“Le Gai Savoir” Legendary Interview With Michel Foucault For The Legendary “Le Gai Pied”

Michel Foucault, 1976.

The legendary interview of Jean Le Bitoux with Michel Foucault, “Le Gai Savoir” (“the gay science”) has been conducted on 10 July 1978.

The interview was intended to be published in “Le Gai Pied” one of the most iconic and intellectual gay magazines that ever existed. “Le Gai Pied” was a magazine with quality editorial content and politicized. Interviews with Jean-Paul Sartre, Pierre Bérégovoy, François Mitterrand, Serge Gainsbourg, David Hockney, Barbara, Juliette Gréco, Marguerite Duras, was published at the time.

“Le Gai Pied” was already in the planning stages in the summer of 1978. Le Bitoux knew there was a good chance that the French authorities would find an excuse to ban it, and he was looking for ways to head off that possibility by making its suppression politically costly or embarrassing to them. It had been Michel Foucault, one evening in his kitchen with Daniel Defert, Jean Le Bitoux, and Thierry Voeltzel, who had come up with the name “Le Gai Pied”. Le Gai Pied literally translated as Gay Foot. How brilliant. Also, he offered to help out Le Bitoux and support the magazine by publishing a contribution in its first issue, lending Le Gai Pied his celebrated name and thereby affording it a measure of protection.

Le Bitoux accordingly interviewed Foucault about volume 1 of The History of Sexuality, which had appeared two years earlier, as well as about Foucault’s views on gay politics, the gay movement, gay male gender styles, and gay male sexual practices.

Original page of Le Gai Pied 1, 1979 where Michel Foucalt published.

The interview—surprisingly intimate, detailed, complicit, and explicit—was never published in Le Gai Pied, and it never appeared in French during Foucault’s lifetime. Foucault called Le Bitoux at the last moment and asked him to withdraw the interview from publication and to substitute for it a short text of Foucault’s about homosexuals and suicide, called “Un Plaisir si simple” (“Such a Simple Pleasure”).

Foucault’s “reticence” and his “ambivalence about the value of openly discussing such matters” as sadomasochism- ism change on the moment after the interview. He acknowledged that some of his friends at the time considered Foucault une honteuse, “a closet queen.” He was not wrong to consider the possible blowback from the publication of his reflections on bathhouses and fist fucking or the use to which his declarations might be put by others.

The interview has been difficult to access ever since, which is one reason it is legendary. Now you can read it. After 44 years seems so actual and fantastic.

Here you can download the entire interview in PDF format so you can read it on your iPad.

Two years later, in 1980, Foucault gave a different interview to Le Gai Pied that, this time, was actually published; called “Friendship as a Way of Life: Interview with a Reader in His Fifties”.
You can read it here: https://schwarzemilch.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/foucault-friendship-as-a-way-of-life.pdf


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