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Some of the member[s] of the 'Des Cent Kilos' (The Fat Men's Club) leaving for a Sunday party on their peculiar bicycles.
[Le Club des Cent Kilos]
1932 (or earlier)
Gelatin silver print
6 15/16 x 9 3/4 ins
Courtesy of the Lucien Aigner Estate
The photo essay "Le Club des Cent Kilos" was published in 1932 in VU (Paris) and in 1934 in Weekly Illustrated (London).
"In the span of a second, I found myself in the country of giants that Gulliver had visited several hundreds of years ago. It surprised me just as much that, if I remembered well, I was brought here by bus and I had not been able to be shipwrecked like the famous English navigator. Truth be told, I had not even left the limits of Paris; I had simply entered a convivial café on the rue de la Folie-Méricourt.
And yet, these forty men, wearing top hats and gathered around a long table, strangely reminded me of the legendary giants with which my grandmother threatened me when she had wanted to scare me. And I began to regret the stolen jam, grandfather's broken glasses, the pin planted in the doctor's chair, and other crimes committed since then.
Nevertheless, the giants did not want to place me at the middle of the table to marvel at my smallness. It seemed that even my race was not completely unknown to them. They contented themselves in wearing their draft beer on their lips, surrounded by huge piles of saucers and emptying them in my honor. After which, a giant, looking very distinguished, with a kind look, approached me, shook my hand with utmost carefulness and told me, 'Welcome to the hundred kilos club.'
I prudently shook the hands of all the assistants; they were all charming boys. That atmosphere was very cordial. My hosts sang to me the delights of weighing 100 kilos, delights that otherwise were rather costly. That is, from the tailor to the waiter, everyone charged them double. That's nothing surprising, if you consider that the combined weight of the club was 5,375 kilos, making an average weight of 125 kilos per person.
The president, Mr. Armel Duval is, in his own words, the featherweight of the club. He weighs in at barely 121 kilos (266.8 lbs) and he deplores his inferiority. That's nothing compared to the twelve members of the club, each of which surpasses 150 kilos in weight. The president looks pitiful next to Mr. Le Noble, who, at 187 kilos (412.3 lbs), incontestably carries the most weight of all the members. An ordinary taxi doesn't even stop when he hails it, and to accept the load, the driver must first be given a few strong drinks to shake his sense of proportions. In any case, it's out of the question for Mr. Le Noble to accompany a friend, because on his own, he fills even the most spacious car.
All of the members of the club, young or old their ages ranging from 23 to 61 very much like to joke around. Some of them are quite ready to pledge to eat everything on the menu in a fancy restaurant. It is said that several of them do not object to the challenge of renewing the feat, starting with dessert.
I had the chance to see these men engage in sports. If I said, 'they ran like rabbits,' the comparison would relate rather to their 'style' than to their build. Between them, by the way, there are two champions of France: a champion of wrestling and a champion of weights and dumbbells. And about cycling, as long as the bicycle doesn't give way to their weight, they have nothing to envy of the popular heroes of the Tour de France."
(Full text from the VU magazine article translated by Charlotte Cutter)