• France's news in English

When Whitney met Gainsbourg

Matthew Warren · 12 Feb 2012, 22:05

Published: 12 Feb 2012 22:05 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French fans of Whitney Houston joined others around the world to mourn the loss of the 48-year-old singer at the weekend, while also remembering a remarkable encounter live on French TV.

The year was 1986, soon after the 22-year old Whitney Houston had been discovered, and she was appearing on the popular variety show Champs-Elysées.

The show's host, Michel Drucker, walked Whitney Houston over to meet legendary French musician and singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg.

Gainsbourg kissed her hand and told her, as she sat down next to him, "you are superb."

Drucker repeated the compliment, adding that Gainsbourg said she is very pretty.

A slurring Gainsbourg then leaned towards Drucker and said "no, you are not Reagan, I am not Gorbachev, so don't try."

He then said in English, to Houston's astonishment, "I said, I want to fuck her."

The audience gradually started gasping as they understood what he said while Houston herself was open-mouthed.

"What did you say?" she said to him while the show's host hurriedly tried to explain away the comment by saying Gainsbourg had wanted to offer her flowers.

"Not at all," said Gainsbourg, before adding, this time in French, "I said I wanted to fuck her."

"Sometimes he's a little bit drunk you know," said Drucker to Houston. 

"Yeah I know," said Houston, who seemed happy to laugh off the unwanted approach.

"Are you sure you're not drunk?" she asked him. "You've got to be!"

Drucker then offered him a cigarette to help him calm down. "I don't think Whitney Houston is going to come back on Champs-Elysées" he added.

Michel Drucker told Gala magazine on Sunday that the show was the moment most French people first encountered Whitney Houston.

He also revealed that while Houston was professional and appeared to laugh off the encounter on TV, she found it unpleasant and was irritated.

"Sacha Distel asked me to have her on because she was the cousin of one of his friends, Dionne Warwick," he said.

"That was without counting on Serge, who put me in a terrible situation. Whitney was furious. That night I even went to her hotel with flowers to apologise."

"That wasn't enough though. Shortly afterwards, she told Variety magazine that she didn't know such a programme could exist. A programme where artists can be so deceived."

Later, when they met again, it was clear that Houston was happy to laugh off the encounter. 

"I saw her some years later in Monaco during an awards ceremony I was presenting with Claudia Schiffer," he said. 

"We were seated next to each other at Prince Albert's table. I thought it was going to be awful but we ended up laughing about it. She had found out more about this famous Serge Gainsbourg in the meantime."


Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available