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About 15 models braved near-freezing temperatures to strip outside the city's cultural affairs bureau to protest a new municipal order that again bans the age-old practice of tipping those who pose nude. The order affects about 100 people.
City officials say the tips have long been illegal - it's just that enforcement has lagged - and they pledged to discuss ways of boosting the models' pay.
"The hourly pay is euro11 ($NZ27), or a little bit more than a housekeeper earns," said Christophe Girard, cultural adviser to Mayor Bertrand Delanoe.
The forebears of today's models were muses for artists like Picasso, Modigliani, Courbet and Degas. But some students today don't like having to shell out cash at every session. And Girard said he and the mayor could be blamed for unaccounted-for money changing hands at city-funded arts schools.
Today's art models in Paris are mostly part-time - and some are artists themselves. Those who work full-time say their body shapes are unique.
Girard himself was an occasional nude model, some 25 years ago at art school.
"It's always been forbidden, we just didn't know," he said of the tips.