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Paradis 'not proud' of her provocative past as raunchy teen star

Andy McSmith
Saturday 05 January 2008 01:00 GMT

The former child star Vanessa Paradis has confessed that she recoils in near disgust when she sees film of herself performing as a provocatively dressed 14-year-old.

The French singer, who survived "relentless" abuse and mockery after her song "Joe le Taxi" launched her as a starlet in 1987, revealed that she has only recently seen clips of her former self, which have been viewed by almost 330,000 visitors to YouTube.

Speaking for the first time about her reaction to the footage in an interview with The Independent, Paradis said: "I wish someone had advised me. I've seen quite recently some clips from when I was 14 and I'm not proud of it. I look at the way I was dressed and made up and the way I would dance and I just want to say: 'Euugh. Stop it!"

She added: "I was going to school and I had the 'Joe le Taxi' song out that was making me trouble all over the world. It's not easy to grow up, but to grow up famous, it's worse. In France it became a really big phenomenon and it was very casual, this torturing of a child. It was happening to me every day relentless."

Despite the hostility it roused, the song launched her on a long career as a singer and actress. It sold two million copies, was No 1 in France for 14 weeks, and made No 3 in the British charts, despite being sung in French.

In the clip, she is seen dressed in a short, tight skirt dancing in a manner that shocked France at the time because it was seen as sexually provocative. A message calling her a whore was scrawled on a wall near her home in Val-de-Marne, south-east of Paris, other schoolgirls pulled her hair and one woman spat in her face.

In 1988, a year after the song's appearance, she had to sing it at Cannes, before an audience of music industry insiders who greeted her with catcalls, whistles and boos. "Tears were ready to pour, but no way was I going to give them that pleasure," she said.

Now aged 35, Paradis is the long-term partner of the actor Johnny Depp, with whom she has had two children. She has been nicknamed "the French Kylie Minogue", a label to which she has no objection since "both of us started really young, and we're both still here".

She added: "I guess today there are more people that agree that I have a bit of talent and a reason for being in this business, so I get a little respect."

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