately, complaining of the terrible scandal.”

The outraged de Villers immediately summoned the commissioners, who dragged Dandeli off to prison. He remained there for several days while the commissioners took a series of depositions. He was released after de Villers – apparently unable to tolerate not having a coachman – withdrew his complaint.

Source: Archives Nationales Y13772, January 22nd 1763, cited in Campardon, Les Spectacles de la Foire, 1877. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.