Libération, 2023-03-14

Au tribunal d’Amsterdam, Houellebecq joue sa dernière cartouche

Original in French

Translation to English

In Amsterdam court, Houellebecq plays his last cartridge

After a failure in front of the French justice, the writer tried to have a pornographic film in which he participated banned in a court in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The decision has been postponed until March 28.

Michel Houellebecq’s judicial lurch has taken him to the Netherlands. More precisely in room A2 of the Amsterdam judicial court. It is there that his adventure continues, as well as that of his wife Qianyum Lysis Li, against the artistic collective Kirac and the director Stefan Ruitenbeek. After having been dismissed on March 3 at the Paris court, the author of Sérotonine continues his battle to prevent at all costs the release of the film Kirac 27, of a pornographic nature, in which the Houellebecq couple would appear.

It all started on November 1st when Stefan Ruitenbeek, a fan of Michel Houellebecq, wanted to meet him to tell him about a project. After several exchanges and meetings with his wife in Paris, the author signs a contract with the director and agrees to be filmed in sexual romps with other women. They are not prostitutes, but “fans”. Mid-January 2023, extracts of Kirac 27 are diffused on the networks. One sees there the author with success bare-chested in a bed with a young woman, in Amsterdam. These images go around the world. Michel Houellebecq is furious and decides to do everything to prevent the release of the film – scheduled for March 11. He files a complaint.

“Are we in a book by Houellebecq?”
This Tuesday in Amsterdam, the courtroom is not full. Friends of Stefan Ruitenbeek, some of the actors of Kirac 27, a cameraman and a few curious people occupy the seats. Michel Houellebecq did not deign to come. He was represented only by his lawyers: the renowned Jacqueline Schaap, specialized in defamation and contract negotiations, and J. Klopper.

To defend the writer, Jacqueline Schaap invokes his vulnerability at the time of signing the famous contract. “Michel Houellebecq was under the influence of alcohol and drugs when he signed, she insists. He gave his rights without realizing the consequences. This contract is unfair and unreasonable.” Opposite, Me Alberdingk Thijm gets carried away, says he feels like he is swimming in delirium: “Are we in a book by Houellebecq? In a crazy dream? A show?” asks Stefan Ruitenbeek’s lawyer. This cannot be a real trial.

The two hours of hearing only rehash the same arguments. Jacqueline Schaap insists on the mental state of her client to make the contract null and void and to obtain a ban on leaving the country for Kirac 27. A strategy that makes Alberdingk Thijm say that Michel Houellebecq “uses provocation, as usual” to get people talking about him.

Jini Jane (1), a 23-year-old philosophy student from Amsterdam, followed the pleadings without missing a beat. The young woman, model for the social network OnlyFans, participated in the film. She even had sex with the author in his Parisian apartment. But her request to join the proceedings was denied because their lovemaking was not related to the filming. At the beginning of the hearing, she said she feared that a victory for Houellebecq would be detrimental to her. At the exit, her round glasses do not hide her smile. She assures, confident, that the author of Submission “cannot win”. Optimism shared by the lawyers of the director, even if they “can not predict the decision of the judge”. The decision, which has been taken under advisement, is expected on March 28.