Lala Jean-Pierre Lestrade
Jean-Pierre Lestrade was born in Algiers “in a brand new clinic with air conditioning, a great novelty at the time there” on 30 June 1954. He was the second of four brothers. He spent his childhood between Burdeau, in the Sersou, where his father was a farmer, and La Chiffa, near Blida, at his father's parents. His grandfather cultivated vineyards, grew orange trees, and extracted oil from geraniums, which was sent to Grasse to be used in perfume-making.
Following the momentous political events culminating in Algeria’s Independence, the family moved to France. His parents would subsequently separate and divorce. His father moved to Lot-et-Garonne, near Bordeaux, while his mother married again, to Jean Laforest, an army officer, and later gave birth to a girl they named Catherine. Jean Pierre and his elder brother Thierry rejoin their mother a few years later. Jean Pierre will pursue his studies successively in Sainte Livrade sur Lot , Villeneuve sur Lot, in Montauban (Tarn et Garonne) in Arcis sur Aube and Alençon (Orne, Normandy).
His adolescent passions were focused on literature, theatre, poetry, and music. He made many drawings and poems inspired by Surrealism (particularly Desnos, Tzara, Dali, Picabia and Magritte) and composed numerous poems using the cut-up technique invented by Burroughs. He also founded his first musical group, Trottoir, for which he wrote lyrics which he himself sang. His inspiration ranged from the French artists Michel Polnareff and Brigitte Fontaine to the English rock star David Bowie. Jean Pierre Lestrade finished his schooling at the Lycée Alain, in Alençon (Normandy), and graduated to the baccalaureate, but refused to go to University and decided to go on his own to Paris.
In 1976 is the beginnings of the punk movement, "political" squats and the big clubs such as La Main Bleue in Paris, Le Palace and Les Bains-Douches. He participates to several magazines such as Gaie-Presse and Magazine, founded by his brother Didier Lestrade who is also living in Paris. It is "la vie de bohème" as his mother called it - an euphemism which means in fact "all I don't want to hear about". He earns his livings with all kinds of different jobs: painting jobs for interiors, temporary office jobs, information desk at Georges Pompidou Art Center etc.
His encounter with performer/actor Eugene Huss, a.ka Sister Tui from alternative drag Theater The Hot Peaches leads him to a trash/punk/drag cabaret show that will tour Holland in a Gay Film Festival (1977). The name of his character on the show, Lala, will outlive the show and become his pseudonym, confirmed by his first cabaret appearances as a solo performer. Around this time he produces and directs with his friend Michael Gunrem a 20-minutes 16mm black and white movie named "Oh! La La", in which he plays the main character in drag.
He soon forms with his friend Antoine Merveilleux du Vignaux a completed band named, "Lala et les Emotions", in a “new-wave camp style" in which he is both songwriter and lead singer. His close friend Stephane McComb gives him the opportunity to record his first demos in a professional studio. He gives concerts in Paris, throughout France, Belgium and Holland and even one in London and records his now cult song “Jolie Fille d’Alger”. Two members of the band, Pascale Borel and Gregori Czerkinsky would later form the popular Pop duo named Mikado. Lala also wrote songs for other French singers.
Lala Meets BillyBoy*
His 1983 encounter with BillyBoy* marked the beginning of a wide-ranging collaboration. It included the production of exhibitions on Barbie and Schiaparelli, the joint creation of Surreal Bijoux (Jean-Pierre Lestrade directed the company throughout its entire existence and worked on every jewel ever produced), the translation into French of BillyBoy*s books (Barbie, Her Life and Times, and his encyclopaedia on Bleuette), as well as numerous articles, notably for VOGUE and ELLE, Quebec.
His friend Jérôme Jullien Cornic,
owner of a famous art book shop on Avenue Matignon in Paris
commissioned him a series of advertising pages in various art magazines
in France and the US: L'OEIL, BEAUX-ART MAGAZINE, ART IN AMERICA, APOLLO, KUNST...
The invention of Mdvanii in 1987 is the start of an intense creative process which would result in a multi-faceted artistic collaboration with BillyBoy* from the year 1989 onwards.
In 1992 Lala went to Lisboa, Portugal to record an album of 13 songs titled "Sucçès damnés- The Lost Album" with producer Franck Darcel.
In 1993, Lala and BillyBoy* decide to definitely leave Paris (and all big cities) to move to Trouville on the Normandy coast where they develop their artistic creations.
Since 1997, Jean-Pierre Lestrade has been living with BillyBoy* in Switzerland, where they pursue their artistic career and endeavours. JPL also directs the Fondation Tanagra, manages its internet site and continues to develop the project for a future museum. From this time on, refer to BillyBoy* on the previous page, They are always together on everything anyaway!