Lilou, 32, lives a double life as a married mother of an infant and libertine blogger. Her endless string of lovers are shared on Twitter, with pictures as evidence. And her husband?
PARIS — Alone in her empty house, she opens the drawer halfway, reaches in to take her stockings. She tells herself she has the right to allow herself this luxury. The birth was three months ago. She drops the nursing bra and puts on the garter belt. A cry rings out: It's feeding time.
During the process, while lying on her side, she grabs a phone and takes a picture. In the foreground, the baby. Then, the mother's bare body. She had time to put on just one stocking. In the middle of nourishing her child, the photo feeds something else — the appetite of her Twitter followers.
That day, @Lilou_libertine"s 19,000 followers aren't all impressed. The baby/sexy underwear juxtaposition is shocking for some. On Lilou's Twitter account, as well as on her blog, she is insulted, called "insane."
"I'd be ashamed to have a mother like you," one commenter writes. She deletes it, accepts the consequences, talks about her body after the pregnancy.
"I understand this picture may disturb some and make them think of images linked to pedophilia or incest," she says. "But that's not my aim at all." She pauses, and then continues. "I want to put my whole life in this photo. Being a mother doesn't mean I can't dress how I want. In my mind, there's the baby, the mother and the lover. They all coexist."
Lilou, 32, dressed in a suit and high heels, is a French public relations assistant. She is also a libertine blogger. She was a member of this blogosphere who enjoyed taking selfies long before it became a global sport. She was part of this world that exposed itself before Instagram and its procession of bikinis made their appearance.
Petite, dark-haired, with curves
In the heart of a Paris business area, in a luxury hotel's panoramic restaurant, Lilou slaloms between the men with black ties and stops before the most discreet table. On a dating website, she could describe herself as petite, dark-haired, with curves. Seductive without being charming. She describes herself as "neither pretty nor ugly."
"When I first started having affairs, I couldn't see myself being both a libertine and a mother," she whispers. "For me, it was sacred. I told myself, when I stop taking the pill, I'll stop everything."
For Lilou, "everything" is code for her unusual double life. For the past eight years, she has been taking the train every morning to work from the outskirts of Paris and writing about her extramarital affairs in the evening. She has written more than 600 posts on her blog.
But her husband knows everything. He doesn't say anything, he doesn't do anything. He approves, even likes, imagining his wife in the arms of other men. Libertine? She is, he isn't. She writes it, claims it, tweets it. He stays aside, in the shadows.
They are an exception in the online galaxy of the unfaithful, a world where couples are either both libertine, or unfaithful in secret. Lilou chose another path, establishing a unilateral contract with her official man: She will only be faithful to her freedom.
After nine years living together, they decided to have a church wedding. "To please him," she explains. "My husband has a spiritual side."
"Going out for a drink"
The husband and wife have their codes. When she calls from her open space at work to say, "I'm going out for a drink tonight," he knows he'll sleep alone that night. It can also be done via text: "I won't be home tonight. Not feeling very sensible."
Lilou then goes to the office bathroom to put on her lacy clothing. She always keeps spare clothes somewhere for the following morning at work.
One evening, four months after she gave birth and once the baby was in bed, she joined a lover in a hotel room close to home, returning at midnight. "I don't know when I'll do it again," she says. "My husband assures me he'll always be able to keep our son when I'm out, even in the morning, but I don't feel ready to stay out all night yet. I want to be there for my child above all else. Before my lovers."
She claims she doesn't choose men based on their physique, and she rarely asks for photos. She says she most fears men who are in a couple, the lying unfaithful type. Paradoxical? No. "They betray."
The blogger still feels that "heartache" when she realizes her one-night stand isn't single. In these cases, she publishes an open letter on her blog to the "other," the betrayed woman.
She says she doesn't cheat on anyone. Her man, her only man, is her soulmate. She writes, "At the end of the day, he's the only one who counts."
With her husband, it remains simple. They don't go much further than the classic trilogy: weekend, bed, missionary. "It's hard to fulfill fantasies with the man you love," Lilou admits. To describe her three-week summer vacation with her husband, she says, amused, "It was like being behind closed doors." She then sends a bunch of pictures to her other men.
"And, er, by the way, how many lovers altogether?" The question is tempting. With a wolfish grin, Lilou dodges the issue. She won't, can't, tell how many.
"And how do you count? What's a lover, exactly? My virtual lovers? Those who've seen me, loved me remotely? My 1,000 regular monthly visitors on my blog? My 19,000 followers? Those who've only stroked me? My regular lovers or the one-night stands?"
A certain beauty
She will succumb to temptation but not to extravagance. She sorts her abundant mail. On her other blog, "Indecent proposals," she lists the various requests.
There's a journalist "who works for a famous women's magazine" and has a foot fetish, there are invitations to go out "to see an exhibition before going to the Chandelles a swingers' club," and those who ask for the rates of private services.
Lilou also claims she favors quality over quantity, looks for a certain beauty in a relationship, all in all. Of course, she doesn't have enough fingers, or hands, to count that aforementioned number. "Sometimes, I ask myself what is more odd," she writes on her blog. "Getting back into bed with my husband at 2 in the morning, or not really knowing who was this lover you mysteriously made love to in that dark hotel room?"
Lilou prefers not to lose her head and only talks about her regulars. Take V., for instance. A simple reader of her blog, at first. Soon enough, she started nicknaming him her "beautiful lover," with whom she can be "a full-time libertine." She talks about passion and how they send each other texts and pictures endlessly.
The "beautiful lover" writes about her, in an email, "We're intimate together. She's my secret garden, my fantasy partner, also. After five years, we've found a sort of balance." He is drawn to the orderly, never vulgar, aspect of her blog. He encouraged her to have a child (with her husband, of course). He even worries about her, for instance, "when she goes to meet other men than him, strangers."
Lilou likes taking risks, her friend P. confirms. She regularly confides in him during luxurious lunches. "When she wants something, she does everything to get it," he says. "When she's a mother, she's a mother at 100%. And inversely, when she's with a lover, she belongs to him entirely. I admire the balance she has regarding life. She's always elegant, somehow, even to talk about an evening she spent with five men. In the end, she's fueled by freedom."
She's also fueled by her duality, her on/off character that her community loves. The "girl next door" taken to the extreme.
"Yes, I know, that's what people like," she says. "I take the train to work every day: Nobody knows who I am. I enjoy showing I'm exceptionally common. When I think, "If they knew," I start blushing. Sometimes, when I see someone staring at me, I get startled and think, "He recognized me. He reads my blog.""
Pictures of her cleavage in the Metro, videos under her dress at work — she tweets everything. The other bloggers in the same universe see this as a natural and logical inclination.
Take "Mademoiselle" (from her Twitter name @melleaducharme), for instance, who says about this mother-lover role: "As a liberated woman, I think it should be normal to be able to talk about one's sex life as much as the rest. For the photos with the baby, I don't do it because I would have the impression of using my little one to fuel the fantasies of perverted men. But it doesn't shock me."
It's a solid blogosphere, united under the banner of infidelity. Some met in 2007 in the comment section of the "Blogger" platform. Now, they talk all day on Twitter, challenge each other with various hashtags, childish games where underwear often ends up in handbags. They organize "twit-dinners," come over from across the country or even abroad for a meal. A small "Adultery International."
"On Twitter, I meet lots of people, but I don't sleep with all of them," Lilou explains. She also makes friends, male and female. "In cafés, we talk about our little adventures while the baby is asleep in the carriage just next to us," Lilou says. "We sometimes burst out laughing, forgetting that people can hear us. But we have our own language, so people don't understand us.”
Always operate under the radar. Her former high school friends don't know anything about it. They sometimes get together to gossip. One of them told her how she threw herself on her ex, saying, "I’m not shocking you, am I?”
Lilou smiles and thinks, "If only she knew how that dust on my coat is from a brief date just before with a man in the cellar of a Haussmann building."