Monday, October 24, 2016
Paris Nights My Year At The Moulin Rouge by Cliff Simon
The Moulin Rouge. Just the name of this famous Paris nightclub generates excitement and curiosity about what goes on behind the scenes of the exciting stage shows put on there. Over the years, many famous entertainers such as Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, Maurine Chevalier and Billie Holliday have headlined there. Now readers can get a first-hand account from a man who spent a year dancing there.
Cliff Simon was born to a wealthy Jewish family in South Africa. His family immigrated to England when he was a teenager due to the social unrest in the country. Cliff was talented physically and was on course to compete for a spot on the British Olympic team but he decided that life was not what he wanted. He returned to South Africa and went through military training and served two years. At loose ends after his military service, he became a dancer. When a friend of his suggested that Cliff join him in Paris and try out for the Moulin Rouge, he was more than ready.
The book is a memoir of Simon's year there. He moved quickly from a part in the male dance team to a named performer. While he was successful on stage, his life offstage was a whirlwind of beautiful women, lots of drinks and many fights. Both he and his friend were hotheaded and thought nothing of starting fights with other men in bars or the police who came to break up the fights. Simon got in trouble with a prostitution gang when they felt one of their women was insulted and he barely escaped entanglement with the local mob. His work permit was for one year and after a year, he decided to move on.
Simon went back to South Africa where he won the first South African male contest. From there he moved into acting and landed a contract on a soap opera where he starred for seven years. He has since been featured on American series such as Stargate, CSI and others. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs and who are interested in Paris and the nightlife found there.